How Intuitive Learning can replace Training

Motivii webinar

We recently hosted a webinar that looked at how expensive, inconsistent & non-inclusive training programmes can be replaced by introducing structures that help employees become more aware of their behaviour at work.

Motivii CEO Eamon Tuhami discussed:

  • Why behaviour change matters at work

  • The challenges of relying on training for employee development

  • How dogs might have an answer to intuitive learning

  • How to introduce intuitive learning with Motivii

  • Other questions

You can watch the webinar here.

Why behaviour change matters at work

When we talk about behaviours at work, we often frame them as though they’re a bad thing.

But it’s really important to recognise that behaviour has two faces, and it’s our behaviour at work that can really bring in great results.

If you’re an inclusive manager that engages with your employees in an engaging way, that behaviour will have a great impact.

Closely linked to behaviours, habits at work are really important to pay attention to as well.

Habits start off with a certain behaviour, then that behaviour repeats, and that habit simply becomes a part of something that manager does without thinking about it.

Now let’s consider different managers’ behaviours at work. It’s generally accepted that new managers can really struggle.

It’s often the high performers that are chosen for promotion, and the behaviours and habits they’ve developed to help them become great at their job, might not be relevant for their role as a new manager. 

For example, new managers can overreach and can be quite dictatorial. But it can be quite difficult to change these behaviours, which requires a lot of self-awareness. But no one sets out to be a bad manager!

We’ve done some research into how people can become better managers.

According to Good Practice, 88% of managers learn through conversation, which I would expect to be a bit higher!

75% of managers do their own research on how to be a better manager, which is encouraging to read, and 54% learn through trial and error.

Only 33% of managers learn through formal training, which is pretty low. But formal training is brilliant, as I found early on in my career…

The challenges of relying on training for employee development

When I joined Experian as a 22-year-old graduate I was very quickly put in charge of a team of  5 people. I was by far the youngest person on the team, and when I first started, I was a very poor manager.

I was lucky because I was put on some really transformative leadership courses, and some of them lasted well over a year. 

But the challenge with lots of training is that it’s expensive. You need to have a trainer that  coaches and mentors you ,and that incurs a cost. The average management training course costs $1,865, according to Find Courses

Plus, you’re taken out the business, which is a hit to productivity and doesn’t help your company achieve their goals in the short-term.

But what would be more worrying for me either as a head of HR or a CEO at a training programme is that employees are going on these courses, and within a week of what they’ve learned on the course, they forget 90% of what they’ve been taught within a week.

It’s also difficult to say that training is inclusive. Because of its price tag, most training focuses on the top 15% of performers.

Though I was lucky enough to get put on the courses, there was some resentment from other employees that weren’t on the course. They thought, “why is he getting looked after and not me.” There’s a real need to help everyone at work now: whether you’re a new grad or a CEO, everyone feels entitled to opportunities to learn and grow.

There’s also increasing demand among companies to grow and take on new skills more quickly. You don’t learn quickly with training in its traditional context, because it takes some time to put the theory behind what you’ve learned into practice.

Why dogs might have an answer to intuitive learning

All of us are naturally intuitive learners, and we begin to speak at a very young age. Children understand very quickly not just the right words to use, but the context and the grammar around those words. Our brains are pre-programmed to understand these words, which is why this process happens so quickly.

An example of intuitive learning in the business world is the advancement in the last ten years in terms of user design. How can you design something that helps someone intuitively know what to do?

For example, I bought my Dad an iPad, and he asked me how to use it (there was no instruction manual). I told him to just try using the iPad. About an hour later I got an email from him: he had gone straight to a cafe and set up his iPad.

So how can this affect behaviour change?

As I’ve mentioned, some unconscious behaviours are simply bad habits. When someone walks into a meeting and puts their phone on the table, you instantly feel this person is not engaged with you. These are bad habits that people don’t realise they’re doing, but they can be quite hard to change.

I said I’d talk about dogs. You’ve probably heard about Pavlov’s dog. Pavlov was a Russian psychologist that decided to do an experiment around behavioural change and habit forming through a group of experiments with man’s best friend.

Pavlov would bring his dogs breakfast, lunch and dinner. And every time he brought the food, he would ring a bell. Over a short period of time, the sound of the bell began to condition the dogs. Pavlov  could ring the bell and bring no food, and the dogs would still salivate.

So how do you keep things as simple as possible and focus only on the things that managers need to learn, to bring about behaviour change. I think back to traditional Myers Briggs training, etc., but there’s no very complex theory surrounding this. 

Instead it’s all about communication. It’s about encouraging people to talk and listen at the right time, and in the right place. And listening doesn’t mean just showing up: it means actively listening to what your team are telling you, and changing your behaviours based on what they say.

People from an academic background sometimes struggle with this. Because they’re given a syllabus, there’s no internalised reflection process where they think ‘How am I doing?’ They come into the workforce and from one week to the next. Then when they go into their review and they’re asked how the past year has gone, they find it hard to remember.

This is why it helps to think about how the week’s gone and what you’ve got planned for the week ahead. Most people do this in a weekly team meeting, but my issue with the team meeting is that it’s not very intuitive. 

The typical pattern is that half of people have come into the meeting prepared, 25% are preparing during the meeting (which means they’re not listening to what’s being said, and 25% just wing it during the meeting.

I was talking about this at Linkedin a couple of months ago, and one of the senior managers there said ‘this is exactly what we do!’. We put our highlights, challenges and key priorities on the board and review each week.

How Motivii changes behaviours at work

At Motivii we codified this process with highlights, challenges and key priorities that are asked at the end of the week,

This helps employees work in an agile framework, although we don’t tell employees that it’s an agile framework that they’re following. To begin with, employees only add one or two highlights each week. After a few weeks that goes up to four or five, because they’ve naturally prepared more to think more about what’s gone well and what hasn’t gone well.

After a couple of months of using Motivii, we can see communication speed up, we can see employees become more productive, and see engagement improve as well. This is all because people feel better connected to where they work, and the people that they work with.

Motivii also intuitively boosts managers’ emotional intelligence (EQ) because it gets managers thinking more about how their team are doing each week. Because it’s done on the job and is managed by an online process, this type of intuitive learning is fast and can be scaled and repeated. 

Other forms of intuitive learning are more difficult to introduce to employees at once, because they usually involve some element of training, and lack the structure to support these behaviours of time.

To summarise, training should be an essential part of learning, but it’s also worth looking at how people at your organisation are intuitively learning, and what type of habits they take on, specifically when people are moving from one part of their career to another.

For us, the more you make the process simple, the more repeatable it is, and the quicker it will become a habit.

Question: What are the long-term benefits of using Motivii?

The short term benefits of Motivii is all about efficiency, saving teams time and helping them communicate better. But then, over a six month period, we can improve engagement among our clients by 6.2%.

Question: How to get my team on board with Motivii?

No one wakes up in the morning and thinks: “I want to use some HR tech.” So when we launch with teams, we talk through the benefits - that it only takes a couple of minutes to do each week, it helps amplify conversation, it supports the weekly meeting, and how it makes a difference to them and their team.

Question: Can Motivii assist us when onboarding and training, to improve time and efficiency?

I’m always thinking of the employee lifecycle, to recruitment, onboarding, job advancement, etc. And people like Motivii for different reasons at each stage of the lifecycle.

We have a great London-based startup using Motivii called Mention Me. The company tells the people that they’re trying to hire what their company engagement score is, to show their culture and let people know that they’re a great place to work.

Whenever an employee joins an organisation, they need structure. Without it, it’s like playing football without lines on the pitch. Motivii brings that structure, because employees know that at the end of the week, they’re completing this update to quickly get up to speed with the rhythm of the company.

We also have objectives and performance management which helps employees develop in the longer term too.

Question: Where’s a good place to start when introducing intuitive learning? 

Regardless of Motivii, I would get people to become more aware of how they’re learning on the job. Talking about employees’ behaviours and habits as a conversation with no end output leads to strong engagement with employees.

Question: Does Motivii help with remote teams?

With remote teams, Motivii has an amplification effect, because remote teams are not sitting there from week-to-week. Having highlights, challenges and key priorities on a call means you can laser-focus on the things that matter most, which brings focus to the meeting.

Blog postsAlan Wanders