Do You Teach or Demand ??

This past weekend I had the opportunity to go camping with my Scouts again.  It’s always a great time that inevitably involves rain !!  I’m used to that and so are the scouts.  It’s truly fascinating to watch the interaction that happens during an outing because the adults aren’t in charge of any facet of what happens.

The scouts plan the outing, plan the meals, pack the gear in the trailer, set-up camp and also plan all of the activities that happen throughout the weekend.  The reason it’s so fascinating to watch is to see which style of leadership the boys choose to employ.  Adults want to step in to fix and correct things, and that’s where I come in to remind the adults that we’re basically on the outing to ensure safety and that the boys carry out their plans.

Here’s a simple example . . .

At EVERY campout we play Euchre !! If you don’t know what Euchre is, it’s basically the card game of kings.  Seriously !!  The boys can’t wait until some down time to get cards out and start playing.  They play each other and relish the chance to take on the adults.  Euchre is not an easy game to learn.  It has some twists that don’t seem logical.  Hence, the nuances of a game.  All great games make you think and react.  We play for hours at a time and set up tournaments.

Euchre HandIf a scout doesn’t know how to play, you have to teach them.  For people who are seasoned Euchre players, teaching someone is tedious.  You want the new player to “get it” but it takes time and several games to learn.  Once a new player understands the game, they take off !!  They can literally play the game, and enjoy it, for life.

It’s amazing to watch a new scout struggle to learn and understand, but most everyone is understanding.  However, once a scout starts playing for one or two outings, they become extremely frustrated and intolerant of those who don’t know the game’s rules or how to play well.  They completely forget that they just learned how to play Euchre just a few short months ago.

You can take this example to almost every facet of an outing.  The kids either teach each other how to do skills and are patient during the process, or they demand that people just catch on to what they’re supposed to do.  If they don’t do the task well or right, the boys just want to skip working with others and will even avoid them or work around them.

Sound like work ??  Sound like HR ??

I think it’s exactly like the interactions we have at work. In fact, at work the “demand” approach is what is followed the vast majority of the time.  HR needs to recognize this and destroy it.  When I see HR that is built on compliance, discipline, writing people up, “building a case”, and policies that only measure what goes wrong, I see the demand approach in full bloom.  HR isn’t the only department that uses the demand method, but it IS the department that can eliminate it.

Teaching people how to perform and giving them expectations of outcomes and the ability to use their skills is what we should strive for in any workplace !!  When we do it, they’ve learned something they can enjoy and “play” for life.  We have to recognize when Managers and Supervisors fall into the demand mindset and “teach” them as well.  It’s time-consuming and incremental, but worth every single moment.

So, HR, step up !!  Refuse to be like the norm in our field who use the demand system and parameters to feel they’re practicing great HR.  Be a teacher instead !!

And, if you need to learn Euchre, let me know.  I know some pretty good teachers !!

2 thoughts on “Do You Teach or Demand ??”

  1. Great blog Steve! I agree with you about the importance of teaching. I find that when training a new employee, if they understand “why” a procedure is important and not just “how” to perform the procedure, they are much more successful at troubleshooting any issues that arise because they understand the process. Instead of saying, “First you do this, then you do this…”, I prefer “You do this because, and then this because . . . “

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