Clear Goals and an Expectation for Action

I closed the last post by referencing something we can do to help remove a bit of the reluctance leaders often face when faced with addressing tough situations with team members - often due to the concern of hurting or offending them in some way. Separating a behavior contributing to an issue that needs addressed from the individual performing that behavior is far easier said than done! But as we begin to develop that kind of awareness, and really hone our skill in actually doing it, holding the team member accountable for the behaviors they choose involves so much less emotional stress…

So what does that have to do with why leadership training fails? Understanding what should be done and knowing what the specific behavior looks like to accomplish what needs to be done are very different things. Just like we, as leaders, will need to work at being able to separate the behavior from the individual in order to have effective conversations about improving performance, we’ll also need to separate the action steps we expect the leaders on our teams to perform from simply learning the concepts in any sort of training session. And doing this will also require us to work with them to develop extremely clear goals so our expectation for action can be pointed at a tangible result.

Each time I facilitated an ergonomic work cell assessment or participated in any type of lean manufacturing initiative, we always had a specific target identified where any changes that were implemented would contribute to reaching that target. We’ll look at some ways we can set specific, measurable targets for applying lessons learned in leadership development sessions in the next message. For now, let’s stick with just the behaviors and the expectation of accountability…

As we work with the leaders on our team, especially after making an investment into their leadership development journey, we need to be very clear about how we expect to see them taking action on what they’ve learned; just learning something without applying it is a big reason for why leadership training fails! And when they’re responsible for identifying the specific action steps they will take, especially if we’re able to collaborate with them on how they do that, we can create a clear picture of exactly what behaviors they’ll be performing as they put their plan in place. Just like with the scenario with any other team member, we’re now able to separate the behavior we’re expecting to see from the individual we truly care about.

In a perfect world, this automatically happens in every company on a routine basis without fail. If 2020 taught us nothing else at all, we certainly know there’s no such thing as a perfect world! For the last several years, every session that Cindy and I have delivered - in person, virtual, and even our digital courses - has closed with a challenge for participants to identify the specific action step they can apply from what they learned and work directly with their immediate supervisor or manager for accountability and collaboration. That works extremely well when the participant has clarity of what they want to accomplish or when their manager has time to interact with them routinely on the steps they identify. But there are times when a more focused approach is necessary, and we’ve found that some managers just can’t fit this into the already crazy schedules they’re juggling. That being the case, we’ve recently started offering this as a service to assist in setting clear targets, developing and implementing strategic action plans, and measuring the tangible results that we’ll look at next time with an intense focus on eliminating the reasons why leadership training fails… As I post this, I haven't built out the entire page of our website detailing that process but here's a contact form you're welcome to use if this is something you'd like to learn more about...

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