Posts Tagged ‘educate’

fork1

Something’s wrong. Maybe the data is telling you. Maybe your gut is telling you. Either way, you know you’re on the wrong path. It’s not that you’ve even failed yet. It’s just not going to work and you know it.

And you’re the one who insisted you take the path. You were so sure. It’s OK. No one’s perfect. But you know this isn’t working.

Now what?  Obviously, you need to steer the team to a new course. So buck up and own up.

What are your options for doing that? Here are two.

Be the Expert

You would do this when you feel the team still needs stronger direction or illustration of how to change course. In this case you would work to present the case for why.  That means digging into the data or your guts and finding the root cause for your discomfort.  Illuminating the obstacle or the dead end that you see.

You may also need to propose the alternative path. Again this will require you to have done your homework on what a better path is and the rationale for taking it. You could also present multiple options.

The key here is knowing where the team is developmentally and psychologically. Will they accept your leading them?

Be the Guide

In being the guide you almost follow the same steps above in that you still need to make your case for changing course. You even need to explore what alternatives you would take.

But as the guide you make your case for change but you don’t tell them the alternatives. You go through some exercise to help them choose an alternative. You’re still the guide so you make sure they don’t get off track. You make sure the goal is still intact.

It’s a good opportunity for the team to learn and gain experience.

The key here is knowing where the team is developmentally and psychologically as well. Are they ready to do some heavy lifting? If so, this is the way to go.

Of course, I am sure there are other options out there to communicate a need for changing course. The key is to understand where your team is developmentally, psychologically and even emotionally.

Turn the wheel and off you go.

Schoolboy Struggling with Math Problems

Change is life. And if you are a change agent, you are a teacher, an educator. Because helping a person gain an understanding of a concept is the best way to open the door for them to actually endorse and execute on a concept.

We don’t often think of ourselves this way. Sure we throw around ideas like teach a man to fish but do we really think through what it means to really educate people on how to change. We throw a few presentations around, maybe send people to a couple trainings. They got it, right?

Sometimes they get it right away. Usually they don’t. And they don’t get it right away not because they are failing but because it takes time and repetition to get it.

I think we tend to underestimate how long it takes to assimilate new ideas. Once we become experts it is so easy to forget just how much effort went into it.

It reminds me of times I worked for a cousin of mine who was an experienced general contractor. He would say go do this, it’s easy. I would say, yes, it’s easy if you’ve done it a hundred times. Anything is easy if you know how to do it.

So you need to be a teacher. I almost said mentor. But in this case I don’t mean mentor because that’s something different. The goals are as important and you should certainly be one but it’s a different role and so a topic for a different time.

You need to educate. Though you may not be running a classroom the skills and efforts that go into teaching an effective class certainly apply.

Think of it as a combination between giving lessons and being a tutor.

The lesson part is about looking at what skills and knowledge your project needs to be successful. You may need to talk about the change process in general, you may need to talk about the whys and whats of the goals and vision of the project, you may need to teach about the process methodology, you may need to talk about success variable, etc.

Think about is as creating a lesson plan. What are all the lessons this person needs to learn to make it through this class/project successfully. Notice here I didn’t say the project had to be a success, but that the person has learning success through the project.

Patience. That’s another skill you’re going to need. The demands of the project will always want you to go faster than the education is occurring. You’ll have to stand as strong as you can in defense of the need to not push past the awareness points.

It’s like if you really didn’t get algebra and you are forced on to calculus. There’s a pretty good chance you will never get calculus. You won’t get it not because you are stupid but because the framework to understand was never finished. It will crumple.

There are a lot resources out there for creating lessons and teaching tools. Learn about these. They will come in handy because everyone will have their own way of learning. It will be your job to figure out what methods work best based on your pupil and the subject matter.

seedling1

We want people to just get it. When we pitch an idea or concept to someone we want all the light bulbs to go on at once.

Sometimes people do just get it. But that’s the exception. And when they don’t get it right away we often get frustrated or we try to force it.

It’s as if we have forgotten what it is like to learn something new. How easy it can be to be overwhelmed by new concepts, especially when you have your real job to do. You don’t even know enough to be able to gauge the value of the new concept so you can’t even make a choice to prioritize it.

Then we start making requests of them to start making changes, implementing new things. It’s hard enough that they don’t fully understand yet (not that you don’t ask them to do foreign things because it is in doing that we learn). But the psychological risk here is that they often don’t see you as requesting them to try a new process but demanding that they try a new process.  They feel this because most likely you’ve been assigned this task by someone above them and view your requests as not optional. And no one likes to feel that demands are being put on them from an outside force.

I don’t know how to avoid this entirely. Change comes with resistance no matter how you sugar coat it. You can, however, minimize this by building the relationship first and then requesting change and experimentation.

There are many ways to build relationships. There are also many ways to damage relationships. One good way to damage a relationship is to start by asking for something before a relationship is built. Like in the example above, if you start asking someone to change before you build a relationship you’re creating a one way dynamic. You’re asking them to do something and you’re asking them to trust you. All the burden and effort is on them. I wouldn’t want to be part of that relationship.

What can you do then to avoid this? Plant seeds, not demands.

Plant seeds by educating them on the concept, illustrating the concept, highlighting examples of the concept without asking them to do anything. Give the seeds time to germinate. Continue to water the seeds by offering more knowledge. This shows a commitment to them by you. By offering observation on their operations in context to the concept. This shows you are paying attention to their world. This is how you build trust. This is how you build good will. This is how you can give without asking.

If you do it right, they may ask you when they can start a new project or process. If you do it right, you may see an opportunity to offer assistance in trying something new.  Yes, there will still be apprehension but there will also be willingness.

In fact, you should always be planting seeds with all your business partners. You should always be educating them. You never know when these seeds will germinate. Plant seeds, reap benefits.