- A Manager is preparing his team for unprecedented growth. He wants them to be ready for it immediately. Can this be accomplished in a half-day retreat?
- A Director can’t do it all. She can’t seem to delegate responsibilities, wants to avoid pain and risk, and must develop her staff while also freeing up her time. Can this be accomplished in one meeting?
- A Vice President wants people to go through training and must see the evidence of the transformation in people’s on-the-job behaviors. What is the maximum number of people that can go through training at one time? Can it be accomplished in 90 minutes?
- A CEO is making a major presentation to the industry media and wants professional polish and hopes to experience rousing applause and a high level of interest. Can I review his materials online and send him a critique with suggestions?
- An Entrepreneur is pitching to potential investors and the goal is to generate cash flow and excitement. Can we meet over coffee, so I can hear the key points and then offer improvement feedback?
I’m delighted that these folks want to engage my services. They want to achieve their goals. They just don’t want to simply engagement my services …. they want our work together to be fast, pain free, easy, inexpensive and brilliant.
What they really want is a not-so secret weapon I’ve been known to bring with me to keynote presentations, training programs and one-on-one sessions. It has appeared with me in magazines; I keep a supply in my office, and know where I can get more if I run short. It’s Magical Pixie Dust.
I also have a magic wand that I wave. I possess bags of the glittery material and when I pull them from my briefcase there is usually a giggle of recognition and relief. People admit that this is why I’ve been called in to help.
I’ll confess that pixie dust gets all over everything. In fact, it sticks to almost any surface like super glue. It’s almost impossible to vacuum up. There is something else about it that I’ll share with you — it simply doesn’t work. I’m not Tinker Bell and my pixie dust doesn’t help you fly.
I know that this is what people really want. I then become the bearer of bad news and a disappointing truth. In a world where information is a mouse click away, the expectation out there is that behavior change can happen as quickly. People want the pill that makes them better, a real life half-hour makeover show that changes the dump into a palace and the loser into a champion. A big part of my job is helping people understand how behavior change actually takes place.
The truth often hurts! Learning new information, motivating people, and getting them to practice new behaviors (with feedback about performance and possible corrective action) takes time. And practice. And feedback.
Not everyone wants to learn new things. Many people are a real challenge to motivate, and some people will never be as skilled as they (or we) would like. There are folks who say they will try and work at improving their skills but they won’t. It’s not important enough to them, it seems to be too hard, takes too long, or is too uncomfortable.
Some people might be able to improve but they don’t. It’s also possible that they can’t improve. They give it a half-hearted try, get distracted, or think adequate performance is good enough.
Return on Investment Attenuates Over Time
When I work with clients to accomplish behavior change (whether it is for skill improvement or the creation of strategies) their interest and enthusiasm grows and often peaks at the end of our time together. Afterwards, they stay excited, focused and optimistic, for day, weeks or months thereafter.
But then, the phone, the boss, deadlines, the in-box, and the real back-on-the-job world attack. My client postpones for the present his/her resolve to apply the principles we worked on together. Without ongoing reinforcement, performance feedback, one-on-one sessions, clinics, and reinforcement, what is left is the residual ROI. If the goal is to maximize this residual ROI, it makes sense to have a realistic picture of how hard behavior change is and how long it will take. For true goal achievement, performance improvement and behavior change people need to practice, receive feedback, make adjustments, and have someone ‘hold their feet to the fire’ in order to truly change behavior and have that change stick.
People rarely change radically as a result of going to a training program, attending one consulting session, or watching a presentation. Instead, they display small increases in effectiveness. With ongoing support, these small increases result in effectiveness. And it’s that increased effectiveness is skills that trickle down to the bottom line.
I have to confess to prospective clients that miraculous conversions don’t result from working with me for one session. It comes from the harder work of keeping at it. The payoff comes from applying new information or practicing a new skill in a regular way – and that is where my efforts in reinforcement and ongoing support make the real magic happen.
I want magical pixie dust too. I still hope that my IT guru will fix my technology challenges immediately and over the phone (which I’ve seen him do!). I’d prefer that my weight loss goal be accomplished by the end of the week. And it would be great if I could know all about a new management trend without doing any reading or research.
A more realistic view and the consistent application of your strategy or skill is the magic that creates improved performance and goal attainment. No pixie dust required!