Hannah Paterson is Insight and Content Editor at the DBA.
Playback to fast-forward: the value of knowledge sharing for your team
There’s no denying the value of developing your team, but learning shouldn’t stop when someone leaves the training venue.
“To maximise the return on investment of training our people, we must actively offer opportunities for them to embed theory in practice”, says The Conversation Space’s Emily Cosgrove. “This allows the person to exploit the knowledge gained and understand how what they are learning is relevant to them – relevant to their work and the way they can do things.”
“Following up training with these opportunities when back in the workplace, not only helps to consolidate it but also helps to focus on the individual – what their take on the learning has been, and how you can help them to make it more discernible in their everyday work,” she adds.
For anyone returning from a training course, there’s much value in having an on-going dialogue with their manager about the experience. Asking team members to playback what they have learnt into the rest of the team can also deliver wide-ranging benefits.
If that sounds a little nerve wracking for some, then that actually could be a good thing. Neuroscientist Dr David Rock believes that ‘a little fear is the best condition for learning’ and Greenwich based agency, Cog Design has found with its ‘knowledge sharing initiative’, that “Often the people who are most nervous about presenting are the ones who feel the most benefit,” according to Founder Michael Smith.
Cog set up their initiative (where team members share their training experiences), for all sorts of reasons, but the key ones were, says Michael, because “it’s great experience for each of us to practice presenting stuff in a safe and non-threatening environment (rather than jumping straight into a boardroom of clients). Whoever is talking will be the ‘expert in the room’, which gives a great position of confidence to even the most nervous public speaker. It’s also expensive (in time more than money) for us to attend things that take us away from billable work, so we want to get the most out of that investment.”
Dr. David Rock describes learning that fits with the way our brain operates as “facilitating insights, in social situations that matter, over time”. He believes that ‘insights are more likely to be generated when we have time to reflect on content delivered with sufficient spacing to allow our pre-frontal cortex time to process information’* – so in other words, building in reflection time is a good thing; something Cog also believe is a benefit. “Everyone learns in different ways – some people find it invaluable to have the opportunity to recap and get their thoughts in order; that definitely helps those people to ‘own’ that knowledge and put it into practice,” he says.
“Asking someone to share their learning is a great way to creatively test them on the experience,” says Emily, “this not only passes on knowledge, but also helps both the individual and the organisation really consider and understand how the learning can be valuable from an individual perspective as well as for the wider business.”
Cog’s philosophy is to try to engender a culture of sharing that runs through everything they do, but is especially true of events and training they’ve invested in. They ask anyone who has been on a course, attended a conference, or training event, to tell the rest of the team about it.
“It’s not compulsory but we encourage people to give a presentation about their experience,” says Michael. That can be a review of the event, a summary of the highlights, or a full-on recreation of the whole thing. Usually it sits somewhere between those.
“There’s no set way of doing it – sometimes we save them up for our annual ‘discussion day’, when the whole team are gathered and we are focused on learning and talking, or we might all get together one lunchtime, or extend our weekly staff meeting to include a quick presentation,” he adds.
Michael believes the business has benefitted from a more knowledgeable and more confident team, whilst also building an impressive library of PDFs and presentations that everyone can refer back to. “The difference in confidence levels is tangible and lovely to see,” he says.
Developing your team can deliver multiple, wide-ranging benefits across your business. By actively embedding new learning into practice you’ll maximise your training investment whilst positively impacting on your team.
* Trisha Carter, blogging at the AHRI Convention / Neuroscience – Rethinking everything
Image credits: © Loeskiboom Dreamstime.com