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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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How to Create a Sense of Buy-In with Employees

April 15th, 2017

Knowing how to encourage employee buy-in is a key leadership skill. Getting employees’ buy-in — to organizational values, new initiatives, or even daily assignments — is critical to productivity and team success. Leadership training is an invaluable way to learn the skills necessary to get your team “on board” with key organizational priorities.Tell Me a Story image

Tell Stories

While telling stories at work may, at first, seem like a waste of time, in fact, storytelling is a very effective way to influence employees and create a sense of buy-in. From listening to stories as a child, or reading a book, or watching a movie, we all know the power of a story to create emotional impact, teach us a lesson, or change our minds. As leaders, we can tap into that same power of stories to effect change at work.

It’s important to choose the right story to support your idea, and then deliver it in a compelling way. When choosing a story to help “sell” your point, you should try to keep it brief, use emotion or humor to engage the audience, set the scene with atmospheric details, and make sure to tie your story back to your main point.

This takes some practice, and a leadership training video on storytelling can greatly aid in learning how to choose, craft and deliver a story to create employee buy-in. Tell Me a Story: A Powerful Way to Inspire Action reminds leaders that stories capture people’s hearts and minds, and teaches four steps to developing and telling stories to inspire action in others.

Ask Questions

Getting employee buy-in for a project or initiative can also be accomplished by asking employees questions to get them involved in the decision-making or planning process. When leaders take the time to involve employees in making a decision, or planning how it will be implemented, this automatically builds trust. Asking employees a series of questions can further build their commitment to the goal. For example, “Where are we already experiencing success?” or “What has worked in similar situations in the past?” both start the conversation on a positive note, enabling the group to discuss what’s going right, and building everyone’s cooperation, energy, and creativity.

After discussing some group successes and how they achieved those successes, move on to questions about what the group thinks their objectives should be moving forward. After you’ve asked their input on what the goal is, or how you’ll measure success, make sure to ask questions that help employees verbalize the benefits of achieving the goal — to the customers, the organization as a whole, the team, and them, personally. “What do you think will be the benefit to the organization of reaching [XYZ] goal? How will our team benefit? What’s the benefit to YOU of achieving this goal?” This step allows you to focus attention on the objectives and benefits at all levels, so all team members have an understanding of what is truly important. By starting with more global benefits and working towards a discussion of more personal benefits, it eliminates the discomfort team members often have about discussing the benefits they might want to gain for themselves.

All these questions help employees feel more involved, engaged and empowered – thus driving a sense of buy-in into whatever objective or project is being discussed.

To develop leadership skills for asking questions to create buy-in and successful outcomes, use 5 Questions Every Leader Must Ask. This leadership training program introduces a proven process called The Framework for Leadership™, consisting of 5 questions, which, when asked in a specific order, enable leaders and project managers to engage their team in finding and implementing effective solutions.

4 Tips to Recover From Miscommunication in the Workplace

April 3rd, 2017

Despite organizations’ best efforts to provide all employees with communication skills training, miscommunication sometimes still happens at work. When it does, make sure employees know how to recover from the miscommunication — respectfully, tactfully and with accountability. Here are 4 tips to help anyone recover from communication breakdowns.

  1. Acknowledge that a miscommunication has taken place. When faced with the realization that a miscommunication has occurred, sometimes we have a tendency to want to just “sweep it under the rug” — ignore it in the hopes it will work itself out — or, we may throw a frustration “tantrum”, or decide to badmouth the person with whom we had the miscommunication to another co-worker. None of these are productive responses, though. Instead, go see, call, or email the other person and simply state, “I’m sorry – I think we may have miscommunicated.”
  2. Admit your part in the miscommunication. Communication problems are almost never a one-way street. Communication skills training will teach you to consider what part you may have played in the miscommunication. Even if you feel like there’s NO WAY you misheard, swallow your pride and say something like, “I thought I heard you say (XYZ), but maybe I misunderstood?” Taking some accountability for your role in the problem will help the other person feel less defensive, and will pave the way for them to “own” their part of the problem, as well.
  3. Ask for, and provide, greater clarity. So, you’ve established that a miscommunication has occurred, you’ve taken responsibility for it, and now you must try to clear it up. Ask for clarity from the other person to get to the root of the issue. Explain your own impressions of the original communication, and clarify what you said or did at the time. Most importantly, decide how to move forward in a way that avoids similar miscommunications in the future.
  4. If the miscommunication stems from a diversity-related issue, take these extra steps: assess intent cautiously and demonstrate respect as you address the issue. Sometimes in the workplace, miscommunications happen when someone says something that is interpreted as insensitive or offensive. When this happens, communications skills videos teach us that it’s important NOT to jump to conclusions about that person’s intent. Think about a time when you made an assumption about someone’s attitude or intent and turned out to be wrong (or when someone misjudged your intent).

Address the other person respectfully, in a way that keeps the conversation moving forward, rather than shutting it down. Try to engage the other party about their perspective on what happened. Have the conversation in private, and avoid name-calling, or using labels such as “sexist” or “racist.” Try phrases like, “I know you didn’t realize it, but what you said really bothered me.”

We recommend these two communication skills videos to help employees prevent miscommunications in the first place, and address them once they’ve happened.

Communication Counts examines the day-to-day things people do (or fail to do) that cause costly misunderstandings and mishaps. Tips for preventing them are provided.

Gateways to Inclusion: Turning Tense Moments Into Productive Conversations teaches skills that turn moments of diversity-tension into ” gateways” for increased understanding and improved relationships.

Effective Conflict Management – Learn These Stages to Resolution

March 24th, 2017

Our response to conflict can sometimes be seen as a circular pattern – a trigger event happens, followed by one person’s negative, confrontational response, which then prompts a similarly negative response from the other person…and on and on. What if, instead of falling into this cycle of conflict when a trigger event occurs, we, instead, had the training that would enable us to make a better choice of how to respond, breaking the cycle altogether? A conflict resolution video can teach your team how to productively respond to conflict when it occurs with effective stages of conflict management.confilict-management

Events that trigger conflict at work can vary widely, from body language that one person interprets as angry or offensive, to a co-worker verbally attacking you for how you submitted a project. While some people’s reaction to that trigger event might be to clam up or run away, often people will fight back: they’ll respond emotionally and defensively.

The first of the stages of conflict management is to step back and get some perspective. Do not respond to the trigger event immediately; instead, force yourself to take a deep breath, ask to speak about the issue later, or ask to move to a more private location to talk. All these things will allow you a few moments to calm your body and gain some perspective on the situation.

Next, endeavor to control your emotions. This is easier said than done when you’re upset by another person’s words or actions, but it is vital to turning the conversation into a productive one, capable of a constructive outcome. One way of controlling your emotions is to depersonalize the comments that have been made. Another tip to keep in mind is to give the other person the benefit of the doubt – don’t assume he or she is mean, or is out to get you personally; instead, perhaps they don’t have all the information, or are having a particularly bad day. Taking a moment to rein in your own anger, fear or anxiety helps you respond more constructively and also helps the OTHER person remain calm.

Lastly, imagine, and then take action to create, a successful outcome. When planning your responses to the other person, envision a response that respects the other person, while focusing on solving the issue. Ask clarifying questions, and even try to empathize with the other person (“It seems like you’re upset…”). Then clarify aloud what both of your goals are in this situation. While staying calm and respectful, try to find a way to meet his or her goals as well as your own.

A conflict resolution video can be invaluable for demonstrating relatable workplace conflict scenarios and providing good behavior modeling for how to effectively work through the stages of conflict management. Conflict Clock: Taking T.I.M.E. to Resolve Conflict in the Workplace is designed to help employees, leaders & teams respond to workplace conflict by teaching four strategies to help participants break old & negative response habits.

Leadership Training: Skills for Today’s Workplace

March 17th, 2017

How do ordinary people use their skills and talents in everyday situations to become extraordinary, modern leaders? They do it through commitment and skill. Many people believe that leadership skills are inherent – you either naturally have them or you don’t – but research has shown that these skills can be very effectively taught with leadership training. Here are three important modern leadership skills that can be learned with leadership training.ordinarypeople

Lead by Example

While leadership is often described as accomplishing goals through other people, your personal action is what’s needed to motivate your team to accomplish those goals. Consider what actions you can take that would set a good example and would show the team your commitment and respect for the work they do. Never ask an employee to do something you’re not willing to do yourself. Lead by example with your words and actions.

Practice Success

No list of modern leadership skills would be complete without “analyzing and practicing success.” A leader must know how to teach their team to repeat successes. Employees and teams who dwell on failures, blame and analyzing “what went wrong” can get stuck in a cycle of negativity. When things go wrong, own the mistake, explain how you’ll fix it and what you’ll do differently next time, and move on. Instead, encourage your team to spend time talking about what went RIGHT: what’s working? WHY is it working?  What is our objective moving forward, and how can we repeat this success?

Be Able to Lead Change

Change is almost constant, so being able to lead a team through routine, daily change, or a larger change initiative, is key. Leadership training can instill the basic skills of leading change: establishing trust, listening and observing, and empowering others. Employees must trust you in order to follow you during change. In addition to keeping your word and demonstrating solid ethics, other ways you can establish trust are to demonstrate your competence, allow your staff some sort of additional autonomy or self-direction (such as setting their own work schedules), and to communicate straightforwardly (yet respectfully) at all times.

Rather than jumping in and giving directives during change, it’s instructive for leaders to listen to, and observe, their staff. Observe how the change might affect their daily work lives and listen to what they have to say. (This will also help instill trust in you as a leader.) Lastly, empower and encourage proactive staff involvement. The more your employees understand how the change benefits them, the team, the organization, and the customers, the more engaged and “bought in” they’ll be. Empower your employees to take actions in support of the change and then step back and watch them succeed.

For effective leadership training that uses engaging, real-world stories to teach leadership skills, watch Ordinary People, Extraordinary Results: True Stories of Great Leadership. Featuring Stephen Covey, this program offers four unique case studies which profile real leaders in business, healthcare, sports and education who were able to significantly impact organizational performance.

Communication Skills Training – Strategies for Dealing With Difficult People

March 10th, 2017

If you’re like most people, your day is spent working with and dealing with generally pleasant people. But all of us, at one time or another, come into contact with a difficult person, and then we must rely on the communication skills training we’ve received to help us with strategies to handle that difficult person. Often, a communication skills video is a helpful tool to teach these strategies and model how to engage with difficult people.difficultpeople

Types of Difficult People

There are many types of people who are hard to work with – and they can be co-workers, customers, vendors and even bosses. Some of the more common types you may need to deal with are: people who are regularly rude and fail to use common courtesies (such as saying hello, please, or thank you); people who have no respect for time, regularly miss deadlines and are late for meetings; people who tell you TMI – Too Much Information about their own personal life, or someone else’s; people who can’t be relied upon to do what they say they’ll do; and of course, there are some people who are downright angry or disgruntled…these people require special care, especially when they are customers.

Using “I” Statements to Deal with Difficult People

An “I” statement is an effective way to non-accusatorily address someone who is being difficult. An “I” statement consists of four parts: I feel….when…because…so, I’d like… I statements should NOT be accusations – they should relate the other person’s action to the effects they have on you and how you feel. Because I statements put the focus on you, they are less likely to be resented by the person you’re addressing.

An I statement for the person who is regularly rude to you might sound like: “I feel offended when you don’t say ‘please’ when you’re asking something of me because it feels like I’m being commanded instead of asked. It would make a big difference to me if you would try to say please when you’re making a request.” An I statement for a person who regularly misses deadlines could be: “I was very concerned when you said you couldn’t meet the schedule because we have customers relying on a ship date. I’d like to take some time to meet and brainstorm how we can stay on schedule; can we do that?”

Dealing with Difficult Customers

When the difficult person is a disruptive customer, rely on your communication skills training or service recovery training to help you calmly manage the situation. If the customer is “making a scene” in a busy area, first ask to take the guest to a more private area. Then begin by listening to the customer, without interrupting. Hear them out so you make sure you fully understand their problem or complaint. Next, apologize – this shows you’re taking responsibility, and it can really help defuse the guest’s anger. After you’ve apologized, work with the guest to problem-solve and try to reach a satisfactory solution. Even though it may be difficult and you may feel attacked, remember to empathize with your guest, tell them you’re sorry, and personalize the solution to the problem so they feel heard, respected and satisfied.

Use a communication skills video like Working With You is Killing Me to teach and model the skills above. In this program, viewers are taught about toxic workplace relationships and how to unhook from them using verbal and written communication skills. When the difficult person is a customer, The Difficult Guest video provides solid training on recognizing, understanding, and taking care of irate or dissatisfied customers.

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.


 

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