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Last time we looked at how often we try to manage our scoreboard, something that’s impossible to manage because it is the consequence of what’s happening on the field. So, that’s where we should be focusing our management conversations.
Today I would like to focus on another conversation we often have, but could get so much more out of, both for ourselves and our people.
Skills development is that item on the budget that is one of the first to go when times are tough which means that, in better times, our conscience seems to get to us and we start promising all sorts of development that will make our people happy and think that we, well, care. In reality, however, we often have a tick box mentality towards this item – once we have arranged for them to go on any kind of development, we can relax because we have done our bit. When the team member returns from their day in the classroom, we think up this elaborate, erudite conversation to have with them that goes something like this:
“Samantha, how was the course?”
“Good, thanks, Tom.”
“Well, good then!”
Done, dusted, and now we can both go on our own merry ways. Little wonder that studies have shown that, globally, less than 10% of conventional training finds its way into the work place!
Once again, we can lean on some principles from sport to glean better ways to develop our people and have this conversation:
  • Be more specific – The best tennis players, when they practise their serves, don’t just serve. They will normally practise a specific serve, for example, their first serve from the left hand court swinging away from the forehand of their next opponent who is left-handed. Not only that, they will focus on one thing only at a time, for example, the height of their throw for that specific serve. Olympic freestyle swimmers will focus on the last six inches of their arm stroke and the first six as they pull back, for hours if not days.
  • Practise, practise, practise! Whereas we in business may be happy, sometimes, to start introducing some aspect of the training into our work lives, it is something that we more typically tend to explore rather than turn into an absolute habit- and sometimes it sticks and, more often, it doesn’t.
Pick a sport. Pick a top player – or even a weekend golfer. You will see they are all the same. They are more specific in what they practise, and they tend to practise far more than we do in our work places.
So perhaps, as a starting point, instead of saying something like “Well, good then” when our team member/s return/s from their development outing, we could help them by asking a few further questions – for example:
  • What specifically did you take away from it that you believe will most help you in your role?
  • How are you considering implementing it?
  • How can you think you might perfect it?
  • When are you considering implementing it?
  • I would be keen to see how this goes so that we might introduce it to the others.  Do you think we could meet weekly / monthly while you are implementing it so that I can learn more about how you do it?
Further studies have shown that personal coaching, such as this and the follow-ups, after conventional training can increase performance and productivity by up to 88%.
88% versus <10%! It’s a no-brainer! Let’s help our people master those skills.
Food for thought:
“Celebrate what you want to see more of.” (Tom Peters)
I’d love to hear your comments and thoughts.
Best wishes
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