Bringing Sexy Back ... to Policy Training

Last week a colleague called me to ask for help. Apparently, a handful of chapters are showing a pattern of violations and confusion around risk management policy and the NPC unanimous agreements. She has now been charged with creating and presenting a policy training session for each chapter. She was concerned, because the program could very easily turn into the typical pain-filled policy reading. Instead, she wanted to do something more meaningful and interesting that might actually work. If she had done what most people do:

  • Lock the entire chapter (or 80% after reasonable excuses) in a room
  • Tell a few jokes to seem human and make them feel happy
  • Stand in front of the room and read the policy (maybe from a PowerPoint slide
  • Point out specific things they did wrong
  • Open up for questions and offer complicated answers
  • Remind the chapter of all the punitive consequences
  • Offer a personal message of support and encouragement

This is what would have happened:

  • More frustrated with the organization whose bureaucracy they already don’t understand
  • Annoyed members who are now less likely to attend anything unless it’s mandatory
  • Continuous eye-rolling, yawning and secret texting
  • Deadpan silence during Q&A
  • More confusion as a result of poor answers
  • No new learning
  • No behavior change
  • More violations next year
  • A chapter who is now more pissed off at the organization and less satisfied with their experience

So, as I said – she was looking for help about how to make the session interesting and effective. She also told me: These were slight, but important issues that resulted primarily from misunderstanding or ignorance of policy/procedure. They were not willful violations. Each chapter had its own unique set of issues. She asked about the best way to approach the session. Here are a few of my recommendations: Teach Members to use Resources

  • Before the session, ask every member to go online to download and print a copy of the policy and bring it with them to the session.
  • During the session, do a fast-paced meet-and-greet activity involving advisors and headquarters staff.

Teach to the Policy

  • Create short, generic scenarios about each violation that has occurred.
  • Split participants into groups.
  • Each group gets a scenario.
  • Each group must:
    • Read the scenario.
    • Highlight every section of the policy that is relevant in their scenario.
    • Identify the accountability procedures that would take place.
    • Discuss the long-term, unwritten consequences of the issue on the chapter.

Reinforce Policy and Critical Thinking

  • Identify the Top 5 policy violations throughout the entire national organization.
  • Develop pop-quiz, multiple choice questions about policy contents, intricacies and interpretation.
  • Assign point values to each question based on difficulty.
  • Break members into teams.
  • Each team picks one player at a time to answer questions.
  • Ask questions, explain the answer (or ask members to explain) and track points.
  • Offer lifelines: phone a friend (advisors/staff) and poll the team.
  • Recognize the winning team(s).

Teach Real-Life Problem Solving

  • Create one-paragraph dilemmas that could be used to launch a simulation experience.
  • Split participants into groups.
  • Each group must evaluate the dilemma and make a decision.

Processing Questions:

  • What were they thinking at this time?
  • What are all the bad things that could have happened here?
  • Name 5 opportunities to intervene that would have prevented this from escalating.


  • Identify top 5 stupid things people have done regarding policy.
  • Teach confrontation / intervention skills.
  • Ask participants to form pairs and practice these skills. Change partners and repeat.

Other ways to make it sexy:

  • Use teams and add in a sense of competition.
  • Use a storyline: another chapter is asking for their help.
  • Add time limits to enhance the excitement.
  • Offer small rewards for the top group.

What would be the result of this training?

  • It wouldn’t suck
  • It might actually be fun
  • Time would fly by
  • Participants would respect the facilitator
  • People might actually go to an optional event!
  • Members are too involved and engaged to yawn, roll their eyes or text
  • A lot of challenging questions would come up – which they would probably be able to answer for one another
  • Most importantly: they would learn what you want them to learn: how to ask questions, how to use resources, what the policy says, where to find specific contents of the policy, how to think when in a real-life situation, when to intervene, and how to intervene
  • More likelihood of behavior change
  • Fewer violations
  • A chapter who is now more excited about the organization and more satisfied with their experience

Here’s what she wrote back yesterday:

Thank you for helping me out with my policy workshop! I ended up using written scenarios to review the NPC unanimous agreements and [our] risk management policies. For the [organization’s] scenarios, I used various incidents that have occurred recently within the organization. After reading each scenario, the women were asked to write down the [organization’s] policies that would apply to the situation, the risks/concerns with the situation, and who on their chapter support team should be contacted. I had them pair off into small groups and then we came together as a large group to discuss the answers. After discussing everything, I told them what happened in real life when those scenarios happened (chapter on probation, members sent to standards, etc.). I definitely believe that the women have a better understanding of the policies and how to use their chapter support team. However, I won’t really find out how well they understood everything until they take new members next year.

Next time…how to do a thorough evaluation in less than 20 minutes.