The difference between an idea and a commitment is the difference between knowing about a new tool and using it in your everyday life as a new habit and way of operating. The greatest challenge many of my clients encounter as they improve their workplace culture is to take a new concept or tool and translate it into a resource they and their staff implement consistently until they achieve new, significant, sustainable results.
In my work, I educate business leaders on how to be emotionally and socially intelligent and how to propagate this and leadership development throughout their organization. They learn first to be self-aware, self-managing, aware of their interpersonal dynamics with others, and how to manage relationships. They then stand in the authentic authority they need to help others do the same.
They learn how to communicate effectively, make accountable requests and agreements, practice honesty, receptivity, disclosure, straightforwardness and many other behaviors that build trust and teamwork. They learn to ask for what they want, speak openly about behaviors they don’t like, share their highest wishes and hopes and ask for changes in behavior. They learn to stop gossiping, vent in a healthy manner, redirect negativity, and align with purpose and values instead of operating on autopilot. In a nutshell, they learn how to be leaders and to develop leaders. Ideally they take a series of learned concepts and adopt habits that result in operational, positive change. Otherwise they (and their employees) are temporarily enthralled with new tools that ultimately end up on a shelf only to be forgotten.
Training employees in human systems means they first review positive, life-enhancing ways of thinking, feeling, speaking and behaving and then over-communicate the relevance of new practices for leveraging them. Knowing a strategy or tool does not guarantee it is drawn upon consistently. A priority of a good leader is the ability to transfer responsibility to others for using new skills in order to help each master their relationships, productivity and engagement. Leaders must connect a compelling, inspired purpose, the values for how to actualize that purpose, and the specific behaviors and processes needed for living into it.
When a new strategy or tool is made relevant to one’s purpose, and focused as a practical resource, achieving excellence is not only possible; it is certain. One way to implement new tools and strategies in a lasting way is to assign all employees the task of presenting on several of them to fellow co-workers. First they review them, then share the relevance of each to their company’s purpose and core values, and then seek specific ideas for how to make the new tools and strategies operational in a practical way. Lastly, each takes personal responsibility to adopt new habits and communicate progress to all.
This furthers progress in several ways. First, people learn best when they review what they need to practice. Second, when they communicate the relevance of a new habit, they are increasingly inspired to adopt it and when they draw upon it repeatedly as a resource, they succeed. Success is a potent motivator. Then all that’s left is to keep new practices front and center until they morph into sustainable habits. Bottom line: When you teach something new, make sure it’s relevance is clear and a commitment to making it a resource is a tangible experience!
Judy Ryan (judy@LifeworkSystems.com), human systems specialist, is owner of LifeWork Systems. Her mission is to help people create lives and jobs they love. She can be reached at 314-239-4727.As published in St. Louis Small Business Monthly, May 2015