How to learn by teaching


Do you ever feel that you need to know more? Or that you just want to be better?

I do.  Personal and professional development is my passion.  I am a life-long learner.  And, someone once told me that by teaching, we are learning.  So in my effort to understand more, I am sharing what I know and what I’ve learnt through this blog: “Bang your drum; know your strengths and play to them”.

The tips provided have been collected from several places along the way ­– from business, incredibly clever people who I’ve had the privilege of knowing, from books and, I’m sorry to say, far too much of it has been harvested from life’s tangy lemons.

So my promise to you is that I will make every effort to share only the incredibly useful parts – 100% of the time – so you can realise what your strengths are and play to them. You won’t find all your answers here.  But, what you do find useful, I hope you share too.


Genuinely good advice that benefits you + teach it to someone else = Killer results in life.

Follow Bang your drum to learn more.


How to G.R.O.W.

Need to get something done but can’t find the motivation?  Do you want to know how to increase your, or someone you know, chances of fulfilling a goal?  Here’s a cracker of a tip…

A complimentary two day course at The Coaching Academy offered this nugget of wisdom regarding coaching.  It was surprising how your motivation to achieve a goal could grow from being zero i.e. completely non-committed, to being an enthusiastic ten by using the G.R.O.W. framework.

As you may know, coaching is using listening and questioning techniques to enable people to achieve their goals quicker than they could themselves.  The difficult part here is to hold back from giving advice. You need to let people find a solution that fits them.  When you give advice you move from coaching into mentoring, so you need to resist the urge. 

Use coaching when you, or someone you know:

  • Is stuck in a rut
  • Needs motivation
  • Has a goal/wants to achieve something
  • Considers an area of life – career, health, relationships, time management etc. – less than 10/10

Coaching is also a great management technique.  Asking employees what they think they could do to solve a problem, rather than telling them what to do, will empower them and support their development.

How it works

It’s G.R.O.W. – Goal, Reality, Options, Way forward – and it’s easy when you know how.  Below is an example of coaching Gavin to get a promotion:

Goal – what we aim for:
“Hi Gavin, what do you want to achieve?” Gavin: “I want to make more progress at work.”
“How will you know when you’ve achieved that?” Gavin: “When I’m promoted to Colorist.”
“Great, when do you want to achieve it by?” Gavin: “Before I go back to Brazil in June.”
“Ok, so you want to be promoted to Colorist before you go back to Brazil in June.  Can you write your goal down please?

Reality exploring the present reality:
“What have you done so far to achieve your goal?” Gavin: “I’ve done training at work.”
“What challenges have you met and overcome?” Gavin: “I needed more experience so I’ve started freelancing independent from work.”
“Great! What strengths do you have which may help?” Gavin: “Well, I’ve read a lot of books on the subject.”

Options – stretching beyond what has already been tried or thought before:
“What could you do to be promoted to Colorist before you go to Brazil in June? Gavin: “I could get more freelance work – I still need a bit more experience”
“Good.  What else can you do?” Gavin: “I could speak with the head of the department to let them know I’m really interested in the role and to see if there will be any openings.”
“Good.  What else can you do?” Gavin: “The role is really in demand, so I could explore other departments I could work in that will provide a side jump into the role in future.”
“Brilliant.  You’ve come up with three actions – please can you write these down?”

Way forward – gaining commitment towards taking action:
“Which of the options would be fastest/easiest/preferred?” Gavin: “The second option.”
“Ok, what might stop you?” Gavin: “Nothing could stop me from asking.”
“Great.  So when will you take action?” Gavin: “I will ask on Monday!”
“Ok! Which of the remaining options would you prefer to put into action next?”  Gavin: “The first one.” “So when will you take action?” … 
You get the idea.  

Committing goals, as well as the agreed actions and dates to paper increases the chance that they will be completed.   Also, rather than paraphrasing, repeat the words used by the person you are coaching so it resonates with them.  

It does take practice.  As you get more comfortable with the framework you can adapt your questioning, but this is a good start.

Test it out on friends or colleagues and notice how inspired they are to put goals into action.

How to give feedback and get results

Is someone getting on your goat at work and you don’t know how to tell them? Or, you’ve shared feedback, and it went unbelievably badly?

There will be a time when you give feedback, if you haven’t already, and then wish it had gone differently.  Here are two methods commonly used – I recommend the later:

The mustard sandwich

Also referred to as the ‘shit sandwich’, the mustard sandwich is where positive behaviour (the bread in our metaphorical sandwich) is stated on either side of the negative behaviour (the mustard).  For example, Carl says to Max:

“Hey Max. I really liked the way you introduced everyone in the meeting just now (bread).  Although, you did speak over the client on two occasions (mustard).  Overall your presentation was bang on and I think we’ll be hearing from them again (bread).”

The problem with this technique is:

  1. The positive feedback may have overshadowed the negative (or vice-versa)
  2. It doesn’t explore the impact of Max’s negative behaviour
  3. No suggestions were shared regarding alternative behaviour Max should have exhibited.

SBI-BI Model = Situation, Behaviour, Impact – alternative Behaviour, alternative Impact

You guessed it – the answer to our feedback problems.  You can use it to give negative and positive feedback.  In short it goes like this: “when you do X, here’s what it looks like: impact 1, 2, 3. How can we make sure it doesn’t happen again?”

And, here it is in action.

Negative feedback

Carl: “I need to talk to you regarding the meeting just now (situation). It was impolite when you talked over the client (behaviour).  The team felt awkward and the client won’t have felt heard.  It took longer than necessary for us to get a comprehensive brief which we both need to win this business (Impact).

Max: “Gosh, I’m very sorry.  I didn’t realise I did that – I feel terrible.  I was so excited about finally winning a chance to meet with them.  I will call them to apologise”

Carl:  “Well ok – I think they could see we all felt enthusiastic.  You just need to make sure it doesn’t happen again so we can move things forward and keep the relationship.  Will you do that?” (Alternative behaviour and impact).

Ok so pretty basic, but effective.  Here is it when providing positive feedback.

Positive feedback

“Carl, thanks so much for helping me see a different perspective when I was complaining to you about Max speaking over the client (situation). I’d assumed that Max was just being rude.  The fact you knew that he was incredibly nervous, and that this is the first pitch he’s been on, made me realise I need to be less judgemental – I remember what I was like at my first pitch (behaviour).  Thankfully you caught me before I had a word with him – I understand that he was really apologetic.  You helped me stop and think before I jumped in with both feet and had a go at him!  Thanks again.” (Alternative behaviour and impact).

You can also use the SBI-BI model to clarify feedback you’ve received – I did when I got pants feedback from a colleague.  I was wounded and would have preferred to hide under a rock but didn’t want a repeat of it.  In a one-to-one meeting I was able to understand exactly how she thought I had stuffed up by asking; “What was the result of my actions?”, “What do you think I should have done differently?”, “How would that impact the project differently?”  It was hard to not interrupt and defend my actions, but the end result was worth it.  It turned out that I had under communicated on a stage of the project I was managing however, she had perceived she was being cut out.

What I learnt is that feedback is vital information and, if it’s true, can be put to good use.

Surprisingly I was thanked for being “brave” for asking for it.  We both felt heard and developed empathy for each other’s situation.  As if like magic we were now friends.

You should try it. What are your thoughts?