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From the Road

What Happens in Vegas . . .

Oh, the Vegas Rule. What a simple little phrase: “What happens here, stays here!”

Being raised in Nevada, I always enjoy a solid reference to the state of my heart (feel free to join me in the first verse of “Home Means Nevada” if you’re a Nevadan at heart, or take a short Google field trip to enjoy someone else singing it in case you’re not familiar).

Now that you’re back from your mini parenthetical field trip, what, if anything, does this have to do with training? Well it’s only one of the most commonly invoked ground rules by trainers to insure confidentiality in a class. And I’ve noticed an upswing in the number of trainers who include this rule during the expectations—setting portion of their classes.

I think it provides participants some comfort to know that anything discussed with their learning partner won’t leave that room. And unfortunately, all too often it never does. Participants work on tough messages, practice useful skills, and then, “what happened there, stays there.” They treat their application case-related discussions as a guilty pleasure only to be indulged in the secret, dark corners of a training room. And since they miss the opportunity to further grow and develop their skills with a real world application, they are left with vague, but positive recollections of a safer place where all skills were good, and all conversations productive—if only they could transport back to the safety of the classroom experience.

So as much as it pains me to even allow the words to escape my mouth, you need to be actively working on ways to counteract the long-term affects of the Vegas Rule. And make sure you’re approaching it in a balanced manner. Be very clear that while participants won’t be required to “go public” with all of the details of their learning partner discussions during the class, the whole point of the training is to make sure that “what happens here, transfers to there,” wherever their “there” happens to be.

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Steve Willis

As one of the original trainers at VitalSmarts, Steve has been on the forefront of developing award-winning training programs, perfecting quality training platforms, and delivering training content that has influenced more than 500,000 people to date. In addition, Steve has trained and certified thousands of employees, managers, and trainers from Fortune 500 companies across the nation. read more

3 thoughts on “What Happens in Vegas . . .”

  1. I always use the rule “Stories stay in, learning goes out” in conjunction with Confidentiality/the Vegas Rule.

  2. I took a leadership class a few years back. Later I discovered that the Class Administrator was keeping a book on me and twisted things I said and did in the classroom, and without discussion with me forwarded them up my chain of command. This negatively impacted by career. The contractors tried to do this again recently, but this time we had better leadership in place that asks questions rather than listens to accusations. On the other hand, my organization continues to employ these people and told me to file an EEO complaint if I had problems. I am looking for a leadership job in our training office, and wonder if that is the best route for me. Isn’t there some kind of arbitrary code of ethics regarding trainer and admin staff behavior in the classroom? Should I call the contractors employer? Any advice for me?

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