Saturday, December 22, 2012

Why Should Managers Teach?

I recently read an article in CLO titled, "Those who manage teach." It is a powerful statement and I completely agree with it. I have always believed that managers are the first line of teachers. Also, whether you know it or don't - whether you want to or not, every manager is a teacher. 

While many managers focus on the project goals: time and cost, some managers do something more - they also teach consciously. In my view, that's the difference between a good manager and a great manager. I gratefully acknowledge the contribution of my supervisors who taught me instead of just managing me and I am happy to say there were many!

How are managers teachers? 
Well, to start off, managers are the first role models for any team member. A team member expects the manager to do what she says. If managers don't walk the talk, it is not correct to expect the same standards from the team. But that's just one aspect of being a good teacher. 
A manager works with her team on a daily basis. Learning opportunities are available in every meeting, every conversation and every project. So whether a manager realizes it or not, she is teaching in every interaction. To consciously teach, a manager has to plan for training and learning and take the responsibility for mentoring and coaching. 
However, in all this I realize that not all managers can be good teachers. And there is nothing wrong with that. But managers who are not good teachers still need to take the responsibility for team and individual learning and delegate this task to others who are more skilled in the area. But more importantly, after delegating, they must continue to take interest in their team's learning process.

Why should managers teach?
  • Managers should teach so that they are able to share their insights, best practices, failures and experiences. These learning points are far useful towards greater productivity and efficiency of the team than any technical or functional skills. 
  • Managers should teach to show their team that learning is work and work is learning. She needs to create opportunities for learning, should not be afraid to allow her team to make mistakes and should be genuinely interested in transferring knowledge and skills - and pack it all in everyday work.
  • Managers should teach to develop a continuous learning culture and inspire and foster new ideas and innovation.
  • Managers should teach to contribute to their own profession and help build better managers. Managers who teach are the best way to ensure that the profession is constantly recharged with fresh energy and a steady stream of budding managers is always on its way. 
As managers, we need to remember: when we teach, the greater learning is ours.