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Friday, July 3, 2009

We Do As We Practice

Have you ever heard that? "We do as we practice" I definitely have. I know you've heard "practice makes perfect." That's why professional organizations -- military, first responders, medical, sports teams -- if they're any good, practice their tasks until they're sometimes sick of it...and they can perform them in their sleep.

We can't reasonably expect that our team members will perform consistently and at top of their game unless:

1. They know what's expected of them (and often you need to show or model the expectations to them).
2. Training is in place to complete the expected tasks in an
outstanding fashion
3. They practice, practice, practice.
4. Leaders and peers shadow/observe team members carrying out their tasks (directly, not listening from the other room like one manager told me).
5. Feedback is provided, both immediate and on-going (like during staff meetings or periodic training or practice sessions).
Both training and practice should include role-playing in front of the rest of the team...people don't think it's always fun, but the way the leadership approaches role-playing has a lot to do with how it's accepted by the group. Constructive feedback should be provided, "this is what I think Bob did great and these are the areas I think Bob could do even better" or words to that effect.

If your team makes practice a regular habit, then when a team member is not feeling 100% "there" on a given day, or if you're short-handed and people are scurrying around to get everything done, or if something else out of the ordinary is occuring, then you don't have to worry about how they'll interact with your customers...they'll just fall back on the way they practice.

Practice won't make you perfect, but, if it's a regular part of your team's activities, they will be that much closer than ever before.

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