So, I took a few days break from blogging and felt rather guilty about it, but as guilt is my middle name, I have taken some deep breaths and ‘dealt with it’ since the May vacation is over and work awaits, and there’s only so much procrastination one can do and get away with it. So, work has done in the past couple of days and I left my writing on the shelf. Actually, to be 100% honest, I did write something (else) for the letter F – in handwriting, in the notebook next to my bed – a piece of fiction! An excerpt from my upcoming book (yes, the one that’s still in the works), but instead, as it’s already a quarter past midnight and work awaits tomorrow yet again, I decided on a shorter blog for tonight.
When the penny drops
Today at school – where I coach students – I encountered a wonderful example of how self development workshops and communication skills can come together and become a thing of beauty. And I say this, because often, when teaching these topics, to 1st year students, it seems as if they really aren’t interested and that they know best, and ‘please don’t try to change or improve me.’
Student Companies in Action!
Let me give you some context. This semester, I have been coaching students in a course called “Co-creative Entrepreneurship” (a mouthful, I know…). The students form their own company, with real investments, start up their own sales of products or services – and run their company for a semester. Each company has about 14 people in it. As you can imagine – this is a great way for them to learn by doing. And not only to learn about how to run a business (orders that arrive late, websites that crash etc.), but also to learn how to work together as a team. Or not.
Each week the companies hold an official meeting, where I get to sit in, together with a 2nd year student coach, and we observe and sometimes answer questions or help the students out when needed.
Uh oh! Feedback time!
Today, the HR manager of the student company, very hesitantly and gently, says to the CEO (these are first year university students), “You know, it’s great what you have been doing, and that you have all these creative ideas, but…”
And then she went on to explain very gently how he needs to let go a bit more, and delegate, and let his team do their work.
And I watched these students, some of them not yet 18, listen to each other, take a breath, accept the feedback, respond non-defensively and try to figure out the best way forward.
They had learned what their Personal Development teacher taught them last semester: Be self reflective, listen in order to understand, give feedback gently and carefully. Accept feedback graciously, even when you don’t always love what you are hearing.
I watched, as one of the young women involved listened with a tear glistening in the corner of her eye, but she didn’t cry, and she just nodded and said finally, “I think we worked it out yesterday when we talked on the phone.”
And the CEO said, “Yes, I was told not to use the word ‘vibe’ but to describe exactly what it is in the design work that I like or don’t like – such as color, or fonts.”
I tell you, it was FABULOUS to see!
And the fear part? After the meeting, my student assistant and I talked briefly to the HR manager who said, “Was I okay? Not too harsh? I was shaking like a leaf!” I almost wanted to hug her, for how she had overcome her fears, and managed to verbalize the issues – face to face – with the group – to help the students discuss things in person, and make this conflict manageable.
At this point, I’m very happy that the students were so capable! I’m sure that, after this, their company will soar even further! I can’t wait to see how high they will fly!