In any job, and especially as a temporary employee, it is crucial to stand out from the rest if you want to advance. One trait that will help you shine is being teachable. While you might think asking for help or admitting you don’t know something, are signs of weakness, employers and recruiters actually respond more positively to those who display a willingness to learn and improve. Your thirst for knowledge and feedback will play a vital role in your career success.
This isn’t just a thought or opinion on the matter; people who are more teachable are actually statistically more successful. In a study done by Joseph Folkman, leaders who were rated as having high potential were also rated as significantly more coachable. Additionally, those who exemplify teachable behavior are perceived as more competent than those who do not.
So, how does one go about exemplifying teachable behavior? The following 6 ways to be more teachable in the workplace will show your mentor and your peers that you are willing to grow and be mentored and therefore, are more hirable.
Before we get into how you can become more teachable, let’s break down what it means to be more teachable. If you are a teachable person, you strive to grow, you ask for feedback, and you respond well to it. You are constantly absorbing new information, asking for help, and looking for ways to improve. Someone who is teachable looks at other’s opinions as valuable learning tools, not a looming possibility of being wrong. They take action and make changes where needed. When you are teachable, you listen to the input from others around you and continually use it to improve yourself.
I don’t claim to master [the skill of keeping an open mind], but I do see great improvement and it makes me feel powerful having the ability to change my way of thinking and not to get stuck in a mindset that makes me frustrated, angry or helpless.
-Klaus Crow, The Power of Keeping an Open Mind
In order to be more teachable, you need to be willing to accept criticism, advice, and feedback from those around you regardless of their position. Those with an open mind are unprejudiced, without stubbornness, and remain flexible at all times. When you are open to different ways of thinking, you are more likely to learn. Remember that no one is perfect and everyone has a different view or opinion. You don’t always have to agree but you should always be open to listening to new perspectives and ideas.
Not sure if you’re keeping an open mind? Here’s a list of behaviors of someone who is closed minded:
An over inflated ego can seriously inhibit your growth. If you want to be more teachable, stay humble. Put corporate hierarchy behind you and look at the person giving you advice as an equal and a valuable asset. Every opinion and piece of input should be important to you. Even if you disagree with someone, taking the time to listen and understand a new perspective will help you learn. That is what being teachable is all about.
Asking for feedback from your coworkers, employers, and customers will help you grow and show them you have a desire to improve. Part of asking for feedback is also being willing to accept the criticism you might receive. Your mentors are not trying to attack or hurt you, so you should always accept their help.
If you know there’s something you need to improve but don’t know how, asking someone else might give you a better idea. Take your mentor aside and kindly ask them to give you some feedback on a recent project or work day. Remember that criticism is a gift given to you to help you improve yourself.
Pay close attention to whoever is giving you feedback. Always listen attentively and do not let yourself get distracted. Don’t look at your phone, try to interrupt, or change the subject; listen carefully to show that you appreciate their input. They will be more likely to help and give you more detailed feedback in the future when they feel respected.
Absorb everything your mentor and peers have told you and start applying what you’ve learned. Take notes on the feedback you have received and decide which areas need to be improved the most. Then, think about what you need to do in order to improve each area and actively apply those changes to your work or your attitude. Ingesting what you have learned and implementing it into your workflow will show your mentor that you listened to their advice and respect their opinion.
Always thank the person who is helping you for their time and energy spent. If they really made an impact, write them a note, treat them to coffee, or send them a small gift to thank them for their advice and the care they have put towards your personal growth. Then, confirm your desire for more feedback or help. Part of being teachable isn’t just learning to improve yourself once, it’s your desire for continuous improvement in any stage or aspect of your life. Your response to feedback will determine whether this will be the first or the last time someone helps you.
Being teachable will not only increase your hire-ability, but also make employers and colleagues more interested in working with you in the future. Having an open mind and demonstrating your teachability will make you a valuable asset to any company.