Box of Crayons Blog


3 Ways to Inspire Your Employees to Learn

Photo by Uku Praks

If I gave you the choice between 1.) a team who weren’t learning and weren’t growing or, 2.) some people who were committed to both increasing and fulfilling their potential, which one would you pick?

Tricky, I know.

This is your part of your job.

As a time-crunched manager, part of your job is to help your people expand and fulfill their potential. That’s good for you, for them and for your organization.

Coaching is certainly part of that. It’s not about you being a teacher so much as helping them learn.

But what you don’t want is dependency. You want people to take responsibility for their own growth and their own learning. You want to inspire your people to learn.

Now, that can be tricky. If school hasn’t beaten out a love of learning in most people, then going to a few of the standard corporate trainings should extinguish whatever spark is left.

But don’t despair. Here are three ways you can blow on the embers…

1. Connect it to the bigger picture

Part of the power of knowing your Great Work (and even better, committing to a Great Work Project), is that it creates a gap between where you are now and where you want to be. And gaps are just made to be filled.

Here’s the question you can ask:

What wisdom do you need that you don’t have now
to better do your Great Work?

2. Know how they like to learn

We’ve all got individual learning styles. Not only about being visual, verbal and kinesthetic in terms of how we take in information, but the style in which content is presented.

There’s always the “on the job” learning, which is crucial. But how do your people supplement that? Is it attending a conference (here’s one and another and another that I’m a fan of), or doing work online (here and here are two amazing resources) or attending a “live” program (we happen to have four fantastic options)? Or something else entirely.

Here’s the question you can ask:

When you’ve mostly successfully learned in the past,
what the elements that made it easy for you to learn? 

3. Teach them how to learn

In the post earlier this month about why employee learning matters,  I talked about the “coaching bookends” that help people learn.

The insight is that people don’t learn by being told something and they don’t even learn (or at least, not quickly) when they try something out.

They learn when they do what Dan Coyle calls “deep practice“. Help your people to understand how learning works. Give them a copy of Dan Coyle’s A Little Book of Talent. Explain the “bookend questions”. Teach them how to learn.

Here’s the question you can ask:

What helps you make learning stick?

And you?

What other strategies do you know that can inspire your people to learn?

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2 Responses to 3 Ways to Inspire Your Employees to Learn

  • ThatGuyKC

    Great insight. I’m not a people manager yet, but I love to learn and want to help others connect to value-added training that will engage their minds and give them practical tools.

  • Povl Henningsen

    Hi Michael from Denmark
    No long time no connection. This just to tell you that the above post should be required reading for all educational institutions. If you could get teachers/lecturers worldwide to take your thoughts on board a lot would look different. You are a required bookmark at an entrepreneurship centre in Denmark.
    So keep posting interesting stuff. Enjoy your Sunday.

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