How to make Journey Based Learning Effective?

Make the most of your learning expedition

Behavioural changes absolutely do not happen overnight. I established that in my previous article. Any learning, to have an impact must be sustained, experiential and impactful. At workplaces, rather than telling someone to deal with a problem in a particular manner, you should help them reflect, find their own solution and practice it in a real scenario. No wonder, 70% of job knowledge is acquired through experience.  In fact, knowledge retention for employees through traditional learning is only 5%, while the retention rate from experiential learning is almost 90%.

So, what should be the aim of a successful behavioural training program?

It should be to enable the participants to find their own strengths and empower them to perform at their best. In a leadership development program, it will be to create leaders who can lead effectively. Having spear headed several Journey based leadership programs, I wanted to pen down my experiences on the same. So here we go!

What is the Journey…?

Leadership by its very essence, is a Journey by itself. As leaders, we constantly learn and evolve while facing daily challenges at work. Leaders typically work with several stake holders in any organization including team members, managers, peers, clients and more.

In a Journey-based leadership program, we dwell upon various aspects of these skills required to perform well as a leader. Irrespective of what education you have or skills you possess, Emotional Intelligence becomes one of the key aspects of any leader’s ability to work with other stake holders. Therefore, in my mind, it is the most important quality a leader must possess, and the leadership program ensures that this aspect is covered extensively.

Other aspects like communication, presentation, negotiation, giving feedback, coping with change, influencing etc also become important aspects of the journey-based program. Usually these trainings are conducted over an 8 or 9 month time frame with regular engagement with the participants.  Workshops on individual topics are followed up with hands on assignments and regular coaching gives the participants an opportunity to experiment with their learnings and try it at the workplace over this period. Thus, it is a journey that is long enough to be able to make a difference in any behaviour.

How does the Journey feel…?

Everyone is unique and exhibits a certain personality trait and these traits often define how one interacts with others professionally and personally. Through various exercises and activities, we establish each individual participant’s personality strengths are how they can leverage these strengths to perform better at their workplace.

To embark on this journey, at the top of the list is context setting. Context setting aims to clearly inform the audience of the purpose of the training program. It is the single most powerful aspect for creating the kind of experiences you want for the group.  This must be done efficiently as it will then be both effective and influencing in the long run. Once the context is set, the group, together decides on the pace of the program.

The program is tailor made to suit the needs of the entire group. Several workshops are conducted using effective tools like case-studies, role-plays, games, simulation, theatre based learning and regular feedback sessions.

Impact of the Journey on the participant…

I clearly remember one of the participants in a journey based program we conducted had a top business school degree and in the initial sessions, looked sceptical, questioned everything we said or spoke about and looked very disinterested. However, by the time we reached the midpoint of our program, we were able to demonstrate to him several areas of development for himself and by the end of it, he was a complete believer. During the journey, I have personally seen many of these sceptics convert from “Doubters” to “Believers” and by the end of the journey they swear by the program. Some of them have even sought more time after the program for continued advice and assistance.

So what is it that happens that they convert during this journey?

Sometimes all it takes is an insightful mentor or a coach to point out and help one understand their areas of improvement. Most times, we are able to demonstrate those chinks in the armour of the participants. Sometimes, these fault lines automatically come to fore during this long engagement with the participants. While some are good in some areas of management, they may fail miserably in others. For example, during the “Presentation Skills” workshop we were able to demonstrate to a very experienced leader, his developmental areas and he quickly acknowledged the mistakes he was making and became a firm believer in this program post that.

A journey-based program uses the actual journey as a process to teach/refresh skills of leaders. No doubt that keeping your eye on the journey is tough because we’re wired to chase immediate success. However, we must always remember to pause and enjoy our own journey while learning!!

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