A young father brings home a bicycle with training wheels for his daughter. He is ready to teach his daughter to ride a bike. His daughter is happy and eager. Dad better be ready to work! Before the bike riding training turns into a child riding a bike, Dad will walk with the child while she pedals. He will run and hold the back of the seat while she struggles to balance. Even after the training wheels are removed, he will run faster and hold on to support her. When he finally lets go to execute successful bike riding, he will pick her up when she falls. He will clean and bandage scraped knees. He will offer encouragement to continue her efforts. And, when dad is successful, he will let go and chase his daughter. Then, she will race off faster than he can run. He may have to pick her up a few more times. But, very soon she is riding without his help, and dad is exhausted emotionally and physically from the completed process.
This is exactly how personal improvement works. Training starts with an idea to improve someone. Regarding formal education, it starts in kindergarten teaching children to learn simple rules like raising your hand to talk, taking turns, earning rewards through good behavior. In executive training, the learning process turns to thinking strategically, demonstrating leadership so that others execute your vision, creating results in areas beyond your individual expertise. Fundamentally, training involves changing behaviors that may have been individually working just fine to behaviors that will elevate overall performance. That step requires an investment that will result in empowering people for greater achievement.
“What if we train our people and they leave?” is a classic question for decision-makers who are reluctant to invest in training their staff. The logical response is, “What if you don’t train them and they stay?” The clear outcome to the response is to endure poor performance. Personal growth is stunted. The child never learns to ride her bike because dad never wants her to leave his sight.
But change will prevail. This is a fact of human and organizational development. Experts argue that changing a habit requires an average of 21 consecutive days of changed behavior. This applies to learning a new skill, overcoming an addiction, or changing a work procedure. The process is established: educate, empower, measure, repeat…
Believe in the process. Invest in the process. The proverb says “to train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it.” It is the process that drives ongoing improvement. Once improved performance is achieved, repeating the process for additional rewards is a natural progression. Don’t stray from what works if it successfully reaches goals And, at every accomplishment enjoy the rewards. The real benefit is helping someone else whose success is important to the helper. This fact illustrates the mutual benefit to training. To do it right, a leader must launch the process, then be ready to work. The ultimate reward is a trainee who now rides faster than the leader can run!