Great Managers cultivate a work environment where lifelong learners thrive. Everyone simply learns for the sake of learning, thrilling to its personal reward. In these workplaces, curiosity is admired and all ideas are prized, and the Great Managers are those who facilitate the learning process in which those ideas incubate until innovation breaks through. People grow magnificently in the process.
Among studies of their own, managers will learn how to be a great teacher and coach, and with teaching in the workplace, their “how to be a great teacher” starts with knowing when to be one.
All managers must be able to coach, however sometimes their best tactic in the beginning of the learning process is having someone else do the initial teaching. At the start of learning something, the student must be inspired to learn it, and the Great Manager honestly assesses if they are up to the teacher’s challenge to inspire or not. One of the worst things you can do to the adult learner at work is sit them in a class taught by an awful teacher.
Knowledge of a subject is just bare bones. It takes talent and skill to teach well. Savvy managers will choose what they should teach personally, and when they should enlist the help of another trainer to do it for them. At times you may need experts, but ‘enlist’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘hire’ and the right teacher may even work somewhere else in your own organization. You can trade audiences with them, giving your staff fresh inspiration from the person best suited to give it, while you get more practice teaching in your own area of expertise.
When you teach, you are presenting new knowledge you want people to be excited about learning. Most learning takes some time, and they’ve got to be willing to stay the course. You may have significant passion for it, yet at times, too much passion can be a liability too; skillful teachers can tone down their passion enough for the hesitant or intimidated learner to meet them at a more comfortable place. They’ll teach in smaller bites, teaching patiently and artfully until that student can answer their own “What’s in this for me” question, and then arrive at their passion for it.
Keep in mind that in-person and by a person teaching isn’t always required. Depending on the subject, books and training videos or online programs may be options, and individual, self-paced formats may actually work better. Customize teaching by taking advantage of the variety of options available.
Don’t take it personally. Even the best teachers don’t teach everything well. They are perceived to be among the best because they’ve chosen their specialty, and matched it up with both their passion for teaching it, and their desire to have their students share in the experience of their subject’s learning. They understand that teaching is more about the way the student learns best, and much less about the teacher.
So learn a lesson from other Great Managers and don’t expect the unreasonable from your own ability to teach. Be selective and teach when you are the one most effective with the subject at hand; work dishes up a lot of possibilities! Give yourself a break, and enlist the right help for the other training your staff needs.
Then, participate in learning it right alongside them. Take your lead thereafter in the follow-up so crucial with comprehension, adaptation, and retention — coach them in the execution of what has just been learned. Getting the new learning you’ve both experienced to stick so it was all worth the effort will be the best contribution you make.
Update: Related article written for www.managingwithaloha.com;
Great Managers Teach Well
Rosa Say is the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business. She fervently believes that work can inspire, and that great managers and leaders can change our lives for the better. She writes for Lifehack.org to freely offer her coaching to those of us who aspire to be greater than we are, for she also believes in us. Writing on What Great Managers Do is one of her favorite topics.