How to Really Teach Your Employee

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Consider Bob. Conventional wisdom says Bob learns best when he's in the classroom, reading a really, really, really good book. We say: blah! What Bob reads in books or learns in classrooms rarely reflects what he'll experience in the real world. To rock the real world, immerse Bob in it. Then, use books and classrooms as the turbo kits to accelerate his learning. Three sweet tips to teach Bob:

  1. Stop throwing books at Bob

    No, we're not saying you shouldn't give Bob books. Books are good. We love books. Given at the right time, books become priceless. Here's what we're saying: if the book doesn't apply to what Bob's doing in two hours, don't hand him a book. It's fruitless if it doesn't apply to his daily activities. He won't retain any useful information, and/or trash the book. We're big fans of books, but they're needed most at the right time; that is, after you..
  2. Throw Bob into the flamin' fire.

    "Bob, you have minimal programming experience in this, but I need you to build a classified listings web application. Here's $5,000. I expect it done in two months." It's the whole "learning by doing" concept. Beautiful. Fan-tab-ulous. We love it. When you throw Bob into the fire, you drive him to produce results. That gets him learning quickly. He'll use any means necessary -- including reading various books if needed -- to accomplish his assignment. And if he doesn't accomplish his mission? He'll learn more than any freakishly sweet book could teach him. Throw Bob into the fire. Then, watch him learn his butt off.
  3. Challenge Bob, like the bad-ass that he is.

    What most companies do: "Hey, let's get that boy a training manual. He can't learn to be the best worker without one." What the best companies do: Beyond the flamin' fire: "Hey, let's throw Bob an astronomical challenge." People learn best when you challenge them to accomplish bold, incredible, exciting goals. It's like telling Grandmother Abagail she'll win $1,000,000,000 if she makes 20 consecutive basketball free throws, in two weeks. Imagine what she'll do the next two weeks. It's an extreme analogy, but it works: when you challenge your employees to empower their skills, you drive them to become superstars. Bob yearns for a big challenge. He doesn't know it. You do.

The sweet, rockin' template to teach Bob:

"I will freakishly challenge Bob."


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Posted on July 29

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