005 : Telling is not Facilitation

Telling is not Facilitation.

I know of a Senior Brand Leader who went on a ‘raise standards’ tour with her agencies and stakeholders to a handful of key cities around the world. Over a two day period, she and her team sat at the front of the room and talked through a huge PowerPoint from beginning to end. Participants tell me they don’t remember the content, other than there was a great deal of it. They also tell me the whole thing came across as a huge telling off with no guidance on what to do next to raise standards.

Telling people is teacher style. Adults don’t learn like children as their learning context is very different than that of a school or college. Telling people in detail won’t equal learning or doing to the same level either as telling from a PowerPoint doesn’t allow for application of knowledge to the task at hand. You can’t raise standards if people haven’t the opportunity to be conscious of the work they are currently doing. At an objective level, they need to be aware of the new standards expected of them, be instructed and have access to the skills and resources necessary to move from one state to the other. Finally they need motivation supported by feedback loops to help get from A to B. It’s not just about information either. If it were that simple, we’d all stop smoking, never drop litter and keep under the speed limit.

Work with your project facilitator to map the participant’s journey from where they are now to where you want them to be. In our business we take a call early on with the client and agree up front whether the brief is for people to learn or for the business to have a new output. We put things into either a ‘capability’ or ‘project’ box. We can then work together on agreeing the activities that need to be briefed in and how to answer that question. It’s rare you can do both at the same time brilliantly. doing and learning work symbiotically. But one will be the bi-product of the other.

If you find yourself ‘telling’ all the time, you’re at fault. Especially if you’ve travelled the world at your companies expense, muttering with exasperation “I’ve told those people at least 5 times what I want and they still don’t get it.”