The No Candy Challenge

We’ve all been there, hours wasted with a consultant or trainer who brings a cookie-cutter approach to the company or team. Perhaps they bring in colorful handouts, toys, and even miniature candy bars to keep the team engaged. The team might learn something neat about themselves and one another. They might come out of the day well entertained.

The more candy that gets offered, the more it seems to be that the benefits just don’t add up. The time and dollars invested turn into no appreciable difference in the relationships, performance, or results of the team. Or, even worse, perhaps the experience creates more dissatisfaction and fewer (positive) results.

I’ve been subjected to the little piles of candy scattered around the room too many times. It’s led to my “No Candy Rules” for Training and Consulting.

No Candy Rule #1: Every Client Deserves a Custom Approach

It starts with listening to the client – what are their needs, their goals, their “have to have” outcomes for the engagement. Only when there is 100% understanding, can the consulting, training, and/or program design can begin.

Each client is an opportunity to sharpen the approach and accomplish a little bit more.

Here’s the challenge: Spend more time listening to your potential client’s needs and develop proposals based on what you hear rather than what you’ve done before.

No Candy Rule #2 Two: Be Ready to Improvise
At a recent engagement, we found ourselves pulling from a diverse set of tools in the moment – a little lean process improvement here, a little Scrum there, and an impromptu Seven Scenes Activity before lunch. All of these additions to the two-day session’s outline cemented the learning and responded to the actual needs of the participants who showed up to the engagement.

Here’s the challenge: For every new client you secure, commit to learning one new technique, resource, or tool. Show up to the engagement prepared to improvise in the moment.

No Candy Rule #3 Three: Leave the Candy on the Store Shelf
The organization or team deserves to be exhausted at the end of a training or consulting engagement. If we’ve done our jobs, we’ve brought enough content to inspire new conversations, we’ve provided the space for new working relationships, and the team has fundamentally changed at least one structure, strategy, or process. That’s hard work. The team should be tired.

Offering candy – or a candy-like “pick me up” – as a way to keep the team working past the point of reason simply means that the consultant or trainer hasn’t offered enough real value to keep the team engaged. That’s just wrong.

Here’s the challenge: Leave the crutches, candy, and tricks at home.

Here’s the big challenge: Share your “No Candy Challenge” results – or – let us know if you think I’m being unfair to cookie cutter consultants (and their results).

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