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Best Training Practices
Will Kenny
3927 York Ave N
Robbinsdale, MN 55422

The Broken Record And
Your Internal Brand

be a little more boring and a lot more effective . . .

(reprinted from The Training Tipsheet)

Have you noticed, from the subtle signals available, that an election is coming up? Have you perhaps learned one or two catch phrases by heart, for each of the major party presidential candidates, without even trying?

Okay, maybe you are sick and tired of hearing about these candidates. But you still can quote a few phrases about each one, can't you (whether the phrase was created by the candidate or by his opponent)?

Repetition is a powerful communication tool. Say something often enough, and it becomes true for many people. Keep saying it after that, and it becomes part of a "brand," automatically associated with a name, a person, a company, or . . . a best business practice.

When it comes to establishing, and especially to sustaining, your best business practices, harping on them at every opportunity is one of your best strategies. How strange, then, that so many organizations fail to stick to a message that works, that touches on important themes, over the long haul.

Instead, internal communications go through fads. New slogans appear to inspire employees to be more productive, and more enthusiastic about the company's mission (which itself may change regularly). And employees do learn . . .

Mainly they learn to wait out the fads. They know that whatever the big theme may be this month, it will be forgotten in six months, replaced by another passing fancy.

Much of this has to do with basic human nature, especially on the side of the communicator -- the manager, executive, trainer or facilitator who is promoting the best practice. We get tired of saying the same things, and we let that overrule our more objective side, which should care more about results than about how much we enjoy repeating the same points over and over again.

Let me tell you an ugly story. Many years ago I worked with a small video production company, in which one of the owners also did the video editing. We produced industrial videos for companies of all sizes, mainly employee communications and training, along with some marketing.

Many, many clients liked to open their internal communication videos with a montage of scenes from their facilities, and faces of employees. But the editor/partner got sick of putting these together. He was bored with the process, which he repeated day after day, only the faces changing from one project to the next.

So one day he announced that we wouldn't do those anymore. Brilliant! Why give clients what they want when it is so boring for the editor to do?

Savvy marketers caution their less experienced colleagues against abandoning an effective message just because it has gotten a lot of use. They say, "You will get tired of your message long before your audience gets tired of it."

When it comes to best practices, whether or not you are tired of repeating your message is irrelevant. Even whether or not your audience is tired of hearing your message isn't the most important consideration. What counts is whether it produces results. For employees, repetition of essential values and practices -- hopefully boiled down into easy-to-remember form -- leads them to internalize those values and practices, greatly raising the probability that they will apply them to the work they do.

Find the core ideas that succintly capture your best practices, and insert them into employee communications at every opportunity. Ignore the little voice in your head that says, "We have used this too long, let's try something else." Play your broken record, day after day, so that the most important standards, strategies, practices, goals, and values of your organization become part of an internal brand, something that comes automatically to mind among your employees without any effort on their part.

A little more boring? Maybe. A lot more effective? Certainly?

© 2008 Best Training Practices -- Will Kenny

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