Mowing the lawn
The last couple of years I have been “coaching” my oldest son to mow the lawn. To be honest, our lawn isn’t that large and can easily be mowed in less than an hour with a push mower. How hard could it be? Well, several years later we are still learning…
It began with starting the mower. It is a Craftsman mower with the Honda engine. Pretty much starts first pull. I wanted to show Caden the basics, but he said “Dad I got this.” So after watching him flounder for five minutes, I asked him if he wanted my help. Obviously he didn’t, but was hot and tired from pulling the rope a dozen or more times.
I explained to Caden that you have to move the lever off of the stop position. I am pretty sure I got some form of sarcasm and off he went mowing. After a couple of minutes the mower stopped, and he explained to me how the mower was broken because it wasn’t cutting the grass. The next coaching lesson involved showing him that you had to pull the bar at the top to start the blades spinning.
After he finished mowing the front yard (minus the strips he left in between rows), I asked if he wanted advice on how to make his job a little easier. This time he was a bit more humble and said sure as it was hard work and the mower was heavy! I pointed out the red handles and explained that if he pulled back on them, they would cause the mower to be self-propelled. This made his job MUCH easier (according to Caden).
As Caden finished, we had to discuss how he was not done with the job. If you looked at the yard it had some spots that were missed! Something like this picture:
So, he spent the next 35 minutes going back over the spots he missed. After mowing for a while he came to me and asked how to prevent missed spots in the yard. I then coached him on how to put the mower's front wheel inside of the last pass. Caden replied, “That is genius dad!”
Caden had a lot of lessons he had to learn about mowing. In relating his story to business training, "Do you sometimes need to let people try something before they can understand the process?” I am pretty sure that, early on, Caden would not have listened to my advice on how to mow. However, as he gained a little more knowledge, he began to understand that I had some experience that could make his job easier. The steps he went through were:
- Incompetence – Didn’t know what he didn’t know, but was over confident he could do it
- Some function – Could at least cut some grass
- Competence but not efficient – Was getting the job done but with way too many steps
- Competence – Got the grass mowed
You might think that everything has been great since, but we have had to move on to some advanced mowing lessons such as:
- Not putting all the grass clippings on the driveway
- Not running over the sprinkler heads
- Avoid mowing over the pavers and rocks
- Not scarring the trees
- Trimming (all classes 100 through 500 levels)
- Putting gas in the mower
How does this relate to business?
- Don’t assume people just “Get it.” Sometimes things you find to be basic are because of your experience. If others don’t have that experience, they may need even the most basic steps explained!
- Sometimes people need to go through their own discovery to progress though coaching.
- You can’t just say things like, “communicate.” It is like saying “just mow.”
- Progressing though the levels is key to learning.
- This progression builds trust that you know what you are doing, but it doesn't just start there.