Speak with any seasoned employee and they’ll have no problem schooling you on how they do the job and do it well. That’s because they’ve likely had thousands of repetitions to practice and hone the skills of the trade. Unfortunately, in physically demanding jobs, many team members aren’t able to make it to seasoned status due to injuries. That’s why it’s so important to build the right culture and training program that will keep your team moving efficiently and feeling good.
Here are 3 of my favorite coaching cues that you should start using today to reinforce a strong culture and training program.
I first heard this saying in Olympic style Weightlifting; one of the fastest, most explosive sports in the world. It also requires an extreme degree of precise movement of the bar so that the 300 lbs you’re moving from the floor to overhead ends up exactly where it’s supposed to be... and not somewhere else. Too often, new lifters “rush the lift”. That means they move too fast too soon, missing positions and causing the bar to come crashing down sooner than planned. You don’t have to be an olympic athlete for this story to sound familiar. New team members experience some of the highest rates of injury across the board. “Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast” coaches team members to break things down and to learn and practice the best ways to do them before adding speed and volume.
One the strongest powerlifters the world first told me this. Every lift should look the same, whether it’s your 400lb back squat or cleaning up your weights at the end of the session. Moving well all the time reinforces strong muscle memory so that you naturally default into the best positions. It also stops you from making thousands of small mistakes that can add up to nagging pain and repetitive motion injuries over time. That means whether you’re picking a pen up off the floor, moving your first case of product of the day or making the 60th delivery of your route, your lift should be perfect.
All injuries are bad but if you’ve ever had an injury to your back, you know how catastrophic it can be. Blow your back out and it’s “all systems stop”. Unfortunately, most people don’t know how to protect their back. Nor can they recognize when they are working in ways that are more likely to cause injury. That’s why it’s important to train your team members to prioritize protecting their spine. They should understand what strong and weak positions look like. They should also be equipped with a technique for bracing their spine that they can practice and apply to any situation they come up against.
No matter how great your people are, building the right culture and training program takes hard work. Use these coaching cues to create a consistent vision and help rally the team around what’s most important.