The act of teaching is one of those experiences when you learn pretty quickly that it's not about you; it's about your students. Human resources leaders know it's especially true in the world of professional and organizational development where every employee comes to work with a different and complex body of experience and history.
No two employees are alike, so it's tough to create curriculum standards and exams to ensure that lessons have been learned. Sure, you can get proactive and prepare your training materials and lesson plans with good organizational data. However, every classroom event or online learning program will be different - and produce differing outcomes - based on the individual journey of each student.
Some people think it's relatively straightforward to teach courses like math or earth science, although I can assure you it's not as easy as it looks. But it's the challenge of a lifetime to teach interpersonal skills and basic psychological concepts to adult employees with children, mortgages, and bills to pay.
So, how do you create a positive culture of communication and teach others to deliver feedback without seeming like an armchair psychologist or a nanny?
Expose Your Workforce to Positive Examples of Behavior
There's nothing worse than teaching your employees how to give and receive feedback and then having a leader behave in the opposite manner. Teach others how to deliver feedback by delving into their work histories and showing them affirming examples from within their own teams.
Apply Knowledge to Real-World Scenarios
Once your class understands the principles of how to give and get feedback, ask them to apply their newfound knowledge to a real-world problem in their lives. Use your classroom as an opportunity to work through the murkiness of interpersonal conflict and create a space where your employees can ask honest, sincere questions about how to give and receive feedback in the toughest of situations.
Ask for Feedback Throughout The Class
When you teach others to deliver feedback, it's important to be the change you wish to see in the world. Ask for feedback on your teaching style, materials, and even the structure of the class itself. Assure your class that nobody dies when feedback is given and received in a respectful and thoughtful manner. Then lead by example by not overreacting if and when someone gets it wrong.
Address and Correct Stereotypes and Misperceptions Along The Way
When you teach others to deliver feedback, you're overriding the hardwiring of biology and bias that exists in all of our brains. For example, many people think that women are better at giving and receiving feedback. There's no real science behind that assertion and yet many people incorrectly believe that a traditional understanding of gender is an important way to understand feedback. When you see an example in the classroom of someone getting it wrong, be brave and offer feedback.
Teaching others to give feedback means you're doing more than just creating a culture that aligns with your company's values. You're helping someone learn and grow outside of the traditional workforce. Giving and getting feedback are skills that can apply in our personal lives and with our families.
So, please take your HR job seriously, my friends, and teach your employees to deliver feedback in a mindful and intentional way. It's a critical way that the field of human resources can make a difference and change the world.