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My Employer, My New World Teacher
Last week Thursday, I challenged you to consider how you can best take advantage of our “New World” of learning opportunities. The possibilities waiting for you are extraordinary.
I asked you to reflect back on when you feel you have learned best, so you can rally together those lessons-learned about when you have been a great student. Think of that self-knowledge as a collection of the great learning behaviors you can turn into great habits; you do them without thinking about them anymore. Arming yourself with those great habits, you can continue to set a stage for your sequential and consequential learning. You can accomplish amazing things.
Now this week, I’d like you to imagine you are in a “New World” workplace, one which is managed with the aloha of a great manager. There, you would find a boss whose intention is to be your learning coach and mentor. How would you recognize that person? In both managing and mentoring you, they [he/she] will create an environment for learning while building a powerful partnership with you in eight different ways.
1. Desire to Learn
Learning will come up as a question the very first time you are interviewed. You’d be asked something like, “What was the last thing you learned about? Why was it important to you? What has your new knowledge done for you? How did you use it? Will you use it again? What do you want to learn about next? Why?”
How would you answer those questions? Learning to love learning is a must in today’s New World, where personal learning spills into professional results by creating more intellectual capital, and New World bosses “get it.”
2. Intention to Question
The next set of questions they have for you will be something like these: “What have you learned about US so far? Why do you want to be here? What would you still like to know about us? What do you need to know, so that you can begin to make an impact here, helping us to continually improve and grow along with you?”
They want to know how inquisitive you are, and what you’re curious about, and yes, they want to know what you intend to deliver in earning your keep. They want to know how good you are at being the one to ask the questions, both because you have a need to know, and because you aren’t afraid to plainly state what you still must learn if the company is to evolve with you.
Are you comfortable asking those kinds of questions? Are you willing to admit what you don’t know? Are you willing to grow the company along with you?
3. Talents and non-Talents
Let’s say you get the job. Your new boss will make it their priority to find out what you feel your strengths are, and they will set out to establish a baseline of where you’re starting from with them. Next, they will help you set some personal goals which systematically help you take your strengths from good to great. Third, they will watch how you work. They want to see how you naturally align your values with your habits, and how you instinctively make your weaknesses irrelevant. If you need help with those challenges, they will coach you, and offer you some alternatives.
Do you already know those things about yourself, and how your talents and non-talents affect your learning capacity? How do you learn more about the person you are, and the person you are meant to be?
4. Access to Knowledge
Next, your boss will seek to establish a fairly regular pattern of communication with you, understanding that your access to the knowledge they can provide you with is critically important to your success. They will assure you know about all the channels of information available to you. You will quickly get accustomed to being asked, “What else do you need to know? What’s next? When will you need it? Where have you started to look?” and you will start to develop a habit of always having those answers, those requests, ready for them.
Right now, with the work you are currently doing, and the mission you are currently steeped in delivering, what would your request for New World Knowledge be?
5. What it Takes to Inspire
When it comes to skills, you will find that your new boss considers your task-related and industry-related skills the easy part, the givens, and the first 3-6 months kind of things. Skills training is certainly important, but it has become grade-school stuff. Beyond that time, skills training is something they will expect you to easily research and set your own next goals and new learning habits for. They themselves will seek to inspire you. They won’t ask you to deliver your best work, they’ll expect it. What they’ll ask you to deliver is inspired work.
So, when are you now inspired? What does it take to have you leaping out of bed in the morning, excited about the day ahead, and hoping that day will never end? Once you have learned a new skill, one that enhances one of your talents, what next action with it lights that fire in your spirit?
6. Relationships, Peers, and Community
Your boss will often talk to you about your professional relationships within the workplace and within your chosen industry, in regard to how you can learn from them, and learn to improve them. Their own relationship with you will be a model you can replicate with others. They understand that in our New World you will love learning collaboratively, and learn what’s most important for your own well-being within your associations with other people. They will take it for granted that what is personal for you is professional, and what is professional for you is personal, understanding the synergy and harmony between the two is a very good thing for you and for everyone concerned.
Whether you are a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner, how do other people factor into your learning habits? How do you learn in the company of others as opposed to when you learn alone, left to your own devices?
7. Take-Aways and Lessons-Learned
The boss who is today’s best learning coach is never satisfied with purely academic learning, and they don’t want their students to be either. While they’ll acknowledge that any kind of learning will be somehow useful, they mentor their students to make all learning count for something, to have it be adapted in some practical, tangible, and meaningful way. They always have an answer ready for the person who asks, “Why do I have to learn this stuff?” From the litigation-prevention classes HR does, to entertaining clients , business trips and travel to conferences, your boss will ask, “What did you get out of it? What can we use? What was your take-away, and what will be your next action now?” Learning is consequential.
Today’s new student needn’t have their boss ask these questions, for they’ve already asked them of themselves. With each new learning, how good are you at the self-discipline of measuring up your results from the effort? Have you learned to value your time for the precious resource it is?
8. New World Awareness
Let’s see. There’s Web 2.0, Globalization 3.0 and Learning 4.0 … This list would not be complete without these undeniable drivers of possibility, creativity and innovation in this, our “new world.” I do believe the boss of today must be virtually savvy, and must consider your access to electronic communication, collaboration and productivity tools as basic as the timeclock and telephone. Geography must be thought of as opportunity and not boundary, community as both virtual and sensory, and nationality as irrelevant. There are countless examples of jobs today which are still not using web-based tools, but they are jobs, and not the evolving roles of Today’s Learner and tomorrow’s leader.
How electronically and virtually savvy are you, and what kind of “new media” will you be learning to use next? Who is in your learning community, and who will be? Is your boss open to reinventing the nature of work as you both know it?
- Part One of this article was Rosa’s previous Thursday column: The New World of Today’s Student.
- Related Article: The 10 Beliefs of Great Managers
Rosa Say is the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business and the Talking Story blog. She is the founder of Say Leadership Coaching, a company dedicated to bringing nobility to the working arts of management and leadership.
Rosa’s most recent learning is with an online collaboration effort called JJLN: the Joyful Jubilant Learning Network. More of her Lifehack.org articles on learning can be found at this index.
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