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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

Do You Have Bench Strength?

Do You Have Bench Strength?

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

Solving the Customer Loyalty Puzzle

Solving the Customer Loyalty Puzzle

Start by building relationships with customers one at a time through outstanding customer service, engagement, and education. Few businesses can maintain long-term success by consistently underwhelming their customers with subpar experience or service.

If you want to ensure that your profits are strong, and your retention rates are high, you’ll also need a customer loyalty strategy. A few key insights for building your loyalty strategy include:

Retaining an existing customer costs significantly less, both in terms of marketing and maintenance, than landing a new one.

The cost of consumer acquisition versus customer retention can reach as high as 700%, according to a report by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company. When it comes to revenue, customer retention is hugely important to consistent growth and planning. The more committed customers you have for the next financial quarter, the easier it is to make budgetary decisions. Another benefit of retained customers over acquired customers, is the fact they generally require less maintenance.

Repeat customers are more likely to spend more money on each purchase.

The bottom line, repeat customers spend more money; 300% more according to RjMetrics. Not only are your repeat customers purchasing more over time than new customers, they likely trust you enough to purchase your more expensive products and services.

Loyal and satisfied customer give peer recommendations, referrals and glowing online reviews.

In today’s hyper-connected world, people aren’t shy about sharing their opinions and consumers are listening. In fact, according to a 2016 Buyer’s Survey Report, 62% of consumers are relying more on peer recommendations than the year before, and 49% listed colleagues and peers as one of their top three resources in the search for new products and services.

One of the most underutilized and straightforward approaches to positively affect your company’s bottom line is to focus on a customer loyalty strategy. Are you ready to get started?

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