Good Role Models

“People seldom improve when they have no other model but themselves to copy.”

– Oliver Goldsmith

Many years ago, I heard one of my mentors say something similar:  “Teachers teach as they were taught.”  We are all the result of the sum of our experience.  If our life / business experiences have been narrow or limited in scope, then, predictably, that is how we will lead, sell, conduct meetings, communicate, etc.  If you – as the employer or manager – are not getting the desired results from your staff despite your best efforts, then I have a suggestion for you:

Invest in your employees.  Broaden their experiences.  Expose them to good role models.  Bring in some qualified outside training programs.  Send your employees to professional association meetings – you'd be surprised how many are close to home.  Set up a book club / discussion group.  In short, try different approaches until you find something that starts to work.  Just do not continue with the “same old, same old” systems and expect different results – that is the definition of “insanity!”

At many of the association meetings that I attend, we often hear, “If you bring back just one idea from this conference and implement it in your store, you have more than covered the costs of this trip.”  How true.  Of course, getting the one idea is the easy part.  Actually implementing it in your store requires real work – dedication and leadership.

One tip that I have been using with success this year:   I delay my first day back to office work.  That means that if I fly home from a conference on Sunday, I act as though I am still at the conference on Monday.  I use that day to “wrap up” the ideas that I gained at the conference.  I enter new contacts into my database, I write notes and send emails to the people that I met at the conference.  I set up my action plan for actually implementing the ideas that I want to put to work.

On my first day (physically) back from the conference, I completely resist the temptation to:

1) Open the mail that accumulated during my time away at the conference.

2) Respond to any message or email that is not time-sensitive.

3) Get back into “office mode.”

This small change has helped me to start to achieve much more – the real reason that I wanted to go to the conference in the first place.  I recommend that you take some small amount of time (maybe it is only a few hours) to finish up what you started at the conference before throwing yourself back into the “day-to-day” routines.  An added benefit – it gives your staff some extra time to actually make decisions on their own.

Make your return to work special – set up a time to share the ideas and information that you gathered at the conference with your staff.  Try, as much as possible, to have them “feel what it was like” at the conference – share pictures, autographs, etc.  Make it special.  This is especially important if you sent some of your employees to a conference or training session – have them share what the y learned or experienced with you and the rest of the staff. 

Turn your business into a seat of continuous learning.  Set up the models that you want your staff to emulate or be inspired by.  And don't forget to include yourself – everyone can benefit from a “kick in the pants” now and then!

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