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Heather Townsend

The Excedia Group


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Building in support for learning


I spent last week camping with the family on the Isle of Wight. During the week, I spent a lot of time looking at all the different designs of tent, wondering which tent would suit the needs of my young family.

Now some people would say a tent is a tent. However, there is a vast amount of difference in the quality, strength and stability of a ‘budget’ 8-man tent and a top of the range 8-man tent. However, I found the easy way to tell a budget tent from a ‘top-of-the-range’ tent was the quality, positioning and number of guy ropes on the tent – or ‘lines of support’.

You probably didn’t realise it, but there is a good analogy between guy ropes and training. Many a time I’ve been discussing an individual’s development needs with a partner or director – and it becomes apparent that they want a quick fix for their direct report’s behavioural problems. There is a myth that a 1 day course, in isolation, can be a quick fix for behavioural problems. This is akin to buying a cheap tent, with its limited lines of support, and wondering why it fails to stand up in strong winds.

In my experience, there are no quick fixes for people needing to learn new behavioural traits. It takes a lot of support – and support at important points – particularly when people are under pressure. Similar to the ‘top of the range’ tent’s myriad of guy ropes, people when learning a new behavioural trait need support from people around them – peers, team mates, family, friends, line manager etc. This support may take the form of feedback, encouragement or patience! In fact it takes 50+ repetitions before a new behaviour becomes a ‘habit’.

So how can you build lines of support for your people’s development?

1. Firstly, agree learning objectives with your direct report BEFORE they attend or complete the learning activity

2. Discuss with your direct report after the learning event, how it apples to their learning objectives and what support they need from you to carry out their post development action plan

3. Choose a blended learning approach – i.e. a training programme that uses a mixture of different learning experiences, spread over a period of time. This multiples the lines of support and the focus needed to make the behavioural change.

4. Consider offering coaching to your direct report. A good coach, such as one from The Efficiency Coach, will help increase your direct report’s ability and motivation to make the change, by enabling personal insight and commitment, and offering valuable support and encouragement along the way.

If you would like help with your personal development, why not give us at The Efficiency Coach, a call on 01234 48 0123?

Heather Townsend is the Chief Coach at The Efficiency Coach, and Founding Elder of ‘the executive village’. The Efficiency Coach, an award-winning business, works with professional advisors and business owners to help them achieve better business results for less effort. The executive village brings together business owners to help them solve their business challenges.

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Heather Townsend


Read more from Heather Townsend

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