More and more, job candidates ask the question "What will I learn here?"
If they don't like the answer, chances are they'll keep looking.
For leaders, managers, and heads of projects, helping people learn is
a critical contribution to both individual and organizational success.
We often know what we should be doing and what works. So, here are four quick reminders about learning that can make a difference.
Four To Remember
1. Arouse Curiosity. For every action there's a reaction.
When we say or do something, people want time to react to it, talk
about it, and understand what it means to them.
Practical Application: Allow
time for questions and answers. The give-and-take after you speak is
where people actually learn and where they begin to develop an affinity
for, and commitment to, the topic. Even if you're an expert, the
learning takes place as a result of people wrestling with the
information or idea rather than being the recipients of a data dump--no
matter how eloquent you may be .
2. Build self-confidence. How you deliver and discuss the
information impacts how people feel about learning it. People with
position power--managers, supervisors, team leaders--all have the
ability to build confidence in the learners or create a defensive
Practical Application: Tell
the group at the outset that you value their questions and that you
hope they'll jump in when they experience an "Aha!" or a "Help me, I
don't get it." When someone asks a question, throw it back out to the
group to give someone else a chance to form an answer that may be
framed in a way different than your own. Thank people whenever they ask
a question or offer an answer.
3. Involve! Even as youngsters, we knew who the
teachers were who made learning exciting, interesting, and engaging.
Why not be the "managerial version" of your best teacher. And remember
this: Managers Are The Mediators of Motivation.
Practical Application: Take
some time to develop questions and put people into groups to address
them; if you're talking about a new marketing approach, give people a
block of time to do a concept and present it to the group. The time you spend designing their activities will pay off
in engaged learners and, ultimately, real learning.
4. Make Room For the 'New'. Unless you're involved in safety
procedures, accounting rules, or a regulatory issue, people want to be
able to offer their own "variation on a theme." One of the reasons to
bring people together is to capitalize on the collective creativity and
varying viewpoints in the room.
Practical Application: Give people latitude to take the discussion in directions that you
never thought of. Remember, you're in charge--but to try to be in control will shut down the kind of learning that the group--and you--have an opportunity to experience.
the noise level goes up and people start debating, discussing, and
delving into the topic, you've been successful. Let it go until the
energy begins to die down. Then, capture the points that they were
making with their co-workers and discuss next steps. When learners sit
passively, you may feel more relaxed because you feel in control not
having to respond to questions or manage the group. What it may really
mean is that they aren't engaged, aren't learning, and are waiting
"until the bell rings" so they can go back to their workspace.
How about offering up some of your own experiences and some tips for the community?