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Consultant Corner

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Mission Possible: Mastering The Coaching Triad

March 1, 2013

 

Much has been written about the importance of coaching and the rewards that come with that effort. But with all that has been written, there is still evidence that most managers and leaders do not spend sufficient effort on this important component of leadership. Whether it is lack of motivation or lack of interest, many employees state that they are not receiving much coaching from their bosses. To be effective, coaching needs to be an ongoing process that is seen by employees as meaningful, targeted and honest.

 

To make it easy to for leaders and managers, we present a three-pronged approach to the coaching process that is easy to remember, easy to apply and fosters great rewards in terms of employee commitment and engagement.

 So, your mission, if you choose to accept it, consists of the following pledge:

 

 “I promise to utilize the following coaching triad in my ongoing coaching efforts with my employeesSupport, Recognition and Challenge.”

 

Research has shown that when these three components are applied ON A REULAR BASIS, the results can be  rewarding for the individual, the coach and the organization.  So let us understand exactly what these consist of one by one, so you are ready to take on this “mission possible”:

 

Support:   This first component tells the employee that you have a vested interest in his/her success. It is exemplified by being there for them not just when they need assistance on a project or program, but by showing interest in them on a regular basis. It means understanding their style of work and doing the “little things” that are meaningful to the employee.  

 

Examples of showing support are:

  • Keeping an “open door policy” whenever possible
  • Providing visibility for them with upper management
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  • Being an active listener and asking open ended questions
  • Asking them about their families or some personal item
  • Stopping by their office just to talk
  • Providing suggestions and ideas for improvement
  • Understanding their motivation and what makes them tick
  • Guiding their work with specific goals and targets and monitoring their efforts   
  • Providing needed resources for them to complete their assignments

 

Recognition: When a group of 200 employees were asked, “What are the two most important traits you want wanted from your managers,” they answered with the following: recognition and fairness. This component of coaching is easy to understand, yet it seems to elude many leaders and managers. Furthermore, it is often not money that is the major motivator, but rather “job well done” or a simple “thank you” that means the most to employees.

 

So what are some specific ways to offer recognition on an ongoing basis?

  •  Leave a “sticky note” or write a letter commending them on a specific action
  •  Provide an opportunity for public or private praise (depending on the employees’ preference)
  •  Send an email recognizing their efforts and copying upper management
  • Additional time off  for a job well-done
  • Use suggestions and ideas from employees, and commend them for being pro-actve
  • Identify times when an employee goes beyond ordinary expectations
  • Create certificates or campaigns that allow employees to be recognized for their efforts:  e.g. Employee of the month, Employee parking space, Above and beyond awards,etc
  • Take an employee out to lunch or bring in lunch for employees

 

When appropriate recognition becomes part of the culture of an organization, employees feel valued and important. That can translate into increased productivity and a greater return for all.

 

Challenge: The third component of coaching is to provide challenges to your employees so that they can grow and continue to be of value to both personally as well as professionally. It is the manager’s job to create challenges that the employee can handle, while increasing their skill sets and competencies. 

 

Some examples include:

  • Taking on a new project
  • Working on a cross-functional team
  • Taking a course  or seminar to increase their skills in a particular area of expertise
  • Being cross-trained on a new software or project
  • Solving a recurring problem
  • Heading up a new area
  • Turning around a difficult situation
  • Going back to school

 

 

It is important to remember that the principles of the triad coaching model need to be ongoing to be effective.  The time you spend on coaching may not take more than a few minutes each week if done properly, but the results of those efforts will be beneficial to all. Rather than viewing coaching as an impossible mission filled with time, energy and frustration, it will become easy and rewarding. So, review the above and incorporate it into your daily interactions with your employees. It will then become a Mission Possible for you and for your organization!    

 

 

Posted by: Barbara Phillips


The Volunteer Revolution: Ten Ways To Motivate Volunteers

February 4, 2013

 

One of the greatest challenges a leader will face is how to engage, excite, and sustain volunteers in their organizations. Vision statements are usually designed to be more complex than what can be implemented successfully by one person. Targeted goals often demand a collaborative effort put forth by a combination of paid staff and volunteers. So, how do we motivate people to enthusiastically devote their time and resources to a targeted goal without the benefit of monetary compensation?


There are some general principles that you can apply to ensure that your organization excites and motivates potential volunteers to serve your organization long-term. The ultimate compliment for any leader is for people to voluntarily agree to support you in attaining your goals. Committed volunteers make a huge difference in moving your organization from “good” to “great.”


In your organization’s quest to become one of the great ones, here are ten points to consider (and some questions to ask yourself) regarding your ability to motivate – and retain -volunteers in your organization:


1) Build Relationships:


“Do those serving in my organization experience genuine community?”


Serving collectively in pursuit of a common goal allows people to bond together. Those who have established and nurtured genuine relationships desire to spend time together, especially when they share a common vision and a common goal and work together to realize a successful outcome.


2) Be Sure to Have Fun:


Ask yourself: “Do those serving in my organization seem to be happy? Is the environment filled with fun and laughter regularly?"


Having fun is a sure recipe for volunteer satisfaction. Laughter and fun can be a great and positive measuring stick relating to the health of your organization. If positive, usually hard-working people seemed stressed out and ill-humored, it might be time to re-evaluate what is taking place behind the scenes in your organization.


3) Articulate Defined Roles for each Participant:


“Does each volunteer have a clear understanding regarding what is expected of them?"


People are “down” on what they are not “up” on! Volunteer discouragement usually stems from clouded communication on defined responsibilities – or an ambiguous end goal - when they show up to serve. Volunteers want to know exactly what you expect from them. Prepare a defined description of every volunteer position and spend the time necessary one-on-one with each volunteer individually to discuss each point in detail. Although this process takes time and effort, it points to ultimate success!


4) Provide the Proper “Tools and Equipment”:


“Does each volunteer have the proper “tools” and training necessary to be the best at what they do?”


It is discouraging to a volunteer to be asked to accomplish a task or work on a project when they lack the proper training or adequate tools necessary to complete the job successfully. Each volunteer should be adequately trained in every area in which they are asked to produce BEFORE releasing them to serve. You will be respected as a great leader if you make sure that your volunteers have the right “tools” (eg, computer training, teaching materials, financial education, assistance, etc) to successfully complete the project.


5) Offer Encouragement and Appreciation Liberally:


“Do I regularly encourage my volunteers publicly? Do I show them appreciation through practical and meaningful acts?"


The most important two words you can ever say to any worker – but especially to a volunteer worker - is “thank you.” Encouragement and appreciation are the two components needed to keep volunteers serving enthusiastically long-term. Everyone works to be appreciated for their efforts, and this is especially true of volunteer workers. Look for appropriate opportunities to laud and encourage them regularly. Take them out for a meal, bring them a latte’, or present them with an award or certificate for their exemplary service to the “cause” or project.


6) Encourage Ownership:


“Do I allow my volunteers to be a part of shaping the ir area of service? Do I give them the opportunity to share creative ideas and ways to improve the organization?"


A common trait found in every person is the desire to make a positive difference. Although some volunteers will serve simply out of the goodness of their hearts or because the extent of their volunteer involvement impacts a member of their family, in the long-term there is the quest for significance. People who feel as though they are a stakeholder in the organization and its success will give their all for it. Provide plenty of opportunity for your volunteers to assist you in shaping and molding their interest. You never know… they just might do it better than you do!


7) Emphasize “The Big Picture”:


“Do my volunteers understand how significant their contributions are to the organization’s ability to fulfill its purpose and vision?”


When volunteers really understand how their service makes a significant contribution to the accomplishment of the organization’s overall mission and vision, they tend to be highly motivated to serve! In other words, volunteers who understand “The Big Picture” - and fully understand and embrace their role in seeing that picture realized – those are your highly-motivated, self-driven, inspired volunteers!


8) Communicate!


“Do I regularly communicate with my volunteers regarding project details, directions and decisions?”


Lack of communication will always result in a lack of motivation. Be sure to communicate clearly and regularly with volunteers regarding all aspects of the project.


9) Show You Really Care:


“Do I know enough about my volunteers to effectively care for any needs that may arise in their life?


It has been said, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” One of the primary responsibilities of a good leader is to support and nurture your team. We can never be too busy to get involved in the lives of those who have dedicated themselves to serving and supporting a cause. Be proactive enough to take the “pulse” of each of your volunteers in all areas of their life – personal and professional.


10) Encourage Self-Care:


“Do I encourage my volunteers to find consistent and constructive ways to engage in self-care activities?”


One of the most powerful tools you have to build and motivate your team is to find ways to support and encourage their self development. Self-care gives volunteers an opportunity to re-fuel; giving their best effort consistently. Promoting self-care results in happier, healthier, more motivated individuals.


Positive volunteers produce positive results! To ensure successful outcomes, use the ten-points above to motivate and encourage non-paid individuals to work toward a common goal. It may take time and effort on a leader’s part: but the dividends it pays are worth it!

 

Posted by: Charles Frazier


Effective Communication: Is Your Message Clear To Your Audience?

January 10, 2013

 

Message clarity in giving and receiving information is one requirement of effective, targeted communication..

The second requirement  of effective communication is to not make assumptions or hold pre-conceived ideas about messages sent or received.

 

Dialogue - the act of communicating between people -  is a process of

1)         Talking in verbal patterns or scripts

2)         Listening, and

3)         Responding well.

 

Scripts and their responses collectively make up effective communication.  

Some points to consider:

  • We are usually not aware of our speech patterns or scripts, and so assume everyone else’s is the same.
  • It is to listening that we pay the least attention.  It is in listening that we are least trained. 
  • Responses are dependent on our listening capability, and on our awareness of patterns and scripts in the conversation.

 

When we talk, we use patterns that are familiar to us.  The “scripts” and roles we use are established by our backgrounds.  This is also true about how we have learned to listen and how we have learned to respond. So, our communication is heavily laden with our assumptions, our notions of reality, and our history.  Who we bring to the conversation is the “Us” with whom we are so familiar.  It is perfectly acceptable - and indeed necessary -  to carry our “selves” into dialogue.  We just have to be careful that the “script” of “self” does not interfere with message clarity that is perceived by our audience(s).. 

 

Message clarity can be absent for obvious reasons (if we are paying attention and listening).  Is the person we are addressing  from the same background, where words and expressions mean the same thing as they do to us?  Is there enough shared knowledge to connect in a meaningful way?  Are there similar sociological values and underlying assumptions?  In a business setting, is each person familiar with the technical and cultural background of this business environment?  Is there a ‘power structure’ within which the conversation is being held? 

Effective communicators are always aware of the potential to disconnect.

 

 

Effective communication is incredibly complex. When we consider that dialogue represents a huge portion of our interaction with one another, it should be apparent to us that being fully present for the dialogue process is one of the important things we need to do in life.  How well we dialogue translates in direct proportion to how effectively we co-create our interactions with one another.    

 

Posted by Louann Hart


 


Making Our Workplaces and Schools "Safe & Sound"

November 8, 2012

 

What keeps you up at night?

 

As a parent, and as someone who has dedicated his career to establishing and maintaining a safe, productive workplace and school  environment for everyone, my answer to that burning question is the potential for “workplace or schoolyard  violence.”

 

Recent studies have shown that one in every five violent incidents occur at work.  During my retail loss prevention career, I’ve been called upon to deal with multiple assaults, serious injuries, and even deaths within the companies in which I have been employed.  My actions in the wake of these occurrences have included supporting law enforcement investigations and connecting with the associates impacted while gauging the far-reaching effects of workplace violence across company locales and even across industries.  A company may have the top product, brand or service in the world:  however, if your employees do not feel safe  in their organization, then who is going to deliver those products or services with complete confidence to your customer base?

 

Consider the total cost of a violent event – absenteeism, stress, liability, negative media coverage, loss of reputation for both individuals and the organization as a whole – and the repercussions of such an event can endure for months  and even years. 

 

As a security professional, it has been my responsibility to ensure that stakeholders and educators alike are influenced sufficiently to recognize that particularly in these challenging economic times, training policies and procedures are put into place to mitigate the risk of violence in  every company and school to protect our most important assets – our people and our children.  Don’t we all want to leave a legacy of workplaces and schools that are safe enough for our friends, colleagues, and children to earn a decent living and receive a good education without the threat of harm?  Putting safeguards in place BEFORE violence occurs is the key to thwarting any potentially harmful situations.

 

Once organizational leader and educators learn to read – and heed – the signs of workplace or school  violence, I will sleep better at night.

 

I’m sure you will, too.

 

To find out more about Learning Dynamics “SAFE & SOUND” training program that addresses workplace/school violence, call 1-800-3-SKILLS.

 

Posted by Dean Correia


 

 

Replying Effectively Using Email

July 1, 2012

 

“Can you send me that confirmed meeting date via email?”

“Thanks so much for your prompt email invitation to lunch.”

“I got the PAID IN FULL receipt by email.”

 

Arguably the Number One form of business communication people use in today’s workplace -  no matter what their age or the circumstances – is email.  I want to address replying to emails, since this form of communication is a two-way street: however, how you choose to reply to your emails is just as important as being able to compose effective emails. 

 

Every reply email should have a definitive purpose

Ask yourself:   “Am I sending the receiver the information that they asked for?” “Is this email productive or constructive?” “If it’s vague in content, how can I make it address the issue at hand?”

 

Think before you hit the “REPLY ALL” button

Is replying to everyone truly necessary? Answer that question by asking yourself the following:

Is confidential information involved? Could someone be embarrassed by it? Does my message read as “unprofessional?” Does everyone on this distribution list truly need to receive this?

 

Resist forwarding long chains

There’s nothing worse than having to slog through pages and pages of information to get to the point you’re addressing. Cut-and-paste the most important information into a new e-mail, or summarize the main points for your addressees.

 

Avoid copying people for the sake of protocol or covering yourself

Usually, it’s unnecessary.  And, it’s another reason e-mail boxes fill so quickly.

 

Don’t carry on open-ended discussions or send “blocking” e-mails

If your back-and-forth goes on for more than three e-mails without resolution, another form of communication is usually called for. Try picking up the phone!

 

Never reply to an email in anger

You will probably suffer for it, with bitter feelings from your colleague or from your customers.  It may result in prolonged discussions to resolve the issue, and your professional reputation may be jeopardized as a result. A common suggestion we give to clients is to “pause and reflect” before responding to an e-mail that may cause them to become upset. The more angry the e-mail makes you, the longer you should wait before responding.

 

 

Finally, before you hit the ”Send” button, read your email out loud!  Not silently to yourself, not in your head, but actually say the words out loud.  Remember all the court-based TV shows you watch?  When testimony is read aloud in a courtroom by the court stenographer, the meaning of the words on paper when juxtaposed with those read aloud via transcript can convey a completely different message and actually change the verdict.  Act as the court stenographer on your own behalf before you hit “Send”! 

 

Posted by Kira Copperman

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Are We There Yet?

June 1, 2012

 

I was having a casual conversation with two friends of mine who are nurses. What they said about male nurses making more money than they do got me to thinking about this matter. They each offered anecdotal proof to support their claims. It occurred to me that if they are correct, we are not “there yet.”

 

 

With the bipartisan debates on all sides of this issue being front and center for decades now, this should no longer be a high-profile debatable issue. With the passage of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, it became illegal to pay women lower salaries for the same job done by men strictly on the basis of sex. Yet, according to the April 2010 issue of Time magazine, women earned $.77 for every dollar made by their male counterparts performing the same job in the year 2008.  Now, there may be a number of reasons for these inequities that may or may not make sense based on whom you ask. For example, according to some individuals, if you take into consideration what each candidate brings to an organization - education, experience, years amassed working in a particular profession, and the industry’s position in the current marketplace -that number could rise to $.91.

 

 

Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization of Women, asked the timely and poignant question, “Why do you think [male-dominated industries] are sex-segregated?  Very often women aren't welcome there."

 

If women do not feel welcome, they will not attend male-dominated functions.  Consequently, with no role models to follow, their daughters will elect to do likewise, and the cycle will continue and we may never get “there.”

 

 

I wish I had the answer about how to make getting “there” a pleasant and welcoming experience for women.  But we all need to follow the law. Laws exist so that employers don’t have to think about doing the right thing.  They just have to do it.

 

 

My daughters are hard-working professionals, and it’s hard for me to offer an explanation about why they sit in the backseat of the gender pay inequity asking, “Are we there yet?” Especially when my answer is, “Go to sleep and I’ll wake you when we are.”

 

Posted by Calvin Morgan

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The "ART" of Leadership

April 12, 2012

 

Many executives and managers question the idea that leadership has anything to do with “Art.”  Some executives argue that effective leadership is pure science – a series of strategies that are detailed, prescribed, and exacting.  Yet, when you think about it, great leadership actually IS a form of “Art,” because it requires crafting a workable, targeted series of business strategies that lead to positive results. 

 

Whatever your bias, I have found that the most effective leaders are ones that follow the “ART” of leadership that incorporates the following components:

 

A-accountability

R- Results

T- Teamwork

 

Examining these components, we can quickly understand why “ART” is the foundation of effective leadership.

 

Accountability means holding people responsible for their actions, their projects, their goals, their accomplishments and contributing to achieving the goals of the organization. Those leaders that set specific, measurable goals with their employees and hold them accountable usually realize success.  Leaders who also hold themselves accountable and recognize the fact that planning and communicating their vision must be coupled with a workable, targeted plan for achieving it are the leaders who tend to lead their industry. “You can’t manage what you can’t measure” is a phrase that effective leaders put into practice, and this message assures everyone that they have a hand in contributing to and propelling the organization toward goal attainment and ultimate success.    

 

Results are the ultimate goal of every organization.  Planning achievable results and imparting a plan to obtain positive, measurable results means that everyone in the organization accepts their respective roles in working toward results with laser-like focus.  Exemplary leaders make certain that every individual in the organization knows and understands what steps are necessary to achieve profitability, customer loyalty, and ultimate success.  Those leaders who inspire their employees to work toward success will be victorious in today’s competitive marketplace – even in a challenging economy. Whether those results translate into an impressive return on investment (ROI), an industry-leading customer service standard, a successful new product launch, or a designated profit percentage, everyone in the organization is aware of the process necessary to achieve positive results and everyone works toward achieving them.   Outstanding leaders keep their employees motivated, enthusiastic, and focused.

 

 

Teamwork is a synergy that compels everyone to work together for the good of the organization short and long-term.   In today’s complex, high-tech business world, it is imperative that employees feel a sense of “team” and “connection” with their leaders as well as with their team members. With so many overlapping projects, meetings, and organizational goals in progress simultaneously, the best leaders encourage their employees to work together towards a shared goal.  Inspired workers feel compelled to work together toward successful outcomes and impressive results.  Admired leaders foster teamwork through collaboration and cooperation, while sharing diverse ideas and thoughts about the best methodologies to implement in the pursuit of positive results and sustained profitability.

 

Whether you believe that effective leadership is an “Art” or a “Science,” focusing on the “ART” of effective leadership is the cornerstone to achieving success long-term.  Whether you are a manager, a supervisor, a team leader, or an executive, take the time necessary to evaluate your commitment to Accountability, Results and Teamwork. It’s the “ART” of sustained excellence, and it can mean the difference between maintaining the status quo and realizing unprecedented success every time. 

 

It’s the best “ART” course you’ll ever take.

 

Posted by Barbara Phillips

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Investing in Your Most Valuable Asset

January 31, 2012

 

Imagine a family that has always placed a high value on education. Surely the pursuit of a good education is an admirable goal, one that many families share. Then, imagine totally abandoning that goal due to tough economic times. No more school or lessons or formal learning until the money catches up.  Most families would view such a decision as radical and short-sighted. It would be a last resort, not the first one. Other sacrifices would undoubtedly be made before we would stop investing in the learning required for a promising future and planned human development.

 

Yet typically we see far too many companies behave exactly like the family that gives up on its highly-prized values when times are tough. Down-sizing, doubling up assignments for remaining employees, and eliminating training and development are often among the first reactions employers make. In economic downturns, organizational values are put to the test and employees pay close attention to how their employers respond.

 

In times of crisis, the smart money is spent on the people who will be ready, willing and able to respond with energy and enthusiasm when the market heats up again. In fact, slow times are exactly the right times to invest in training and development. Even if lay-offs or other plans are inevitable, investing in training the “organizational survivors” is a smart management move.

 

There are lots of example throughout the vagaries of American economic history when employers used lay-offs and downsizing as the last resort. Manufacturers who used slow-downs to engage their workforce to paint the plant inside and out, to catch-up on overdue maintenance, to retrain employees with new technologies, to demonstrate their commitment to their most valuable asset - their employees - have been the real survivors.

 

Let’s look at the pay-off of investing in training and developing your workforce when times are tough:

 

Focus on new skills:

Technology skills upgrades, new product training, beginning new manager training - they all contribute to increasing the full organizational capability once the market turns. Long-standing operational problems that a company has “lived with” can be solved once new skills and renewed motivation become the organization’s primary focus.

 

Demonstrated commitment to employees:

Staff loyalty is earned. Investing in training says loud and clear: “we’re investing in you and supporting you by giving you the tools you need to excel”. This is especially true when lay-offs have had to be conducted. The worry and fear among the “survivors” is minimized when comprehensive training is provided as a means to do more with less.

 

Increased motivation:

Employees “get it” when they see their employer investing in them during slow market times.  With a vote of confidence from senior management, they are far more willing to step up to the challenges they will be facing, especially when the market begins to turn positive again. Employees will remember the investment their managers made in them, and it will boost their commitment and motivation to demonstrate that the boss made the right decision on their behalf.

 

So, it really boils down to simple logic. Would you rather be a member of the family that really does turn its values into actual behavior commitments or one that gives up those values as soon as uncertainty sets in?  Your employees make that decision everyday.  Investing in your people is always your best bet, in any economy.

 

Posted by Wilbur Pike

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No Time To Waste

October 21, 2011

 

NOTICE:  IMPORTANT MEETING AT 9:00 am, 10:00 am, 12 noon, 2:00 pm, and 5:00 pm.

 

If meetings are so important, why are so many of them ineffective?

Some of us spend the majority of our workday in “important meetings.”  But here are some startling statistics:  approximately 11 million meetings are held in the US each day:  however, more than 50% of them are deemed “a waste of time.”  Over 90% of the professionals who attend these meetings admit to daydreaming, while 40% say they have dozed off during meetings. 

 

The reasons most meetings are unproductive? 

 

  • Lack of purpose
  • Too long
  • No real assignments
  • No definitive decisions made
  • No accountability for follow-up reports/progress.

 

Is it possible for us to facilitate effective meetings every time we schedule one?

 

The answer is “yes,” but only if meeting planners are willing to adhere to the following guidelines for successful meeting planning and execution:

 

  •  Make all meeting participants aware of the purpose of the meeting ahead of time
  • Have an agenda that outlines what the meeting will address
  • Have all technological equipment tested and ready to operate ahead of time
  • Start and end the meeting on time
  • Be sure all participants arrive prepared to constructively address the primary topic of discussion
  • Allow ample time for all participants to share their objectives, opinions, and concerns
  • Make certain that all participants understand their post-meeting assignments and deadlines, both individually and collectively
  • Be sure that all post-meeting assignments are completed by assigned participants prior to the next scheduled meeting.

 

In today’s highly-competitive workplace, everyone is “meeting” more often than ever before.  To make meetings productive and goal-focused, we need to control meeting content. 

 

As everyone in today’s businessworld knows, there is no time to waste!

 

Posted by Charles Frazier

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