I talked to my friend, Kevin Munson, Ph.D., who is the Chief Learning Officer at Sears Holding Corporation. Kevin and I were graduate students together, so we’ve known each other a long time. I asked him to share his perspective on this idea of the learner always being “right.”
“When learners aren’t performing, we can’t always assume that lack of training is the only root cause,” Kevin said. “We have to look at it from their point of view, including whether they are personally motivated to engage in the right behaviors, whether they have social systems around them that are supportive, and whether the work environment around them is set up to provide the right motivation and structure that will enable the performer.”
I think Kevin makes a great point. On Friday we talked about how we can look at changing our instruction if it’s not producing the learner performance we expected. But as Kevin rightly points out, the instruction isn’t the only variable that may be impacting performance. We may have successfully taught a learner, but the performance may still not be occurring.
I like to make a distinction between what I call “can’t do” and “won’t do” performances. “Can’t” do performance is that for which the learner does not have the skills and further (or better) instruction is needed. “Won’t do” performance if that for which the learner has demonstrated the skills, but still isn’t doing the work, job, task, etc.
So if you know that your learner, whether at home or school, has mastered a performance (because he or she has demonstrated it for you), but it’s still not happening…follow Kevin’s advice! The learner is still right!
Please share…have you encountered this in your teaching or training? And how did you approach it?
You can follow Kevin Munson on twitter: @kevinjmunson