Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Are You a Coach or a Counselor?

Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Are You a Coach or a Counselor?

Article excerpt

In helping employees realize their greatest potential and productivity, you, the manager, must understand how people learn. Managers need to set a climate for learning, first by understanding what the learning process is, and second, by understanding what fosters that process.

Say It Often

It has been proven that reinforcement through repetition is an important factor in learning. After delivering the instructions, summarize them. (Repeat, repeat, repeat!) Find out how well the employee understood the instructions by asking him or her to repeat them. You'll learn that what the employee heard isn't necessarily what you said. Employees adapt what you say depending on what is going on in their minds, their current emotional states, and any outside distractions.

Ideally, instructions should be repeated six times. This does not mean delivering instructions in the same manner each time. Rather, after giving instructions, you could follow up with a memo, then reinforce your wishes with something graphic or a demonstration.

It is important to control the time lapse between the issuing of instructions and when the task will be performed. Studies show that almost any group will forget 98 percent of the instructions it receives within 16 days if they are not reissued or reinforced with an activity. If your employee is given instructions he won't use for a month, don't expect him to remember what he was told. Make it a habit to give instructions only when they'll be followed closely by the activity.

Give It Context

People, by nature, learn by association. If an employee realizes that the task he or she is performing has a significant impact on an end product, he or she will associate the task with the entire process.

One element in ensuring that instructions are learned and responsibilities are carried out is communicating your expectations and the value of the task to the employee. Tell him or her why the task is being performed, and outline deadlines and expected results. Let employees know where they stand.

Use a pert chart, a managerial tool that helps to ensure you are giving complete instructions. To construct a pert chart, you determine the final result, then work backwards, step by step, task by task. This forces you, the delegator, to think about each step in the process. If you merely described the task from beginning to end, your familiarity with it might cause you to leave out a step.

Active Listening

Most people are not skilled listeners. One of the reasons you may find it so difficult to listen is that most people normally speak at the rate of 125 to 150 words per minute even though they usually listen at the rate of 400 to 600 words per minute. Although people spend 65 percent of their life listening, the natural discrepancy between the rates of listening and speech works against people listening "actively." Active listening takes place when each participant in a discussion registers what is being said. When you give your employee instructions, look for signs that he or she is listening attentively-maintaining eye contact and echoing phrases of the instructions or phrases of acknowledgement ("Yes, I understand"). To encourage active listening you, too, must participate enthusiastically in the communication by giving your employee your full concentration. …

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