Through shared learning opportunities, you can create the right conditions for your team to soar to new heights – together. I have seen the power of this process many times over the years, and it all begins by following the four steps below.
1. Identify areas of learning relevant to your teams.
For a leadership team, this could be leadership-related; for a front-line team, this could be dealing with conflict or stress in the workplace; for everyone, it could be communication skills, personal effectiveness, or training directly related to the work one does.
2. Identify a great source for the learning.
One of the best things about the YouTube revolution is that you can access the best of the best in the world for your team at no cost. Want to have Stephen Covey talk to your team about personal effectiveness? No problem. Want to have Patrick Lencioni talk about teamwork? No problem. Customer service skills? Take your pick from the best. I prefer using videos or in-person courses. Books are harder to use in the workplace because not everyone likes to learn this way.
3. Vet the trainer or materials thoroughly and make sure there is a fit with organizational values and your own beliefs.
Take the course yourself first or watch the videos yourself first. Make sure the material hits the mark and that you can be a champion for the message.
4. Have your team take the course, together if possible.
One businessman told me: “when we learn together, we earn together.” In my experience, learning together creates a common language and a sense of camaraderie that I find hard to achieve any other way. The most powerful example of this at IBEX is the seven-day leadership course offered by Linton Sellen of Winnipeg. So much of his material hits this blog that you may think I am paid to promote him (I am not). The IBEX team took the course together a few years ago and we continue to refer to the learning and feel bonded by it. Our newer leaders take the course and come back finally understanding our secret codes and feel part of the “leadership club”.
Recently we have been trying to improve the pace of software development. A series of blogs and videos from 37signals – a company we admire – helped us focus our efforts. They moved the discussion from vague and non-productive to specific and worthwhile.
Over the years we have done many kinds of learning together. Something special happens to teams that learn together. Companies I admire have this as part of their DNA. All of us leaders should be making group learning a part of our team-building and organization-building toolkits.