A hostage is the person that attends a workshop or meeting only because it is mandatory. They may sit quietly or they might attempt to convey to everyone that the particular training is of no value. Whatever tactic they use the leader must remember the hostage cannot be allowed to disrupt the class and that the individual's post-training performance will be reflected in the overall program success.
Dealing with hostages is something every supervisor, leader and facilitator must know. There are several methods the trainer can use to cognitively draw in the hostage so they will not only learn but also take their new knowledge back to their job site.
One method to deal with the hostage is to force them to participate. The word "force" may seem a little harsh to remember we are dealing with the hostage whose sole purpose is to make sure he or she does not get anything out of the session. Look for a topic where this hostage has particular knowledge or experience that will contribute to the overall learning of others while making the hostage feel like a valuable class member.
How do you force this participation when someone does not even want to be in attendance? Normally the hostage has built up some sort of seniority (new employees seldom want to make waves). The hostage’s longevity on the job means that they have seen earlier changes, attempts at teamwork or changes to a corporate culture that may or may not have worked in the past. Let them share those experiences but be ready to comment that this is a new process that will be deployed differently than in the past.
If they attempt to abstain from group exercises asked him to be an observer. During debrief for the exercise asked them to share some of their observations. If this doesn't work, appoint him as an observer for you next participatory session have them be an observer again the make a point to discuss their observations privately before the exercise is over. Then you can credit them as you share their observations.
Watch for the hostages as you facilitate your next training session and be prepared to involve everybody. It is a very culture of the organization that has created the hostage situation so you will not find success when the learning value of the workshop is evaluated for the return on investment unless you free the hostage of the negativity.