Teachable Moments

Will Lukang, PMP, CSM, CLDC

analazing market situationA teachable moment is defined as a time at which learning a particular topic or idea becomes possible or relevant.   What does that really mean?  It means that when something happens, it provides an opportunity to share an experience, knowledge or feedback that can help the person learn something valuable.  In most situations, that conversation ends up having a lasting effect on that person.

learn and lead

Applying the same concept at work, I called it instantaneous feedback.   For example, during a meeting, one of my directs said something that did not come across nicely.  The other party was not happy with the outcome of the meeting.  After the meeting, we returned to my office and I asked my direct what just transpired.   The person was not sure what went wrong.   I explained the situation and proceed to cite an example and gave suggestions on how we can best handle such a situation in the future.   It clarified the situation and the instantaneous feedback provided a learning opportunity.   The stickiness of the lesson has a lasting effect.

In December of last year, while coaching my daughter’s 4th grade girls basketball team against St. Anthony, we arrived at the gym surprised to see that the St. Anthony team’s players were taller than our players.  I was taken aback by what I saw, but kept my composure so as to not get my team worried.   By the time the game reached third quarter, we were ahead by 10 points.   I called a timeout and told my players that we are not going to score.  At first they were confused. I explained to them that we have a big lead and it is unsportsmanlike to try to score.  I proceeded to elaborate that we need to respect the other team; that if we were in the same situation we would not want the other team to embarrass us.    I looked at the opportunity as a teachable moment to impart a valuable lesson of sportsmanship.    Over the season, the team learned to stop scoring when we had a lead of more than 10 points.    I’m proud of my team for learning sportsmanship.   At the end of the day, the win does not mean much if they don’t learn something that they can take with them for the rest of their playing days.

As a leader in my organization, I feel that it is my job to watch out for the best interest of the people working for us.  That’s why I’m committed to coaching and mentoring.   I firmly believe that people are our most important asset.   We can have the best technology, but without the right people in the right place we cannot be successful.   A teachable moment is another vehicle to impart our knowledge and experience.    Sharing is the best way to improve our community and when our community increases its capability, the company and shareholders will benefit from it.   It will also increase our competitive advantage.


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