More Tales for Trainers

Industrial and Commercial Training

ISSN: 0019-7858

Article publication date: 12 July 2011



Sayers, P. (2011), "More Tales for Trainers", Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 43 No. 5.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

More Tales for Trainers

More Tales for Trainers

Article Type: Bookshelf From: Industrial and Commercial Training, Volume 43, Issue 5

Margaret ParkinKogan PageLondon2010208 pp.ISBN: 9780749461003£24.99

Margaret Parkin’s Tales for Training successfully introduced the idea of storytelling as a skill for trainers to develop. The two books reviewed here in Industrial and Commercial Training take that format and theme further. More Tales for Trainers offers more insights into how stories can be used by trainers, together with some further examples of the kind of stories that trainers might want to use. Tales for Coaching adapts the theme of storytelling to use with individuals in one-to-one coaching. This book was first published in 2001.

Both books have a similar format: an introduction to storytelling, some ideas on how to make the best use of stories and how to develop your skills as a storyteller, followed by a number of stories to read. The stories include ones that can be used for enlightenment or envisioning, cautionary tales, problem solving and examples of success against the odds.

More Tales for Trainers sets the concepts of storytelling in the context of organisational development. The book aims “to offer trainers, coaches and OD consultants some further insights and practical methods” on how storytelling can be used, for example, for:

  • communicating the vision and purpose of the organisation;

  • helping define organisational culture and values;

  • encouraging change, and making the change process more effective, engaging and memorable;

  • knowledge sharing;

  • reframing habitual thinking patterns; and

  • developing trust and engagement.

The book is divided into two parts. Part 1 has four chapters on the theory. Chapter 1 is called “Stories and learning” and looks at how stories in general can help make learning more memorable, and how metaphor can be used to help people reflect on their situation and their organisation. Stories can make topics come alive in a way that other training techniques cannot. Metaphor can help people articulate how they feel about their situation. The chapter draws on techniques that will be familiar to many team developers and counsellors.

Chapter 2, “How stories influence”, explores the psychology of storytelling in greater detail than in Tales for Trainers and draws on a range of research to illustrate the power of storytelling across human history, not just its use in training.

Chapter 3, “Sharing the story”, moves the context into organisational development, and how stories are used in organisations. Stories can be positive and negative. Disgruntled employees often draw on negative stories to explain what goes wrong and why they feel frustrated with the organisation. Leaders often quote positive stories, which may or may not motivate their staff. Stories define the culture of the organisation and their effectiveness depends on the extent to which they are in line with the culture. The role of the organisational developer is to get the balance of positive and negative and look for the stories, the telling of which will help the organisation move forward. There is no mention of appreciative enquiry, as such, in this chapter, but a lot of the message is similar. The role of the organisational developer is to help members of the organisation to learn from their own stories, especially the positive ones.

Chapter 4, “Telling the tale”, has a section on the uses of storytelling in training, how it can be used for induction, for group discussion and even for evaluation. This is followed by a section on how to choose the appropriate story for the situation, and some guidance on how to tell stories effectively, by, for example, getting the balance right between the serious and the humorous and using your voice well.

Part 2 takes up just over half of the book and is full of stories, each one or two pages long. These are divided into:

  • 20 Enlightening tales;

  • 20 Cautionary tales; and

  • 10 Happy endings.

The stories come from East and West. Some are well known, others less so. Some are stories from friends and colleagues of the author. Some are her own family stories. There is guidance on how to use the stories in training, with examples of what each story might be used for and some ideas for discussion points.

Pete SayersFormerly Head of Training and Development, University of Bradford, Bradford, UK

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