Great Employees Want to Learn. Great Managers Know How to Teach.

Here is an excerpt from an article written by Daniel Dobrygowski for Harvard Business Review and the HBR Blog Network. To read the complete article, check out the wealth of free resources, obtain subscription information, and receive HBR email alerts, please click here.

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“I’d like to work for a manager I can learn from.” This phrase has come up again and again in interviews I’ve conducted for my team at the World Economic Forum and from more junior folks who I’ve met through various mentoring programs. These people aren’t looking for someone to lecture them, they’re looking for someone who can help them build knowledge and skills as they work toward a valuable goal. As workers get more used to a fluid workplace, where longevity in one firm isn’t the goal and developing a portfolio of skills is more important, managers who can offer learning opportunities will be in high demand.

Having started my working life as a high school teacher, I’ve continued to find success when I use my teaching style to lead teams. Reflecting on how I’ve managed cases and projects, there are three traits which all good teachers share and managers in any field can learn: how to define and communicate goals, how to identify and build necessary skills, and how to create opportunities for growth. Put into practice, these attributes can help to create a positive environment filled with motivated and creative people, inside a school, a business, or any organization that relies on people to be creative and dedicated to shared goals.

Define goals and communicate them clearly

Every year, a teacher has to develop a plan for where the class will be at the end of the year with concrete steps for how to get there. The goal might be to improve reading levels by at least one grade or to show understanding of theorems in geometry. The same is true for any organization — you need to have clearly articulated goals that serve a greater mission. And just as it is not motivating in a classroom to say, “We need to read Animal Farm because it’s on the district’s curriculum,” it is not enough to say “We have to write a report on cybersecurity threats because the firm needs something to sell.” It’s far better to say, “We will accomplish this task together because it is an important factor in achieving our shared goals” (whether the goal is to become a better reader or to become a leading threat analysis company).

Good communication about goals goes both ways. Just as it’s the manager’s responsibility to communicate organizational goals clearly, it’s also the boss’s obligation to listen to employee’s personal goals and, where they align with the overall mission, support them and help build the skills necessary to achieve those shared goals.

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Here is a direct link to the complete article.



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