Learn How to Learn This Week (and Beyond)

By Melanie Lockwood Herman

At NRMC, a typical week involves client presentations, custom webinars, and team huddles to discuss upcoming deadlines and deliverables. However, amid the rush of meetings and presentations, everyone on the NRMC team carves out time and looks or natural learning opportunities. This time we devote to learning is vital to our work with Affiliate Members and consulting clients. We’re avid, determined learners who work individually—and as a team—to increase our knowledge, skills, and understanding. We believe that when we grow as trusted risk advisors, we can help our clients and members grow.

This week, my learning deck includes the first in a webinar mini-series on “Meaningful and Modern Performance Evaluations,” presented by Lacy Alana. One of my ‘ah-ha’ moments during the first segment was that people tend to ‘lump’ too many goals into annual performance evaluation meetings with direct reports: feedback, advice, career goals, promotion, and financial rewards. I’ve been designing and delivering performance evaluations for 30+ (!) years; I now see that most of those have been unappetizingly lumpy.

I’m also taking a cool course on maximizing the use of Mural, a collaboration tool that integrates with Zoom and other virtual meetings. Did you know an estimated 65% of people are visual learners? Visual—or spatial—learners master and remember concepts through visual communication; they respond best to diagrams and charts. I’m a verbal learner who reads to learn, and my preferred learning tool is a book. I’ll take a dense chapter in a book over a five-minute video every and any day. My ‘ah-ha’ moment learning how to use Mural is that I’m using my preferred method to teach risk management instead of adapting to the learning styles of audience members.

This year, our NRMC team is embarking on an exciting learning journey to expand our understanding and practices relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion. This week we attended the second program in a DEI series designed for us by Diversity Crew. And we’re learning about our work styles by completing and discussing our results from the Predictive Index Behavioral Assessment.

What’s on your learning agenda for this week? This month? This year? If your goals include more fluency and confidence in risk management and leadership, reserve your spot for this year’s Virtual Risk Summit. Registration opens today! This year features a new format – three events throughout the year, April 5th, July 20th, and October 13th. If you’re interested in attending, you can choose to register for two or three of these learning opportunities.

First up is “Insurance Fundamentals,” on April 5th. Learn more and sign up at www.2022RiskSummit.org.

Learning Journey Tips

  1. Try a new learning mode. If you usually watch short instructional videos, try a learning method outside your comfort zone: a hands-on class, a business book, a focus group, etc.
  2. Adopt a few manageable learning goals. How can you learn something new this week, this month, this year? If yearlong learning goals inspire worry or dread, stick to short-term timeframes. Choose learning goals for the next 30, 60, and 90 days. Schedule a self-check-in 90 days to review what you learned, what you’re excited to learn next, and how you’ll mix up learning during your next sprint.
  3. Find inspiration. Ask people you love and respect, “What are you learning?” I learned this week that a co-worker recently mastered the art of making beautiful, delicious dumplings. She didn’t try a recipe once; she perfected dumplings by making them repeatedly until she was proud and confident about the finished product.
  4. Teach others what you’re learning. Don’t keep learning to yourself! Create space during your next staff check-in and invite a colleague to share what they are learning.
  5. Acknowledge what you don’t know. In her ground-breaking work on psychological safety, Amy Edmondson explains that high-performing teams “require openness, flexibility, and interdependence that can develop only in a psychologically safe environment, especially when the situation is changing or complex.” Edmondson urges leaders to “explicitly acknowledge the lack of answers to the tough problems groups face,” explaining that when leaders are vulnerable and admit that “they don’t know something or made a mistake,” these admissions encourage others to be humble, authentic, and vulnerable.

For additional inspiration on learning from the NRMC team, see:

When you challenge yourself to learn new things and learn in new ways, you will be forever changed. None of us is too old or set in our ways to learn. The best kind of learning? Discovering a new favorite, conquering a fear, or mastering a skill or hobby that brings you joy. Happy learning!

Melanie Lockwood Herman is Executive Director of the Nonprofit Risk Management Center. She welcomes your feedback on this article and questions about the Risk Summit and other NRMC offerings at Melanie@nonprofitrisk.org or 703-777-3504.