That is a very strange title to read from a guy who has designed and delivered training for the last 25 years, and whose company provides a wide range of workshops, both inside organizations and in public settings.
But the title is accurate.
Training may not be the answer, and it most assuredly isn’t the whole answer.
So if you are responsible for developing leaders in your organization (and if you are a leader, this is part of your responsibility), or if you are looking for ways to expand your personal leadership skill set, listen carefully.
You’ve got to think outside the (training) box.
While this idea deserves far more conversation than I will have room for here, today I want to get you thinking about ways to create learning opportunities beyond a workshop setting. Here are seven to get you started.
Peer coaching. We know more than we realize, and when we sit down with a colleague, we can make progress on our challenges by talking them out in a non-threatening situation. Plus, the advice we give as a coach bolsters our confidence and solidifies what we already know. And of course, a coach, whoever they are, can provide an opportunity for accountability for application.
Mentoring. Similar to peer coaching, mentoring typically involves someone more senior (or at least more experienced in a specific skill or situation) working with a protégé. This can be formally built in an organization or not, but the power of mentoring to drive learning and growth is significant.
Book clubs. Many different formats fit here, and that is worthy of another post itself. A small or large group uses a book as the basis for learning and then conversation. Whether you read the full book, or go chapter by chapter, find what works in your organization and use books as a starting point for conversation, learning and application.
Learn and share. One of the most powerful ways to learn is to teach. This fact is strung through nearly all of the ideas here, but it is the specific idea behind this activity. Someone in the organization goes to a workshop, conference or convention, and on their return they are asked to share key lessons with a larger group. This exercise holds attendees accountable, focuses their efforts and energies, and provides great learning to others back at work.
Remote learning. There are more and more options for bite-sized learning that doesn’t require lengthy time and travel from the office. Consider the value of targeted learning from teleseminars, webinars and other remote events. These can be time and cost effective and allow groups to meet a specific learning goal. (We offer these regularly – you can learn more here).
Lunch and learn. This can be the way (or time) to do some of the other items on this list, but it can also be a term to describe bringing in an expert (internal or external) on a topic and letting them share experiences and knowledge on a very specific topic or skill. Imagine having senior leaders do these on a scheduled basis for other leaders in the organization. The value is far greater than just what gets discussed in those sessions.
Team learning challenge. Take a group interested in improving. Have them collectively decide on a specific skill or learning area, and let them loose to work on building their skills together. If the goal is clear, the approach here is self-directed learning, with a component of bringing people together to share what they are learning in the same arena. This could include any of the ideas above – or many others!
None of this means that training can’t or shouldn’t be a part of your process – it just isn’t enough by itself to create the learning and application you are looking for. Think about how you can, formally or informally, apply one of more of the ideas above in your organization. You will be pleased with the results you will gain when pairing these activities with training, or while waiting for training in the future.
A final note: while you can create all of these things on your own, if you are looking for organizational help in adopting and using tools like these, let us know; we’d be happy to help.