An Easy Way to Put Learning to Work in Your Firm

Remember back in college, when every class seemed to have that one person who regularly asked, “Will this be on the test?” It wasn’t you, I know. It wasn’t me, either. But that person had a point: knowing something would be on the test did seem to make a difference in how well it would be remembered (in actuality, it was the quality of note taking that really made the difference, but you tend to take better notes of something when you know you will be tested on it.)

Of course, giving your staff written tests is not a very practical option. If you want your staff to learn and recall information better, there’s a much more effective strategy. Have them teach what they learn to others.

New research by Professor John Nestojko at Washington University in St. Louis shows that when learners expect to be teaching something, they learn it better – even better than knowing it “will be on the test.” In Nestojko’s study, the learners didn’t actually teach the material, they just thought they would have to teach it. That expectation changed their mindset. They listened better, identified and remembered key points better, and mentally organized information better.

Here at The Rainmaker Companies, we have utilized this principle for many years. Our Rainmaker Academy participants are required to “cascade teach” material they learn to others at their firm. This requirement reinforces what is learned in the Academy classes, and it leverages knowledge by sharing it with others. But most importantly, it causes our participants to examine, organize, and remember content that is really important to them.

You can take advantage of this simple learning strategy. Here are some ways for you to implement cascade training in your firm:

  • If you’re conducting a technical training, convene a “master class” and prepare a few staff members to teach the information to others.
  • If someone attends a conference or workshop, have the attendee give a detailed presentation on key learnings (not just a summary.)
  • Outline an engagement process to one or two staff members, and have them, in turn, teach the process to the engagement team.
  • Introduce a new procedure to a small group who will, in turn, introduce it to the rest of the staff.

You can probably think of other opportunities. Just remember, you can teach someone a lesson for the day, but, if you let the student become the teacher, he or she will continue the learning process long after.

Try it.

And don’t worry – this won’t be on the test.

Next Steps

For more information about Leadership communication skills and how to best employ them in your role, please Contact Us to schedule a complimentary phone consultation. The Rainmaker Companies can help you Grow Your Firm, Grow Your Practice, or Grow Your Self.

Joe Fehrmann – Senior Trainer & Consultant at The Rainmaker Companies