Did You Just Burn Rubber, Leaving Your Team at the Curb?

How many times have you tried to teach, explain or describe something and all you see is your team looking at you like deer in headlights. All that is going through your mind is, “This is simple why aren’t you getting it???”

Is it what you are saying? Is it how you are saying it? Early in my career, I had a wise manager and now mentor ask me, “Is your team on your bus, or are you driving away leaving them at the curb?” My first response was, of course not… then I started to really think about it, and there they were – on the curb with their luggage. I had to adjust my approach, but how?

First off, not everyone learns the same way. It is important that you ask how they prefer to learn. As an example, my father tried teaching me how to drive a stick shift Ford truck. He was very patient. He sat in the driver’s seat demonstrating the steps and actions repeatedly with me in the passenger seat taking notes. The moment it was my turn to get behind the wheel… jerk and stall. (Possibly the reason why both he and I have chronic neck pain). I walked away from that lesson not successfully moving the truck anywhere. Then, my brother decided to take a crack. This time, I was in the driver’s seat and he in the passenger seat. He gave me the keys and talked me through the steps while I was doing them. Feeling the clutch, gas, hearing the engine give me signals to shift gears made all the difference. I was off driving on my first try without a single issue. It wasn’t that my dad was a bad teacher. In fact, he taught my brother. It was how I was taught that made the difference. Heather Huhman, from Entrepreneur.com has a great article on the four ways to train effectively.

Next, it is important that your team has all the information it needs to be successful. A frequent quote that is shared in our office is from George Bernard Shaw, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” Take a moment to think through the directions your team will need to complete a project. Determine what is step one and move forward from there. Give adequate time to complete each step.

Then obtain assurance that your team understands what is expected. In this fast-paced world, many of us do not take the time to acknowledge understanding – we just assume it. By giving your employees time to process, work with them, not against them. Some people like to talk through a problem or scenario, others want to think it through and get back to you. Some people like to be taught, some like to learn on their own. And guess what, even though you may be a good manager, doesn’t mean you may be a good teacher. And that’s okay. Good leaders get their team the resources to reach the next level. Web, books, mentors, colleagues, are all examples of resources not to be overlooked. RTA can help get your team on the Industrial Networking bus through our blogs, case studies and training. RTA’s next training event in late October focuses on EtherNet/IP. Click here to learn more.

Joel Osteen is credited with saying “You’ve got a big windshield on the front of your vehicle. And you’ve got a little bitty rearview mirror. And the reason the windshield is so large and the rearview mirror is so small is because what’s happened in your past is not near as important as what’s in your future.” Just make sure to check the rear view mirror to make sure your team is on the bus with you.