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What Does Steve McQueen Have to Do with Cell Phone Rules During Training?

03 Oct 2016 by Tracy Jones

Times have changed. Not so long ago, my middle son, Bachelor #2, and I were watching an old Steve McQueen movie. I think it was Bullitt, the one set in San Francisco. McQueen enters a restaurant and asks for the phone and phone number. He then places a call (on a rotary dial phone) and tells the person on the other end that he can be reached at that number for about the next half hour. He then returns the phone to the hostess. My son looked at me and said,” What the heck was that all about? Was it a code or something?”

Ahh such a baby, I had to explain to him about life prior to cell phones. I told him that a long, long, long, time ago people rode in cars without seatbelts (not to mention children without car seats), smoked on airplanes, and drank water from the tap. These same people depended solely on landlines for communicating via phone. His response, “Guess y’all didn’t get out much back then, huh?” I told him not very often. It took too long to hook up the horse and buggy. He didn’t get it. By then there was a race scene to get back to in the movie. A lot may have changed since Bullitt was filmed, but Steve McQueen race scenes have endured the test of time.

What does this have to do with CLASS? Well not too long ago I was facilitating a training, and I was really wishing for the good old days when people didn’t have phones in their pockets or on their laps.

At the start of each training, I usually ask my participants to please turn their phones off, if they can. I always tell them they can put the blame on me. I also tell them that I understand that they may not be able to turn them off and that’s okay too. But at least put them on silence and put them in your pocket so they will be less of a distraction to themselves or the others. I then tell them that we will take a break in the morning and another in the afternoon. Plus we will have a nice lunch break. They can check messages, phone calls, and emails then. I also explain that I will have my phone out because I use it during the training as a clock and timer. It works well. I occasionally have someone that politely tells me that they can’t turn off their phone for whatever reason. I’m not hard-hearted. I just ask the person to be as discreet as possible.

But this time, I forgot. I did not state my phone expectations from the outset. And my training suffered because of my careless oversight. There was a group of participants from the same organization. They were all reliable on other age levels of the CLASS tool. I guess they were pretty confident that they would ace this training, because they stayed on their phones for the majority of the two days. They did not participate very much and their phone behaviors distracted the other participants. I should have talked to them during a break, but they always seemed to disappear then. While I’m not proud of my lack of clear expectations, I am proud to say that all the participants from that training did pass, even the ones that were attached to their phones.

So, the take away is this, state your cell phone rules early, clearly and remind them of the rules again after breaks. Use some proximity control and walk over towards the texting participant. Steve McQueen was lucky. He never had to compete with a cell phone, but if he did I bet he would have run over it in a flashy fast car.  

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