Robin was one of the newest and youngest members of the team attending the training session. As the facilitator shared ideas, strategies and tactics for dealing with the various situations that the team may encounter, she found herself really leaning in to try and absorb and retain as much as she possibly could. It was harder for her because other than a few part-time jobs and her education experiences, Robin could only image some of the scenarios as they were being explained.
Sean was in the same training session, and although new to the company, he had many years of experience in the industry. Since he had been in the industry for so many years, he had a lot of knowledge that others in the training class had lacked. Sean also brought with him so many relatable life and work experiences, making it easy to connect the concepts being taught to his job function.
During an exercise the facilitator paired the newest person with the most experienced person to go through the exercises together during the training. That meant that Robin, the new college graduate, was partnered with Sean, the most tenured person in the training. Initially both Robin and Sean felt uncomfortable about the pairing. Sean believed he would learn nothing from someone so young and inexperienced and that he would have to do most of the work. Robin was intimidated at first and just wished that she would have been paired with someone closer to her own age.
By the end of the training Robin and Sean were working and collaborating so well. At the end of the day the facilitator asked for lessons learned from the training. Robin shared that although Sean was much more experienced, that his willingness to share information and connect real-world stories to the exercises helped her to connect the dots better to the concepts being taught. And Sean shared that although he believed that his young counterpart could ever teach, “This old dog any new tricks,” that Robin’s natural curiosity taught him that he certainly did not know it all and it reminded him of the need to be more curious himself.
I don’t know about you but I get to experience this very thing every day. Our own team is made up of some very young, incredibly bright, extremely driven, and curious team members. We are also blessed with, let’s just say, a little more gray than the rest of the team and lots of lessons learned over the years. And we have others on the team somewhere along their own career and life journey that bring so much to the team in the way of critical thinking, wonderful experience, and knowledge.
What makes our team meetings work so well is that those of us who have been around for a while appreciate the new thinking and insights that those just coming into the business are bringing to each situation or opportunity. And I watch in awe as the seasoned veterans share their wisdom through role plays and pressure testing ideas while the younger team members really pay attention. We are all learning from one another regardless of age or experience.
When we do not know what we do not know, it’s a best practice to stop pretending to be a no-it-all. And that’s something I will also brag on my team about, no one is afraid to ask for help. Our team culture is to be there for one another and help in any way that we can, respecting that everyone on the team brings relatable life experiences regardless of age. It’s about who they are and what they bring that matters most.
How about you and your team? Is everyone valued and respected for what they bring to the opportunities and meetings? Is everyone learning to be more curious and instead of telling, asking better questions? I would love to hear your story at firstname.lastname@example.org, and when we can openly talk about, share, and learn from one another’s life experiences, it really will be a better than good life.
Michael Norton is an author, a personal and professional coach, consultant, trainer, encourager and motivator of individuals and businesses, working with organizations and associations across multiple industries.