Top ex­ec­u­tives must show peo­ple how to learn

Jamaica Gleaner - - BUSINESS -

HOW CAN EM­PLOY­EES BE TAUGHT TO LEARN?

SOME SMART lo­cal com­pa­nies openly ad­mit that an em­ployee who has stopped learn­ing is a detri­ment. Few re­alise, though, that a leader shouldn’t ex­pect oth­ers to por­tray be­hav­iours they them­selves don’t demon­strate.

The Ja­maican ex­ec­u­tive is sup­posed to be bold, con­fi­dent and all-know­ing. Smarter than his or her peers, quicker of mind and speech than most, hav­ing in­stant an­swers is a re­quire­ment. It’s one way to ce­ment his place in a cor­po­rate hier­ar­chy in which ev­ery­one places their trust.

How­ever, pity the cus­tomer with a prob­lem who walks into the same com­pany. He or she is likely to face staff mem­bers who, in their ef­forts to em­u­late top ex­ec­u­tives, also act as if they are bold, con­fi­dent, and all-know­ing. Re­gret­tably, the ex­pe­ri­ence is then one of pure, unadul­ter­ated ar­ro­gance. Dis­re­spect.

It’s a com­mon Caribbean prob­lem, one that few man­agers see. As a re­sult, it goes un­touched. What should a leader do to ad­dress it? Usu­ally, in these mat­ters, ‘the fish stinks the worst at the head’. You, as a leader, must first deal with your­self hon­estly if you hope to cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment in which em­ploy­ees can in­no­vate. Here are some steps to fol­low.

These aren’t op­por­tu­ni­ties to lec­ture oth­ers, but the very op­po­site — the rare mo­ments when a staff mem­ber has some­thing to teach the ex­ec­u­tive. Cre­at­ing them re­quires that you so­licit in­put, even from peo­ple who are afraid to of­fer it.

Un­for­tu­nately, most ex­ec­u­tives shy away from these en­coun­ters, which are de­signed to so­licit em­ploy­ees’ ideas. After all, their self-con­fi­dence was their ticket to the ex­ec­u­tive suite, and it’s dif­fi­cult to re­verse it to be­come vul­ner­a­ble, ea­ger to learn, and pa­tient.

But it’s the only way to model learn­ing be­hav­iour. It’s so rare that em­ploy­ees who are for­tu­nate enough to wit­ness it may never be the same.

2. SHARE THE MO­MENT

But that’s just the be­gin­ning. I know too many CEOs who re­tain a raft of sto­ries in which they emerge as a con­quer­ing vic­tor, the win­ner against all oth­ers, the tri­umphant ego who is judged the very best. Just think of Don­ald Trump.

A bet­ter strat­egy to adopt is to re­mem­ber au­then­tic epipha­nies and share them over and over again, es­pe­cially if they are taught by staff or cus­tomers. Not only will it help a les­son go vi­ral, but it will also show col­leagues how to learn – which ques­tions to ask, which at­ti­tude to pro­mote, how to share the story in a way that spreads the ben­e­fit.

1. AC­TIVELY, OPENLY SEEK OUT TEACH­ABLE MO­MENTS 3. EN­GAGE IN FOR­MAL LEARN­ING

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