When leaders introduce colleagues to a new way of doing things, they can expect a temporary drop in performance. This is especially true for new colleagues who have never been exposed to a particular way of achieving results. Any time leaders introduce a new learning, a new discipline, or a new language of doing things, everyone involved becomes an inexperienced “rookie” to the endeavor. Rookies make stupid mistakes because they are…rookies. Even highly trained and successful colleagues will struggle with a new field of understanding. When the practices, language, issues, and questions change, they take some getting used to. In the meantime, performance plummets until the learning truly takes hold.
For leaders, the lag time between the introduction of a new way of doing things and positive results can be a challenge. The key is to expect a significant dip in performance and not to allow the poor results to undermine the resolve to stay the course. Leaders who maintain their commitment are justly rewarded. What initially takes colleagues hours to engage and execute soon takes just minutes as the learning curve accelerates. Before too long, the new insights and processes deliver great results. People begin to perform in a way they didn’t think was possible. But this happy ending requires that leaders stay patient. They expect an initial decline in performance. Don’t throw in the towel too fast. Sometimes, we will underperform while we learn. The best leaders expect exactly that.