Many companies have used shared learning experiences in the past, but it’s not as popular as it used to be. I think this is a mistake. Shared learning experiences can help create a common awareness of what is important between workers while at the same time helping to forge relationships that make work more meaningful and more productive.
In my career as a Diversity Coach, I’ve facilitated countless Value In Difference seminars. My clients report that they can really see a difference in how their employees are relating to each other. Shared learning experiences like this, they tell me, create a common understanding and a common language – a shared way of being and working together. This makes it possible for everyone to be on the same page and communicate effectively about the demands of a given situation – ultimately creating a more productive working environment.
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You probably remember hurricane Katrina sweeping through the Gulf of Mexico back in 2005. I remember it too. One thing that really sticks out in my mind is a report I saw on television about the workers at Mississippi Power. I remember especially the reporter remarking on the language they were using. The power workers were saying things like “first things first” and “before we decide what to do next, let’s seek to understand.” These were phrases they had learned together at a seminar based on Stephen Covey’s book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. At the time of the hurricane, that book was 16 years old. The training the workers had received together had taken place more than a decade prior. And yet, the workers at Mississippi Power were still creating and implementing effective strategies by using what they had gained from a shared learning experience. They were able to be so effective because they all shared a common understanding of what was important and a common language for talking about it.
This just goes to show how much this kind of experience can really stick with a group. A shared learning experience helps a group hold together over the long term and effectively accomplish their goals collectively. Receiving this sort of training helps forge meaningful relationships within a group while at the same time providing the language for talking about what is at stake. Ultimately, this leads to a more engaged, more productive workforce.