There are many lessons in life that can be learned in a very short period of time.
When I was five years old, I was sitting on the counter watching my mom bake cookies. I put my hand down to balance myself as I leaned in to watch her mix the dough. Unfortunately, I put my hand down on a burner that she had just turned off. Don’t worry – no permanent damage was done! However, a permanent life lesson was learned. Over 40 years later – I still have not touched another hot stove burner!
If only all life lessons came so easily, especially when it comes to the workplace. How often have we looked at a direct report and thought to ourselves, “How many times do I have to show you how to do this?” or “We’ve had training on this a dozen times and you still don’t get it?!”
The truth is – employees need to consistently be reminded of why an organization exists and how it functions. Otherwise, they simply forget. Organizations of excellence engage their employees on a regular basis and encourage them to process “this is why we’re here” conversations via dialogue, training, development, etc. Additionally, those same organizations keep reminding employees of what is expected of them, not in a threatening way, but in an encouraging way – by setting the bar high as a means of giving employees something to reach for and take pride in.
It is not enough to dust off those mission and vision statements and core values and rally the troops once a year. Instead, managers and supervisors must strive to keep the organization’s mission, vision, and core values (components of the organization’s business strategy) in front of employees a minimum of once every three weeks. The mission, vision, and core competencies should also be a central part of employee performance reviews, team meetings, project management, etc. By consistently keeping the business strategy before employees, managers and supervisors effectively communicate the consistent reminder, “This is how we do business around here.” Without such reminders, employees flounder and, if left to their own devices, will begin checking out emotionally and possibly leave the organization in search of something more meaningful.
Your employees will learn plenty of quick lessons, e.g., how to drive a truck; how to balance a budget; or how to properly fill out a form. However, keeping employees fully engaged in your business strategy… well, that requires your full attention. By the way, an occasional batch of cookies wouldn’t hurt – just be sure to warn everyone about the hot burners first.