As I stood watching my daughter crack an egg into the cake batter, every cell in my body was aching to take the egg out of her hands and do it expertly and flawlessly myself. Any parent knows how difficult it can be to refrain from stepping in and fixing things for their children. It is a feeling also felt by managers, team leaders and mentors in the workplace.
One of our greatest challenges is standing back and allowing others to learn from their own actions, triumphs and mistakes. It can be too easy to step in and ‘save the day’ at the first wobble of the wheels (or the first sign of eggshell in the cake batter!). However, when you give others the space to apply new learnings, you provide invaluable opportunities to develop their confidence and competence.
The aim of managers, team leaders, mentors and parents is to provide an autonomous learning environment. By supporting and encouraging others to try new things, we send the message that we believe they can do it. And our confidence in others is contagious! You can support growth and independent learning through the following key actions:
• Listen more, ask more and tell less.
• Recognise that feelings of frustration and disappointment are a natural and healthy part of the learning process. Encourage others to acknowledge these feelings as ‘par for the course’ and don’t let them de-rail the learning process.
• Resist giving solutions, even when asked to. Instead ask questions to encourage others to think of their own solutions.
• Help to identify and support intrinsic motivation. Why does the person want to learn how to do this? What values, purpose or meaning will this add for them?
• Provide feedback which is focused on effort and improvement, not simply results and success, to encourage a growth mindset.