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Focus Coaching to Better Reach Others

As a MoveSMART® Instructor-Catalyst, you have already seen how these strategies and techniques can have a powerful impact on your own and your co-workers safety and health. But, just because someone participates in an initial MoveSMART® training doesn’t mean they’ll actually be able to fully retain and incorporate these potentially powerful methods into their everyday activities. Studies show that the more times people are exposed to something, the more likely they will remember and use it. It’s like getting just one lesson from an excellent golfer (or archer or any expert)—even one lasting 2-3 hours; when it comes to making new technique part of the default way you do things, the length of exposure is less important than your number of exposures. This is especially true when acquiring new skills, like the ones in MoveSMART® training. Everyone needs time to learn to process the feedback from your own body (as well as to become more accustomed to perhaps using different muscle groups or using them in a different way.) We all need the opportunity to “feel” how using these principles affects not only our balance, but also our strength; and to become aware of where force more safely transfers to in our body. This is one of the (many) reasons we train Instructor-Catalysts over a week rather than trying to just do an “information dump” in one or two days. For instance, we’ve heard time and again that, prior to getting MoveSMART® training, most people hadn’t paid much attention to how their grip impacts their balance (in fact, for many, this very idea may have seemed strange), and then how a relatively small change in grip could change how much physical tension they felt in their shoulders. It can take time just to learn to “tune-in”/self-monitor/become aware of the significant effects of such small changes. But, as you know, becoming attuned to these changes can be incredibly valuable. By checking in with ourselves about levels of tension, each of us has the ability to make the slight shifts needed in order to move safer and with greater control.

Changing lifelong habits (such as how we carry, lift, grip, walk, use tools, etc.) can take time. The good news is that, because MoveSMART® is self-reinforcing—that is, we can feel immediate improvements from making slight changes—change doesn’t have to take A LOT of time. Still, we are all unlikely to fully change default habits after just one exposure to new methods. And just talking about the need to do something different won’t necessarily lead to habit change. If that were the case, all of us would be fit, eat well, and immediately drop all of our “bad” habits. So if you want people to continue to do something differently after initial MoveSMART® training, they must have multiple exposures to it; where they’re encouraged to try out and practice these actions in many arenas, in different activities both at work and at home. And you may have also found for yourself that MoveSMART® methods are multi-layered. The more you use these strategies and techniques, the better they work for you—and the more ways you can see how to apply them. The same goes for your co-workers.

We’ve found that in order to encourage participants to best remember and use MoveSMART® you have to give them several passes at it (three or more), which is another reason why followup training and coaching is so critical. You can provide these multiple exposures many different ways—it doesn’t have to be in a “formal” coaching session. For example, some Instructor-Catalysts have MoveSMART® conversations. Or include a few minutes talking—two-way—about MoveSMART® in toolbox meetings. Or be a “new hire buddy” to help break in just-employed people in the best way. Again, think number of exposures rather than just length of time spent.

As you may recall, we recommend that after the initial MoveSMART® training your organization should focus on reinforcing one principle at a time. And it works best when a new MoveSMART® focus is identified and emphasized quarterly—you have the option to work on a specific MoveSMART® technique, MoveSMART® principle, and/or potentially at-risk task. For example, one quarter’s focus could be on a specific principle such as SmartHands™ or Line of Power™ or the 4-Step Plan For Taking Personal Control. The next quarter could focus on identifying the potential for a specific injury (i.e. pushing, pulling, lifting, or tool use). You could have employees audit their own jobs for these possible risks. Just as in the initial MoveSMART® training, it always works best to get people involved as much as possible, rather than lecturing to them. For example, you could ask if they’ve used MoveSMART® methods for pushing or pulling at work or even in off-work hobbies and, if so, what results they noticed. Another quarter the focus might be to identify where workers can use tools and equipment to shield themselves from strains and sprains. Your team of Instructor-catalysts should have enough information from their MoveSMART® training to continue developing new quarterly focuses for quite some time.

As a MoveSMART® Instructor-Catalyst, you can make the greatest impact with coworkers by reminding them of key principles and give them an opportunity to try new skills or applications. As they practice these, they’ll begin to adjust how they move in their daily lives. And, as you all learn together, they will become an even better force for helping themselves become stronger, better balanced, and more in control of their health and safety.