Some of the most talented athletes on the planet have blotted their world-class copybooks by becoming woefully bad coaches. In the make-believe land of the movies, great reputations have been ruined as consummate actors switch from one side of the camera to the other. And no one would imagine that being a fabulous chef can make you into a decent food critic.
Likewise, in an office environment, there is often a gulf between being the best at your job and being able to teach others how to do it. Many an apprentice, a trainee or even a line manager has come away frustrated and confused by an ad-hoc training session with the guy in the office who knows all about IT. Whatever the scenario, ‘doing’ is a whole different ball game to ‘showing’.
In actual fact, the reverse tends to be the case more often than not. Sir Alex Ferguson was (apparently) a pretty average player in the Scottish First Division. Whereas, I think most would agree he was fairly successful as a manager! Directors like Hitchcock, Polanski, Scorsese and Spielberg, are known for giving themselves cameo appearances, and Tarantino occasionally takes his roles a little further – But it’s hardly their ‘thing’. Then there is Gregg Wallace, the MasterChef judge, who started life as a greengrocer and rarely goes anywhere near cooking in an actual kitchen.
Great training focuses on the student, not the teacher!
In an average office, there are many people who are really good at their jobs and, in today’s hi-tech world, most people are pretty clued-up on simple IT. It has almost become part of our basic life skills to be able to turn on a PC, search for something on the internet, send an email or type up a document in Word. But for most people there will be a limit to their basic skill level and this means inefficiency or calling on the office expert to come and sort things out.
That is often where the problems start because the ‘office expert’ may well be capable; but ‘sorting out’ the immediate issue is all they will ever be able to do each time. Ultimately this is a waste of everyone’s time because there is no learning attached to the experience.
Training focuses on the people being trained, not on the expert or the trainer. It is all about making the person being trained the star of the show, the focus of the attention, the person that scores a winning goal or the one who creates a flavour-filled masterpiece. It is designed to help them become better.
Genuine success comes from maximising the existing resource. They say that a team is only as good as its players, a film limited to the actors available and that the ingredients make all the difference. I’m not sure any of that is true! There are many examples in life where phenomenal results have been achieved through the most basic of resources – and turned those resources into valuable ones in the process.
Who had heard of Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher or Harrison Ford before Star Wars in 1977? Look at the performance of Leicester City in the Premiership this year and you should have tasted the roast dinners that my Nan used to make from pretty basic ingredients…
The secret to turning individuals into a winning team is to coach them with the best training available.