The power of practice in a safe environment is a fundamental principle in the field of Learning and Development. In today's rapidly evolving business environment, organisations are always seeking to improve employee performance and productivity. One of the most effective ways to achieve this goal is through training and development. However, traditional training methods that rely on lecture-style presentations and theoretical discussions are no longer effective. Employees need practical training that allows them to apply new skills in real-life situations.
Creating a safe environment for employees to practice new skills is crucial for effective learning. A safe environment allows employees to experiment, make mistakes, and learn from them without fear of negative consequences. It's like spilling juice on the carpet in front of your mum as a child and her saying “Don’t worry sweetie - no harm done. Let's get you a new drink”. No biggie, right? It creates an atmosphere of trust and fosters a sense of psychological safety, where employees feel comfortable taking risks and asking for help.
The power of practice in a safe environment has been demonstrated through numerous studies. One study conducted by the ASTD found that people retain only 10% of what they hear and 20% of what they read, but they retain 90% of what they do. This is why experiential learning, which involves hands-on practice, is so effective.
In addition, practicing in a safe environment helps employees build confidence in their abilities. When employees are able to practice in a controlled environment, they are less likely to feel overwhelmed or anxious when faced with real-life situations. This increases their belief in their own ability to succeed in a particular task or situation.
A safe environment also allows employees to receive immediate feedback on their performance. This feedback can be used to identify areas of improvement and reinforce positive behaviours. When employees receive feedback in a timely manner, they are more likely to make corrections and adjustments to their behaviour, which can lead to better outcomes.
Finally, a safe environment encourages collaboration and teamwork. When employees feel safe to practice and make mistakes, they are more likely to seek out help and advice from their colleagues. This can lead to greater cooperation and knowledge sharing, which can ultimately benefit the entire organisation.
So, let’s put this into context.
Let's say you need to get surgery, and the doctor walks into the room on their first day of training and says, "Don't worry, I got this!" and starts operating on you. You'd be like, "Umm, whoa whoa whoa, I don't think this is a good idea!"
Just like a doctor needs to go through years of training and practice before they're allowed to operate on a real patient, employees in the corporate world need to practice their skills in a safe environment before they're thrown into the real world.
The same goes for any other job. You need to practice and learn in a safe environment so that you can make mistakes and learn from them without any real-world consequences. It's like a pilot practicing flying a plane in a simulator before they actually take off with passengers.
So, let's not expect people to perform like pros on their first day of work. Instead, let's give them the time and space to practice and learn in a safe environment. That way, when they're ready to take on the real world, they'll be more confident and skilled. Plus, you won't have to worry about getting a botched surgery from a first-day doctor or taking a flight piloted by someone who’s never flown a plane.
In addition to practicing in a safe environment, it's important to also create an opportunity where it's okay to fail and shine without fear of judgement or jealousy from peers.
When we're learning and trying out new things, we're bound to make mistakes. But if we feel like we'll be judged or ridiculed for those mistakes, we might hold ourselves back from taking risks and trying new things. That's why it's important to create a culture of psychological safety, where everyone feels comfortable taking risks and failing safely.
Likewise, when we succeed and do well, we don't want to feel like we're making others feel jealous or insecure. We want to be able to celebrate our successes without worrying about how it will make others feel. That's why it's important to also create a place where it's okay to shine and be recognised for your achievements without fear of jealousy or resentment from others.
By creating a culture of psychological safety, we can foster an environment where everyone feels comfortable taking risks, making mistakes, and learning from them. We can also celebrate each other's successes and achievements without any negative feelings of jealousy or resentment.
Here are a few solutions that can help create a safe and supportive environment for learning and development:
1. Encourage open and honest communication: Create a culture where employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings. Encourage open and honest communication to build trust and respect among team members.
2. Provide constructive feedback: Instead of criticising mistakes or failures, offer constructive feedback that helps individuals learn and grow. Provide specific examples of what they did well and where they can improve.
3. Celebrate successes: Celebrate the successes of individuals and the team. Recognise achievements and provide positive feedback to boost morale and motivation.
4. Lead by example: Leaders and managers should model the behaviour they expect from their team. If they show vulnerability, openness, and a willingness to learn from their own mistakes, it creates a safe and supportive environment where everyone can learn and grow together.
5. Offer training and development opportunities: Provide employees with the resources and tools they need to learn and develop their skills. This could include workshops, training programs, or mentorship opportunities.
6. Subscribe to Ethical Angel for real-life opportunities to fail and shine in a safe environment (shameless plug, I know!).
By implementing these solutions, organisations can create a culture that values learning and development, encourages risk-taking and growth, and supports individuals in their journey to becoming their best selves.