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Thursday Insight - When Children Know Best

Thursday Insight - When Children Know Best

“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

I really love this quote by Mark Twain; it’s so accurate, if a tad wince inducing when I reflect on my teenage self! 

Beneath Twain’s subtle, self-effacing humour lies an important message – it is only as we get older that we learn to understand and appreciate the knowledge and wisdom that comes from every year of life we’ve lived.

Yet that doesn’t mean that we adults can’t learn from what we did as a child.

Think back on your younger years. What can you remember about the times you learnt a new skill such as learning to swim, sew, bake, roller skate, skateboard or ride a bike? How did you go about it? Who helped you? How long did it take? What did you do to get better and better?

The chances are you will have had lots of encouragement, lots of practice, the occasional mishap, more encouragement and the happy feeling of mastering a new skill that brought you much happiness; maybe that joy is still there today when you ride your bike, hurtle around on a skateboard, or bake a cake.
Is this an experience you recognise? Can you relate to the journey?

Hopefully the answer is a resounding “yes!”

But is that experience replicated after formal training in the workplace? How much time do you get to practice, make mistakes, learn from them, and apply what you’ve learnt by practising some more?

Sadly, when it comes to formal workplace learning, the chances are that your answer, like most people’s, is “not enough!”

The good news is that wanting to do something to address this is precisely why we developed Managers’ Library. As training professionals, we know that new skills are only truly learned with a combination of Practice, Coaching and Reinforcement.

That is after all how we all learned to swim/ride a bike/bake a cake etc. That cycle of Practice, Coaching and Reinforcement is why we have those skills today.
So, next time you send someone on a training course, take some time to think about how you can support them as they apply that learning. Here are a few top tips to help:

1. Before the training, help your team member set personal objectives for what they want the training to achieve.

2. Ensure they complete any pre-course work.

3. Book in a 1:1 the day after the training to discuss what they learnt.

4. During that 1:1, go through their Action Plan to agree:
  • Targets.
  • Behaviour changes they will implement.
  • What support you will be offering.
  • When and how you will follow up.
5. Follow up on their progress; congratulate them when you spot them applying their learning.

As a Managers’ Library member, you can also use our Training Activities to reinforce that learning. If in doubt, just ask me and I’ll happily assist you to identify material that will help.

So, remember to learn from your younger self; whether you’re hoping to develop your own skills or those of your team, it’s all about:

Practice, Coaching and Reinforcement.
 Until next time...

August 10 2017 Frances Ferguson
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Frances Ferguson

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