Team building events, motivational books, communication classes — they all leave us with a wealth of information and excited about the things we’ve learned. Upon finishing with any of these trainings we’re brimming with enthusiasm and telling whomever will listen about how we’re going to change the way we do things at work and in our lives.
At least that’s how it is for the first few days. Then things often slip back into their normal place, and all that great, juicy info we absorbed (and often paid for!) sinks back into the recesses of our minds.
Just like your golf swing or backhand, it comes down to follow-through if you really want things to improve — if you’re truly interested in effecting change.
Follow through is difficult, though. It’s a pain. It’s the behavioral equivalent of eating your vegetables — you know you should, but you don’t always wanna. (Unless you’re calling french fries vegetables, then you’re all over ‘em).
The payoff of follow through are undeniable, so how do we make it through those beginning stages?
Share your intentions with your colleagues
You have to let people know what you want to change. Sharing what you learned not only helps reinforce the information, but it also enables your colleagues to better support you — and hopefully join you — in your bid to change for the better.
Work on little things
Build momentum by focusing on some little things. Just like a pizza shop owner is probably doomed to failure when switching to a paleo diet, so are we in the workplace when we try to radically alter our work behaviors and procedures.
Easy wins help to build a pattern of success that can make rallying the troops easier as well as pave the way for larger changes.
Do you doubt whether little changes can have a significant effect? If so, look to the success of Sir Dave Brailsford, former Performance Director of British cycling, who used the concept of “marginal gains” to lead the British cycling team to its first gold medals since 1908.
“The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together” – Dave Brailsford
Create action steps for individuals and teams
In addition to creating small changes, you also want to pave the path to success. To do this, you must create actions steps — small, progressive steps that lead your team toward its ultimate goal.
Paving the path makes change feel less daunting and gives people action items to help them begin their journey toward your goal, whether it’s better communication, collaboration, or more innovation. So if coordination is a problem, but your company is anti-meeting, try doing a strict five-minute stand-up meetings to help facilitate quick check-ins. That’s a baby step that most people would concede to without too many grumbles. Action steps are the base camps on your ascent of Everest.
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