As both of the regular readers of this blog know, my wife is an elementary school teacher. One of the things she struggles with, as do all teacher, is developing a lesson to suit multiple learning styles.
For all of us with children, we understand that each of our kids understand things in their own way and, to complicate things, the way they absorb information tends to change slightly as they develop.
As business professionals, however, we tend to ignore learning styles and simply dump information into emails, shared workspaces, and whiteboards expecting everyone else to understand our words and our intent. The worst of us will then proclaim that anyone who doesn’t understand simply isn’t qualified for their position. Sometimes this goes all the way to the point of exercising hiring/firing authority to simply dismiss people who don’t see the world according to the same point of view, or not hiring them in the first place.
When you feel like you just can’t work with people, perhaps the right way (as well as more humble and humanistic) way to approach the situation is to say, “I can’t learn with these people.” The combination of learning styles and subsequent world view may be what is at odds, and not the inability of others to be compliant or professional. If that’s the case, the real lesson when things appear to be stuck is that it’s not the traits of the people that are at fault, but the perspectives of the person that put them all together and expected things to work out no matter what.
It’s very strange that in business, a world dedicated to getting things done, there’s very little tendency to actually lay the foundation according to the way things work naturally, and a great deal of focus on pushing things into place that aren’t ever designed to fit together. That leads to dictating short term outcomes, rather than building long-term capabilities.
Interestingly enough, developing long-term capabilities is the goal of anyone trying to develop anything – teacher, parent or business pro.