One of the greatest pieces of advice I had ever been given is to remember that adults are children in big bodies.
What does that mean to me?
Like children they need boundaries, they need structure, they like positive feedback.
I can’t remember who told me to be honest, but I’ve never forgotten this distinction and I have continued to use it in my work, especially when creating my on-job training and Leaders As Coaches (LAC) coaching program.
Like children, adults need and want structure.
We need to know what’s expected of us, how we are going, know how we can improve and what we are doing really well.
Like children, adults also need to know and understand consequences, because the reality in life is that there are consequences to our actions, both positive and negative.
When we do not know or understand the consequences of our actions, most of us fall into the mindset of – I’ll just do what I feel like doing or I’ll do it my way.
I remember when I was a teacher, the kids really liked knowing the structure – they knew what they were doing in the morning and after lunch in the afternoon. The Parents really enjoyed the structure the school provide their students.
It is good to have some variation and change things up a bit every so often but mainly keep to the structure.
Having just completed employee (team) research for one of my clients, one of the conversations that showed up very strongly as a needed improvement by the team who believe they do the right thing, follow procedures, and really put in the effort. What they really dislike seeing other staff get away with not following the correct procedures without consequence.
No consequence can be very demotivating and frustrating for the majority of employees who strive to do the right thing, follow procedures etc.
I think this is true in society, too and it comes back to learning principles.
Whether I am training or coaching I show all my participants the model below.
On the left hand side of the model is education, we discuss the optimum behavior required to fulfil on a new skill or service standard or procedure. And we always discuss WHY we are doing this and WHY they should demonstrate the learned behavior, which in my view comes back to learning principles.
On the right hand side of the model is consequences, we discuss this too. Positive to reward and negative to improve or change. Participants in my training and coaching programs understand the need for consequence, both positive and negative.
An example I often give is about wearing a seat belt when driving a car. I ask most people, Why we have to wear a seatbelt? The answers are always about saving life.
Even though we now have cars that beep to remind us to put our seatbelts on (great structure) for most, we do it unconsciously.
So, the big reason for the optimum behavior of putting a seatbelt on every time you drive is really driven more by education than it is by consequence of getting fined if you don’t. The reasons WHY make sense so no great need for consequence, apart from surviving an accident!!
And as a side note, their answers are never about the fines or loss of points if they are caught not wearing their seatbelt.
Versus another other question I ask my training groups is. “Are you really 100% clear on the road rules? Like the speed you have to drive at and that it’s illegal to drive over the speed limit?”. The vast majority say Yes.
Yet, when I ask, how many of you speed? Just about every single person, puts their hand up.
Let’s look at this, closely.
There’s lots of education. Like the advertising of the impact of driving a little bit faster. Which demonstrates the reasons WHY we should slow down or stick to the speed limit and the consequences of not doing so.
Even though it is illegal the consequences of monetary fines, loss of demerit points and even loss of license, people still speed. And even though there is a marginal threshold of 3 K’s, they push the limits and may justify saying it’s usually only 5, 6 or 7 K’s over the limit. But the whole education was around the impact of just 5K’s. Clearly education wasn’t enough. And in this example, the consequence is not seen as greater than the reward.
This is my billion dollar idea! I guarantee the answer would be different if a new system was introduced, whereby every car is linked to GPS which in turn is linked to your bank account and every time you drive over the marginal threshold of 3 K’s over any speed limit, $100 will automatically be deducted from your account.
Imagine that, for some it could cost them $1000’s of dollars a week.
The reality at the moment is that you may or may get caught. Remove the variation (may or may not get caught) and introduce an immediate consequence, I reckon most would now change their behavior because the consequence is guaranteed, bit like putting your hand on a hot stove!!.
Consequences need to be there, and we need to be advising people of those consequences.
Some countries actually reward people who’ve had no demerit points – they get cheaper registration, for example. Personally, I think we should always reward good behaviour.
So, whether the scenario is wearing a seat belt, sticking to the speed limit, drink driving, smoking or any other unhealthy behavior consequence needs to be discussed and understood.
Consequence in business is equally important. It comes back to learning principles and the distinction that adults are just children in big bodies. In a business employees need structure, and they need to know and understand the WHY and the consequence of not following the rules, service standards or procedures etc.
One thing I’ve been coaching, especially when there’s a new behavior, is that the coach needs to be right there, with people ensuring they transfer the behavior back to the job. Once people start to do it, and it’s become a habit, you can ease off, but you still need to check it every so often.
For those people who are not demonstrating the behaviour on the job – action the consequence.
Just like with our children – there’s a lot of parents who will take things away from their child as a consequence.
Interestingly, you can see the children who get brought up with no consequences. They continually do whatever they want. They know there is no impact when they misbehave.
Back to business – Why is it okay for some people to get away with not following the systems and the impact of that on the team? For example, we don’t know what’s going on with their tasks because they’re not putting the information required into the system.
What consequences do you have in place, if people don’t follow the rules?
Where can you implement consequences?
Rewarding Good Behaviour
For those people demonstrating the behaviour on the job – reward good behaviour.
Rewarding good behaviour is important to elevate the background conversations like Why should I make a big effort to change something when no one says anything. And to reenforce good behaviour.
How do you reward good behaviour in your business?
Leaders As Coaches (LAC)
Through our award-winning two-day ‘Leaders as Coaches‘ program, your leaders will to learn the techniques, behaviours and skills required to help their teams succeed in delivering the Service Standards, ensuring your customers return and spend more.
Download a copy a copy of my brochure here.
Customer Service Training
The key to this program is to minimise variation in service
delivery and increase appreciation.
Service has to stand out!
It should not matter who serves the customer, all team
members must always model the correct behaviours;
every day, every time, without fail, no exceptions.
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If you would like to have a chat with me about ‘Customer Service Training or Leaders As Coaches (LAC)’ contact me I look forward to hearing from you.