When the workshop goes over time or is over too soon

Not all groups are equally sensitive to deviations from the planned agenda, but what matters most is a sense of being included in the decision making. If, when conducting a workshop, I notice that it may run over, I usually let the group know that is was a possibility, and if more than 15 extra minutes is required, I ask for their approval for the extension, explaining why it is important to finish the workshop. In my experience approval is always given, but there were many cases of dissatisfaction with the workshop running late when the participants were not informed of this beforehand. When it comes to finishing earlier, this usually happens when the participants are not as actively engaged as the training team expected they would be. In these cases, I do not hesitate to add a short break during which the team can consult on what to do with the extra time, whether to finish early or to slot in another activity that we assess as meaningful. More important than using up the time is understanding the origin of the discrepancy between the expected and actual level of engagement, and what it indicates, so that the rest of the training could be adjusted to fit the need identified. Perhaps the participants stayed up together the night before until the early hours and were too tired to participate fully, or perhaps they felt daunted by the topic, or maybe there was something else that disrupted the working atmosphere – are the relations with the team members not as expected, is the methodology aligned with the energy in the room, etc?