Hey there, fans and followers. After a long hiatus, I am back on the scene.
Let’s get right down to it: here’s one of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen managers and team leaders make over the years.
Not taking advantage of a team member’s passion and skills.
I know, it seems so obvious. And you might be saying “who is this kid to be telling me what mistakes my managers are making (or me)”?
Well you’d be right to question me up until recently: I’ve spent the last few summers running or managing (both maybe?) wilderness and adventure based trips programs.
Sure some of you have more years in the saddle than me but, as Frank Turner would say, “I’m the one who’s got the microphone here, so just remember this”.
Time and again I go into seasonal work and, either as an employee, or as a team leader I find that potential is lost because people in positions of leadership do not take the time to ask what their team is good at and passionate about.
Don’t just assume that you know everything about your employees.
Let’s use me as an example:
Just because I got on-boarded as a backpacking instructor doesn’t mean that I don’t have other skills. So many trip leading organizations are micro companies, often desperate for tangible skills.
I’ve been recruited to fix networking and WordPress issues for a company that hired and employed me as a Wilderness Programs Supervisor.
I’ve done mechanical work for nature education programs while technically working as a naturalist.
When you take the time to get to know your team (and I mean really know them) you’ll be better able to bring their skills and passions to bear in helpful ways.
So many times I have been asked by an employer to do X task when really my skills and passions are much more aligned with Y task. And there are many times when, no matter your job title, you have to put on whatever hat your employer asks of you and get the job done.
But I’m not talking about that. Let’s say you’re developing summer curriculum with a team of a dozen people. Find out what they’re all knowledgeable and passionate about and help guide them in ways to bring those skills in line with your program so that both your employee and you can benefit.
Got someone with wild edible plant creds and passion? No wild edible plants class in your lesson book? Well then sit down with them and build a new class for them to teach!
The level of investment from your instructors and return from your students will go through the roof when you empower your leaders to teach skills and information that’s already waiting to burst out of them!
I think you’ll be amazed the next time you’re leading a team and you take the time to truly get to know them. Find ways to let their passions merge with their position in your team or company.
Don’t forget; this works wonders when you’re leading trips on trail, too. Get to know your students and give them opportunities to merge their passions with your course so that their impact on the trip and other students (and yourself) can be exponentially magnified.
You’ll be happy you took the time.
If you’re still with me after my hiatus and still reading, PLEASE leave a comment. I really want to get to know those of you I’ve been able to help and to bring you better content personally.
Happy Trails, friends.