Over the last few years people have become obsessed with being the best that they can be. Whether it is fitness, or in the workplace, appearing to succeed is everything.
We live in a snapshot culture, pertaining perfection to image or videos that last mere minutes. A lot of effort and orchestration goes into this, but we all know they are not the everyday, they are poised and falsely perfected. Yet, we still aspire to these “successful” lifestyles.
Forgive the preamble; there is a point to this.
More often than not, our learning styles and development become part of this image culture. We are shown what perfect looks like and are expected to become it with little help from those around us. When this is demonstrated to us, we leave feeling inspired and motivated. But how long does that last? And how do we put it in to practice?
You’ve just gotten back to your desk. You’ve got a meeting in 5 minutes. Right, here we go, everything you’ve just learnt about how to give the perfect presentation is going to come into play. But does it? Can you even remember the ins and outs of your ‘training’? You can remember the trainer being enthused, but what was it he said about body language again?
So you try and put it into practice but you fail. Inevitably. Reverting back to your old methods and habits (Joyce and Showers, 2012).
Why does this happen?
We are given snapshots of these perfectly polished ‘experts’, who are supposed to make us ‘experts’ by simply disseminating information. Whether this is through eLearning or face-to-face ‘lessons’, this method of teaching is slowly losing its grasp on the learning and development sector. This is because, linking back to my somewhat overzealous title, we are surrounding our learning with disillusionment.
The expectation that we will walk away from the learning environment and become incredible human beings is huge, so when we fail or fail to improve, the failure is demotivating and leaves us all wondering why. We’ve received all the right information, haven’t we?
We expect, in our optimistic ways, to simply absorb and execute training without having the chance to practice ourselves. Without self-reflection it is exceptionally hard to change your behaviour.
Bringing our feelings into reflection (Pedler et al., 2001)
Information does not mean behaviour change
We can all become experts. But, without applying the theory we learn to our environment and being coached in relation to specific learning outcomes to promote critical thinking (Schon, 1983), behaviour will not change (Joyce and Showers, 2012).
Kolb’s experiential learning cycle (adapted from Kolb, 1984)
We need to move away from knowledge capital and towards human capital. A place in which we can coach and nurture the worker in order to encourage behaviour change. You can pass on knowledge, that much is true. But without nurturing and coaching, that knowledge will remain in the dusty cupboard of learning past. In order to become experts we need the opportunity to participate in additional learning activities, such as effective workplace-based coaching and self reflection in order to support learning and take action over our behaviour (Kolb, 1976).