Tales from the Wendy House

Over the past few months I’ve been attending a floristry course at my local college. Two reasons – one is that I’ve always wanted to be able to present my flowers better at home and two, is that I think it’s important to keep learning new things – no matter what your age or experience.

As someone who has spent their life spouting about the magic happening outside of your comfort zone, making hand tied bouquets with aqua packs certainly was edging more towards magic happening. In fact, the magic did happen and I was really proud and delighted with the result – the picture says it all really.

So, this go me thinking, if we want people in the workplace to learn, they have to want to or need to. The learning, therefore needs to be relevant, either to the job or themselves and there needs to be an output that provides satisfaction. All three of these things is desirable, I would argue two are essential.

However, a lot of training programmes are geared to people who have received educational learning, but what about the people who haven’t ever been in that environment? How daunting, unnerving and scary must it be? Well, I’ll tell you. I’m someone who is confident, can stand up front and speak to 100’s of people, is ok doing a radio interview etc, the process of choosing, arranging, wrapping and self critiquing my floral arrangements made me feel very uncomfortable. I was shocked. I was out of my comfort zone, I was using my hands more than my brain and encouraging others to tell me what they thought of my efforts. Brain blaster time!

I then start to think of all of the times that I’ve felt a little surprised by people who don’t want to try something new because they’ve never done it before. Well – I feel your pain. I’d put myself voluntarily into that position because there is a relevance (I want nice flowers), I’m doing it for me (I’ve never really found the time before) and I wanted to feel good about something new (I did).

The conclusion of this story is that, in people management, when we want someone to learn something new, they need to understand that it will make them feel good, it will give them a buzz of excitement of the unknown and it could help them in their everyday life as well as work and that all of this is OK. And as leaders, if we can’t tick those boxes, maybe it’s the wrong kind of learning for them. One size doesn’t fit all.

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