One Size Rarely Fits All

To empower others, you must take their measurements regularly…

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Jackson noticed the results of his team were slipping below the other teams in a specific process. Based on a conversation with two of his employees, who could not thoroughly answer his questions about the process, he quickly scheduled a training session for the entire team.

The trainer copied Jackson on the post-session feedback from his team, and he realized that training was probably not the best solution. These responses were representative of the participant feedback:

“The trainer was fine, but this was a waste of time for me. I knew every step, and I try to follow them consistently.”
“The training was repetitive, but it did clarify a few details that I missed the first time I took this course.”
“I was totally offended at being required to attend this training! I was a subject-matter expert on this process when we designed this training last year, and it hasn’t changed a bit.”
“The trainer filled in the gaps I didn’t have, since a co-worker showed me this process when I moved to the team last month.”

Jackson collected more specific comments during his monthly one-on-one employee conversations and changed his strategy. Partnering with the most tenured employees, they created two staff sessions that identified the current team gaps, confirmed understanding of process corrections, and created an internal contest that added fun to the effort to bring their numbers higher than the other teams in the organization.

The team’s results were gaining traction two weeks after their first staff session, but Jackson realized he had wasted valuable time, resources, and employee energy by assuming all the members of his group needed the same kind of support.

Reality: There are no effective shortcuts for developing a team. Each person’s responsibilities must be evaluated by their individual results in order to customize the kind of support needed to empower them to improve. Like the contest, group solutions must flex to meet unique learner needs.


  • Isolate the specific responsibility that is not being performed successfully; don’t try to change all aspects of the person’s performance at once.
  • Ensure the person has been observed correctly doing what is required for the specific responsibility; if not, customize support to teach them the correct way.
  • For those who have successfully completed the responsibility in the past, conversations exploring their motivation or confidence can often uncover reasons for inconsistent results.
  • Align support actions to the individual’s goals or to the thing that drives their work satisfaction: autonomy, career development, fairness, recognition, collaboration, etc.
  • If training is considered, ensure the trainer is aware of typical participant issues and learning objectives so content can be confirmed and aligned to current business needs.