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3 Vital Skills for Leaders During Times of Change

Change. “To make different in some particular.” (Merriam-Webster).

Most companies have to address corporate change in some regard. Globally, most of us have experienced change, some significant in the past 12 months. Well, 13 but who is counting!

Much of this has changed the trajectory of many business models and shifted the way many of us do business. When one thinks about common traits that leaders have during times of change, communication, transparency, and teamwork come to mind. 

Communication. “A process which information is exchanged between individuals.” (Merriam-Webster).

It is no surprise that communication is at the top of the list of traits employees value during corporate change. Communication helps employees feel valued and part of the change process. Even if working with distributed teams, leaders can make an effort to communicate with their teams. Examples include:

Schedule regular one-on-one meetings. Go for lunch, grab a coffee and discuss relevant topics.

Schedule regular team meetings. Even short and informal in nature, these meetings are opportunities to “check-in.”

Stop in their office, say hello, and have a conversation. Seems simple, but we all get busy.

Transparent. ” Visibility or accessibility of information during business practices.” (Merriam-Webster)

Transparency is should not be confused with confidentiality.  Lack of transparency especially during times of change builds fear and resentment. When employees are fearful and resentful, productivity and morale erode. Transparency and communication go hand in hand. Communicate what you can to employees during organizational changes. This will build trust and reduce fear in employees.

Teamwork. “Work done by several that benefit the whole.” (Merriam-Webster)

Communication and transparency will lead to an “all hands on deck” approach to change. Involve your employees in the change process. Discuss with employees how an organizational change may impact their role. Ask employees to help develop new processes as it relates to their role. Involving employees in the change process demonstrates their value to the organization. It also shows that leaders want them to succeed in their roles.

Communication, transparency and teamwork are vital skills when leading through change. Exercise these skills to ensure your employees are involved in the process.

VIDEO>> Culture Club or Culture Clash? 3 Practices that Maintain Company Culture Through Change.

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Replay: Webinar: Culture Club or Culture Clash? 3 Practices that Maintain Company Culture Through Change

Company culture can make or break how consumers and employees view an organization. Many companies have had to address corporate change, but only half of companies surveyed said that their company did a good job at addressing change with employees (td.org, 2020).

This webinar and discussion with participants discusses:

Global changes over the last 12-months that have shifted the way many businesses operate,

How mobile learning and data analytics may change the way employees learn and develop, and,

How five generations of workers in the workforce impact the way an organization operates.

Watch as the story of the evolution and eventual downfall of Kodak is discussed and how Mental Models, Psychological Safety and Stable Adaptability could have changed the companies trajectory.

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Leadership versus Management. What! There’s a Difference?

There is a difference between leadership and management. Oftentimes, managers are thrust into new roles, tasked with leading a team. That new manager may be able to manage a process well, but do they have the skills they need to be an effective leader? 

What is a manager anyway?

A manager is someone who manages a process. An individual who oversees metrics and production needs. Managers may oversee tasks and jobs within a specific role or department.

And a leader?

A leader is someone who sets an example for others. A leader may have a bigger picture vision of the work that takes place in an organization.  A leader inspires, motivates, and helps to move managers and others move towards a specific mission. Leaders are people that can inspire change within the organization. 

Do managers need leadership training?

People are not machines. Most managers when entering into a new management role may know how to manage the work process well. What they do not have are the skills they need to lead their team

Leadership training is not one-size-fits-all.

Leaders need different skills at different stages in their careers. New managers may not have much experience leading a team or thinking of corporate strategy and mission.

Seasoned managers may be set in their ways and may need help seeking out new and innovative ways to motivate their team. Five generations exist in today’s workforce, each with different needs.  Both leaders and managers need to know how to create a cohesive team despite the diversity.

If you are considering implementing a leadership development program for your organization; what are ways that your managers can practice their new skills as part of the training? Instead of a “one-and-done” training, enrich the experience so managers can practice and perfect their new skills. These new skills have a better chance of implementation for the long haul if managers have a chance to use them. 

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SPECIAL BLOG : Unconscious Bias Interview with FranklinCovey

Last week, I had the opportunity to interview Pamela Fuller with FranklinCovey. Pamela is a thought leader on Unconscious Bias and the Author of The Leader’s Guide to Unconscious Bias. This interview was a part of a series for the Association for Talent Development, New Mexico (ATDNM) a group that I am actively involved in.

We had the opportunity to discuss topics like:

  • How bias should not be a “four-letter” word.
  • How self-awareness and mindfulness can help to promote new ways of thinking.
  • Promoting authentic environments where people can thrive.
  • Having the courage to take small steps to recognize and make progress towards changing bias.

Thank you to FranklinCovey, Pamela and Justin Boggess, and ATDNM for your help organizing this interview.

I would love to hear your thoughts about the interview and the book!

Need a Training Curriculum that Produces Measurable results? Key Challenges and Solutions.

Does this sound familiar? 

You are the Human Resource Manager of a mid-sized manufacturing company. Your boss walks into your office one morning and says, “We have a problem.” “We are losing money manufacturing our widgets and we need to fix it.” I want you to develop training for our assembly line team.” “They need to be faster.”  

Now, I realize that not every boss employs this technique when assessing if they need training or not. Bear with me. 

Designing an effective training curriculum is not as cut and dry as it sounds. Adult learning differs from children because adults:  

  • Learn to use new skills immediately (or close to it), 
  • Bring prior knowledge, both good and bad to training, 
  • Learn to make an impact on their personal or social situations and, 
  • Lack the time due to family, personal, or work commitments. 

Because of this, a training curriculum needs to be developed in a way that engages learners while making the best use of their time. Training has to in ways, unwire prior thinking and help develop new habits. 

READ>> Does Your Brain Get in the Way of Change Management?

How do you create an active training curriculum that creates change in your organization? 

What’s the problem? 

“We have a problem.” “We are losing money manufacturing our widgets and we need to fix it.” I want you to develop training for our assembly line team.” “They need to be faster.”  The words our panicked boss used when describing the problem to our frazzled Human Resource Manager. The Boss sees HIS problem – losing money. But, is that the core problem? And, can training fix it? 

Many organizations see training as the simple solution to an issue.  But, our Human Resource Manager may need to do some investigating. They may need to look beyond “scratching the surface” to gain a big picture understanding of why widget manufacturing income is down. A simple assessment of the situation will help to develop training that addresses the core issues of the widget assembly line. 

Observations

The Human Resource Manager in our example might observe employees in their work environment to see their work process in action. Can the Human Resource Manager and Boss take an afternoon to observe the widget assembly line? Consider questions like: 

  • How does the assembly process flow? 
  • What does teamwork look like? 
  • What does the timing look like? 
  • What are external constraints? 

For example, if you observe that workers cannot perform their role because the machine often breaks down; training is not the proper solution.  

Interviews

The Human Resource Manager and Boss may choose to discuss the issue with the widget assembly team. These interviews may shed light on inconsistencies in processes, which in this case, training would be a solution. If the widget assembly team can train using the same processes, that would result in an increase in speed.

VIDEO>> Identify Your Problem

Who are your peeps? 

The Human Resource Manager and Boss have to know their team. This will help them build a training program that maximizes the widget assembly team’s time. For example, if the widget assembly team works non-traditional hours, when is training going to be scheduled? Does the widget team have access to computers? Consider if your team will have to take time out of their schedule and if the training is being structured in such a way that it will be appropriate for their skill level. This will help structure learning activities that are appropriate for the delivery of your program.

Video>> Understanding your Learners

What’s the point? 

Learning objectives tell the learner exactly what they will gain from training. Objectives will help you measure learner knowledge. Learning objectives measure knowledge – skills – attitudes. 

Knowledge 

Bloom’s Taxonomy or the “cognitive domain” (Morrison, et. al, 102)  measures learner recall of a subject. 

Example: List the steps to turn on the widget machine. 

Skills

Another way to develop objectives is to use the “Psychomotor Domain,” which uses physical activities to develop skills. 

Example: Create a new widget and score 8 out of 10 on the widget performance checklist. 

Attitudes

The “Affective Domain”  measures emotions or attitudes. 

Example: Support practices that promote proper widget assembly.

Keep them awake and measure their success

35% of training managers have made learning engagement a priority (LinkedIn, 2020). When people think of adult learning, they think of lectures where students sit in a large lecture hall or room and listen to a teacher or professor talk while the learner takes notes and absorbs the content like a sponge. (Right, doesn’t happen). 

Active learning allows learners to experiment and perfect what they learn.  Again, rewiring the brain with new ways of thinking. Since our Human Resource Manager and Boss are conducting this training on the job, activities that align with the learning objectives might be: 

  • Working in teams to develop a list about how to turn on the widget machine. 
  • Practicing how to turn the widget machine on and off. 
  • Practicing in teams how to create a new widget, debrief, practice again to perfect the skill.  

After the training class,  the Human Resource Manager and Boss should have a plan to go back and observe the widget assembly team’s progress. They need to make sure the team is implementing the knowledge and skills they learned and practiced during their training course. Data collected over several months will show an improvement in the revenue and attitudes of the workers.  

This is a lot of work for our Human Resource Manager and Boss to take on as they have other duties to carry out. That is where I can help. If you have an organizational challenge and you are not sure if a training course can help, contact me!

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References:

  • 2020 Linkedin Workplace Learning Report, LinkedIn, 2020
  • Active Learning Techniques Versus Traditional Teaching Styles: Two Experiments from History and Political Science, 2000
  • How Learning Works: 7 Researched-Based Principles for Smart Teaching, 2010
  • Adult Learning: Linking Theroy and Practice, 2014
  • Designing Effective Instruction, 2013

Does your Brain Get in the Way of Change Management?

A conversation with a business associate about the brain had me thinking about how our own minds impact change. Change is constant. So much so, there are countless songs that talk about change:

  • “When it’s Time to Change, You Have to Rearrange.” The Brady Bunch
  • “Times They are a-Changin’” Bob Dylan 
  • “Waiting on the World to Change” John Mayer 

(Yes, I did shamelessly reference The Brady Bunch as actual singers). We have lived through changing norms through most of 2020, much of which disrupted the way we shop, conduct business, and function daily.

Change is necessary. Change can be beneficial. At the organizational level, change happens for many reasons. New ownership, entry into a new market, a shift in the economy. 62% of organizations have dealt with transformational change – a change in organizational strategy in the last 3 years (TD, 2020). 

It is the role of a leader to help their organization, team, and employees navigate organizational change. Change can disrupt cultural norms, both good and bad. Change and organizational shifts are times when employees are often scared, concerned, and looking for answers. 

54% of organizations surveyed for the Change Enablement Survey by the Association for Talent Development, stated that their organizations were only moderately successful at navigating change in their organization. 

Most of us are creatures of habit. We like routine and don’t like it when someone “moves our cheese.” There is more to approaching organizational change than the development of a strategic plan and distributing that plan. Your team has to have buy-in. Leaders have to negate fear and concern from their employees. One could argue that much of what happens to make change happen, is in our head. 

Nick Dowling wrote an article in 2014 that explored how brain science can play a role in change management practices. That we all have the ability to change our own “neuroplasticity” – the ability the brain has to change connections and behaviors in response to new information (Briticana.com). How can a little neuroscience and a little “brainpower” impact organizational priorities during times of change?

Transparency and communication. Many times those employees expected to carry out changes to processes are the last to know anything about it. Leaders should be transparent and open about change. In my experience with organizational change, when it is abrupt and in secret, employees become resentful and fearful. It is a natural response to fear change. The more that change can be communicated to employees and the more all those impacted can be involved in the change initiatives directly helps to create buy-in and build a shared vision. From a neuroscience perspective, Nick refers to this as “Self Directed Neuroplasticity” (Training Journal, 48). For short, when one takes ownership of a solution, they are more likely to act (ie: the brain will create a new pathway. 

Leaders need to model the change. How many employees know what is meant by the phrase “do as I say, not as I do?” Probably too many to count. 32% of organizations said that leaders did not model change during times of organizational shift. Old mental models (ie: bias) can also hinder new ideas and can challenge new ways of thinking. Leaders should recognize that change is equally as difficult for them as it is for their teams, be vulnerable with your team. Work with your team to create action steps together to break through established habits and mental models. 

Psychological safety. Safety is basic for most people. When people, whether employees or not, feel unsafe, all other tasks are pushed aside.  Psychological safety is “the belief that one will not be humiliated or punished for sharing information, ideas, or making mistakes (A. Edmondson).” If employees or team members do not feel safe to express their ideas or concerns, or fear retaliation, an organization can forget productivity, profit, and anything else. Leaders must foster an environment where employees feel safe to express concerns and ideas. Psychological safety fosters an environment of trust, safety, and allows creativity to grow.

Sharing a vision. Stakeholders and leaders need to get employee buy-in about the organization’s vision. Employees need a clear understanding of the vision. Employees should be involved in creating a shared vision. A shared vision builds loyalty and helps the organizational team work as one. Leaders also need to live the vision and to help foster the new organizational culture. This creates a community of practice where leaders and their team can come together for a greater cause. 

Have you been a part of an organizational change during your career? What went well? What not so well? I would love to hear from you.

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References: 

  • Change Enablement: Skills for Addressing Change, Association for Talent Development, 2020
  • The Fifth Discipline, Peter Senge, 2006
  • Teaming: How Organizations Learn, Innovate, and Compete in the Knowledge Economy, Amy Edmondson, 2012
  • Britticana.com 
  • Nick Dowling, Change Management, www.trainingjournal.com, August 2014

Kellie’s Thoughts: Learning and Development in 2020… and Beyond!

Terms I have heard that describe 2020 include: 

  • dumpster fire
  • forgettable 
  • crazy 
  • bad dream

These are the “safe for work” terms I can share. There are countless others that are appropriate for after hours. 

Many firms had to quickly pivot in March 2020 to accommodate the remote need for learning and corporate training. One firm I was actively involved with conducted training face to face. Incorporating a live online, or for that matter, self-directed learning was not an immediate priority. In fact, for many institutions, face to face instruction accounted for nearly 40% of course instruction (TD, 2020.)

The need to incorporate other learning delivery methods exists. As we move into 2021, what might training techniques and mediums look like? I believe that COVID will have lasting effects on how classroom time is spent and how learning is delivered. 

Virtual learning opportunities will increase 

A challenge I have seen has been changing a course from face-to-face to live online delivery. The experience is not the same when delivering a class in person versus live online. Body language, distractions, and fatigue are challenges that present themselves online that are not as prevalent in the classroom. 

Consider adjusting content to allow learners to engage in activities like: 

  • breakout rooms
  • screen sharing 
  • brainstorming 
  • polling 

Ensure the virtual delivery platform you are using will accommodate various activities. The benefits to online course delivery are an expanded learner reach and reductions in travel time. These can add revenue and reduce costs for an organization. I foresee an increase in these course offerings in the future. 

More mobile self-directed learning options 

People like to learn on their time and at their pace. I believe it will benefit organizations to offer more self-directed learning opportunities. This would include “micro bites” of “need to know” information. 

A quick Google search will yield some general statistics about mobile users. By 2025, nearly 3/4 of internet users will search the internet using a mobile device (CNBC, 2019).  Currently, only 40% of learners use a smartphone to access self-paced training (TD, 2020). There is an opportunity to develop create training that learners can access on the go, and on their own time. 

“Virtual Reality” is more of a reality 

Taking a deeper look into the future, will virtual reality training may become more accessible. 

Virtual reality “VR” is useful for simulations and gives learners the chance to practice skills in a safe environment. “VR” is also expensive, requires equipment, and is not always mobile. With continued advancements in technology, learners may have the opportunity to practice and perfect simulated tasks in their own homes. This gives the potential to reduce some costs for organizations that use this training tool.

As we look back at the year and look forward to the future. What how would you like to see your training programs improve? Let’s plan 2021 and beyond together! 

Happy Holidays from Kellie and Momo! 

Sources: 

How to Grow Long Term Leaders? Avoiding the “One and Done.”

Many of us, myself included have participated in a leadership development program, read a book, or listened to a podcast about leadership. Most of us have left a leadership development program feeling energized and full of new ideas, only to leave those ideas at the door we came through. 

I have both taken and been involved in the planning of many leadership development programs in my career. Many programs suffer from a “one and done” problem. (Note the reference to college basketball. I’m a college basketball scandal follower.)

There is a shift in the workforce like none other, with five generations of people contributing to the workforce in some capacity. Millennials, born approximately in the early 1980’s through mid 1990’s, are largely moving up the ranks.  64% of millennials cite that their employers are not fully developing their leadership skills (HRPA, 2016); yet 79% of CEO’s worldwide are concerned that lack of essential skills in the workforce is hindering their organizational growth (LinkedIn, 2019).  How do organizations design leadership development programs that provide value and skill future workforce leaders crave? 

Plan with a purpose

The “one and done” leadership development approach occurs when organizations need to meet an objective or see a general need for leadership skills, and apply a “one size fits all” approach to the program. The issue is, leaders at different stages in their careers have different needs and challenges. Consider: 

  • The organizational problem being addressed? 
  • The 2-3 challenges employees are facing because of the problem? 
  • What steps can employees and the organization take to address the problem? 
  • How will employees use what they learned on the job? 

A needs analysis, even simple in nature can help to uncover some basic benchmark skills employees have and the challenges they are facing. The data revealed from the analysis can help an organization frame their program in a way that employees get greater value from the results. 

Don’t set it and forget it 

What happens after the program is equally as important. Post-program follow up and assessment is key to supporting employees, allowing them to implement what they have learned. This may look like: 

One-on-one meetings

Holding a one-on-one meeting with employees to discuss and together the employee and their manager can create a roadmap to help them develop the skills they learned. 

Keep the content flowing

Consider developing small “micro” sized bites of content to help demonstrate how newly trained leaders can implement the skills they learned from the program. Distribute this content over a period of time to participants to support their learning. 

Measure

Quantify your efforts by creating some simple measures to demonstrate the success of your program. How many participants have been promoted? Have metrics increased or decreased? Program measurement is vital to understanding the success of your program. 

Circle of trust

Creating a community of practice among your program participants will help them learn and grow from each other. Consider using social media (i.e. Facebook, Twitter) or programs like Zoom or Microsoft Teams to lead follow up discussions among program participants. Encourage mentorship among novice and experienced leaders. 

Do you want to develop long term leaders in your organization? Contact me and together let’s develop a plan to grow your team’s leadership skills.

Source: 

LinkedIn 2020 Workplace Learning Report, 2020

HRPA, HR & Millennials Insights into your New Human Capital, 2016

Why Leadership-Development Programs Fail, McKinsey Quarterly, 2014 

Need a mentor? 3 Ways to Find your Professional Match

A supportive mentoring relationship can help a new agent with a budding real estate career flourish with success.

The real estate industry is like a complicated relationship, often full of ups, downs and uncharted waters. Mentoring relationships can play a valuable role in the success of new real estate agents navigating the rough seas of real estate.

A study conducted by Inman revealed that 78.55 percent of respondents — almost 60 percent of them with more than 10 years in the business — said brokerages should prioritize providing a mentor for new agents. And according to 32.67 percent of those surveyed, the single most important training for new agents was mentorship.

With the need for mentors deemed an important part of new agent training, it’s important to understand exactly what mentorship is, how new agents can find meaningful mentoring relationships and how agents can define what type of business relationship they are looking for.

Coaching vs. mentoring

Coaching

A coaching relationship is performance-driven and typically short-term in nature. The goal of coaching is to help an agent improve a specific skill.

Much like a singer would hire a vocal coach, real estate agents could hire a business coach to help them improve negotiating and presentation skills. Agents might also seek a business coach to help them improve their business systems.

Mentoring

Mentoring is a mutual relationship between two individuals who want to benefit from personal growth. A mentoring relationship is about providing guidance, and a mentor can provide support to an agent as they navigate their new real estate career.

The foundation of a mentoring relationship is trust and respect. A new agent may seek out a mentoring relationship to better understand how to model behavior within their brokerage or association or to understand their different business roles.

How can new agents find a mentor?

Most agents want to see new agents grow and succeed in real estate. If you are a new agent looking for a mentor, here are three suggestions for exploring meaningful mentoring relationships.

Networking groups

There are many networking groups with a real estate focus. These groups can be a good place to find like-minded agents who would be willing to share their knowledge and support with a new agent.

Networking groups can also be a great place to seek out a mentor who you can share with. Individual growth happens by learning from others who have different skills and business models.

Your brokerage

Get to know agents in your brokerage, and seek a mentoring relationship with an agent you have a good relationship with. A mentor in your brokerage can help you understand and navigate office protocol.

A brokerage mentor can help support you through new agent training and can be someone to offer support as new business experiences occur.

Your local association

If you are a new agent looking to get involved in volunteering, or if you are looking to gain a better understanding of your association benefits, reach out to local committee members or a member of your leadership team.

Many agents who volunteer with their association are willing to share experiences and support new agents who want to get involved in their real estate community. Leadership and committee volunteers can also learn from the experience and perspective that a new broker can offer.

A supportive mentoring relationship can help a new agent with a budding real estate career flourish with success.

Are you interested in developing a lasting mentorship program in your organization? Contact me to discuss your organization’s needs.

Originally written for Inman.com, December 2018. https://www.inman.com/2018/12/20/need-a-mentor-3-ways-to-find-your-professional-match/

Is Learning to “Communicate Effectively”​ as Easy as it Sounds?

communication

[ kuh-myoo-ni-key-shuhn ]

Noun

  1. the act or process of communicating; fact of being communicated.
  2. the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs… (dictionary.com, 2020). 

I’m not in the minority when I say that at times, I am a bad communicator. We are humans. Our desire to be heard is a reason why we often communicate without listening or allowing the other party to exchange ideas. 

Communication happens in many ways. Body language, tone, and listening help to round out effective communication. Job mistakes and misunderstandings arise because of a lack of listening, communication, and meeting of the minds. Listening with the intent to respond rather than with respect and understanding can create problems in meetings and on the job. Speaking in a specific tone can be offensive. Body language can make communication unclear and even offensive in some cultures. 

How do we train employees to be effective communicators? Humans are complex. Adult learning is complex. Adult learners want skills to be relevant and easy to apply to their jobs. Additionally, motivation plays a large role in adult learning. How can we teach teams to be effective communicators? Consider making the skill of effective communication: 

  • Relevant to their job,
  • Give employees a chance to apply the skill and, 
  • Motivate employees to learn. 

Relevance

Training must be relevant to an employee’s job role. A generic course on effective communication means nothing to an employee who specializes in product sales. Consider aligning effective communication strategies with their job role. 

Example: Effective communication is critical for jobs that involve an employee or team safety. Listening takes an active (even life or death) role for an employee who is a system operator for a utility company. System operators may complete training on how to apply human performance listening tools like ” three-way-communication.” Incorporating effective communication techniques like speaking clearly and active listening gives the employee tools to be a better communicator in their role. 

Application 

Training is often “one and done.” Most learners leave their training at the door when they leave the session. Training does not end when the learner leaves class. Training should extend beyond the classroom. Employees need to be able to successfully perform a task and managers should be able to measure their employees’ performance. Managers should receive training on how to observe and measure and provide feedback regarding their employees’ performance. Learners also need to have a safe environment to practice, make mistakes, and improve their newly learned skills. 

Example: Listening and clear communication mitigates mistakes when safety operators perform the “three-way-communication” task. Learners need to have an environment where they can safely practice and perfect the skill and newly learned communication approaches while managers observe while providing respectful and clear feedback. 

Motivation

Demonstrating how training is relevant and easy to apply to their job will help to motivate employees to learn and use the skill in their work roles. Effective communication is relevant and highly motivating to a system operator as, without it, the consequences are grave. 

Example: A system operator’s motivation is to not be physically harmed or harm someone else while performing their job.

Consider incorporating effective communication techniques into your next employee training. Show your team how communication is relevant to their role, give them space to practice, and help motivate them to succeed. 

66% of organizations experience a gap of skills in areas of basic communication and interpersonal skills.* Schedule a consultation with me today to develop a plan to improve your team’s communication skills.

Published: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/learning-communicate-effectively-easy-sounds-kellie-tinnin/, 10/25/2020

*TD.org, 2019 State of the Industry