Want a Straight-A Team? Find Your Company’s Best Teachers

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Nov 3, 2015
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

Take a moment to think about your favorite schoolteacher.

Why was he or she so successful as an educator? This teacher likely deepened your understanding of the subject area, but he or she probably made you want to learn more and improve your skills — and that is the power of a great teacher.

Although there are no classrooms in the business world, there are certainly teachers.

The next time you visit the office, consider all of the teaching that occurs. How many times have you spotted an experienced team member giving tips to a new staff person? How many times has someone shared with you a better method for selling a product, interacting with clients, or improving workplace communication?

Great teachers are all around you. The workplace’s best educators create self-sufficient team members, improve staff confidence, and develop a positive environment where future teachers can learn and grow.

So how can you identify and foster the best teachers at your business?

How to find your company’s best teachers

The best teachers on your team will have solid management skills and a strong understanding of your industry. This combination of skills serves as the foundation they need to create digestible, applicable explanations for other staff members.

Truly phenomenal teachers will also possess these five traits:

  1. Selflessness — Selfless teachers help others succeed regardless of their personal gain. The best teachers on your team will often choose to share success rather than enjoy it alone, so look for those individuals who are willing to work quietly in the background and support other staff members’ efforts.
  2. Patience — In most cases, it’s simpler to complete a task yourself than it is to teach someone else how to do it. Despite this reality, great teachers will be willing to invest their time and effort in guiding teammates through unfamiliar projects.
  3. Trustworthiness — Like any educator, a teacher in the business world has good days and bad days. No one can communicate information clearly and effectively 100 percent of the time  — with everyone he or she encounters  — but you can expect a phenomenal teacher to be honest, straightforward, and transparent in his or her interactions. The best teachers on your team are likely those staff members who already command respect, admiration, and trust because they prioritize honesty and transparency in their work.
  4. Adaptability — There are at least three (3) unique learning styles, which can make a one-size-fits-all approach inefficient and ineffective. Great teachers can accurately evaluate the learning styles of their students and adjust their teaching styles to match. Look for individuals on your team who are adept at conveying information in multiple ways. They should be strong speakers, clear writers, and adept users of charts, graphs, and other visuals.
  5. Foresight — When classroom teachers give their students an assignment, they do so because they believe their students can rise to the challenge. They might expect their students to struggle with the work, but they generally do not give assignments that they judge to be beyond students’ capabilities. Successful workplace teachers must also possess the foresight to recognize when a task is too difficult to accomplish. Your team’s strongest teachers are probably those who possess good judgment in many areas. One way to identify them is to seek out staff members who act calmly during crises.

How to support your company’s best teachers

Once you identify your team’s teachers, provide them with opportunities to develop their talents within the company.

Consider scheduling professional development sessions that discuss learning styles, or encourage your team members to take applicable classes with tuition reimbursement. You can also build rewards for teamwork into your organization’s compensation plan.

Another great idea is to harness your teachers’ skills during the interview process. Great teachers are often great evaluators of talent, and they will have plenty to contribute when your company is searching for new members.

Once you hire new staff, ask your teachers to work closely with them during the onboarding proce. The wrong first impression can have a lasting effect on a new team member’s tenure, so it is important to show that your company is willing and able to help new staff members learn.

You do not need a classroom to be a teacher, just as you do not need a chalkboard and a ruler to be a great educator. In business, the desire to see your team succeed, the drive to make it happen, and the traits discussed above are more than sufficient.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
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