I ran across this quote recently, from the English author and critic Samuel Johnson:
How true! By the time people reach adulthood, they’ve probably heard pretty much everything they need to know in order to succeed at business (and as business team members). But who can remember everything their parents, teachers and coaches have told them over the years? A couple of years back, I took the GRE; how dismaying to realize I’d forgotten all my mathematics and had to relearn it!
I believe adult learners pull back from “teaching”. They reject trainers who speak to them as if they were kids. And they respond far better to instruction when you express respect and admiration for them, as experienced, capable adults. A big part of this approach is *reminding” rather than “instructing”.
Here’s what that kind of “reminding” might look like at the beginning of a training session:
“I assume that, as professionals, this is not your ‘first rodeo’. You already know how pretty much everything about to work together as teams. Over the years, you’ve received excellent instruction about teamwork, cooperation, group decision-making, etc. However, I also assume that, as humans, you’ve forgotten much of what you’ve learned. ‘Use it or lose it’, as the old saying goes. My job today is not to ‘teach” you about the best practices of team building, but rather to ‘remind’ you of what you already know.”
Try this the next time you have to “teach” something to a group and observe the difference.