Political Conventions: What are Your Sacred Cows?

The sweet smell of the presidential election season is upon us. It’s convention time. For those not following every candidate misstep or the latest poll, the political parties hope to grab your attention as you return from summer vacation or get ready for back to school.

The Republican convention is this week, followed by the Democratic convention next week. The days of dramatic, real-time decisions have been replaced by tightly scripted media events that resemble infomercials more than selecting a candidate or deciding the party platform.

In spite of the change from the original purpose, conventions still last four days filled with speeches and votes that have already been determined.  To put it in perspective, Abraham Lincoln received the nomination only after three close ballots and the last real convention drama occurred in the 1980’s.

Yet, these conventions continue in much the same format and length and media coverage is now the main event. The new, fresh approach is yet to be implemented because that’s not how it’s done.

Don’t we all have sacred cows? The activities we do year after year while knowing deep down an overhaul is needed. Yet, the history and momentum overtakes us.

Here are a few sacred cows that might make your list:

Recruiting process – of course, it’s a process, but isn’t the goal to make sure you find the right candidates and that everyone you engage walks away thinking better of your organization than before? If your process was designed just to manage risk and track interviews, it may be missing the point.

Orientation  – if the goal is to create motivation and engagement for being part of the organization, it will take more than completing benefits paperwork and learning how to access the intranet. Make sure those first few weeks not only share needed information, but accelerates this new hire into being part of the organization with relationships and knowledge to do great work. Note – not having a computer for a week after joining will work against you.

Annual Review – how can a business in rapid change depend on once a year feedback in an “annual” conversation that includes everything from your pay, your performance feedback and your career plan too?!  And, please let’s cover this all in an hour. This long standing tradition is out of date and no longer fits a fast paced world that we live in.

Classroom training – of course, we can learn by being together with a wise instructor, but the key is what happens after we leave.  Real, long lasting learning occurs when we apply classroom learnings on the job. Study after study finds that 70%-95% of learning in the workplace is informal and experiential, yet classroom training remains the dominant learning investment for most organizations today.

You can make your own list, but we all have our own sacred cows. If we want an engaged and knowledgeable workforce, it will take a fresh look to reconfirm our purpose.

Anyone who watched Sarah Palin’s introduction in 2008 or Barack Obama’s speech in 2004 knows that there are still significant moments at conventions that change the national conversation.  But, does it take the same old, tired format for those few minutes of interest? It depends on knowing your purpose.

What are your sacred cows? It’s the season to give them a fresh look.

Patti Johnson is the Founder and CEO of PeopleResults. Follow her@PattiBJohnson or her company @People_Results on Twitter.