Many years ago, when I began teaching the programs of the American Management Association, I came across the term “congruence.” It was used to explain the individual needs and values of an employee in relation to the philosophy of a company. That term should also become your team’s coaching philosophy.
Congruence in this article will be used to explain a systems approach to team training. As a qualified trainer or human resources professional, you are probably the one who develops and implements the training for your organization. To create an optimal training environment, you need to look at your entire training theater. Your training field should encompass all training seminars and programs offered by your organization. You should view your training department or human resources division as a system, and not just a menu of programs.
Classically, training programs are developed, purchased, or contracted as a short story for the “training library.” This approach has been an accepted practice that has worked well for many years. Today, the “training library” must consist of several large assemblies. These sets contain many “volumes”. Most importantly, everyone should relate to a theme or story. In other words, each volume must be consistent with the organization’s strategy and philosophy. Also, your programs should not contradict other training seminars offered by your organization.
The classic example is training in time management. Almost all of the programs we have reviewed for our clients were found to be inconsistent with running the business. In most industries, top executives and new managers should be able to juggle at least three projects simultaneously. However, most time management programs preach “one task at a time.” Interviews with participants immediately after class and three months later document the incongruity of certain parts of the training. Answers include; Great ideas, wish I could use them; When will the boss take the course? I could really use it; I just don’t have time to test the material, etc.
A more consistent approach can be established: 1) insisting that executives and managers never handle more than one task at a time, and not asking them to do more than one thing at a time … Fat Chance! -or- 2) Teach time management with knowledge of business requirements. That means teaching people to juggle four balls … while fighting three fires … during the month-end close.
Now, what does time management have to do with Team Building? A parallel can be drawn between time management training and team training. If you are not developing and presenting team training that is consistent with corporate philosophy and business strategy, you are already behind the ‘eight ball’. Your training must be “correct” for your organization. It must be credible if your team wants to “accept” the concepts presented.
We have worked with organizations that for decades have emphasized, insisted, and preached a “take them before they catch you” philosophy. Another organization actually gave a poorer performance evaluation to someone who said “We did it together!” instead of “I did it alone!”
Obviously, an experiential program that conveys the message “trust everyone and everything will be great” doesn’t get much support in these settings. If trust is the issue, it must be sequenced. Sequencing allows each participant to build trust at their own pace. It should build gradual confidence and include ways to “taste the water” without getting your head bit off. Let participants know that there are two philosophies of trust; I will trust you when you prove it, and I will trust you until you prove otherwise. Provide examples of how people have built trust in your organization, and be sure to count the negatives as well.
Here are five tips for developing a consistent workout:
1) Know the corporate culture. What does the organization represent? Is the CEO or board of directors governed by that culture? Knowing what the ‘reality’ is in your organization can help you develop a program that will provide participants with practical steps for positive growth.
2) Know what can be changed and what should be left alone. Understanding corporate policy can save you many sleepless nights and avoid those costly “career decisions.” If you know what “sacred” is, at least you will know when you are on thin ice.
3) Review your existing training library. You will find a lot of material to update, rewrite or shred. Make existing programs fit the organization. You have the knowledge and experience to improve the effectiveness of each program in your training library.
4) Walk the Talk. Don’t teach one thing and do another. make sure your staff and your department follow the philosophy they teach. If you can’t, how can you expect others to change?
5) Ask for help. Within your organization, you will find coworkers who want to be part of the planning process. encourages their input. You will learn that they have tremendous knowledge, even if they are not part of the Human Resources Group. You will accomplish two things by incorporating the opinions of others. 1) – you will be leading by example and 2) – you will have a program that is more effective because it will be inherently congruent with your organization.