Performance is the primary objective of change, not change. Don’t ask folks to commit to attending headline or tweeting training. Instead, get folks to commit to specific performance results that depend on excellent headline writing or tweeting.
Here are four approaches to increase the odds folks make performance commitments:
- Hierarchy: Bosses can and should demand specific performance results from subordinates.
- Volunteers: Early adopters and other volunteers often embrace change. That’s great! But you need volunteers to commit to specific performance results, not to change.
- Teams: When teams commit to specific performance results, the individuals on those teams contribute to success or, over time, single themselves out as bad fits for the teams
- Exchange: Think for a moment of Weight Watchers. In exchange for specific weight loss goals (and money), Weight Watchers provide customers support and guidance of various sorts. You can do the same thing. In exchange for providing training, workshops, coaching and other resources and help, you can demand a ‘price’ – namely, individual and/or team commitments to specific performance results.
Specific performance results should be SMART outcomes, not activities. Activities are such things as ‘I commit to go to training.” SMART outcomes describe results or impacts that are:
- Aggressive yet achievable
- Relevant to the work at hand
Folks who commit to specific performance outcomes are more likely to take advantage of help. To increase their odds of success, you and your colleagues should also recognize that different folks learn differently.
For example, Joy Mayer and her team at University of Missouri, asked journalists to describe their preferred learning approaches. Here’s what was reported:
- Short text (like blog posts): 73 percent
- In-person events: 59.5 percent
- Social conversation (like Q&As): 45.9 percent
- Podcasts: 43.2 percent
- Long text (like reports or white papers): 35.1 percent
- Short videos: 35.1 percent
- Long videos (like webinars): 32.4 percent
- Games or quizzes: 2.7 percent
You and your colleagues should consider these and any other approaches. Indeed, think about the Table Stakes requirement to be audience-first. Well, when it comes to mastering the skills, attitudes, behaviors and working relationships mandated to be in today’s news and information game, journalists (and business side colleagues) are the audience for any effort aimed to help bridge gaps. The first requirement is to get these folks to commit to performance, not change. Once those performance commitments are in place, though, pay attention to your audience – your colleagues with skill gaps – and tailor help in ways that they need and want.