Making Time for Practice
If you were coaching a MLB team in the World Series, would you ever ask your team to show up without practicing first?
Chances are you answered with a strong no.
In the world of sports, game day is a very small portion of how time is spent. The day-to-day work is really done in practice. Business is the opposite. Most of the team’s time is spent and work is done during the game. And very little time is spent in practice.
Practice in an agency is often left to what you can learn on the job, but in reality, this can be an inefficient way to grow and develop skills. Practicing on the job creates a hurried environment. You might get through the task at hand, but are you able to see how you can get better? Are you able to see missed opportunities and mistakes to correct for future opportunities?
Most agencies understand that practice is important. They get and understand the need for their team to grow and develop skills, but how? And more importantly when?
Here are three simple ways to change how your team practices:
- Role Play – in sports you practice batting, routes, moves, and different plays over and over again until they become natural. They become so ingrained in your mind and body that you react instinctively on the field. You know where you’re supposed to be, what you’re supposed to accomplish, and how to get there.
Many people dislike role play, but it’s a good practice tool to add to your meetings and day-to-day work.
Got a new campaign? Role play how you’ll introduce it to clients.
Encounter a frustrated customer? Role play how to handle it in the future.
Want to improve sales? Role play how to handle objections.
Chances are you talk about what to do and how to handle issues. Which is a great first step, but the practice that comes with role playing is invaluable. You learn more. You memorize the actions you need to take. It becomes more natural.
Challenge: Encourage every team member to pick one skill to develop this week. Then spend just 10 minutes each week role playing a scenario that deals with that skill.
- Audits – Watch the tapes. Again, this is a form of practice that can push comfort zones. Watching a tape or listening to an audio recording of yourself isn’t often “fun.” The first few times are uncomfortable, but over time it becomes a norm and the team gets used to doing it.
However, it is a great way to take a step back from what you think you are doing and see what you’re actually doing. It allows you to look at the big picture. What opportunities were missed? What was done well? How might the outcome be different if you’d done it another way?
Challenge: At least monthly have each team member record a conversation or meeting and do an audit by having another team member give feedback.
- Invest in Trainings – You don’t have to reinvent the wheel! There are many resources out there that will challenge your team to think differently and to apply new skills to their day-to-day work.
○Have your team read and practice take-a-ways from a book around a particular skill set.
○Pick one article each month to discuss and practice in a team meeting. (We have a whole library for you)
○Invest in trainings by third parties. Our Inspired Action Series provides bite sized training series that focus on sales, service, and management.
Challenge: At least twice a year invest in your team. Encourage them to find and take classes or trainings that will help them develop their skillset.