Many startups fail because the team does not function. Building the business is reactive rather than proactive. The team might also be young and inexperienced or older with an “I already know how this should be done” attitude. As a founder, you get frustrated when you see all the things ahead. However, there is nobody to pick up the balls that you throw in the air. Who is to blame but yourself?
What if you turned things around and accepted the fact that your role is to be a teacher and coach rather than a commander? Instead of telling people what to do, you would teach them how to tackle hurdles by themselves and train them to excel? What if your role would be to arrange time in your “classroom” for people to learn from you and from each other? Instead of providing all the answers to all the problems, you would create an atmosphere where people can learn and have the trust to solve emerging tasks by themselves.
What does it mean to be a teacher?
The role of a teacher is to inspire, motivate, and educate learners. As a teacher in your startup, you help people to lead themselves in their daily jobs. Rather than being a one-stop shop, you will show how you can learn from each other by planning joint learning time in your calendar. Topics could be customer, product and market insights, etc. Engage your team members in new contexts. It is learning by doing. You will need a new mindset and have to rethink your own ways of working.
Why is it so hard to change your ways?
I know, this will be hard because you as a founder have to change your own mindset from telling people what to do or solving most things yourself. You have to find time to ramp up your teaching skills, you have to start listening rather than talking and arrange a setting where learning can take place. In addition, you are stressed and you need to fix more urgent matters. It will take longer to get started and there is a learning curve for you too. When you have established a foundation, your teaching will pay off with a proactive and knowledgeable team and culture.
How can you go about it?
Again this is not easy. Try to start with micro steps. Discuss it openly with your team. Engage somebody to get you started if you do not have the experience. Set goals. Be serious. Plan for joint time together to learn and reflect. Arrange for proper tools and a co-tutor from your team. Do not do it alone. Take your time. Be humble. Rome was not built in one day.
5 Step guide to becoming a teacher
These 5 steps will help you get started with a long term commitment to making space for joint learning and teaching in your company
- Gather your team and discuss openly about changing the way you cooperate.
- Evaluate if you have the skills or if you need outside support.
- Start with one topic and work on teaching each other. For example, learning about customer needs and behavior is a great starting point. That gets the whole team aligned around your common purpose.
- Make this a serious habit and see where it takes you. Work in micro-steps and evaluate fully after 3 months.
- Remember to HAVE FUN! And BE PRAGMATIC. What you have learned together should be put into action directly.
Rosebud Note! As you start implementing this you will see that you have a classroom with many students and many teachers depending on the topic! Everybody can learn and everybody can teach!
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