If you have been in management for any length of time, you've likely experienced how difficult it can be to actually train a team. In business, you are either growing or dying as no company can be set up with a cruise control. Growth happens only when managers and team members continuously work to improve both themselves and the processes they use.
So, what happens when a very smart manager comes up with a new concept and then sends it out to team leaders to implement the new program? Nine times out of ten that idea dies before it gets implemented.
Conceptual ideas rarely become actual actionable processes unless the lowest positioned person on the team understands and buys into the idea the upper management is trying to implement.
Years ago, a District Manager of mine shared a story he had heard as a young manager called the "Wheelbarrow Story". It goes a little something like this…
"There was once a huge bridge building company up north that oversaw all the new construction in their state. They had an employee named George whose only responsibility was to take larger rocks from a pile.He took these rocks, placed them in his wheelbarrow, and rolled them over to a conveyer belt that took them to the plant to be processed. Day in and day out George did his job and never complained.
After years of doing this and never hearing anything from managers or anyone else he got bored and started slacking off. A few days later George decided that his job had little importance and he would just take the day off and relax. Mid-afternoon the entire plant shut down as they no longer had rocks to process. The plant manager was named John and he drove out to see what was wrong and found George taking an extended break. John was taken back to see George sitting around when the entire plant had just shut down.
John asks George "Why are you just sitting around?" George explains, "My job is so boring and after years of working here I do not see the benefit of my job. All I do is haul rocks from the pile to the conveyor belt."
John could see that George did not see the bigger picture.John then said, "George you are the most important person I have working for me. We are in the business of building bridges and to do that we need lots of concrete. Our plant is the one that furnishes all the concrete to build these bridges. George, you are the first person in the process as the rocks you send down the conveyer are crushed into smaller stones that are used in the concrete mix. Without you doing your part the entire process breaks down."
George's entire expression changed as he learned the important part he played. He was not hauling rock he was an important part of a bridge building team."
The moral here is that, unless your team members understand their importance in the overall process, any idea you try to implement will break down. Every clerk, salesperson, etc needs to understand that they are representatives of your company and they impact what customers think about your business.
If you want to implement new ideas and have those ideas embraced at all levels you need to share with your employees how important they actually are and how their actions will impact the success of your company.
Training with analogies allow us to share stories that do a better job of explaining than just telling someone to do something. They help people understand an abstract concept in a more visual, realistic way and can often introduce new perspectives, and break down preconceived notions.
Not sure if teaching with analogies will work? The Bible has been around for at least 2000 years and the latter half of the Bible is full of analogies used to educate people. These stories helped to explain, clarify, and bring life to valuable lessons. If Jesus found analogies to be a useful teaching tool then they might just work for you as well.
Have you tried training with analogies? Let me know in the comments!