Articles

Different Scenarios For Learning On The Job

November 23, 2020 - By Wendy Lambourne, Director, MA Industrial and Organisation Psychology Registered Psychologist with SA Medical & Dental Council

In a written feedback about Legitimate Leadership’s Module 1 (Building Strong People), and in particular about a prescribed article for that module, Your Diary Never Lies, a manager who had started his career as an apprentice said that at a personal level, his own career had benefitted from working with managers who took time to help him over the years and “just watching how they performed in the work place was a learning experience itself”.

“Finding quality time to spend with staff is vitally important, particularly if they are inexperienced and need training to be able to carry out their role. Delegation of tasks becomes much easier with an experienced team. This is something I learned 10 years ago when working as a programme manager. The job was easy when I had inherited a team of experienced schedulers, who knew exactly what they were doing and delivered everything that was asked of them. None of them were victims, they were a pleasure to work with and easy to manage.”

“This period gave me a false sense of security, thinking that management was easy.”

“This all changed within a couple of years when they retired. The people that replaced them had far less experience and came with behavioural challenges that I had not experienced before. It was a rude awakening and I made the mistake of not spending enough time with them to train them. Instead, I ended up doing some of their work on top of my own and working a lot more hours. The end result was a considerable amount of stress and a serious lesson was learned.”

“Part of the reason for falling into the trap of not spending enough time with the team was a belief that we would not meet planning deliverables if I did not do the task myself. What I should have done is shown and coached each member of the team how to do it themselves, allowed them to take the reins, sat beside them and talked them through it. This style of coaching is not a five minute job, nor can it be done in a couple of weeks. It takes months, but during that time the individual learns faster than they would have done if they had been left to their own devices. Their skills and confidence grows to the point when they become proficient and are less reliant on their manager. A good working relationship develops because of the time that has been invested.”

Spending Time With My Team – 1-To-1 Meetings, Daily Stand Up Meetings, Coaching And Mentoring Sessions

“I set up weekly 1-to-1 meetings with my staff in August 2020. I’m finding these are a great way to get to know the team better on a personal level and find out how they are settling into their new roles. They are all doing well and seem to be enjoying the work. During these discussions I also get to find out other things about their characters, their hobbies and interests, family life, and so forth.”

“One of the best things about working on our site, which most people comment upon when asked about where they work, is the people, the friendships that develop, and the social interaction that takes place. The work is complex and no two days are the same. This is something I almost always mention to new people who join the company and have just started their careers – to make them feel welcome and to let them know how lucky they are to get the opportunity to work on exciting projects.”

“When I asked my team for feedback recently about what they thought about the 1-to-1s, they told me that they thought it was a good idea and that they felt supported and appreciated. It does give me the chance to let them know how well they are getting on, offer advice, talk about future goals and say thank you for their contribution that week.”

“The introduction of the Daily Stand Up Meetings (DSUMs), from the SOE (Sustainable Operational Excellence) course has been tremendously useful. We have been running these every day for the last month, starting at 8:30am and lasting 20-30 minutes. My team have helped to design the DSUM document that we use to update with information each day. It is still a work-in-progress but getting better each week. As their manager, it is an excellent way for me to start the day, to see what we are all working on each day, the targets we are aiming to complete, what has been achieved, discuss health and safety items, our workloads, wellbeing, training requirements and bring up any concerns that need to be actioned or escalated. It is a very powerful tool and we are already seeing the benefits and the potential of other things that it can be used for.”

“Coaching is very important at the moment and I am doing this in a variety of ways – for instance, 1-on-1 coaching, where the individual is doing the task and I talk with them over Skype, coaching by demonstration and explanation, giving briefs and presentations, and asking them to attend workshops and review meetings where the main idea is for them to listen and learn what takes place. During the week, they are also encouraged to ask as many questions as they like and there is no such thing as a stupid question. Our management tasks require a questioning mindset, good writings skills and a lot of listening as well.”

“Spending time with the team is time well invested and will help them get up to speed in their roles, build confidence, trust one another and empower them to both perform well and develop their careers.”

Wendy Lambourne
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