Last week, we closed the Centre for two days so that our whole staff could participate in training for our new and improved (although intensely challenging) data management system. It was a great opportunity to tax our brains in a whole new way and all of us were exhausted after two full days of presentations and discussion.
At the end of it, we recognized that the real learning hadn’t started yet. We had gotten lots of information but hadn’t yet turned it into knowledge. That will come I expect (and hope) with a targeted program for each of our staff segments.
Learning job-related information while on the job is a bit different than being a full-time student. Sure we were getting paid to learn rather than paying to learn, but the nature of the training meant that work issues regularly crept into our thoughts; some folks had their smart phones and iPads handy and took breaks from time-to-time to catch up on client calls. Some of us interspersed our notes with little side lists and mind maps that captured fleeting ideas tangential but not directly connected to the information being imparted on our screen. Lots of right and left brain activity going on, lots of processing, absorbing, stretching of brain cells. The pressure is on -- none of what we learned was abstract and we have to be able to put this into practice in short order.
So this comes full circle because all this training to assist us managing information about our clients got me thinking about our clients and the training we deliver to them. It’s true that knowledge is power but if you don’t know how to use the knowledge it’s not very powerful. I won’t feel as if I know this new program until I get my hands on it and begin entering information. On the other hand, I don’t know enough to feel confident to actually DO anything until I’ve checked it in the manual! Who’s got time for this??
So where does this leave us? Learning is time-consuming, tiring and can be uncomfortable because it challenges what we think we know and makes us stretch in ways we might not think possible, or to places we don’t really want to go. Last week’s training confirmed two important lessons for me that had nothing at all to do with the software:
So often we hear from our clients that they simply don’t have time to attend a presentation or a class. We are going to continue to encourage them to learn as much as they can wherever they can. Last week our team realized the incredible value in dedicating a large block of time to learning, particularly in the area of technology adoption. Always good that we practice what we preach!