I am close to openly disdain the idea of sending people to few-day long courses and expecting them to perform some complicated duties. Hell, even the learning process is often corrupted to the bone. Think of trainers who do nothing but training, full-time, with hardly any exposure to actual business. Think of certificates achieved upon completion of simple web-based tests. Think of generic courses, in no way adjusted to what people actually need. And all these flaws produce hundreds and thousands of scrum masters, project managers, product owners, and all other roles possible.
Then, these people get back to work and are expected to ‘perform’. Because they’re ‘qualified’. God Almighty…
And it’s very easy for me to prey on these practices. They’re exposed, vulnerable, and ubiquitous. It’s even easier, given I got caught in the same trap – several times. All the external stakeholders, be it management, my colleagues, my teams, expected me to put my newly acquired skills to use instantly. That wasn’t the worse part though. My inability to perform as expected, did put my confidence on the frontline. Where it sometimes lost, at a price.
An employee that loses self-confidence feels less safe, then unhappy, and then starts to perform even worse. It’s a potential death spiral.
I can go on with furious anger and vengeance upon this for hours. It would be a touch of a more productive though, if there was some solution. In the ideal world, a simple one.
And there is one that I know of.
In IT, there already is a practice allowing for rapid knowledge sharing and buildup. Working in pairs, usually used in reference to pair programming: two people sit by one computer and start working on whatever task they were to undertake. The less experienced one, starts working. The mentor does not touch the keyboard. They just watch and provide instant feedback. “Good”, “bad”, “nice idea”, “you might’ve forgotten something”, this kind of stuff. While not many people are able to work like this for more than few hours, as they would probably kill each other, it works wonders. Given my experiences with it, I believe it’s heavily underutilized. With human brain’s rapid adaptation skill and our inclination to rely on pattern recognition, knowledge buildup is very fast.
Why wouldn’t you do something similar with all fancy leadership and management roles?
You don’t want to be literal about it. Instant feedback given to fresh project manager would undermine their reputation. What you want to do, is to sit with this person, remain copied in all the emails and watch. Whenever something is off, or could be done better, feedback them. Privately. With plethora of messaging tools used everywhere, you can always do it quietly.
You’ll be able to see their strong and weak spots. You’ll be able to provide guidance and share your expertise in a tailored and targeted manner.
And the best part is, you’ll learn a lot about yourself. Even most junior person can see things you miss. They also have some natural skill or talent, regardless hard or soft, which you don’t have.
Though I might lose my opportunity to endlessly, brutally, and sarcastically wreak havoc on the stupid practice of a two-day expert.