The Manager as Teacher
This post was written by Tom Blaisse, MA, a Senior Facilitator for Bovo-Tighe.
Think of the best teachers you’ve had in life. Now think of the best managers you’ve had. What do they all have in common?
No doubt, they utilized the effective communication and teaching skills that are crucial to success as a manager and as a teacher, because effective teaching skills transcend the classroom. The core elements of creating a positive learning environment (clarity of message, flexibility, and accountability), are as essential to a manager’s success as they are to a teacher’s. The acronym P.A.L. reminds us that to be a positive influence on the people we work with we must focus on three essential elements.
Presenting – Teaching is about sending a clear message so that the receiver really “gets it.” First identify your “elevator speech.” Express in 30 seconds or less what the key point is that you want your audience to understand and/or act upon. You may be proposing a solution to a problem or an organizational issue, stating your position on a topic, or simply presenting information that you want them to know or apply.
All of us have had an experience where someone is talking at you, and you think to yourself, “Get to the point.” As the teacher or manager, you need to express to the learner quickly and succinctly what the main message is.
- Relate that message to the needs of the person with whom you are talking.
- Answer for yourself, “What do I really want them to know, feel, or do?
- Be Concise, Credible, and Convincing.
- Support your position.
- Check for understanding and acceptance.
Adapting – Recognize that each of us has a preferred style of communication; that one size does not fit all. Communication must be adapted to the needs of the audience. As a teacher and manager, you need to assess the receiver’s style and decide about how best to proceed. People learn and receive information differently.
- Some are more process oriented; others need a lot of detail or are action oriented.
- Frame the message in a manner that works best for them.
- Change the message as needed to get the point across and to follow up appropriately.
Leveraging – The most effective method to leverage the power of communication is through positive accountability. Team members need to understand the expected results, and the positive or negative consequences that come with them. Imagine a school environment where there are no grades; no clear expectations, nor any formal learning assessments. Students would:
- Become frustrated, confused and unmotivated
- Lack ownership and personal accountability
- Fail to perform in accordance with expectations
And remember, feedback is the key to all learning. Effective feedback engages “learners;” stimulates personal accountability and encourages them to improve their performance. Successful teachers look for “coachable moments” where they can offer effective feedback to clarify standards, deal with conflict, and improve performance. Conversely, team members are more willing to listen and respond when they know that their manager has done the same.
- Build trust to ensure that your feedback is received in a positive and open manner.
- Listen to their input and perspectives.
- Demonstrate openness to the feedback they offer you
- Utilize constructive feedback to leverage your own effectiveness as a teacher/manager.
If you adopt the P.A.L. mindset, you will see a positive change in your team members’ ability and willingness to learn and improve. Presenting your message convincingly ensures clarity, credibility, and conciseness. Adapting your message helps meet the learning needs of your audience. And Leveraging your message with accountability and feedback instills ownership and engagement. As a manager/teacher, be your employees’ “P.A.L.” whenever the opportunity presents itself.