Workplace Culture

Good Leaders Can Redefine Training to Help Transform Workplace Culture

By Jason Forrest

Dec. 4, 2017

Only a handful of children will make a varsity team without an involved cheerleader in their lives spurring them on and driving accountability. You’ll likely never see a child make it to the Olympics without a parental figure taking an active role in their training.

training and development by good leaders
An employee’s perception of their company’s culture is directly connected to how engaged their direct manager is in their training.

The same is true of employees. Gallup says that 70 percent of employee engagement is due to the “manager effect.” An employee’s perception of their company’s culture is directly connected to how engaged their direct manager is in their training.

The best training companies feel strongly about assertive, supportive coaches walking alongside employees to unleash human performance in order to redefine training, transform culture and change lives.

The New England Patriots pulled off one of the all-time great comebacks in sport when they turned a 28-3 second-half deficit into a 34-28 overtime win in the 2017 Super Bowl. Some teams might’ve mentally given up trailing by 25 points with less than 20 minutes to play, but the Patriots focused on what they’d done well to that point and tried to amplify that message on the sideline.

Instead of getting down on themselves, they realized that the offense was producing a lot of yards but was misfiring on a few key plays. They focused on those positive behaviors and kept morale up on the sideline by constantly harping on empowering themselves to acknowledge the big successes and fix the small things. As a result, they felt equipped to succeed because they weren’t browbeaten by their failures.

The Patriots’ positive mentality won them the ultimate prize at the end of the day. A proactive training company can equip leadership with these kinds of tools.

Modeling Behaviors

Wealthy people have a habit of learning from other wealthy people. Warren Cassell Jr. is a 15-year-old entrepreneur and published author. He achieved success in such a short time by studying the wealthiest people who ever lived, and executing what they did.

Are the internal and external trainers in your company following what the best do? Are they people who’ve achieved high levels of success, even when the market and circumstances were against them?

A vice president of sales called me and said she was recently looking at different training options for her sales team. I discovered that a few years ago her company hired a sales trainer, and after a year of training she’d seen no real change within her team.

The trainer they hired had been a sales professional and won several awards, but she’d never sold in her team’s tough Midwest market. The trainer couldn’t relate to the down market or overcome the objections sales professionals received. The trainer hadn’t been forced to follow the processes of the truly great sales professionals, so he didn’t. Modeling the right behaviors and beliefs is paramount to success and a key driver to a training company that can change your paradigm.

You’ve heard a strong team is only as successful as its weakest link, but putting that ideology into practice with tangible steps is key to a healthy workplace. And one way to assure the pace never slackens is pairing struggling employees with high-performing leaders to squeeze the most out of their performance.

In their bestselling book “Extreme Ownership,” retired Navy SEALs Leif Babin and Jocko Willink write about the importance of accountability and how it can open leaders and employees alike up to new plateaus of success. In one story, Babin tells of an occasion during SEALs Hell Week when the trainees were split into teams for boat races.

Babin noticed Team 2 won every race, while Team 6 consistently finished last. Team 6 constantly fought amongst itself, playing the blame game and complaining about anything and everything. To fix the problem, the training instructor switched the leaders between the two teams, and Team 6 won the very next race. A motivating leader is invaluable, and a training company should provide ways for your management to have a Team 2 mentality.

Traveling a Different Path

When Glenn Kelman took over as CEO at online brokerage firm Redfin in 2006, the disruption the company’s vision caused the home-buying industry took its toll. While Redfin succeeded in its mission to essentially refund buyers 66 percent of the traditional 6 percent fee real estate agents usually charge, selling agents fought back by blacklisting Redfin and refusing to sell to its agents for undercutting their typical profit.

Kelman’s initial reaction was to hide behind shame, but Redfin quickly pivoted to the offensive. They began using their blog to offer self-deprecating critiques on the industry as well as Redfin’s own business practices, and Kelman even used it to mock himself.

This made some in the industry nervous, but the public loved the transparency and vulnerability, and in 2016, 10 years later, Redfin posted $200 million in revenue. Employees and clients alike love it when companies acknowledge and own their whole journey, warts and all.

Jason Forrest is CEO and chief culture officer at Forrest Performance Group. Comment below or email

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