Why does ShoreTel invest in a program like Battle of the Bands? Why would we spend money on teaching people to play instruments? Why wouldn’t we just use the funds for other employee benefit programs?
The investment we are making in Battle of the Bands is an investment in learning, collaboration, recruiting and culture. Over the next month I will talk about all of these things. But let’s start with learning.
Our market is changing… quickly. Smart people noticed this. It’s the reason that ShoreTel invested in the Cloud Division. But we’d be silly to think the market will stop evolving. As a company we need to keep up. Our best chance at doing that is to have people who can evolve and quickly learn new things. The first step in learning anything is learning how to learn. What we found is that adults, tend to forget how to learn. We are experts at it as children. But once we enter the workforce, and are bombarded with long PowerPoint presentations and how-to books, we forget that best way to learn is through experience and practice. Picking up an instrument with a daunting goal to learn it reminds us how learning happens. It is our goal that the people in the program will apply these lessons to their role at ShoreTel. To help the Battlers make this connection, we’ve given them assignments to help them along.
First we asked Battlers about the importance of learning at ShoreTel. Here’s what Stephanee Neeb, Executive Assistant, Finance, has to say:
In our next assignment we asked Battlers to read a chapter of Josh Waitzkin’s The Art of Learning. The chapter talked about the difference between the entity and incremental theories of intelligence. Sally Loughry, Director of Customer Service – Cloud Division, describes these theories and what they mean for us.
Entity theory is limiting and creates a self-fulfilling prophecy that you either have it or you don’t. It also creates resistance to push beyond your comfort level for fear of failure and feeling not smart enough after all. This type of thinking ultimately results in mediocrity.
Incremental theory, on the other hand, holds the key to continuous learning and the belief that intelligence is limitless, which is also supported by other research on the small use of our brains at this point of our evolution. The bounds of learning are determined at the individual level and dependent on the amount of effort, persistence, drive, motivation, curiosity, and resilience to failure. Embracing failures and gleaning the learning inherent in them is empowering when lessons learned are applied…
…Reflecting on the workplace, there appear to be pockets of those who believe in the entity theory and this limited view can manifest into negativity, friction between teams and a lack of coaching / teamwork (ie: if there is a belief someone is not smart enough, won’t get it, etc.). It is also a symptom of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team as this behavior erodes trust, which is the foundation of teamwork. Progress has been made to chip away at some of this, evidenced by cross-training across functions and pushing knowledge down the ‘funnel.’ These efforts should continue along with fierce conversations with those who may not be pushing themselves hard enough to identify the root cause and work through those situations appropriately.
Bill Goetz, Desktop Support Specialist in Austin took this away from the assignment:
This is a great chapter to read, and I think I will try to give the entire book a read as well. I think there are always opportunities to learn new things (see, I am more incremental) and if more people in the workplace took an incremental theory approach to learning, I think it could stretch people’s ways of thinking and push them to learn new things. I don’t really think Josh’s ideas are theories, as I believe in learning. It is one of the fundamental things of life, and we should always be learning new things, and how to do things better. One phrase that was taught to me over and over when I was a child by my mother was “You can do it, if you put your mind to it.” At the time it was kinda funny-almost annoying, but I’ve learned (ha!) as I get older that we can do anything, we just need to put forth the effort and time and learn how to get it done, or over the obstacle, or solve a problem or…anything really.
I hope this help everyone understand what we want to achieve with the program. In the coming weeks we will talk about how we also hope to affect collaboration, recruiting, and culture at ShoreTel.