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The CRM Learning weblog will be regularly updated with helpful training tips, articles, and other news. We encourage you to comment and share ideas. Come IN!
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Learn How to Collaborate with Effective Leadership Training

February 24th, 2017

Of all the leadership skills necessary to be an effective, successful leader, knowing how to collaborate with people of all levels, inside and outside of the organization is key. After all, what is a leader’s job, other than to work with others to achieve the organization’s goals? Knowing how to be a good collaborator is a skill that can be taught with effective leadership training.leadership

Often, people in leadership roles assume that they must be independent, decisive, and even competitive to be successful. But by putting aside traditional ways of thinking about leadership skills and entering into trusting relationships with others, the concept of competition can be replaced with win-win mindsets and outcomes. Win-win is a collaborative process where people take the time to search for solutions that result in mutual benefit. It calls for a commitment to communicate until a satisfactory solution is discovered, an openness to questioning some of our assumptions, and entertaining new ways of thinking.

To succeed in our current, ever-changing, technology-driven global environment, the knowledge, experience, perspectives, and skills of a wide range of people need to be brought together. Companies and leaders need to pool their human capital in an effort to solve increasingly complex problems, make sound decisions, and deliver the best solutions to their customers. In addition, companies are forging new partnerships with their suppliers, vendors and even competitors in an effort to increase their market reach. All these trends require solid collaboration skills.

A leader’s traditional methods of problem-solving, decision-making and implementation are no longer fast or flexible enough. With this need to achieve complex goals quickly and efficiently, often with fewer resources, effective communication has become more critical than ever. Our need to work well with diverse groups of people has also become greater. Globalization has created more interdependencies and created new possibilities. The win-win paradigm is excellent for meeting these challenges. It starts with the question,“How can we work together to create an outcome that meets our different needs?”

Using a collaborative perspective in all of their relationships, leaders can truly transform and elevate their work. Remember, a key element of collaboration is to listen and value different viewpoints.These different perspectives contribute options that leaders may never have thought of on their own. Whether working in teams, partnerships, or working one-on-one, these differences can be assets.
Effective leadership training should include lessons on collaboration and win-win thinking. A Better Way is a leadership training video (part of Stephen Covey’s Lessons in Leadership Set) that teaches win-win problem solving through the real stories of three South African retailers who were forced to find a better way to do business.

Avoid Misunderstandings with Communication Skills Training

February 17th, 2017

Misunderstandings are always painful, but when they occur at work, they can also be extremely costly. Help your employees avoid project missteps, missed deadlines and even hurt feelings by providing communication skills training for the entire organization. Ensure that employees practice basic communication skills like speaking (or writing) with clarity in mind, being direct, communicating non-defensively, and practicing active listening.nobody

Speak and write with clarity

Lack of clarity or incomplete information opens the door for misinterpretation and faulty assumptions, which leads to wasted time and hurt feelings.To avoid miscommunication when you are speaking or writing, present ALL the information you can that might be relevant to the situation. Make it as clear as possible, and if it’s written communication, re-read what you’ve written before you send it – often, this will uncover numerous spots where you’ll think, “I could word that more clearly.”

Communication skills video: Communication Counts examines six day-to-day things people do that cause costly misunderstandings and mishaps. Tips for preventing them are provided.

Practice active (empathic) listening

Employing active listening ensures that a message isn’t missed. Without active listening, vital information the sender assumes has been communicated may, in fact, not be received. Keep your focus when someone is speaking by taking notes or asking questions. Feed back what you’ve heard; for example, “Here’s what I think I heard you say…”. Remember, empathic listening means listening – not with the intent to respond – but with the intent to really understand the speaker.

Communication skills video: Nobody’s Listening features a manager who’s forced to repeat the same humorous interaction with his employee over and over until he finally, truly listens.

Be direct (and avoid jargon)

Another way to avoid miscommunications is to be direct. Often, it’s more comfortable when we have something difficult to say to be indirect in order to avoid conflict and personal discomfort. But the other person is often left unclear about the purpose of the conversation. Be direct, but respectful. Another way we fail to be direct is when we rely too heavily on industry or workplace jargon. You can’t assume every listener will be familiar with all your jargon, so avoid overly-technical words and phrases. Use language that everyone will understand.

Communication skills video: Communication Breakdown identifies the seven communication problems most likely to derail an organization and how they can be avoided.

Communicate non-defensively

We’ve all done it at some point: we perceive a comment someone makes as an attack. We react defensively. That provokes more defensiveness from the other person. It’s important in these situations to realize the part you’re playing, disengage from the emotional turmoil happening, empathize with the other person, and actively combat defensiveness in your own communication. By learning to choose what we say and how we say it, and by expressing ourselves in as non-threatening a way as possible, we will be improving our own communication and encouraging others to do so, as well.

Communication skills video: Communicating Non-Defensively reveals why people get defensive and teaches 5 steps for sending and receiving messages non-defensively.

Why Respectful Communication is Key to Workplace Success

February 3rd, 2017

Nobody likes to work with a jerk – someone who is rude, who says things to hurt others or discriminate against them, someone who gossips or makes inappropriate jokes, or someone whose short temper leads to mean or hurtful things being said during a disagreement. All of these behaviors are forms of disrespectful communication; all these things undermine an employee’s success at work. On the other hand, being a respectful communicator paves the way to workplace success.communication

To demonstrate respect in the workplace through your communication, begin with common-sense behaviors to show basic decency: strive to speak and behave in ways that won’t offend others, attempt to honor and understand others’ viewpoints, and take the time to make sure you understand what someone else has said or written. However, two other, less-obvious communication skills are also important to show respect in the workplace.

First, talk with someone instead of about them. Too much time can be wasted trying to straighten out a situation that we have not confronted directly. This means avoiding gossip and complaining about others behind their back; it also means avoiding stewing about something without bringing it to the attention of the person we are upset with. It is always more respectful to say what we have to say directly, instead of talking about it with others.

Second, communicate respectfully during disagreements. This is the true test of your competency as a respectful communicator; while it may be easy to be respectful when discussions are calm and light-hearted, when an argument arises, it’s much harder. There will always be disagreements in the workplace. We depend on others to get our jobs done, and we spend a lot of time in close contact with people who we did not necessarily choose to be with. When arguments happen, we need to be sure to treat each other with respect. Tone things down, listen and look for a solution. Angry communications will never be effective in resolving an issue to the satisfaction of both parties. Instead, find a way to work through things in a calmer framework in order to find the best solution.

For an in-depth look at how to communicate to show respect in the workplace, CRM Learning’s The Respectful Communicator uses realistic scenarios to teach 5 communication guidelines that help minimize misunderstandings and promote a respectful, inclusive workplace.

Respecting Diversity in the Workplace Starts with Education

January 30th, 2017

There are many different aspects to teaching respect for diversity in the workplace, and there are compelling diversity videos that cover all of them.Four Generations diversity video

 

With today’s global business dealings and diverse workforces, dealing with people “different” than you is inevitable. Some employees find this easy and are naturally more comfortable with “others,” while some employees need coaching or training on how to be respectful and inclusive of others. Learning respect for diverse coworkers (and customers, vendors, etc.) starts with workplace diversity training.

 

If you need to teach general diversity awareness, begin with skills like recognizing stereotypes, avoiding negative, discriminatory behavior, and teaching employees to find similarities between themselves and people different than them. Also, it’s helpful to coach employees to see the personal and organizational benefits of having diverse viewpoints, experiences, cultures and lifestyles at work, and to use that new perspective to build unity in your teams.

 

Diversity video recommendation: Diversity: Face to Face teaches four aspects of diversity awareness, all presented through stories of characters who live and work in a diverse world.

 

Generational differences are a particular concern for many organizations, as most of us are now working with 4 or 5 generations at once. This can lead to unique tensions and conflicts in teams when people perceive the work styles of generations other than theirs as different or “less than.” Help employees learn basic general characteristics (not stereotypes) of each generation, and this will help to build understanding of, and tolerance for, employees of all ages.

 

Diversity video recommendation: Four Generations: The Greatest Potential features vignettes depicting inter-generational conflict and shows how these events, when properly handled, lead to increased understanding.

 

Teaching inclusion goes a step beyond basic diversity awareness and just being respectful of others, to encouraging employees to include others in activities, teams, decision-making, and conversations. Inclusion begins with understanding how our brains work, and how even nice people can engage in unintentional intolerance and exclusion. Employees must learn to critically examine their thinking, assumptions, and perceptions to become more open-minded and inclusive of others at work.

 

Diversity video recommendation: Inclusion Insights: Stereotypes, Lazy Brains, and Unintentional Intolerance. Dr. Steve Robbins uses humor and storytelling to help people examine preconceptions and commit to being more open to different ways of thinking.

 

Workplace diversity training is a vital step to teaching employees to respect diversity, and become more tolerant and inclusive of others. Whether it’s learning about diversity awareness, generational diversity or inclusion, diversity videos are a great way to depict realistic workplace scenarios and model proper courtesy and respectful behavior.

Turn Managers Into Leaders with These Leadership Training Topics

January 15th, 2017

Despite what many people believe, leadership can be taught. Often, supervisors or managers are promoted to those positions because they were stellar individual contributors, but they may not be equipped with proper leadership skills. Help turn your organization’s managers into exceptional leaders with these leadership training topics.leadershipstory

 

Planning & Strategy

While it might sound contradictory, the best planning allows the greatest flexibility. No plan survives contact with reality — be it time pressures, budgets, competitors, or changing conditions. Planning for all contingencies establishes the competitive edge. Communication and planning go hand in hand. A strategy is only as good as the leader’s ability to communicate it to the team, and to receive information from the team as to whether or not things are going according to plan.

 

Communication

Another important leadership training topic is communication. Good communication as a leader is about setting a tone of openness, trust, clarity, respect, and dignity. This tone – and the leader modeling the right behaviors – allows a subordinate to respond in kind. If those who are to be led are going to be influenced and expected to follow, leaders must also establish a comfort zone that encourages followers to offer appropriate and timely feedback. This two-way communication is necessary for successful leadership and organizational functioning.

 

Ethics

Ethics form the true basis of leadership. Every leader knows they must obtain results, but ethical leaders understand that how results are achieved is extremely important. Results achieved in the wrong way are generally not repeatable or sustainable.The right thing to do is usually the hardest. Good leaders must learn to internalize their organization’s values and live them so that others can trust what they say and do.

 

Problem-solving & Failure

When considering training topics for leadership education, learning to problem-solve – and fail – is critical. Leaders must employ the best methods of problem solving they can, but everyone fails sometimes, and so they also must master the art of learning from failure. Good leaders understand the value of mistakes, and use them as a learning tool. Teach leaders to manage failure not by running from it or avoiding it, but by chasing problems, and seeing how they can contribute to future success. Effective leaders will also empower their followers to make honest mistakes — and learn from them.

 

A thorough review of leadership training topics can be found in the leadership training video Leaders of Character: Leadership – the West Point Way. This program shows how West Point teaches cadets to lead with honor and character. It then visits West Point graduates at work in the public and private sectors, demonstrating the same leadership skills they learned at West Point.

10 Secrets to Overcoming Procrastination

January 12th, 2017

Infographic- 10 Secrets to Overcoming ProcrastinationIf “Be More Effective” is on your list of things to do this year, don’t miss our newest infographic, 10 Secrets for Overcoming Procrastination (opens a PDF). Procrastination is one of the most common ways people block their own productivity. We hope you will find the information useful…and share it with others!

The information featured in this overcoming procrastination infographic is pulled from the popular video, Time ChallengedTime Challenged reminds us that just “wishing for more time” isn’t an effective strategy. The character in the video learns how to identify and avoid behavior that is causing him to waste time, while also discovering ways to prioritize and accomplish tasks.

Take Steps to Resolve Conflict at Work by “Unhooking”

January 5th, 2017

The experience of feeling caught in an emotionally distressing situation at work is referred to as being “hooked.” To unhook from difficult personalities and conflicts on the job, train employees how to resolve conflicts on their own. Conflict resolution videos can be very valuable in this endeavor, providing clear “how to” steps to resolve conflict, and realistic behaviors to model (or avoid!).communicationskills

The workplace can be a volatile environment – tight deadlines, project failures, uncertain revenues – alongside coworkers with a mix of personalities, so it’s no surprise that sometimes people rub each other the wrong way. Although it’s usually unintentional, emotional, erratic or unprofessional behavior can disrupt your workflow and “suck you in” to a conflict before you know it. It’s important to take steps to resolve conflict before it interferes with your productivity.

One method of unhooking from conflicts at work is described below. The first step is to unhook physically from the problem. It’s a fact that when you are angry or upset, physical activity can often help you calm down and see the situation more objectively. It may be impractical in the middle of a conflict to head to the gym for an hour, but you can do small things to calm yourself physically: take a walk in the hallway, take some deep breaths, step outside for a minute or go get a cold drink of water.

The second step is to unhook mentally. To unhook mentally, we examine the situation to understand how it occurred, and think about how we can change our behavior. You may or may not be able to change the other person, but you can at least change your approach to the situation. Ask yourself some questions to help you objectively analyze the situation, like: What are the facts here? What is his/her part, and what is MY part in this conflict? What are my options for handling this? What outcome am I looking for here and what are the potential consequences of my various options?

The last step is to unhook verbally, by discussing the situation with the other party. Choose your language carefully by thinking about what to say to resolve the conflict, not perpetuate it. Try to use “I” statements to reduce potential defensiveness in the other party (“I feel ‘x’… when ‘y’…because ‘z’….so I’d like ‘abc’…”). When setting a new boundary with someone or suggesting a new way of doing things, state it clearly, without anger, in as few words as possible. Use positive, inclusive language and be sure to also listen respectfully to their ideas.

You may need to practice a few times before you are comfortable confronting difficult workplace situations, but these steps will help you begin to unhook from the workplace situations that are making your work-life less than the wonderful experience it can be.

Conflict resolution videos like Working With You is Killing Me can offer employees practical steps to resolve conflict. This video shows how to address disruptive behavior, set boundaries and improve interpersonal relationships at work.

How to Promote Creativity Through Team Building Activities

December 30th, 2016

When teams function smoothly, innovation and creative problem-solving come naturally. But achieving team harmony can take time and effort. Team building videos teach and encourage such skills as building trust between team members, demonstrating respect at all times, using good communication, and creating a safe place to voice new ideas and even fail. Then, facilitating team building activities helps team members practice those skills and gain camaraderie while doing so.magicofwess_thumb2x

When team members participate in collaborative team building activities, they learn to work together and generally get to know each other better. The activity can be something non-work-related like zip-lining or a scavenger hunt, or something relevant to the job, like a brainstorming session about a particular project or problem. Ultimately, the more trust team members feel towards each other, the more likely they are to feel secure being creative and offering new ideas and opinions.

For example, in the team building video The Magic of We, a team of leaders from Snapper Lawn Mowers came together on a Saturday morning to try and figure out, once and for all, why the parts on some of their lawn mowers simply weren’t fitting together after a recent factory consolidation and parts-supplier-overhaul. While there had been much conflict and finger-pointing  leading up to the weekend session, once everyone was together on the plant floor and was tasked with the common goal of assembling four lawn mowers from scratch, the leaders – assembled from every department of the company – set aside differences and began to collaborate with, and trust, one another. As they did so, they became energized in their quest to figure out the hardware problems and creativity flowed.

Ultimately, the Snapper team was successful – not just in solving the tough puzzle that faced them, but in building creativity, problem-solving and collaboration skills. They learned that good teams:

  • Encourage, share and explore questions and ideas.
  • Generate options, act on one or more of them, and learn from each effort.
  • Step outside the day-to-day environment and rules to encourage innovation.
  • Make fun a part of the problem-solving process.
  • Make problem-solving and creative idea-generation more hands-on.

For more about the Snapper Lawn Mower story, preview The Magic of We team building video. In addition to lessons on teamwork, the video also teaches viewers about communication, leadership, problem-solving, and even Lean Manufacturing.

To learn more about encouraging creativity in team members, Team Creativity profiles a team member who doesn’t express her ideas because she fears rejection. From her example, viewers then learn how to stop the “enemies” of creativity in team situations.

Fun Ideas to Celebrate Employee Accomplishments

December 16th, 2016

An important leadership skill for all those who manage others is knowing how to recognize and reward employee accomplishments. Effective leadership training will teach new and even experienced leaders that one of the most important leadership skills they can demonstrate is encouraging their employees by showing appreciation for individual achievement, and also by celebrating victories together as a group.1business-training-8

Recognizing individuals’ contributions to the success of the organization let the employee know that they are valued, appreciated, and that their hard work matters. How a leader provides recognition should really depend on the individual being recognized: do they like the spotlight and get a kick out of being publicly recognized? Or, perhaps they would prefer a private “great job”? Tailor your recognition to your employees’ preferences.

Here are some fun ideas: do a public “shout out” of the employee’s success either at a team meeting or via email or internal social media, bring the employee flowers or a cupcake, let the employee leave a couple of hours early on a day of their choosing, give a $5 coffee gift certificate, or bring in the employee’s favorite mocha one morning. Another idea is to hold a team, department or company lunch (depending on the size of your organization), and let the honored employee choose the restaurant.

You can also demonstrate good leadership skills by celebrating together as a team to recognize group victories and build a sense of community. Some fun ideas for team celebrations include employee recognition days, team outings to a restaurant, ballgame, or park, or a week of daily themed activities such as employee Olympics or “secret Santa” gift exchanges. Team celebrations need not cost much – they can be done during team meetings and can simply include words of appreciation and recognition from the leader, along with some clapping and cheering. Similarly, everyone could be rewarded with an additional hour for their lunch break, or by getting to leave work early some Friday. Whatever your choice, celebrations inspire a spirit of community and build team camaraderie.

The better you know your employees, the easier it is to personalize your individual recognition to them. So get to know your employees and learn how they like to be motivated and recognized.

Effective leadership training can help you or your organization’s leaders build basic leadership skills like building trust, modeling the behavior they expect, delegating to and mentoring others, inspiring and motivating action, and recognizing and rewarding achievements. The Leadership Challenge, 3rd Edition is a bestselling leadership training video teaches that being a great leader comes down to doing 5 things well, and each competency is featured in a case study. One of those competencies is Encouraging the Heart, which was also made into a separate video training program about mastering one of the most valuable leadership skills of all: employee recognition and appreciation. Both videos feature best-selling authors leadership experts Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner.


 

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