The Fire Has Been Put Out

“So, what do you think was missing?” I asked.

Jamie was retracing the steps of her company’s Quality Circles program. There was nothing wrong with the program. It was clearly designed to bring out the best in her people. It had short term results, but, in spite of a great deal of up-front planning and expense, the program experienced an early death.

“You are suggesting,” Jamie began, “that we did our front end work well, but we were missing something on the back end?”

I nodded. “One primary function of a manager is to influence behavior. Indeed, to influence behavior, we spend a lot of time in meetings, developing programs, teaching, training, writing manuals. We spend a lot of time up front, trying to influence behavior.”

It was Jamie’s turn to nod. I continued. “While those things we do up front do have an influence, most behavior is not prompted by what comes before but by the consequences that happen after. As Managers, we spend a lot of time training. We see the behavior performed well in the training room, but a week later, nothing has changed on the floor. The fire has been put out, the behavior has been extinguished.” -TF

2 thoughts on “The Fire Has Been Put Out

  1. Mukul Gupta

    I do agree that behavior is determined by consequences. I see that I have not done enough (or anything) to enforce the good behaviour which is expected to flow after the programs has been implemented. But, I am still clueless about how to do it 🙁

  2. Mike T K

    One key is to not try to do too much at once. There was a great clip from the movie City Slickers where the hero hears sage wisdom that he needs to find his “one thing”. The following link has the clip and describes how this applies to putting training or tips you’ve read into action…one at a time. Often you have to narrow things down to be able to focus and make meaningful changes. Hope you’ll enjoy the clip and tips.


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