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Great Managers Teach (When They Should)

Great Managers Teach (When They Should)

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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
Post Author:
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.

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Last Updated on August 16, 2018

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system”.

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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The power of habit

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being six hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The wonderful thing about triggers (reminders)

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to make a reminder works for you

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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