With an ever-widening skills gap on the horizon, it's imperative for businesses today to nurture a culture in which employees are motivated and committed to learning. Here are three steps to help you help your people be self-directed learners.
Each and every one of us owns our own performance through the conscious choices we make coupled with an attitude of constant curiosity for learning.
A great scene in a movie called The Blind Side, starring Sandra Bullock, reinforces the importance of this point. In the scene, she is dropping her birth son and adopted son at the school gates, and her parting words to them both are: ‘Have fun and learn something new today’. Now, while the ‘have fun…’ part is important, it’s the second part that really struck me as central to success: ‘…learn something new today’.
Sometimes, particularly as adults, we slip into the trap of complacency, operating in a state of unconsciousness where it feels like we are just going through the motions. It’s the day you slip into a place that I call ‘the groove or the grave’ – no man’s land. It’s the day you accept your place in the world of mediocrity where just enough is good enough. It’s the day when you lose your edge and stop being your best self.
If your people are not learning and bettering themselves every day, then they are not growing.
But a big challenge for many of us, including our people, is how we learn to improve ourselves. How can we get our people to be their own performance coach?
Now I’m not talking here about needing to learn a new skill and filling this gap by attending a course or programme.
What I’m talking about is getting them to show up every single day being the best version of themselves; achieving greatness in their field of endeavour, investing time every day to raise their personal standards and chasing perfection, even though perfection isn’t truly attainable.
Here are three important steps you can take to get your staff to be their own performance coach…
1. Learn something new today
Learn something new today should not be just a lesson from when you were a child, it should be a lifelong goal. Why?
Because one of the six core human needs is the need for growth – for emotional, intellectual or spiritual development. If your people are not learning and bettering themselves every day, then they are not growing.
Ask your people… ‘When was the last time you read a biography, a business or educational book? A book which feeds your mind, emotions or spirit?’ If they’re not a keen reader the same question applies; when did they last purchase an audiobook?
If their daily commute is, for example, 1.5 hours a day, that’s 7.5 hour per week. The average audiobook is 7 hours. That’s one audiobook per week! Get them to turn their mode of transport into a learning environment (university on wheels!)
If they don’t have a long commute or drive to work, what about in the gym or whilst out running? Imagine the potential they could unlock with just this one strategy.
Help them to download podcasts, watch a TED talk, get active on Pinterest, join and participate in groups on Facebook or LinkedIn, attend a webinar or get active in the community. Choose something which helps them grow personally or professionally.
As part of your team meeting, ask the question; ‘what have you learned today?’ Ask them to reflect on their successes, achievements and learning opportunities at the end of each day.
2. Setting their standards for personal excellence
How do you set standards of personal excellence, so you are being the best version of you every day?
I’ve spent two decades coaching and mentoring business leaders, managers, owners and entrepreneurs and my first question is always ‘where are you setting your bar personally and professionally?’ This simple question often results in an awkward silence so, to bring it to life, I use an exercise called Raising the Bar, which you can use with your people.
The exercise begins with me asking the individual to pick up an imaginary bar and hold it above their head at 6ft in the air. I then ask them to write down three easy strategies to get over the 6ft bar. Answers always include pole jumping, standing on a chair, leap frogging – you name it, I’ve heard it!
Now I ask the individual to raise the same bar so it’s 100ft in the air and write down five strategies to get over the 100ft bar. This is where the answers get creative…build a wall, hire a crane, shoot yourself out of a cannon... honestly, I’ve heard this one.
here is a misconception that we can ‘will ourselves to success’.
Then, I close out the exercise by asking will the strategies to get you over the 6ft bar get you over the 100ft bar? Obviously, no. Will the strategies that get you over the 100ft bar get you over the 6ft bar? Yes, absolutely, every day of the week.
So, the key question is this… ‘where are your people setting their bar personally and professionally? Do you know? Do they even know?’ Is their bar set at 6ft and therefore they’re having 6ft thoughts, or is it set at 100ft and they’re having 100ft thoughts?
At the 6ft bar we’re thinking from a narrow tunnel perspective, doing just enough to hit the mark, no more and no less. However, at the 100ft bar we’re thinking from a wide funnel perspective, stretching our minds with the possibilities and the opportunities open to us in both our personal and professional lives.
Don’t let your people fall into the trap of setting limiting beliefs by aiming only for a 6ft bar. Get them to set their sights on the 100ft bar and surprise themselves with what they can achieve. As Michelangelo famously said... “The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high, and we miss it, but that it is too low, and we hit it.”
3. Accountability comes from within
There is a misconception that we can ‘will ourselves to success’. Honestly, in all my experience, I’ve never come across this actually working!
This is their performance, their standards of excellence, so no surprise, it’s down to them to make this happen. But them taking sole accountability doesn’t mean they have to go it alone.
Help them set up an ‘accountability buddy’, someone who will stretch and challenge them to grow. Support them in finding a mentor either on an informal or more formal basis. Remember, a mind once stretched never returns to its original dimensions.
About Royston Guest
Royston Guest is a leading authority on growing businesses and unlocking people potential. Having spent two decades coaching and mentoring business owners, leaders and entrepreneurs Royston knows what it takes to build a great business.
An entrepreneur at heart, Royston sold his first business after 3yrs for £1.4m. Since then he’s built multiple businesses including his global business growth consultancy and people development business which he is currently CEO.
Royston is passionate to make a real tangible difference helping business owners, leaders and entrepreneurs deliver accelerated, sustained and profitable business growth. His energy and enthusiasm is contagious, inspiring others to take action.
- Author of business growth book, Built to Grow a proven time-tested model to unlock real business potential full of strategies, tools and ideas.
- CEO of Pti Worldwide, a Global Consultancy and People Development Business spanning over two decades, clients in 27 countries, helping tens of thousands of businesses across a multitude of sectors, enterprises, and governments.
- Founder of livingyourfuture™ the ‘go-to’ place for personal transformation & growth.
- Accomplished Business Strategists, Executive Coach and Facilitator with a proven track record for delivering business growth.
- Acclaimed world renowned Conference Speaker for more than 10 years, speaking at 110 events last year alone, inspiring over 30,000 people
- Active Business Growth Blogger regularly featured in print, online and on radio including BBC Radio, The Guardian, Mail Online, realbusiness.co.uk and many more.