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5 Tips for Employee Engagement and Retention

September 12th, 2014

Bob_computerWhen it comes to retaining and motivating your best, most highly-skilled workers, here are five important things to remember:

People want to work in a positive, supportive atmosphere.  Leaders set the tone by communicating well and being available to support problem solving.

People want to grow and be challenged.  Leaders can support employees’ attempts to keep learning and broadening their skills, and can mindfully assign challenging tasks.

People are motivated by different things, not just financial compensation.  Leaders can become more aware of what encourages each individual to achieve his or her best. Read the rest of this entry »

Great Service Starts with Careful Listening

September 9th, 2014

Customer Service Training VideosIf a customer has a request or problem, there’s nothing that will infuriate them faster than a brush-off response that shows you are not paying attention. Listening is a sign of respect. Here are a few rules to follow:

Don’t interrupt. Wait for the customer to finish what they are saying before you start speaking. Otherwise, you are pre-judging their point, and that’s not smart.

Give your full attention to the customer. Avoid looking away or doing something else while the customer is talking to you.

Concentrate on the customer’s message, and then think about how you will respond.

Ask questions that encourage a response of more than just Yes or No.

Don’t make assumptions about the customer, what you think the problem may be, or about a possible solution, without first getting all the facts. Read the rest of this entry »

Earning Respect – Training Activity

September 4th, 2014

If you’re feeling under-appreciated at your job, the place to start looking for answers may be in the mirror. Here’s an activity that will help you identify things you can do to earn respect.

  • Column 1 is a list of typical on-the-job behaviors.
  • In Column 2, check the ones you believe you’re respected for.
  • In Column 3, check the ones you would like to work on.

Character Behaviors

I’m respected for…

I need to work on…  





Caring about others

Honoring differences

Being informed

Being positive

Dressing appropriately

Being organized

Being dependable

Having good judgment

Read the rest of this entry »

Delegation: Develop, Don’t Dump

August 30th, 2014

Delegation for SuccessIntellectually, we know delegation is good. It’s a way of developing staff — helping them learn and grow and preparing them for bigger roles within the organization. We also know it’s good for us to let go of having to do everything ourselves.

But when we ask others to do a task…how can we be sure the other person will do it right?

Well, we can’t be sure, of course. But we can be consciously intentional about picking someone whose skills and attributes are a fit for the job at hand.

Instead of just “dumping” your request on the nearest person’s desk, take a moment to assess three factors:

  1. What skills are needed?

For example, accurately compiling a cost comparison report requires skill with numbers and familiarity with spreadsheets. Crafting a blog post for your department requires skills in research and writing.

  1. What attributes are needed?

Someone with good logistical skills can easily handle the basics of scheduling an important meeting – but if they’re not friendly and empathetic, they might not be the best person to manage the tricky diplomacy required to get senior management to juggle their calendars.

  1. What risk is involved?

Read the rest of this entry »

Managing Ethical Dilemmas

August 28th, 2014

Managing Ethical Dilemmas TrainingThere’s a major project deadline coming up, and your participation in this afternoon’s meeting is crucial.  But you’re pretty sure you’ve caught the flu your kids brought home from school last week.

Do you go to work, or do you stay home?

You are under pressure to hit your monthly performance goal, a goal that – if met – would simultaneously enable your team to hit its quarterly goal. You see two options: rush a project that would let you put some numbers on the board now. Or, continue to take your time with this project, knowing that the final results will be far better if you spend more time on it…even if it means missing this month’s goal.

What do you do? Go for the short-term goal, or focus on getting better results in the long-run?

How can you choose? No matter what you do, you’ll be unhappy – and others may be unhappy with you as well.

Fortunately, there are almost always alternatives to be found – alternatives that lead to choices you can live with, instead of choices that make you miserable. Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t get so defensive…

August 24th, 2014

Communicating Effectively in the WorkplaceAh, the joys of the corporate workplace. Increasingly tight project deadlines, mistakes and oversights (our own as well others’), and  sometimes-baffling changes requested by management can really add up. It’s no wonder we get defensive sometimes. We push back against a new policy, we react to someone’s criticism of our work, and we shut down in response to yet another item added to our to-do list.

When things seem to be going wrong, it’s natural to want to protect yourself. But, not surprisingly, defensiveness rarely makes things better.  But what else can you do?  How do you stop yourself from taking things personally?

Deal with the situation, not with the emotion.

Take a moment to breathe and step back, consciously disengaging from the emotional impact of what’s happening. If someone is giving you feedback that is less than positive, give her the benefit of the doubt and do not assume she is questioning your competence or attacking you personally.  This way, you can deal with the situation rather than with the personality involved – which is always a more productive approach. (If it turns out there are issues between you and the other person beyond the situation at hand…set aside time to address them later when emotions have settled.) If someone presents an idea that means more work for you, or that challenges the way you’ve been doing something, take your ego out of the equation by telling yourself “this idea is being presented as a way to help the organization, not to hurt me personally.” Read the rest of this entry »

Cross-functional Teams: The Leader’s Role in Building Synergy

August 21st, 2014

Cross-functional Teams: The Leader’s Role in Building SynergyOrganizations won’t be successful with a cross-functional team approach if departments within the organization have been overly isolated or are mired in an “us versus them” mindset.

What can a leader do to build synergy in these types of dysfunctional cross-functional team situations?

1. Start by making first-hand observations. Walk around the organization and ask people how things are going; seek their input on the issue at hand. Visible leadership (when employees can SEE leaders walking around and talking to folks) builds morale and lets people know that someone cares about what they’re doing and thinking.
2. Build bridges between roles and job functions. Encourage everyone to look beyond their immediate surroundings and give them opportunities to form productive working relationships with people in other departments. A beyond-the-barriers mindset ensures useful information is shared and not kept in “silos”. Read the rest of this entry »

Overcoming Objections

August 16th, 2014

Learning to Overcome Objective Training Video - The Competitive EdgeWhether you’re trying to sell someone a new product or a new idea, there’s always a chance you will encounter some resistance. When this happens, don’t panic! Here are 3 steps to handling objections.

1. First, react with empathy. Demonstrate that you understand the objection’s importance to the other person and let them know you are listening and want to hear more.

2. Clarify through questioning. Ask clearly phrased questions to find out what the real problems are, then confirm your understanding of the person’s objection before you respond.

3. Respond. The appropriate response focuses on finding a satisfactory solution to the objection. Here are typical objections and ways to respond to each:

•Skepticism – Provide evidence, facts, figures, or references to prove your point. Read the rest of this entry »

What’s in a Name? A lesson on diversity, bias and inclusion

August 13th, 2014

What’s in a Name?

A recent article on The Atlantic’s website describes a study showing how someone’s name impacts their chances of success.

For instance, women with gender-neutral names (like “Cameron” or “Chris”)  tend to be more successful, especially in traditionally male-dominated fields … and people with names that seem white/caucasion in origin have a statistically significant advantage in the workplace.

Why does this happen? We think we’re being fair. We mean well. We think we’re smart and open-minded – too smart and open-minded to fall prey to cultural stereotypes that we don’t consciously believe in. But just as we don’t intend to catch a cold or the flu, we may not intend to be biased, but we still end up absorbing the cultural stereotypes surrounding us.

Understanding DiversityNo matter how well-meaning we may be, no matter how much we may want to be fair, these deep-seated unconscious biases are present in all of us. And they cause us to dismiss opinions, leave people out of conversations, and even ignore someone altogether.

It’s distressing to realize. Fortunately, with awareness comes opportunity – opportunity to pay attention to what we’re doing, to listen to those around us more deeply, to include everyone intentionally, to value different perspectives, and to engage freely and openly with all the people we encounter. Read the rest of this entry »


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