Thank you for joining me on lessons learned from my afternoon of trap shooting. If you missed the first post, you can pick it up by clicking on the following link. As shared, this was my first time trap shooting and I was intrigued by the possibilities for applying the lessons learned during this experience to activities associated with achieving results in an organizational setting. Here are the last five insights.

Hug the gun with your shoulder: When you learn to hold the shotgun, the first thing is to determine where to position the gun next to your body. A lot of time is spent ensuring you have it tightly shoved in the pocket of your arm so that when you pull the trigger it doesn’t recoil and create a huge bruise. Isn’t this the same when you interface with other people? When you maintain close connections, learn what’s important to others, check in periodically, and demonstrate genuine interest, relationships are much easier. When you hold people at a distance, focusing primarily on your needs, sooner or later you are going to metaphorically end up with a significant bruise and an aching shoulder. People, like a shotgun, need to be nurtured and held close or the recoil really stings.

Coaching in real time supports learning: During my first visit to the trap range my instructor stood right beside me. After each shot he would provide me with tips to improve the next shot. We all need real time coaching and feedback to get better. Waiting weeks or a month to give feedback after you observe somebody taking appropriate or inappropriate action completely loses its meaning. For one group of managers I was working with, their biggest dilemma was providing feedback on an immediate basis. The interesting fact; they worked in the same building as most of their direct reports. Yet over and again I heard, “I guess I just take for granted they are doing what they need to do. I hardly ever see them.” One of the most precious gifts you can offer is coaching in real time.

Readjust your stance: When shooting, you stand with one foot forward and slightly bent to absorb the force of the gun firing. During my lesson the instructor shared that I was going rigid, and that periodically I needed to readjust my posture. This would keep me limber and prevent my joints from getting locked. Often you need to re-evaluate the stance you are taking, determine its importance, and sometimes adjust your posture accordingly. As an example, when it comes to ethical issues, you may have to take a strong stance. Other times you may need to flex for the benefit of the overall group. How adept are you at recognizing when you need to stand strong and when you need to readjust your stance?

Importance of following through: When aiming at a moving target you learn the importance of following through with your gun. It’s almost like making an arc, but not quite. When you don’t follow through the shot typically ends up behind or lagging to the target. The same phenomenon happens in business. When you delay on follow through and your actions lag behind the expectations of others, the consequences can be devastating. The first one, maybe two, times you may be given a grace period, but after that you begin to slowly and perceptibly erode trust, commitment and respect.

Celebrate: Once the group of us had finished our trap shooting activity, we met at the neighboring restaurant for celebratory drinks, food and to share our successes and losses. Be sure to do the same thing at work. Take the time to celebrate the work completed, recognize the people who participated, share lessons learned, and identify opportunities to apply for the next time. Take the time to reflect on all you have accomplished, and enjoy the journey.