When you assign your team a training, odds are you’re looking for some sort of behavior change from your team. You want them to do something differently or improve in some way. But even if you assign training and offer your employees support as a manager, you might not see the impact you were expecting. You may find that the behavior hasn’t changed at all, or hasn’t changed consistently, or hasn’t changed to the extent you were hoping. Why? Just because your team now knows what they need to do, has the skills to do it, and feels confident and motivated to do it, doesn’t mean they can do it. There still might be other barriers.
Take this example from my own team. Recently, I was looking for a way to help my team be more productive, so I assigned them Grovo’s Deep Work content. My hope was that after taking the lessons, the team would schedule at least one 90-minute deep work block per day, and primarily use Slack to communicate with each other during the day so they didn’t unwittingly interrupt each others’ deep work time. But I knew that even though my team would learn how to do it through the training, and they have a supportive manager (if I may say so myself), I couldn’t expect to just magically see productivity increase as a result.
Sure enough, the training alone wasn’t sufficient. From talking with my team members, I knew we also had a number of non-training barriers to deep work. The barriers on my team were:
- Too many meetings, at odd times, sometimes last minute, and spread out throughout the week. Finding consistent 90-minutes blocks, and keeping them, was a challenge!
- Culture of collaboration and immediate response. My team was reluctant to snooze their email and Slack for 90-minute stretches because we work in a dynamic environment where sometimes we need something quickly from each other, and a 90-minute delay is huge – especially when it would be so quick to respond.
- Lots of chat. When you’re in an open office environment like we are, putting on your headphones and shutting everyone out for an extended period of time can feel rude.
Yes, my team had taken the content, they were on board, and everyone saw the value. But we had to address these barriers – and we have to continually address new barriers that come up – in order for our new culture of deep work to cement.
Ultimately, my team created “quiet mornings” with no meetings on most days until 12 or 1pm. We also set expectations with our larger team and company not only about our quiet hours, but also that we’d be off Slack and email for that time, and that we’d likely be heads-down with our headphones on. It took a little while for the trend to catch on, and it takes a little maintenance to ensure that that one-time exception doesn’t happen too often, but it’s working out so far – and our productivity is up!
As managers and learning practitioners, we may want training to be set-it-and-forget-it, but if you’re interested in real behavior change and not just check-the-box, take the extra step post-training to ferret out and address any additional barriers to behavior change. The knowledge, skills, and attitudes might be there, and a little extra demolition from you will allow your people to actually make the change you want to see. If you’re interested in learning more about deep work, check out our content here. Just make sure to address any non-training related barriers for best results.