Training Lessons from Navy Seal Training

Individuals in the unit are constantly tested to ensure that they measure up to the elite standards of the unit. High-performance teams rarely allow team members to rest on past laurels— the quest to achieve is constant and relentless.

The player with a poor batting average is traded, despite his contributions in past seasons. Performance expected is frequently compared to performance achieve; too wide a gap on the negative side without obvious extenuating circumstances is unacceptable. The period of time a unit member is allowed to stay “in the red” and remain in the unit is short. Feedback on performance is frequent and specific.

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Strategies for carrying out SEAL principle might include a battery of tests, all difficult and task-related, which each team member must undergo every six months; an annual interview by a clinical psychologist; and a built-in attrition rate to force the standards higher and make room for newly trained people.

Individuals, because of their excellence, are allowed to take risks normally not permissible.
The adage of “treat me as a child and I’ll act as one” has application in this principle. Inherent in a high-performance unit is the constant courting of risks. Unless the members of the unit are accustomed to risk, they will not succeed in challenging assignments.

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Allowing greater latitude than their level in the organization might nor-mally permit communicates uniqueness as well as the responsibility implied. Self-esteem is bolstered. Allowing risks (and with them occasional failures) fosters a trust which builds commitment. Deep commitment calls up added endurance, willingness to sacrifice and devotion to duty; all powerful ingredients for a high-performance team.

In this regard, team members might be allowed to ignore chain of command and, where appropriate, standard policy as long as they do not violate the law. Individuals can be given the privilege of speaking on behalf of some¬one high in the company (e.g., the company president). A pool of funds can be made available to each person in the unit which is unauditable, unaccountable and available for the person to commit to business purposes in any way he or she deems appropriate.

By Chip Bell. Training Magazine.