Coaching Effective Teams - Implement Experiential Learning and Education


Experiential learning is a process whereby you remember a skill or derive meaning of education through direct experience. It is fundamentally different from route learning or memorisation.

I was having lunch with a business partner, and we reminisced about the fun we had while we were in the military undergoing a Basic Airborne Course. This course taught us to parachute from the aircraft via static lines, and we laughed at the various incidents that took place during the course. However we were amazed that we could still recall many techniques that were taught.

I then wondered if this was due to the experiential learning that we had gone through. After all, such education and knowledge was truly priceless, and by virtue of the fact that we could still remember the techniques and procedures probably meant that knowledge retention had occurred. As I sat there at the lunch area, I scribbled down four approaches on how to implement experiential learning and education for any teams and for clients.

Therefore, knowing these four coaching methods could help you become an even more effective business coach and leader.

1. Repetition - Practice makes Perfect. The goal for the course was simple. The parachute wing was to teach us how to execute a proper static line parachute jump. And we just had to keep doing the drills over and over again. Regardless of meal or coffee breaks, some drill instructor would surprise us by shouting the commands and we had to instantly adopt the good landing posture, shout out the steps and "execute" the jump in our minds.

If you are a business coach who wants to share your knowledge to your clients, could you set up an environment whereby they write down what you taught them? Could you get them to repeat the various steps to successful sales? Could you encourage them to repeat the various methods to reach out to their employees? And could you guide them to repeat the various principles of leadership?

And if you are leading a team, are you able to get your team to standardise certain operational procedures so that a system can be created? Are you able to encourage them to repeat these steps in their minds and over lunch? Could you create a system and checklist whereby your team could use over and over again in their course of work, to produce the same amount of success?

2. Element of Thrill and Fun. We had fun going through the course as there was an element of thrill. We learnt that our main parachute should open when we jumped out of the aircraft. If it failed to open, we had only one reserve parachute on our suits, and hence we needed to learn how to pack those properly! We also went through many simulated jumps from various heights and angles so that we could prepare ourselves for the different landings and wind conditions.

If you are a business coach, are you able to inject the element of thrill and fun into your lessons? Could you take it outdoors, such as to the Antarctic or to the jungles of Bandung, Indonesia? Anywhere! Just be creative and understand that people love thrill. And that's what experiential learning is all about. Even if what you are teaching is the same as others, you could change the environment, and your clients would remember the lesson because of the different element.

3. Conducting with Diverse Groups. We had participants from a wide range of military units taking part together with us. Our interaction with such a diverse group provided us with exposure to different knowledge, and it was a great networking session for that month.

Sometimes, people tend to treat different companies as competitors. Your role as a business coach or leader is to play down such tension and instead get everyone to look at a different perspective. We are all here to learn and to teach each other. And sharing of knowledge builds up more knowledge as you would be able to learn from another, what he might have done before and succeeded or failed. Even as a business coach and leader, we would learn when we coach our clients, so we should always put aside our critical and suspicious hat and aim to share our knowledge.

If you can create an environment whereby different companies mix together during the coaching and teaching session, you could create a chance for greater chemistry to occur and for greater ideas to be generated.