A practical guide to storytelling in business

People have always told stories and they are a vital part of our communication. Today, storytelling has become accepted (and sometimes expected) in a professional context. We’ve seen a rapid demand for our practical storytelling in business training solutions. Whereas 8 years ago there was sometimes a need to convince people that a storytelling approach was valid, we rarely get any pushback today. This change in attitudes can be partly attributed to the power of the TED talk format, partly to our push back against death by PowerPoint and people speaking to us in bullets … and mainly because storytelling never went away. When done well, storytelling connects with people in a way no other communication approach can. This post outlines the essentials so you can get started.

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What is a story? And why should I use them?

Every story has …

  • a plot
  • a beginning, middle and end
  • often involves overcoming a problem, challenge, obstacle, dilemma
  • but above all …. a story connects on a human /emotional level

This last point is the key. A story is not a series of events or a case study. It should connect with people and create an emotional reaction.
This connecting makes stories easy to remember. When done well stories bring meaning to information and have the power to move people. Depending on the story and the skill of the storyteller our brains …

  • produce cortisol during the tense moments in a story, which allows us to focus
  • produce oxytocin, that promotes connection and empathy
  • release dopamine which makes us feel more hopeful and optimistic

If you are interested in the science behind these statements, these two HB articles explore the science behind storytelling and what makes storytelling so effective for learning.

This means you can choose to use a story in a wide range of situations. We often use stories when presenting, influencing, teaching, leading or just in day-to-day discussions. Consider using stories when you want to aid memory, celebrate, challenge assumptions, connect, convince, encourage, energize, entertain, explain, impress, inspire, motivate, persuade, reinforce values or beliefs, scare or shock, sell, support, teach or warn.

How do I build a story?

Learning to build a great story is a skill, and it can require practice. If you want to build a story you need to start with your audience. Your first question has to be “What do I want them to feel?”. Sometimes the emotion you arrive at may surprise you. Secondly ask yourself “What do I want them to understand? think? do?”. Then think back over the situations you’ve been part of, or have observed. It is far easier and far better to tell stories that mean something to you and are your stories. You can share other people’s stories but make sure you have the information and the understanding to bring it to life. Again, a story works because it connects on a human /emotional level.

This post goes behind the scenes with 2 of our staff, discussing the challenges some professionals have when building a story and how they approach this in a training environment.

If you are struggling to build a story, then try using the IDEAS approach:

  • Identify the emotion you are trying to create. Then identify what you want your listener to understand and do.
  • Decide which story would best accomplish this and connect with your listener
  • Expand your story. You have the bones, now put the flesh on them.
  • Anticipate their questions and reactions. Now choose to deal with these within your story or intentionally leave this out to provoke discussion once you’ve finished telling the story.
  • See the story as you tell it.

Finally, don’t assume you can just get up and tell it. You need to practice your story, if you want to make it matter.

How do I actually tell my story?

If the story means something to you, you will already have the content and the structure. Make things personal and tell tough stories. If your story is tough and personally matters to you, you will naturally find the pace, the tone and the body language you need to make your story captivating. When you are developing and practising your story, follow these 3 great pieces of advice:

  • Invest time in building it
  • Practice out loud
  • Make it personal to you

When you are delivering the story …

  • see the story as you tell it
  • use outer and inner language. Outer language is what physically happened, while inner language is how the person was feeling thinking. An advanced tip is to avoid eye contact when you are sharing the inner language.
  • use plenty of LOTS (language of the senses). This includes what you saw, heard, smelt, tasted, tough or felt
  • take your time. If your rush your story, you will rob it of its richness. You wouldn’t want to read a story structured into bullet points, would you?

And if you want to get really good …

  • use memory devices e.g. words, phrases or images repeated in different places
  • use a tangible object or image as a starting or closing point
  • when doing dialogues adopt a different voice/body/position for each person
  • consider your space – roam the room or sit on a chair – BUT actively think about it!

What should I not do when telling a story?

Telling a story is NOT the same as making a presentation. A lot of the techniques you’ve learned on presentation seminars are story-killers and using them will rob your story of its emotional content. For example:

  • Don’t put your key message up front
  • Don’t tell them what you’ll tell them, tell them, tell them what you told them
  • Don’t start with the structure, start with the emotion
  • We would also suggest you avoid the phrase “Let me tell you a story”

Storytelling is a learnable skill! It starts with identifying your goal and understanding your audience. You need to know the emotion you are looking for. From there you start hunting for the right story, which you then craft through practice. Don’t rush it, do not “present” it, and have the courage to just tell a story person to person. You’ll be surprised at the impact you can make.

And if you’d like support, whether it be coaching or training then do get in touch. We’d love to help you be even better at storytelling.

Train the Trainer: Dealing with ‚difficult‘ participants – part 1

At Target Training we’ve been delivering “train-the-trainer” solutions for over 20 years to a broad range of clients across industries. Without fail, one of the most common personal training goals we see is “I want to learn to deal with difficult participants”.  No matter whether you are delivering on-boarding, technical, safety  or skills training, training starts and ends with your participants. As a trainer you want to deliver training which is engaging and useful … and as all experienced trainers know, a single difficult participant can impact this.  This blog post shares our advice and experience, so you are better prepared to deal with difficult participants in the training room.
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What do we mean by a “difficult participant” and how common are they really?

Training is about adding value to your participants and organization, by developing their knowledge, skills and behaviours.  You want your participants to have a rewarding learning experience – and you have designed your training to achieve this.  You’ve identified and considered the learning goals, you’ve considered the flow so it is smooth and ties together, and you’ve designed varied activities to keep the training engaging and rewarding. A “difficult participant, is a participant who hinders or prevents the above – intentionally or not. Difficult participants diminish the impact of the training for the other participants and reduce your organizations return on investment.

All participants have the potential of being difficult, and this depends upon a variety of factors – ranging from the context of the training to the training design, and from personalities to an individual’s situational circumstances.  We all have bad days. However, truly destructive participants are thankfully rare. I’ve been involved in delivering training for over 23 years, and looking back I can only think of a handful of „difficult“ individuals.  Unfortunately, I remember them clearer than the rest. So, what can you do? Before the training starts, you can minimize the risk of participants becoming difficult before the training even starts, through some simple steps.

Know who the participants are

If you are delivering internally, then get a list of the participants in advance and make the time to speak with their line managers.  By doing this you can learn more about the “perceived” context for the training, and the participants knowledge, experience, needs and attitudes. If somebody is cynical, silent or a talker, then the line manager may flag this. Alternatively, just ask straight out “Are there any participants I should keep an eye on?”.  You can also encourage the manager to speak with her participants and reinforce that they value training and have expectations.  Line manager involvement is key to successful training (Clemmer 2008) and ensures your organization makes the most of its training investment.

If you have a chance to meet the participants before the session, you should take it. Give them an impression of who you are. Build rapport before they enter the training room. Introduce yourself, find out what they expect from the training and set their expectations („yes, unfortunately, there will be some role-plays“), or just make small talk for a few minutes. For you, the trainer, it makes a huge difference to walk into a room with ten strangers (not knowing what they want), or to walk into a room with five strangers and five people you already know (whose expectations you’ve already set).

Design the training so it respects and engages everyone

Use what you’ve learned from speaking with the line managers to ensure your training content is appropriate, relevant and challenging. By doing this you can minimize the likelihood of a wide range of difficult or disruptive behaviours – from boredom to frustration to challenging. You also want to ensure that your training respects the range of personalities and learning styles. Give your participants the opportunity to reflect, consider and contribute both as individuals and in groups.  Plan “loud” and “quiet” times so both extroverts and introverts get what they need– not everyone enjoys brainstorming and discussions. Do consider the flow of energy within the training day and consciously design your training around this e.g. after lunch will you energize the group, or give them some reflection time to look back on the morning?

Anticipate tough questions, difficult learning points and likely areas of resistance

If this is a new training solution, then take the time to play “what if”.  Write down all the questions that you hope they will ask, know they will ask, don’t want them to ask, and dread they ask. Then think about your answers. Practice your responses out loud and ensure your answers are brief, to the point and authentic. As the trainer you have a lot of knowledge and experience – and synthesizing all this into a clear and brief response can be tough.

If you’ve delivered the training before than you’ve already spotted the areas which raise questions or provoke discussions.  Again, step back and consider what you want to say, how you want to say, and how much time you want to invest in which topics.

If there’s an elephant in your training room, then know how you want to tackle it

Keep your training human and keep it real. The circumstances surrounding the training can and will influence behaviours. If the organization is going through change, restructuring, laying off staff, or merging then you can expect this to impact attitudes and behaviours. You probably cannot influence these circumstances, but you can acknowledge them and prepare for possible resistance, push back or disassociation.

I remember delivering a 2-day leadership program to an automotive company where everyone knew that at the end of day 1 a major announcement would be made on the future of some plants.  The training content was fixed and “motivating and driving performance “was a major part of the first day. We spoke about the circumstances openly, acknowledged that the topic was awkwardly timed to say the least, and agreed to reframe the training as practical management skills for the future, wherever they may be. Keeping the pace fast, the energy high and the themes as “archetypical” helped the training make a personal impact.

Reframe how you see difficult participants

Embrace the challenge of difficult participants. At its heart, training is about people, and we learn more about working with people from difficult situations than from “everything going to plan”.  You want participants to be engaged and challenging you is actually a good thing.  You want your participants to let you know if something isn’t going right for them during the training and not afterwards. And you want your participants to be themselves.  I’ve only ever met one participant who I couldn’t work with at any level whatsoever, and even this was a learning moment – I learned that was ok, to accept the situation, and to focus on the other participants who clearly wanted to be there.

Always open the training in a way that sets out mutual expectations

Creating and agreeing on ground rules and shared expectations is essential. This then gives you and others the framework to hold each other accountable and have difficult conversations with difficult participants about difficult situations. Experienced trainers do this naturally and each trainer has their own style, but the core you need to agree on is

  • Timing (start, finish, breaks and length of breaks). Even the most experienced trainers can forget this, and participants want and need to know what to expect. You don’t need to lock yourself in to a schedule if you don’t want to but telling them you’ll break for lunch “around 12.30” helps.
  • Laptops open, closed, or even in bags. Phones are the bane of a trainer’s life, and when one person takes a call during the training everyone is impacted. Possible approaches could be
    • at the front on a desk
    • must be on silent
    • in bags and only check in breaks
    • take calls but leave the room before start speaking

Effective approaches to managing the pull of phone calls that I’ve seen/heard/ done have included:

  • make a joke of it e.g. “Is anybody expecting a child to be born they know about? No, well in that case do we really need our phones on?”
  • be direct e.g “Put your mobiles on silent and in your bags (not your pockets). You can check them during breaks, and if something is truly urgent your colleagues know where you are and how to find you.  And if they can’t be bothered to come to the training room it can’t be truly urgent!”
  • charity box “Everything you take your phone out you put X in the bowl up front”
  • choosing a venue with no phone reception

And if none of the above are acceptable, then at least get agreement that people respectfully leave the training room when on the phone.

  • Communication. If the training topic is likely to be contentious or difficult then it is worth taking time to agree on expected communication styles. e.g. try not to interrupt, ask question to learn and not to show what you know, ask if something isn’t clear, close the loop by asking clarifying questions back etc.

Agreeing on ground rules allows you as the trainer to refer back to the agreed expectations and have awkward conversations safely. And of course, all of the above approaches are much more powerful when the training participants build them themselves!  This allows the participants to hold each other accountable and take responsibility for ensuring the dynamics are healthy.  You can expect that colleagues can self-regulate behaviours to some extent!

Start the training by keeping it real and keeping things human

The final tip is that positioning yourself above your participants will create unnecessary resistance and provoke difficult behaviours as participants try to prove something wrong, reject messages because they reject your credibility, or fight to show they know more. You are the trainer and you are human. Use this to build authenticity, credibility and trust from the outset and reduce the risk of difficult behaviours derailing the training. Share your experience, build your credibility and also show that you know how it can be challenging at first to get to grips with the specifics (“ I remember when ..”).

If you are delivering soft skills, customer service or leadership training, then avoid presenting yourself as the example to be followed. Tap into meaningful stories, share experiences and connect with the participants on a human level. My own approach is to open our Practical toolbox for managers program with “ I strongly believe in the value of everything we’ll be covering in the next 2 days, and many of your colleagues have fed back that they found it practical. Saying that, as a manager, I do not do everything we’ll be covering myself. I’m human and I have my strengths and my weaknesses”.  I then see the participant’ physically relax and open up.

 

17 practical ways senior managers and executives can support training and development inside their organization

Recently one of our clients asked me to co-facilitate a workshop at an annual global event. The client is one of the largest building materials companies in the world, and their annual event is attended by plant managers, country directors and executives. Amongst the presentations and plenary sessions they wanted to run 2 challenging workshops which would then lead to concrete action plans. One of these workshops focused on the ambitious goal of quickly becoming carbon free, and the other on training. 

Our client wanted to further strengthen their learning culture and ensure top-level management were playing an active part in this journey. Rather than asking the senior leaders “What do you need?” the question they wanted to ask was “So. what can you do?” – and the participants loved it.  They were more than happy to share their experiences and opinions, and all were quite vocal when expressing that learning and development was their responsibility. As one Indonesian plant manager said  “You at headquarters support us and help us, we like the e-learning and the virtual delivery offers … but we are the important ones because we need to make it happen”.

Based upon their input, and expanded through interviews with other clients, here are 17 ways that senior managers and executives can actively support training and development within their organizations.

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  1. Ensure that the message of how training connects into your long-term health and strategy is lived by all levels. This means looking for opportunities to repeat this message and using concrete and relatable stories.
  2. Be clear to your L&D teams about where you see your future challenges. What will the critical skills be in 5 years time? What trends do you see in your market? Where do you see the skills gap? What are the core behaviours you want to see in your staff’s DNA? If you show them where you want to go they will help you get there.
  3. Support the building of a skills matrix for roles , then with a rolling 36-month focus, ensure training is connected directly to this skills matrix. This is an upfront investment that then provides a clear framework for deciding where training budgets go.
  4. Tap into “management by objectives“ behaviours and make learning a target for your management team.
  5. Encourage awareness that people learn through experience and exposure. Be an example and look into include and involve upcoming talents and high-performers.
  6. Expect your management teams to lead by example and actively join training sessions. This helps ensure that training is seen as strengthening for the future and not a sign of weakness or gaps.
  7. Be seen to be looking for training and development for yourself. This sends a clear message that training is about becoming stronger and not a sign of weakness.
  8. Insist that managers actively feed back to the central L&D team regarding their current and future needs, satisfaction levels, and ideas for the medium and long-term. Strive to make the internal customer surveys a formality.  Your L&D teams should know in advance what is working and what is not if they are benefiting from direct conversations with the regions.
  9. Ask to see that all training has a clear objective and that this is reinforced before, during, and after the training by line managers in person. This isn’t about checking quality, but rather showing the people involved in the before and after that you care, and these steps aren’t nice-to-have add-ons!
  10. Connected to above, insist that all training programs lead to follow up actions by team leaders and line managers. See #4.
  11. Ensue that clear and tangible training objectives are communicated at multiple touch points. Find stories and examples which connect the importance of learning and development to medium- and long-term goals. Yes, this similar to points 1 & 2 but we can’t emphasize it enough. If people understand the “why” then things happen.
  12. Whenever you visit a plant or site, take the time to meet the local training dept and ask what else you can do to support them. They’ll really appreciate this … and you are again sending a clear signal that training and development is strategically important to you.
  13. Get involved with your emerging talents programs. These people are your future. They’ll be energized by your involvement and they’ll energize you too!
  14. Commit to actively supporting a training session once a month by joining the first 15 minutes, explaining why this training is relevant, showing interest in the people in the room and being clear about what we want to see afterwards
  15. Show little tolerance for regions reinventing the wheel. Identify the core strategic programs needed by all regions– get these programs right through piloting them – and then make sure there is budget to adapt them to the local skill levels and languages.
  16. Get involved when budget ownership questions threaten the actual delivery of training. Help cut through the complexity of cost centers and encourage the company to work as one organization.
  17. When costs need cutting, defend training budgets and training availability. It’s too easy to cut it and the savings are often small compared to more painful options but the message is clear. Do you want your employees to see training and development opportunities as a bonus or as an expectation?

For more information

If you’d like to know more about how you can actively make the most from your training investment then download this simple and practical guide.

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Which topics are most suited for the live virtual training format

This week’s Secret L&D manager is German and has been working for one of the big management consulting firms for 13 years. She is part of a virtual L&D team responsible for internal training solutions for a global group of analysts, specialists, and managers across multiple time zones. In our previous interviews she has shared how and why her organization got started with live virtual training solutions, and what they have learned along the way. In this post she shares more of her experience and looks forward to the future of virtual delivery.

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Which topics have you learned work well virtually and which haven’t taken off?

As I mentioned earlier, we first used the live virtual delivery format for what we could call hard skills. This included technical skills and software training. Training on Excel, PowerPoint etc. We then used virtual delivery formats for training where there were a lot of tips, dos and don’ts. For example, how to build effective slides and engage your audience. If the training is about showing something directly and then facilitating a conversation about this, then virtual training actually works very well.

We have also had really good experiences with softer topics too. Many of our leadership programs are now delivered virtually. For example one of our management development programs has a kick-off webinar, two one-one-one coaching sessions and a wrap-up webinar —all facilitated virtual—as standard elements, plus during this journey the participants meet for a two-day residential workshop. The feedback from our managers is that this is one of our most popular and successful programs.  We also have a lot of softer topics where working virtually is part of the training goals. For example, “Presenting in a virtual environment” or “Leading virtual teams”.

One big challenge or obstacle in a virtual space is how to build up trust. You have so many things which are lacking in a virtual space which are usually vital to building up trust with someone, right? This could be the immediate reaction to the other’s physical presence – smiles, body language, eye contact, even smell – anything. We’re all humans and we react to one another’s presence. But what happens when there isn’t a physical presence? Tackling this kind of virtual training topic in a virtual training environment makes absolute sense.

Are there some topics that you’d never wanted to go virtual with?

That’s actually a good question. Some training concepts are not at first glance suitable, but over the years I have learned that it is really a question of design. The technology does have limitations, but this is continually improving. I would say the obvious ones that don’t transfer as easily to a virtual deliver format easily are those programs where there are a lot of role-plays required. It’s difficult when the softer expressions, body language etc. are important training elements. But even these can be approached in different ways.

It depends on the situation, the participants’ situations and our training goals. When I want to adapt communication, soft skills, leadership training, etc. for a virtual context I think it’s possible to do that training or program also in a virtual setting. In fact, I will say that it makes a lot of sense to do it virtually as this is the manager’s reality! Yes, it can be difficult with topics like assertiveness, difficult conversations, giving feedback etc.  On a tiny little screen, their body language is not really visible. I don’t know what their legs are doing, but I can see what their shoulders are doing, and maybe their arms, hands and face – and this is reality. If it’s leadership in a virtual environment or difficult conversations in a virtual environment, the virtual training setting works perfectly.

If you’re trying to practice something you only ever do face-to-face with people, then it’s not as strong but it still can work. I can only think of a couple of our programs which maybe aren’t so suitable for virtual delivery, but it’s really only a few.

Do you see a change in the way you’ll be using live virtual training in the future?

Yes and no. I think there’ll be a shift in L&D generally, and also inside our firm. On the one hand, we don’t want to fully give up on the residential trainings because it’s still a very different experience and people really do like them. You are spending maybe three days with each other, rather than three hours online. It is completely different – you get to know people, you have a different level of peer exchange, you establish defined accountability partners etc. If you are meeting in person you also talk more broadly about things which are happening in the business and topics which are very sensitive things. Often this is outside of the training, too. In these longer residential trainings, you often build friendships with colleagues that are important for the rest of their working life. It’s a different experience.

On the other hand, the internationalization of our people and company means we are finding that the people who require a certain skill and want to develop it are not actually based in the same location. Bringing people together for classical face-to-face training is certainly a cost question – but also a time and environmental one, too! I think virtual training will expand because of these factors. There is of course an additional benefit – it is also good that people from different countries, with different work styles and different backgrounds have more chances and opportunities to exchange ideas and approaches.

So, from the human side we certainly still want that people meet each other in person – but really it’s a question of the topic and taking everything into account. I expect virtual training will increase because of the benefits it offers when done well. It makes a lot of sense when you have a topic which can be actually broken down into modules, and where it doesn’t matter if you have a week in between modules (or maybe a week in between really helps!).

Today, virtual delivery is being integrated into all of our approaches. All stand-alone residential training events will also have maybe a virtual kick-off call, some exercises in between, virtual coaching calls afterwards, and virtual wrap-up meetings afterwards etc. This leads to a blended learning journey so people can integrate training into their work life and transfer what they have learned. It is easier to incorporate virtual delivery into our everyday work life.  I believe it will become more and more usual.

Lessons learned: making live virtual training work for our business

This week’s Secret L&D manager is German and has been working for one of the management consulting firms for 13 years. She is part of a virtual L&D team responsible for internal training solutions for a global group of analysts, specialists, and managers across multiple time zones. In our previous interview she shared how and why her organization got started with live virtual training solutions. In this post she shares more of her experience on how to deliver virtual training solutions well.

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Based on your experience over the last five years, what advice would you give a fellow L&D manager who hasn’t organized virtual delivery before and is planning on trying it?

If this is your very first move into live virtual training, I would suggest you start with a hard skill. Something which is more about skills than behaviours, for example software tools, processes etc. I would then search for a pilot group. For me a good pilot group is a group who will give you clear and balanced feedback. You should invest some time in preparing the pilot group. See it like setting the scene in terms of change management. People will probably be very sceptical and may even complain. You want to help them build an open mindset and help them understand why this move to virtual delivery is a good idea for them and the organization.

If this is the very first time you’re trying live virtual training then make the time to go and talk with people one-on-one and win them over. People don’t understand actually how “live”, interactive and fun, live virtual training can be. They might be thinking about e-learning or webinars where they just listen for half an hour. You want them to appreciate that this is live and that they will be expected to contribute in the same way as if they were in the same room as the facilitator. Tell them it’s not going to be a passive and boring experience, just pick up the phone and say “Hey John, you’re suggested for this training, we have this really cool format on WebEx, and it will be working like this and we’ll get you a really good headset and this will be really fun. You’ll meet people from Brazil and from Russia and ….”. Then see what you can do to help them be comfortable with the technology. Think about setting up a WebEx call with them beforehand and show them what WebEx looks like, how it works, how you’re going to use—and a few tips on making it a good experience, like finding a quiet place for the training session without people listening in, without background noise etc.

You want to light a fire in them. You want them to talk about the pilot session to other people and say at the very least, “Hey, actually that was not too bad!”

What advice can you share on designing and delivering live virtual training?

First of all, I would also invest in finding a fantastic and experienced virtual facilitator. You want the participants to connect with them and the training and leave with a positive experience. You can either look for an external vendor or learn-as-you go internally.

If you are going external you want to find an external partner who knows what they are doing and can guide you. If I use our example of working with you at Target Training, when we first spoke, and you asked me “Do you want a producer or not?” I knew that you knew what you were talking about.

Why do you feel a technical producer is so important in virtual training?

There are many people who don’t know what a producer is and what a producer’s role is. For me the technical producer is actually a key part of virtual facilitation and this is often forgotten.

The producer takes care of the technical part and if you use a producer, you can leverage all the functionality available in the virtual training tools, like breakout rooms, polls, whiteboards, combining whiteboards and summarizing them, letting people share output from the breakout rooms, managing technical glitches, etc. There are so many things that can be leveraged so easily. When this is covered by a producer then the facilitator can actually focus on facilitating – the human part of it!

Using a trainer and a producer works very well and everyone knows exactly know who is responsible for what when they have glitches. A producer means fewer distractions. It’s really a key thing for me to have a seamless experience and I wish that producers would be standard. I am a big fan of that.

What do you think makes an effective virtual trainer?

Being an effective trainer virtually requires different approaches. Let me share our first experiences. Prior to deciding to make this jump to virtual delivery, we had of course built up over the years a large pool of trainers and training companies who we worked with company-wide. This pool had a lot of experience with us and there were also a lot of alumni amongst them. We decided to invest in them and their development and help them learn to deliver live training virtually. They knew our company, they knew our people and they knew what our firm is all about. This key learning part was completely covered.

We decided to invest in them and their development in three ways – training them, learning by doing, and giving them constant feedback about really excelling in the virtual space. When we started with live virtual delivery, we said, “Just give it a try and let’s talk after 1 or 2 sessions about how they were delivered”. Our experience was that not every trainer can or wants to make the jump, and that is ok.

When I think about the better experiences I have had with facilitators, like your colleagues, what they all had in common was their ability to do a remarkable job in really building up trust quickly. They knew how to engage others and help people open up. I have also seen them play a lot with the pace which is so important. Generally, in the virtual training environment, people (myself included) tend to be talking much faster than they would in a classic residential training. Slowing the speed down really helps a lot, but if you are the facilitator it can at first feel kind of awkward and unnatural. The virtual facilitator can’t always see the other person and then there’s a delay and you feel as if you are talking into a black hole. But talking too fast is far worse as the participants feel they can’t contribute and are being pushed through the training as quickly as possible.  For me an effective virtual trainer can adapt their pace and play around with it. And the supreme discipline for me personally is when a facilitator can use humor in a virtual setting and makes participants laugh.

How much virtual training is delivered by your own trainers and how much by external partners?

I would today it is 60 – 70% by externals and the remainder by internal trainers. We have developed our own internal train-the-trainer programs for virtual delivery. This is delivered by those pioneers who were basically there at the beginning. We offer a “train the virtual trainer” program to our internal trainers. Our experts benefit from the experience, tips, tricks and advice the facilitators themselves learnt over time. They learn about designing and delivering virtual training.

Do you see a difference regarding training design in virtual training?

Yes, it’s absolutely different! Make sure you think carefully about the training set-up and format. For virtual training, the training design and the training materials need to be approached differently. In terms of training design, ask yourself what actually makes a face-to-face training successful and how can I apply this to the virtual training design? You certainly still want a lot of exercises, so the training is engaging. And, as the learners’ attention span is much shorter virtually, you might need to play more with timing and move fluidly between trainer inputting to discussions and then to exercises.

And a final question – how large would you recommend the groups should be for live virtual training?

It very much depends on the topic. For topics which require interchange of more sensitive things, for example soft skills or anything about teams or leadership, we say five to six people per group with seven being our absolute maximum. For what we call” technical trainings” I think we can accept a few more because the exchanges, discussions and conversations aren’t as important. For these kinds of topics our maximum is 15.

In the 3rd and final part of the interview the Secret L&D manager shares her views on which topics are best suited for virtual delivery and how she sees the future of virtual training.

 

 

 

How and why we got started with live virtual training in our global firm

This week’s Secret L&D manager is German and has been working for one of the big management consulting firms for 13 years. She is part of a virtual L&D team responsible for internal training solutions for a global group of analysts, specialists, and managers across multiple time zones.  In this post, she talks about the need for virtual delivery, the challenges, and the lessons they’ve learned along the way.
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When did your organization start delivering training virtually?

When I joined our L&D team four years ago, our department had already been offering live virtual training for about a year. Not everyone in the company was actively using it yet so we were kind of pioneers. The background behind our decision to introduce virtual delivery was that we had, and have, a big group of people who are spread across the world in different countries on different continents. There are people in hub locations, and these hubs are also spread across the world, and there are people who may belong to the same department but are located in some very remote locations.

The training challenge here was that if we used the classical way of offering what we call “residential” face-to-face training to all these people, we would have exceeded our budgets by far. And still we wanted to offer everyone a fair chance of having the same training options as their colleagues. We were actively looking at which trainings could be held in a virtual space and this is clearly linked to which trainings are actually most suited, or most easily converted, to virtual delivery.

We started with so-called hard skills like slide writing, using PowerPoint, Excel etc. but we then also quickly moved into other soft areas too. We were keen to make this move as the virtual approach allowed us to make a continuous learning journey out of a “one-off training” and enabled implementing learning into every-day life – this is clearly the biggest advantage.

So how quickly did you move into delivering live virtual training solutions for soft skills training, leadership development, etc.?

I think fairly quickly actually. Until about six years ago there weren’t any soft skills or leadership training programs for my global group at all because the group was just being established. The first training initiatives were the classical format – residential trainings of one to three days. However, within a year, a live virtual delivery format had been established and then it moved forwards fairly quickly. Nowadays we have a 50/50 split – half is virtual, and half is residential.

What have you learned along the way about organizing live virtual training?

We should split this question into the organizational part and the delivery and facilitating part — but we have learned a lot in both areas! Starting with the organizational side, as with residential training, too, we learned we need to block time with people, and in virtual training these time slots need to be convenient for multiple time zones. Then we needed to find a suitable and reliable tool of course. WebEx was rolled out globally in our company around this time, and we were very happy – it works well with only a few exceptions when people have a poor internet connection. Everyone has the same technology; everyone has the same starting point. This is actually a really big help.

We also learned that there is a difference between delivering the classic virtual training session and what we call a blended virtual format. Let me explain; we had training where everybody was in a different place behind their desks. What we also successfully tried is, for example, having ten people in Boston who wanted to do the slide writing training, and we also had four people in Munich, and three people in Madrid. In some locations we have dedicated video rooms—this means people are sitting on one table and in one corner of the room there is a TV screen and camera. The group in Boston sees the other groups in Munich and Madrid and the other way, too. The facilitator is live in Boston, so one of the locations does have the advantage of having a live facilitator in the same room – but the participants in the other locations have colleagues with them, too – and everyone can see everyone. So when it comes to exercises this “being in a room with colleagues” does have a really big advantage. Colleagues are motivating and challenging each other, and of course we shouldn’t ignore the benefit of group pressure when it comes to participation and focus. People are not checking emails or multi-tasking because there are other people sitting in the room in the same training. And we could offer training to locations where there were too few people to have a face-to-face training.

We did something similar for a “writing proposals” project with a sales team in the Far East. The trainer was in one room and everybody else was in another room. It can work really well.

Absolutely! If the room is set up properly, this comes close to recreating a live residential training. Of course, logistics-wise there can be some difficulties because you first of all have to have a certain number of learners in each office and then people of course change plans last minute etc. But this is similar to the challenges of classical residential training. We also had to book all those video rooms, so they were free at the same time etc. Then an important client meeting comes, and the team is thrown out; so logistics-wise that’s a little bit hard, but we found solutions. In general, the approach worked very well, and the learners said they had a really positive group learning experience.

When you made your first moves into live virtual delivery was there any resistance from people? For example, did you have people wanting to stick with the classic face-to-face training approach?

Of course – and to be quite honest there still is! Often people still frankly ask “Hey I’ve been invited to this virtual training. Is there a live residential training instead?” This is natural because many people prefer to go somewhere else to be really focused, meet people, limit interruptions etc. It’s a much more intense experience, let’s be honest. There was a lot of resistance at the beginning and we still get it sometimes. However, I would say it quickly became accepted – mainly because people have had very positive experiences with virtual training, and they have then shared their experience with others.

This is where we come to the absolute need for good virtual facilitation skills. When we started moving into live virtual delivery, we already had a strong pool of trusted facilitators. Many of them were external vendors who were brilliant in the residential live facilitation, but facilitating virtually is so different. I’m thinking back to a workshop I attended myself on “Virtual Facilitation” run by the American Talent Development Association. This trainer was a radio moderator and he gave tips and tricks on using your voice to make virtual training more engaging. One thing he said—that I have never forgotten—was that facilitating in a virtual environment feels completely awkward. It’s really like being a radio moderator. It feels like you are talking to yourself and you aren’t getting any feedback. He said you need to embrace this, and to accept the silence. You will feel super awkward at first. But people need you to act as a guide. When you ask a question, you have to wait until an answer comes, and you still have to smile into the camera—even if there is no one immediately responding. This is a big change and challenge for many facilitators. And just as with face-to-face training, space and time to think is important. It is just that the time feels longer and different in a virtual training world.

In the early days we invested in our internal facilitators. They got training on how to really adapt to this virtual training context because it requires very different tools and very different styles of facilitation. We also had to train long-term and trusted external vendors on what we needed.

Not every trainer can or wants to make that change – it’s a question of personal preferences. And of course, some trainers are much better delivering training face-to-face than virtually. It’s really a totally different skill.

 

 

In our next blog post this Secret L&D manager share more of her experience and advice on making virtual training a success

 

Balancing your emotional bank accounts – practical activities for managers and leaders

In our previous blog we explained what an emotional bank account is and why managers need to care about building them . To quickly recap, an emotional bank account is a metaphor coined by Stephen Covey in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. It describes the amount of trust that’s been built up in a relationship, and when trust is high, communication is easy and effective. Every time a manager says something supportive, shows respect, helps somebody with a difficult situation, etc., they make a deposit in that person’s emotional bank account.  Every time they criticize, blame, lie, intimidate, etc., they make a withdrawal.  Over time, the effects of these deposits will help transform that relationship. This post goes deeper into how to build your emotional bank accounts.

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How do you build a healthy emotional bank account with your team?

Every manager and team are different, and culture can play a part, but at the end of the day it comes back to our relationships and how we behave. Covey identified six ways to make deposits (or reduce withdrawals):

1) Understand the individual

You need to know what the individual wants and what constitutes a deposit and withdrawal for them.  Whereas one employee might be exhilarated by presenting their project results to the board another may prefer to be in the background and their contribution acknowledged privately.  Ask yourself what drives them? How do they want recognition? What makes their eyes light up?

2) Keeping commitments

We have all broken a promise and let somebody down, and when we do this, we are making a withdrawal.  Keeping commitments is about doing what we say we’ll do, keeping our promises, delivering what we said we’d deliver, being on time, being where we should be, fulfilling our promises. If you consistently keep your commitments, you build healthy emotional bank accounts with people.

3) Clarifying expectations

Each of us have different backgrounds, experiences and expectations. We see the world differently.  Clarifying understanding and expectations is essential if you’d like to minimize misunderstanding and wrong assumptions. By proactively investing time in clarifying expectations and building a  mutual understanding of what you need, don’t need, want, don’t want etc you can minimize the “ I thought that..”, “I’d assumed ..”, “To me it was obvious that …”.  And keep in mind that if you are leading people and teams virtually, then the risk of false assumptions and misunderstanding does increase, and formalizing things with communication charters does help.

4) Attending to the little things

Relationships aren’t only built by big moments but by the little things too. These are the smiles in the corridor, holding the door open, short thank you emails, remembering their daughter has just started school, not heading straight to your office but spending a moment walking through the open office to be seen. Kind words, smiles, courtesies, warmth. Human interest, and taking time when you don’t have to.

5) Showing personal integrity

Relationships are built on trust and integrity. What does integrity mean? The word “integrity” comes from the Latin integritatem, meaning “soundness” or “wholeness.”  Integrity is not situational –  it is a state of mind.  In Covey’s words…

 

 

“ Integrity is conforming reality to our words … keeping promises and fulfilling expectations.”

 

 

What does this look like in practice? Here are 7 musts to start with…
  1. Do the right thing for the right reasons and because it’s the right thing to do – even if it is going to be unpopular with some people.
  2. Face the truth and talk about it. This is the reality principle of “seeing the world as it really is, and not as you wish it is”.
  3. Be upfront in your communication. People want to know where they stand and what is going on. People won’t always like what they hear but they will value the adult-adult relationship.
  4. Know you are sometimes wrong and that you sometimes make mistakes – and admit this.
  5. Take responsibility for what you do and don’t do.
  6. Put the needs of others before your own.
  7. Be loyal to those not present – confront gossiping, complaining and bad mouthing about people who aren’t in the room.

6) Apologizing when we make a withdrawal

we are all human, and we all make mistakes and get things wrong. Know when you’ve made a mistake, admit it and apologize with sincerity. Admitting you’ve made a mistake doesn’t necessarily mean it is acceptable but it’s a start, and can be healing to a relationship.  Avoid the temptation of wanting to discuss why you made it before you discuss and show understanding of the impact it had on others.  And understand that if you are continually making the same type of withdrawal, trust will erode. It’s the smaller things that kill relationships in the long run. Finally, don’t try and lighten withdrawals with banter, humour or a “shit sandwich”– this is rarely appreciated.

To add to the list above , tolerance and forgiveness are also powerful deposits, as is appreciative inquiry and holding back judgment and sweeping statements.

A 10-minute practical activity for managers

  1. Write down the names of 5 team members that are important to your team’s success.
  2. Now look back at your calendar over the last 2 weeks and use this, plus your memory, to find evidence of deposits and withdrawals.  A meeting went poorly and they left frustrated – that’s a withdrawal. They bent your ear and you listened and gave them your attention – a deposit. Build a simple balance sheet (name at the top, left column is deposits, right column is withdrawals.
  3. Now put the paper down / close the document and go and do something.
  4. A few hours later (or even the next day) come back and for each of the 5 team members write down what you believe motivates and drives them?  What gives them energy and what takes it? How do they like to communicate? And what do they see as recognition?
  5. Almost there … now
    1. Look at your evidence of deposit and withdrawals (step 2) and ask yourself hwo you feel about the balance
    2. Look at the types of deposits and withdrawals and ask yourself does this tie in with what they need? Not everyone will see public recognition as a deposit And not everyone will see direct feedback and getting straight to it as a withdrawal. Deposits and withdrawals are personal.
  6. And now the final step. Ask yourself what can you do in the coming month differently?  If possible, plan them into your calendar by finding tangible moments e.g.. You can’t enter “Tuesday 14:00-14:30 listen” but you can set up a meeting to discuss a project and make a conscious effort to listen first.  https://www.targettraining.eu/listening-skills-10-areas-to-improve/ @brenda – was there an ALF download ??
  7. And if you are keen to make more deposits then why not use a regular catch up meeting or a chat over lunch to learn from them more about what is actually important to them, what would increase their trust in you and your relationship , and what you could do more/less of.

More about our leadership and management training solutions

If you are interested in learning more about how we integrate emotional intelligence into our leadership and management training solutions, please contact us.

Why managers should care about their emotional bank accounts

In our Practical Toolbox for managers training program, we often hear that the time spent on giving feedback is one of the highlights, and implementing DESC frequently makes it onto the manager’s transfer plan. One of the key points they take away is that the success of your feedback/feedforward rests upon your broader relationship with your partner. Put simply, if you have invested in them as a human being then feedback conversations are far more likely to go well.  To look at it from the other side, if you haven’t invested in somebody, if you haven’t built trust, and if you haven’t built a meaningful professional relationship with them … well don’t be surprised when thing go pear-shaped.  If you are managing others, you need your emotional bank account with your staff to be healthy.
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What is an “emotional bank account”?

The term “emotional bank account” appears in Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. In Covey’s own words:

An emotional bank account is a metaphor that describes the amount of trust that’s been built up in a relationship.  It’s the feeling of safeness you have with another human being.  When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.”.

Covey made the term popular, but the concept behind the “emotional bank account” is not new.  When we take more than we give from a relationship over the long-term, then we shouldn’t be surprised if the relationship suffers.  This holds true in all our relationships, from those with our partners, kids, friends, colleagues, clients, and suppliers.

The metaphor took off within the business training world because it is immediately understandable. You make deposits, save up money, and when you need that money later, you withdraw it. An emotional bank account is an account of trust instead of money. We all know how a bank account works … plus bank account sounds more business-like which helps a certain time of person accept the idea.

Every time a manager says something supportive, shows respect, invests in somebody as an individual, helps somebody with a difficult situation, makes time for them etc they make a deposit in that person’s emotional bank account.  Over time, the effects of these deposits will help to transform that relationship. And conversely, every time they criticize, blame, defend, ignore, lie, intimidate, threaten, etc they make a withdrawal.

We are all human and there are times when we are making more withdrawals than deposits.  Just like a bank, we can go in the red and then come out of it. The trick is to be in in the healthy green zone over the longer term.

Why should managers care about emotional bank accounts?

It is rare to hear managers dismissing the concept.  Almost all managers we work with in our management and leadership solutions want positive, productive, rewarding, trust-based relationships with their staff and teams. Concepts such as authenticity, credibility and trust are valued by the vast majority of organizations, and books such as “Servant leadership in Action”  and Goffee & Jones’“Why should anyone be led by you?”  and have captured this.

A personal sense of self-worth and respect is important, but meaningful and strong relationships in the workplace also lead directly to tangible results.  As a manager, your success is largely is dependent on your staff. Leaders who build strong and meaningful relationships within and beyond their organization give their business a competitive advantage. Emotional bank accounts are not just about the “soft stuff”. They are about delivering results through performance.

Healthy emotional bank accounts play a role in practically all of a manager’s day-to-day tasks.  When a manager tasks, delegates, motivates, influences, leads meetings, communicates, reviews, resolves conflicts, gives feedback, navigates difficult discussions etc., the relationships impact the success. All of these are moments where a manager can deposit or withdraw, and each of them has a range of potential for success or failure.

To summarize: If a manager cares about their emotional bank accounts they are more likely to succeed in the short, medium and long-term. If a manager doesn’t take care of relationships and withdraws more than they deposit, then they can’t expect to see a highly motivated team delivering outstanding results.

Check your emotional bank accounts – a practical activity for managers

  1. Write down the names of 3+ people that are important to your team’s success. Ideally try and identify a range e.g. team member, manager in another department, customer, supplier etc …
  2. Then ask them if they have time for a meeting to reflect on your working relationship. Make sure they understand that this is truly the reason, that nothing is wrong per se, that there isn’t a second goal to the conversation.
  3. Start the meeting by reiterating that you would like to strengthen the relationship. Ask them to share things that you have done/not done which will/can/would build trust.
  4. Listen and ask exploratory questions to understand. Do not reframe what they say into what you wish they had said. Do not defend. Just listen.
  5. Thank them and let things settle.
  6. Finally, identify specifics and patterns amongst the people you’ve spoken too, and identify next steps.

More about emotional bank accounts

In our next blog post we’ll go deeper into the behaviours related to  “how you build emotional bank accounts” and share another practical exercise.

The secret L&D manager: What makes training effective?

This month’s secret training manager is Italian and has worked in a variety of fields including public research organizations and service companies. Here she talks with Scott Levey about the basic elements that make training and trainers effective.

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What makes training effective?

To me an effective training is a training that uses most of the senses. Meaning: seeing, hearing, touching. The learners need to experience things and be actively engaged. Of course, the training needs to cover the thinking side, but adult learners need to learn by doing things. A good training event also has to be designed to have different activities and moments. For example, it needs moments to listen and get input and ideas, moments to pause and ponder on the theory that was just presented to you, moments to experiment, and moments to recap. I want the trainer to also plan in multiple moments where they cover again the main and salient points of the training.  For me this is essential.  I would also say that effective training sessions need to have a certain pace and this pace changes depending on the moment.  After lunch the trainer will increase the pace to get people moving again. Alternatively, the pace may slow down if the trainer sees that the participants aren’t following what the trainer is trying to do or trying to say.  So that’s what I think makes an effective training.

What makes the trainer effective? I mean you yourself have worked with many trainers and you have also trained yourself, haven’t you?

Well the most obvious answer would be that the trainer is the subject matter expert. She is an expert in her field and has real experience … but that isn’t enough. I’m going to give you a trivial example but I think everyone can relate to it. It’s about my daughter. She’s in high school right now and her math teacher is brilliant. He has a very brilliant mind … but he is not a pedagogue, so he is a teacher by definition but he is not a teacher through experience, and he is not patient with them. He knows his stuff, and is really smart, but he doesn’t know how to convey the salient points to my daughter or his class.  When I think back to the many companies I have worked in, I have also seen similar experiences with internal training sessions ran in various topics. It could be IT related, quality management, HR or technical skills.  Being a subject matter expert is the start but not the end.

Being an expert is not enough; you also need to be an expert in pedagogy, you need to be patient and you need to be attentive to the participants and allow them to ask questions. You need also to be able to shut down any conversation that strays from the topic because it can become difficult and you can waste time and not reach your training goals. This is not good because as we know training has an agenda and you need to stay on track.

Somehow a trainer also needs to be very confident and have some leadership behaviors, because she’s the leader of the group for the time of the training. Finally, I think an effective trainer has to have those storytelling skills where you put theory and experience into a nice little story that illustrates the point. And is easy to understand and remember

So, what I’m saying is an effective trainer is somebody who

  1. Is a subject matter expert
  2. Is a good communicator
  3. Is people-oriented
  4. Can lead a group
  5. Has the skills needed to design training so there are the right moments at the right times
  6. Has the skills to deliver the training in an engaging way and manage the pace
  7. Is focused and reaches the objective set for the training

Train-the-trainer courses can really help for both new and confident trainers … but it is my opinion that nothing really beats experience. So that’s what I think makes a trainer a good trainer.


Who is the secret L&D manager?

The “secret L&D manager” is actually a group of L&D managers. They are real people who would prefer not to mention their name or company – but do want to write anonymously so they can openly and directly share their ideas and experience with their peers.

You can meet more of our secret L&D managers here …

 

Practical rules and resources for writing quality emails

This might be difficult to imagine if you are under 35, but when I started my career in finance there was no email. All written communication was by letter, and if something was really urgent you might send a telex or a fax. Written communication was an investment – an investment in time and in labour.  The process of sending a letter was a slow one; dictating it, the secretary/typist typing it, checking it, finally signing it, putting it in an envelope and posting it. There was no word processing software – if you wanted to make changes to the content, you returned it to the typist who would retype it.  Again, this may be difficult to imagine, but in some ways this wasn’t such a bad thing and there was a plus side to the writer and the reader. Exactly because it was so time consuming and labour intensive, you thought carefully about what you wanted to say and how you were going to say it. You invested in the quality of your written communication.

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Today email communication, combined with documents being available online, has replaced the letter. Email beats snail mail letters. Approximately 280 billion emails are sent every day, and the average number of business emails sent each day is around 125 billion. In a recent workshop on Managing conflict in virtual teams one purchaser shared he had received 68 from a single person in one day!

Writing emails requires little effort and little thought– and obviously this is not always a good thing. Take a look at your inbox and ask yourself how many of these emails are unclear, unnecessary or simply unwanted. So why do we send so many? The simple answer is because we can. The process is simple, quick and easy. The challenge organizations face today is keeping the good stuff (quick, easy, simple) while eliminating the down sides.  This is made harder by our convictions that our writing is clear and understandable despite research showing we often overestimate this.

So if you want your mails to be clear, necessary and wanted then start with these 3 practical rules.

Write clear and understandable subject lines

It’s very likely that your reader is busy and that they have a lot of pulls on their time. Regardless of whether they are using a laptop, tablet or phone they will see your name/email address and your subject line. A clear and understandable subject line helps them prioritize your email, shows respect for their time, and builds trust. A clear subject line can also help catch your recipient’s attention and encourage them to deal with your mail quickly. Consider using BLUF (bottom line up front) in your subject line and also at the very start of your email.  Another simple tip that many virtual teams adopt is to  agree with your team members on a selection of limited key words (e.g Info, Action, Decision).  For more simple and practical advice plus a training activity on effective subject lines check out this post.
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Write it how you’d say it

Many of us (and I am guilty of this) use a different style when writing.  Some people opt for different words, more complicated expressions and generally take longer to say something in writing than we would face to face.

For example…. “It has been brought to my attention that the complexities of the user interface are making life difficult for some of our users. I’d like to suggest we discuss this together”. Flipping it around some people also write emails in note form, or an overly casual style e.g. “Heard user interface difficult 4 user. Talk?” Writing as you speak would give you  “Some of our users are finding the user interface difficult to use. Can we talk about this together?”

Writing in a clear and direct style definitely helps clarity.  Pay attention to tone, and as a reader try to give the writer the benefit of the doubt when you feel the tone is odd.

Take a moment before you hit send

In the days when we sent letters we took a lot of time to think about what we were writing. We planned and drafted and there were many opportunities to change what we wanted to say or how we wanted to say it. You could read your letter through before signing it and at that moment decide if you really wanted to send it.
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Today these inbuilt pauses don’t exist. You quickly read a mail, write the response and hit send. It is often done on the move and squeezed between other tasks, conversations etc.  That is generally OK for short, routine communications but for those that are longer, complicated or sensitive, type once but look twice is a good rule to follow.  Write your email, don’t add the address and put it in your drafts folder (or email it to yourself). Read it later and if it’s clear, understandable and unemotional – send it. For more help on writing emotionally neutral emails, see here.

 

Training storytelling in business –behind the scenes with two trainers

What challenges do professionals have when they join a training session on storytelling in business?

Gary: Typically its people feeling that they aren’t creative enough and wish they were. They like the idea of using stories in a work context, and are interested in the training, but they feel that either they don’t have a story in them, or they don’t have a story that matters.  They’ve seen others use stories effectively and they’d like to learn how to do that – but they just don’t know where to start.

Scott: I completely agree. Most participants do see the value and in many ways we are working with the converted. Generally, participants are looking to use stories in a presentation or at an upcoming event, but the biggest challenge they face is where to start.  I often hear “I don’t have a story “or “I have a cool story but it’s not really for our regional sales teams”.  So how have you approached that from a training perspective? In the training, how do you get people to find their stories?

Gary: When we train storytelling skills my very first goal is to show them that they are surrounded by stories and that everyone can tell a story. One of the ways I start is by asking the participants to share something that has changed them or others.  This could be a simple business experience that made a difference to them or shaped them. It could also be something from their private life. I’ve found it is easier with participants who have stronger emotional intelligence, but everyone can find something.  The challenge then is getting them to slow down and see it as they tell it.  It’s not unusual to see people rushing through their story and speaking in bullet points.  This has a lot to do with nerves, but is also connected to wrongly believing that the others won’t be interested in listening to them. When we model the activity it always helps.

Stories are at their most powerful when they get inside people and either connect with an emotion or trigger an emotion.  This is the starting point – at the end of the story how will your audience feel? And what will they know and do?

Scott: I do something similar, “tell us about a moment you are proud of” or “tell us about a moment you regretted”. Anything that taps right into a feelings dimension rather than just narrating factual events.

Gary: When I first started training storytelling in business, I was concerned that when people talked about a moment that shaped them that they would be a little bit light emotionally.  I was expecting people would gloss over it or “present” it.  But I find that this isn’t true and that people tend to really dive in and quickly tap into their emotional memory. This then impacts the listeners.   They leave this activity with a few big wins – firstly that they can actually tell a story, secondly that they have stories to tell, thirdly that they can convey emotion without having to explicitly talk about it and finally,  and perhaps this motivates them the most,  that people want to listen and do quickly connect.

Scott: I think if the storyteller tries to obviously connect their story to the listeners experiences it doesn’t always work that well. The audience is often put off if you try to get too personal too soon. Pulling people into your story beats pushing a message.  Every time we train storytelling skills there is always one person who, in the first 30 minutes of the day, will share an experience that unexpectedly hooks the other participants.

Recently we were delivering training a ½ day session on “Storytelling skills for internal trainers”  in a European investment institution. The first warm-up task of the training was to share a story with your table about something that impacted you in a way you had never anticipated.  One French lady shared a story about her family going to lay a “stolperstein” at the weekend in front of the house where her great-grandparents had lived.  Obviously, the context of the story had everyone paying respectful attention, but it was the unexpected joy and warmth in her story, and the way she described her family reconnecting,  that had the room in silence and actually grinning. She pulled people into her story by telling it naturally, not over-structuring it, and tapping into her emotional memory. When we started looking at their organizations greatest learning moments and the managers practiced telling stories aimed at reinforcing their culture, we reinforced 3 key points from her first story – tell it naturally, tell it simply and see it as you tell.

Gary: Once we’ve shown participants that they do actually have stories, the next challenge is finding the right story for the situation.  There’s a simple and effective model we use with 3 concentric circles, and the key is to start with the emotion. The central point of this circle is “By the end of story what do you want them to feel, know or do?” Occasionally we need to help out by sharing a list of emotions to get people thinking. Feel comes first, and then comes what do you want them to know and what you want them to do. We train our clients to build stories from the inside out.

It’s worth highlighting that sometimes that feeling isn’t going to be a positive feeling … and that is okay. There is a place for warning, shocking, etc. as long as the intention is positive.  I remember a CFO wanting to shake his peers up and confront the arrogance he saw within his organization head on. He knew he wanted his listeners to leave with a sense of humility.  Once he had identified this, he quickly found his story. I still remember his presentation years later. He showed an actual cutting from a newspaper with the photo of a farmer saying, “If they’d asked us locals, we would have told them that this area floods heavily every few years. So why did they build a motorway here?”. Once he had got their attention, he could then talk more about how he wanted things to be going forward.

I often use this “farmer” story when training storytelling because it really does reinforce the importance of starting with the emotion, and being honest with yourself about which emotion you want, when you are choosing and building a story.

So what do you do if somebody can’t think of a story?  In every training group there’ll often be a few participants still struggling.

Gary: Yes, this can be tricky because there are some people who feel that they just don’t have it in them. If that’s the case, we have prepared training aids with “classic stories” that managers need in their pockets. For example, you need the story of when you overestimated yourself, when you failed to prepare, what you stand for, what is important to you when working with new hires, a story of vulnerability, a story  of learning from your mistakes etc etc.  There are similar “templates” for sales professionals, service desks, L&D managers etc.  I find that this “cookie-cutter” approach helps people get going, but I also find that very quickly they begin to leave the “template” and they make things real and personal.  The aid just gets them going.  Stories that follow a template are a safe place to start and then we push people to tap into their own experiences …. And everything becomes far more powerful.

Scott: Absolutely, “typical stories that you need in your pocket”  help get people past staring at a blank piece of paper. Even the process of just asking “What about this one? Have you got that one?” gets them thinking.  And then its all about delivery, and here is where we bring in LOTS, which means “language of the senses”. Using plenty of language of the senses such as “heard, saw, sensed, touched, felt” brings your listeners into your story. Speed and pace is important too. Getting them to slow down, speed up, use pauses for effect.  But the key is to live the story and see the story as you tell it. To tap into your emotional memory. We’ll expand on this in another blog post.

For more information: Storytelling in business

 

 

Die vier Reiter: Verachtung und Einmauern am Arbeitsplatz

Healthy and respectful working relationships are a must if you want an effective and enjoyable workplace.  In the first post of this series, I introduced John Gottmann’s work on the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse. In the second post, we looked at what you can do to tackle the toxic behaviours of criticizing & blaming and defensiveness. This blog post will dive deeper into the last 2 toxic behaviours – and possibly the most damaging of the 4: stonewalling & contempt. We’ll explore why they happen, their impact and how both parties can change things for the better.  We’ll end with what a manger can do when they see these behaviours within their teams.

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Contempt

Contempt is when somebody makes it clear that they feel somebody has no value and deserves no respect. As it has been built brick-by-brick over time, it is tough to dismantle, and is probably the most destructive behaviour amongst Gottman’s “Four Horsemen”.

Contempt can manifest itself as ongoing sarcasm, cynicism, insults and aggressive, belittling or mocking humour. It can be seen in small gestures (eye-rolling when a colleague starts talking in a meeting, snorting at the mention of a project, a smirk or a single “hah” when a  colleagues name is mentioned) to full on mocking and cruel statements e.g. “Wow, you’ve done better than I ever expected – even by your standards that’s truly great work Susanne. You must be exhausted after having made so many mistakes”.

When somebody shows contempt, they are actually communicating that they see themselves as better and worth more.

Why do we do show contempt?

Feelings of contempt are typically built up over time – negative experiences create their own story and, too often, nobody has tackled the situation effectively. This can leave a person feeling frustrated and angry and looking to establish some sort of “superiority”.  Contempt can also come from a sense of moral superiority based on class, cultural or religious differences. Peers can feed into it or enable it.

What happens when we show contempt?

Contempt destroys teams and relationships. It prevents trust and respect and makes it hard for any real human warmth. It is tangibly damaging, causes stress and can harm people emotionally, mentally and ultimately physically.

So, what can the person showing contempt do differently?

Truth be told, if you are showing contempt for others there is a good chance you no longer care about turning things around. However, if you have a high level of self-awareness and realise that you have become somebody you don’t want to be then this is already a great step. Going forward you can focus on redefining your relationship with your colleague through …

  • seeing the other person as a human being with equal value.
  • seeking a positive trait in them and acknowledge it first to yourself and then to the other.
  • finding something they do that you value – then tell them.
  • communicating your needs with “I” statements and not “you” statements e.g. “I feel…”, “I want…”
  • actively looking to find opportunities to make deposits in their “emotional bank account”.

And what can the person receiving contempt do to limit the toxic impact and turn things around?

  • Look after yourself and work to stay balanced and neutral when interacting with this person. Shut out the unhelpful “whatever I do will be seen as wrong” self- talk. Reward yourself for not feeding into a situation.
  • People don’t always realize that they are being offensive… or how offensive they are being. Raise awareness of behaviours in a neutral / inquiring tone e.g. “What would you like to achieve by saying that?”, “Why are you rolling your eyes?”
  • Ask questions about the other’s intent – especially if they are not communicating in their first language. e.g. “Are you aware that, when I hear you say … I feel …?” “
  • Reflect how the contemptuous behaviour is impacting you e.g. “I feel belittled when you roll your eyes when I talk. Is this intended?”
  • Say how you feel about what is going on and show your desire to make things right, e.g. “Can we take a step back and slow things down?” “Insulting me isn’t helping us to move forward and find a solution”, “ What is the best way to tackle this issue for both of us?”
  • Indicate that you are willing to move beyond the present and press the reset button e.g. “I feel we are struggling. How about we try and start again from the beginning and build a new working relationship?”
  • And when things get too much, don’t be afraid to seek support within your organization. When you do this focus on you and your feelings… and not what they said/did.
  • And finally, know where your limits are and seek support from your manager or HR if you feel these are being crossed.

Stonewalling                     

When somebody feels they are frequently and undeservedly being blamed or treated with contempt, they may choose to withdraw into themselves and give one-word answers or even refuse to participate at all. Discussion, healthy questioning and positive conflict are key elements of any successful team.  Stonewalling stops this from happening, and feeds contempt, defensiveness and blaming.

Why do we do stonewall?

By refusing to cooperate, engage, react or communicate we look to protect ourselves and ride it out. Beneath this we may be seeking to control or establish hierarchy e.g. “I don’t need to listen to you”.

What happens when we do this?

The impact is that communication stops. The other person may become increasingly frustrated, angry and then despondent. Communication collapses and relationships quickly collapse too. Other colleagues get pulled in to the toxic situation as they become impacted, and everything gets slower and tougher … meaning ultimately performance and results suffer.

So, what can the “stonewaller” do differently?

If you recognize this behaviour in yourself and want to change you can…

  • focus on who you choose to be – who am I really? How do I want to behave?  How do I behave when I am at my best?
  • ask for space if you need it, and commit to resume once things have calmed down.
  • find a way to calm your emotions. Is there a third party you can express your feelings to? Alternatively, verbalize them out loud to yourself (or write them down if you prefer).
  • work out why you have reached this point. Why are you so angry and reluctant to contribute? Answering these questions may help you to understand your feelings better and enable you to continue.
  • avoid righteous indignation e.g. “ I don’t have to take this anymore” or seeing yourself as an innocent victim

And what can the “stonewalled” do to limit the toxic impact?

  • Ask yourself why are they stonewalling? What are you doing/have you done that is making the other person not feel safe in expressing themselves?
  • Focus on building safety. Agree a fixed time, neutral and private location, confidentiality and help them come back into the conversation with simple exploratory open questions.
  • Accept that a break might be needed and press the “pause” button while communicating that you are committed to continuing the conversation later.
  • Really listen to what the other person is saying.

What can a manager do when they see contempt and stonewalling within their team?

The hard truth is that as a manager you probably won’t be able to do as much as you might like to.  Whereas a skilled manager can actively help team members get past criticizing, blaming and being defensive, contempt and stonewalling are far more difficult to deal with. In fact, any blog would struggle to explore the variables and options.  Here are some questions to ask yourself…

  • What is the impact of the behaviour on the team and our results?
  • What can I accept? What can’t I accept? Where is my line in the sand?
  • Where is the contempt or stonewalling coming from? e.g. why this person? this situation? this environment?
  • How willing am I to reflect back what I am seeing? The impact it is having? And the impact it may have later?
  • Am I prepared and committed to consistently confront contemptuous or stonewalling behaviors over the long-term?
  • To what extent can I ring-fence a person without impacting the team or passing more work and responsibility on to others?
  • Am I choosing to do nothing? Or am I afraid to do something?
  • Who else can help me in this situation?
  • To what extent has HR been involved so far? What can they do?
  • Under what circumstances am I prepared to let this person go?

Whether you are just moving into a management position, managing a conflict in your virtual team, or just want to get the very best from your staff and the teams you manage, being aware of Gottmann’s work on the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse is incredibly useful and practical. At the end of the day, results are delivered through people and people are complex. None of us are always at our best and we can all struggle in relationships.  Awareness of the 4 Horsemen is a start, followed by self-reflection and support.  An effective manager is neither a counsellor nor a buddy – but they do need to manage people as individuals – and this means managing knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours.

The why, when, where, who, what and how of the meeting agenda

Scott Adam’s Dilbert cartoons capture some of the worst meeting behaviours perfectly. No matter which industry you work in, you’ll run into poorly prepared and badly run meetings. There are a lot of factors which contribute to an effective (or ineffective) meeting and near the top of the list is the agenda. Having a purpose-built agenda for your meeting brings you and your team real benefits. Even just having an agenda sets the right tone. The agenda means that you know what’s happening, once you go to the meeting. Beyond that:

  • Agendas show you expect a productive meeting and not a rambling chat.
  • Time spent planning up front will increase your chances of delivering results by helping to keep everyone focused.
  • A well thought out and communicated agenda helps people better prepare their thoughts and gather any relevant information they’ll need before the meeting starts.

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So how do you build an effective agenda?

The purpose of the agenda is to explicitly tell participants what they need to prepare and be ready to discuss. An effective agenda needs to answer 5 questions. Starting off with the first and most important …

WHY are we meeting?

Who called the meeting and why? What is the context for the meeting? How does this meeting fit into your broader purpose? Once you’ve thought this through properly you should be able to crystallise this in 20 words or less.  „Team meeting to discuss the changed scope and plan available resources for project XYZ.“ The sentence encourages focussed thinking from the very start. Insert the sentence into your agenda, and be ready to recap them when the meeting starts.

WHEN and WHERE are we meeting?

Sounds obvious, and I know many client’s we’ve worked with tend to overlook this under the defence “well the same as always, of course”.  I’d argue that it only costs you seconds to include the meeting place to avoid sarcasm and irony.

WHO needs to be there?

Meetings are only as effective as the people who join (or don’t join) the meeting. Your agenda needs clarity about who will lead, present, or facilitate each point. You’ll also want to be explicit about who needs to be involved or is affected by each point on the agenda. Responsibility assignment matrix system like ARCI can very easily be integrated into your agenda.

Related to this theme, a common question we receive when training meeting facilitation skills is “What if they don’t really need to be there for this item?”. This can lead to wide-ranging discussions and scenarios – and to cut this short here are a couple of ideas to consider…

  • Do you want to reorganise the order of items so that a group of people can leave early? Avoid the ‘join late option’ if possible as the first few minutes is where you’ll review the all-important why.
  • Do you want to give them the option of stepping out for this section? … yet make sure they are back in time for the next item? If yes, then make sure they are next door and not back upstairs or in another building.
  • Do you want to address it as a “development opportunity” directly in the meeting along the lines of “I understand the next point isn’t relevant for you, but I think might help you to build a broader understanding of the project if you stay and listen”?

WHAT are we meeting about?

Describe the “meeting items” so that they are simple and unambiguous… without being meaningless headings.  This is where so many agenda templates fail.  Roger Schwarz’s advice to “List agenda topics as questions the team needs to answer” is a great tip I found while I was writing this blog post.

This part of the agenda also contains information such as:

  • What is the desired outcome?  (make a decision, brief people, discussion, brainstorm)
  • How much time is planned for this point?
  • Who should do what in advance of the meeting?

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HOW can we improve our meetings?

This is a very important, often overlooked part of the agenda. The last building block for any successful meeting agenda should be: Make your meetings even better. Are your meetings too long, too short, too often, too big? Low energy meetings are far less productive, even if you have a great, well prepared agenda. It could be as simple as changing the environment of the meeting. Go outside, meet by the watercooler, meet over lunch, meet over breakfast, have a stand up meeting… Remember, it’s your meeting. Change it when something stops being effective. Regularly plan into your meeting agenda 5 minutes to do a simple review. Effective teams take the time to reflect and learn. Ask yourselves:

  • What did we do well today?
  • What can we improve on?
  • How exactly will we do this?
  • What actionable to dos can we take?

More on this topic

Watch this TED Talk „How to save the world (or at least yourself) from bad meetings“, by David Grady.

Further reading on our blog

 

Die vier Reiter: Kritik und Schuldzuweisung, sowie Abwehverhalten am Arbeitsplatz

Gesunde Arbeitsbeziehungen sind ein Muss, wenn Sie einen effektiven, effizienten und angenehmen Arbeitsplatz wünschen. In unserem letzten Blogbeitrag stellte ich John Gottmanns Arbeit an den 4 Reitern der Apokalypse vor; Kritik & Schuldzuweisung, Verteidigung, Verachtung und Einmauern. Wir haben untersucht, warum die Bekämpfung dieser 4 toxischen Verhaltensweisen unerlässlich ist, wenn Sie die Leistung steigern und Ergebnisse erzielen wollen. Dieser Blogbeitrag wird tiefer in die ersten 2 toxischen Verhaltensweisen eintauchen. Wir werden uns mit Kritik und Schuldzuweisungen UND der damit verbundenen Abwehrbereitschaft befassen. Wir werden dann untersuchen, warum sie geschehen, welche Auswirkungen sie haben und wie beide Parteien die Dinge zum Besseren wenden können. Schließlich werden wir uns ansehen, was Sie als Manager tun können, wenn Sie auf dieses Verhalten zwischen den Teammitgliedern stoßen..

 

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Wie man Kritik und Schuldzuweisungen am Arbeitsplatz verwerten kann.

Wie jeder Manager weiß, wenn etwas ernsthaft schief geht, ist es wichtig sich zu fragen was passiert ist und zu diskutieren: „Wie kann man das beim nächsten Mal anders machen? Dies auf transparente, offene und konstruktive Weise zu tun, ist enorm wichtig.  Jim Collins untersucht in seinem exzellenten Bestseller Good to Great genau das: die „Autopsie ohne Schuldzuweisungen“. Damit „Autopsie ohne Schuldzuweisung“ funktioniert, brauchen Sie Menschen, die sich sicher fühlen – Sie müssen Kritik und Vorwürfe am Arbeitsplatz verwerten.

Zunächst einmal ist es wichtig, den Unterschied zwischen Beschwerde und Kritik zu verstehen. Eine Beschwerde bezieht sich auf eine bestimmte fehlgeschlagene Aktion. Eine Kritik beinhaltet ein negatives Urteil über die Persönlichkeit oder den Charakter des anderen. Schuldzuweisungen sind, wenn man auf die Verantwortung verzichtet und alle Fehler und Konsequenzen in die Schuhe einer anderen Person schiebt. Zum Beispiel…..

  • Beschwerde – „Thierry, wir liegen jetzt hinter dem Zeitplan mit der FAT zurück.  Ich bin in einer wirklich schwierigen Position mit dem Kunden.“”
  • Kritik – „Wir sind mit der FAT in Verzug, weil Sie vergessen haben, Max wieder zu upzudaten. Du bist so desorganisiert.  Jetzt bin ich in einer wirklich schwierigen Position mit dem Kunden, Thierry.“
  • Schuldzuweisungen – „Das ist alles deine Schuld…. und jetzt liegen wir wieder hinter dem Zeitplan mit der FAT zurück. Du hast Max nicht so upgedated, wie du es hättest tun sollen, und jetzt muss ich die Dinge lösen und mich um den Kunden kümmern…. was hältst du davon? Das ist alles deine Schuld, Thierry.

Offensichtlich sind Kritik und Schuldzuweisung keine hilfreichen oder produktiven Verhaltensweisen – aber wenn wir ehrlich zu uns selbst sind, haben wir sie alle irgendwann einmal gezeigt.

Warum beschuldigen und/oder kritisieren wir andere?

Wir haben uns darüber Gedanken gemacht, was passiert ist und wollen entweder jemanden zur Verantwortung ziehen oder das Verhalten eines anderen ändern. Wir sagen uns, dass wir nur „Feedback geben“, „andere zur Verantwortung ziehen“ oder „sagen, wie es ist“.

Was passiert, wenn wir das tun?

Der typische (und oft unbeabsichtigte) Effekt ist, dass der Empfänger defensiv wird (der zweite der 4 Reiter) und die konstruktive Kommunikation stoppt. Der Empfänger wird wahrscheinlich weniger offen darüber sein, was tatsächlich passiert ist, da er sich nicht sicher fühlt – und möglicherweise sogar unehrlich wird, Informationen zurückhält oder Dinge neu erfindet. Alternativ fühlt sich der Empfänger bedroht und wehrt sich mit Kritik oder Schuldzuweisungen. Nichts davon ist sehr produktiv oder vorteilhaft für eine gesunde Geschäftsbeziehung.

Was also kann der „Schuldzuweiser“ anders machen?

Um das oben Gesagte am besten zu vermeiden, müssen Sie als potentieller „Schuldzuweiser“…

  • Verantwortung für die eigenen Gefühle übernehmen – und sie nicht auf den „Empfänger“ legen.
  • Offen und neugierig darüber sein, was passiert ist. Genau hinschauen, um zu verstehen.
  • Verwandeln Sie Ihre „Beschwerde“ in eine Anfrage. Konzentrieren Sie sich darauf, Lösungen für das Problem zu finden und wie Sie es in Zukunft vermeiden können, anstatt sich auf die Vergangenheit zu konzentrieren, z.B. anstatt zu sagen: „Sie haben mir nichts von dem Review-Meeting erzählt“, sagen Sie: „Ich möchte wirklich kein weiteres dieser Review-Meetings verpassen, könnten Sie mir die Termine für den Rest des Jahres schicken?“
  • verwenden Sie die Sprache „Ich“ und nicht „Sie“, z.B. „Ich habe den Eindruck, dass… / Für mich kommt das wie…“.
  • prüfen Sie, wie Sie aktiv zu einer Lösung beitragen können – es ist unwahrscheinlich, dass Sie völlig machtlos sind, und Sie werden sich besser fühlen, wenn Sie wissen, was Sie ändern und kontrollieren können, unabhängig davon, was der andere tut.
  • zukunftsorientiert sein. Auch hier gilt: genau hinschauen, um zu verstehen, damit die Dinge in Zukunft besser werden können. Auf einem Stück Papier darzustellen, was passiert ist und welche Faktoren dazu beigetragen haben, kann ein effektives Werkzeug sein.
  • Entschuldigen Sie sich, wenn es angebracht ist – Wollten Sie „angreifen“? Es könnte sein, dass Sie sich nicht kritisch gefühlt haben oder eine andere Absicht hatten, aber es kommt darauf an, wie der andere es erlebt hat.
  • und um jeden Preis vermeiden Sie es, den anderen mit weitreichenden persönlichen Angriffen wie „Was ist los mit dir?“ oder „Was genau ist dein Problem“ zu verletzen?

Was können die „Schuldigen“ tun, um die toxischen Auswirkungen zu begrenzen?

Wenn Sie kritisiert oder beschuldigt werden, versuchen Sie…

  • anzunehmen, dass die Absichten gut sind. Man versucht nicht absichtlich Sie zu verletzen, noch will man, dass Sie sich „nutzlos fühlen“. Sie machen einfach keine sehr gute Arbeit bei der Kommunikation.
  • zuzuhören und eine angemessene Aufforderung zu finden, die in der „Beschwerde“ enthalten ist.
  • sich auf ihre Beziehung zu konzentrieren. Wenn andere Ihnen „Schuld“ zuweisen, was sind dann ihre Bedürfnisse
  • dem Drang zu widerstehen, sich zu wehren – bleiben Sie nicht in einer „Wer macht was mit wem“ Spirale stecken
  • ruhig, durchsetzungsfähig und empathisch zu sein.
  • Diskussion wieder auf die Zukunft auszurichten. Wie oben, hilft es, das Geschehene darzustellen und Fakten zu veranschaulichen
  • der anderen Person zu helfen, sich wieder auf eine bessere Beziehung zu konzentrieren.

Wie man „Abwehr“-Verhalten am Arbeitsplatz entkräftet

The toxic behaviour of “defensiveness” often follows feeling criticized or blamed. It is a natural fight/flight response and, just like criticism & blaming, defending is very much about the past rather than the future.  Defending can look like excuses, denying responsibility, or even blaming the other (“I’m not the problem here – you’re the problem!”). Defensiveness rarely helps move things forward.

Das toxische Verhalten der „Abwehrhaltung“ folgt oft dem Gefühl, kritisiert oder beschuldigt zu werden. Es ist eine natürliche Kampf-/Fluchtantwort, und genau wie Kritik und Schuldzuweisungen geht es bei der Abwehrhaltung sehr stark um die Vergangenheit und nicht um die Zukunft.  Sich zu verteidigen kann wie eine Ausrede aussehen, oder es wirkt wie die Verantwortung zu leugnen oder sogar dem anderen die Schuld zu geben („Ich bin hier nicht das Problem – du bist das Problem!“). Verteidigung hilft selten, die Dinge voranzutreiben.

Warum verteidigen wir uns?

Wir verteidigen uns, um unser eigenes Selbstwertgefühl zu bewahren.  Wir wollen unsere Selbstidentität, unser Integritätsgefühl bewahren.  Wir schützen unser Ego vor Kritik und können uns schnell wie das „Opfer“ verhalten.

Was passiert wenn wir das tun?

Die unbeabsichtigte Auswirkung ist, dass Konflikte entweder aufkommen oder eskalieren.  So oder so, die Beziehung leidet. Die Defensive verhindert auch die Analyse und das Verständnis des Problems, was wiederum die Suche nach nachhaltigen und realistischen Lösungen verhindert.

Also, was kann der „Verteidigende“ anders machen?

  • Wirklich zuhören…. wirklich, wirklich zuhören. Schließen Sie nicht hilfreiche Selbstgespräche aus und nutzen Sie aktive Hörfähigkeiten.
  • In Verbindung mit dem oben genannten, hören Sie hin, um herauszufinden, was Sie denken, dass Sie hören.
  • Jetzt suchen Sie nach den „10%“ der Wahrheit. Es ist unglaublich unwahrscheinlich, dass die andere Person alles erfindet. Ignorieren Sie die Kritik und konzentrieren Sie sich auf das angesprochene Thema. Selbst wenn Sie mit dem, was sie sagen und wie sie es sagen, nicht einverstanden sind, gibt es wahrscheinlich irgendwo etwas Wahrheit, die sich mit Ihnen und ihrem Teil in der Situation verbindet.
  • Und wenn Sie Ihren Beitrag zu dem Problem bedacht haben, akzeptieren Sie Ihre persönliche Verantwortung für das Problem. Jeder hat manchmal Unrecht.
  • Erkennen Sie die Wirkung an, zu der Sie beigetragen haben. Entschuldigen Sie sich, wenn es angebracht ist. Und um ein überzogenes Klischee zu zitieren, gestehen Sie Fehler ein. Sie werden überrascht sein, wie kraftvoll und effektiv es ist zu sagen: „Ich habe mir angehört, was du gesagt hast, und nachdem ich darüber nachgedacht habe…. hast du Recht. Das ist mein Fehler.“ Manchmal kann die Auseinandersetzung mit einer Situation auch schnell die Dynamik verändern, z.B. „Ich habe mir angehört, was du sagst (Kritiker richtet sich auf Leugnung ein und bereitet sich auf einen weiteren Angriff vor), und ich stimme dir völlig zu.  Ich habe das nicht richtig oder gut gemacht [Kritiker überrascht und still]. Lass uns reden und sehen, was wir beide beim nächsten Mal anders machen könnten [Kritiker in eine zukunftsorientierte Diskussion einbezogen].“

Und was kann der „Angreifer“ tun, um die toxischen Auswirkungen der Verteidigung zu begrenzen?

  • Verdeutlichen Sie ausdrücklich und authentisch Ihre Absicht. Arbeiten Sie daran, zu helfen zu verstehen, dass Ihre Absicht darin besteht, andere nicht zu verletzen. Sie wollen nur ein ernstes Gespräch führen, weil Ihnen das wichtig ist.
  • Noch einmal, wirklich zuhören… weniger reden und mehr zuhören.
  • Klären Sie, was von der anderen Person gehört wird.
  • Verwenden Sie „Ich“ und nicht „du“.
  • Zeigen Sie Respekt.
  • Und versichern Sie anderen, dass ihr Image oder ihr Ruf nicht auf dem Spiel steht. Sie konzentrieren sich auf diese Situation und nicht auf die Vergangenheit, Gegenwart und Zukunft.
  • Gewinne Sie das Vertrauen wieder.

Was kann ein Manager tun, wenn er Kritik, Schuld und Abwehrhaltung in seinem Team sieht?

Kritik und Schuldzuweisung ist menschlich. Wir alle haben es schon getan. Wir alle waren unhilfreich defensiv. Unterscheiden Sie zwischen einem Teammitglied, das dieses Verhalten hin und wieder zeigt (das ist menschlich) und einem, das ein Muster auf einer fortlaufenden Basis zeigt.

  1. Schaffen Sie eine sichere Umgebung und bauen Sie Vertrauen auf, indem Sie persönliche Erfahrungen austauschen, und an beiden Enden sitzen – konzentrieren Sie sich auf die unmittelbaren und längerfristigen Auswirkungen des Verhaltens auf Einzelpersonen, Teams und Ergebnisse. Achten Sie darauf, keine Vorträge zu halten und teilen Sie stattdessen Ihre Wahrnehmungen und Erfahrungen.
  2. Konzentrieren Sie das Team auf das, was beim nächsten Mal passiert (und verstärken Sie diese Zukunftsorientierung, wenn jemand anfängt, Vergangenheitsformen zu verwenden).
  3. Wenn Sie auf ein Muster stoßen, in dem eine Person regelmäßig andere kritisiert und beschuldigt, scheuen Sie sich nicht, Ihre Macht als Manager geltend zu machen und Feedback über das destruktive Verhalten zu geben, das Sie sehen.

Im dritten und letzten Teil dieser Serie werden wir untersuchen, wie Sie die verbleibenden 2 „Reiter“ – Einmauern und Verachtung – angehen und überwinden können.

Lernen Sie die „Vier Reiter der Apokalypse“ kennen – Was bewirken Sie an Ihrem Arbeitsplatz?

Seit 2015 sind wir stark an einem Management Development Programm für eine der großen 4 Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaften in Luxemburg beteiligt. Einer der vielen lohnenden Aspekte der Beteiligung an so großen Vorzeigeprojekten ist die Möglichkeit, mit anderen Management-Trainern zusammenzuarbeiten und voneinander zu lernen. Dank Alexandra D. entdeckte ich 2017 John Gottmans Arbeit und seitdem habe ich gesehen, wie seine Methoden Menschen in und außerhalb der Arbeit bei den Beziehungen helfen, die für sie am wichtigsten sind. Wenn Sie (wie ich) noch nichts von ihm gehört haben: John Gottman ist ein hoch angesehener Psychologe und Beziehungsexperte, der mit seiner Frau Julie das Gottman Institute (https://www.gottman.com) leitet. Gottman studierte über zwei Jahrzehnte lang die Beziehungen zwischen Ehepartnern und Paaren und entdeckte Verhaltensmuster, mit denen er – mit einer Genauigkeit von über 90% – vorhersagen konnte, welche Beziehungen nicht  überleben würden.  Obwohl sich seine Forschung und Berufung ausschließlich auf Paare konzentriert, übertragen sich seine Gedanken und Methoden leicht auf unser Berufsleben und auch auf unsere Arbeitsbeziehungen!

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Die 4 Reiter (oder die 4 Teamtoxine)

Gottman glaubt, dass es 4 negative Verhaltensweisen gibt, die Beziehungen zerstören können. Dieses 2-minütige Video stellt sie gelungen vor.

Die vier destruktiven Verhaltensweisen sind:

  • Schuldzuweisung und Kritik – Angriff auf den Charakter, das Verhalten oder die Persönlichkeit des Partners.
  • Defensivität – sich selbst als Opfer zu sehen, um Angriffe zu verhindern oder abzuwehren und andere für sein Versagen zu beschuldigen..
  • Verachtung – das Selbstgefühl seines Partners mit Sarkasmus oder Zynismus angreifen, um ihn zu beleidigen oder zu missbrauchen.
  • Einmauern – Rückzug aus der Beziehung und jeder sinnvollen Verbindung.

Gottman nennt diese 4 destruktiven Verhaltensweisen „die vier Reiter der Apokalypse“. Ich habe auch gehört, dass Coaches und Trainer sie in „die 4 Teamtoxine“ (engl. The Four Team Toxins) umbenennen, um sie geschäftsrelevanter erscheinen zu lassen.

Warum die 4 Reiter der Apokalypse am Arbeitsplatz anzutreffen sind?

Wenn wir ehrlich sind, haben wir diese 4 toxischen Verhaltensweisen vermutlich auch schon gezeigt und uns irgendwann einmal toxisch verhalten. Wir sind menschlich. Und ob man sie nun „die 4 Reiter“ oder „die 4 Teamtoxine“ nennen will, diese Verhaltensweisen sind am Arbeitsplatz von Bedeutung – und das auf sehr greifbare Weise.

Diese Verhaltensweisen sind Gift für einen effektiven, respektvollen und bereichernden Arbeitsplatz. Wenn zwischenmenschliche Beziehungen zusammenbrechen, können Sie erwarten, dass sich die Qualität der Kommunikation verschlechtert.  Aufgaben und Projekte dauern länger, die Arbeit wird unvollständig oder unter den erwarteten Standards sein, und da das Verhalten die Produktivität beeinträchtigt, können Sie mit schlechten Ergebnissen rechnen.  Motivation, Engagement und Teamgeist werden alle leiden, und destruktive Konflikte werden zunehmen. Und im schlimmsten Fall sieht man Stress, Krankheit und fähige Menschen, die kündigen, weil „es ihnen reicht“. Wenn Sie Leistung also steigern wollen, müssen Sie diese Probleme direkt angehen.

Also, was können Manager gegen die 4 Reitern der Apokalypse machen?

„Ok, einige Leute sind nicht so nett wie andere, so ist das Leben… aber  was soll ich als Auditmanager tun? Ich bin Manager, nicht Berater.“

– Marcel, Manager im Bereich Audit & Assurance

Jeder Profi, der sich um seine Beziehungen zu anderen kümmert, wird von der Erforschung der 4 Reiter profitieren…

  • indem er in der Lage ist, zu erkennen, wann er sich negativ verhält.
  • indem er lernt, seine Denkweise bei Bedarf bewusst zu ändern

Egal ob toxisches Verhalten ein häufiges Ereignis oder ein glücklicherweise seltenes Phänomen ist, gute Manager müssen…

  • in der Lage sein, zu erkennen, wann sich andere negativ verhalten.
  • lernen, anderen zu helfen, ihr Verhalten und die Auswirkungen zu verstehen.
  • in der Lage sein, schwierige Gespräche mit Einzelpersonen und Teams anzugehen.
  • lernen, anderen zu helfen, negative Spiralen zu stoppen und toxische Beziehungen umzukehren.

In den Teilen 2 und 3 dieses Blogs werden wir untersuchen, wie dies erreicht werden kann, aber zum Schluss folgen 5 praktische Tipps für den Einstieg…

  1. And when you do see toxic behaviours between team members, tackle them.
  2. Übernehmen Sie die Verantwortung für Ihre eigenen Gefühle. Das fängt damit an, dass Sie konsequent Selbstwahrnehmung und Reflexion in Ihrem Handeln aufbauen. Konzentrieren Sie sich darauf, wer Sie sein wollen und wie Sie sein wollen… unabhängig davon, was die andere Person tut oder sagt. Das ist hart, aber enorm wirksam.
  3. Die Neugierde der Praxis – fragen Sie sich „Was passiert hier eigentlich“, „Was fehlt mir“, „Wie habe ich zu dieser Situation beigetragen“ und „Was wird uns dabei helfen“
  4. Machen Sie keine Annahmen und überprüfen Sie Ihre Ergebnisse offen. Dies wird dazu beitragen, die Bereitschaft anderer zu erhöhen, zuzuhören und sich auf einen gesunden Konflikt einzulassen.
  5. Gehen Sie auf andere Menschen ein und speisen Sie Positivität in Ihre Beziehungen ein: Führen Sie regelmäßig anerkennende Gespräche und versuchen Sie, Anerkennung zu zeigen.
  6. Und wenn Sie toxische Verhaltensweisen zwischen Teammitgliedern sehen, gehen Sie sie an.

How to avoid your emails going viral

“Worst email ever?”  was the headline that got my attention when I read my newspaper on a Saturday morning. The story was about an Australian manager who had sent an email which he later described himself as a “Gordon Ramsay meets Donald Trump-style email rant”.  His email went viral on Twitter (#bossoftheyear) and the story was an online sensation for a couple of days. 

Although, or maybe because, we send and receive countless emails every day it is sometimes easy to forget some of the golden rules of email etiquette. To give the manager his dues he later apologized to his staff (“It seems I am becoming an online sensation for how NOT to communicate – and in hindsight I agree!!”), but his story is a timely reminder to review some important dos and don’ts for emailing. Starting with the most important one, here are six tips for you to consider…

Writing emails that people read: Free eBook download

Tip 1 – Don’t send emails when you are angry / frustrated/ tired etc

This is, and always will be, the first rule of email communication. In “Writing emails that people read”, our most downloaded ebook with 18,000 downloads to date, we suggest you write the whole email if it will make you feel better and help you to get some-thing out of your system – BUT only add the recipients and send it after you have had space and time to reflect and think about what you are sending and its potential impact. Rule #2 builds on this by emphasizing that email is great for giving information, sharing updates or making simple requests. However, use the phone if something could be a sensitive or emotional topic. When it comes to management communication, in our Practical Toolbox for Managers training we also suggest that emotional communication is done face-to-face, via Webex or over the phone. Email just doesn’t help … although you might feel better for a few minutes.

As the Australian manger himself later said, he sent it “in a moment of seeing red and it most definitely should not have happened”.

Tip 2 – Watch your tone, mind your language

Emails need to be respectful and clear. Body language, facial expressions and tone of voice cannot be communicated by email. How an email sounds and the message it sends are determined only by the words that we use. Read this blog post if you want to learn more about tone in emails. Make sure that your message is respectful and clear. In his viral email the manager knew he’d misjudged this and later wrote “Obviously some of you know me pretty well and know I shoot from the hip, but obviously others don’t”.

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Tip 3 – Get the person’s name right

This is a very personal tip for me. I get a lot of emails from French contacts and probably 20% start with Hi Taylor (my first name is Ian). When you type the recipient’s name in the “To” line or select them from your address book – make sure it’s the right person. (In 2000, a British schoolgirl was on the receiving end of inappropriate business emails after a US naval commander accidentally added her to his confidential mailing list.) Be sure that the name you use at the beginning of the mail is the name of the person in the address line and that you have spelt it correctly.

Tip 4 – KISS: Keep it short and simple

Everybody is busy and everybody gets a lot of emails.  The average number of emails received per day in 2018 is 97!  If each email takes just 2 minutes to read and deal with this is 3 hours of your day done already!

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Organizing management and leadership training programs – the secret L&D manager

This month’s Secret L&D manager is German, based in Germany and works for a global automotive supply company.  He/She has worked in training and development for over 7 years.

New Call-to-actionWhat is important to you when designing and rolling out a leadership program?

For me a successful leadership or senior manager program in our company can never be a “one size fits all” solution.  Leadership and people management is not like a manual. We don’t want a “that’s how you have to do it” approach and we are serious about offering an individualized approach. The programs we build with companies like Target give people a chance to identify whatever they need and benefit from support in applying this in their day-to-day tasks – or in their life as a whole. Individuals take different things from the program.

Who do you target when you set up management and leadership programs?

When I set up a leadership program we are typically involving managers and leaders from a broad range of different functions – from HR to finance, logistics to manufacturing etc.  This means I have to exclude functional topics from the training design because they won’t be relevant to the whole group.

What kind or development areas are you targeting when you set up management and leadership programs?

We’re working in a very fast-paced environment and there are always a lot of changes going on.  A lot of our managers and leaders are firefighting, and really involved in operational work. We want to focus on soft skills like strategic thinking, so that they can step out of the operational and build a broader view of everything.

It is really important for me that our managers have the chance to step back and have a look at the broader picture – this means looking especially at strategy and finance. The leadership program needs to tackle what finance means for our company and to ensure the leaders have a big picture of company decisions that are made based on our financial performance. This extends to them having a broader view on strategy.  Our programs support them in building a strategic view of the company, their area and their immediate objectives.

We also want them to develop a stronger understanding of the consequences their own behaviours have, for example, on an individual, team or another department. If they are stressed out and don’t recognise that somebody in their team is drifting away, that’s not good.  The programs develop them to focus on their people –  their team is what makes their life easier in the end. They need to see not only themselves, their own workload, their own fires that are burning but also to focus more on their people and our overall strategy and values.

Do to summarize, strategy, finance, self-awareness, leading teams, and managing and developing the people they are leading. We want them to just take a step back and have a look at this and to have also the chance to experiment with tools, models and ideas. Not every tool is suitable for every person so they should decide on their own what they want to apply in the day to day what’s useful for them.

What is important to you when designing the training interventions which make up such a program?

I want them to work in groups and have personal time with the trainer. We have a mixture of formats including 1-to-1 intakes, using a tool such as DISC or MBTI, face-to-face seminars, virtual workshops and individual coaching. As the participants in the program are coming from all over Europe we also look to reduce travel costs and time using webinars, e-learning, virtual training sessions. The intakes, accountability calls and transfer coaching are all normally done via phone calls or using Webex. Then there are 3 to 4 onsite events with the groups coming together and meeting each other. These could be at the headquarters, a nice seminar hotel or near a plant (so we can organize a plant visit). Cost- and time- wise it is just not possible that they are travelling every few weeks.

What are you looking for from the trainers?

The trainers, of course are a very important element. When we look for trainers it is important to us that they are flexible. Our audience is usually, during the day, under pressure and there can be last minute things coming up so they are not able to attend a the whole session or training. So we need the trainer to be timewise as flexible as possible so if somebody missed some content they don’t get lost in the program. The trainer needs to help them and give an insight into what has been done. They need to be supportive with the people through the whole process – that is really important. Then of course that they have to be able to handle different personalities, functions, nationalities and cultures.

You mentioned culture – what role does this play in delivering the training?

This is a huge challenge, I can tell you. It depends a little bit on which positions the people are coming from. If they are coming from central positions and travelling a lot, meeting a lot of people etc. then usually they are open to everything and it’s easier to work with them. People coming from the production sites somewhere far away in the middle of nowhere – then it’s sometimes hard for them to connect with the other leaders and the softer stuff. It’s also hard for the trainers to manage them in the right way because they are really stuck in their culture. They are not as open as the people who are already used to being in this international environment – but it’s really important to get them to the stage where they are more open to the other cultures and diverse people.

How do your managers and leader react to the programs you offer? And how do you assess the training ?

The reaction of the operational leaders to this approach is very very positive. There are people who are more willing to open up and to work on themselves than others but I must say that those people who opened up completely are the ones that benefited the most from the program in the end.

About assessment, after the training I usually do a post training assessment where it’s a questionnaire where I ask people different sort of questions.


Who is the Secret L&D manager?

The Secret L&D manager is actually many L&D managers.  They are real people who would prefer not to mention their name or company – but do want to write anonymously so they can openly and directly share their ideas and experience with peers.

Implementing the 70-20-10 model- insights from a secret L&D manager

This month’s Secret L&D manager is German, based in Germany and works for a global automotive supply company. She has worked in training and development for over 7 years.

Why are you using 70-20-10?

We introduced the 70-20-10 model in 2016, mainly because too many people were thinking that “development” is just about training, and that if our company wasn’t providing “training” the company wasn’t developing people. The 70-20-10 model helped us show that learning and development is more than just training. Training is one tool, but you can develop yourself all the time. The 70-20-10 model is rolled out globally to our whole organisation. There are also individual initiatives that I have developed which are only rolled out in a specific business area in Europe and for specific development programs like our talent development program.

eBook: The definitive checklist for qualifying training providers

How did people react?

I would say the majority of the people in our company did not really understand at first. Only those people who joined the sessions where we explained and showed what 70-20-10 is really about – they understood the sense behind it. Learning and development is not such a big topic in our company and is not the highest priority, so many people read about it and ignored it.

So how have you brought 70-20-10 to life in the organization?

I created an individual development plan, built around 70-20-10, specifically for participants in our training programmes.

Which kind of programmes?

A development programme for our most talented young professionals. First of all, I introduced the 70-20-10 model a little bit to them, and I explained what 70-20-10 is about – and what it is not about too. Mainly that 70% of everything they learn is learning by doing, 20% is learning from others and only 10% is learning by “training”. I must say people were quite surprised about this when I started talking to them about it, but they quickly related to it.  They saw it reflected how they had learned their technical skills, and also their softer skills.

I then introduced a new individual development plan, which I have here in front of me.  I structured it in different levels. First of all, people were asked to define an overall individual development goal. Strictly speaking they weren’t all SMART goals – some were closer to a vision for where do I want to be and by when. As most of the goals were very general, I asked them to explain a little bit about what they meant with this goal. Where they are now, where they want to be and what they think would change when they achieve this goal. These were the key questions we asked them to think about.

Then they had to define three key development areas that they need to work on in order to achieve that very goal. These areas had to be really, really specific. They have to be SMART.

Once they had defined key development areas, they had to define development actions. On the tool I gave them, these actions are actually structured using 70-20-10.  They need to define mostly “learning by doing” actions, then partly “learning through others” actions and the smallest part is the “learning in training” actions.

And then, last but not least, for the individual development areas they were asked to define key performance indicators where they can measure the success of their development. Using KPIs is very characteristic for our automotive supply company because everything is measured in KPIs here. This is a step they understand easily, and I didn’t have to explain to them what a KPI is. Everything they do is measured.

How do you get a KPI from a soft skill?

Well, that’s tricky. Let’s take the simple example of improving presentation skills. So development actions can be “I will present my project four times in front of my boss or my team, and one of these will need to be delivered virtually”. The KPI could be the number of presentations you have done.

So you are just tracking that it’s happening?

Yes. Another example for management training is if you give or receive positive feedback – yes or no – it can be measured. It just helps a little bit, like you said, to track it, to know that they have to document their status. It really helps them to be motivated or to stay motivated.

Have you integrated the 70-20-10 into your senior management programs?

We have.  I think the 70 is really covered by the business simulations we use. In these simulations people lead their own company, competing against each other and most of it is really learning by doing. They have to work with the numbers, they have to work with the reports, they have to make their own decisions. They have the chance to contact their trainers for example, or their colleagues, and ask them for advice, so that’s learning by others maybe, but mostly it’s the learning by doing.

How do senior managers respond to being asked to build KPIs for their own development?

I must say I only really push the KPIs with the young professionals. They need the orientation to have this measured and their development areas are way simpler than the ones from the very experienced senior leaders that we’re training. I don’t push measuring of the senior managers and leaders. I think at their level they should be capable of measuring themselves and knowing how far they have come with their development.

What advice would you give to another training manager who wants to try and introduce this 70-20-10 approach to their organisation?

Firstly, I would say it’s a very rational approach to learning and development. You have to look a little bit at your target training audience and at your people. I mean in our automotive world there are a lot of engineers, and a lot of very structured thinking. They need tools that fit into their rational world and I think 70-20-10 does this for them. Learning is quite abstract and 70-20-10 gives them a framework to put it into numbers. So if you would like to apply this in your company you should really look at what is your target group.

And I see that structure is reflected in the way you have built your tools. I mean you’ve got boxes that need filling in which fits with your target audience, tick boxes, % etc.

Exactly, I’ve got KPIs. As I mentioned, everything is measured here and that’s their way of working. It is what people are used to and comfortable with. I think if you are trying to implement this in a more “creative” or “service”  company you might see much more pushback to the way my tools are designed and the use of KPIs

Thanks for your time and for sharing!

You’re welcome!


Who is the Secret L&D manager?

The Secret L&D manager is actually many L&D managers.  They are real people who would prefer not to mention their name or company – but do want to write anonymously so they can openly and directly share their ideas and experience with peers.

When trainers become participants: 17 tips for getting the most from your training

As a training company we invest in internal training with a passion. We can cover many of the soft skill and leadership topics internally, but when we are lacking the insider knowledge we carefully qualify and source external providers. One of the questions we ask a potential provider is their experience in training trainers. Training trainers can be daunting as you know that your participants are evaluating the training and you as the trainer with a insider’s eye (much like a chef cooking for another chef who is watching them work in their own kitchen!). When trainers become participants, they also go through an internal process which can be every bit as uncomfortable. We recently organized a seminar for a small group of our management team. Bringing in an external trainer changed the dynamics, and as experienced trainers we were now in the passenger seat. Over the 2 days we asked ourselves “what could we as participants do to get the very most from our training?”. Here are our tips for getting the very most from your training experience.

Engage with the training and trainer before you start

  1. Make sure you know why the training has been organized. What is the context for the training? And what does your organization / your manager hope you’ll take from the training? Ideally your manager will have shared this with you, but if not then seek it out.  And if for some reason you can’t get an answer before the training stats then get it during or after the training!  If you want to make the most of your training investment, understanding the what’s and why before the training starts is a must [Making most of your TI ebook]
  2. Build clear goals. What would you like to leave with? What questions do you have? What would you like to learn? practice? reflect on? And discuss these with your colleagues too!
  3. Is there anything you as the participants can do before the training to help the trainer/training really go to plan? Is there any information that you’d like to share? Or want them to be aware of?

Choose your attitude

  1. Suspend judgement. You, your manager or your organization has qualified and selected this training (and maybe this particular trainer) so trust that they know what they are doing and let them do it.
  2. Connected to this, the trainer and training is already paid, so adopt a “what can I take from this?” mentality and not a “prove yourself to me” Be curious and be open to learn what you expect and what you may not expect too!
  3. Share your thoughts and feedback with the trainer before it is too late. Don’t wait until the end to tell the trainer you would like them to have done something differently. Don’t adopt a “I don’t want to rock the boat” or “why bother approach”. It could be that the trainer or training can’t give you what you want – but wouldn’t you rather want to know sooner than later rather than sitting there thinking “when will we ..?”
  4. Reinforce the positive – feedback forms have a place, but like anyone trainers like to hear positive feedback as they work. If you find something useful, interesting or enjoyable then openly share this.

Help yourself during the training so you can help yourself later

  1. Organize and write your notes from the outset in a way that will help you make sense of them when you refer back afterwards.
  2. Find and use tools that will help you during the training. If something interests you proactively ask for suggestions for books, websites etc so you can go deeper later
  3. Be honest and open about your problems. Don’t hesitate to ask you trainer to repeat something, explain something again or share more examples.  If you are struggling there’s a good chance one of your colleagues is too!
  4. Look to bring in examples from your day to day life during the training. This helps to make the training more relevant and transferable. It will also help the other participants and the trainer to connect learning to reality.
  5. Ask all your questions. I mean, why wouldn’t you?
  6. Use your breaks to reset and recharge. Don’t try and work for 10 minutes, but instead stretch, get some fresh air, talk to the others.  Network, reflect or recharge.

See the training as the start of something

  1. Review your notes at the end of each day and in a few weeks, to help with transfer and long-term memory. Consider setting up a calendar reminder a month later to revisit the training
  2. Take one concrete action immediately after the training.
  3. Catch up with your colleagues back at the office. Maybe you want t0 schedule lunch with a colleague who was also in the training and review both content and actions since the training.
  4. Commit to one or two transfer steps you will do after the training. Make these concrete and share them with others.

So whether you have an internal or external trainer, you also have a big role to play in getting the very most from your training day.  Let us know if you have any other tips too!

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Wenn Bullen aneinandergeraten – warum Senior Manager Einfluss nehmen sollten, anstatt Macht auszuüben.

Im vergangenen Jahr haben wir an 3 Führungsprojekten mit Werksleitern in ganz Europa und den USA gearbeitet. In diesen Projekten wurden talentierte operative Führungskräfte am Rande der Beförderung auf eine strategischere Ebene gecoacht. Für viele dieser Manager ist dies ein überraschend schwieriger Sprung. Sie sind nun nicht mehr der einzige „Go-to“-Entscheidungsträger für ihre Teams. Jetzt müssen sie den Input ihrer Vorgesetzten und Kollegen bekommen, um ihre Arbeit zu erledigen. …. sie müssen andere beeinflussen.New Call-to-actionFragen anstatt sagen: der richtige Ansatz beim Beeinflussen

Für Manager mit einem bestimmenden Führungsstil stellt dieser Übergang eine besondere Herausforderung dar, da sie von einem „sagenden“ zu einem „fragendem“ Ansatz übergehen müssen, um andere zu beeinflussen. Diejenigen, die es gewohnt sind, anderen zu sagen, was sie tun sollen, sind in der Regel mit schnellen Entscheidungen und Sofortmaßnahmen vertraut. Bislang haben sie sich auf ihre „Macht“ verlassen…. und waren in ihrer Karriere bisher relativ erfolgreich! Ihre Macht stammt von/aus:

  • Organisationsbefugnis („Ich bin der Betriebsleiter“)
  • Expertenstatus („Ich habe 15 Jahre Erfahrung in diesem Bereich“)
  • Informationskraft („Ich war von Anfang an dabei“)
  • Ausstrahlung („Ich weiß, dass du mir folgen wirst“)

Tatsächlich ist ein Manager oft so sehr an die Ausübung von Macht gewöhnt, dass er den Unterschied zwischen Macht und Beeinflussung nicht kennt. Ein Teil unserer Rolle im Training besteht darin, Ihnen zu helfen, die greifbaren Unterschiede zwischen „Ich möchte, dass du X machst und du tust es. Was du darüber denkst, ist zweitrangig.“ (Macht) und „Ich weiß, dass du tun wirst, was getan werden muss, weil du es tun willst und glaubst, dass es das Richtige ist.“ (Beeinflussen).

Wenn Bullen aneinander geraten und warum die Beeinflussung durch Macht aufhört, effektiv zu sein.

Stellen Sie sich zwei Stierbullen vor, die aneinander geraten und ihre Hörner wetzen. So ist es auch, wenn zwei Führungskräfte mit bestimmenden Stilen versuchen, den gleichen operativen Raum zu teilen – es können Probleme auftreten. Während Trainings und Coachings haben wir folgende Ausdrücke öfters gehört: „Er hört mir nicht zu“, „Sie untergräbt meine Expertise“ und „Es ist sein Weg oder kein Weg“. Nachdem wir tiefer gebohrt und nachgefragt haben, wie sie versucht haben, andere zu beeinflussen, stellten wir oft fest, dass sie sich nur auf einen bestimmenden oder einen überzeugenden Stil der Beeinflussung (push styles) verlassen – im Gegensatz zu einem kollaborativen oder visionären Stil (pull styles).

Warum verschiedene Beeinflussungsstile wichtig sind

Im Rahmen unseres Training „Beeinflussen und Überzeugen“ arbeiten wir mit Kunden zusammen, um ihnen zu helfen, verschiedene „Beeinfluss-Stile“ zu verstehen und anzuwenden. Kein Stil ist besser oder schlechter als ein anderer – jeder hat seine Stärken und Schwächen, und jeder findet seinen Platz.  Wie Dale Carnegie jedoch so visuell in How to win friends and influence people beschreibt, ein Stil für jede Situation zu verwenden, ist wie „mit Erdbeeren zu fischen“…. mit anderen Worten ineffektiv und letztlich sinnlos. Da Manager sich auf eine strategischere Rolle zubewegen und in Zusammenarbeit mit anderen Führungskräften Ergebnisse liefern müssen, müssen sie verschiedene Überzeugungs-Stile entwickeln. Sie müssen manchmal „fragen“ und nicht nur „sagen“ – pull not push. Sie müssen davon loslassen Dinge durch ihre „Macht“ allein erledigen zu wollen. Also, was soll man tun?

Hören Sie auf zu „sagen“, fangen Sie an zu „fragen“ – 5 praktische Schritte, um andere Führungskräfte zu beeinflussen

Wie Marshall Goldsmith sagte: „Was dich hierher gebracht hat, wird dich nicht dorthin bringen“. Sich nur auf Macht zu verlassen, wird nicht das Engagement liefern, das für den individuellen und organisatorischen Erfolg erforderlich ist. Führungskräfte müssen das Beeinflussen und Überzeugen auf Ihrem Weg nach oben beherrschen.

  • Zu erkennen, dass der Stil und die Methoden, die Sie gewohnt sind, nicht funktionieren, ist ein erster großer Schritt. Diese Erkenntnis kann sich unangenehm anfühlen und manchmal länger auf sich warten lassen!
  • Die Bereitschaft, etwas anderes auszuprobieren, ist der zweite Schritt. Ein einfacher Tipp ist es, immer mehr als eine gute Option zu präsentieren. Wenn Sie versuchen, jemanden zu beeinflussen, der ebenfalls ein bestimmender Typ ist, denken Sie daran, dass er (wie Sie) es nicht schätzt, mit nur einer Option eingekesselt zu werden. Eine einzige Option fühlt sich wie ein Befehl an. Wenn Sie sich selbst sagen hören „Wir müssen…“ oder „Unsere einzige wirkliche Option ist…„, bedeutet das, dass Sie sich wahrscheinlich immer noch auf Ihre Macht verlassen.
  • Versetzen Sie sich in die Lage des Anderen und versuchen Sie herauszufinden, was für Ihr Gegenüber wichtig ist, und beziehen Sie es in Ihre Überlegungen ein. Lassen Sie die andere Person wissen, dass Sie versuchen, deren Bezugsrahmen zu verwenden. Wenn Sie deren Interessen nicht kennen und nicht wissen, was sie schätzen, ist es wichtig, es herauszufinden. Lassen Sie ihr Gegenüber wissen, dass dessen Erfolg auch für Sie von Bedeutung ist.
  • Finden Sie heraus, was Sie kontrollieren, beeinflussen und akzeptieren können. Erweitern Sie Ihren Einfluss, indem Sie mehr Überzeugungs-Methoden entwickeln.
  • Und dann überlegen Sie, was Sie sagen und wie Sie es sagen.

Wenn Sie mehr darüber erfahren möchten, wie wir erfolgreich Präsenztrainings und Trainings in virtuellen Vortragsformaten in ganz Europa und darüber hinaus durchgeführt haben, dann zögern Sie nicht, uns zu kontaktieren.