Thursday, December 4, 2014

Teaching a Pig to Sing

Yesterday I had a wonderful opportunity to talk with a group about doing a change presentation for their workforce. The management group is kind, enthusiastic and imaginative. Their hearts are in the right place and they are realistic enough to know one program won't get everyone on-board. They are just the type of folks you want to do business with.

The challenge is this: They are trying to teach a pig to sing.

I'm sure you know the old saying, "It's a waste of time trying to teach a pig to sing. It annoys the pig and frustrates you."

The group they want to create an experience for is a classic 20/60/20 group. Twenty percent of the folks will be all-in, good participants who will look for something to learn and will take something away from the session.

Sixty percent can go either way depending on everything from their attitude about work, their innate sense of curiosity, how they relate to their colleagues, what the weather is like or how tight their underwear might be...their up/down can come from anything.

The final twenty percent wouldn't get anything from the experience if you gave them a bonus to come to it and spoon fed the material to them. The bottom twenty percent is the essence of the pig, and the negative power they hold with the rest of the group will determine the success or failure of the effort.

So, why do it? Because the number of folks you can affect who are in the sixty percent block will determine whether or not you can improve the culture in the whole group...even a little. And, the folks leading the group are sincere about wanting to get better, to step ahead of mediocrity.

In a workplace in which about eighty percent of workers describe themselves as disengaged or actively disengaged (the sixty and bottom twenty percent) making an effort to improve the culture in ANY group--making it more positive, productive, happier--matters.

As my Aussie friends would say, "Good on'em!"

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