Because of the current “mentor myths” we’ve bought into, the small business/home business mentoring and coaching profession is in trouble! Many of the mentor training and coaching challenges we’re facing in our industry are very similar to those facing our schools and the training and development departments of most large corporations.
Let me attempt to put a face on what I’m talking about with the phrase “mentor myths”. In the work from home industry people spend many hours every week participating various kinds of trainings including: live conference calls, one-on-one training with their mentor or coach, attending live training workshops and seminars, listening to the latest “success CDs”, and studying manuals, special reports, or home study courses which they have ordered.
Unfortunately, a great number of these have, consciously or unconsciously, bought into the mentor myths I’m discussing here.
MYTH #1: If the mentor, coach, or trainer is well-prepared and thorough, participants will understand the material.
REALITY: Well prepared material presented in only one way will reach less than ten percent of your participants. While there is no substitute for knowing your material inside out, HOW it is presented is as important. Research shows that material presented in a wide variety of ways reaches everyone.
MYTH #2: The more times the information is repeated the more participants will remember it.
REALITY: There is no direct correlation between frequently repeated information and memory. The ways we remember are highly individualized and specific to our over-all intelligence profile. It is probably more accurate to say the more different ways we learn information, the better we’ll remember.
MYTH #3: The mentor, coach, or trainer is the expert.
REALITY: Participants are the experts where the rubber hits the road! While it is true that the mentor, coach, or trainer has hopefully mastered the material to be covered in a training session, the real expertise lies in facilitating participants making meaningful connections with the material and seeing how to apply it.
MYTH #4: If participants really pay attention they’ll “get it”.
REALITY: Participants’ active involvement with the training material is how they’ll really get it. The direct instruction approach to training is mandatory.
MYTH #5: Human beings basically all learn the same way.
REALITY: Each human being has at least eight different ways they learn, acquire knowledge, process information, and understand – eight bits of intelligence! In each person, certain of these “intelligence” are more highly developed than others. The key to effective training is presenting the material in ways which take into account these differences.
MYTH #6: A mentor’s, coach’s, or trainer’s main job is to cover the material.
REALITY: A mentor’s, coach’s, or trainer’s main job is to uncover the material! In Webster’s dictionary the meaning of the verb “to cover” is “to hide from view”. The job of the mentor, coach, or trainer is to facilitate the learning process in participants, that is to get them excited and involved with the material. Racing through a specified amount of material wastes time and money because little real learning will occur.
MYTH #7: Adult participants can be expected to understand the content being presented in a training session.
REALITY: Just because a great job of presenting was done does not mean understanding happened. Participants’ capacity for grasping information in any training is directly related to how it is presented. To reach everyone, presentations must minimally take into account participants’ prior knowledge and life experience, their intelligence profiles, their ages, gender, and their educational, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
MYTH #8: Some groups are smarter than others.
REALITY: Some groups learn differently than others. The key to every group is to find out what will help them learn. It is then the responsibility of the trainer to do whatever it takes to reach them. It’s not a matter of how smart a group is. The question is rather HOW are they smart.
MYTH #9: When presenting new information in a mentoring, coaching, or training session, the direct instruction method (a.k.a. lecturing) works best.
REALITY: Research has shown that the adult brain can productively handle only about 15 minutes of direct instruction! The key to teaching new material is to first assess participants’ prior knowledge and then to build on what they already know or think they know about the content. Even when learning brand new information, participants’ interaction and involvement with the information is more effective than lecturing at them.
MYTH #10: If you really want to learn you’ll learn.
REALITY: If you really want to learn, maybe you’ll learn, depending on the learning situation. A learning environment in which participants do not feel respected, where their input is not valued, where they are “talked down to”, and they are expected to simply “sit and git” the information will destroy the desire to learn for even highly motivated learners.
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