Teach It, Then Teach It Again…

I am getting ready to head out of town again and will be conducting training sessions next Monday in Knoxville, TN and then next Thursday in Oklahoma City, OK. Although I have remained incredibly busy in my work, most of the time I am working with specific woman owned businesses and the teams they lead. However, several years ago, I spent about 100 nights per year out on the road working with large corporate teams, primarily in the biomedical device space, in an effort to help them deal with human relations and improving team performance.

Many times, projects get derailed over what we call triple constraint problems. You see, in any project there are three components that have to be considered – time, money and scope. Generally speaking, the client, or stakeholder, needs one or two of the components nailed down. This leaves room for negotiation in the third area. For example, if you need something at a certain time at a certain price, it is possible that the scope of the project will have to be reduced to fit the constraints. Likewise, if scope and price are non-negotiable, then it may take longer to deliver the project than the client would like. But one thing is for sure – triple constraint problems are a way of life on project teams.

This is just one of the areas that I teach about. Other things include areas of trust, conflict, commitment, accountability and dealing with failed results. Stages of team life cycles, individual styles and passions of team members are also areas that I spend quite a bit of time working with. One of the problems that I have encountered throughout the years is the fact that teams want to spend several days together in class with me and then, suddenly, they think they are going to be super teams and won’t need any additional help. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, in the training world, you learn early on that there are at least three distinct levels of training. First, the instructor uses “awareness” level training – designed to expand the horizons of the audience and make them conscious of alternatives that are out there beyond what they have been exposed to in the past. When “awareness” level training is complete, the instructor moves on to what is called “execution” level work. During these courses, the team members start to work using the new tools that they have acquired during their “awareness” level training. Of course, people are tentative at first and quite unsure of their new skill sets. But gradually, the training takes hold and the team starts to really move forward. Finally, the instructor engages the group in what is called “master” level training. This is generally defined as the time when the students become so familiar with the material, and so comfortable about when to use certain tools, that they “master” the material and could actually assist in presenting the material to others.

But one thing is for sure – people can’t be expected to hear something once and suddenly become experts. So when I am asked to come in and do one class, then ride off into the sunset, I can tell you that almost without exception, the company is wasting their money. And it’s not about whether I get a big payday. It has much more to do with how people learn and how they need constant repetition for something to really sink in.

Most companies understand the need to provide ongoing support for their teams. But every once in a while, I get one of those clients who decides that there is some secret sauce that will help their teams circumvent all the regular team problems and magically perform at top tier levels. It’s just unrealistic.

A similar thing happens when people get amped up about coming to faith or deciding to read the Bible. They have an unrealistic expectation that suddenly they will understand God’s word, cover to cover, and that instantly they will have the answers to all their questions. Once again, totally unrealistic… And by the way, that goes for the way we teach our children as well. We are to make sure that we create”awareness” of God, then engage the children in praying and learning about God so they begin to “execute” on their own, finally resulting in becoming “masters” of the faith and helping to lead others to Christ. It’s the way of the faith, and what God expects from us. In fact, God is quite clear that we are to engage our families on a constant basis.

Our verse for tonight comes from Deut. 6:5-9, “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” In other words, keep teaching, and teach it again, and again, and again…

My encouragement this evening is to let you know that God is the ultimate teacher and that you can be a lifelong learner. My prayer is that you will take what you have learned and pass it on to the generations who are following you. It’s as simple as that – after all, if you do the work, God will deliver the results. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…

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