What happens when the employees think their way is better?

More often than you might think, you’ll run into situations where your employees don’t do what they’re supposed to do, simply because they think their way of doing things is better than the way you would like them done. This doesn’t mean they think your way won’t work, just that in their minds they know more about it than you do.

Fournies writes of this non-performance issue in chapter 5 of “Why Employees Don’t Do What They’re Supposed to Do,” and gives a number of examples and ideas for solution, but today I’d like to offer a couple of my own that come from the training world in which I work.

The professional training designer knows that a proper needs assessment must take place in order to deliver optimal training, and this TNA (training needs assessment) includes a number of key tasks, including interviews with incumbents, managers and others affected by the learners’ performance.  It may also include observation of the performance, an analysis of the job descriptions, and of course the obstacles in the way of performance, so that certain training may be eliminated as a solution.

But that is not always the way training is designed.  Whether because of time constraints, budget limitations or just plain stubbornness, many training departments when told that some training is required, will immediately begin constructing a course map and agenda for the training, without conducting any formal TNA.  This is a dangerous practice. 

So why do they do it this way?  In my experience it’s because they feel they know the job, they have “been there” and they understand what the learners need.  And as a result, training is developed that does not meet the needs of the organization.

Now let’s take it a step further and see what happens when the learners go back to the job.  In the field, they are often told, “Forget what you learned in training.  This is the real world, where we know what is best to do.”  This frustrates the trainers no end.  I have often heard from the field, “They don’t know anything in that ‘ivory tower.’”  I’ll bet you’ve heard this too, and it’s another manifestation of people who simply believe their way is better.

If you’re a sales manager or trainer, think of the number of times you see this problem in your work:

 “The blade guard on that machine slows me down.” 

“There’s no sense spending a lot of time on pre-call research.  I like to just get in the door and play it by ear.” 

“I never bother to get them to sign that waiver. It only turns them off from the sale.”

The way to overcome this is to facilitate the discussion by getting the employee to consider the possible outcomes of non-performance:

“What if you lose a finger? How would you work then?”

“How does your prospect gain confidence in you if she feels you know nothing about her company?”

“Suppose someone sues us because we failed to disclose possible loss scenarios?”

And in my training scenario above, “Why do you think this step was incorporated into the training?”

It is never right to allow an employee to do the wrong thing just to prove you are right. A better management practice is to help your employees self-discover the right way of doing things through discussion, in just the same way you sell to your customers.


Think Like Your Customer

About Gregory LaMothe
I teach people how to sell things. I own the company ActionSystems. Visit my website at www.actionsystemstraining.com.

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