When I started as a training consultant, I was hesitant about working with non-educational organizations. I was worried that business minded clients would not take me seriously because my primary experience was in education. Well, I quickly discover, that my experience in the educational sector would not be the problem. Ironically, the biggest obstacle I faced in corporate training was engaging learners in independent thinking and action.

Sounds odd, but it’s true.

For years, these workers were expose to training consultants that spoon-fed them information. They were conditioned to being spoon-fed that it  was difficult for them to accept another training paradigm. Many of them felt that I was wasting their workday by asking them to think beyond task-level work.

By holding on to a “sit back and wait” approach, these workers were obstructing opportunities for innovation and growth.

After six months of direct coaching support, only 45% of the staff modified their work habits. Unfortunately, the individuals that selected not to change were slowly replaced with new staff members, which would follow the new directive. It took the executive team and myself almost two years to stop the spoon-effect in this company.

This, unfortunately, has become a common trend in many businesses nowadays.

I am constantly coaching organizations on how to counter the effects of  spoon-feeding. Organizations that typically have this problem tend to micromanage their workers. This is because managers or executive officers do not fully trust their staff to take ownership of the company’s outputs. This of course creates a passive work environment and discourages staff members from engaging in any independent thinking or action. Once this type of culture is established it difficult to shift this mindset.

So, why does this happened?

Throughout my work, I have learned that most adults are conditioned to be spoon-fed. This is because nearly all adults – from elementary school to their undergraduate education – are taught using the spoon-feeding method. By the time these individuals reach the workplace, this is all they know. 

It takes time and effort to change this mindset. It requires organizations to design their work environments to promote and encourage independent thinking and action.  And, it also means they need to trust their staff’s abilities and talents.


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