RSS Three Lessons from Teachable Moments

Have you ever had an experience when, after looking at it from someone else’s perspective, you realized that you may have jumped to conclusions too soon, or proceeded down the wrong path? Think about this from the perspective of the people you work with, and perhaps more appropriately, your supervisors and leaders whose job it is to help educate and motivate.

I think we can all relate to teachable moments, when someone gives us a perspective we could not have developed on our own. There have been so many of these times for me that I can’t recall them all individually. Yet, in every instance, I remember thinking that I will never forget that particular lesson learned.

One such teachable moment took place many years ago, in a class I was taking on supervision. In this class, it was reinforced over and over again that people are more accepting of quick, yet frequent, course corrections (or, performance critiques) that are  done immediately and thoughtfully. This method is preferable to a performance critique that encompasses several different things at once. Those tend to beat a person down rather than encourage him or her to be more effective.

It is with that in mind that I offer my three favorite lessons from past teachable moments.

  1. Patience is truly a virtue — I remember becoming frustrated once because an initiative I was passionate about was slow to be embraced by my organization. At the time, I was told to be patient. Just because I had been thinking about and “owning” this initiative for months, it didn’t mean that the outcome could happen overnight. What I took away from this teachable moment was that it is important for all team members charged with the implementation of a particular initiative to own it equally for optimal chances for success. The act of recruiting a strong support network takes time, and time requires patience.
  2. Take an honest look at your team — Sometimes, we have stereotypes of individuals that might get in the way of delegating additional responsibilities to them. We may believe they have limitations in knowledge, skills, or initiative, when in reality, they are probably more capable than we realize. If an individual has demonstrated a strong proficiency at something and wants more responsibility, let’s not be burdened by our own limited perspective. We ought to assign them more responsibility if earned. Likewise, if an individual is not achieving the expected results, take action to reassign or remove the individual altogether. Leadership is hard enough. We don’t need to make it harder by refusing to see things as they really are.
  3. Expect the unexpected — I know it’s a cliché. In the real world, however, we all see things happen – both good and bad –  that are totally unexpected. As leaders, these unintended and unplanned outcomes create the greatest opportunities for positive change. For example, Netflix recently modified an unpopular business decision that had created quite a stir among their customers. The unintended and unplanned negative consequence, in my opinion, resulted from a failed customer communication strategy.  Had they anticipated customer reaction prior to implementation, they could have avoided some of the negative fallout they received from the media.

What is a favorite teachable moment of yours? I look forward to your comments and feedback. Please keep responding!

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Home About Archive Mitch HagstromMitch Hagstrom
Executive Vice President
Chief Banking Officer
Pacific Continental Bank

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