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Being Mindful About Training

Being Mindful About Training

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Learning and development is a mind game. After more than a century of Psychology research, the facts haven’t changed. Most people retain a mere 50% of instruction after day one, 25% after day two, and less than 10% after day three. Nothing is more frustrating to organizational development leaders than these stats.

 
What can be done to increase learning retention? How can organizations ensure their training investments make a difference?

We believe one of the best training practices for increasing engagement and influencing retention is to deploy the principles of adult learning that help to break down traditional patterns and behaviors. Successful training programs need to deliver:
 
Clear Expectations. What are the training objectives? What is expected of training participants during the session? After the session? Whether you’re a corporate trainer, a manager training a new hire, or a product owner launching a new solution, always set clear expectations for the training.
 
Step-by-Step Instructions: Easier said than done, right? In grade school, you might have participated in a game led by your teacher where the class followed instructions to draw a stick figure. But what if the teacher’s instructions didn’t include locating a pencil and paper, and skipped right to drawing a circle? We often make assumptions about an activity or process. For a new employee or someone learning a new skill, the steps are important.  
 
Visual Support: This doesn’t mean creating a PowerPoint presentation with clip art and fun fonts, but rather using a variety of visual elements to create a hands-on training experience. The use of flip charts for small group activities, along with worksheets and handouts will help participants retain information.
 
Interactive Engagement: Learning retention increases with interactive participation. Create an open dialogue where participants can share ideas freely. Include partner or group activities to further enhance the learning. Break up your talking points with an activity that gets people out of their chairs and keeps them engaged!
 
Balanced Feedback: Unlike constructive criticism, balanced feedback focuses on constructive improvement. When participants share a project or deliver to the group, they should self-assess first by identifying their perspective of strengths and opportunities. This is followed by others in the classroom sharing perspectives that create a safe training environment where people always feel their ideas and thoughts matter.
 
Immediate and Repetitive Use: If what was learned in training is immediately used on the job, retention increases significantly; especially if the participant sees a positive and speedy impact as a result of trying something new. Participants’ managers must have clarity about the content that’s been trained and the expectation to reinforce the training with the participant.

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

Managing Conflict: Leader Lessons

Managing Conflict: Leader Lessons

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Faced with conflicts in a workgroup, managers often try to correct perceptions (and misperceptions) by lecturing team members about who’s right and who’s wrong. Or, they call Human Resources and expect them to resolve the personnel problem.

What if managers were better equipped to resolve conflict? What would that look like?

Writer Annie Dillard famously said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” For many of us, a large portion of every days is spent at work. In fact, the average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime.

Here are five lessons for managers seeking to resolve workplace conflict between team members:

Lesson One – The Problem is . . . Me?
It’s far easier to judge others’ behavior than to look at one’s own. Try asking individuals in the conflict to answer two questions in advance of a face-to-face discussion: a) What is one behavior of which I’m proud when I think about my role in this conflict? b) What is one behavior I wish I hadn’t said/done when I think about my role in this conflict? Coming clean about it can set the stage for a more positive resolution with others.

Lesson Two – Respect Others’ Values
What one team member sees as inefficient communication or disorganized processes—another team member may see as a supportive effort to accommodate everyone’s needs. A manager who asks each team member what motivated his or her reason for behaving a particular way may be able to get to an underlying value that the other team member can appreciate and see in a new light.

Lesson Three – Find Common Ground
Team members can work effectively together without making everyone a buddy. To facilitate this process as a manager, you need to be highly observant. Remind your team members of similarities you’ve seen in their approach to customer issues, in work ethic, in communication styles.

Lesson Four – Tackle Problems Directly
When conflicts arise, managers often want to tamp down the frustrations rather than tackling them head on. But, sometimes exasperation can help groups find solutions. A manager, as third party to a conflict, can facilitate the discussion that leads to a solution. But, not if he/she is hiding in the office and hoping the conflict will go away.

Lesson Five – Let in Joy
Workgroups can develop ease and a closeness that makes work better, richer and more interesting. Acknowledging the hard work of being together 8 or more hours a day opens the door for moments of joy. We just don’t grow in isolation; we grow in relationships.

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

Measuring Up to Employee Expectations

Measuring Up to Employee Expectations

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When employees say they want opportunities for development and advancement, they have very specific things in mind. They want quality training and career growth. How do you think you measure up?

While employee surveys provide feedback in the form of overall scoring, organizations may also want to compare this employee feedback with an organizational self-assessment. Assessing your organization’s learning and development programs allows you to identify any gaps and opportunities, along with validating what employees are telling you.

Successful organizations seek a balance of resources and commitment within four key areas of learning and development. Taking this quad-view approach helps ensure that employees experience your genuine desire to provide opportunities for individual development and advancement. 

  • Familia – Most organizations have a sound and solid foundation for communicating their mission, vision and purpose. Often limited to an employee handbook with policies and procedures, Familia materials should also include training on communication and branding.
  • Functional – Choosing a scope for Functional programming depends on the size of your organization, and employee attrition. You’ll want to ensure skills training is available for each job type, plus product knowledge training for sales roles.
  • Relational – All organizations, not just sales organizations, require skills training programs aimed at serving both customers and colleagues. A management training program to teach coaching skills becomes the most critical program in this quadrant.
  • Successional – Resist the temptation to rely solely on annual performance reviews. Your employees desire opportunities to demonstrate they are leadership candidates. Leader development programs come in all shapes and sizes. Start something today.

Gallup’s recent report “State of the American Workforce” says 51% of employees polled admitted they don’t feel engaged. In other words, half of your employees likely believe you’re not doing enough to make them feel valued or supported in their job.

What will you do differently in 2019?

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

Own It: Reflecting on 2018 Growth

Own It: Reflecting on 2018 Growth

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With the end of the year coming, it’s a good time for reflection. While many of us only focus on how much progress our institution made this year, it’s also important to take time to reflect on personal progress. What did you accomplish? Did your accomplishments move your career forward? With the stress of busy lives sometimes our own goals and aspirations fall to the wayside. It’s important to take charge of your own professional development and leadership skills. In turn, your organization will also experience growth and progress.

For those who manage a team, many of you may have individual action plans in place for team members and group goals for your department. But do you have one for yourself? The new year is the perfect time to create an individual action plan and take ownership for your own professional development for the next year.

Here are the best practices for creating a S.M.A.R.T. individual action plan:

  1. Specific: Make sure your goals are specific, don’t generalize and be sure to include details.
  2. Measurable: This could be in the form of improved financial success for your department or organization, more positive survey results, or a specific number of prospects you want to see each quarter.
  3. Achievable: Are your goals realistic? Can you reasonably attain them within the quarter or year? Don’t set yourself up for failure.
  4. Relevant: Whether it’s learning a new skill in your organization, or vying for that promotion, make sure the goals are relevant to your current career plan.
  5. Target Date: Give yourself a deadline. Deadlines are all about accountability and who should be accountable for your results but you?!

With the holiday season in full swing, it’s important to take time to think about ourselves. Starting the new year with a S.M.A.R.T. action plan will set you up for success and help you own your professional development, and ultimately your career.

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