Does group learning really work? Yes! But, there are some things that need to happen to get the outcome you desire.
Group learning can work if you’re willing to work. I learned that a long time ago. And I learned when I’d go off to association training and trade classes that if I committed to setting aside thinking about my business while I was in class, the learning was best. Plus, I learned that my willingness to roll up my sleeves and participate when the opportunity presented itself meant real benefits to the group learning experience.
I found being around other like-minded contractors (especially when they weren’t my direct competitors) determined that I learned way more than I could have by either reading a book or going online to learn. Don’t get me wrong, though — there are times you do need to do individual learning, but it has its place and its limits.
There’s real energy when a group gathers to learn together. The learning can be enhanced by connecting with a group because we’re social animals, after all, and we like being part of a pack.
That said, going for group learning worked best for me only when I made a list of my goals and my objectives for the training and meetings I was going to attend. The results in a group setting for me and those I’ve taught who have shared with me is that the results were always better and long lasting than just solo research and learning.
What’s funny about group learning versus learning on your own is there’s a sense of obligation to the group. You’re there and you want to contribute something and that ties to the built-in accountability to others. In this case, the accountability to others and not just yourself can unleash in a good way a higher learning experience.
For me, it made me dig in and strive to earn my colleagues’ respect. Also, I hate to fail. And I really hate to fail in front of others, or to let others down. This provided additional motivation to absorb as much as I could. It’s just how I’m wired, and I’m betting a lot of you are just like me when it comes to feeling this way.
One big key to successful group learning is choosing the best opportunity in which you’ll invest your time, energy and money. Do some research to make sure you know beyond a shadow of a doubt what the course is about, what the meeting is about, who’s leading the sessions and whether the instructor or leader has “earned” their way to the head of the class and teaching you and the group. All of this makes a world of difference.
When it comes to training in a group environment, a great trainer is required. Know that being a great trainer takes a lot of training. It’s a special skill, and you want to have someone who is not just knowledgeable about their subject but is also a master of the skills it takes to be a great trainer. Plus, you want to know that the trainer or leader is used to working in a group learning environment.
What I mean by that is, can the person leading the session connect in a small crowd, a big crowd, a hostile crowd and a crowd of people who haven’t slept all that well the night before based on their other outside activities?
I can tell you that when I was in front of the right trainer for the group learning experience, it was magical. And I always remember how I felt, which drives me when I’m in front of a class as a trainer of any size group.
My goal is to create that same experience for those who left their business to come and be here with me. It’s why I found great mentors to train me on how to become a great trainer. It’s something I’ve worked on through the years to get better and better. And after all these years, I’m still working at it. Training skills are like muscles. You need to use them or you will lose them.
To that point, I just did a two-day workshop here in Phoenix, where I live. It was an exclusive program designed for group learning. There was homework for the attendees before they arrived, they knew what to expect when they attended, I gave them a checklist to follow when they left and I’ve been checking in with them individually and as a group remotely to make sure they’re moving along.
I’m pleased to say that as a group they’re doing great. I believe it’s because they had to invest their time, energy and money. They were highly motivated to get operating manuals tweaked and in place at their company. And here’s the funny thing: They also wanted to succeed in front of the group. They’ve also come to get help at the office hours I run, but really, it’s as much to be there to help the fellow group members.
So, yes. Group learning really works.