by Dennis Roberts

Every waking moment is a learning opportunity. It is a mindset and philosophy as much as practical skill set. We all learn at a different pace and in different ways. The challenge as a leader is to acknowledge the diversity in the learning opportunity.

Learning is a form of growth and growing pains and discomfort come with the territory. Positive reinforcement is essential to creating an effective learning environment. Aside from formal education through our schools and tertiary institutions the workplace is an ideal learning environment.

Learning results from stimulation of the senses and the field of neuro-linguistic programming suggests we may have sensory preferences where one is more prevalent than another.

There are four critical elements of learning that must be addressed to ensure effectiveness:

Motivation – it is a critical pre-condition that the learner has an appetite for acquiring new knowledge or skills. The environment must be conducive to learning and growth. Mistakes will be made and they form an integral part of the learning experience. Reward the leaner’s participation and find the right level of stretch in creating the learning experience.

Reinforcement – be generous in giving constructive feedback, both formal and informal. Positive reinforcement is essential to creating the desired behavioural change. Note: constructive feedback is neither positive nor negative, it is constructive.

Retention – give context to the learning. Retention of new information is easier to digest, understand and integrate when it is understood in context with the business goals, desired outcomes of the learning, practical application of new skills, etc.

When learners can see the meaning and purpose of new information they more readily embrace it. If the learner does not learn the original material well then they will not retain it well either. Give practical, on the  job, opportunities to demonstrate retention and application.

Transference – there are two types of transference - positive (where the learner uses the new behaviour) and negative (where the learner does not use the new behaviour) and results in a desired outcome. Transference is the ability to transfer what is being learned to a new setting.

Personal coaching is based on these adult learning principles. You can play a major role in the development of your people. When you lead an organisation make sure you devote time and energy to the performance of your staff and their ongoing personal and professional development.

by Dennis Roberts 



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