By Tom Myette
There is a treasure trove of knowledge in your group or agency. Do you tap it? Do you ask colleagues to teach other colleagues what they know? In his book Leaders as Teachers, author Edward Betof advises that organizations create leaders as teachers programs, sharing the knowledge of their senior executives, top managers and in-house experts to fully benefit from their top people’s expertise and savvy. This can be as simple as lunch & learn sessions or as sophisticated as what P&G does, which is to provide course authoring tools to all of its employees and encourage them to create online courses. The courses are vetted and chosen, then released to the workforce. The results speak for themselves. This approach results in faster, more relevant, better courses and at far less cost. Not long after P&G pioneered this approach, it became a business model for several online universities. Udemy, for example has over 500,000 students taking free and inexpensive courses, but as impressive, they have thousands of instructors, people like you and me who create courses on things we know about.
Coaching and mentoring in government is an underutilized learning resource. Participants in this week’s webinar, “Training on a Zero Budget” indicated that for many, coaching and mentoring has been the most effective learning arrangement in the past, yet less than %5 indicated that coaching and mentoring programs exist in their organization’s training and development approach. Within these organizations, there are mangers and supervisors that can make an enormous difference if they devote time to coaching and providing feedback. Yet, it’s hard even for supposed leaders to lead, they’re too busy doing the things they should be coaching their teams to do. But the first job of a leader at any level is to support those they lead. To leverage the collective strengths of the team to accomplish a focused objective. Mentors are different, every organization should have a formal mentoring program. Especially in government where there is so much knowledge at risk with retirements.