By: Dan Wicker
If you’ve seen it, it’s hard to forget the first time experiencing the Shamu show at SeaWorld. The sheer size of the killer whale is mesmerizing, not to mention the trainers being able to get the whales to perform.
Have you ever wondered how they train a killer whale? After all, a killer whale is an apex predator, grows to almost the size of a school bus and weighs up to six tons. If it wants to take out the trainer, there is nothing the trainer can do to stop the killer whale.
What’s the secret? Ken Blanchard, who authored the national bestseller The One Minute Manager and Raving Fans, reveals the SeaWorld secret in Whale Done. With co-authors from SeaWorld, Blanchard brings the process applied at SeaWorld to the business world.
The secret lies in the power of positive relationships. When leaders accentuate the positive, the person affected is more likely to improve.
While it may not sound like a secret and you think it is common sense and cliché, let’s look at a smaller-scale example: parenting. When a child is behaving well in public it is rare to see a parent rave to the child about their behavior. However, flip the child to misbehaving and we see many times the parent express anger towards the child. How do we change this management style?
The trainers at SeaWorld deliver the spectacular shows based on training the whales with the following steps:
1. Build trust – You must first build trust with someone by getting to know them and proving that you care for their well-being and success.
2. Accentuate the positive – It is imperative to catch people doing something right and rave about it to them. The more attention you pay to a behavior, the more it will be repeated.
3. Redirecting negative energy – At SeaWorld, the trainers will ignore the whales when they are not doing what the trainers want. By ignoring or not focusing on mistakes the whales will learn it doesn’t get the response they want from their trainers.
It is easier to catch people doing something wrong in the business world. In fact, most organizations manage by leaving their people alone until they see them doing something wrong and then swoop in to point out their wrongdoing. This means their employees are only managed when a mistake is made. A company that operates in this manner is missing the power of catching an employee doing something right and praising them on the spot. This is the Whale Done response.
The performance of your people is based on this:
1. Activator – This is the motivation that fires the person up to perform a task. For example, goals or training are the most common activators. Without training or setting goals, the outcome can be unpredictable and thus not what the employer wants.
2. Behavior – A behavior would be the performance itself, such as meeting sales goals or maintaining client accounts.
3. Consequence – The response to the employee’s performance by management. The reaction to an employee’s performance can have the biggest impact on their morale and greatly affect future activators and behaviors. Unfortunately, most managers respond with either no response or a negative response, which leads to inhibiting progress on a goal or task and can lead to no improvement in the employee’s performance. The most powerful response is to redirect the energy or provide a positive response, as the trainers at SeaWorld have learned.
If you find yourself managing through employee’s mistakes, then accept the challenge to read this book. Make yourself the goal of finding the good in a situation and providing overwhelming positive response to your employees and then watch change happen where you work.
Coming next month
How do you begin your day? In May of 2014, Admiral William H. McRaven addressed the graduating class of the University of Texas at Austin on their Commencement day and told them that if they want to change the world, they should start every day by making the bed. Admiral McRaven’s original speech soon went viral and prompted him to write the book Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World.
CWA Partner Toni Lee invites you to read along as she picks up this New York Times Bestseller where McRaven shares his 10 principles learned during his Navy Seal training that helped him overcome the challenges throughout his life.