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Best Training Practices
Will Kenny
3927 York Ave N
Robbinsdale, MN 55422

Shovel your way to
Lasting Change

a neighbor teaches me something about producing change

(reprinted from The Training Tipsheet)

Winter weather recently brought us a significant spring storm. Friday night we had sleet and ice, and then a break, with about a foot of snow arriving the next night. A lot of backs (and hearts) were strained by hardworking shovelers on Sunday night.

But one neighbor took a different approach. On Friday night, just before the ice came in, he sprinkled ice-melting "salt" on his walks and driveway.

On Saturday afternoon, during the break between storms, he shoveled the ice off his walks, and it came up easily, because he had prepared the surface. Sunday morning, he shoveled off the first six inches from the snowstorm, and handled the last half-foot on Sunday evening.

Did that take more time than just doing it all at once? Since each "stage" was fairly short, it probably came out about the same as spending hours clearing everything all at once.

Was it a lot less stressful? Without a doubt.

And how did the final outcomes compare? While most people couldn't get that last layer of ice off their walks, this neighbor had everything cleared down to dry pavement.

When organizations recognize a need for significant change in their business practices, they tend to do their shoveling all at once. It suddenly becomes a major distraction. Lots of resources -- and lots of stress -- are inefficiently applied to a hastily assembled "initiative", and a lot of people are supposedly guided to better practices in a short amount of time.

Unfortunately, this rarely has the desired impact. Employees get used to waiting out these "fads", knowing that things will go back to business as usual before long. The old behaviors stick around, like that bottom layer of ice that most people couldn't get off their walks.

The bigger the change, and the more important that change to the success of your company, the greater the benefit of using a series of steps to bring people along. For instance, instead of sending employees to an urgent half-day or all-day session next week, send them to several one-hour sessions over a period of weeks, or even months. It can be hard to resist the cries to "fix it right now," but if you prepare the ground, and work through the new best practices step by step, you're much more likely to produce lasting change.

© 2007 Best Training Practices -- Will Kenny

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