Like a lot of people, my first real job began with two weeks of training.
Unlike a lot of people, the training never ended.
My first employer had a massive commitment to the professional development of employees. They proved quickly that it wasn’t just lip service in the company brochure.
Within hours of finishing “training,” supervisors were observing my customer interactions multiple times a week, listening in on customer calls daily, and scheduling weekly professional development meetings to keep my skills moving forward.
I learned quickly that when the question, “Are you open to some feedback on that interaction?” was asked, the only acceptable answer was, “Yes.”
While they didn’t get it perfect, they nailed a critical step most organizations miss. It’s the one step that determines whether or not people get the professional development they need.
We Do What We Know
Many of us spend a good chunk or our early lives in school. We attend classes, listen to lectures, memorize material for tests, and pass exams. While the system doesn’t work for everyone, it gets most people out of high school or college and somewhat prepared for the “real world.”
Subsequently, the leaders of a lot of organizations follow this same system: Send people to a training class. Perhaps measure attendance or give an exam to ensure they paid attention and…presto! Instant developed employee with new skills.
What Goes Wrong
What goes wrong is the the same thing that went wrong in my corporate finance class 20 years ago. I wasn’t particularly interested in the material and, since the standard was simply to pass the exam, I memorized what I needed to know in order to get done with the class.
And promptly forgot it days later.
Traditional training in organizations is too much like this. Many leaders and trainers essentially copy this model and bring it to their organization when developing people.
Right? Practice makes perfect.
Practice makes permanent. If you develop a skill the wrong way, you only make it more permanent the more times you do it. It becomes even harder to unlearn the wrong way to get closer to the right way.
It’s even worse when the assumption is made that a person is “developed” because they attended a training course. The worst enemy of professional development is the illusion of it.
How You Do It Better Than Almost Everyone Else
You avoid “practice makes perfect” trap with the right practice and strong coaching.
Of course the workshops, training programs, and seminars are essential to the professional development process. What’s also essential (and where most leaders and organizations fall short) is what you do next.
The best leaders and organizations invest time and resources into ensuring that people get mentored and coached, to ensure the knowledge they’ve gained translates into real behavior change. Face time and feedback show a commitment that the organization is serious about professional development and both help people get the right practice so they develop real skill.
It’s No Secret
Why has Dale Carnegie been successful for over 100 years? It’s because we put such a heavy weight during our work with clients on the right practice with strong coaching.
It’s not a trade secret and it doesn’t have to be – most leaders and organizations simply don’t follow through with a serious commitment to do this.
Will You Make the Commitment?
What change can you make now in the professional development activities of your organization to provide the right practice with strong coaching? Respond via the comments link below to join the conversation.
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