by clarifying what needs to be
accomplished and direct them to
experts who can guide them.
■■ A constructive challenge – Offer a
stretch goal, but don’t overwhelm
them. Right-size the challenge so
they contribute quickly and build
■■ A tightrope and a safety net – Give
them a challenge that puts them on a
tightrope, but make sure someone is
there to catch them if they fall.
LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT
Many organizations have slipped into
the cycle approach to development, con-ducting
training consistently at regular
intervals (e.g., quarterly management
classes, annual management meetings).
While these predictable cycles seem pur-poseful
to the HR team, it looks like
random acts of training from the learner’s
perspective. We don’t learn because the
calendar says it is time to; we learn when
we need to.
Resources are wasted on talent that has
no appetite for development. People in the
workplace are most open to learning when
■■ Brand new to their role
■■ Facing a daunting challenge
■■ Coming out of a painful failure or loss
■■ Returning from an epiphany outside
their normal terrain
■■ Unclear how to get to the next level in
In each scenario, individuals are working
in new territory – they are in rookie mode.
Wise learning and development lead-ers
will target development and coaching
efforts when people are in rookie assign-ments
and are most open to learning.
As you review candidates in the suc-cession
planning process, factor in each
candidate’s learning agility – are they cu-rious,
humble, playful and deliberate?
Look at their job history to see if they
have a track record of success in rookie
assignments. This might be the best pre-dictor
of their ability to handle a stretch
Better understanding of the intense
learning and contribution that can occur
when people are in rookie mode allows us
to rethink and refocus our talent manage-ment
strategies. In so doing, we can create
a more vibrant organization for rookie and
experienced employees alike.
In a rapidly changing world, experience
can become a burden. Careers stall, in-novation
stops and strategies grow stale.
Being new, naïve, and even clueless can po-tentially
be an asset if leveraged properly.
Rookies (both new employees and
long-standing staff in new assignments)
are more capable than we might expect.
Instead of having them “warm the bench,”
managers can set their sights higher, put
them in the game and tell them to con-tribute
immediately. In the current work
environment where the game is changing
fast, we might find that they become some
of our most valuable players. ■
Liz Wiseman is a researcher, executive advi-sor
and speaker who teaches leaders around
the world, and recently authored the book
Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats
Knowing in the New Game of Work.
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HRPATODAY.CA ❚ OCTOBER 2014 ❚ 29