Learning Loud and Clear

Published On: February 6, 2016By Categories: Business Management, Editor’s Note

By Thad Plumley

There is no way hearing an air horn blared in a small meeting room could ever be construed as fun, but having it pierce your ears at 9 a.m. on a Monday morning might be a special version of cruel.

That, though, is what someone I met years ago used to do in Monday morning staff meetings. Incredibly, he did it in the name of professional development.

He stressed constant learning. He stressed improvement. He stressed his competitors are getting better, so his team must improve too.

So he made his salespeople give presentations every Monday in the full staff meeting. If a presenter had an unnecessary pause, drew a blank at the wrong time, said “Uhm,” or couldn’t answer a simple question—out came the air horn.

His philosophy was if you can’t give a polished presentation to your colleagues, there is no way you’re giving one with the pressure of wanting your audience to part with their hard-earned dollars.

Sound a bit crazy? Absolutely. But trust me, it worked. I heard one of his staff members give a presentation—very, very smooth.

His firm’s meetings also contained some form of learning for the entire team. Sometimes they would watch a webinar or short film or even have a speaker go over a variety of topics he thought would help his company get better.

He didn’t just stop there. When the presentation was over, he’d draw a name out of a hat and that employee had to provide a brief summary of the learning session. If they struggled? You guessed it—out came the air horn.

Always be learning. Always be getting better. Because your competitor is trying to do the same. That was his motto. Is it yours?

Why not?

Why not have a team member go over the presentation they give to a family considering a new water system? Why not throw a few questions their way?

Purchasers today have a wealth of information at their fingertips. Role play as the customer who knows just enough to be dangerous. Eventually every question you bring up will be asked in a real sales call. Your staff will be better by learning to answer them in advance.

Why not have employees take turns leading your safety meetings? There is no better way to ensure someone truly comprehends something than making them discuss it.

I’ve always valued continuing education. I will do a variety of things this year that hopefully enable me to do better for Water Well Journal. I may attend a conference, sit in on a webinar, or read a variety of books. But I will attempt to get better. My staff will too.

Fortunately for my team, though, I think we’ll do things sans air horn.

Thad PlumleyThad Plumley is the editor of WWJ and director of information products at the National Ground Water Association. He can be reached at tplumley@ngwa.org and on Twitter @WaterWellJournl.

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