Top executives must show people how to learn
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