Are You in the Game Too Soon?

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training is practiceI was walking tonight and noticed a group of 10 year old boys practicing baseball. The level of focus that the coach managed with these boys struck me. He would run through the play, and then run through it again, and then again.

There were runners on 1st and 2nd. The batter hit the ball, and the fielders were to make the play. They did it all over again and again. It amazed me that those young boys understood that they could do it better and better if they practiced; and so went practice.

I heard the coach say, “Come on boys; be ready. Know what you’re going to do if the ball comes to you!”

All of it sudden, I thought about what we do in the workplace. We put a bunch of kids in uniform, send them into the field to play a position that, in most cases, they’ve never played before, and expect them to field every ball perfectly.

I wonder why we assume that everyone automatically knows what VIP guest service looks like. I wonder why there is very little practice. Can you imagine if the coach sent one player out to centerfield to stand beside the current centerfield player as a way to teach the new player how to play centerfield? In the work model the hope is that the “watcher” learns, usually in one to three sessions to play centerfield just in case the main player calls in sick.

I think that example is something we call “OJT”–on the job training. We hope that observation “helps” someone learn to play the game. Isn’t that funny though? Think about it; if watching the game made you a great player, wouldn’t everyone play professional baseball or football or basketball? Watching isn’t enough, though. You have to get in the game and play. And you have to be able to practice. Good training gives the player (employee) the opportunity to make a mistake, get back into position, and try again.

I’m guilty of “observation type” training. I’ve made the assumption that all anyone needs to do is to observe a sales call and then they can do it. They can, but the reality is without formal role play practice, the new sales team member ends up calling on a real guest with no opportunity to practice the play over again if they don’t get it right the first time.

What do you think would happen if you put your team in position and then ran the play over and over again? What would happen if you team had the opportunity to practice VIP service and to see what that play would look like before they are actually in the game in front of real guests?

What if during a VIP guest service “practice” your players could get real feedback? You could run a play that suggests that when a guest is 5 steps inside your facility someone speaks to them. You could have “guest players” come up to the counter so your team can practice providing real service. You could practice how quickly you can get food items to your guests from placing the order to delivering the burger.

The potential for creating a confident first place team goes way up when you decide to invest in some practice (we call it training)! I challenge you to do something different with your team this week, this month, this year. Putting them in the uniform does not mean they are game ready. Give them the training they need. Make sure they are “working out” regularly. And take the time to teach them the plays that insure your business will make it to the playoffs!

 


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