Serious about learning?

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We’ve been working with Adidas Western Europe on a year long Talent programme. It’s been fascinating to see how the folk on it are grasping the opportunity to learn as much as they can. It’s prompted some thoughts from us about learning – so our blog this week highlights some of the very impressive and effective learning behaviours we’ve seen from them over the past 6 months.

Learning by design

The Academy is set up as a deliberate opportunity to learn and prepare through experiencing challenge, practicing skills and reviewing. The participants have been encouraged to adopt a ‘training mindset’.

This mindset has allowed experimentation and honest reflection without impacting confidence or motivation. Each event has been grasped as a learning opportunity from which to look forward and plan.

Learning through feedback or feeding forward?

Reviewing isn’t learning

It’s the time of year when people are typically doing HR triggered annual performance reviews. The mindset of the Talent Academy folk is that they’re extracting every bit of learning from their programme and daily work – so they’re reviewing their performance every day to do that. Waiting for an annual – or quarterly – event seems a little bizarre if you’re serious about maximising your improvement opportunities.

Plan your learning

The Adidas group is at the significant halfway point of their talent development programme. We’ve been having some clear conversations about what they want to do, and learn, during the second half. They’re thinking proactively about the learning and the feedback that they want to get. They’re considering the things they want to deliberately practice knowing that they will either succeed, or learn through the experience. We call it feeding forward.

Prepare for failure

Many development programmes are geared towards success! Not surprising!! Supported by recent research evidence, the Adidas programme is designed so that ‘failures’ might happen on the way. But with the right preparation (the training mindset) and follow up (coaching) the ‘failure’ can be reviewed and lessons learnt. As a result the performer comes out stronger and better prepared, with more confidence for dealing with future challenges.

Failing to prepare for failure is failing to prepare!

How can you take this mindset into your work? What training opportunities can you create? Where can you test yourself so failure is a real possibility but valuable learning will be the positive result?

As you do your 2016 reflection and performance reviews, be sure to ask yourself “so what?” What’s been learnt that you can feed forward? And, as you plan for 2017 and the challenges ahead, how can you prepare mentally and tactically for the inevitable ‘failures’ and what you want to set out to learn.

Earning and learning. Two great outcomes to aim for!