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The Importance of Action Planning

The Importance of Action Planning

The fourth quarter is a critical time for all organizations. You’re driving sales to finish the year strong, and you’ve set your sights on an even stronger 2020. You’re adapting products to meet demands your clients and prospects expect for innovation in the future. This is the most important time to engage in the process of action planning. Why don’t more organizations commit to action planning?

Here are three of the most common reasons:

  1. Leaders believe they need more information than they really do. According to a recent Harvard Business Review article, “people may overestimate the amount of evidence they evaluate before making up their minds, paying costs to acquire information that will go unused.” Gathering additional data often isn’t necessary and certainly isn’t cost-effective.
  2. Organizations are inherently adverse to failing. When it comes to the decision-making process, the fear factor kicks in. What if the decision is a bad one? What if we make a mistake? It’s much easier for organizations to not make a decision than to admit to fear of failure. But, being paralyzed by fear, means never knowing if it was a good or a bad decision. 
  3. Most teams are accustomed to evaluating, but not executing. During an interview on the radio show, Money Talk, “eighty-percent of organizations fail at the execution part of the strategy.” Execution lies in the hands of the people of the organization. In our experience, any strategy can work if the people responsible for it plan AND execute.

Center for Practical Management offers a disciplined process for Action Planning. Our highly interactive development workshops help organizations do four things:

  • Brainstorm opportunities for revenue growth, expense control, innovation or productivity gains
  • Identify up to 3 creative solutions using multi-voting to gain consensus and buy-in
  • Form teams to develop SMART Action Plans and agree to be accountable for execution
  • Track outcomes with facilitated monthly teleconferences that track progress, review successes and obstacles

Acquiring skills for successful execution of strategic planning can help organizations achieve their growth goals in new ways.

Center for Practical Management helps companies achieve organizational goals and behavioral change initiatives through tailored consulting services, leadership coaching, employee skills training and marketing services. Learn more at www.cf-pm.com. Center for Practical Management is a strategic business partner with Raddon, a Fiserv Company

Gaming in Training

Gaming in Training

When training facilitators use games in the classroom, participants explore learning and engagement in fun, competitive ways. Games in a classroom also teach principles of strategic thinking. Check out these top reasons for using games in training:

Soft Skills Learning
Soft skills are taught based on practice and storytelling. In the classroom, we recommend teaching participants to script and role-play using real-life examples. The facilitator will act as the client and participants will role-play scenarios that they experience every day on the job. This experience allows for an immediate answer and the opportunity to ‘learn on the fly’. The game must be related to the participants’ work environment. In fact, the more realistic the scenario is, the more your participants will be engaged in the training.

Educational
The game activities should be taken serious with an educational goal in mind. This is an opportunity for participants to learn a new skill, and have fun doing it. The first step is identifying what skill you want them to improve. “Knowledge Drill Cards” is a use of games in the classroom. It is as simple as putting the skill you want developed on one side of a card, (ex: product, service, question) and putting the answer on the other side. Participants quickly go through the flash cards with effort to remember the answers. Speed and repetitiveness are essential in this game.

A Safe Environment
Most training professionals have experienced a classroom setting where not everyone feels safe participating. They are afraid to raise their hand for fear of giving an incorrect answer. They may feel that they are outside of their comfort zone. Games help create a safe environment in the classroom. Participants don’t feel as though they are put on the spot when making a mistake in a game, because after all it is “just a game”. Using games in training helps engage people that are usually more reserved in a classroom setting.

Increase Motivation
The more interest a participant has, the better they will be at it. Everybody likes to have fun and play. Participants become competitive with their colleague—and want to win, therefore, they want to learn. Games in training should offer an appropriate amount of challenge to maintain motivation. Adding rewards to your training enhances the motivation even more. We recommend offering a small gift for the team/person that wins.

Using games in training is an effective technique to get participants to become more engaged and have fun while learning a new skill. If your learning and development program has not yet adapted this approach to learning, it’s time to bring innovation to your classroom experience.

Center for Practical Management helps companies achieve organizational goals and behavior change initiatives through tailored consulting services, leadership coaching, employee skills training and marketing services. Learn more at www.cf-pm.com

Center for Practical Management is a strategic business partner with Raddon, a Fiserv Company. Learn more at www.raddon.com

Letter to a Millennial

Letter to a Millennial

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Dear Millennial,

I know you think you are part of the “most hated generation.” I know you’re tired of your baby boomer bosses who have a negative view of you and the way you like to do your work. I get it! I’m a Millennial, too.

Since we are often supervised by baby boomers, the opportunities available to us often depend on working well with our baby boomer bosses. It’s in the interest of both of us to understand what they need from us and what we need from them—specifically, how to work with each other. Here are some tips from my professional experience in working with employee development leaders: 

  1. Be willing to stay with your employer if the work is interesting and the rewards are clear. Some aspects of your job may bore you, but your boss views them as crucial. Completing these kinds of tasks in the way they want, will make them happy and get the job done. But, that isn’t what makes our generation so different. Our boss should respect that we bring creativity to the workplace. Sometimes the work is interesting, but the rewards are not clear. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you are curious about rewards for meeting goals.
  1. Communicate clearly the need for reinforcement and balanced feedback. How do we know if we are improving or meeting standards if our boss doesn’t reinforce and provide balanced feedback? We have to communicate that we need reinforcement. We want to know if we are doing the job right, and if not, how to improve.  
  1. Manage your boss’s expectations. Don’t be silent if you feel unsure about your priorities. Manage your boss’s expectations about what you’ll get done and when. Ask, “What do you need from me today?” By asking, you both will have a clear picture of what you are focused on. One of the best ways to create clear communication around expectations is by using an Action Plan. It is a simple plan managed by both boss and employee, focusing on SMART action steps for task or assignment.   

Using these tips should help you work more effectively and efficiently with your baby boomer boss. If it doesn’t work out, it is ok to start looking for a job that fits you. Don’t give up on your personal and professional success. You bring value and creativity to the workplace.

Sincerely,

A millennial, Sarah Oeltjenbruns

Center for Practical Management helps companies achieve organizational goals and behavior change initiatives through tailored consulting services, leadership coaching, employee skills training and marketing services. Learn more at www.cf-pm.com

Center for Practical Management is a strategic business partner with Raddon, a Fiserv Company. Learn more at www.raddon.com

Professional Communication Tips for the Workplace

Professional Communication Tips for the Workplace

Professional communication skills are critically important for handling customer contact and may include answering the phone, taking a message, sending a follow-up email, or transferring the customer to someone else. The priority is building relationships and demonstrating professionalism.

We all know to be patient, to be empathetic, to choose words and tone that are customer-focused. Why, then, do many employees struggle with positive, productive communication when dealing with their colleagues? When it comes to our colleagues, it’s often harder to be as patient and calm.

Best practices for keeping C.A.L.M. with your colleagues:

Charitable. Being charitable means being kind to one another. If every interaction with a colleague began with kindness, imagine how much more productive our organizations might be.

Acknowledge. Acknowledging another’s problem with empathy and understanding demonstrates a willingness to help and can quickly break down the silos in our organization. It sounds like, “I understand how frustrating this is. I get why this is important to you”

Listen. Being a good listener doesn’t mean talking. It means asking clarifying questions that give you additional information to seek resolutions.

Meet. Sometimes, it’s just true. We build better relationships face to face. Rather than a phone call or email, get up and go to your colleague’s office. Remember, body language is more powerful than words and tone.
In every workplace interaction, it is important to demonstrate CALM. We need to treat our colleagues in the same way we treat our customers. It’s important to remain professional so we don’t affect our productivity on the job and create negativity in the workplace.

You are in control of your body language, tone, and words. If you are put into a tough situation, remember to take a deep breath and keep CALM.

Center for Practical Management helps companies achieve organizational goals and behavior change initiatives through tailored consulting services, leadership coaching, employee skills training and marketing services. Learn more at www.cf-pm.com

Center for Practical Management is a strategic business partner with Raddon, a Fiserv Company. Learn more at www.raddon.com

A Wake-up Call About Rewards and Recognition

A Wake-up Call About Rewards and Recognition

When was the last time you looked closely at the next generation of leaders in your organization? The good news is that the average age of top leaders is getting younger every year. However, many of your leaders may be growing impatient on the bench.

According to a published Global Leadership Forecast, Gen Xers recently took a workforce lead by holding 51% of the worldwide leadership roles. Age 37 to 54, this highly distinguished generation of workers boasts an average of 20 years’ work experience, strong work-ethic and company loyalty.

Researchers are now suggesting that organizations should start paying attention to a new entrepreneurial trend within the Gen X demographic.

It is estimated that 55% of all startups will be founded by Gen Xers this year. Many of them are choosing entrepreneurism and business ownership rather than waiting for Boomers to retire and give up c-suite positions.

Want to keep your bench strength with top-talent Gen Xers? Here’s three top tips for an effective retention strategy:

  • Recognition is valuable and highly appreciated by the Gen X workforce. For the majority of them, they grew up with traditional values around performing ‘above average’ to achieve success, accolades and rewards. They are typically motivated by both monetary and non-monetary recognition.
  • Mentoring makes sense for your retention strategies to help ensure your Gen X workforce chooses your organization as their career organization. The best mentoring programs for a strong leadership bench feature top executives who mentor three to five senior leaders or middle managers. Consider mentoring relationships outside of direct reporting structure, especially ones that expand/stretch the current knowledge and skill (technical expertise) of the potential Gen X leader.
  • Associate roles for executive level leaders are not new, however providing this additional title along with greater organizational influence may keep Gen X leaders progressing in a positive trajectory. Moreover, in organizations who have experienced losses of their top-talent Gen Xers—to executive status via business startups and entrepreneurial pursuits— can encourage immediate adoption of associate roles, i.e., associate financial officer, associate vice president.

Start having critical conversations with your Gen X workforce today to retain and keep your bench strong.

Center for Practical Management helps companies achieve organizational goals and behavior change initiatives through tailored consulting services, leadership coaching, employee skills training and marketing services. Learn more at www.cf-pm.com

Center for Practical Management is a strategic business partner with Raddon, a Fiserv Company. Learn more at www.raddon.com