We don’t have a knowledge problem, we have a follow through problem.
I just got an email inviting me to a one day marketing conference, and the lineup of speakers in super impressive. In fact three of my favorite authors will be presenting.
So I am going? Not a chance.
Although I enjoy conferences, national meetings for companies, and other training focused events, the truth is they don’t have a lasting impact.
Let’s say you are the head of marketing for a company. It seems like an easy win—invest the day and send the team to hear a fantastic group of speakers. Maybe they will get inspired, learn something new, and apply it when they return to work. It sounds great, and those are fine intentions.
In reality, people go to the event, jot down a copious amount of notes, have a few moments of inspiration, and then head out for drinks to recap and decompress after a fantastic day.
When they return to work, and all those notes immediately get buried under a pile of other papers. They might remember one or two new ideas, but in the hustle to catch up on the time away—missed messages, clearing out email, and recovering momentum in day-to-day tasks—figuring out the next steps to implement their ideas seems overwhelming, and is quickly forgotten.
They were inspired, yes, but without action, nothing changes, and your investment doesn’t yield any impact. Sound familiar?
So what can a time and budget starved manager do to inspire their team and get results, instead of sending them off-site? Here are my top three tips:
1) Have More Real Conversations (Or Ask More Questions)
Focus on the one, yes just one, change you would like your team to commit to. Put it into your calendar and make it a habit.
One company I work with starts every Monday morning meeting with the question: “what’s one cool thing that has caught your attention in the last week?”
Sure, sometimes it’s a funny video or article, but the laughter brings the team together. More often, it’s an inspired thought the team can apply to their daily work.
2) To Maximize Impact, Keep it Simple
When there are ten action items, how many get done?
Focus on one thing at a time: too much leads to overwhelm and inaction. What is the one thing that each member of the team will apply to get them closer to your desired result?
Read just one short piece of content—a book summary, article, infographic, etc. (videos or podcasts work too!), and have a conversation with the team about your one key takeaway.
Committing to the one action leads to change, and often triggers or sets in motion other changes that have impact on the team as well. As Gary Keller and Jay Papasan say in their book The ONE Thing: “When one thing, the right thing, is set in motion, it can topple many things.”
3) Shared Experiences Have More Impact
Every company has their legendary stories from the founders, company parties, sales meetings, etc., of the shared experiences that brought the team together.
Simply put, when we experience things together as a team, they stick. If we all share our one thing it becomes part of our daily conversations, and leads to opportunities for team members to support each other. You don’t need to send the team off-site to create a group experience—creating collaborative cultures where people are empowered to share their experiences in the moment will have a much more profound impact on the group.
I used to pride myself on reading three or four business books a month—I “knew” lot of stuff, but the problem was, I didn’t apply most of it. I picked up a few facts, but didn’t put any of them into action. Sure I could sound “smart” at a cocktail party, by saying things like “Did you read (fill in the latest business hit), it was fascinating because (insert a clever point).” But sounding smart and getting results are two very different things. I started getting results when I committed to reading less, applying more, and sharing with my friends.
Making that shift led to more fun, and better results. Talk about a win-win.