Training, Change and Moving Forward

May 19 2016

Training, Change, and Moving Forward


Anyone that has spent more than five minutes with me knows that educating and training employees is a passion of mine. After years of working to provide various teams with the tools necessary to be successful, I have developed an excitement for anything that will aid in the process of educating, training, and getting staff motivated in a new direction.

Just drink it!

Oval Callout: I know of no time in human history where ignorance was better than knowledge. -Neil deGrasse Tyson Most of us have had success in bringing the horses to water. Getting them to drink is the part that often eludes us. No matter how much the direction you are headed will enhance job performance, make their jobs easier, or is detrimental to the organization’s success; they seem convinced the water is undrinkable. No matter the situation, be it introduction to new systems, procedural, or an entire shift in organizational paradigm, providing teams with the knowledge necessary to move forward is tantamount to success. So, how do we make sure that our teams are educated trained and have the tools to march in a new direction?

I know of no time in human history where ignorance was better than knowledge.

-Neil deGrasse Tyson

Educating and training is the process of actualizing interest and knowledge. In other words, educating and training is a PAIn (I know, I reached a little with that one). It reminds me of my Grandmothers words on teaching children manners and correct behavior, “You just keep saying the same things over and over and hope that some of it sticks.” The PAIn is real, and the biggest part of that PAIn is not the knowledge. The biggest part of the PAIn is actualizing interest.

“The employee with the new gift from management will have something that the rest of the team doesn’t have.”

I want what she’s got.

One way to actualize interest is to use trickery and manipulation. Trust me, it’s for their own good. Select one or two members of the team. Put some thought into their selection. You will need to get the right people to pull this off. Let them know that they have been selected to pilot a program, receive specialized training, or whatever works with the materials you need them to absorb. Make them aware of the importance of their mission and the exclusivity of their selection. (Note: This is not a lie. You have selected them to receive valuable information and/or training before anyone else has been granted access.) Allow them to use this knowledge and test their new skill.

In order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to obtain.

MARK TWAIN, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Here is what ensues: The employee with the new gift from management will have something that the rest of the team doesn’t have. Most likely they will also convey the process of being selected for this golden opportunity. Even if they down play it, it will come across as, “they asked me (read: not you) to do something special”. When the rest of the team sees that this person has something they don’t, be it knowledge, software, a new device, or whatever, they will want access to this as well. BOOM! Willing participants! Special projects are a great way to build interest in new things within a team, and you’re not really manipulating them… much.

“They will follow your lead and they will be non-starters”

Do as I say, not as I do.

You don’t want to do it, but you expect your staff to do so? Sit back, while I get my righteous indignation on.

Text Box: “No one learns as much about a subject as one who is forced to teach it.” ― Peter F. Drucker My Grandfather used to have a saying, “Trot mammy, trot pappy. How do you expect the colt to run?” Yes, this is another horse saying. He used to use this saying to note when a child was unruly, disrespectful, lazy, or [insert preferred unlikable quality] it was probably because the parents were not any better. That is why this old adage fits so nicely when describing management. Woops! Sorry, but it’s true. If you have a lackadaisical approach, how can you expect your colts to run? I am directly referring to Management’s lack of buy-in to new information. If you need to educate, train, or lead in a new direction, you need to BE educated, devoted to change and set the example.

“No one learns as much about a subject as one who is forced to teach it.”

― Peter F. Drucker

Let’s use new software as an example. Yes, I work for a software company, but that’s why the comparison is easy for me to make. Let’s say that your organization is moving to software for documentation where paper has always been used before. If upper management doesn’t use the software themselves and aren’t versed in its usage, how can they expect their teams to pick up the proverbial baton and run with it? They won’t. They will follow your lead and they will be non-starters. There are thousands of articles out there (I can’t back that number up, but there is definitely a lot.) that talk about the negative effects of lack of management buy-in on projects, change management, training, the list goes on. Sooo, why is lack of management buy-in so often talked about? Because it will absolutely kill momentum. Management relies on controlling the team. Exercise your leadership skills and inspire the team.

“People simply won’t seek information if it is not readily available” 

Dad, where are the keys?

I don’t know how many of you have a teenager, but mine can’t find anything unless it’s right in front of him… and I mean directly in his eye sight. One key to getting teams onboard with a new direction is to make sure that information is readily accessible. The further the employee has to reach to grasp something (see what I did there?) the less likely they are to do so.

We have all the information they need… in a binder… on a shelf… in a room… way over there….

Instant gratification takes too long.

-Carrie Fisher

We live in an age of instant access, instant gratification. People simply won’t seek information if it is not readily available. If it takes effort to retrieve it, they won’t do it. We can argue and bemoan, we can wonder at “what has this world come to?”  Better yet, we can blame millennials for our training woes, with their social media and their selfies, or we can embrace this change. Yeah, I know you want to fight it and go down in a blaze of glory, kicking and screaming, but here’s the thing. You will go down and your organization will suffer for it.

Smart phones and social media expand our universe. We can connect with others or collect information easier and faster than ever.

Daniel Goleman

Having valuable information at their fingertips is going to enable them to utilize that information. When holding a training session, you can bet money that the materials that you have created for the training (valuable beyond compare, for sure) will be laying on tables, found in trash cans, or buried so far into a desk or cabinet that Indiana Jones would never find it. Keep referencing important material. Make it readily available and easily digestible. Research solutions that will keep information at your fingertips. There are numerous apps and software solutions designed to increase communication and provide greater access throughout an organization.

I don’t want to, you can’t make me!

Yes, you need to inspire your team. Yes, you need to find constructive ways to educate and train them. You also need to set the expectation. I will always pontificate on the virtues of motivating and leading your team, but at some point they need to “get to workin’ or get to steppin’”. It may not be the most desirable option and is certainly not the first option, but at some point if members of the team do not apply their training, adapt to change, or move forward with the company you will need to incorporate disciplinary consequences for lack of action. If a team is allowed to control momentum or slow progress, the organization suffers. Don’t let it get out of hand. Timely intervention can get things back on track.  

Managing change and pushing teams in a new direction is something we all face. So, what has worked for you? We would love to hear your ideas. Let us know in the comments below. Feel free to use helpful sayings you learned from your Grandparents. They don't even have to be about horses.

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