A Little Friction in Training is Good

Posted by Jonathan DeVore

Did you know that if you leave gasoline in a power washer too long, your power washer may not start?

Doesn't matter that the power washer is brand new. Doesn't matter that you spent over $300 on it. If gasoline is left in the tank for a few months, a chemical reaction happens inside that results in a power washer that won't start.

Want to know how I learned that? Because I now own a power washer that doesn't start.

This is a life lesson that I won't soon forget. Not because I saw a video. Not because a friend explained it to me in a fun, interesting way. But because I felt the pain of something breaking, and I now have to deal with the consequences of my actions.

It isn't fun to take it to the shop to get it fixed. It isn't fun to get notices from my HOA saying I have mold on the side of my house (that I can't get off because my power washer won't start). The good news is that these unfun things happening to me are fantastic teachers.

The unfun things are called friction. And friction creates some wonderful learning opportunities. 

Spraining my ankle while doing a backflip on a trampoline taught me that I need to jump higher before flipping around. Losing everything when a computer crashed taught my friend to invest in backup software. Not getting dessert because dinner wasn't touched taught my daughter to eat at least five bites.

Consequences exist so we can learn from them. Above, I've highlighted mostly bad consequences. But we can learn from good consequences as well. And we can also learn the wrong lessons from consequences ("I nailed that presentation by just winging it--I don't ever have to rehease!" or "She broke my heart--I'm never falling in love again!"). But without consequences, your lessons are less likely to stick.

Salesforce Consequences

During training, we want to do everything for our co-workers, and make sure that everything in training goes smoothly. But we don't always learn from smooth sailing.

Not much growth happens if all I do is zip down the mountain on my road bike at 40 miles per hour. Growth happens only if I first mash down my pedals to get up that mountain.

When you are showing your co-workers how to do something, let them make mistakes, and then let them experience the consequences. In a sandbox environment, let them create duplicates. And then make them deal with duplicates (and the nightmare they can create).

Ask them to run reports where the data makes no sense because data wasn't entered appropriately. Then ask them to give a presentation on the data, and ask questions they can't answer because the numbers are bad.

Have them skip a few important steps that aren't applicable to them, but are applicable to another team or department. Then have them play the part of the other team or department that has to deal with incomplete information.

During a role play, have a trainee say the wrong thing to a lead and then let it play out. Don't immediately correct a mistake right after it's made.

Training is the time and place to make mistakes and experience the consequences (albeit in a less sever manner). If your training and coaching isn't allowing a little wiggle room to feel some discomfort, you won't see the results you're looking for.

Topics: Salesforce adoption