Just as so many others who watched The Masters, I was amazed and excited for Bubba Watson. The winning shot on the 10th hole of a sudden death playoff match, Bubba hooked a wedge shot from in the trees and landed it on the green. An impossible shot! Astonished by the intensity of this game, it made me think about how company education is like golf. Companies seek to hire great talent, and when they do, the initial investment, after the hiring process, goes into educating those individuals how to “master” the skills they will need, not just do their job, but to excel at it. After all, that’s why we hire them.
Now that the top talent has been hired, putting those employees out on the practice range with a bucket of golf balls isn’t going to prepare them for playing a round of 18 holes. The practice range doesn’t allow players to practice hitting a shot out of a bunker, from the rough, or from behind a tree. It only allows someone to practice limited golf shots. Why should a training course limit new talent in the necessary skills to perform their job? The answer is, it shouldn’t. Here are a few quick tips, or simple reminders, to enhance your education program.
- Practice! Practice! Practice! – As the saying goes, “practice makes perfect”. I can’t guarantee that you will become a professional golfer, but it can make your employees better prepared to do their jobs. Create activities and an environment that allows employees to practice their new skills.
- Play the course. Nothing teaches you more about the game of golf than playing a few holes on a course. In the classroom, create some challenging real-world examples or scenarios that employees will encounter in their job. This may require sitting with other groups, or listening to phone calls, but the more “real” the examples, the better it will resonate in the classroom.
- Lower the handicap. Nothing says I have mastered my golf game better than the score card. Employees need to demonstrate competency with the new skills they have acquired. Create a proficiency program that allows employees to demonstrate aptitude on the job. This may be a knowledge assessment and/or a simple demonstration.
- Use the Gallery. Just like in golf, the gallery cheers on the leader. Use social media as a way for employees to continue their learning in an informal style. Post “Just in time” messages, daily or weekly tips, or questions of the day. Social media can foster continuous learning while creating a community within your organization.
In golf, focusing on the basics can enhance the quality of your game. The same applies with organizational education programs. Getting “back to the basics” will prepare your employees for a victory in the “Masters” journey, called their job.