Those who can, do.
Those who can’t, teach.
- From Man and Superman, by George Bernard Shaw (1905)
Perhaps every trainer dislikes these lines for underplaying the diligence, perseverance, and skills needed to teach. Anyone who has tried to hold the attention of a classroom of teenagers or stimulate engagement from a batch of new candidates knows how daunting it can be, not to mention the hours of preparation that go into planning each lesson!
The corporate world is filled with experts: masters in their field, certified from various institutes via difficult courses, set apart by years of experience in executing strategy, projects, and more. However, ask any of these experts to train a couple of recruits or pass their knowledge on to someone else, and they often falter. The reason is simple:
Being an expert in a subject does not necessarily make one a good teacher of the same subject.
Why experts struggle?
Often, organizational training programs recruit experts to come in and ‘share their knowledge’. But the outcomes of such programs lag, partly due to poor training skills. Experts struggle with understanding how to interact with learners. For instance:
- Dismissing a question as ‘silly’ or ‘basic knowledge’
- Inability to simplify a complex concept for amateur minds
- Low empathy in understanding the different learner levels
- Poor understanding of human psychology and how people learn
On the bright side, task the experts with doing the job and organizations get the exact outcomes they want.
So, how can businesses encourage their experts and leaders to share knowledge and create a pool of resources capable of handling new and upcoming challenges?
The Art of teaching
Patience, communication, simplification, and empathy. These four skills set apart good teachers.
Being asked to share your knowledge is certainly a request borne out of respect and honor for your achievements. Here’s how you, as an expert, can improve your teaching quotient and make your training count:
- Do some basic reading on educational psychology and instructional design to discover how to engage learners and bridge the gap between your expertise and another’s learning.
- Inculcate patience and empathy within yourself so you can connect to your audience and build an environment that supports and encourages learning.
- Dedicate time to breakdown jargon and simplify concepts, so that varying levels of learners can understand what is being taught. This is especially important when sharing niche knowledge, so that information becomes accessible to all.
While being an expert may feel exclusive, the job of teaching is fundamentally inclusive – to bring more people in your area of knowledge and expertise. Remember, “The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.”