I got on my bike with some help; my dad held the back of my seat while I peddled. He let go — I fell. He gave me a few tips (coaching) — I tried again and got a little farther. More coaching , a little more help and soon I was cruising the neighborhood.
Why do we abandon this very effective training method when we introduce learning and development programs? My experiences as a student were usually inspiring. I fantasized about applying the training, but a month later, work activities pushed out the application and the good ideas faded from memory.
My experience is not an anomaly; the research for decades has shown that my experience is the norm, and no matter how badly I wanted to include the new ideas in my thinking, The Ebbinghaus forgetting curve would strike again. I would forget 90% of it.
But what if leaders applied the lessons from learning to ride their bikes to corporate training? They would teach the new skill, talk about applying it, and then send them out to practice. They would bring failures back and receive some pointers. Then, try again, fail a little less, and repeat.
Most readers of this blog get the point; many may have successfully taught a child to ride a bike. But when it comes to executing an idea like this, they get stuck. The one-on-one coaching session starts with small talk, followed by questions about how things are going and a couple of suggestions. Fifteen minutes into the hour-long session, both the coach and the employee look at each other awkwardly and then wrap up early. Eventually, the sessions are regularly canceled or rescheduled, and no change occurs.
The Dilemma: Classroom Style Training Does Not Seem to Work and No One Knows How to Coach
Dr. Dave Popple at Psynet Group developed a better way. They are called Psynet POWER MeetingsTM (PPMs) and effectively structure meetings to make learning stick.
Psynet Group believes that classroom training without follow-up on-the-job coaching is a massive waste of time. These coaching sessions follow the same POWER plan to incorporate these concepts.
For those of you reading a Psynet Group blog for the first time, PPM meetings are:
- Positives – Focus on what is going well to inspire similar solutions elsewhere
- Obstacles – Build awareness of what gets in the way of success
- Wisdom – Inspire an active reflection of what they are learning from their successes and challenges
Discussion transitions to working together to build on what is going well and resolve what is not:
- Enhancements – Leverage successes for continuous improvement
- Remedies – Overcome obstacles and create a solution-focused framework
For PPMs to have an optimized effect, leaders must include the following concepts:
Psynet POWER MeetingsTM Turn Learning into an Interactive Process
PPMs are a dialogue, not a lecture. The more active the participation, the more likely it will resonate. This approach will feed the following:
- Increase innovation and divergent thinking
- Create a mindset of taking control of one’s development
- Improve engagement
PPMs Focus Employee Attention on What Matters
- If I know I am going to be asked about positives, I will look for positives during the workday so I have something to say.
- If I know that I am going to be asked about obstacles, I will pay attention to what is keeping me from succeeding
- If I know I am going to be asked about what I learned, I will hold insights in my mind and they will stick
When employees are actively thinking about these three things, they won’t stop themselves from thinking about enhancements and remedies.
PPMs Take Advantage of Open Loops to Motivate Learning
Why won’t they be able stop themselves from coming up with Enhancements and Remedies? Because the obstacles will create “open loops” in their brains, which are uncomfortable. People are inspired to close these loops when they are aware of them (O) and believe they can impact them. This belief in their ability to solve problems and improve ideas increases because they are also holding new learnings (W) and recent successes in their mind (P).
PPMs Use the Struggle to Make Learning Sustainable
For the manager, the solutions seem obvious and the improvement ideas come quickly. Managers have often seen similar problems before and their intuition is finely tuned by experiencing repeating patterns. However, the manager must resist the temptation to blurt out the answers. Instead, the most effective approach is to join the employee in the struggle to generate insights. Just like days and months of cutting across someone’s lawn eventually creates a path, the struggle wears in the neural pathways that make the insights stick.
PPMs Take Advantage of the Fail-Fast Mentality
PPMs work best when they end with an assignment to apply the insights gained from a seminar or during the session. Suppose the employee succeeds in using them? Then on to the next growth area. But more often than not, they will fail at some level. When this happens, the manager leads a POWER discussion of what worked despite the failure, what got in the way of their success, and what did they learn so they can do it better next time. Next, they struggle with the Enhancements and Remedies.
The Sticking Point
The point is that if the information is worth knowing, a seminar alone will not make it stick. Instead, a leader must follow the seminar with Psynet POWER Meetings.
The final point, the one that really sticks is having a manager or leader coaching through the process. There are no shortcuts. Any and all learning initiatives require some coaching.
About the Author: Jody Popple, PhD is Director of Family Business Services & Women’s Leadership Development at Psynet Group