The best way to learn a practical skill is to receive immediate, helpful feedback while you are performing the task. I was reminded of this fact this morning at our junior basketball competition. Next to each referee was an apprentice referee in a green shirt, whistle in mouth ready to make the call. They get six weeks of working with an experienced ref but only get their stripes when they can demonstrate their ability to confidently and accurately blow their whistle and do what a ref needs to do.
So why don’t we employ a similar approach in the workplace? Managing staff, conducting performance reviews, facilitating sales meetings, leading teams, co-ordinating communities of practice, and I’m sure you can think of a heap of others, are practical skills you need to learn which you just can’t read from a book.
I suspect workplace cultures make these types of apprenticeship initiatives embarrassing. “I’ve been employed to do this job and I can’t let anyone know I have a lot to learn. Plus I don’t want to bother anyone else.” Organisations that make an apprenticeship approach just part of the norm are going reap the rewards.
About Shawn Callahan
Shawn, author of Putting Stories to Work, is one of the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on: