I just heard about the coolest approach to make technical training more effective – by far. I wish I had come up with this. Amy Bandy-Taylor is the training lead for implementation of a new scheduling software from Avantas at MUSC. She just went through a full day training to learn the new software functionality and she tells me they spent a full 4 hours teaching “soft” skills, designed to prepare everyone to accept and align with the change. Amy rushed to tell me about this because she knows this is the kind of practical creativity that gets me going.
If you’ve ever been part of a new software implementation or upgrade, you know the drama quotient (in the form of resistance to change) is off the charts.
The short of it is that Avantas partnered with thought leader Cy Wakeman of Reality Based Leadership to incorporate change-readiness training for people who will be using the software (aka “users.”) This is simply preparing someone to learn, but it’s usually left out of presentations and trainings.
Companies may have a “change management” program, but to integrate this approach to technical training is a huge innovation. This is how Cy Wakeman puts it:
People think that change is hard. Change is only hard for the unready.
After all, what’s easier to change, reality or your attitude toward that reality?
If you’re reading this, I don’t think you’re a high-drama professional, but you may be encouraging too much drama at work by allowing people to “vent.” Venting makes people feel better; narcotics do the same but that doesn’t mean it’s a healthy practice.
Wakeman started her career as a therapist; she is well aware of accountability issues. In her approach, leadership prepares people for change by teaching alignment and accountability and curbing BMW’s. Not the kind of fancy BMW’s we make in South Carolina, but “bellyaching, whining and moaning.”
The job of a leader is to conserve the energy about to be consumed in drama and redirect it toward efforts that have better ROI.
…those efforts include almost any activity, such as drinking a glass of water. Wakeman cites research that puts the average cost of drama per employees at 2 hours per day. When Lean processes look to cut seconds off of a task, 2 hours a day is a beast. I mean that’s a whopping 25% of the work day down the drain!!!!!
And apart from lost time, complaining about reality lowers the energy of everyone in the conversation; assuming the victim role literally shuts down the imaginative brain function that can actually solve the problem you’re unhappy about.
High achievers are drama diffusers. They simply don’t engage in engage in negative stories; they don’t have time for that.
(That said, avoiding people who come to your office to kvetch takes at least 10,000 hours to master, unless you learn some tricks of the trade on this.)
And there’s more on this topic: quantifying communication and change-readiness skills.
The scary people in Finance know how to quantify everything. Wakeman got some financial wizards quantify employee value based on performance. Turns out performance ratings don’t correlate exactly with value added to the company. She found that the high performers, the 4’s and the 5’s, were not delivering value at the 80th percentile, but lower. Turns out performance ratings don’t match value added.
Wakeman refers to 10 value indicators; the most powerful indicator of value turns out to be easy to work with, meaning no whining, faultfinding, gossiping, backstabbing and other forms of disagreeing with reality. Not being easy to work diminishes your total contribution significantly. She calls that factor “emotional expensiveness” and states:
We are moving toward a future in which Emotional Inexpensiveness is more valuable than any other attribute in the workplace.
Ditch the drama. Be easy to work with and teach your team the concept of emotional expensiveness. What a novel idea as a way of adding value. Be sure to mention this at your next performance review.
Cy Wakeman has 2 books out, the latest is Reality-Based Leadership: Ditch the Drama, Restore Sanity to the Workplace, and Turn Excuses into Results. You can read her blog at www.realitybasedleadership.com.