“We’re at the grocery store, please get off the floor.”
“Whatever that is, take it out of your mouth.”
I have a two-year-old daughter at home (oh, excuse me, two-AND-A-HALF). And as the parent of a toddler, I spend a lot of my time saying ridiculous things out loud. At least they seem ridiculous at the time. But it’s easy to forget that she doesn’t actually know why some of her actions could be dangerous for her (or embarrassing for her parents).
At this point in my life, I consider myself to be a competent, well-adjusted individual that understands the subtle nuances of adulting. However, my parents have VHS recorded evidence that shows I didn’t start out that way. I know, it surprised me too. Turns out, much of this behavior is learned. It took many years, but luckily my parents, and others, found the time to teach and mold me into the professional E-rater that stands before you today.
The transfer of knowledge is vital to personal growth. And it’s the same in the business world. If you’ve been at your job for a while, it can be difficult to remember a time when you had more questions than answers. Someone likely took the time to train you, even though it may have been quicker or easier for them to do the work themselves. Sharing your expertise with someone is not always convenient. It can sometimes be frustrating to spend that extra time explaining the process. But doing so allows others to see behind the curtain and gain additional knowledge.
If we don’t take the time to share the reason behind our requests, then others may have a hard time fully understanding what you’re saying. And that’s how we build a better team. Sure, they may be able to complete the task, but they won’t truly understand what they’re being asked to do. Also, it can be very helpful to the person making the request as well. Sharing knowledge is a great way to help refresh your memory.
In fact, just last week I asked a coworker to help me with an E-rate application. She had not prepared this type of funding request before, so I thought it would be good experience. It was a bit of a lengthy process, so I explained it, showed her an example, and then asked her to complete the rest. Later that morning it was finished. She did it perfectly. Until I realized there was a problem. When I explained the process, I failed to include a very important step and the entire application had to be redone. After I corrected it, I made sure to let her know my mistake so that we both can avoid it in the future. Even though my training session didn’t go quite as I had intended, I was still able to “share the reason” why that step was so critical.
At Funds For Learning, we have interactions everyday with clients, service providers, and USAC. And we ask them all kinds of crazy questions. Taking the time to explain why we are asking can go a long way in alleviating stress and getting the information we need in a timely manner. And it helps them better understand what we need and why we need it.
Much like parenting, E-rate takes a lot of patience. It’s easy to forget that not everyone we talk to deals with E-rate rules on a daily basis. Just like it’s easy to forget that my daughter doesn’t always understand why we ask her to stop coloring her shirt...and her face...and the kitchen table...and the dog...