The First Step Is the Hardest

Getting started is sometimes the hardest part of a project, particularly if it’s not a project that your job requires you to do – something like cleaning the garage. The project may seem daunting because of the sheer scope, or it may require tedious attention to detail, or mind-numbing repetition. Whatever it is, you never start it, always finding something else to do. Sometimes it’s a project that must get done at some point, like doing your taxes. You can’t put that off forever. So how do you get started?

One good way to get started on a project like that is to break the project down into manageable chunks. If the project will take multiple days or weekends to complete, then make the first day of the project an easy day of planning and arranging the following days of the project. Once you’ve committed to getting started, then it’s easier to keep the ball rolling as the project continues. It’s the momentum theory of projects – projects in motion tend to stay in motion, projects standing still tend to remain still.

If the project requires a long stretch of uninterrupted time, then block off the time early and let everyone know so they can plan around your absence. Often starting a project like this is put off repeatedly because you feel like you won’t have time to get it done. If you’ve blocked off the time, and let others know, then you’ve committed to the project and it won’t be as easy to convince yourself that you can do it another time.

The first step is the hardest, but when you commit to start, you’ve made starting the project much easier. Ironically, once the project is started, you most likely will find that it wasn’t as daunting as you thought it would be. Furthermore, once it’s completed, you’ll feel great about having the project put behind you. It’s a win-win scenario. So get started today on that long past-due project.

Make Learning a Priority Among Employees at Your Organization

In today’s hectic time-constrained world, training is often considered a distraction rather than a chance to grow and expand one’s skills and competencies. Ironically, the issues that partially contribute to the demands on workers’ time might be alleviated with some quality Time Management training. So the dilemma is ‘how do we get workers to desire to be trained?’ We have put together some ideas that may help to break down the barriers to a well-trained workforce.

Start Small

If allocating days or weeks off for individuals is an issue preventing your workforce from getting the appropriate training, then start with small group lunch sessions. Provide a lunch and trainer or on-demand webinar that you can stream in a meeting room. Your employees will appreciate the free lunch, so you’ve already begun to break down the barriers to acceptance. The training session will seem more like an opportunity than a duty. The topic should be fairly light-weight but relevant. If you have a speaker, encourage them to stop and elicit participation throughout the training to keep the audience from focusing too much on their lunch. If you are streaming a webinar, you may pause and ask for input as important items are brought up.

Buy-in at Higher Levels

Little can dampen an employee’s motivation more than his manager’s attitude. If the people managers in your organization don’t understand and convey the importance of a well-trained workforce, you won’t succeed in pushing your training initiatives. Managers can fall into the same ‘performance rut’ that employees do. If a manager’s team isn’t providing results on a daily basis, he may feel that it reflects on his own performance. The result is a manager that balks at sending away an employee or group of employees away for a training session.

Upper level management must reinforce the notion that training is good even if it temporarily puts the workflow on hold. Long-term benefits of a well-trained workforce must be emphasized rather than focusing on short-term results from workflow slowdowns associated with employee absences. Once managers have the support of their superiors, they will be more open to allowing their team members to attend training sessions.

Reward vs. Penalty

The concept of reward vs penalty is more of a mindset than an action that can be taken. This can be illustrated by the way employees look at performance reviews. Some view them as a time to sit through a session of criticism from the manager. Others view it as a time to reflect on how they have performed over the last period and plan to improve over the next. Obviously, there is a place for constructive criticism, but if the overall tone of performance reviews is on improvement, then the idea of providing training to bring about that improvement will be more readily received.

Tangible Results

Many industries and occupations require continual re-certification – CPA’s, nurses, attorneys, etc. These employees already benefit from continuous learning, and view training as an ongoing integral part of their careers. Their jobs depend on their participation in these training programs – no re-certification, no job in some cases. So the tangible result of these careers’ requirements is certification, licenses, etc.

Point out to your workforce the opportunities that are available to then in the form of certifications or other acknowledgements. There are Project Management certification, thousands of IT related certifications, Six Sigma certifications, and many, many more. Your organization can even develop your own certification schedule as it relates to your employees and company’s industry. Encourage your employees to seek out certification as a means to grow within the company and in their professional life.

As you work to develop an environment that is accepting and encouraging to ongoing learning, you’ll find that your corporate culture will change. As your employees become more productive and knowledgeable, their outlook will improve.