I was at a networking event the other day, and I was speaking to a new entrepreneur. He proceeded to tell me that he held his business very close to his heart, and he worried about hiring new staff. His biggest concern was teaching his competition.

This was very interesting for me because as a nurse, every hospital I worked at was a “teaching” hospital. Meaning we always had either EMT, nursing or medical students working alongside us.

Some nurses felt like their job was a territory, and you learned only what they wanted to teach you. These nurses were never inclined to teach much of anything. Students who were assigned to these nurses were given “shit duty,” for the most part. Things like toileting, cleaning, feeding and toileting — mostly toileting. Hence the term “shit duty.”

I was a little different. If you were my assigned student, I worked you. We worked side by side. You were able to follow me, demonstrate the duty and then teach me. I tried to help the students put into practice what they had learned in the text book.

Because let’s be honest: Real life is not a text book. Also, text books do not teach you how to deal with people, only disease. Most days I loved the students because when it was busy, I could not have accomplished the work in a timely manner without them.

To be honest, I might be the patient someday, and they will be in charge of saving my life. If I failed at teaching them, it might cost me a body part.

I am sure, in business, that teaching someone everything you know can be a big obstacle for some.

It is a myth that others cannot run your business like you can, and that might be slightly unnerving.

But wait.

Isn’t that what you want? Don’t you want employees or team members to run your business just as well as you do — or better? What if you are sick and have to take time off? What if you have a medical or family emergency? What if, heaven forbid, you wanted to take some time off and go on a vacation?

People are hardwired to please. Giving an employee a sense of ownership and valuing them enough to trust them is the easiest way to provide that feeling. Trust me, once an employee has that feeling of ownership, they feel valued and will be more loyal.

By the way, teaching someone everything you know does not make them your competition, unless you make them your competition. Teaching them only sets a standard for your industry. It provides more competent individuals who have the proper knowledge.

If for some reason they do leave and start up their own business, rest assured that if you taught them right, their business will reflect yours. They will forever give you credit for their success. It’s the best mentoring complement you could ever ask for.

Everyone has talents. Trust me. There is an employee or team member that you have who is better at some aspect of your business than you. So, wouldn’t you want to utilize that talent?

Now wait, again.

I thought that we were talking about you teaching your team or staff all that you know. How did I turn that into them teaching you?

Melinda Goodwin is luxury home division director with Re/Max First Realty in St. George, Utah.

Email Melinda Goodwin.

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