Human Resources Training: Three Steps to Build a Safe and Inclusive Learning Environment | Sheri Kendall | Skillshare

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Human Resources Training: Three Steps to Build a Safe and Inclusive Learning Environment

teacher avatar Sheri Kendall, Service Training Manager

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Step 1: Trust and Credibility


    • 3.

      Step 2: Safe Environment


    • 4.

      Step 3: Inclusive Environment


    • 5.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

Create a psychologically safe and inclusive learning environment at work with Wayfair training manager Sheri Kendall! 

When quality of life improves at work, quality of life improves overall. Join Sheri as she walks us through the three necessary steps to build successful workplace training and development sessions, so that students feel engaged, empowered to create success strategies for themselves, and able to take risks in a fail-safe environment at work. 

Together with Sheri, you will learn how to:

  • Instill trust and credibility in your training sessions 
  • Build a psychologically safe learning environment 
  • Create an inclusive learning environment so that participants feel safe to contribute, ask questions, and fail forward 

Whether you are a learning and development professional or an educator that is interested in creating a safe and inclusive learning environment, this class will turn your commitment to instill positive and impactful change into reality. 


Sheri’s class is designed for learning and development professionals, but all students are welcome to participate and enjoy. 

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Sheri Kendall

Service Training Manager


Sheri Kendall’s career in education began in 1999 and since then she has developed

workplace learning opportunities for non-profit organizations, institutions of higher

education, government agencies, healthcare organizations and contact centers. Her

passion for creating positive change within organizations led her to Wayfair and her current

role as the Service Training Manager. The education that she provides to her training team

inspires them to do their best work and to find purpose and meaning in the service they

provide. Her current interest includes the study of the relationship between customer

experience, employee experience, and learning and develo... See full profile

Level: All Levels

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1. Introduction: I've been in training and development for well over 20 years and cannot imagine doing anything else. It's not the light-bulb moments, it's the transformational experiences that I get to witness. You begin to see doors open that others may not even have realized existed. When their quality of life increases at work, quality of life increases in general. There's nothing better than having a front row seat to that process. Hi, my name is Sheri and I'm a workplace learning and development professional with over 20 years in the industry. In today's class, we're going to discover psychologically safe strategies that will create inclusive learning environments. Long before I knew psychological safety was an actual term or science, I discovered the power of creating safe learning environments for participants. Twenty-three years ago, I was the lead facilitator for a job club for recently released felons. The objective of the job club was to teach interviewing techniques, job search skills, and job retention strategies. I noticed almost immediately the lack of psychological safety. Individuals were unwilling to engage in conversation, ask for help, share strategies, and fail forward. As I began to build trusting relationships with the participants, they became willing to engage with the learning process and create success strategies for themselves. Today's class is about the three necessary steps to create a psychologically safe learning environment. The three steps we will be discovering together today include trust and credibility, psychological safety, and inclusive learning environments. You may remember your mother or father saying, don't judge a book by its cover. Unfortunately, that is how we judge a book. In trust and credibility, we will discover strategies for creating an impactful first impression and making that first 100 milliseconds count. In our second lesson, we will discover Dr. Timothy Clark and his work on creating psychological safety in the classroom. An inclusive learning environment ensures that every participant feel seen, heard and represented, and respected. I'm passionate about teaching this class because I truly believe education is the only way to a different life, oftentimes a better life. This class is designed for workplace learning in development professionals that are committed to creating positive and impactful changes in their workplace learning environments. I'm excited for you to take this class because I am a passionate workplace educator that believes in the transformation of workplace education. After completing this class, I encourage you to complete the class project. The class project has been designed for you to create three strategies that you will implement in your next training session. I look forward to reviewing your finished project in our project gallery and answering each and all of your questions in the discussion forum below. Now, let's get started. 2. Step 1: Trust and Credibility: Positive learning environments include the structure of the content, how each participant interacts with each other, the connection to the facilitator, and the space, including how it smells, looks, and sounds. Trust and credibility is the 1st step in creating a positive learning environment. Adult learners require that the individuals standing before them, claiming to be experts, are indeed experts. That they have the education, experience, and background to share this knowledge with them. Trust is required for participants to engage in the learning process. Learning is a very vulnerable process and in order for individuals to feel safe asking questions, engaging in critical evaluation, and failing forward, they must trust the facilitator. In this lesson, I'm going to walk you through a few strategies that are required in order to develop trust and credibility with your participants. The 1st strategy I'm going to share is appearance matters. Psychology Today reports that it takes a mere seven seconds to form a 1st impression. People thin slice others based on how they look and sound more than explicit verbal statements. Unfortunately, that is how we judge others. Get to know your audience, understand how they will be presenting in your workshop. If they're wearing jeans and t-shirts, consider some khakis and nice polo. What you wear matters. How you present is the 1st step in building credibility and trust with your participants. Know your audience. If they're in suits, suit up a bit. If they're casual, take it up just a notch. Remember, appearance matters. My 2nd strategy is to create an intentional greeting process. How many times have you entered either virtual or brick-and-mortar's training space only to discover a trainer frantically running around trying to take care of last-minute admin duties. Barely noticed you even arrived. But you weren't feeling very psychologically safe, welcome, or even seen at that point. Now imagine logging into your virtual class or at some point in the future, attending a training session in a brick-and-mortar classroom. Within the first three minutes, I bet you would feel warm, welcome, seen and heard, and most importantly, ready to learn. I would like you to encourage you to take a moment to think about your current greeting practice and be intentional about creating one that creates a psychologically safe environment for your next session. Our next strategy is pace matters. Research conducted in the '70s determined that as individuals increase their rate of speech, they became more competent and trustworthy in the eyes of the listener. We're not sure why, but it did occur. Now not so fast that nobody can understand you. But as you decrease your rate of speed, what the research uncovered is you're often seen as untrustworthy and incompetent. The same goes for fillers. Using these fillers also decreases your competency in the eyes of your participants. Not sure how to modulate your pace or determine if you use fillers, simply record yourself and listen to the tape. This practice will increase your understanding of how many times you um and ah and the pace of your speech. After you review and reflect, make a commitment to stay present during your next facilitation, pay attention to the ums and ahs, and modulate your speech. Your participants will thank you and their trust in you will grow exponentially. Next, I will be talking to you about the importance of building trust. Now this is not a one-and-done endeavor nor is it a task list. It is something you will have to attend to throughout your workshops or training sessions. However, to begin building trust is rather simple process. Resist the urge to chatter away about yourself. Now you've already started this process with your intentional greeting, now make space for the learners to dialogue and engage in rich discussion in your training sessions. The next strategy is remember to be human. We often believe that we need to demonstrate perfectionism when we are in front of a room full of participants. However, it is your willingness to share your stories of losing the sale or hanging up on a customer that allow your participants to build trust with you and for you to develop your credibility. We are more interested learning from somebody that's been there, done that, and created success strategies than somebody who just wants to espouse perfectionism. So do yourself a favor and increase your credibility, share those stories. Facilitators need to establish credibility, build trust, and create a presence of influential authority, all within 100 milliseconds of your participants arrival. Before your next workshop, ensure that you know your audience and create some success strategies to build trust and credibility with your participants. 3. Step 2: Safe Environment: Dr. Timothy Clark's framework for psychological safety includes inclusion safety, learner safety, contributor safety, and status quo safety, while he's framework is referencing workplaces, it translates very well to the learning environment. We discussed how to create inclusion safety in our previous lesson when we discussed creating strategies that allow learners to feel heard and seen upon entry into the learning environment. We're going to build on that and begin to talk about positive learning environments. In this lesson, I'm going to walk you through some strategies to creating a psychologically safe learning environment. Psychologically safe learning environments are required for any deep learning to occur. A psychologically safe learning environment ensures that participants feel safe to contribute, ask questions, and fail forward. The first strategy is positive suggestions. Have you ever attended a training session in which you are greeted with comments such as, this is going to be really boring but just hold on, or this is going to be so difficult, I'm not sure you're going to make it. Were you inspired to learn and curious about the upcoming learning event or just felt defeated? Now imagine walking into a training session with an enthusiastic trainer who begins by telling you how this new knowledge, skills, and abilities will positively impact your practice, will create a quality of life you have not yet experienced, and no worries, we have all of the support available to ensure you will meet these objectives. You're excited to learn now and treat curious, ready to go. It's the simple positive suggestions at the beginning of the training session that begin to create a positive learning environment and psychological safety for your learners. Our next strategy, create a beautiful space. This applies virtually or in a brick and mortar space. How it sounds, looks, feels, and smells is just as important as the content you're about to deliver. I attended a session many years ago. As a matter of fact, I can't remember how many years for Association for Talent Development professionals in Portland, Oregon. I remember one workshop from that conference. As a matter of fact, it's one of the only workshops I remember from any of the conferences I've attended. I entered the room to the smell of fresh rosemary, only to discover beautiful baskets of fresh blueberries on each table for participants to snack on. Scott wasn't done there. He also spent time sharing a quick and brief personal story about who he was and his family. Within seven minutes, I felt cared for, safe and interested in the topic he was about to share. Yes, all of these years later, I remember the memory palace that he shared with us. Creating a beautiful space doesn't end with color on the walls and music in the background or rosemary on the table, it also requires a personal connection between the trainer and the facilitator and caring for all of the senses. Our next strategy is learning agreements. It's a simple process in which the facilitator asks the participants to share their expectations of behavior for themselves, each other and the facilitator. Ensure that you're writing these expectations on the board and you're engaging in the process with them. I always like to ensure that we have confidentiality, trust, and participation outlined in the agreement. It's not simply enough to say participation or respect. Ask the participants what those mean, how they will look in action in the training session, get very clear understanding of what everyone expects of everyone else. In this activity with the outlining the clear expectations that you have for your participants as well. Nothing will kill a positive learning environment by a surprise expectation in the middle of a training session. Our next strategy is to remember that collaboration not competition belong in the classroom. Activities that are designed for collaboration among learners reduce stress and increase deep learning opportunities. Collaboration among learners allows for the free flow of insights, ideas, and information increasing the quality of the learning experience that you are offering. Now that I've shared with you a number of strategies to create a psychologically safe learning environment, I would like you to reflect on your current practices for intentional greetings, inclusion strategies, and collaboration techniques. List three changes that you are committed and ready to make within the next 72 hours. Find an accountability partner, implement your strategies, reflect, and ask for feedback. 4. Step 3: Inclusive Environment : In this lesson, I'm going to share how to create an inclusive learning environment. We will discover strategies that will increase inclusion safety and create a sense of belonging for all of your participants. Both of these are necessary ingredients for any deep learning to occur. The next strategy is simple, take a moment to identify your unconscious bias. Harvard University offers Project Implicit and in under 15 minutes or so, will assist you in identifying your unconscious bias in a number of areas. Unconscious bias are the associations that we make based on race, gender, socioeconomic status, and more. The danger of unconscious bias in a workplace learning environment is, you may be making decisions that you are unaware of that negatively impact your participant's ability to learn. The next strategy is representation matters. The next time you're asked to put together PowerPoint slides, documents, or Google Slides, consider the images that you are choosing and ensure that all folks are represented. All shapes, sizes, abilities, colors, and family groups. Are your icebreakers leaving your learners out in the cold? Our mixed strategy will ask you to review your current training activities and ensure that they are inclusive. About a month ago, I was teaching a classroom leadership course to other trainers. We were discussing icebreakers. I'm not a big fan. Icebreakers are often irrelevant, waste time, and create disconnection. We were having this discussion, when one of our participants raised her hand and shared with me that almost every icebreaker she's ever been asked to participate in did not represent her reality. She would have to hurry up and Google an answer, and just hope and pray she wasn't the first person to be called upon. Is this a positive learning environment? Do you think her energy was being spent in the way in which we were hoping it was, that she was learning and creating deep connections with new knowledge or she was worried about creating a false sense of belonging? Icebreakers and activities are typically Eurocentric design. Let's make a commitment together to ensure that our training activities, including the dreaded icebreaker, if you must, are inclusive of everyone. That everyone will be represented and feel a sense of belonging as they engage in these activities. Now that we've spent some time together discovering how to create inclusive learning environment, I would like to encourage you to review your current practices, identify exclusive activities, turn them into inclusive activities. Think through the language you're using, the visuals that you're presenting. But don't stop there, make a commitment to continually reflect on your practices and perhaps even pull a committee together. The committee could be in charge of reviewing content, practices, and even perhaps observations of training sessions. Together, we can make a commitment to create inclusive and positive learning environments across industry. 5. Final Thoughts: Thank you for learning with me today. Creating a psychologically safe, inclusive learning environment will increase the effectiveness of your training, and create positive and impactful results for your organization. Please take a moment to create the class project and upload it to our project gallery. I look forward to reviewing your final projects and I'm available to answer any and all questions in our discussion forum. I look forward to seeing you again. Thank you.