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Leveraging the value from learning opportunities

posted 2017-07-29 by Donna

Your team is currently snowed under with a project and you know that everyone is stretched a bit thin. This morning, an employee brought to your attention an upcoming learning opportunity on team dynamics. You anticipate he will benefit so you approved him to go. He is a star employee and you are satisfied you made the right decision. However, given the current workload on the team, have you thought about whether there is a way to leverage this learning experience beyond only him?

Setting an expectation that someone attending a learning opportunity brings something back of value to their team has multiple benefits:

  • An employee who is aware beforehand that he is going to need to explain something learned to others changes the experience of the learning. He will listen differently, experience the exercises differently and more directly apply the information as he learns it to his own work team.
  • The adage that you don’t really understand something until you can explain it to someone is accurate. If your employee is able to articulate a concept to the others on his team in a way that they really get it, his own understanding is deepened, as is the likelihood that he will apply it in his work.
  • The transfer of knowledge creates a new leverage point for the whole team. This can occur formally as with the point above, or more organically (“hey, I learned last week that if we make this one change in how we approach this problem, we will be more effective. How about we try this?”)

One caution: the best way to capitalize on the opportunity is not to ask for a presentation or lecture to the team. Instead, ask the person to answer two or three carefully structured questions. Some examples: What was one thing you learned that unsettled you? What are two things you learned that you think would help our team the most? What is something we do right now that you think we should stop doing, based on what you learned?

Making agreements with employees attending workshops to bring their learning back to their teams will help them to achieve deeper learning while simultaneously leveraging the value for the whole team.