Why Your Managers Need to Get Their Hands Dirty
Have you ever seen what a fridge looks like in a household with kids? In these homes, the kitchen fridge isn’t just a place to store food and drink. Far from it. The fridge is the ‘wall of fame’, showing off their mini-Picasso masterpieces.
And there’s a lot of them.
Why so many? Because creating fridge-worthy art is beneficial. ‘Doing’ is how we learn.
We don’t teach a child how to use glue by making them read the instructions on the back of the tube, do we? Or how to use a pencil by explaining the technique. The obvious – and natural – way to help develop their skills is to get stuck in.
So why don’t we use the same method for developing management skills? For developing better leaders?
There’s a gap between theory and practice
Kids and adults – we’re not really that different. Whatever our age, we tend to learn better when we’re actively involved in something, rather than simply listening to someone talk about it.
This is precisely why we undertake a practical driving test. Can you imagine the havoc on the roads if the driving test was theory only? The practical test ensures everyone really can drive, not simply understand how to do it from reading a textbook or watching a YouTube video!
So, practical and hands-on is a great way to learn, but it is so often overlooked when developing managers within organisations. And this is a problem.
Simply focusing on the theoretical side of leadership development leaves a gap between the knowledge a manager has, and their ability to apply it. They may know how best to deal with a potential conflict between members of their team – but can lack the ability to transform theoretical knowledge into action that delivers results.
The role of experiential learning within organisations
Experiential learning encourages learners to get involved in their own development. They don’t just read text, listen to a presentation or watch a video. They’re actively involved in hands-on tasks that help build both skills and confidence. Essentially, it’s a way of getting stuck in.
So… does it really work?
Imagine you need to develop your managers’ communication skills to increase their leadership capability. Which of these techniques is more likely to really embed learning?
- Sending your managers an email outlining the basics of team communication. Ensuring that all managers know where to find more information about team communication on your internal network.
- Blindfolding an employee (with permission, of course!), sitting them in a buggy, and asking your managers to guide them safely around obstacles using nothing but the sound of their voice.
At Contigo, we take the latter, experiential approach.
Why? Because this approach doesn’t just tell managers how to communicate with their team. It enables them to see first-hand how the way they communicate can guide employees towards their goals. It allows them to understand how different forms of communication get through to different individuals with different needs.
And the benefit isn’t just for the managers.
The employee learns to put their trust in their manager; they understand the manager is committed to supporting them to perform in their role. Building trust between managers and their team is key to developing cooperation, collaboration and high performance.
Implementing powerful learning activities
What does experiential learning deliver?
- Confident managers who know how to lead.
- Employees who feel productive, energised and supported.
The impact of this combination is really quite profound. As a leadership development partner, we’ve seen time and time again how experiential learning can have a far-reaching impact beyond developing leadership skills and building confidence.
Experiential learning is a powerful method for developing a healthy, high-performing organisational culture that supports the bottom line, while also making recruitment and retention simply easier.
If you’re still using the ‘tell’ approach to develop managers’ skills, you’re not alone. But when you’re ready to really empower your teams through experiential learning, we can help. When clients implement our experiential learning programmes, their managers find the sessions more immersive and more memorable – and so are better able to apply what they learn to their role.
We specialise in the application of hands-on experiential learning that increase engagement and improve performance. And we do it ‘with you’. Get in touch to find out more or get the ball rolling by booking a FREE discovery call.