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To think some skills can't be (easily) taught?

(16 Posts)
LadyShirazz Fri 29-Jul-16 10:39:41

I have been asked to mentor someone within my team.

This person is a good colleague, helpful, knowledgeable about their role (which they've been in a long time), and very keen to develop.

I have been asked to help build organisational, time management and independent / critical thinking skills (i.e. ability to think more "managerially") that would help this person move on and up - but lack of which are holding her back at the moment.

I have a lot of experience in training, but nothing like this - I am at a bit of a loss as to how you'd go about building these skills, when I've always seen them as ones that are a bit more "innate", iyswim...? As in you have them or you don't...?

Any hints, tips or experiences of the same would be gratefully received!

We are the same age, if that matters - and I am one role up from her.

Salmotrutta Fri 29-Jul-16 10:42:59

For critical thinking skills can you look for problem solving exercises that are relevant to the role? Scenario based exercises?

As to organisation how about Gant charts (I once had a pupil who had to do one which is the only reason I know about them!)?

Salmotrutta Fri 29-Jul-16 10:44:09

It might be a Gantt chart actually blush

AdderDingAdderDong Fri 29-Jul-16 10:46:57

I used to work in training and I think it's less about innate skills and more about personality. Are they someone with an enquiring and flexible mind? If there is a part of their potential role that requires them to adjust how they work/behave/ interact with people can they do it?

TheSnowFairy Fri 29-Jul-16 10:50:02

Isn't this why companies pay for FE for their staff?!

Seems a lot for you to teach someone else and agree some is innate, ie time management, prioritising etc.

AdderDingAdderDong Fri 29-Jul-16 10:51:12

Horse to water, can't make them drink I mean.

There are loads of techniques you can teach them, SWOT analysis, urgent vs important/ project management, after that it's up to them.

LadyShirazz Fri 29-Jul-16 10:52:55

Amazing people skills - much better than mine! Does her job - a mix of admin, customer service, technical trouble shooting - well, but doesn't go "beyond".

Frustrated not to have moved up by now, but at the same time doesn't take up the challenge of any extra products assigned to them - tends to require a lot of guidance as opposed to thinking it through themselves before bouncing back with lots more questions.

I guess that's it in a nutshell for me - i.e. the ability to not just "do" but also "think through" something end-to-end independently and present back?

Sofabitch Fri 29-Jul-16 10:52:55

These are skills I def learnt at university.

They come from being give complex problems to manage. And not being given solutions but feedback afterwards.

Self reflective exercises might help here.

LadyShirazz Fri 29-Jul-16 10:53:54

* projects not products

This person attended and did well at uni

Stevefromstevenage Fri 29-Jul-16 10:54:25

They are definitely the most difficult to teach but certainly they can be improved. My DD has very bad organisational skills because she has dyslexia. I break more complex tasks right down for her to show her how, once she sees it done, she takes it, she improves and she has it learned. I think case study and project based learning and appropriate role plays with a lot of feedback are the way forward with these skills.

AdderDingAdderDong Fri 29-Jul-16 10:58:42

Frustrated not to have moved up by now, but at the same time doesn't take up the challenge of any extra products assigned to them - tends to require a lot of guidance as opposed to thinking it through themselves before bouncing back with lots more questions.

She needs to know that if she wants to move up she has to do the work and take the risk of getting things wrong. As a manager you have to accept that sometimes it's your decision, you try and make the best one you can and sometimes it will be a fuck up. Has anyone told her that part of her problems is that she has been given opportunities and she hasn't taken them.

TheSnowFairy Fri 29-Jul-16 11:25:21

Maybe she doesn't actually want managerial responsibilities? Some people don't!

LadyShirazz Fri 29-Jul-16 11:38:37

Snowfairy - I think this is part of the problem. She is very keen to "be developed" and frustrated where she is, but doesn't have a clear idea as to what she wants to do or be going forward.

Adder - Yes, several times, and it doesn't seem to ever change things.

AdderDingAdderDong Fri 29-Jul-16 13:11:30

I think whoever her actual boss is needs to sit down with her and you and decide a framework for this; say you work closely with her through the coming project or a set time period, then you step back into an "in case of emergency role" for another agreed period and then it's up to her.

It doesn't sound good. If she's had meaningful appraisals, been given agreed training and opportunities then perhaps this is as far as she can actually go.

Do not become the person this woman gets to blame for her failure.

LadyShirazz Fri 29-Jul-16 13:27:02

Adder - most astute, and you may be right.

I am a manager on the team, but not this person's direct manager. My manager is also her manager (weird set up).

I am relatively new to the business, and being positioned as the "good cop" here, as the existing manager feels I would get a better response than she has managed so far.

I will say she is very keen.

I really like the SWOT analysis - a very non-threatening way to focus in on areas of improvement.

Any further ideas welcome!

AdderDingAdderDong Fri 29-Jul-16 14:16:23

Whatever works :D. Assuming you mean any more management tools...

My sector was Manufacturing and a lot of this comes from Japanese Management Theory. Apologies for anything that is teaching you to suck eggs:

For time managing to do lists

A = very important, B = important, C = not important
1 = very urgent, 2 = urgent, 3 = not urgent.

Important things, as a rule, get time spent on them, urgent things can be done first but quickly to get them off the list. May become less necessary with experience because you don't need to think about it so much, but I still find this useful if I'm having a bad day and feeling overloaded.


Stands for Quality, Delivery, Cost, Safety and Morale. We used to have a board with a pack of post-its next to it. When a problem arose anyone could write it on a post it and slap it on the board (constructively and nothing personal).

For Project Management we used six sigma:

Define - Measure - Analyse - Improve - Control. The last stage being the most important as companies tend to make a hullabaloo at the begining of a project and then as the enthusiasm dies off everything goes back to normal.

In god we trust, everyone else bring data, said by a famous statistician whose name I'll look up later. I just like the quote.

Maybe she could use something like these to give her thoughts and process a little structure.

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