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Building a Knockout Team With the 4 Stages of Learning

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I’m sure you’ve heard that running a business alone can be challenging, but if that’s true, then running a business of 5, 50 or 500 must be extremely challenging! This can be made much simpler by building from a solid foundation. By that I mean a strong core of team members around you.

Well of course, everyone knows this…Right? It all comes down to proper development and understanding the stages that everyone goes through when learning new skills. But more importantly, knowing what you must do at each stage as the supervisor/teacher.

Here are the 4 stages and what you must do:

1. Beginner

This is the first stage to learning any new skill. It’s important for you to understand the mindset of the individual in this stage. They are enthusiastic, eager and very confident. But at the same time they have no idea what they should be doing.

As the person in charge of teaching them this new skill there are a couple things you must do. Be Directive. In this stage the student needs you to tell them exactly what to do. They will need step by step guidance. For example: Think about the first step to riding a bike, getting on. Remember, we all needed someone to tell us where to put our feet. Your student just needs you to tell them the steps.

The next thing you must do is build confidence. In this stage you won’t have much to build off of because there won’t be many things that they do right. Do not try to correct wrong behavior at this point. Just focus on giving praise to the things they do right.

For example: Try remembering how good it felt to use the brakes on a bicycle for the first time without falling off. And more importantly how good it felt for your parents to cheer for you. A student in the beginner stage needs this type of “cheerleading.”

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin

2. Apprentice

The second stage is typically a major turning point for most. Mostly because the mindset of your student has begun to change quite a bit. At this point, they have started to notice all of the things they are doing wrong; which leads to frustration. Their confidence is now extremely low, and they have realized that they don’t know what they are doing. This is why 3 out 4 people will quit in this stage. Yet, with the proper supervisor/teacher they can push through.

This is where you come in. There are 2 things you must do in this stage: Reinforce and Redirect. When you reinforce, it will be your job to keep a close eye and point out all the positive things they do. Give praise and cite specific examples of behavior.

Back to the bicycle example, when you were learning to ride that bike, remember when your parents would start cheering for things you didn’t even know you were doing right, like turning or stopping? By using this same tactic, you will help your student to realize that they are not as hopeless as they most likely feel at this point.

When you redirect them, it will also be your job to redirect incorrect behavior. If you spend a lot of time trying to correct “negative” behavior at this point, it will only hurt their confidence even more. Instead, redirect them back to things that they have been doing well. Eventually they will get better at the rest.

Think about a few hours after learning to ride a bike for the first time when you started to fall off, used the brakes too hard or even when you ran into things. Your parents most likely didn’t yell at you, they probably said things like “dust yourself off, why don’t you try going from here to the mailbox again since you did that so well last time.”

Doing this for your student in this stage will help to reinforce positive behavior, giving them the confidence to re-attempt the things they haven’t been doing so well.

3. Journeyman

In the third stage your student’s mindset is going to be up and down. They have made it past the second stage; which in itself is an accomplishment. Their confidence will go up and down, and they know a little more about how things should be done. They will be very good at some aspects of the skill and not so good at others. This creates a variance in confidence.

In this stage, you must empower them. You can either decide to try and build their competency or their confidence. I find that time and experience will develop competency, so as the supervisor/teacher, you should focus on stabilizing the confidence. The way to do this at this point is to give them opportunities to tell you how “they” think it should be done, or what the next step(s) should be.

For example: When learning to ride a bike, towards the end of the day you probably started to get the hang of things. You would stumble every now and then, but for the most part you had the general concept. You probably remember your parents saying things like “you got this, what do you think the next step should be?” That’s exactly what you need to do for your student.

“Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci

4. Expert

The final stage means that your student now understands exactly what to do, how to do it and could even teach others to do it. They are completely confident in their abilities. Yet, they still need something from you at this point.

At this stage, you must delegate responsibilities and opportunities for them to use this new skill. You may even want to present them with opportunities to teach others.

Back to the bicycle example, after riding for a few weeks, no longer falling, stopping perfectly and not running into anything, you were probably pretty confident at riding your bike. You might remember your parents saying things like “can you ride your bike to the store to pick up some things” or “can you teach your sister how to ride her bike.”

When you heard things like that, you probably recall feeling extremely confident and feeling like your parents trusted you. Your student needs to feel like you trust them at this point, this is how you will build that trust.

By following this process, you will find that the team around you will be much more competent, independent and productive. And if you are reading this as a business owner, then I’m sure you can understand the value of that. Someone once told me “what you can do in one day, one month or even one year, is limited; but what a strong team can do is unlimited.” The goal should always be to develop the people around you, because at the end of the day it’s a win-win.

How do you learn new things? Share with us below!

Demitrez Butler is the President of RealTeam Consulting, Inc. in San Diego, CA. He worked with Air Force Security Forces for 4 years before starting in an entry-level sales position and growing within the sales and marketing industry. He later opened a marketing firm in eastern Washington that changed the dynamic of the telecom market in that region. Most recently he works as a consultant for high level network marketers. When he isn’t working you can find him on a plane traveling to the next must see city on his list.

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