Went to see Mary Poppins at the Cadillac Palace Theater. And yes, she does fly! After the show, I got to thinking about … what else? Training. It is, after all, one of the things THE super-nanny does best. So here I’ve captured some of her lessons. Especially nowadays, when training dollars seem harder to come by, as managers, business owners and people motivators, it behooves us all to take these to heart:

1. Match the trainer to the assignment.

Mary Poppins answers Jane and Michael’s nanny advertisement exactly as written, “rosy cheeks and all” to the confoundment of Mr. Banks, who thought he had torn up the ad into the fireplace! When choosing a trainer for your company, be sure (s)he will be able to speak your language, have an understanding and appreciation for your work, and some experience training in your work environment. Make sure the trainer can reach your people in a compelling way. This will help ensure the success of your event, and will also make every step of your interaction (assessment, contract, delivery, follow-up) smoother.

2. Tidy up!

One of the most memorable scenes is the fun-while-organizing routine where Mary Poppins makes a game of teaching the children to clean and arrange their room. Clear communication and organization is key when setting up a training event. When procuring a trainer, be sure to communicate your needs not just to them, but also to your people. Let them know why the training is important; why you believe it will make a positive difference. And, something very important and often ignored: Set your trainer up for success by providing a clean, organized environment away from interruptions for the training event.

3. Respect and honor people: all sorts. 

Mary Poppins treats everyone with appreciation and respect — the bird lady, the chimneysweeps, Mr & Mrs. Banks, the coronel, the dog! Don’t hesitate to communicate to the trainer your confidence and respect for your staff, their needs, strengths and challenges so that a relationship can begin to develop between them well in advance of the training event. Great trainers love this — it resonates with them. Great trainers believe in the unlimited capacity people have. They know of the amazing ability of people to learn new things, behave differently and change. Great trainers work to make this possible with love and respect.

4. Work hard play hard.

Balance. We see Mary Poppins work with the children to help them be patient, confident, do their chores, but also see them have great fun together. She shows Mr. Banks the value of lightheartedness, time with family, and even the value of sillyness. Most importantly she models behavior for him: how to provide discipline, love, support, respect and joy to his own family. A great trainer makes learning fun for your staff, while at the same time modeling discipline and right relationship. When hiring a trainer, be on the lookout for signals indicating they can truly enjoy their time with your staff, and that they’ll dare to bring some joy and fun to the event.

5. Listen, listen, listen.

Mary Poppins knows what the family needs because she truly pays attention. A great trainer constantly observes, looks, listens. The cues are always there: Are their (audience) eyes bright? Do we need a break? Are they a bit restless? Is this a breakthrough moment? Similarly, a great trainer listens to you the client and asks you the tough questions in order to develop and deliver the best possible training event.

In that way, a great trainer can deliver value that is “practically perfect in every way” … powerful, inspiring, unforgettable. Procuring a great trainer can be one of the best investments you can make in your company, and one of the most memorable gifts you can give to your staff.

Do you see other training lessons in “Mary Poppins”?

Please comment and join the conversation.