February 4, 2023

How to teach employees to be independent. Part 4

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

The learning area: just do as I do

There are three levels inside the learning area: objects, interactions, and actions. Compared to how a child studies the world, at the first level of objects, he or she learns that there are apples, pyramids, shoes, legs, and so on. A programmer, for example, learns about operators, syntax, and the system environment.

Then comes the level of interaction of objects. The child learns that he or she can kick the pyramid with their foot, and the programmer learns that by using the operator and syntax they can display “Hello, world!” on the screen.

The next level is action. At this level, a person begins to be interested not in objects and their mutual arrangement, but in actions and their sequence: he or she is looking for an answer to the questions, “What are we doing? In what order should I do this to get the result, like in the recipe?”

At the learning level, a person has no experience yet, but there is a recipe, an instruction, and an example by which they repeat the mentor’s pattern and solve problems. It’s like driving a car. Until a person passes their driving test, gets the license, and begins to feel confident on the road, their opinion about which driving style is better is not competent. They haven't mastered the basics yet.

The same thing applies to design: if a designer does not understand what a visual language is, what a composition is, how a font works, and how people perceive a frame, their opinion on the choice of visual techniques is compared with the reference opinion of an art director. The designer’s opinion is considered acceptable if it is similar to the “correct” reference opinion.

In this area, there are interns, and the company is giving them educational tasks. It doesn’t have to be urgent, critical, or with a high price for error.

How to give feedback: there is a standard — the pattern that a person should reproduce, which means that feedback can be provided in the categories “good/bad” or “right/wrong.”

The dialogue of equals: a trainee becomes a full-fledged team member

 In this area, a person forms their style and own way of solving problems. They have already learned to reproduce the patterns of the mentor and have moved into the category of junior or early middle. The person can be assigned to combat missions. There are two levels here: dialogue and feat.

The dialogue level. The manager avoids the assessment in the “correct/incorrect” format and assesses the solution, not for compliance with the standard, but efficiency. A space for the dialogue appears, and the conversation must go on an equal footing.

At this level, a person enters the state of “talk to me.” They may not directly declare this but expect that when setting tasks, the leader will take into account their position. For them to grow further, you need to make them feel like a respected professional and listen to their thoughts.

How to give feedback: There is no benchmark at this level, so feedback should be based on an analysis of the experience of the person to whom it is given. For example, you can say: “Alex, let’s figure out how the problem is constructed, how it works, and whether your solution is effective.”

The feat level. If we continue the comparison with the development of a person as an individual, this would be adolescence. At this stage, a person needs to receive confirmation from the world of their exceptionalism. Therefore, adolescence is usually considered difficult: to do something destructive is easier than constructive, and the amount of attention from the world is about the same.

How to give feedback: At this level, a person wants to receive confirmation that they have done something outstanding. It doesn’t have to be a World Cup of design or money — the manager needs to remember about the person. “Thank you, Alex, you are an awesome designer; where would we be without you?” — such praise is sufficient.

Part 5 coming soon.

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