You can hear them from across the lake. The voices of over 120 boys age 13 to 16 years who are attending camp for 2 to 6 weeks. No, it’s not really Camp Grenada, but it’s as close as you can get. Camp Wildwood on Woods Pond in Bridgton, Maine has been teaching kids to swim, ski and canoe for almost 100 years. And as I sit on my dock and watch the kids try to tip a canoe and then right it, I realize that as executives and managers we could learn a lot from Camp Wildwood’s approach to teaching.
Camp Wildwood practices a very simple methodology:
Give clear instructions
Give the kids plenty of opportunity to try the new skill
Let them fail without negative consequences (in this case, drowning)
Coach and encourage from beginning to mastery
Each canoe team has a “guide” who is in a boat next to them as they tip the canoe and attempt to right it. RIGHT NEXT TO THEM. Not back on the beach in a counselors meeting or off doing other camp business.
Unless we are working with a new employee, as managers we often assign a new project, open a new market, introduce a new product or just plain tell employees what to do better without getting in the boat with them or even next to them. And what’s worse, we expect them to do the job perfectly the first time, with little to no coaching.
Coaching, actively coaching, is relegated to the “when I can” calendar but the consequences of failing to actively coach are detrimental to your bottom line. It is especially important to coach your front line staff – the sales and customer service warriors. When they make mistakes you lose customers. When was the last time you spent a day with your sales team making calls or presentations? How long has it been since you listened in on those customer service interactions? Not just listening to taped conversations but sitting beside the service rep - live! Effective coaching is “in the moment” - it’s before you send the campers out in the lake, it’s during the demonstration of what to do, it’s when the canoe has tipped over, the campers are struggling, getting tired and ready to give up. Following the simple coaching rules of Camp Wildwood at your organization will develop truly committed professionals who'll deliver at peak performance.
P.S. Too young to know Camp Grenada? Click here to learn about the origins of Camp Grenada. To laugh along with the original song, see the link to the right.
To learn more about coaching training or to hire an outside sales or customer service coach for you and your team, call Catalytic Management at 978-562-5001.
We’ve been coaching, training and canoeing for over 25 years!
Coaching for Sales Success
by Tom Reilly
by Linda Richardson
The Canoe Handbook
by Slim Ray
Laugh and sing along to the original "Camp Grenada"!
Catalytic Management specializes in business performance and growth
including sales effectiveness, customer service and business
process improvement for companies
in New England and the Northeast.