6 Ways To Weave A Learning Spirit Into Your Team’s DNA

 

Teach a man to fish, and he’ll never go hungry. As a supervisor, making a habit out of spoonfeeding your employees is one of the fastest ways to kill their resourcefulness, regardless of how good your intentions are. If you want to facilitate adaptability and resilience in your team, the key is to cement in them a commitment to learning.

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The more committed a team is to learning, the less likely they are to treat failure as the end of the road. They’ll also be far less resistant to the changes called for by ever-changing markets, consumer preferences, and environments.

But talk is cheap. Even if you scream yourself hoarse about the importance of learning, there’s no guarantee that your team will listen. Weaving a commitment to learning into your team’s DNA requires a combination of one-on-one mentoring and oiling the machinery of teamwork. Here are six ways to do that.

P.S. Help yourself help others; sign up for SSA Academy’s WSQ course on facilitating team adaptability today!

 

1. Emphasise ownership

Communicating and showing to your people that everyone is expected to take ownership for themselves is a vital step in mentally priming them to learn. The more people feel a sense of ownership over their work, the more proactive and committed they tend to be towards growing through learning.

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  • Be clear about what’s expected of them right from the start
  • Secure their buy-in; help them see where and how their work contributes meaningfully to the team, the company and beyond
  • Celebrate their successes

 

2. Incalculate a growth mindset

One of the greatest determinants of a person’s resilience and adaptability not just at work but in life is their mindset. Those who have “growth mindsets” recognise that their abilities are dynamic and not set in stone; they’re hence more willing to learn. Comparatively, if you’re stuck in a “fixed mindset”, you think there’s not much you can (or even need) to do to change your lot. Hence, you tend to languish in inertia.

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  • Give regular, forward-looking, specific feedback
  • Recognise effort, progress, and attitude above pure talent

 

3. Grant more autonomy

Curtailing your team’s autonomy can kill the spirit of exploration and experimentation. Conversely, combining freedom and responsibility the way Netflix does facilitates the kind of intelligent risk-taking and innovative behaviour that’s instrumental to learning.

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  • Delegate authority, not just tasks
  • Allow people to pursue personal projects that they think will be of benefit to the company
  • Encourage job crafting

 

4. Provide psychological safety

The threat of being negatively judged by your peers is real. It’s often what makes people hold back from asking questions and sharing information that could help themselves and others to learn during the process of collaboration. Supervisors need to provide psychological safety in their teams so that people know they can take interpersonal risks around each other without fear.

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  • Lead by example; practice vulnerability as the supervisor first so that others can follow suit
  • Promote inclusivity and respectfulness in all situations

 

5. Cultivate interdependency

The magic that happens when people work together can only happen if they share a sense of interdependency amongst one another. If your team sees themselves as a group of individuals acting as separate agents, they’ll naturally self-restrict their interactions. In so doing, they’ll miss out on the chance to learn from one another.

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  • Ensure that everyone knows what each of their roles in the team are
  • Maximise your team’s cognitive diversity; ensure people are familiar with each other’s thinking styles and how each is essential to the team
  • Take a leaf from Hubspot’s playbook; hold “job crafting swap meets” where people can exchange tasks they dread with tasks they prefer doing

 

6. Bolster self-efficacy

Self-efficacy refers to how much you believe in your ability to perform well in specific situations. Studies have shown that people with higher self-efficacy display a strong commitment to overcoming new challenges and a greater willingness to learn. In other words, if you know you have enough knowledge, experience and expertise to succeed, you’ll be more persistent over the course of your learning journey.

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  • Assign stretch tasks that are just hard enough to facilitate learning, without being overwhelmingly challenging
  • Build strong, meaningful personal relationships with each team member; use these to encourage and convince each of them that they are capable of success

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