Why You Need to Watch Out for Best Practices

Sometimes "best practices" can be far from the best for your team. Here are some reasons why you might actually be training your team on the "worst practices."


3 Common Mistakes People Make About Best Practices


MISTAKE #1: Assuming that what you're good at is a best practice


It's easy to believe that what you're good at is a best practice. However, your best practice might be wrong for others in your company.

Here's an example:

For generations, college professors taught through lectures. Currently, research suggests that active learning creates a better learning environment for certain types of learners and for learning specific subjects. Despite these studies, some professors continue to lecture because they are good at lecturing and bad at facilitating active learning. Some professors don't see the value of student-centered teaching because they are experts at teacher-centered learning.

To find best practices for your company, take this approach instead. If you're good at something, skeptically consider whether you should make it a best practice for your team.  Also, look for methods that are even better than what you're doing now. This careful evaluation will help you circumnavigate mistake #1.


MISTAKE #2: Assuming other people's best practices are your best practices


With the internet, you can find lots of business literature suggesting best practices. There are hundreds of blogs that explain the latest and greatest trends. However, not every new practice will be a good fit for your company.

Here's an example:

Joe is a young business executive looking for an edge for his company. He hears about how a Participative Leadership approach leads businesses to greater success. He changes all of his company's processes so that they can gather the most input possible from team members. As a result, his company now takes more time to make decisions. Eventually, when his team must quickly make a critical decision, the company is unable to respond fast enough. As a result, they lose business.

Here are some questions Joe could have asked before jumping into this new best practice:

  • Does this practice make sense for our business? Does it make sense for all aspects of our company?

  • Are management team members able to adapt to this new style, or are the differences in management style too deeply-rooted?

  • Should we pilot test this approach first?

  • Would it be helpful to collect internal and external data before implementing this approach?

Popular ideas don't work in every circumstance. Before trying a new practice in your business, test it out.


MISTAKE #3: Assuming that best practices data is complete


Don't get us wrong. We love, appreciate, and use data. But it's tempting to see data as an undeniable truth. Data—like all facts—requires consideration based on the perspective and the context. Ask any scientist, and most will tell you that drawing conclusions based on data isn't a perfect science.

Here is how data can lead you in the wrong direction:

Imagine you just studied the techniques your sales team members use to close a deal. The data indicates that there are three closing skills often used by your top-selling team members. You plan on teaching these techniques to your weakest salespeople. Sounds like a good idea, right?

But watch out! Other variables may have skewed your data. The high sales numbers from your top sellers may have been the result of other factors. For example, your best salespeople may have distinctive personality qualities such as friendliness, charm, or good listening skills. It may even be a combination of factors influencing your data like effective deal-building skills teamed with closing techniques. Your top sellers may have an entire schema of attributes that make them successful.

Moreover, data is always incomplete. It's impossible to explore every variable in just one study. Instead, use different angles to get a clearer picture. Try running focus groups, in-field observations, self-report questionnaires, etc. Don't rely on one source of data to arrive at conclusions.

A best practice for a few may not be the best practice for all.


Training the right habits can transform your organization

We're not suggesting you give up on finding best practices or ways to improve your team. "If you want to change your results, then you have to change what you do," explains Brett Harward, consultant, author, successful businessman, and the founder of Bitesize. However,  we encourage you to avoid these three common mistakes.

Additionally, after you've found the right best practices, relying on traditional training is often not enough to get the results you want. As Harward explains, "Knowledge isn't enough." Many people think fast-food is unhealthy. Still, how many of these people continue to eat it?  You need to carefully determine what your team needs and then explore how to effectively change the desired behaviors.

Bitesize has cracked the code for organizational behavior change. To learn more or request a demo, go to our website: www.teambitesize.com. To read more about effective training, go to Save the day with this emerging corporate training trend: Just-in-time learning.

Add your insight below. What have you seen as a good approach for defining best practices?