When it comes to developing people at work the assumption, probably made unconsciously, is that we all start more or less from the same place.
Senior staff makes a decision that to increase business performance people need training for example leadership, time management, sales, team working or change management.
The learning and development team are mobilised by HR and the desired knowledge training programme or workshop is born; or more likely a ready made one is taken off the shelf. Some organisations may also seek external providers and the web is awash with them.
This same pattern relating to people development to improve business productivity has existed for years yet very few providers, internal or external look beyond delivering the topic specific knowledge. They fail to ensure that the input transfers into behavioural change and tangible business results. Today, other than technical training, we know from research that the transfer of knowledge back into the workplace is poor. The training may have been great, people return to work with good intentions, then old attitude and behavioural habits kick in and soon they are back doing what they have always done. Most of the training has been a waste of time, effort and money.
There is a growing amount of evidence available today that shows the gap between knowing and doing is as wide as ever. Even Donald Kirkpatrick of training evaluation fame admitted in 2005 that there is a “devastating disconnect between learning and behaviour”. People know about theories, facts, information and so forth that are supposed to change them but in the main, it doesn’t. It is as if we are trapped in dead and obsolete maps, models and processes that cognitively we understand and can regurgitate when asked; yet we fail to take action.
A fresh approach
It is crucial for both business performance and growth in today’s highly demanding world that we acknowledge we are all unique and through our different experiences, it makes us complex. Whatever the business challenge we face we all start from a different place and therefore, the journey to the point of convergence that relates to the specific topic in the context of our work, will be unique to each and every one of us. This may not be the case when it comes to providing technical knowledge, which can be learnt cognitively. However, anything that relates to attitudes and behaviours (soft skills), the input needs to start with the individual and their needs so that the journey they take is in the right direction.
As we all know, it is the games driven by negative attitudes and behaviours of people in organisations that cause so much waste in time, effort and money as disengagement surveys consistently bear witness too.
Universities have probably acknowledged they need to get everyone aligned and use the first year of a degree course to enable students to adjust to the new environment to make sure that they all start the second year from the same place. Parents will hear about their children in the fresher year saying ‘I’ve done this at GCSE why am I doing it again?’ – to get you all on the same platform will be the echoed response.
From a different perspective Olympic 100 metres champion Usain Bolt is a fraction faster than his fellow Jamaican athlete Yohan Blake – by just over one hundredth of a second. Physically they are poles apart and therefore their training regime and methods of running has to take this into account. Even so, they both perform to an almost identical level of speed.
The importance of a good map
All they need to know is where they are, where they are going and which direction they are travelling. Each person will take responsibility to get to his or her destination. They may even join colleagues at convenient parts on their journey. This is the power of having a specific map. It is obvious and occurs thousands of times each day.
This approach of people taking responsibility and making choices within clear parameters is the key to personal development and business growth. We all tend to know it, but unfortunately it doesn’t happen nearly enough. If a business has a very clear destination point relating to performance, productivity and profit then we need to devise an approach that initially allows people to make their own development and performance route that leads to success. Later, as they begin to converge, individuals can link up with fellow travellers and move forward together.
Building the foundation – reducing behavioural waste
Our approach is to build the foundation that might be termed ‘the prequel’ to enable people to achieve this by developing their own attitude and behavioural map – the Mind Fit Map. Once they become aware of where they consistently operate from on their map they can identify those routine behavioural activities that they do that either cause wasted effort and underperformance or those that cause increased performance. Once they recognise where they are and what they do to keep themselves in a particular place on the map then they can choose to change direction if they need too. These insights occur during the first day of exploration so their convergence takes place rapidly.
Simply by stopping those activities that lead to poor performance (behavioural waste), which may include prevarication, conflict, poor timekeeping, underperformance or disengagement they will immediately have a meaningful impact on productivity. All these activities can be costed so that by stopping them it will simply demonstrate the effectiveness and be valued against the cost of the development programme. Then, by replacing that behavioural waste with positive performance focused behaviours linked to business needs, will lead to business growth – and real added value compared to the cost of the development programme. It really is that simple.
However, people need to acknowledge where they are on the map first and once accepted, they can choose to change.
Only we can choose for sustained change:
- The direction in which to travel
- To change and influence our performance
- To become who we are capable of becoming and not who we believe we are
We need to accept that any change has to be inside-out rather than someone else deciding what we need if we are going to make an impact on people and the business. Each of us needs to self assess to understand where our personal journey is starting. Then we can choose to travel in the desired direction.