Monthly Archives: September 2021

Conscious Incompetence

conscious competence

Get a return on your investment in training by helping people move up the Conscious Competence Learning Model

Have you ever had the task of changing the behaviour of one of your team members who thinks they know it all? I think we’ve all encountered such people who are blissfully unaware of their lack of competence. This is when we need to create conscious incompetence.

.I’m sure you’re already familiar with the Conscious Competence Learning Model.

These are the four stages people go through when they are learning something new.

The learner always begins at stage 1 – ‘unconscious incompetence’, and ends at stage 4 – ‘unconscious competence’, having passed through stage 2 – ‘conscious incompetence’ and – 3 ‘conscious competence’.

It’s not possible to jump stages, so when helping people learn something new we need to help them to get to the next stage.

When I’m working with clients to develop management, training or customer service skills there is often an assumption the people I’m working with are already at stage 2. In other words it’s assumed that they already recognise any shortfalls and the need for change or development.

But sadly they’re often still at stage 1 – unconscious incompetence – and not yet aware of any need to develop a new skill or behaviour. Trying to teach somebody something new from this point is a key reason so much training fails!

For anyone to learn something new or change their behaviour there needs to be some motivation to do so. Particularly when it requires some effort on their part. Without that recognition they will not be receptive to learning and the barriers will go up thinking “this doesn’t apply to me”.

In some instances people may previously have been at other levels but have regressed to an unconscious incompetence over a period of time.

From conscious incompetence they may simply have forgotten what is involved.

From conscious competence they may just have got rusty through lack of practice.

Or from a position of unconscious competence they’ve been doing it so long they’ve picked up bad habits. (I think here as an example of many people whose driving skills have lapsed into something verging on dangerous simply because they’ve picked up poor driving habits without being conscious of how bad the driving really is!)

This can present a challenge for us at times, as to undo a bad habit and replace it with a new habit can be more difficult than creating new habits from scratch.

 

Moving from stage 1 to stage 2 ~ Conscious Incompetence

So how do we move somebody from a level of unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence?

If somebody believes they’re already doing something well this can be a sensitive area (who ever likes to have their driving criticised?!)

One (potentially risky) way of doing this is waiting for something to go wrong. And this is often what is used to prompt training. For example, in the case customer service training it might be after a customer has received poor service and complained, or in the case of management skills it might be when a manager fails to get the response he expects from a team member.

It helps knowing the outcome or standard you’re aiming for, then comparing this with the employee’s level of performance. (Of course we must recognise this isn’t necessarily always a training need; it could be a number of other reasons which I’ll comment on another time. But let’s assume this time it is)

So by now we recognise a learning need, but maybe the individual doesn’t. We shouldn’t assume the employee recognises that shortfall; they need feedback to highlight the gap.

It might be advisable at this point want to steer away from the language used in the model; being told you are incompetent in a task is hardly likely to motivate or engage an employee!

The learner might now be conscious of their ‘incompetence’ or training need but still needs to be motivated to do something about it. This might be created by highlighting its relevance to their role and why it’s important.

But so often this focuses on why it’s important to the business and not what’s relevant to the individual. So focus on what’s in it for them, and of course this could vary from person to person depending on what’s important to the individual.

The better the person understands the training need prior to any tuition, coaching or training beginning the more enthusiastic they will be to even turn up for the training.

The greater the awareness or consciousness of their incompetence the more receptive they will be to learning, development and change, and the quicker they’ll move to a level of conscious competence and ultimately your goal of unconscious competence.

Video

Breaking old habits

Making change when people believe they do this already

How to move beyond conscious competence


Engaging your team

Engaging your team

Have you sussed what makes them tick?

I had some lovely feedback last week from one of my clients relating to a development programme I’m running for his management team. He was referring to some actions taken from the programme and on this occasion it related to finding out what’s important.

Too many managers waste time trying to work out for themselves what motivates people in their team.

But the answer’s quite simple.

Why

Before I talk about how, let’s understand why; why it’s important for you to understand what’s important to your team members.  When you know what’s important to someone about their work, it enables you to ‘manage’ them in a way that helps them feel valued.

Finding out about what people value outside work as well as in work can be a real insight too.

When you know what’s important to someone outside work you’re in a much better position to allocate tasks that will resonate and engage that person. By looking at the attributes and skills that are needed in those situations that could be applied in the workplace. What people get involved in outside work can give you an inkling as to where their strengths lie.

For example, if they demonstrate a creative streak, do they get involved with highly competitive sports or activities, do they have a role of helping the community, supporting and caring.

Rather than making everybody mediocre at everything they do, why not tap into those strengths, talents and passions so they excel in specific areas, and work as a team to bridge the gaps in individuals’ abilities or interests?

Of course, it’s not always be practical or possible, but if you aim to do this wherever you can you’ll soon see your team members engaging more with their work and get the best from them.

Ask the question

One of the exercises I often do as an ice breaker is to get people either talking about or even drawing images of an accolade or something they’re proud of, be that in or out of work and something recent or from years back.  Just by getting them talking about these makes people feel good, as well as helping me get an insight into what’s important to them. This is a great activity to run in a group setting as team mates also see what’s important and often they’ll discover common interests with their colleagues, which help bring them together.

I also do a variation of this with managers asking them to draw their idea of motivation and engagement. Nine times out of ten I get a £, and invariably I get drawings of trophies, and winning, but what’s also interesting is the variety of other ideas and themes that go up too. Pictures of families and friends, trees and mountains, of sporting activities, to name but a few.

Money, money, money

Everyone assumes money is a key motivator. There’s no denying it’s important; I’m sure none of us would work as hard as we do – if at all – if we weren’t getting paid for it. But does it really motivate or engage people? No. But taking it away will definitely leave people demotivated and disengaged.

So messing up their overtime, delaying their pay review, challenging legitimate expenses, or passing them over for promotion without being given a chance will all inevitably have a negative impact. In the same way as any other ‘hygiene factors’ such as safe working conditions, giving them the right tools and resources for the job, avoiding too much red tape.

No one is going to say “wow” when you provide them, but oh boy, will they notice when you take them away.

Are we any different?

When working with managers I often ask them to list the things that motivate and engage them. Then to think about the most challenging team member and write list of what they believe motivates and engages that person.

The first thing of note is that invariably these lists look very different. Why is it that challenge, achievement and personal development often feature on the first list but not the second? And money, job security and making the job easy often feature on the second list but not on the first.

I then go on to ask which one of the lists they think is most accurate. Of course it’s their own! Because nine times out of 10 the manager hasn’t ever asked the question nor had a discussion on what’s important to that person. It’s all based on assumption and perceptions, and sadly these are so often way off the mark.

So is it any wonder then that it’s easy to end up with a disengaged team if we don’t know what will engage them?

Ask the question

Finding out what’s important to people might start at the interview, and can be built upon during one-to-one reviews, informal discussions and meetings.

Being overly direct and asking ‘what motivates you?’ might not get you the information you’re looking for. So reframe the question, to make it more conversational, such as asking what they enjoy about certain tasks and why; how they feel about particular aspects of their job, what they’ve been most proud, or recent achievements at work. Conversely ask about the things that disappoint or frustrate them, and what they’d change if they could.

Ask casually about how their weekend was or what they have planned for the evening ahead or their day off, and show an interest in what they get up to outside of work.

Take action

So, stop trying to suss out for yourself what makes your team members tick. Ask them!

Related content

How important is happiness at work

Understanding your team video



More than just a headache

employees with migraine

Trusting your team when sick

I know I’ve talked about trust many times before, and that it’s two-way; if you want your team to trust you, you need to demonstrate your trust in them.

Today I want to talk about a very specific example. Believing them when they phone in sick.

This week is migraine awareness week, and so I thought I’d share my own experiences of how this has been treated with suspicion by my employers and the impact that’s had on me.

Migraine affects 1 in 5 of the population and every day in the UK 190,000 suffer a migraine attack. The World Health Organisation ranks it as one of the 20 most disabling conditions, however it is the least publicly funded neurological illness relative to its economic impact (it costs the UK economy in the region of £7 billion).

My migraine hell started in my early teens and I remember whilst at university some of my fellow students reporting that they thought I was dying when they first saw me with a migraine attack.

Mercifully when I was working in Florida for 14 months I can only recall one migraine attack; maybe I was just a little bit more relaxed while I was there. Frustratingly the one attack I did have was when I was visiting friends and I certainly wasn’t fit to drive home and missed work the next day. My boss simply could not comprehend that a ‘headache’ could prevent me from getting to work.

Then as I moved into management positions initially my migraine attacks became more frequent. Although I had a certain amount of empathy from the company I always felt that there was an element of suspicion that my ailments weren’t genuine. A consultation with the company doctor at the time confirmed this as “classical migraine” and from then on in my colleagues were a little more understanding.

If you have friends or family who suffer from migraine you’re probably already aware of just how debilitating it can be. But if you’re an employer and it affects someone’s reliability and quality of their work you may not be quite so understanding. Migraine is not simply a headache, and pumping yourself up with painkillers does nothing to alleviate the symptoms, and in fact in many cases can make things worse, especially nausea and sickness.

Talk to your employee about any known triggers to a migraine attack. Quite often it might be a combination of triggers that bring on an attack rather than just one. In my own case there are a few things that I am wary of, and in the past as an employee it could sometimes be difficult to avoid without letting others down. Of course the net result is you let them down any way if you then end up being ill.

Here are a few triggers that I’m aware of which can crop up in the workplace:

  • Low blood sugar, made worse by skipping or working through the lunch break
  • Dehydration, so not having access to water
  • Interruption to sleep patterns, so made worse by shift patterns, for example working a late shift followed by an early shift
  • Extremes of temperatures, e.g. Overheating in stuffy rooms or hot kitchens
  • Changes in barometric pressure or weather and/or extreme cold temperatures
  • Flickering lights
  • Undue stress or worry, which is often okay until people relax and then the migraine hits and on the first day of their holiday or at a weekend, so they come back to work feeling as though they’ve never had a break.

If you have employees with migraine and they have not sought professional help, then do them (and yourself) a favour and refer them to the Migraine Centre. More details below.

Extent of the Problem of Migraine

  • Every day in the UK 190,000 suffer a migraine attack
  • 90,000 in the UK miss school/work every day because of migraine
  • Migraine affects 1 in 5 of the population
  • Migraine is most common between the ages of 30-50, and in women.
  • More than ¾ of sufferers report that their activities are limited by their condition
  • Most sufferers say migraine interferes with family and social relationships
  • Migraine is more common than diabetes, epilepsy and asthma combined
  • The World Health Organisation ranks migraine as one of the 20most disabling conditions.
  • 1 in 3 neurologist referrals are for headache
  • Migraine is the least publicly funded neurological illness relative to its economic impact
  • Over ⅓ of sufferers face difficulties and discrimination at work because of their migraines
  • Less than half of migraine patients consult a physician

National Migraine Centre has for 40 years provided treatment to sufferers of migraine and cluster headache as well as education to healthcare professionals. Patients can self-refer and are asked to donate towards the cost of their appointment as the Clinic receives no government funding. The clinic is based in London and open to those from all over the UK, however hopes to setup outreach clinics in the future to improve accessibility for sufferers around the country.

Migraine treatment has come a long way in the last ten years, but recent developments show there is more that can be done. The current approach is for treatment that targets the head (as opposed to the whole body with drugs). These treatments include; Greater Occipital nerve block injections, Botox injections (recently approved by NICE – The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, and due to be offered by the NHS from mid September), and handheld devices giving electrical or magnetic stimulation of the brain.

For information regarding the charity and its work:

National Migraine Centre. 1st Floor Citibase Millbank Tower, 21-24 Millbank, London, SW1P 4QP.

Website: www.NationalMigraineCentre.org.uk Registered Charity no 1115935.

The example here is for migraine, but the same principles apply to many forms of sickness, particularly if it’s not a form of sickness you fully understand, for example mental illness. If you’ve never experienced it yourself, take time to listen, to understand, and then make your judgement, but not before. Very few employees deliberately fake illness, so don’t treat them as if they do.

Remember it’s all down to demonstrating your trust in them.