From The






From The


Monkey See, Monkey (Can’t) Do

What was the last thing you learned how to do?

I ask because we are constantly learning new things! Our learning isn’t contained to our formal education. In our personal lives, we might pick up new hobbies or interests. In our professional lives, we may take on new roles or responsibilities. Regardless of what it is that we are learning, how we actually learn those things can tell us a lot about ourselves.

About eight months ago, I started serving at a local restaurant. After a few months, I started looking for ways to grow in the company. I saw two opportunities that I took advantage of – the first was to train to be a bartender and the second was to train to be a marketing assistant. Then, my manager presented me with the opportunity to be a supervisor and I was thrilled. He told me my training would consist of 20 shifts, each focusing on learning the essentials of all of the different positions in the restaurant. Although this process was really fun for me, there were some things about the training that really had the cogs in my brain turning as I tried to think about how to improve the process.

I showed up to every shift SUPER excited to learn something new (I am a huge nerd and just love learning). My first shift in each department started the same: “Read this, read that, any questions? Okay go home.” I left feeling like I hadn’t really learned anything.

When I showed up to my second shift for each position, I realized how true this was. I really hadn’t retained or mastered anything that I could apply. My trainer would look at me and say, “Well you read about that position, now go do it” and then I was expected to figure out exactly how to fulfill the responsibilities of that specific job.

Everything changed when I finally started learning how to run the kitchen! On the first day, my trainer modeled how to do specific tasks, then give me the opportunity to practice (cutting veggies, making sauces, etc.). On my second day my trainer said, “Now you’ve had the chance to practice this, it’s time to do it.” I looked at him and said, “I got this.” AND I DID!

For me, being able to practice with coaching and guidance helped me to learn the job much faster than simply reading about what to do. The all-too-common “monkey see, monkey do” approach to training didn’t help me to learn. This was such an eye opening realization for me. I even thought back to my college experience (and even high school), and the classes that I excelled in happened to be the laboratory classes where I was actually able to practice what I was learning, instead of just listening to a lecture.

Now, not everyone is like me in the way they like to learn, and that’s the beauty of it. When teaching or training people, we should be utilizing different techniques to engage different learning styles and preferences. If we can appeal to these different styles, then we are able to drastically improve the learning experiences of our team members so that they are better prepared to perform and achieve success.  

*Meet the Author*

GinoCalavittaGino Calavitta is an avid Netflix watcher who enjoys practicing American Sign Language and going to concerts!