A Salient Lesson

I was reminded yesterday (Sunday) that the management stuff we train really works… and my lesson came from an unexpected source.

Yesterday was a nice day – the sun was shining and it was warm; birds were singing in the late summer sky and a soft breeze cooled us nicely as it wandered across the fields and played in the branches of the trees…

Sorry, enough of the Mills and Boon!

It was a nice day and my two children and I were out for a bike ride.

We’d been biking for a couple of hours and were on our way home. My daughter (who’s twelve) had cycled ahead quite a long way – I guess she was three hundred metres in front of us, now that we’re all metric. She stopped to wait for us but my son (who’s nine) was complaining that his legs ached and he couldn’t go another metre!

Without thinking I said that when we reached my daughter we could rest and even get an ice cream.

The words were like magic and my boy was galvanised into action. He sprinted ahead, cycling faster than he had before and we made it to where my daughter was waiting in double quick time.

What happened?

Exactly what we talk about on our management programmes when we discuss motivation. We knew our long term goal – to get home. But in order to get there we split the bigger goal up into smaller, more manageable chunks – we set an interim target.

The effect was to enhance performance in striving to reach the target and the interim reward that was on offer (in this case, an ice cream!)

In terms of good management, in Enterprise Britain it’s exactly the same. Setting long term goals is vitally important for the direction of the business, but achieving this big picture is dependent on setting the right interim targets and then managing your people towards them.

It’s a real management skill and it’s not easy to achieve the balance between understanding the overall direction and planning a route to get there. It’s doubly important in EB as we strive to get the most from our teams.

For me the point was re-enforced in a way I didn’t expect, but nevertheless it was a lesson I’ve re-learned very well. The first task today was to make sure there were interim targets with testing timelines in order to enhance performance of the team.

Management training… brilliant!

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