No MBA mumbo-jumbo, just stuff that's worked through 30 years of team-building in business and the military.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Let Them Teach You

I learned a couple of decades ago that there’s something most teenagers can do that I can’t: dispense an attractive self-serve ice cream cone. I keep in my head an image of one of my more disastrous attempts to remind me that everyone I meet can do things I can’t.

That includes my team members. Learning is fun, and letting team members teach honors them. You can use this in three ways with your team.

First, ask about interests. I spent an enjoyable session with a guy who told me all about building ham radios and educated me on all the ways ham operators have and do help us. Now we chat often, and it’s easy to approach him about work.

Second, learn more about the work. When you ask them to teach you their jobs, you get a very intimate understanding of the impacts of your decisions. For example, it seems simple in my office to decide to relabel a batch of paint, but after they walked me through that job, I’m careful about agreeing to it - it’s a lot of work, and rework at that.

Third, it’s a good way to fix things. Go to the point of the problem and ask the nearest employees to show you what’s going on. Not only will they know of subtle causes and effects no one else does, chances are they already have a solution in mind.

Letting them teach you is a textbook win-win scenario.

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