Build Sales and Muscle Memory
I’m currently enrolled in the C.E.O. program, (Coaching Excellence in Organizations), a training program for Executive Coaches from the Foundations of Generative Leadership. There are many ways in which this training is helping me in my role at Delta-Therm and I’ll share some of what I am learning.
In every conference that I attend, we are asked to observe, and then reflect on our thought patterns, behaviors and habits. In this conference we spent a lot of time talking about "the good life", what it means to us and the people we are coaching.
I thought about the "good business life" and the people I know who have tried for a good business life, and for one reason or another, sadly came to the realization that they couldn’t learn one of the essential skills of their desired profession. Now like a tumbleweed, they move restlessly between jobs trying to find one that fits.
Others I know felt they would never meet their organizations’ expectations and fell into a permanent state of resentment. Why did people with so much ambition and talent out of the gate fail to cross the finish line to "the good life"?
After my son Djali entered middle school I saw a similar fate about to befall him. He entered middle school enthused to have a locker, and ready for the challenge of changing classrooms and having multiple teachers.
Within days he was "forgetting" homework and within weeks he was getting a D in math & science, subjects in which he previously received A’s. Surprisingly he received an A+ in English - a class he traditionally was a B student in. What was going on?
At his first parent/teacher conference, I met his English and math teachers. His English teacher told me that Djali was a bright student who needed support in learning how to coordinate his papers, books and schedule.
His Math teacher told me that Djali was a disorganized student who turned in incomplete work and needed to be held accountable for that.
After one particularly bad day, Djali broke down when he couldn’t find his math homework and talked about struggles with his locker combination, organization and getting to places on time. He was afraid that his math teacher would be disappointed in him again. It showed up in his slumped shoulders and crest fallen mood.
I reflected on how many times, like Djali’s math teacher, have I held someone "accountable" and expressed my disappointment in their performance? I saw how thought patterns translate into language and how language impacts moods, actions and outcomes. I reflected further on how I could better support people in myy organization to overcome obstacles that stand in their way.
Through coaching, I have discovered the power of extending my listening to the body, emotion and language of another person. I’m also using positive psychology and curiosity to remind myself to ask questions of the people with whom I work. Powerful questions help others think their way through problems and arrive at solutions.
I was relieved to find through some of my coaching classes a Stanford University study of Olympic athletes that concluded while it takes 300 repetitions to form muscle memory; it can take up to 10,000 hours of recurrent practice to master and embody a new skill.
I was so excited to share this news with Djali, "Six weeks into middle school and you’re a novice at time management, organizing your locker and meeting the expectations of different teachers. It takes practice and sometimes adults forget that." Normalizing his behavior took a lot of the sting out of the low grade.
We had more P/T meetings and by the end of 6th grade he was receiving the support he needed to succeed from both his English and math teacher. This year, he moved into the accelerated learning program.
How does all of this relate to managing? Through this experience, I learned about the very real responsibility that I have as a manager to support the people reporting to me to master their chosen profession.
Engaged employees perform at higher levels, reduce turnover, improve team work, and ultimately increase sales.