I was confronted recently with the all-too-common chicken and egg problem when beginning the bquest development process with a highly pressured employee.
To develop his marketing skills, he needed to find time. But to find time, he needed to develop time management skills. For which he need to find time! Over many years, I have come across many such blocks to employee development in small businesses, for example:
- I don’t have the time.
- I don’t know how to read books effectively and efficiently.
- I don’t have the energy or motivation.
- I am afraid of trying anything new.
- My boss says I must do things a certain way.
- Development isn’t a priority right now, I have other more pressing business problems to solve.
- Sitting, thinking is a waste of time that should be spent doing things.
- I’ve done things this way for years and it has worked alright for me so far.
- Academics and consultants with their ideas, pah! They should join the real world.
- It’s alright in theory, but not in practice.
- I want you to give me the answer.
- Stop asking questions, you’re making my head hurt.
Give me an hour and I will come up with quite a few more.
Are these familiar to you? How do you manage them?
Blocks are blocks; the client needs help in removing or overcoming them or minimising them before they can get on with what they actually want and need to learn and develop.
Some of the blocks are mental blocks, and the client needs help to see them in a different way, to ’reframe’ or by giving them information that changes
their understanding. “So, you say you don’t value theories; but how do you organise your life now? What rules of thumb, assumptions and beliefs do you use? When you see a green traffic light, are you certain the driver coming from the side road sees a red light and will stop, or do you theorise it and still keep an eye out? Without such theories we would never be able to function effectively.”
Some of the blocks are actual blocks. Help might be in the form of some skills development (how to read, how to organise some time, etc.) or it might be in the form of changing their environment (influencing the boss, finding a quiet place, changing their shift, etc.)
Sometimes, removing blocks requires a bit of underhandedness. For the highly pressured employee who said he didn’t have time to develop marketing skills, we didn’t talk about time management. Instead, in discussion about his marketing ‘problems’, I asked how he priced his products. He got so fired up about this he immediately decided to get one of his people to collect some information about different ways of pricing. A few days later, they had met several times, discussed the information, and decided to make some changes.
Afterwards, when he told me what he had done, and when I had encouraged him to reflect on what he had learned from this, it dawned on him that he had actually been using time management methods in the form of delegation. I haven’t heard any more from him about not having time to learn!
In bquest, as part of the initial ‘diagnosis’ of need we always identify mental or actual blocks. We make sure learning and development goals are achieved.