Updated: Mar 22, 2021
Past weekend I was reading the book "The school of life", written by multiple psychologists, philosophers and writers. The book stated that a good school shouldn't tell us only things we've never heard of before. It should focus on rehearsing things we theoretically know, yet have practically forgotten. This inspired me to make the link with the business world, because there as well, repetition is key in adopting change, learning new things, or installing a certain culture.
Since childhood, our learning methods have always been about memorizing as much new information as possible. Because of this, we tend to judge the quality of what we learn based on the amount of new information we receive and we judge the quality of a trainer based on how much materialistic, technical or scientific knowledge they have.
However, receiving brand new information a whole day long, does not make a training outstanding, neither does knowing a lot of stuff make a person skilled. The reason behind this is the following.
Insights without action do not result in reaction.
When we started giving trainings to business teams in our corporate jobs, we wondered how it came that people - how enthusiastic and inspired they often were - failed to actually use the learnings in their job afterwards. After doing some research to understand the reasons behind this, we found out we focused too much on what we wanted to teach them rather than showing them how to actually use all the knowledge.
If you want lessons or change to last, it's not about transferring knowledge. It's about teaching people how to put that knowledge into practice and repeating it a lot. While routine or rituals may seem like unnecessary events, it's actually key to turn what we - sometimes subconsciously - already know into habits.
These insights can also be translated to business teams. If you want to increase trust within your team, it's not enough to just tell people they need to trust you or others more. If you want to install a feedback culture, it's not enough to teach them about feedback and do an exercise once. If you want to create a safe environment for people to open up, it's not enough to say 1 time that failure and mistakes are ok.
If you want to successfully achieve all of these things and guide your team through the process of change, you'll have to invest in it. You have to teach them HOW they can change and you need to make sure you put in place the structures and routine that will help them to adopt it.
Add trust by doing trust-creating exercises in your team meetings and do them consistently every time. Install a feedback culture by for example creating a weekly feedback standup or adding 10mins in every face-to-face dedicated to giving each other feedback.
Let me say it one last time: When you want people to really remember something, when you want your team to behave differently or be able to deal with change: focus on HOW, not on WHAT and make sure the how includes repeated practice.
Needless to say we believe repetition is key, right? Let's put it to the test and see how long you'll remember this article :-)