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Leveraging What You Already Have

We often observe a tendency for organisations to disregard what has gone before in the interest of introducing the latest ‘bright and shiny’ management tool or technique. The organisation may have invested 10s or 100s of thousands of dollars and many staff-hours in training their people in particular techniques and tools only to throw these out upon the appointment of a new HR/OD/General Manager/CEO who has a different view about what the right tool or approach should be.

In some ways, it’s a bit like televisions where every six months or so we are offered the latest enhancement, whether its High Definition; 200Hz; 3D etc etc.  In reality our existing TV is likely to provide us with 90% of what we need, and we probably don’t use all the features available in it anyway.  So, in our view, much better to make fuller use of what we’ve already got, than simply to swap it out to a larger; more expensive model.  Sure, there comes a time when the advances are so significant that it makes sense to swap to a new model…but not every year!

In the same way, companies that have invested in training of their people in a particular method or leadership approach would gain a much better return on investment by looking to stick with the approach and actually embedding the respective tools and techniques in the day to day way the business operates.

How often have you been on a training course or workshop; learned some great things (or perhaps simply been reminded of some existing things you had forgotten) only to get back to your office / desk and find that because of the demands of the ‘day job’ you are unable to give time to putting into action the things you found so useful in the course/workshop?  The manual is put to one side to be ‘looked at tomorrow / the next day / next week / next month’ and it never happens.  As a result the insights and changes you were going to make fade into the distance and you go back to your old ways of working.  Not only is this a waste of hard cash, but also your time, the trainer’s time and another nail in the coffin of training and development initiatives because ‘We spend all this money on training, and nothing ever changes as a result’.

Most organisations already have much of what they need to succeed.  Most people turn up to work to do a good job; most systems and processes are good enough (if followed) to deliver a good outcome; people in the organisation have much knowledge and experience from time spent in their existing role or previous roles.  What is missing is adequate time spent embedding the various tools, processes, knowledge and skills so that they become part of how the organisation functions – rather than simply techniques and theories that made sense on a workshop but are not applied in the real world.

So, next time you are tempted to move to yet another new management approach because ‘the last one didn’t work’, consider the following:

  1. Trust that you already have most of what you need to succeed – either in the form of skills and knowledge or ‘fit for purpose’ practices.
  2. Rather than look to make changes to the latest management tools / techniques, instead look at how the time it would take to train and embed these could be used to remind people about the existing approaches/tools and techniques and work on embedding these into the day to day approach.
  3. Provide coaching / buddy support to people to hold them accountable for implementing the things they have learned on training courses.  Either external coaches or internal coaches/buddies could be used for this purpose.

Taking a more sustainable approach to development will generate increased Return on Investment; create a greater sense of stability (as you are no longer flip-flopping from one thing to another); and elicit more buy-in as people see that you are serious about allowing them to implement the things they have learned.

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