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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.