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  • Kyle Brooksher

True Commitment and Training

One of the dysfunctions that Patrick Lencioni’s book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team identifies is a lack of commitment, where individuals on a team either do not commit to the shared goals and visions of the team, or they waver in their commitment over time.

True commitment has two parts: clarity and buy-in. In order to commit, members must: 1) be clear about what they are committing to as a whole and their individual role, and 2) fully buy in to following the vision and trying to achieve the goals. So, if you are trying to use strategic training to increase the functionality and health of your team, consider molding your training to focus on giving participants clarity and receiving buy-in from them.

1. Training for clarity

No matter the type of training, the style of the instructor, the subject matter or the delivery method, having a clear, well-communicated goal of training is vital. Your training needs clarity. No training can be effective if the instructor and learners do not have a clear understanding of what is being taught.

But training for clarity goes one step further. Not only do you need a clear purpose for the training, you need to give clear purpose to each learner. When you're planning to train for clarity, keep this question in mind: “When they leave the training, will each individual clearly understand what they're doing and how they're supposed to do it?” Training for clarity needs to focus not only on how specifically tasks are to be accomplished, but who is responsible for accomplishing which tasks. One of the subtlest functional team killers here is ambiguity.

One way to help prevent ambiguity in your training is to do a few dry runs of the training with a third party. Try to find someone who can look at the training objectively, and make sure they don’t know the goal of the training going in. Then, after the dry-run session, ask them to do their best to explain to you what they learned and what they think they are responsible to do. This exercise might take up valuable time, but the refinement it offers can be invaluable to the efficiency and effectiveness of your training.

2. Training for buy-in

Getting authentic buy-in during training can be difficult. Often, learners are so distracted by wanting to get back to work or move on with their day that they will offer false consensus to fit in with the group.

One way to help facilitate buy-in during training is to ask for input at the end of every section of training. Once you have covered enough material to have a group discussion, start one. If starting a conversation is difficult, consider asking easy yes-or-no questions to break the ice. Or ask low-risk questions like, “What’s one thing that we covered that seemed very obvious to you?” This helps learners get comfortable talking in the group without much to lose.

Then, move into more opinion-based questions to listen for any opposing thoughts or viewpoints. Be careful not to immediately shoot these down, but let the group discuss them. Let the person feel heard and that their opinion is valid. Then, when the time comes, use phrasing like, “I understand that [opposing opinion] may be a good way to go, but we are moving in this direction to [issue that needs buy-in], so we are looking for everyone to be on board.”

Then, once you feel comfortable that everyone’s opinion has been heard, be sure to ask for clear buy-in. If you get the sense that someone is agreeing just because everyone else is, follow up after the training with a one-on-one conversation. It takes only one person feigning commitment for dysfunction to start to seep into the rest of the team.

No matter what your goals, consider using your training to address the overall health of your team. This makes the value-add you bring exponentially greater, and can make your organization much more effective and efficient.

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