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Modeling Behavior
31 August 2007, by , in Data Management, 2 comments

The other day my two-year old daughter and I walked to our mailbox to mail a letter. The mailbox is about 50 yards from my house, and about halfway to the mailbox, my daughter took off running to the mailbox with the letter in her hand. I stopped and watched as she went to the mailbox, reached up on her tiptoes to open the mailbox, put the letter in, pushed the mailbox door closed, and went up on her tiptoes again to push the flag up. She turned to me, smiled, and ran back to where I was standing.

I was stunned. I had never seen that before and I began to wonder how she knew what to do. And then it struck me. Whenever we had mail to send, either my wife or I would walk down to the mailbox with her, and do exactly what she did. We had modeled the behavior for her, and now she was doing it on her own.

This is exactly what we need to be doing with our employees, whether it's for data management, or membership recruitment, or customer service. Far too often we believe that we can simply stick our employees in a training class and, voila, out comes a well-trained staffer who can do whatever it was we were training them to do. But can you imagine for one minute that my two-year old daughter could have done what she did if I had "trained" her to do it, rather than modeling the behavior.

Look around your organization. Are you simply training your employees, or are you modeling the behavior you expect from them?

About author:
  • Reminds me of the phrase used to describe med school, or medicine in general: Watch one, do one, teach one.

    There’s school, then there’s internship and residency. Is basically the old apprenticeship model, which has worked for hundreds of years for the really important stuff, like doctors and construction of buildings.

  • Wes Trochlil

    >>Watch one, do one, teach one.

    I like that, Edward. It’s also said that the best way to learn something is to teach it, which dovetails nicely with your phrase.

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“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

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National Association of Life Brokerage Agencies

“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan

Mary Pat Paris
International Registration Plan

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Western Arts Alliance

Tim Wilson
Western Arts Alliance
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