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Submitted by TomW on


I found something that seemed like a bit of a contradiction this morning and I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around it.

On the "How do you help your employees develop?" cast, M&M talked about someone who came to them looking for books to help him out. Mark was sad that a listener was still looking for books to help him.

At the same time, this page has a whole section devoted to favorite books.

Is there some connection there that I'm missing?

juliahhavener's picture
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I think the connection is that this person was looking to only to read and ignoring the OTHER fabulous resources around him. I read a great deal, personally. It's a huge and eclectic mix of fiction and non-fiction - everything from fantasy to history to business to cookbooks. But my first preference is to learn from someone or to practice something new. Reading alone simply isn't enough.

jhack's picture

Books don't coach. Managers do. Coaching is a process. There are steps in the process that might involve reading a book.

Reading a book, however, is not a substitute for the entire process.

It's like university; the education is more than the books.


madamos's picture
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I didn't remember the specifics of the cast, so I looked at the show notes...premium content to the rescue.

For you own personal growth, going to books is fine. You are motivated to read the book and will likely follow through on what you learned.

But when coaching an employee, you shouldn't immediately suggest a book to read. Maybe the employee learns better by taking a class or some other method. If the employee asks you for a book recommendation then you should give him one. But you shouldn't make this your first suggestion for coaching.


gilz's picture

Years ago, in one of my karate classes, we had a special instructor come in. He taught us that there are 3 types of ways people learn, where for each person there's a dominant one:

1. Visual - through seeing and, in this case reading.
2. Audial (sp?) - learning by listening, from stories and so on.
3. Manual - using your hands, or following examples physically.

Not all people are aware of how they learn best. But through some behavioral questions and experience, you can gather some information that can lead you to coach the person with the more effective way.

Good luck!

rwwh's picture
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[quote="gilz"]1. Visual - through seeing and, in this case reading.
2. Audial (sp?) - learning by listening, from stories and so on.
3. Manual - using your hands, or following examples physically.

Not all people are aware of how they learn best. [/quote]

Shall I make a guess that many of us here are of the auditive(?) class?

I am certain I am an auditive learner: in university I attended ALL optional classes, just because it made it a zillion times easier to grasp the matter!

gilz's picture

I'm more of a manual learner.

I listen a lot, and read a lot, and it all sinks in, and makes sense. But I have to practice things I learn until I really "learn".

terrih's picture

Here's another case, as in DiSC, where you want to be careful about oversimplifying.

Better to think of these learning styles as primary, secondary, tertiary. Most (I'm tempted to say "all," but IANAE) can learn all three ways, with varying results. Me, I think I'm 1. visual, 2. auditory, 3. tactile, but then again it depends on the context. When it comes to learning software, the manual gathers dust while I bang around in the app.

It's even better if you can combine 2 modes. Hence the advent of audio-visual learning. Not so much to catch 2 types of ppl as to engage 2 out of 3 learning modes in EACH person.

I like podcasts for the convenience factor, not so much because it's my best way to learn. My husband used to make fun of me for trying to read while washing dishes; now I listen to podcasts instead. No more ridicule. :D

Wherefore, all hail premium content! Now I can reinforce my secondary with my primary! :wink:

Mark's picture
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Books are a source of knowledge ...but they are neither required nor necessarily a predicate to changed behavior.

What we were referring to was the idea - the IDEA - that a manager would think that a book could "cause" someone to develop. Not only is that not true (books only give you knowledge that may cause you to change, and most don't even do that in our experience), but it also implies the more dangerous falsehood: that anything would come before the manager giving someone work to do that required them to use the skills that needed to be developed.

Sorry this took so long.


JorrianGelink's picture

A management coach Marshall Goldsmith puts it best when he says:

"Diet books are best sellers because everyone wants to lose weight. You don't lose weight by reading a diet book, you lose weight by following the actions indicated in the book or related to losing weight"

I can read 10 highly recommended books on management, but without taking action do I have better results and do I get promoted? No.

No one ever gets promoted by saying that they read certain books :)