I was watching football this past weekend when a coach whose team had fallen behind in the first half said, “We just need to get back to fundamentals and we’ll be fine.” Some would argue, “If you don’t have the fundamentals down by game time, ‘fine’ is the last thing you’re going to be!”
The good news is the team did play better in the second half. My hunch is when they went into the locker room, coaches reminded players to not forget what they had learned in practice. Even though the team lost, the second half was much more interesting than the first. Getting back to the fundamentals did make a difference.
In the busy rhythms of business, it is important to make sure that we consistently remind our employees of the importance of practicing fundamentals. Here are a few ideas to help you do that:
- Schedule – Can you imagine how disastrous the outcome would be for a sports team that showed up for a game after having no scheduled practices? The same is true for businesses. Schedule times to get together for reviewing fundamentals and practicing customer interaction, service, troubleshooting, interpersonal skills, etc. To expect our people to just “get it” without intentionally getting together and practicing overlooks several fundamental principles of leadership.
- Get together – Pull your team together every Monday morning and relay a “Fundamental of the Week” that you want everyone to practice. It could be as simple as: “focus your full attention on customers” or “fix problems quickly but competently”. Tie these fundamentals back to your core values for an even more meaningful gathering.
- Practice – If you are experiencing a reoccurring issue, why not pull employees together and practice different approaches to solving the problem? Have one employee play the role of the customer and another the role of employee. Keep it real, observe, critique, and debrief. Practice interviews internally before you begin bringing in job candidates. Practice lockdowns. Practice dealing with a difficult customer. “Practice makes perfect” is not just a cute tagline.
- Commit – It is easy to talk about scheduling, getting together, and practicing, but it is much harder to commit. As a leader, it is your responsibility to hold yourself and your team members accountable and prepare them to competently fulfill your organization’s business strategy. Hoping things get better is not leadership. Making things better is.
Get back to the fundamentals. Your team will be better off for it.