The Workplace Learning Report 2017 highlighted 2 critical areas for respondent companies:
1. Not seeing business impact following L&D programs
2. Not seeing tangible R.O.I. from L&D spend.
The report also highlighted difficulties arising from restricted budgets; changing workforce; standardisation of training problems and the new mix of technological equipment, platforms and applications.
What can be done to satisfy this diverse range of challenges?
Perhaps it’s time for tapping into the world of performance science and the latest evidence used in high pressure professions such as sport, military and performing arts so as to teach and develop our people to understand that change, adaptation and ultimately performance is something that they look inwards for and not externally.
They need the tools and knowledge to become self accountable and only they can improve their performance at work. It is a shift away from ‘push’ to ‘pull’ strategy and a detour from extrinsic motivation, which motivates by reward and punishment, towards intrinsic motivation, where internal benefits and satisfaction are derived from pursuing a path of excellence towards mastery.
It can be inexpensive and lead to better returns, productivity and wellbeing. It’s the driving ignition that fuels every athlete, performer, leader and professional that I have worked with, who embrace learning, coaching, trust and communication whilst eradicating fear, mistrust, whispers, command and control.
How can we trigger this process with performance hacks?
Attitude & Mindset
Often our managers avoid and control with threat of punishment whilst dangling the carrot of reward. Unfortunately, the sympathetic nervous system is more powerful than the parasympathetic nervous system in terms of preferring to avoid threat rather than approach the situation. This is the continuous fight/flight/freeze process pumping deadly cortisol in our veins contributing to ill health and triggering fear in the amygdala of the employee’s brain.
Motivation ignition is more than carrot and stick. Many organisations are aware of engagement levels and dangers to bottom lines particularly as research shows engaged companies generally grow profits 3x faster than their disengaged counterparts.
This is quite probably the most crucial mental skill. It is quite literally life and death in terms of surgeons, pilots or soldiers. Multi-tasking does not work.
Skill Acquisition & Deliberate Practice
It would be beneficial to L&D to look at different training/practice methods from sport where skills are taught in different ways according to the learner. We use the whole method, part method, progressive part and whole part whole methods to highlight skill acquision. Once mechanics are in place it needs to become engrained and to focus upon deliberate practice. It’s not about the unproven 10,000 hours rule, it’s about the focus on the part(s) that needs improving and not always the whole process.
An often misunderstood concept is mental toughness. It’s a mental strategy of just keeping going, whatever the circumstances encountered and to do it with ultimate belief, confidence, clarity and calmness that achievement will come.
Tips for implementation:
1. Repackage the concept of attitude, behaviour and emotions as performance which is embraced and not resisted by the employee.
2. Help trainees to develop a challenge mindset which approaches any pressure or situation with this correct philosophy by triggering brain dopamine for motivational behaviour.
3. Prioritise the training in management of internal distractions (thoughts, emotions and interpretations), and the ability to experience razor sharp focus whilst scanning for external distractions that affect our ability to perform.
4. Teach neuroplasticity and the brain’s ability to change, to build new neural pathways in place of old mental patterns towards their job or skill execution, into training programs.
5. Train staff and managers in resilience, grit, hardiness and endurance along with the full set of psychological performance skills.
In conclusion, the philosophy of L&D and leadership is that true development should come from within and not externally. All the above skills can correlate with improved performance and profits.The costs are low and rewards large. It aligns with changing markets, customers and the next generation of workers. Your programs will have business impact and produce R.O.I., which is the concern of our leaders, and who doesn’t want highly motivated, focused, mentally tough employees and managers?