Training is optional. Commitment is not.

Training is optional. Commitment is not.

Toddlers need lots of direction. Their brains are not fully formed, nor is their physical strength or capability. We need to shuffle them from one place to another, often accompanied by kicking and screaming or promises of rewards to motivate them.


This style does not work with teenagers. “Telling” doesn’t have the power it used to. In fact, it often has the opposite effect.

We might be met with, “You can’t make me” and “I don’t have to”, which takes a hell of a lot of deep breathing to manage through. We as parents need to move into providing the reasons why our requests must be actioned. Teenagers like to feel like they have been given options, that consequences have been explained, and that they have not been issued with a “threat”.

Why do we think that telling our adults that they “have to” go to training, and that there is no other option, will motivate them to act?

Daniel Pink, Author of Drive; The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, explains that to create a high-performance workplace we need to encourage and support ‘autonomy’. It’s different to independence. Independence is about going it alone, relying only on self and acting as a lone ranger. Autonomy is about acting with choice.

Pink says that the old-school idea of management presumes that to ‘take action or move forward we need a prod. That if we did not have a reward or punishment, we’d remain happily and inertly in place. It also presumes that once people do get moving they need direction – that without a firm and reliable guide, they’d wander’.

But we’re living in the current world, not the past. So you have to change your thinking, and your leadership style when it comes to implementing training.

If we want people to feel valued, respected and autonomous then we need to give them options. Otherwise they will feel controlled and this is a sure-fire way to decrease engagement.

When you control, you are not just leading them to water, you’re pushing their face in it.

Remind them if they don’t go to the training then it means they are the ones missing out, that they’re losing out on making their life easier. For example, if you were looking to become a feedback culture, (my space and passion), that means everyone will commit to doing the best they can at giving and receiving feedback to their colleagues, customers, suppliers and anyone else connected to the organisation. Spell out the consequences if people aren’t on board with the new culture. These consequences need to be decided prior to the program, and you can’t have one rule for one, yet protect others. That won’t work.

You may have worked in a company or team where the big billers get ‘protection’. They say; ‘let’s leave them because we can’t afford to lose them’. Let me tell you now, and I’ll make this super clear. You might not lose them but you will lose other great people. All because you didn’t make the consequences the same for everyone.

Consequences are not threats. They are what will happen if people don’t try their best to become the new culture we desire, and trying your best means encouraging everyone you have in front of you to do it. For example, ‘if you can’t commit to our new culture, we can’t support you in moving into leadership’. It’s fair and clear.

We can make it clear that we need people to commit to the new culture whether they go to the training or not.

Training is optional. Commitment is not.

This is why it’s imperative to make the training highly anticipated before it starts and highly engaging once it starts. Then people will come – on their own accord, without you pushing and shoving behind them.

If you’ve done it right… they will come.

If this resonates just wait for Georgia’s new book; “Embedding Feedback Cultures in 90 days’.