by Leslie Charles
In the two decades of my training and speaking career, I’ve observed numerous workplace topic trends: Management by Objectives, Project Management, Empowerment, One Minute Management, Quality Management, Cross FunctionalTeam Management, and so on. As each new approach came along, people seemed eager for the content, but not necessarily the practice.
In speaking about his popular book “The One Minute Manager” Ken Blanchard said people began writing letters asking him, “When do I praise?” and “When do I correct?” or “How do I know when I should goal set?” So with high expectations and the feeling that they were meeting a need, he and Spencer Johnson wrote, “Putting the One Minute Manager to Work.” The book bombed.
Blanchard said it didn’t sell because “Putting the One Minute Manager to Work” asked people to actually do something. Certain books succeed, not just because they are new or inventive, but also because they don’t ask the reader to “do” anything beyond the reading. As literary agent Michael Larsen once said, “People don’t want to know as much as they want to be in the know.”
Any solid management system, consistently applied, will make a difference. It doesn’t matter what it’s called, or if it’s new or trendy. What really matters is the exposure and the practice or application. And therein lies the rub: we actually have to do something!
So don’t get seduced by the newest trend or catchy idea; simply find a solid, workable method that fits your organization and stick with it. Hone it. Refine it. Help your people help you make it work. The core ideas may not change, but you, your people, and your work- place will change from repeated exposure to the timeless ideas you can put into practice every day.
You don’t need the hottest, latest trend; just keep perfecting what works. I’ve offered the same topics for years, constantly updated, of course, but have resisted being trendy for trend’s sake.
There’s more. One training program is a great start, but it’s not enough. Whether the topic is service, teamwork, quality, or whatever, don’t expect that everyone will get the same message at the same time, or is even ready for the message. Think of the perennial topics of service, teamwork, management, communication, stress, and change as coming in “waves.” With repeated exposure to the same concepts, more people are more likely to “get it.”
But getting it is only the first step. From there, it’s application. From managers to the front line, everyone needs to practice the same time-tested, classic principles in their daily routines. Indeed, repetition and real-life application are the secret to success. And there’s nothing as powerful as role modeling from above.
A last thought: whenever you offer an in-house program, be sure to set up some kind of follow up system for practice and personal accountability. Even the best ideas are worthless without application.