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The Two Types of People and Their Development

Training and developing people is a challenge because people are so very different. But in general, we can group them into two categories which helps to allocate resources and manage their development based on their needs.


Category I. - The Dependent. They wait to be trained and do very little for their development. They are the ones who tell you, "Nobody trained me". They are the ones who can sit in front of the information and still say, "I don't know, nobody told me."


As an L&D professional and manager, you must actively manage these guys' development because they cannot. You schedule them for training, tell them what they must learn, do, or how to behave and measure them against criteria. These guys will take up most of your time, so you should rethink your recruitment strategy if resources are scarce.


Please don't get fooled by them, though. Some walk around rather confidently, and when you ask, "Did you learn the new menu?" or "Did you attend and understand the IT training related to the new system?" They will say yes but will have no clue. You must test people to see which category they fall into. Their dependency is predicated on their ability to analyse information, critically evaluate it, read to comprehension, reflect on the information's applicability, on their inferential comprehension, and self-reflection. If these abilities are below a certain threshold, independent learning will not likely take place. That is why you test them so you can evaluate their ability, don't take their version of it as everyone will say, "Yes, I am independent", until you give them a page to read and start asking questions.


Category II. - The Independent. These guys are the exact opposite of the dependent ones. They learn and develop themselves independently. They go after information and won't wait for somebody to come to their rescue.


They don't necessarily need you to train or develop them (of course, adequate & mandatory training must be provided for every role) but to guide them so they can independently figure out what they need to do next. Independent people need coaching, not training.


Coaching does magic and works very well with this type. Why? Because what they struggle with, which we all do without guidance, is figuring out their development areas. It is hard, if not impossible, to do so alone. We need external feedback to be challenged and guided, to get perspective and help reflect on ourselves. Coaches guide, advise, encourage, and challenge these guys' thinking and help them find ways to develop independently.


You don't need to spend much time on these guys, you have to ensure they know what the organisation expects from them and provide access to professional coaches who will align them with those expectations.


The problem is that organisations don't have coaches. Therefore, they are ruining the development of their independent workforce by dragging them into training that they are likely to know already and failing to leverage their ability to self-develop and achieve greater performance.

Next week we talk about strengths in relation to self & professional development and performance. You will see the massive mistakes organisations make when it comes to the development of their people and teams.


If you need a coach, give me a shout or check out my course that teaches you about how to manage your talent.



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