Monday, December 29, 2014

There is No Such Thing as Pixie Dust

In my practice, I work a lot with organizational leaders and do quite a bit of training. I enjoy it. However, I sometimes get the impression that management looks at training as a shot of pixie dust. Sprinkle a little bit on their people and performance magically changes.

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as pixie dust. If I had pixie dust that worked like that, I would be a gazillionaire. But I'm not.

There is a good reason for training. It can impart new knowledge. However, to change behavior (which is often the desired result), training has to be combined with organizational support, most importantly manager coaching, to reinforce the desired change.

As a consultant, I am rarely with the organization after the training. I am in, do the training, and leave. I always tell the organization that follow-on support from organizational leaders is required, but I am not there to help ensure that takes place. That bothers me, because I know how important the follow-on is and how seldom it happens.

If you are trying to achieve a change in behavior that leads to improved results, training is an important piece of the game plan. However, the organization also needs to look at what policies and systems are in place that may support or obstruct the desired change. In addition, you need to ensure managers have the appropriate coaching skills and support the change. They, especially first-line supervisors, are key to translating the knowledge gained in training to changes in behavior, which leads to improved results.

The bottom line: there is no magic pixie dust. Changes in behavior and improved results require training, coaching and organizational policies and procedures that support the behavior desired. That requires a plan and some hard work.

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