Teaching Others: Sharing Skills to Build Competence
Posted by Anni M.
You may not think of yourself as a teacher or mentor, especially if you are a career businessperson. You spend your time working with other people as a collaborator. If you lead, you lead by example. You may not be a manager or boss but that doesn’t mean you aren’t a teacher. Your skills are valuable and, if you’ve been in your job for a while, chances are good your co-workers recognize that. If people are turning to you for help or advice, you have become a mentor. As such, it is your responsibility to teach without condescending—to help without doing the project yourself. Like so many other soft skills, teaching is a balance. It requires authority and poise, but too much of either may make you seem removed and superior. Learning how to teach well is an incredibly valuable soft skill that employers look for, especially in experienced job applicants.
In this economy, many of us are finding ourselves out of work, having to re-enter the job market after many years of gainful and fulfilling employment. It is a difficult position to be in for anyone, made even more difficult by age. Older workers are experienced but they also expect more. They are used to getting paid well and to having the respect of their colleagues. Starting at a new office can be extremely trying for this demographic. Younger employees may have seniority and that can be frustrating. Additionally, bosses may not be willing or able to compensate appropriately and that can be frightening and demeaning. Demonstrating your worth as a mentor and teacher can turn the tables on both fronts.
When you mentor others well you earn respect. The respect is for your knowledge but it’s also for your approach. If you are good with people—you know when to compliment and when to criticize, you can handle unexpected conversational twists, and you think well on your feet—teaching others is an excellent way to showcase those skills. When you apply for a job, an employer isn’t seeing you in action. Words on a page only go so far. The real test is in your performance.
If you don’t feel like you’re a natural teacher, consider taking a night class in pedagogy. It may sound silly, but teaching is a skill that comes in mighty handy far beyond the walls of the classroom. It will help you when you’re standing in front of people, it will build your confidence, and it will make you a better performer and a better conversationalist. Embrace your role as teacher and you will make yourself an indispensable team member. That’s something we’d all like to be.
As a Creative Communications Strategist, Victoria is known for her electrifying Keynote Performances™ and the transformational workshops and coaching sessions she creates for elite executives, high performing teams, thought leaders and entrepreneurs..