Daniel Kehoe: Before learning comes awareness

MANY years ago I heard the coach of the Netherlands Olympic hockey team responding to the Dutch press, which were baying for blood after the Dutch team lost the final for the gold medal – a medal they were the favourites to win with the hopes of a nation riding on their shoulders. The Dutch coach was unruffled by the stinging attacks of his country’s press. He said words to this effect: ‘‘Awareness precedes all learning. Now we are aware of what we have to learn to win a gold medal.’’ The Dutch won gold at the next Olympics. Much training or learning and development is unplanned and managed poorly. Here is a checklist to explore how well learning and development is applied in your team. As you review the list, answer these questions: What needs to happen? What could we do better? • The need for and benefits of improving training are explored and accepted. • We contribute to identifying our specific, high priority, learning needs. • A training plan and strategy is prepared and followed through. • We are informed of and participate effectively in learning opportunities. • A budget is provided for future learning needs. • We assist in learning and development for each other by providing on-the-job training, coaching and mentoring when required. • Learning priorities that link into the strategic plan for our area are established. • People who take the initiative to develop their skills are acknowledged and given recognition. • The multi-skilling needs of staff are identified and incorporated in the learning plan and strategy. • Quality off-the-job learning opportunities are provided to meet identified needs. • People undergoing learning in a specific area know what will be expected in terms of application to their role. • We follow through to ensure that new skills from learning initiatives are applied in the workplace and transferred to others, if relevant. • We seek opinions from others in relation to the skills that they think we need to develop. • Training in how to be a coach or mentor is provided to those who may be required to perform this role. • People who have a particular expertise become an authority and adviser to relevant others. • We have the competence and confidence to achieve our business objectives and targets. • We ensure that people performing tasks are competent considering their education, training and/or experience. • Learning is provided and evaluated when employees transfer to different jobs. • Learning is provided and evaluated for positions requiring specialist competencies. • Training records are effective and used. • Senior management does what needs doing to support the implementation of the learning plan.

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