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  • Tom Matthews

Only Perfect Practice Makes Perfect

Most of us (including me!) use the phrase Practice Makes Perfect. I have learned that this is not good enough. There are two main problems with Practice Makes Perfect.

  1. It leads to mediocrity. Do you have staff that are consistently getting a bad result when performing a task? Most of the time this staff member does not have a teaching system that helps them get better. You will never be great if you learn things by figuring them out. You need training.

  2. Practice make perfect does not demand a feedback system. Do you know (no guessing allowed) what your sales person win ratio is? Do you get feedback on every sale that was lost? How do you get better if you don’t know.

If you change Practice Makes Perfect to Perfect Practice Makes Perfect, you will improve the results of your organization by leaps and bounds.

Let’s look at a simple example. The air squat is one of the most effective and valuable total body exercises you can perform. It is also the one done wrong most often. Without proper instruction, without coaching, without feedback you will never perform this squat perfectly. Add in the coaching and feedback (perfect practice) and you will be doing squats perfectly – and reaping the rewards without injury.

Small business owners normally do not have the time or mindset to help their staff with perfect practice. We are always well intentioned and may even put forth some effort to upgrade training. Then something else comes up and this is moved to the back burner.

Here are some interesting stats:

  • Productivity improves by over 20% in organizations with connected employees (Source: The McKinsey Global Institute).

  • Employees who exercise their strengths on a daily basis are 8% more productive and 6 times more likely to be engaged (Source: Gallup).

  • Work overload decreases productivity by 68% in employees who feel they don’t have enough hours in the day to complete their taxes (Source: Cornerstone).

Most of us would agree that each of us could have better training and better feedback. The question is how can we get this done given our hectic schedule.

Gino Wickman’s Entrepreneurial Operating System does a great job describing the process a company should go through to make them great. If is from his book Traction. Wickman’s company trains people to implement his system. I was talking to one of the implementers describing this problem. His first answer is implement EOS. Short of doing that, we came up with this plan:

  • We will implement EOS Light.

  • The business owner can be the manager of this process but it would be better having his/her number 1 person do this. Better accountability.

  • The company has three separate areas: Sales, Operations and Finance. The top person in each of these areas should identify the 10 most important things to improve/fix through SOP’s, training and a feedback system.

  • The team of three plus the owner or his top person should meet and agree the items to be worked on and the priority from most important to least important.

  • Each team leader has 90 days to create and implement 2-4 of the items on their list (In the EOS language, these are called “Rocks.”)

  • At the end of 90 days, meet again, review and update the list for the next 90 days.

  • Repeat every quarter

There are many benefits to this process. It is not overwhelming and yet your company will be much better (higher productivity, better profits) in a year. That’s because we will have implemented 24 to 48 new training and feedback systems.

Here is a link to Gino Wickman’s book. It is a great read.

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