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You can borrow my teaching style

If the thought of leading in-house training sounds like as much fun as a root canal, this email’s for you.

Especially training with a name like “Engineering Leadership Training,” right?

Let me offer a super-simple idea for a zero-level training you could start today.

Here’s how it might work:

Setup (30m)

  1. Choose a book on the topic. Starting with Becoming A Technical Leader is a safe choice.
  2. Set aside a time to meet together, probably 90m every two weeks.
  3. Invite people. Mix and match titles if you want more diverse ideas and discussion.
  4. Ask people to read the first chapter and answer any three questions at the end of each chapter before the meeting.
  5. Let people know they can still come if they didn’t do the homework, but they won’t get as much from it.

Session (90m)

  1. Go to the appointed meeting location, real or virtual.
  2. Let people know you’re not the teacher; you’re just the facilitator, there to help the time be productive.
  3. Tell people that they are in charge of their learning.
  4. Go around the group, round-robin, and ask people their thoughts were to the first question they chose to answer.
  5. After each person answers, ask others to discuss and build on their thoughts.
  6. If there is time, ask people what real-world situations they would like the group’s input on. Do ‘peer consulting’ for each other.
  7. Ask people if they want to have another session, and decide on which chapter to read and when to meet.

Doesn’t sound too hard, right?

Of course, it might not sound like ‘training’ either.

But it is – and it’s training that allows people freedom in how they work, think, speak, and collaborate.

For example, you’ll do very little telling. After all, you’re not the teacher, imparting wisdom from the front of the class.

You won’t mandate which questions they must answer – you’ll ask that they pick some which interest them.

You’ll also encourage people to build on each other’s ideas, rather than announcing the “right answer.”

You won’t assume that there will be more than one session – you’ll ask if they want to have another session, and what material they are interested in.

Why not try a single session experiment, without the expectation that it will lead to anything?

The book Becoming A Technical Leader has discussion questions at the back, and lots of other books do too.

If your experiment ‘fails,’ nothing’s lost.

You can always ask, “How could we make this better?” and decide what to do next.

But, if it does lead to something, you might be making magic. 🙂

What thoughts do you have on these ideas?

Best,
Marcus

About Marcus Blankenship

Where other technical coaches focus on process or tools, I focus on the human aspects of your Programmer to Manager transition. I help you hire the right people, create the right culture, and setup the right process which achieves your goals. Managing your team isn't something you learned in college. In fact, my clients often tell me "I never prepared for this role, I always focused on doing the work". If you're ready to improve your leadership, process and team, find out how I can help you.

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