Culture can be remarkably fragile: it evolves and changes over time, responding to external stimuli and internal pressure. High performance cultures, especially sales cultures, can appear to be very robust, can appear to be very static, no nonsense and inflexible to change, but that may well be because we’re pulling the wrong levers.
Working with high performers can require a nuanced approach: driving engagement through relevance of material, time efficiency of training, appropriate reward and pragmatism. We certainly have to recognise the everyday reality of the learner: we need to take into account the pressures and drivers that shape current culture, that drive (or fail to deliver) performance.
It can be hard to drive change in these groups, but if that’s the case we need to resist the temptation to blame the learning culture or the group themselves: the first place we need to look is at the training we are providing. Are we telling the right story? Are we using the right tone of voice? Are we telling a story that the organisation wants to tell, or one that the learners want to hear, and how do we match those two up?
The key is engagement: the right story, the right voice, the right timing and the right reward. Within the story we have to be demonstrating clearly the expectations and making clear the reward. High performance cultures may be resistant to change, but that may be because they are extremely good at adapting, not that they are static. They have simply adapted to maximise return within the current framework.
Sustaining change within high performing cultures means retaining relevance: this can be about ongoing professional development and partnership, which is where mentoring and establishing professional communities of practice can be effective.
I’m presenting a session next week on the use of mobile learning to create and sustain high performance cultures, so it’s very much on my mind. One thing i know for sure is that simply pushing compliance courses out to these people’s BlackBerry’s is not the answer. We need pragmatic, clear approaches that deliver real benefit to both learners and the organisation. That’s the only way to get engagement.