In today’s business world of cross-functional initiatives, matrix structures and virtual teams, the ability to influence others is becoming even more essential if you want to succeed. And no matter what your influencing style is, to effectively influence somebody you need to connect with them. If you’re trying to influence somebody it means that you have differing opinions and ideas. One of the simplest ways to influence somebody is by “linking and building”: Find and focus on the agreement … and then build on this. Most people are open to sharing and discussing their opinions and ideas – and most of us are aware that our ideas are not the only ones valid. What we want is to be taken seriously and feel listened to. This is where “linking” comes in – if you link your ideas to their ideas it clearly shows you have listened to and understood their thoughts and feelings. And when you build on somebody’s ideas it means you are validating their contributions. This builds rapport and relationships WHICH then makes the process of influencing so much easier...
5 things to keep in mind
1. Is the link already there?
Do you just need to draw their attention to it? Or will you need to build the link step by step? If so you need to find some common ground – this could be a shared goal, a previous experience or perhaps the two of you are seeing the same current challenges? Open questions like “Where do you think we need to go?” or “What are your thoughts?” work well here …
2. When you find your “link”, be explicit about what you like / share about their views, opinion, drives etc.
For example. “It’s clear to me that we both want to make sure any changes we make don’t cost people more time” or “What I really like about your approach is that you’re considering the end-user first. I feel the same way”
3. Focus on positives and use positive language.
Most people are very rarely completely wrong, just as you are very rarely completely right. Understanding this means that it is always possible to approach something by looking for the “right” ideas e.g. “What I like about your suggestion is …” thereby creating a positive spiral and rapport – as opposed to focusing on what you don’t like e.g. “ I can’t imagine this working” thereby creating a downwards negative spiral (source – George Prince – The Practice of Creativity).
4. There are going to be differences.
If there weren’t you wouldn’t be trying to influence each other! But make an effort to delay focusing on differences until some bridges have been built. When you turn to them, link back to the shared elements you’ve found and be explicit about your reasons. “It seems that we agree on the causes of the problem and we have different ideas about what needs doing. Why do you think this is?” Don’t assume the everything is obvious!
5. As you progress do continually clarify.
Use language like “So what you’re saying is …” and “Let me just check I’m understanding you … “. This shows your understanding of their views, ideas and thoughts AND actually ensures you do actually understand. Build your bridge on concrete foundations.
https://www.targettraining.eu/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/handshake-440959_1920.jpg12851920Scott Leveyhttps://www.targettraining.eu/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/logoWP.pngScott Levey2017-06-22 13:41:572018-02-07 10:18:26Linking and building to successfully influence others
In an ideal situation, one of your colleagues, an internal editor, or proofreader (or InCorporate Trainer) will help you perfect your written masterpiece before you unleash it onto the world. But let’s say you’re left to edit your own work and said work is a lengthy document, or one with sensitive information in places. For one reason or another, your document needs to a final check. I don’t mean a spellcheck. But definitely do one of those as well.
Writing and editing belong to two separate phases of the writing process. When the editing work begins, you are no longer the author. An editor is not emotionally attached to the words. He/she will mercilessly cut out the most poetic of phrases and well thought out sentences if they interfere with the readability (for example).
If you begin the editing process immediately after you finish writing, it can be difficult to catch errors, especially the very small ones. Have a coffee, take a walk around the block or, better yet, leave your writing for a day or two and then come back to it with a fresh perspective.
Edit your work in a different format
You might be surprised how helpful it can be to transfer your work to another format for proofreading. Some possible ideas: print your work on paper, view it on your tablet, project it on the wall or temporarily change the font of your entire document.
Rather than worrying about spelling, commas and full stops at the beginning of editing, start with a broad overview. Do you need to add or cut a section? Did you forget to include important information? After reading your work, did you realize that you need to re-write something? If yes, do it at this first stage of your edit. Otherwise, you might end up proofreading material that you cut later. Does your document still need:
A summary or a conclusion
Links to sources/resources
Slice and dice
When you’re satisfied with the format and overall structure of your document, it still needs further fine-tuning. This is the time to reduce the number of words in your document and search for shorter, more concise ways to communicate what your audience needs to know. Look out for:
You could say “the fact of the matter is that editing is essential”, or you could say “editing is essential”. Readers have little patience for verbose writing. In addition to helping you spot errors with spelling and pronunciation, reading aloud will help you get a feel for the rhythm and tone of your document. Do you get tongue-tied trying to read one sentence? Re-write it so it flows more smoothly. Look out for:
Leonardo Da Vinci said that a work of art is never finished, merely abandoned. Even if you don’t consider your document a work of art, you will probably never be 100% satisfied. However, after you’ve edited your document as much as possible, call it a day and congratulate yourself on a job well done.
https://www.targettraining.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/0011-e1476260677584.jpg8001200Martin Wheelerhttps://www.targettraining.eu/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/logoWP.pngMartin Wheeler2017-02-17 12:17:452018-06-06 12:29:19Quick tips on editing your own work
This week’s post was meant to be about customer service skills. Once I had my initial ideas on virtual paper, I started searching online resources. Very quickly and inevitably I ended up on TED.com and almost an hour later, I was still watching videos, no longer anything to do with customer service. My post was about what customer service professionals can do to stay motivated, with an array of some not so nice customers contacting them. It was inspired by one of my not so very motivated participants. He said: I don’t care if they’re nice or not. I don’t care if they think I’m nice or not. I still get paid for taking the call. Being motivated to do a good job has very little to do with having ‘nice’ customers – ultimately. That was one of the points of my post. Perhaps I will finish the post, it was an interesting training session. This post is instead about everyday leadership, feeling good and staying motivated.
Behavioral economist Dan Ariely starts his TED talk ‘What makes us feel good about our work‘ with a mountain climbing example. “…If you read books of people who climb mountains, difficult mountains,do you think that those books are full of moments of joy and happiness?No, they are full of misery.In fact, it’s all about frostbite and having difficulty walking,and difficulty breathing —cold, challenging circumstances.And if people were just trying to be happy,the moment they would get to the top,they would say, “This was a terrible mistake.I’ll never do it again.”
This very personal TED talk from Drew Dudley is easily transferable to a business context. ‘Everyday leadership‘ starts with a clear message. “…I’ve come to realize that we have made leadershipinto something bigger than us; something beyond us.We’ve made it about changing the world.We’ve taken this title of “leader”and treat it as something that one day we’re going to deserve.But to give it to ourselves right nowmeans a level of arrogance or cockiness that we’re not comfortable with.And I worry sometimes that we spend so much timecelebrating amazing things that hardly anybody can do,that we’ve convinced ourselves those are the only things worth celebrating.We start to devalue the things we can do every day. We take moments where we truly are a leaderand we don’t let ourselves take credit for it, or feel good about it.”
The happy secret to better work
Shawn Achor’s very funny talk ‘The happy secret to better work‘ is definitely worth watching. “… One of the first things we teach peoplein economics, statistics, business and psychology coursesis how, in a statistically valid way, do we eliminate the weirdos.How do we eliminate the outliers so we can find the line of best fit?Which is fantastic if I’m trying to find outhow many Advil the average person should be taking — two. But if I’m interested in your potential,or for happiness or productivity or energy or creativity,we’re creating the cult of the average with science.If I asked a question like,“How fast can a child learn how to read in a classroom?”scientists change the answer to“How fast does the average child learn how to read in that classroom?”and we tailor the class towards the average.If you fall below the average,then psychologists get thrilled,because that means you’re depressed or have a disorder,or hopefully both.”
https://www.targettraining.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Fotolia_71554784_M.jpg9601979BVShttps://www.targettraining.eu/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/logoWP.pngBVS2016-11-16 14:52:572020-07-01 13:57:56TED talks on motivation and leadership
Most of my working life I have worked independently in or with small organisations, where training has often been on the job and learning by doing (the “70%”), or learning from and copying colleagues (the “20%”) And to be clear I’m not complaining –I’ve worked with and learnt from a long list of inspiring individuals. So a big thank you to Jörg, Wilfried, Wolfgang, George, Danny, Richard, Mac, Piers, Niven and many many others. Indeed the best “training” I have ever experienced was the 20% of the 70/20/10 model – and the best training course I have ever been on was one I really wanted to join. Here’s what made it such a great experience.
Professional and personal benefit
I’ve never been “sent to training.” Any seminar I’ve attended has been self-financed, and I’ve therefore always been choosy. Earlier in my career I attended seminars that could provide a hard benefit for my own work – but the best seminar I’ve ever attended benefited not just my work but me personally. The seminar was an introduction to the Ennegram. It was run by the Enneagram Institute of Greece and took place in a small hotel on Naxos, an idyllic Greek island.
The Enneagram unfortunately does not appear often on the radar screen of the HR departments of most German corporations – it seems at first glance to be too wacky and esoteric, but as a trainer who has worked with DISC, SDI and the MBTI I’ve found it to be powerful and challenging. The seminar was delivered by two inspirational Ennegram experts, Russ Hudson and Don Riso. Don and Russ had together developed the Enneagram away from the esoteric and mystic and made it into a robust psychometric tool, although the word tool does not do it justice. To cover the content of the seminar in a paragraph would be to invite ridicule. Suffice to say it covered applied psychology, history, mathematics, anthropology, theology. We explored the 9 types and took them to a deeper level.
The five day workshop provided space and opportunity for self-reflection. It was a „selfish” learning programme, in a positive sense. There was a refreshing shift away from learning a couple of tips and techniques for the day to day work – and a rewarding focus was on what are my motivations, how can I develop and how can I avoid the downward spiral into the darker side of my personality.
Location, location, location
The location was paradise. Imagine arriving at Athens’ airport, a short bus ride to the port of Rafina, staying overnight and eating seafood, catching the morning ferry to the Cyclades, a three hour sail to Naxos, disembarking, lunch in the harbour tavern, finding one of the island’s few taxis then to the hotel with its own beach surrounded by endless blue sky and water.
The other participants were diverse, motivated and engaged – even the more sceptical among us. We learnt together and from each other, and from Russ and Don. Our only mystery was our selves. There were long lunches with time to swim and sleep; but we worked late into the night (Mediterranean time rhythm). The room was small, crowded and hot and it did not matter. Technical support was non-existent and not needed: the view was breath-taking and more motivating than a PowerPoint screen.
Like Hans Castorp in the Magic Mountain I re-entered the real world five days later, enriched and motivated. Here are the factors that made the training so fantastic.
It was not a “have to join” seminar but a “want to join” seminar.
The course presenters were inspirational.
The other participants were diverse professionally and culturally and I made some good friends.
Learning from each other is powerful.
It was a great location – I doubted it would have had the same impact in a business hotel at an airport.
The content was intellectually stimulating and challenging
There was ample time and process for self-reflection
And as a bonus I could transfer what I learnt to my private and business life.
I believe looking at the list above there are clear parallels and transferable to dos to the corporate world of organizing training. Do you see them too?
https://www.targettraining.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Fotolia_18458295_M.jpg11261687Tony Normanhttps://www.targettraining.eu/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/logoWP.pngTony Norman2016-09-08 13:32:502018-06-06 12:29:25The best training course I have ever been on (or why wanting to be there made all the difference)
Blended Learning (BL) is one of those terms that is kicked around freely in the world of training and development. The only problem is that there are so many different interpretations of what it actually means. For some people it is virtual training, for some it is e-learning, others might think it is e-learning with a mixture of classroom time, and so on. A great starting point is to think about the meaning of the word “blend”. The chances are, you have a blender in your kitchen. What do you do with your blender? Usually you pick the ingredients you want to make your smoothie, soup, marinade or whatever else you might be making. You pick those ingredients in the quantities that you like, and you hit the blend button to get the result you are looking for. That’s what blended learning is: choose your ingredients, adjust the quantities, blend, and you’ve got your result.
Why should you consider adopting a blended approach to learning in your organization?
Research by the National Training Laboratory (World Bank) shows that the amount of new information trainees retain depends on how the information is presented. The graph below shows the retention rates for the six most common methods of teaching new information:
Logically then, one mode of delivery is not sufficient to achieve the intended results from training programs. The more you blend, the better the results. And consequently, the better your return on investment is. Blending is therefore not really a training option,it’s a must.
What can you put in your BL toolbox?
The different ways of training (training modalities) are important to understand. Your 5 main choices are:
Face-to-face training (seminars, classes, workshops, peer coaching)
Wikis and community learning
Webinars / Virtual classrooms
Web-based Training (WBTs)
At the most basic level, blended learning could be that you set home work after a training intervention and follow up on it, BUT you can do much better than that! In this mobile age, there are literally hundreds of tools out there you can choose from. You’ll need to take a look at them, evaluate them, and figure out which ones are best for you and your organization. And if you’re not happy with any of them, there are easy-to-use platforms that allow you to develop your own.
How can you get that perfect blend for your training program?
When are you asking your participants to do the elements which are not face-to-face? In a lot of cases, this has to happen after work and within their own time. Your staff have to complete certain elements, but they need to be given time and space to do this. This means a higher investment of course, but you can then expect that the participants will work through these blended elements. The level of motivation will also be much higher, and that will mean that the participants are actually likely to learn more.
The fear of technology. Blended Learning does not actually have to involve a technology based part, but invariably these days it will. Some people are easily able to take on new IT tools, while others find this more challenging, and ultimately scary.
Getting and sustaining true virtual engagement. I speak from experience as a participant. I have joined an online course with chat functions to help interaction between the participants and tutor. For the first few modules I’ve been full of energy and assigned time for the training, but after that practical realities and operational issues have got in the way, and the training has slipped further down my to-do list (especially when there are no time constraints on the training). That’s a big shame, but it is a reality, and one that I’m not alone in facing.
Disconnected content. Successful Blended Learning involves teaching and deepening the same content using different modalities and a range of tools. In several programs I’ve seen there has been little connection between the content of the face-to-face training and the virtual elements. Rather than building on knowledge, new input is being given in each setting. This may be because there is so much input, but the result will be that a lot has been covered, but little has been learnt.
Unrealistic expectations. Just because a participant has attended a webinar, it does not mean that they actually know the content. You need to have seen facts several times and be able to relate them to a relevant context in order to learn them. It’s only when you need the information in reality that you will see how successful this has been. If no opportunity arises over the months following this training element, then it is likely that participants will not remember much of the session. Blended Learning can help by offering further tools to aid retention outside the training room – but application is essential!
Blended Learning is finding the right blend of training tools to suit your individual organizational needs. Finding this blend will help improve learning retention as well as providing resources that participants can refer to outside face-to-face training. On the flip side, if you’re investing in or designing a Blended Learning program for your organization, then you need to make sure that the expectations and outcomes set are realistic. For the training to be motivational, participants need to have time, space and the necessary technical equipment. If you have all that in place, then the chances are you’ll see success.
https://www.targettraining.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Fotolia_75888099_S.jpg519925Guest Authorhttps://www.targettraining.eu/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/logoWP.pngGuest Author2016-08-24 12:58:332018-02-07 11:33:50What does Blended Learning really mean?
Email is still one of the most common communication channels within virtual teams – and it can cause friction. Proactively tackling potential problems is key to successfully launching a virtual team – so during our face-to-face and online seminars with virtual team leaders we discuss expectations. Naturally communication comes into this and time spent constructing a communication plan is always time well spent. As Jochen, a German project manager shared “It sounds so obvious we didn’t think about doing it – and now that we have I can already tell that we solved some real obstacles”.
Building a communication plan when you kick off your virtual team
A communication plan outlines which communication tools you’ll use and how you’ll use them. For example “we’ll use Webex for our brainstorming and problem solving, we’ll use Hipster for chatting and sharing links, and we’ll use email for …”
Building the plan involves discussing approaches and expectations – and by talking through these expectations you can uncover and deal with different attitudes. An example we often run into when working with multicultural virtual teams is whereas one team member may expect people to write back a polite “thank you for the mail” another may find this a waste of time – and even annoying! And because email is still so pervasive we’ve seen that the majority of frustrations come from how people use (or don’t use) email. To get you started with your discussions, we’re sharing below a list of email commitments one of our clients agreed to (with their permission of course).
Email commitments from a software development team working virtually across 3 countries
We’ll check our email at least every 3 hours.
We don’t check emails when we are in meetings.
We’ll use the phone and leave a message if something is truly time critical.
We’ll write email subject lines that immediately explain what the email is about.
We’ll use keywords like Action by XX or FYI in the titles
We assume that if somebody is copied (cc) into an email they don’t need to respond.
We will avoid using the “reply to all” unless everyone absolutely needs the information
We’ll pick up the phone after 3 emails on one topic.
We accept that emails sent from phones occasionally have typos.
We expect that larger emails are well written.
We don’t use CAPITALS and we don’t normally use colours unless something is critically important.
We use bold to help people scan key information
We always give people the benefit of the doubt if something can be understood in two ways.
When we write an email in an emotional state we all agree we will save it – and come back to it the next day. And anyway a phone call is preferred by everyone.
If we’re having interpersonal problems, we don’t use email – we’ll pick up the phone or use Skype for Business.
We will review this list every 4th Skype meeting and remind ourselves that we all want to follow it.
The above list is strong and clear. It was built over the course of a facilitated 30 minute discussion and it works. We’re not advocating that you take it word for word – but why not use this a as springboard for discussing your own team’s behaviours? Building common understanding up front will help your virtual team communicate smoothly and confidently.
And if you want to read more
Here’s a useful document with tips and language for effective communication across cultures.
https://www.targettraining.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Fotolia_83965750_M.jpg11251688Scott Leveyhttps://www.targettraining.eu/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/logoWP.pngScott Levey2016-08-17 13:15:202018-06-06 12:29:25Establishing effective email etiquette in your virtual teams
I’m sure a number of you have either heard of, or read, Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. It has been in circulation since 1936 and there is good reason for that. I know a lot of people say “Ah, that’s too American rah! rah! for me.” or “That is a bunch of self-help nonsense and should only be read by depressed salespeople!” The fact is that the book is rather “human”. A lot of what is said applies to basic, human interaction and feelings that we all experience each day. That is the main reason this book has been around for so long as it relates to those both inside and outside of the business world. Sure, there are some points made that are a bit of a stretch, and some that aren’t universally applicable, but once you sift through those there are a lot of great ideas from which business people can benefit.
Some interesting points from the book
There are many other great points in the book that relate to daily business situations. Here are just a few. (In this “Secret to Success” download, there’s a full overview of Dale Carnegie’s 30 principles from “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, and the principles from “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living”.)
Talk in terms of other people’s interests
People love to talk about themselves. Ask a few questions to get people talking about what they like, attentively listen, and then you will be surprised at how much they like you. Do a little research on what the other person you are trying to influence likes and show some genuine interest before diving into the business issue.
It is easy to immediately tell someone they are wrong when they make a mistake. This may lead to resentment or possibly hatred towards you. Next time, take a minute to try to understand where they are coming from and why they see things the way they do. Don’t point out your colleagues mistakes each time, but ask some questions and allow the person to come to the conclusion that it could be a bit better on their own.
Say a person’s name
Everyone likes to hear their name. Take time to learn people’s names and remember them no matter how “unimportant” they may seem to your immediate needs. By knowing people’s names and saying hello in your client’s office, it could help you close the big deal as you would be surprised how valuable the opinions of others in a company are.
I know, you don’t want to walk around smiling all the time because you will feel fake and uncomfortable. But try it a few more times a day when you normally wouldn’t and see how others respond. You may be surprised.
Begin in a friendly way
Many times we start a discussion, call, or email with the issue we are trying to solve. Take some time and make some small talk or say something complimentary before conducting business. It will take people off the defensive and make it easier to have difficult conversations. Next time you want to file a complaint or negotiate a lower price, reiterate the positives you have experienced with that company before asking for something. Many people will be happy to help someone they perceive as being friendly and not aggressive.
Admit if you are wrong quickly
This is hard to do at times, but it goes a long way in getting the other person to see where you are coming from and then softening their stance when it comes to a disagreement. If you know your boss is angry about a mistake you made, don’t try to come up with excuses but instead come right out and admit the fault and what you should have done. They will respect you for it and most likely be less hard on you.
https://www.targettraining.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Fotolia_85391330_M.jpg9092089Guest Authorhttps://www.targettraining.eu/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/logoWP.pngGuest Author2016-08-11 15:47:142018-06-06 12:29:25Book review: How to win friends and influence people
Which Business English qualification is right for you?
Thousands of new words are created each year. Not surprisingly, some of those words are related to learning and L&D. Here – in no particular order – are the top 16 learning terms we think you need to be familiar with in 2016.
1. Blended Learning
Blended learning is about finding the right blend for an individual training solution. Think of a training toolbox, which can include face-to-face and online training solutions. You and the trainer can pick the best options from the toolbox at each stage of your learning journey. There is not one truly successful blended learning course that looks the same – it depends entirely on the needs of the participants and the organization.
2. Flipped Learning
Flipped learning simply means that all the face-to-face time in training is dedicated to productive learning. All other elements of training are done in preparation for and as a follow-up to the face-to-face training sessions.
mLearning (mobile learning) means that you can access and use learning resources e.g. apps, videos, links from your smartphone or tablet wherever you are.
eLearning involves the use of specific online courses and apps. There is typically no face-to-face element. There will often be a facilitator who runs the course, gives feedback and ensures that collaboration is taking place.
6. Business-centric Learning
In this model, the needs of the business take priority. All L&D is aligned to the business’, not the learners’ needs. Success is then measured based on the impact that the training outcome has on the needs of the business.
7. Web-based Training (WBT) /Virtual classrooms
Web-based training is the same as face-to-face learning – just delivered virtually. Using tools like Skype for Business or Webex, the trainer can connect with participants anywhere in the world and train them in the same way as they would in a face-to-face environment. This learning space is called a virtual classroom.
8. Social Learning
This type of learning means that people learn from each other. This happens through collaboration and working together. This can be face-to-face or on, for example, intranet / internet platforms. This is really what the 20 in the 70:20:10 approach is about. We learn a lot from other people, the situation, and what is around us.
9. On the job Learning
And this is what the 70 in the 70:20:10 approach is all about. This is the amount you learn when you are actually working on the job. If 70% of learning is on the job, and 20% is social learning, then only 10% of training needs to be through formal instruction.
Gamification, is as the name suggests, a way of turning learning into an enjoyable, memorable and interactive experience. It is often so enjoyable that participants don’t actually realize that it is training.
11. Informal Learning
This is the learning which happens in an unplanned way when people interact with each other. There is no control from above as to what will be learnt.
12. Experiential Learning
This kind of learning is all about the experience. Take, for example, virtual teams training. There is plenty of information openly available about how we should be working in a virtual team. A trainer can also share this information. We can read an article, nod, think “mm, that’s right, I’ll try that next time”, but if we don’t experience the event, and receive feedback on what we’re doing, then there is little chance that we will actually change our behavior.
13. Independent / Self-directed Learning
This kind of learning is completely up to the participant. Management has no control over this. In contrast, the learner has total control. Choosing what interests you, means that you are more likely to remember what you learn and be motivated to pursue your learning further. There are endless tools, apps, and websites available which mean that learners can work at their own pace and at times that suit them.
14. Self-paced Learning
In this kind of learning it is the learner who decides how fast they want to move through the course.
15. Ongoing coaching and mentoring
Telling people something once generally isn’t enough. Ongoing coaching and mentoring is key to ensuring that messages and content have been understood, digested, and are being put into practice. This approach means that individual training goals can be set and reached.
16. Prescriptive Learning
If you’re sick, you go to the doctor’s. The doctor gives you a prescription to fix the problem. In the same way, prescriptive learning programs are designed to fix the skills gap and get the individual from where they are now, to where you and your organization want them to be.
For more information
These are just some of the learning terms that are in use at the moment. They will of course change. There are some really useful glossaries around which are updated on a regular basis. Here’s one we like
To keep up-to-date with trends in the industry, follow our Flipboard magazine: On Target with L&D
https://www.targettraining.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Fotolia_87899349_M.jpg10881746Guest Authorhttps://www.targettraining.eu/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/logoWP.pngGuest Author2016-07-06 15:06:182018-06-06 12:29:2516 jargon-busting learning terms you need to be familiar with (if you work in L&D)
When writing audit reports the “four-eyes principle” can add value. A second set of eyes provides an element of security. The 2nd reader catches looks at the complete audit report with fresh eyes, spots things the report writer may have missed, and picks up on structural, stylistic and language issues. However “red pen mania” (also known by some as “correction compulsion disorder”) can give the four-eyes principle a bad name. Give a manager a red pen (in other words the organisational authority to check someone else’s written work), and you may get more than you bargained for!
The other day I had the good fortune to interview a French client who is a senior compliance officer working at a regulatory organisation overseeing the financial institutions in a European country.
What does a typical audit report look like and how strict are the guidelines?
The format is dictated by the subject matter. The biggest difference in approach and contact would be between internal reports and reports for recipients outside the organisation, our clients if you will.
How do you go about drafting an audit report?
I would describe the approach as “forensic”. There is a lot of detailed research, fact gathering and analysis. I stress again, we have to be absolutely sure of our facts.
And who is the primary recipient of the report?
Internal reports as a rule are addressed to senior management. External reports are read by the CEOs of banks and other financial institutions, so we have to be sure of our facts. Remember, if we discover a compliance failure, the company will be spending a lot of money to put it right. We have to be sure of our facts.
Is there a 4 eyes principle?
4 eyes? How about 6, 8 or even 10 eyes principle?
How does this work in practice?
The responsible manager and his or her team drafts the first report and this is fine-tuned at a junior level, before being submitted to the next level of management. Ideally the accuracy and completeness of facts should be the first priority. Language style and grammar should be done when the accuracy of facts has been achieved.
Are suggestions for improvement open to discussion?
Interesting point. When a more senior manager makes a suggestion, it is more than a suggestion. Of course, as the compliance officer responsible I have to ensure the facts are correct and complete. What often happens is that a senior manager, does not dispute the facts, but asks what exactly does this mean or you need more information on this point. This feedback is always welcome and is an important part of the 4 eyes system.
What about language and style?
Accuracy (facts) and style (language) are both important and, as I said, getting the facts straight is not an issue. Neither are suggestions on wording. Remember what we point out as an action area incurs big costs We have to be careful not give the impression we “ordered” a particular course of action, otherwise our “client” can blame us, if a particular course of action does not work or, even worse, leads to financial loss. We would tend to pinpoint the problem and encourage the client to develop an appropriate remedy. Once again, 4 eyes feedback is here is invaluable.
I have the impression there is an area of 4 eyes feedback that is problematic. Would you care to elaborate?
You’re right. Case officers are generally intelligent and literate and do not write gibberish. In any case there is a language clarity check at a junior level. Style is a problem. Style or phrasing is often a personal preference. Unfortunately some senior managers, even if the facts are fine, feel obliged to fine tune the language – even when it does not need fine tuning. So then the red pen comes out and “we considered” becomes “it was considered that”; or “the problem I am alluding to” becomes the “problem to which I am alluding”. And if the senior manager does not like or understand alluding, then expect talking about, the rationale being plain English.
So what was the worst case of red pen mania you ever came across?
Bearing in mind an average report goes through 30 plus drafts, the world record in my experience was 55 drafts. After 36 drafts I just accepted all corrections (using the word correction tool, so it was quick and painless). Amazingly the reports kept coming back. One manager started correcting his own corrections! In my opinion, there are three things going on here. First the natural need to show power. Second the problem of insecurity and competence. And last but not least a problem peculiar to governmental bureaucracies. They do not have the cost discipline, and therefore the time discipline, that would nip this in the bud. I have worked in the private sector. I am by no means a neo-liberal market fanatic, but this would not happen in the private sector. Yet government organisations have too much slack and can afford this self-indulgent waste of resources.
Thank you for your insights. We respectfully ask all audit managers to remove all red pens from their desks. And by the way, what do you do with junior managers who have difficulties writing clearly and concisely with completeness of facts?
[laughs] They are sent on a report writing course. For example at Target Training. So keep offering your seminars on writing audit reports and we’ll keep sending our employees!
https://www.targettraining.eu/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Fotolia_33008900_M-e1394114947106.jpg7961680Tony Normanhttps://www.targettraining.eu/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/logoWP.pngTony Norman2016-06-29 13:38:342016-07-08 16:40:00Writing audit reports, the four-eyes principle, and the danger of “red pen mania”
Once a decision has been made for a training supplier and the first delivery has been checked for quality and suitability, we usually move on to other things. In reality, this can mean that a training provider delivers the same training measure again and again over years, without its contents being updated to current business needs or checking that the agreed contents are still being used by the selected trainer. Use the following topics to structure how you evaluate your existing training suppliers.
How up-to-date are you?
Evaluating your existing training provider starts in your own office. As you are responsible for the training measure(s) that your provider is delivering, you should have up-to-date information on the latest participant evaluations, seminar documentation and hand-outs. The older your own documentation is, the quicker you need to evaluate your training provider:
When did you last have a status meeting with your training provider? What was decided?
What can you learn if you compare participants’ evaluations over time?
If you don´t have a copy of the seminar documentation on your server, how quickly does your training provider hand out a copy to you?
How do you check the quality of existing training measures?
Regular quality management should be one of the key tasks of HR development but, unfortunately, everyday operational topics regularly push this to the bottom of the list. On the other hand, evaluating the quality of training measures ensures that you´re spending money on relevant training measures that support your business:
Does the seminar documentation (key messages about leadership and teamwork, cultural focus, takeaways, etc.) still reflect the current business climate and needs in your organisation? What needs to be updated?
Learn from the participants: What expectations does a participant have going into a training event? How are these expectations met after the training? What takeaways are still present 4-6 weeks later?
Observe (or participate in) a training event: Is the seminar documentation relevant? Are the key messages suitable for your business reality? Is the trainer still motivated?
Talk to your trainer: How does he/she suggest incorporating into the training content what they learn from the participants about your business environment?
How reliable is your current training provider?
A good training provider understands your business and provides a training event that fits your organisation’s culture and industry. In addition, you can rely on them to keep you up-to-date on critical topics arising in their trainings, or to provide you with interesting ideas that synergise with your business:
Does your training provider keep you up-to-date with what is new on the market? Do they actively come up with new ideas which benefit your business?
Does your training provider shy away from the idea of working with another provider (or with an internal trainer) at your request to deliver a customised training measure?
Do you get enough training dates from your training provider? Does he/she keep these dates and/or offer back-up trainers or alternative dates?
Is your contract up to date?
Once signed, companies rarely update contracts with training providers even though a discussion of training fees seems to be a regular event. Nonetheless, important factors such as travel expenses or secondary costs need to be checked on a regular basis. Also, legal requirements, e.g. confidentiality or data protection, change over time and need to be adhered to:
Do the agreed payment terms still fit current purchasing standards in your company?
Do the training rates meet market standards? Does the number of training measures provided justify a re-negotiation of fees?
How dependent are you on your training provider to deliver this training measure? Does this fit with your HR strategy or should you have a wider pool of providers?
Do you have an up-to-date confidentiality agreement with your training provider?
Does your training provider charge you separately for materials? Is the seminar documentation relevant or can you send key documents via email to save costs?
Download our eBook to learn more
There are thousands of training providers out there and many promise great things. But how can you really find out if they are the right fit? After all, it’s essential that you don’t risk wasting your employees’ working time or your hard-won training budget! Download the eBook.
By Fiona Higginson
Fiona’s corporate career in human resources started in 1997, and is characterized by her focus on the design and/or delivery of high-quality HRD measures and instruments.She’s worked in multinational corporations in both manufacturing and service industries, from DAX – 30 listed global players to medium-sized organizations. Fiona is a certified trainer and coach and
has degrees in Developmental Learning and International Affairsfrom Ireland, Germany and the UK. She speaks fluent English and German, as well as Spanish and French. She recently
established her own consultancy: www.fionahigginson.com
https://www.targettraining.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Fotolia_43862715_M.jpg11751617Guest Authorhttps://www.targettraining.eu/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/logoWP.pngGuest Author2016-06-01 12:14:062018-06-06 12:29:26Evaluating existing training suppliers
The key to assessing potential training providers is to find out how well they fit to what you want to achieve with the training. It’s important to get to the point quickly and here are a few questions that can help you decide if the people you’re talking to are ‘right’ for your company.
Before you present your company and situation to them, let the training provider describe what he/she already knows about your organisation. At the very least, they should have done their homework by reading the homepage. The most impressive of providers will already have incorporated your internal company language into their (written or oral) presentation:
If you sent them information prior to the meeting, are they referring to its content correctly?
Have they picked up any company brochures while they were waiting for you in the lobby?
Do you have to repeat yourself or are they listening to you describe your organisation attentively? (taking notes, rephrasing what you said, using company language)
Does their presentation reflect what you are looking for?
What kind of business do they have?
You need to know whether you´re dealing with a one-man-show (flexible to your needs but limited in scope) or a training company (offers standard content but can provide wider services). Additionally, you need to know how their business model fits your company and whether their training approach is compatible with the leadership culture in your organisation:
How many people work there?
Can they provide you with trainer profiles?
Who would you work with on the actual design of training content and why is he/she the most qualified?
What kind of international work have they done in the past?
What is their policy should a trainer drop out at the last minute? (replacement, back-up)
Which institutions do they cooperate with? (business schools, leadership think tanks)
How do they approach designing training content for new clients?
You can buy standardised content from any reliable provider, or you can ask a provider to customise training content to your situation and needs. If you choose the customized training option, you can ask:
How do they normally go about creating a new design for a first-time client? (design phases, milestones, client approval, dry runs)
What do they suggest they need to get to know your organisation in order to be able to create a suitable design? (discovery interviews with stakeholders, plant visits)
What level of customisation are they willing to provide? (adoption of company-internal language/abbreviations, integration of company goals/competences/principles into training content, incorporation of internal specialists in training programmes)
What methods of quality management do they apply?
No training measure should be an individual, stand-alone event. Any professional training provider should have a variety of methods to ensure the applicability of training content to the business and the transfer of learning to the workplace. For longer-term or repetitive measures, they should suggest methods to maintain high-quality content and to review and update these contents to your changing business environment:
Other than the typical “happy sheets”, what kind of evaluation methods do they offer?
What methods have they used successfully in the past to ensure an effective learning transfer? (also ask about negative experiences and their underlying causes)
What is their approach towards blended learning? If you have an online learning platform, how could the training contents be linked back to it?
What certifications do they possess? (industry certificates like ISO or individual certification like personality diagnostics)
What are their expectations regarding contracting?
Most companies have internal standards about contracting external suppliers, whether it be about payment terms or travel regulations. Most training providers do not like to have to accommodate their contracting terms but, as the customer, you should ensure that the contract details suit your business:
What are their daily rates? (beware of different rates for design, preparation and delivery)
What kind of payment terms do they suggest? (timing of invoices, listing of travel expenses, payment of instalments)
If they create materials customised to your organisation, what are the intellectual property considerations? (ideally, you should be able to use this material internally for other purposes)
What references can they provide?
Ultimately, you need to check the references of any training provider before contracting them. Be aware, however, that some references given may be outdated or refer to projects not applicable to what you require for your business:
What other similar clients have they worked for in the recent past? (same industry, similar size, similar business model)
What other similar projects have they successfully run in the recent past? (focus of contents, hierarchy level of participants, scope of measures)
Can they give you the name/contact details of reference clients? (a good provider will want to check with that client first!)
By Fiona Higginson
Fiona’s corporate career in human resources started in 1997, and is characterized by her focus on the design and/or delivery of high-quality HRD measures and instruments.She’s worked in multinational corporations in both manufacturing and service industries, from DAX – 30 listed global players to medium-sized organizations. Fiona is a certified trainer and coach and
has degrees in Developmental Learning and International Affairsfrom Ireland, Germany and the UK. She speaks fluent English and German, as well as Spanish and French. She recently
established her own consultancy: www.fionahigginson.com
https://www.targettraining.eu/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Fotolia_61606327_M-e1400072440629.jpg2251171Guest Authorhttps://www.targettraining.eu/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/logoWP.pngGuest Author2016-05-11 13:00:242018-06-06 12:29:26Qualifying potential training providers
When learning a foreign language, it’s definitely beneficial to vary techniques and shock the brain so that it becomes more alert and is more apt retain information such as new vocabulary. In this vein, listening to native speakers is one of the best ways to learn. The learner can hear how the language is used in a variety of situations as well as intonation and pronunciation. This technique works best when the learner has interest in the topic being discussed; otherwise, the learner loses interest and stops listening. TED Talks are a great place to find interesting topics. TED means Technology, Entertainment and Design, but the talks now cover just about any topic you can think of. One great thing about the videos is that you can choose subtitles (English, please!) or follow along with the interactive transcript if you want. These are helpful tools for understanding an unknown word. I recently perused the website and found a few videos of varying length on the topic of increasing office productivity that I would like to share.
How sweet are your emails?
How to save the world (or at least yourself) from bad meetings
David Grady shares with us his ideas on How to save the world (or at least yourself) from bad meetings in his talk where he uses the analogy of office furniture theft to explain how and why the listener can and should bring order back to their daily work schedules by avoiding unnecessary meetings. After watching, you can learn how to avoid MAS, too!
Why work doesn’t happen at work
Jason Fried details three suggestions on how to improve productivity in the workplace in his talk on Why work doesn’t happen at work. In it, he explores where people feel more productive and what causes involuntary distractions at the workplace. He compares work to sleep phases where you need long stretches of uninterrupted time to get work done. What is the longest you can go at work without getting interrupted by managers or meetings?
Got a meeting? Take a walk
In her short talk, Nilofer Merchant advises the listener Got a meeting? Take a walk. Not only is this idea good for the health, it also allows you to get out of the office and see things a bit differently. As she says, fresh air drives fresh thinking!
As work gets more complex, 6 steps to simplify
Sometimes work gets unnecessarily a bit too complicated. Yves Morieux has thought about this and came up with six ways towards streamlining in his talk As work gets more complex, 6 steps to simplify. He looks to answer the questions why productivity is so disappointing, why there is so little engagement at work and what this has to do with the increasing complexities faced by businesses today. His answers just might surprise you!
If you found these talks interesting, I suggest you explore other TED talks on a topic that intrigues you. There are many compelling talks available, and the more engaged you are with the topic, the more likely you are to retain any new vocabulary you pick up whilst listening. Not only that, but you can also use the talks to train your ear for understanding foreign accents such as Yves’ wonderful French accent. Let us know what interesting talks you discover!
https://www.targettraining.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Fotolia_87899349_M.jpg10881746Guest Authorhttps://www.targettraining.eu/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/logoWP.pngGuest Author2016-04-06 12:45:342018-06-06 12:29:274 TEDs on Increasing Work Productivity
A few weeks ago I was chatting to a purchaser who worked in the automotive industry. The conversation drifted to the topic of negotiating and we began to compare countries and styles. The purchaser, a Norwegian, said half in jest but seriously enough, “You English cannot handle silence”. As a full-blooded Brit I can only agree. Many cultures, especially Scandinavians, are more comfortable with silence than others. But why is this? The impact of culture on how we communicate is certainly a factor. When I lived in Sweden I had the impression Swedes and Finns took a long time to thaw out and small talk consisted of a “Jaaaah”. The English, on the other hand, feel uncomfortable with silence and will often fill the air with meaningless chatter.
“A Finn and a Swede go into a sauna. After 30 minutes the Swede says “It’s hot in here”. The Finn replies “You Swedes – you talk too much.”
Why am I sharing this? If, like me, you’re from a culture where communication is direct, silence is a hard skill to master. But whether it’s a cultural norm, a question of personality, or even a trained skill, being comfortable with silence when negotiating is essential if you want to reach your goals. When used in a subtle and careful manner, silence can reshape negotiations and extract surprising amounts of information while leaving your counterpart feeling they are in charge of the conversation.
Value added question + silence = insight
A good negotiator, no matter what nationality, will probably be assertive but charming, have good questioning skills, and handle pressure well. Questioning skills are a must – and here silence plays a role. Silence can prompt your counterpart to share more than they planned to – verbally or non-verbally.
Poor negotiators will often answer their own question: “What price were you thinking of? I was going to suggest something in the region of € 105 per unit.”. Poor negotiators do not ask enough value added questions – a value added question being one that makes the other party pause and consider, e.g. “How did you arrive at that figure?” “What are the consequences for your clients?” “How can we help you sell this concept inside your organisation?” Answering value added questions needs time. Use the silence to observe your partner.
You have the right to be silent
Let’s assume you have asked a good question and the other party is taking his/her time to answer. A few seconds is not a problem, but after ten it can become tense. Learn to look serene and confident, smile at the other party, look at your notes and scribble something. Stay connected to the other party with body language and eye contact. At some point the other party may buy time and say “I’ll get back to you.” Alternatively you can also suggest moving on to another point. But give silence a chance.
And if the roles are reversed you have the right to be silent. Do not shoot from the hip with a half-baked, badly thought through answer. Learn to be comfortable with silence. “I’m thinking this through”, “I’d like to explore this idea, give me a minute” or “I’ll get back to you.” will buy you time.
Learning to use silence in negotiations – the role of training and practice
Silence has to be practised and refined in training or coaching. Training helps you become aware of your relationship to silence; then develop the skills to use it subtly and effectively through role plays, real plays and critical incidents. Training goves you the opportunity to repeat situations and develop awareness, confidence and mechanisms for handling silence. You can practice asking the right questions, leaving room for the other party to develop a sensible answer, practice NOT shooting from the hip, and practice behavioural strategies that make the silence comfortable for both you and your opposite number.
And remember – when negotiating silence is not a threat; silence is golden.
https://www.targettraining.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Fotolia_80579302_M.jpg11251688Tony Normanhttps://www.targettraining.eu/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/logoWP.pngTony Norman2016-03-24 12:25:422018-06-06 12:29:27Negotiation tactics – Why silence is golden
The purpose pyramid is one of the simplest and yet effective communication models for introducing a presentation, opening a meeting or organizing your thoughts that there is. It is so simple, in fact, that no one seems to take credit for it though you will find it in the work of many communications gurus. The four questions in the pyramid aren’t special by themselves, but together they offer a powerful way to connect what you want to do with the goals and needs of your organization, no matter what business you are in or function you perform. Why? + What? + How? + Who? = Alignment. The Purpose Pyramid makes it easy for you to structure your communication – in any situation.
Why is where you share or remind your team about the deeper meaning and purpose of the organization. This is the reason that energizes you and your colleagues as well as your customers. What’s your why? Your purpose is best when it brings the energy of your team together and they can all see themselves in it. It should also attract internal and external customers to your work.
A band plays music, by definition – but wouldn’t you rather see a band whose purpose is to give you high energy and a memorable musical experience?
At a more nuts and bolts level, you can also apply the why to day-to-day interactions and situations. An example could be to state the purpose (why) of a meeting on the agenda for everyone to see. If there is a question about being on track, the team can refer to the mutually agreed purpose of the team.
What refers to the tasks you and your team need to get done to contribute to making your purpose a reality. At their best these tasks are things you can track and observe easily so all can know when it is accomplished. For example, to have better meetings is not a clear task. Having everyone contribute to the meeting is a clear task. The SMART principle is a great model to use, just remember they should in some way contribute to achieving your purpose.
An example could be to make task identification a two-step process. Instead of automatically identifying who should complete a task at the same time as identifying the task, outline just the tasks first. Going through the how before identifying who will help team members to know what they are committing to.
How is where you turn to your method, approach or process, How will you get your tasks accomplished? For example, sticking with the “better meetings” example, if my task is to have everyone contribute to a meeting, I could tell the team members I expect them to contribute and hope for the best or I could use a polling technique in the meeting to give each attendee the space to speak uninterrupted.
If a task is complex, the “how” could be a process or procedure that helps to complete the task effectively and efficiently. If you have standard operating procedures in place, this is the time to stress their use.
An example could be to identify the resources and process necessary to complete a task before asking who will do it. Leaders get a chance to offer support to the team and may encourage team members to accept a stretch task because they know how they will be supported.
Who refers to the individual and collective commitments or expectations that match your team to the tasks at hand. In most meetings the who stage tells how well we’ve done the other stages. If team members recognize and connect with their purpose, the necessity of a task and the process and resources to get it done, it’s a lot easier to agree to do them. With the clarity you’ve built earlier, it is easier for you to ask for what you want while committing to do what is necessary to support your team. A great question at the end of a meeting is “what have we agreed to do?” to check agreements without sounding like a task master.
Browse our blog for more tips and tricks
And/or let me know of any other useful communication tools that always work for you. I look forward to hearing from you!
https://www.targettraining.eu/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Fotolia_38740085_L-e1377761708797.jpg3501013James Culverhttps://www.targettraining.eu/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/logoWP.pngJames Culver2016-03-09 12:32:242020-07-01 13:59:59Powerful Communication – The Power of the Purpose Pyramid
The first time I used a game in the Business English training room it failed – miserably. Actually, from a training point of view it worked pretty well as participants were talking a lot and interacting in an authentic, interested manner with each other. That was the aim of the session. In fact, being a business fluency class, it was really the aim of the whole course. But participants didn’t see it that way. They went straight to my director, complaining that the class had been a waste of time as they had to play a game.
What went wrong? This experience happened twenty years ago and the participants were heading towards retirement. I don’t think that it is time or age that explains it though. It has more to do with participant expectations, their perceptions of an activity’s usefulness, and the training department and trainer’s need to “sell” the training tools we are using to get participant buy-in. Looking back, I definitely didn’t sell it well enough.
Three ways to sell gamification to training participants
Gamification is all the rage in training at the moment and is one of the top training trends for 2016. And there are lots of tools out there to help the trainer convert the training room into a fun, interactive, engaging place to learn. Most of us working in training know that this is a good thing. Let’s look at some ways training managers and trainers can convince participants that games are not a silly, waste of time in training. We need to show them that games are a very valid way to learn, retain and use what has been taught, as well as being a great diagnostic tool to find out more about what they still need to know.
We’ve found that taking these three steps really helps to make participants feel ready to take on any kind of activity you want to give them. They’ve just got to know why.
Ensure you and your training provider share the training methodology before the training begins
Participants in any form of training have to know what to expect. Take language training for example. People have learnt languages in many different ways, but most commonly at school where the focus tends to be on grammar and accuracy. Traditionally they expect the teacher to stand at the front of the room and ask individuals questions. In language training, intercultural training and leadership training today, trainers are encouraged to act as facilitators and resources rather than to stand at the front of the class and talk at the class. The shift from this kind of traditional school teaching to a trainer who facilitates learning and makes participants play games and talk about their own experiences is a big leap. And it needs explaining before the training is even purchased.
To consider: Does your corporate training catalogue describe the training styles and tools that will be used in the training room?
Ensure your training provider shares the aims at the start of the training session and again at the start of the activity
You can generally get adults to do anything in the training room – as long as they know why. General course aims are often explained and shared right at the start of the course in the first session. They really need to be shared right at the start of the session and when setting up each activity too. Here’s a couple of simple ways trainers can be using to get participant buy-in:
At the start of the session, write up your main aims in the corner of the board of flipchart. You can then tick them off as you move through the session and draw the participants’ attention to the fact that you’re doing this and that they’re making great progress.
Start each activity by explain “why”. All you need to do is add a “so that”, “in order to” or “because”, and it helps to link your rationale back to the aims you outlined at the start of the session:
I’d like you to work together and play this game so that…
In order to …… we’re going into divide into two teams and…….
Finally, check that everyone is OK with that. A simple Is everyone OK with that? or Does everyone feel comfortable with that? goes one step further towards making participants feel that they have been included in the decision-making process as well as giving them an opportunity to say that they don’t want to do whatever the trainer has just asked them to do.
To consider: Do your trainers and training providers share their aims at regular intervals? At the start of the program? At the start of each session? Before activities?
Ensure your training provider is debriefing effectively
Training providers need to be getting the participants involved in the rationale and evaluating the usefulness of an activity. They need to give them the opportunity to decide if they think they would benefit from doing that kind of activity again. Creating a dialogue helps to build rapport, increase buy-in, and build a positive learning environment. And a positive learning environment will help move participants along their learning journey. Here are some ways of starting that debriefing dialogue:
Why did we do that activity?
What did you get out of that activity?
How could that activity be improved?
Would you want to do that kind of activity again?
Trainers should go back to their list of aims on the board. Review this list and mark what has been covered, and what hasn’t. If some aims haven’t been met, this should be discussed with the participants.
To consider: How well does your training provider debrief training sessions?
https://www.targettraining.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Fotolia_103886461_M.jpg11711622Guest Authorhttps://www.targettraining.eu/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/logoWP.pngGuest Author2016-03-02 12:36:322018-06-06 12:29:27How to convince participants that gamification is a good thing
All owners and managers dread hearing “I’m just here for my paycheck”. It’s crucial for all establishments to have a culture that employees can relate to, and this means building a working environment where employees share your mission and vision. Large organizations may have a strong overall culture; but the specific cultures within each department and team are just as important. We want our staff to feel attached to the mission and vision of the company. But how do we do this?
I’ve worked with many companies working in the service and hospitality industry in the US and Asia. One problem I’ve noticed is that whenever people begin to talk about building the right culture within a department it can quickly become too abstract. This doesn’t need to be the case! Let’s think of culture as a pizza (or a “pizza pie” as we say in the States). There are several layers in developing a successful and delicious pizza and every layer is essential. Building an effective company or team culture is similar – each layer has its own role to play in impacting the work environment and the bottom line of the organization.
The dough is our foundation. When managers and Human Resource departments hire new candidates, one criteria they should look for is the candidate’s commitment or we could say “Is the candidate passionate about what he/she is trying to achieve?” We need to hire those who are passionate and enthusiastic about their roles.
Dough would be tasteless without the sauce. Sauce can be described as core skills and behaviours for the organization, and one-on-one time with new hires is essential. On-boarding training is key too. I consulted a business called Reggae Bar Phi in Thailand. They wanted all new candidates to jump into the job and weren’t spending any time on induction and training. Taking the time to train new employees meant that employees knew what they were doing, why they were doing it and how their roles and actions impacted the bottom line. On- boarding should have a company-wide element plus be customized to fit the department’s objectives.
We’ve got the dough (a passionate candidate) and the sauce (essential training). We all have our own favorite toppings for our pizza – and this is where acknowledging and working with individual diversity is essential. For instance, in the hospitality industry, it’s important that all team members bring their own unique charm to the table to customize a guest’s experience at the hotel. Managers and Human Resources hire employees because they see the unique aspect in each individual that could impact the company. I strongly feel that leaders should build an atmosphere where employees feel comfortable being themselves and playing to their individual strengths.
I had the privilege to work for a great manager at a wonderful hotel in Orlando. One of the key characters my manager asked for was that I be myself. She told me “Bring out the charm in you and wow the guests”. This is an important statement. It’s hard to change a person’s personality and characteristic, but leaders can craft those inner talents towards the establishment’s goals. Allowing employees to bring their personal skills and assets to the table drives commitment, engagement and quality.
Have you ever eaten pizza raw? Of course not, we need an oven to fully complete the process. Leaders and Human Resource departments should be there to support individuals and departments to achieve their goals. Employees must feel connected to the organization. One client shared her approach as “Treat employees like you want them to treat external clients”. This can be extended to treating colleagues with the same respect – after all we all need support from one another. Employees need the support from their supervisors or leaders. Front desks can’t run a hotel without the support from the housekeeping department. And a logistics team can’t function without the IT support team.
I’ve used my “Pizza Mind” metaphor to help hotels improve their Market Metrix score and ranking of the departments from the lowest to the winning department of the year. In addition, it also helped to increase staff retention and morals. The main objective of implementing the “Pizza Mind Metaphor” is to help organizations create a stronger and effective culture where employees can be the competitive advantage in the market. No competitors can replicate this recipe of building “intangible assets” within the company.
About the author
I have worked professionally in the hospitality industry for more than 7 years. I am currently getting a Master degree in Human Resource Management. I’ve helped train several departments to achieve both departmental and organizational goals. I have consulted and improved employee’s engagement at various small businesses locally and internationally.
https://www.targettraining.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Fotolia_102698599_S.jpg566849Guest Authorhttps://www.targettraining.eu/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/logoWP.pngGuest Author2016-02-24 12:38:272016-03-03 16:52:51Can a Slice of Pizza Make a Difference? – building alignment in service industries
It’s 11:00 on Monday morning and your team, spread across the world, is about to dial in to a virtual meeting. Why? To update each other on what’s been going on over the past week, and what might happen over the next few weeks. In theory this could be really interesting, useful and beneficial, if it weren’t for the tight deadlines you have this week, and the knowledge that you’re going to be putting in a few late nights to meet them. Do you really need to spend time listening to Thierry, Namrata, and Quentin talking you through their week when you’ve got so much to do?
The reasons why weekly update meetings contribute to the success of the team’s performance
They keep you all in contact with each other. Emails are useful, but you don’t talk to each other. There is no real chance to build rapport and trust with your colleagues on the team.
They give the manager a chance to talk to and relay information to everyone at the same time.
Things happen in the week and everyone then knows that they have an opportunity to talk about them on this regular occasion. Unless something has to be dealt with right now, you can save it until then and not interrupt everyone during the week.
High performing teams help each other in difficult situations. If you don’t go to that meeting and share the fact that you are under pressure, nobody will be able to help you out. Everyone is, after all, working towards the same goals.
What makes weekly update meetings great?
There are, again, so many factors that could make these meetings great. This starts with recognizing that there are problems, and dealing with them. Here are a few suggestions:
If everyone is well-prepared and sticks to the agenda.
If everyone takes turns to speak.
If everyone shows interest when the others are speaking and reacts to what the speaker is saying.
If the language used is clear so that everyone can understand.
If the agenda varies from time to time. These meetings do run a risk of becoming routine. If you change the contact from time to time, this can help with the interest level.
If everyone commits to agreed rules.
If people refrain from doing other tasks at the same time as the meeting.
The alternatives to having a weekly update meeting
Do you simply want to update and be updated or do you want to help improve your team’s performance? If you’re looking for alternatives to the weekly meeting, then these options might be useful.
There is definitely a time and a place for emails, and they serve the purpose of conveying information. But they can be misread, and they can also be not read. There is no interaction and you have no chance to discuss responses with everyone at the same time unless you want an inbox bombardment.
A team portal or community
A lot of organizations now have their own internal social network. You can use communities for a wide range of purposes. You may also have a portal for your team. Why not use this to post updates before the meeting and then ask team members to talk specifically about one or two of the points? Alternatively they could ask questions on the portal/community that they would like help with. If everyone else has seen the issues in advance, then they have time to think, and will have something to contribute.
What is the structure of the update?
Just like with meetings, it is useful to give team members a common structure if you decide you’ll use email or an online platform for your weekly updates. Ask yourself:
It seems as though 2016 has only just started, but it’s February already! We know you’re really busy, so we thought we’d help out by reviewing 8 of the best management books from 2015 for you. If any of the summaries grab you, why not read the whole book?
This (Target) eBook
1001 Meetings phrases is a useful toolkit of phrases for the most typical meeting situations you find yourself in…
Did you know that actually the right team size is usually one fewer that most managers think they need? And that “chemistry” doesn’t equate to team success? Can you spot the right moment when one team needs to be dissolved to create another very different team? And are your teams really leveraging multicultural values as a strength?
Written for today’s managers, Team Genius reviews and explains the latest scientific research into how teams behave and perform and uses simple case studies and examples to bring it to life in a way that any manager can relate to.. It shows that much of the accepted wisdom about teams just doesn’t hold true – and then goes on to outline “new truths” and how to achieve them.
George Everly Jr, Douglas Strouse and Dennis McCormack
If you get turned off when you see the author is a “great business school professor”, “world-famous CEO” or “top management thinker” then this might be the book for you. Everly, Jr.is an expert in disaster mental health, and McCommack is a former Army psychologist and was one of the first original Navy Seals.
Drawing heavily on the psychology employed by US Navy Seals plus other examples from all walks of life, this book focuses on how we can each build our resilience and be “stronger” when everything seems to be falling apart. More importantly the book outlines how we need to practice building up our resilience (psychological body armor) before we actually need it. The five key factors the book explores are
Each area is outlined in detail with case studies and research. A quick warning though – being written by 3 psychologists, it’s not an airport quick-read.
When you think about it, it’s amazing that this book hasn’t been complied sooner – management and leadership books aren’t a 20th century creation. General fiction, biographies, great literature etc have reflected core management and leadership questions for centuries.
This anthology draws our attention to 102 stunningly diverse extracts from fiction, speeches, anthropology, letters, songs, and even the odd occasional poem! The extracts from Machiavelli, Macbeth, Ghandi, Didion, Ovid, Melville, Mandela, Lao Tzu, Orwell plus many many more all invites us to step back and think about leadership. Excellent reading for just before you take the dog for a long walk.
“They just don′t know how to behave professionally.”, “They know how to text but they don′t know how to write a memo.”, “They don′t know how to think, learn, or communicate without checking a device.”
Today′s new young workforce (also known as Millenials or generation Z,) has so much to offer – new technical skills, new ideas, new perspectives, new energy. All great stuff- but Tulgan also argues that research shows that employers across industries feel that too many Milennials have weak soft skills. As a few of the many case studies outline “they only want to do what they want to do” and ”his technical knowledge far surpassed anyone else in the firm … but his communication made him seem so immature”.
Renowned expert on the Millennial workforce Bruce Tulgan offers concrete solutions to help managers and HRD professionals alike teach the missing basics of professionalism, critical thinking, and followership. The book includes 92 step–by–step “lesson plans” designed for managers to use, and these include “take home” exercises, one-on-one discussion frameworks and training room activities.
In a nutshell, I can’t imagine a more complete or practical book than this.
Leading a global organization is no longer just a big businesses challenge. Even small company owners can be leading a virtual team that includes people from all over the world – and just yesterday we spoke with a HR manager with 60 employees in 11 countries and 23 cities.
This books aims to guide you through this new business environment. It features stories from people in critical roles around the world, advice based on practical experience, and shares new research which outlines the distinctive challenges of leading in a virtual and multicultural environment … and cultural awareness isn’t enough! Happily the book also includes strategies, tools and tips for working across cultures, leading virtual teams, running a matrix team, integrating an acquisition and developing the agility needed to innovate in such an environment. Personally I found it aimed more at larger mature organizations, but still worth a read … and we integrate many of the elements into our Working in Virtual teams training.
Despite receiving 1,5000,000 job applicants every year, Google spends twice as much on recruiting as comparable companies. Why? Because top performers are usually doing very well where they are and not looking to move. So Google works to identify these performers and cultivate their interest. But while Google spends considerably more on recruitment than most companies it also spends considerably less on training, believing top performers need less training.
Laszlo Bock, Head of People Operations, joined Google when it had just 6000 “googlers”, and in this book he shares the different recruiting and talent management practices Google use and have used. Although sometimes bordering on self-congratulation, the book is very much-action oriented with each chapter outlining a clear to do – Become a founder, Don’t trust your gut, Why everyone hates performance management and what we decided to do about it, Pay unfairly.
Have you ever wondered why you become so irritated around a specific colleague? Or questioned why your communication skills fall apart when presenting to a certain team? Goldsmith is an executive coach, and in this book he examines the triggers that can derail us – and how we can become the person we want to be and stay on track.
Perhaps common sense, but our reactions don’t occur in a vacuum. They are usually the result of triggers in our environment—whether this be specific person, situation or environment. .But how do we actually change ourselves? Knowing what to do doesn’t mean we actually do it, right? This book outlines how we can overcome the trigger points in our lives, and actually change to become the person we want to be, Drawing on executive coaching experience the authors use a simple “silver bullet” approach – daily self-monitoring, using active questions which focus on the our effort (and not the outcomes).
Do you wish you actually had the time and the space to be the manager and leader you know how to be? Introducing the idea of “outsights”, Herminia Ibarra, -an expert on professional leadership and development at INSEAD — shows how managers and executives at all levels can make an impact by making small but crucial changes in their jobs, their networks, and themselves. She argues that managers and leaders need to act first then to think – and to use the “outsights” resulting from the experience as a basis for meaningful individual growth and enabling of people and organizations. Joe Kaeser, CEO of Siemens AG. summed it up nicely as “transforming by doing”
The book is full of engaging self-assessments and plenty of practical advice so you can actually build a plan of action. It can be a bit heavy going but stick with it.
https://www.targettraining.eu/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Fotolia_48820712_M-e1379323674704.jpg270405Scott Leveyhttps://www.targettraining.eu/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/logoWP.pngScott Levey2016-02-03 13:25:142020-07-01 13:59:598 great books for busy managers you may have missed in 2015
After a cursory glance at recent headlines on FIFA, IAAF and VW you might be forgiven for thinking internal auditing and corporate governance have failed spectacularly. On the assumption that all these organisations have a functioning internal audit system in place, I can only assume that the most concise, most clear and most complete audit report does not stand a chance against a political decision taken in the upper echelons of an organisation’s management – which brings us to our message: despite these high profile negative examples, an audit report should support management in their decision making. So how do I, as an internal auditor, ensure my reports drive decision making?
Writing your internal audit report with your reader in mind
The answer is in a nutshell accessibility and readability. Let’s start with the reader, the manager. Try a little organisational empathy and put yourself in his or her shoes. They want clarity on the key issues; time is a factor so they want the issues visibly flagged up. In my experience of working with various audit departments I have seen corporate guidelines which demand all audit reports are minimalist and reduced to bullet points consisting only of problems and measures. At the other extreme I have seen “traditional”reports, complete with footnotes and dense prose, which would make Sir Humphrey from Yes Minister green with envy. So, obfuscation or clarity?
Balancing your content and context when writing internal audit reports
As we deliver training on report writing for internal auditors , let me come off the fence. I recommend a minimalist approach. Your organisation should agree a report structure that sets out the information efficiently. I would also recommend standard language and formulations so as to ensure consistency and common understanding. The manager should be able to say, “My focus was directed immediately to those issues that needed action, I was quickly aware of the probable causes and there were concrete proposal for improvement.” The auditor should be able to say, “I was able to organise my working notes quickly and efficiently and did not need to spend too much time deciding which structure and which formulation to use”.
Of course an audit report should be written clearly, concisely and completely. Yet more important for the decision making is the report format and formulations and how the information is organised. It might not be pretty but it will drive decision making.
https://www.targettraining.eu/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Aktion-256-e1391415520837.jpg11222048Tony Normanhttps://www.targettraining.eu/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/logoWP.pngTony Norman2016-01-20 12:41:512018-06-06 12:29:28How to ensure your internal audit report drives decision making
Here’s an extract from a recent initial needs analysis I carried out with a client who had booked English training for a global change management project. This is just one example of how we’ve seen that training requests for communication and soft skills are becoming more and more specific. If you work in an L&D department, you’ve probably noticed this too.
Me: “Why are you interested in developing your team’s English skills?”
Client: “I need my team to be able to improve the way they use language to communicate the changes we need to make across the company. My team will need to spread the message globally using our intranet, internal social media platform, and through presentations and workshops. The way they communicate will need to be adapted according to the cultures e.g. Japan, Brazil, and the US. We need help establishing a style and communication campaign that will make everyone want to get behind the changes and drive them forward”.
This statement alone says there is a need for intercultural skills training with reference to over 40 countries where the changes will be made, creative ideas for marketing campaigns, how to write effectively for social media, how to achieve a global corporate writing style, presentations skills, workshop facilitation skills, and the list goes on. And no-one has even mentioned English yet. Basically, the client needs all of this, but in English – so she booked an English course straight out of a catalogue, because couldn’t really find anything that fitted her needs exactly.
If you’re a participant in a standard Business English course, you may have noticed how the book you’re moving through, doesn’t always fit your needs. You’ve got really specific situations you need to use English for and there is no way they will be dealt with in an off-the-shelf course. If you’re a manager, you’ve probably spotted specific situations where you think your employees could benefit from some training support. You look at what the training department has on offer, but nothing seems to quite fit.
The starting point of effective training design should be the needs of the participants
This is precisely why we shy away from offering a catalogue. (Don’t get me wrong, we have a catalogue, because that’s what potential clients often request). But a training catalogue simply offers “standard” courses. Those courses are written in advance without detailed knowledge of the participant or their needs. They can of course be adapted to a certain extent. But shouldn’t the starting point of effective training design be the learners themselves? How can pre-designed courses really meet the training needs of the department or individual? Surely the ideal way is to listen to the client, dig deeper into their challenges, and look for solutions that will solve their problems?
The pros and cons of taking the individualized approach to training solutions
The training is completely tailored to your needs.
The results are immediately transferable to the workplace.
Improvement in performance on the job is evident.
The relevance ensures a happy learner.
You really need to be able to and want to listen.
You need training partners who are highly skilled in analysing needs based on limited information – everyone says they can do it, but it really is a skill, and it’s hard to find people who can do it well.
You need time. And time, when it comes to training design and materials development, can translate into money.
You need to evaluate the cost, often with the purchasing department. It can be hard to justify the cost of individualized learning to people who may not see the benefits of the immediate transfer to the workplace.
You need to move away from the simplicity of offering what is in the catalogue as a “take it, or leave it” solution.
You need to work with trainers who are adaptable, reactive, creative, and enjoy thinking on their feet.
It might be more difficult to sell to clients.
It might be difficult to measure concrete results e.g. with a test
OK, I admit, the cons list is longer, but how many of them are real problems? Solutions are easy to find to all of them. It might take a bit of effort and extra time before the training is organised. But, ultimately, an individualized training program will save you time and money in the workplace.
If you are interested to learn more about our needs analysis or individualized training design, please get in touch with me, or one of my colleagues. We’d be delighted to tell you more.
https://www.targettraining.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/blog1.png4851052Guest Authorhttps://www.targettraining.eu/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/logoWP.pngGuest Author2016-01-13 13:01:372018-06-06 12:29:28How can you react to increasingly specific requests for training?