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practising guitar, mastery, training and development

How to master your team

How much do you invest in training and coaching your team?  Does everyone feel they are good at what they do and take pride in becoming even better?

My husband runs the family tool hire business, and every now and again, asks me to go in and cover for him for a couple of hours.  He works alone, so if he needs to make a delivery during the day, I get to go in and be the sales assistant.  It’s fine, until someone comes in and asks for something.

Firstly, I struggle with the stock control on the computer – I’m not that familiar with it, so it takes me a while to work out if we’ve got an angle grinder available.  Once I’ve established that we have, the next problem is that a) I don’t know what it looks like; b) I don’t know where we keep it on the shelves; and c) don’t know what disc you need to for the job you want to do.

So I end up feeling useless and incompetent, and just hate being there.   It’s really not a nice feeling.  And yes, if I worked there full time, I’d learn and improve, but because I don’t that feeling of incompetence arises every time I’m on the premises. Also, it’s his business, he wants it run his way, so I don’t get much autonomy either.

We return again to Daniel Pink, and his book Drive; the surprising truth about what motivates us.  As well as purpose and autonomy, there’s mastery.  To develop mastery we need three things. 

  • Firstly, the mindset.  If we approach a task with the view of reaching a specific standard, like getting an A grade in an exam, we are only interested in the performance.  Once reached, that’s it, no more bothering to improve.  Better to take a learning approach, a craftsman mindset, which is all about personal development.
  • Secondly, it’s painful.  It takes effort, hard work, that isn’t always fun.  Take an athlete like Usain Bolt.  He didn’t just turn up one day and run 100 metres in under ten seconds.  He trained, did drills, like perfecting his technique out of the starting blocks, watched his nutrition. He worked hard for years to achieve his world records.
  • Finally, it’s unattainable.  None of us can completely master something, we can’t achieve perfection.  An artist is not satisfied their work is the best it could be.  The next piece of work needs to be better.

How is this relevant to you as a manager?  I’ll introduce another writer here, Cal Newport.  In his book, So Good they can’t Ignore You, he contrasts the passion mindset with the craftsman mindset.  He uses the example of a young man who composes guitar and banjo music, and how he practices small sections repeatedly.  You may have bought into the premise that you should find work that you’re passionate about, if work is your passion you’ll never have to work a day in your life.  I certainly did.  Newport says this is all wrong, for many reasons I don’t have time to explore now.  But one that’s relevant for our purposes, Newport says this is all about what the job can do for you.  Contrast this with the craftsman approach, which is all about what you can bring to the job, what value you add.  If you take this approach to your job as a manager, how can I be a better manager today than I was yesterday, how can I continue to improve and learn more about serving my team, then you will be adding tremendous value to your organisation.  If you can encourage your team to take the same approach, then they too will continue to grow, improve and add more value to your organisation.

Through this approach, you will develop passion, find motivation and have moments of flow, which is beneficial to your wellbeing.  It’s a win-win.  You and your team will be adding value to your organisation, and as a result your motivation and wellbeing increase.

If you want to master your team by developing the craftsman mindset, I’d love to hear from you.  What do you think of this idea?  Let me know in the comments below.

About the Author Lindsay Milner

Lindsay is the owner of Silvern Training. Before that she had a very varied working life, doing everything from admin, volunteering, sales, teaching, training, fundraising, management and chairing a board of charity trustees. Now wants to change the world of work by improving workplace cultures so that people can look forward to Monday mornings. Also likes to support individuals to speak up, be better listeners and to take action.

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