An agency was encountering some internal communication challenges they felt only an outside firm could address. Some were process issues, some were performance issues, and some were structural issues. They brought us in to focus on the process issues. We performed assessments with focus groups and with one-on-one interviews. Over two days, we met with the entire staff of about 50 people.
On the last day, we met with a young woman, Tanya. In advance of meeting her, we learned she was very sharp and a bit reserved. As we talked to her and got her perspective, she began talking about the process issues. She narrowed in on the training component. It was ineffective, and it was inconsistent. People were not receiving the same training. Some people received formal training while others learned via on-the-job.
As a result, team members pursued what they thought best. Some people took shortcuts getting the job done, which unfortunately left some gaps. Some people followed the recommended processes, which resulted in them taking more time to complete.
As we talked to Tanya, we soon realized she really, really understood what the problem was. She recommended we bring everyone together for the same training session. This would ensure we are on the same page, ensure we have the same goals in mind, and ensure we work on the same process issues.
Everything she told us fell within the solution criteria the agency was seeking. It fell within the budget scope. It fell within the planned timetable. And it fell within the resources available. In fact, it wasn’t anything super difficult to achieve.
“No one has ever asked me. You Didn’t Ask.”
A little surprised the solution was right here, we asked Tanya, “This all makes a lot of sense. Why didn’t you share your ideas before?” She paused for a long moment and said, “I’ll be honest. No one has ever asked me. You Didn’t Ask.”
“I’ll be honest. No one has ever asked me.”
Tanya’s answer taught us a very important lesson. You need to create an environment where you can leverage the best people can offer. Here we had a person close to the problem, who fully understood the challenges, fully understood the process issues, and fully understood the scope. Most importantly, she had a solution on the tip of her tongue.
The challenge for training officers is to help their leaders and teams create an environment where everyone is engaged. And where everyone can express themselves in a safe environment. Next time, ask Tanya.
A short time ago, I was honored to be chosen as the keynote speaker for the Training Officer’s Consortium (TOC) annual conference. While attending one of the TOC events, I had the pleasure of hearing Mike Powell share an inspiring story about employee engagement through the eyes of Tanya. After his program, I went up to him to gauge his interest in letting me use his story in my keynote. He was eager. And that was the start of a new friendship.
Thank you to Mike Powell for sharing his wonderful and insightful story. You can find more about Mike and his training firm The Powell Group, on LinkedIn.
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Photography Source: Pexels
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