A few qualities that learning-oriented managers should keep in mind during training/mentoring:
Team member curiosity, persistence, and knowing that lifelong learning requires a lot of sweat and time can make the world of difference in a learning (and doing) atmosphere.
Zest can mean curiosity, interest. When we’re interested we pay attention. We dig below the surface. We are motivated to work harder and longer. It’s about the brain’s tendency to put out energy on anything that stimulates us, like climbing, or music, or bike riding.
A roadmap doesn’t create the desire to ride. It’s zest that entices us to climb on the seat; it’s a call to adventure. Managers feed zest when they connect to team members’ interests and make work relevant, tapping into questions, topics, and issues that matter, asking them to identify topics or questions they care about.
Bring passion to the table. Manager enthusiasm covers a wide swath of edginess, and also human interest. Let it be contagious!
Grit is about persistence and a long-term focus. People with grit see challenges as temporary setbacks. Managers with a fixed mindset focus solely on performance measures, not the “gritty” learning adventure; they view mistakes as failures, not as a part of the learning scaffold.
Effective managers nudge learners to persist in their work with grit, like cyclists who dust themselves off after a fall.
Gritty leaders and learners view difficulties as speed bumps, not roadblocks to learning.
What to do? Provide low-stakes practice. Learning requires practice. Multiple, low-stakes opportunities, with timely feedback. To be most effective, feedback needs to be specific, and timely. It should identify strengths, weaknesses, and recommendations for future action.
Completing a cycling trip requires good planning. Novice riders underestimate the challenges, overestimate their ability, and fail to plan. It takes time, things go wrong, and you’re not going far without putting forth effort.
Managers can help staff work smarter, harder and longer when they incorporate reflection; for example, why was this question asked? How is X related to Y? How does this connect to what you learned before? When staff make these connections, learning takes on a long-term perspective.
Lifelong learning is more about the ride than the destination. Zest affects what we think and motivates us to start the ride. Grit affects what we do and the effort we put forth by helping us advance along the paths of learning, now and tomorrow. Now go ride! or Ski!
And yeah, that’s me on the bike in the photo. Always working on my zest and grit. Rock and roll everyone!