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29 Apr

The Difference Between Telling and Teaching

  • By Cannabis Industry Institute
  • Employees, Managment, Teaching, Training
  • 406

A lot of companies use lecture-style presentations in order to ‘teach’ their employees what they need to know, and the cannabis industry is no different. But this style of passing along information–where a presenter simply tells budtenders or grow technicians what they need to know–isn’t all that effective when you’re trying to teach your employees critical knowledge. In fact, a presentation is more telling than teaching.

Telling is fine when you just need to pass on information. But if you need employees to learn the material–that is to remember it, be able to apply it, and to do their jobs differently because of it–then you need to teach, not just tell. Here’s the difference.



Telling is a lecture-style presentation, where a senior employee, manager, or other expert talks, and uses Powerpoints or handouts to pass along information with little regard to how well the audience is absorbing it. In fact, within a few days, most people tend to forget information told to them, especially if there are a lot of new facts.

This style of meeting is useful for situations where employees only need basic information in order to inform their choices. For example, if you’re rolling out a new health insurance program, you can probably simply tell your employees about the new system. They won’t need to pass a test or ensure compliance with regulatory laws; they only need to understand the basics and be able to ask relevant questions to help them decide which plan to choose.



Teaching, on the other hand, is a more engaging, lasting, and behavior-changing process. This what you want to use when you need your employees to be able to learn something, retain it, apply it, and master it. Teaching starts with learning objectives–for instance, what your budtenders need to know and be able to do at the end of the class in order to ensure proper customer service–and ends with some kind of assessment or test to show that they’ve learned what they need to know. In between, teaching consists of interesting opportunities that allow your employees to determine for themselves if they really understand, immediate feedback on what they’re doing right or wrong, and other ways for employees to frequently use the knowledge they’re gaining to better perform their jobs.

Teaching ensures your employees know critical information, from regulator compliance, to company policy on handling a customer complaint. Ensuring your employees are engaged with the learning process through interesting, informative, and sometimes unexpected teaching methods will not only keep your business running smoothly, but also help your team feel empowered and knowledgeable enough to take your operation to the next level.

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