When there’s a tight deadline, several things need to happen all at once. And, in a moment of crisis, the two most important things are leadership and education.

You need to know what needs to be done, and you need to know how to get it done.  But all too often, we as leaders focus on the managing more than the education. We hate to delegate—especially in a time of crisis, because we feel we do not have the time to switch into teaching-mode. There simply isn’t time to teach, it just has to get done correctly as soon as possible. But this is a critical mistake because it is that moment when employees need the education most.

Unfortunately, just-in-time training is often most needed when it’s the very hardest to implement. In these moments when anxiety is at its highest, our brains shuts down and it becomes difficult to make cognitive decisions. Anxiety makes it difficult to plan and organize for a long-term project, and yet this is often exactly what we need to do.

I’ve done a lot of reading on just-in-time training, and here’s what I have found.

There are basically six teaching modes depending on the situation and what you’re trying to accomplish, and they can be broken down into three main categories: competence (how to do something), character (way of being), and technique (way of doing.) All three of these can be broken down further two separate teaching styles, for a total of six ways to approach education with an employee:  training, coaching, encouraging, mentoring, performing, or managing based on the problem.

Competence (How to Do):

Training is the most basic stage where you give fundamental and technical background, this is what we most often think of as training—a crowded room with a PowerPoint show.

Coaching is more of an interactive experience where the employee is given space and room to come up with their own solutions.

Character (Way of Being):

Encouraging an employee is when you give them tools to build constructive workplace habits and practices.

Mentoring takes it a step further and you’re helping to develop an employee’s career path.

Technique (Way of Doing):

Performing is when  you’re giving instruction to complete a specific task. This is closer to true “just-in-time” education and will based on the leader’s ability to provide knowledge soon enough that the employee can apply it successfully, but late enough that the employee doesn’t need a full-blown training session.

Managing, is truly the heart of “just-in-time” and is focused solely on performingand not on knowing which, for most of us, goes against our nature.

The next time that you’re facing an educational moment, pause to think about what approach best fits the situation. Do you need to impart knowledge? Or simply get a task done within the next hour? Undersanding your teaching style and the many options available helps you to become a stronger leader and mentor to your employees.

For additional reading, I recommend Dr. John Kenworthy’s article “What’s the difference between coaching, mentoring, and counselling? at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/whats-difference-between-coaching-mentoring-dr-john-kenworthy?trk=hp-feed-article-title-share