They don’t know what they don’t know

I was going for my daily walk one evening last week and came across a young guy – about 22 – who was doing some exercise. We started chatting. He was very personable and asked me what I did for a living before telling me he was in real estate and was quite new at it.
He asked some really good questions – clearly an ambitious and very smart young guy.

Then he told me that where he worked, the older people in the sales team had no interest in training or sales meetings – they “knew it all”. He said that was fine, – their choice – but the problem was that he was hungry to learn.

He loved training and learning new skills but the older colleagues wouldn’t attend so his boss had stopped scheduling any training.

The irony is, he said, was that the older ones were so “cocky” that they had no idea what they didn’t know. For instance he said they had no idea how to deal with people from diverse cultural backgrounds. They had no idea how to communicate with young people who were often cashed up and ready to buy. They had no idea how to just listen.
These were all skills this young guy wanted – and knew he needed – but it simply wasn’t provided at his workplace.

The worst thing of all, he said, was that his older colleagues didn’t know that they didn’t know a whole pile of stuff – they thought they knew it all. They also had huge experience, but there was no opportunity for him to learn from them.

I’m interested to know the experience of others in getting people like this guy’s older colleagues to recognise that there is always something to learn. What have you done to open their eyes?

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