Any golfers out there? I changed my golf swing the other day. It’s now great on the driving range but I’m keen to see what happens in competition when I come under pressure. Will the new approach stand up or will I revert back to my old habits?
It’s like that with change in people’s careers. You start a new job, for example, and you have a brief window to reinvent yourself, to lose any poor practices, drop your baggage and avoid repeating previous mistakes. You have a chance to rebrand yourself, forge new relationships and to grow into the role you fought for at interview.
After the first few weeks, the pressure mounts. You need to deliver, you need to show that you can actually do what you were hired to do. It’s easy to slip back into your old ways now. How can you keep your new swing, so to speak?
It’s the same with delegates on business courses and starry eyed, fired-up conference attendees. The initial enthusiasm is present along with the desire to make a change. But back at the ranch it’s a different story and the delegate folder gets archived on the office shelf.
The issue with many people who look to make personal change or improvement in their business behaviour is often not about awareness or discovery of the issue at hand, nor is it about ownership or intention to change - it’s more about taking action and sustaining it. So, you need to integrate the new behaviour into your repertoire so it becomes second nature.
In sport, this process often manifests itself as some kind of personal training programme that complements earlier sessions with an expert coach - rather like my golf pro working to ingrain the new swing pattern. In business and career change, there needs to be the equivalent of this kind of programme to ensure sustained changes take place. Maybe all it needs is commitment and practice - but how many delegates fresh out of an inspiring business seminar think about it this way? Or how many new starters taking on greater responsibilities with new companies will think about their new personae, practising and rehearsing various business scenarios in advance, evaluating how their new ‘brand’ is working and adjusting behaviour accordingly. Not many, I would guess.