Perhaps the most important stage of any work engagement is the beginning. It’s when a new employee or freelancer learns what’s expected of him or her, how the business operates, and what defines the general culture. As a result, making sure to set the right tone for anyone who enters the organization is of paramount importance to leaders and training professionals.
The concept of “10x” is based on the idea that some people and teams can deliver exponential value. They are not 10% better than their peers; rather, they are the rare few who create 10-times better results. Here are five training tips to help you guide employees and teams toward 10x status.
1. Create a Culture of Feedback
The best teams operate in an environment defined by openness and curiosity. Those themes cannot be decoupled from feedback, which is a fast track to learning and improving — both of which are core values of 10x talent. Effective feedback includes what employees do well and how they can do better. It focuses on that which they don’t or can’t see for themselves (their blind spots).
Top talent is great at what they do, but great hard skills are not enough. Even the best team members don’t know everything, and having the humility to admit that fact is an important part of being 10x.
Give a lot of feedback when training new employees, and encourage them to ask a lot of questions. By setting the tone early that your organization has a culture of feedback, you can embed positive habits into the fabric of your organization. Don’t forget that leaders need feedback, too; they should be sure to solicit it from everyone around them so they can continuously improve.
2. Prioritize Care and Humanity
We no longer live in an era where 20-somethings land their first job and stay at that company for their entire career. Millennials, Generation Z and 10xers across generations have a desire to constantly grow, learn and get more out of their relationship with their employer. They are mission- and values-driven, and they care a lot about continuous advancement.
For managers, accepting this reality means embracing a holistic view on employees’ lives. Empathy goes a long way, especially with the younger generations. Understanding that everyone has a life outside of work (and, often, more important things outside of work) is key to a happy team. Managers must have a sense of what is happening in their employees’ lives so they can be tune into their needs. This awareness plays out in ways like this: “I know you are having a rough month, between moving and your grandmother’s illness. Given all the challenges you are facing, I wanted to make sure you could take on this new project.”
Showing this sense of compassion early in the onboarding process puts new employees and freelancers at ease, especially when they’re trying to manage the often overwhelming first couple of weeks on the job. It also breeds loyalty like little else.
3. Embrace a Bespoke Approach
Cookie-cutter job offers and training programs don’t get the job done like they might have in decades past, especially in a year when work has been flipped on its head. Embracing a customized approach to working with new team members has never been more important.
Typically, embracing a bespoke approach with new hires plays out directly in the job offer: What is most important to the candidate receiving the offer? What can hiring managers do to accommodate the requests of the best candidate? Giving great talent what they want is almost always the way to go (within reason, of course), and it starts with understanding their priorities.
Consider how to customize your training efforts to fit the needs of each employee. Just because certain training programs and approaches work for some people doesn’t mean they will work for others. The trainer or onboarding manager who takes the time to accommodate specific learner preferences will wind up with the happiest and best trained employees.
4. Involve More, Talk Less
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
It’s a quote often attributed to Benjamin Franklin, although there is some debate as to whether he deserves the credit. Regardless of who said it first, though, when it comes to training, it’s spot on. It’s not enough to throw ideas and aimless feedback around when training. To maximize their chances of creating a 10x-caliber team, leaders need to set up employees for success, which means adopting immersive learning techniques.
The Feynman Technique suggests that we don’t truly know something until we can teach it. It seems obvious that you need to know all about something to successfully teach it to someone else, but for leaders, running this check on themselves and their team members is a worthwhile idea. Otherwise, they run the risk of wasting the time of both parties.
5. Invest in All Necessary Tools and Equipment
Never assume that a new employee or freelancer has everything he or she needs to be successful. Even if your employees have the necessary hardware (i.e., laptop, cell phone, etc.), every company has a different product stack. It’s the manager’s job to make sure all tools on deck are understandable and easy to navigate.
Confirming this level of proficiency has never been more important. We’ve all had to embrace new tools in 2020, whether we are new hires or tenured employees. Making sure to do it right early on can be a huge time-saver (and money-saver) down the road. The better employees know your organization’s tools, the more efficient they will be.
Final Thoughts on 10x-Style Training
It all starts at the top. For founders, vice presidents and managers, setting the 10x tone is the first step in creating a superior culture. As the 10x mindset trickles throughout the organization, it becomes second nature. Reaching that organization-wide level of 10x should be the goal of every company striving for peak performance and culture.