Modeling Behavior

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 Wes Trochlil

For over 30 years, Wes has worked in and with dozens of associations and membership organizations throughout the US, ranging in size from zero staff (all-volunteer) to over 700. In that time Wes has provided a range of consulting services, from general consulting on data management issues to full-scale, association-wide selection and implementation of association management systems.

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