Our working lives are filled with people telling us stuff. Everyone has a message about how to work smarter, manage time better, solve problems more creatively, do less with more, etc. From our boss to upper management to well-intentioned training staff, it seems that someone is always telling us something we should do differently in order to be more successful.
The problem with all this well-intentioned talking is just that – it’s talking. Not doing. And it doesn’t necessarily help us learn.
Take as an example two pilots learning to fly planes. Both attend a 30-day course that will certify them to fly planes at the end. One course is very technical and involves looking at blueprints of the plane, reviewing detailed drawings of the control panel and cockpit instrumentation, and lengthy explanations of how to fly planes. The other course does none of that. Instead, from day one, it puts the pilot-to-be inside of the plane, touching the instrumentation, becoming familiar with what buttons control what, and even practicing driving the plane around on the tarmac. After a few days of that, the instructor takes the student pilot up in flight, gradually giving over more and more control to the student until s/he is flying the plane themselves.
Which pilot would you rather have flying your plane?
The reason that the second program is so much more appealing and effective is because it teaches by experience. It allows the students to interact with the information and material being taught through hands-on experience. It shows – not tells.
Great team building programs do the same thing for your team. Instead of lecturing your group about how they need to engage in better communication practices, share their resources, share their information, get out of their silos, draw on each other’s strengths, think more creatively about solving problems, etc., a great team building program is designed to give your team an experience that shows the participants that they can only be successful in completing the activities if they do all of those things. No one resists the lessons of the event because no one is shoving the message down their throats through verbal assault!
Next time you have an important lesson or message for your team about how they can be more successful, think about how much more impactful that message will be if you show instead of telling. Good luck!
Ellen Patnaude is Vice President of Instruction for the Northeast region. She is based in Detroit, Michigan, but she also teaches in Chicago, Cincinnati, Columbus, Toronto, Baltimore and other Northeast cities.