Even great employees can get into a performance rut, where the monotony of doing the same thing day in and day out can turn into a sort of mindlessness. Nobody intends to get in a rut, but few people actively seek out the changes that can help them pull out of one. That’s where managers can to step in and give a change-averse employee a kick-start.
Great managers can build in small but recurring changes in their employees’ jobs to ensure their employees keep growing, learning, and improving. Training also offers a way to keep things fresh. Here are three ways managers can use training programs to keep workers out of one of those performance funks.
Change things up
Building training in as part of each employee’s work routine can have the impact of creating an environment where expanded thinking and appreciating change is built into everyone’s day. With new training, employees are routinely and regularly introduced to new thinking, new ways to approach their jobs, and new things to try out. And although training is itself a routine, the changing content ensures it never feels routine. For example, our sales team meets Wednesday and Thursday mornings each week for training — systems and skill training. Built into their schedule is a process to constantly rethink what they do and how they do it.
Turn employees into teachers
When the routine of the workday is interrupted for an employee to prepare and host training for other employees, not only does it stop the rut-creating momentum, but it augments the employee instructor’s skills, abilities, and impact. In our workplace we select employees to present portions of our training. They have to plan their time more effectively, learn additional skills in order to present materials, and know their jobs more thoroughly. Adding this responsibility constantly changes their roles; there are always new things for them to prepare for or manage, creating a more varied workday.
Offer rewards for skill implementation
Another great way to end the rut is to draw attention to and celebrate new ideas, new skills, and new applications of skills. Developing a reward system (prizes, bonuses, etc.) for those who bring new skills into their workdays gets and keeps employees’ attention. It also draws attention to non-routine behaviors. In our organization, we’ve developed our own internal currency. These internal “bucks” are used to reward improvements in core behaviors, results achieved, and behaviors that “go beyond.” As the adage goes, “What gets noticed and rewarded gets repeated,” so building a reward system around new and non-standard thinking incentivizes employees to get out of their routines and ruts.
We all like to make our day smooth and easy. But focusing too much on making the day smooth and easy quickly turns people’s jobs boring and routine; we don’t maintain our edge and our performance shows it. Training has the power to change thinking, challenge routines, and reward learning — all ways to end the dreaded performance rut.
Jay Forte is a nationally ranked thought leader and President of Humanetrics. Jay guides organizations — their leaders and managers — in how to attract, hire and retain today’s best talent. He is the author of Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition and The Greatness Zone – Know Yourself, Find Your Fit, Transform The World. Jay is a member of SHRM, ASTD, the National Speakers Association and the Florida Speakers Association. Follow him on Twitter.