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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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Empowering Employees By Teaching Respect in the Workplace

October 28th, 2016

There are many skills, behaviors and rules that employees must be taught on-the-job, but few will yield higher returns than teaching them how to demonstrate respect in the workplace. Employees who learn to see differences and diversity as a strength (not a source of conflict) are much more apt to support their fellow employees.  Collaboration and mutual respect become the norm and employees feel empowered to protect and even build on the spirit of inclusion.

Providing respectful workplace training is the key to teaching these behaviors to all employees – from managers to individual contributors.

Become More Tolerantrespect-in-the-workplace

In today’s world, many people look and act differently than you do. They come from different backgrounds, parts of the world, have different religions and sexual orientations, or perhaps they simply weigh more (or less) than you do. To have true respect in the workplace, we must learn to be tolerant of all co-workers (and even vendors and customers). After all, if you discriminate against one of your co-workers for reasons other than performance, how can you credibly evaluate or support their work? This kind of intolerance undermines everyone’s performance because it harms the team. Respectful workplace training will teach employees that they shouldn’t judge others based on appearance, personal background or life choices.

Respect Each Other’s Perspectives

Anyone who’s ever worked in an organization knows you don’t always get along with your co-workers or agree with everything they say, even the ones you like. Nevertheless, it’s important to respect co-workers’ unique perspectives and knowledge when we don’t agree. Different points-of-view are crucial to today’s organizations. If we surround ourselves with people who think and act like we do, we will become insulated from change and new ideas. Instead, we should seek out people who think differently than we do; their input will often improve the result we’re trying to achieve.

Encourage and Support Others

Another way to demonstrate respect in the workplace is by teaching employees to encourage and support one another. We all feel the urge, at one time or another, to put others down or become critical of their work. However, there are ways to offer constructive criticism without diminishing someone’s creativity or motivation, and whenever possible, offer praise and encouragement instead. Another way to support and respect fellow team members is to make sure everyone feels included and like they belong, so invite people to participate in teams or committees, ask if someone would like to join you for coffee or lunch, and seek out the input of those who don’t usually speak up.

CRM Learning offers many respectful workplace training videos, including The Respectful Workplace: It Starts With You. This video models the day-to-day employee behaviors that help build a positive, supportive and inclusive workplace.

How To Address Behaviors Which Lead To Workplace Harassment

October 21st, 2016

Harassment cannot be tolerated in any organization, so it is vital to show people how certain behaviors can lead to big problems.  This is done best through workplace harassment training. Every employee – from top to bottom – should be taught to recognize (and avoid) harassing behaviors and to stay on the “right side of the line” between acceptable and unacceptable behavior.Sexual Harassment training

Workplace harassment training should cover harassment in ALL its forms, including teasing, gossip, joking, sabotage and sexual harassment, and should differentiate between behaviors that are simply unprofessional or inappropriate, and behaviors that are illegal. Employees should also learn the definitions of both Quid Pro Quo Harassment (“I’ll do this for you if you do that for me”) and Hostile Work Environment Harassment, which the EEOC defines as “conduct severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.

Bringing awareness to what behaviors are inappropriate and illegal is the first step towards preventing harassment in the workplace. The next step is educating people on what to do if they observe, or are a victim of, workplace harassment. If the behavior is merely inappropriate or unprofessional, a person may wish to address the perpetrator directly. Perhaps the perpetrator is not aware of the offensiveness or harm of their words or actions and may change their behavior with a polite but firm “talking to.” Addressing the perpetrator directly (if one feels they can do so competently) can often keep a situation from escalating.  

When harassing behavior occurs and the recipient and/or observer don’t want to address it directly with the harasser, harassment training provides steps for knowing where and how to report the incident. Sexual harassment can be particularly difficult and uncomfortable to address directly with the harasser. In these cases, a sexual harassment training video can help the victim know his or her rights, and may help them feel more comfortable reporting the harassment through the proper organizational channels.

CRM Learning offers many workplace harassment training programs covering various topics, including harassment training for managers, policy statements on harassment, and sexual harassment. It’s Up to You is a sexual harassment video that uses real-life scenarios to depict the various faces of sexual harassment and how to stop sexual harassment in the workplace.

What is “Groupthink” and How Can I Avoid It?

October 7th, 2016

Have you ever been part of a group – maybe a workgroup, a sports team, or a committee – where everyone was so eager to get along, not rock the boat or make a unanimous decision that it affected group members’ ability to challenge a decision, propose alternatives, or speak up at all?

If so, you’ve experienced, first-hand, the phenomenon called “groupthink.”  

When psychologist Irving Janis began theorizing about groupthink in the early 1970’s (while studying disastrous large-scale policy decisions like the Bay of Pigs Invasion), what struck him repeatedly was the inability of well-intentioned groups  to see beyond their own narrow focus, to rationally consider alternatives, and to foresee how their course of action would seriously threaten – and in some cases destroy – the groups’ very goals and principles. Also notable in each case was the extreme desire group members reported to “please one another,” to be perceived as team players, and to retain their membership in the group.groupthink_video

Groupthink can strike groups of any size, in any department, at any organization. Because the risk groupthink poses to organizations is nothing less than ineffective group decisions that can lead to negative (even catastrophic) outcomes —  employees and leaders must learn to avoid groupthink by spotting it when it occurs.

One effective way to educate teams about groupthink is the Groupthink video from CRM Learning. It features Dr. James K. Esser explaining the 8 symptoms of groupthink: the more of these symptoms that are found in any decision-making group, the more likely it is that the group will develop groupthink. The Groupthink video also shows a haunting re-enactment of the meetings and decisions leading up to the fateful launch of the space shuttle Challenger, which Dr. Esser and others have studied as an example of faulty group decision-making, likely due to groupthink.

The best way to avoid groupthink is to create an “open” climate during decision-making processes – especially during meetings.  Leaders need to encourage free discussion and non-judgmental attitudes when others are speaking. They must avoid isolating the group from outside influences – even bringing in “outsiders” to help challenge assumptions and think critically about the problem the group is facing, and how data or information is being analyzed. Outsiders who don’t have expertise that directly links to the matter at hand, or who are in a different specialty area altogether,  can be valuable for asking new questions and thinking about problems entirely differently.

Similarly,  leaders and group members alike should be empowered to take on the role of “critical evaluator” – someone who has the power to challenge the group’s rationalizations and assumptions.  Critical evaluators lead the way in thinking through the potential outcomes and consequences of various decision choices.

Provide your groups and teams with the tools they need to avoid workplace groupthink with the Groupthink video from CRM Learning. It uses the space shuttle Challenger disaster and other historic examples to explain this phenomenon and how groups can avoid it.

4 Things to Love About Respectful Workplace Training: Infographic

October 7th, 2016
Sometimes the impact of “soft skills training” is hard to measure. In the case of respectful workplace training, that’s not so much the case.

respectful-workplace-infographic-jpgEveryone wants to work in a place where people feel respected. So, when they receive training on what it takes to achieve that, they tend to listen. This “4 Things to Love About Respectful Workplace Training” infographic (link opens a PDF) shows 4 areas that are positively impacted by training that shows what respect in the workplace does (and does not) look like.

We hope you will find the graphic helpful. And, if you’re looking for proven training tools in this area, we highly recommend you review our video-based training products in the areas of Harassment & Respect and Diversity & Inclusion.

The 4 programs recommended in the infographic are:

The Respectful Workplace: It Starts with You
The Respectful Communicator: The Part You Play
The Respectful Supervisor: Integrity and Inclusion
The Respectful Supervisor: Motivating and Retaining Employees

Action Plan To Identify and Stop Workplace Bullying

September 30th, 2016

Unfortunately for employees in today’s organizations, workplace bullying has become a prevalent and serious issue. Leaders should address this problem head-on by providing harassment training – specifically on bullying – to ensure all employees have an action plan to identify and stop workplace bullying.sexualharassment260

Any action plan designed to prevent bullying should begin with learning that identifies what bullying behavior looks like. By definition, bullying is persistent, offensive, intimidating or insulting behavior that makes victims feel upset, threatened, humiliated (not good enough, stupid, incompetent) or vulnerable. It can be verbal, physical, social or even online in nature, so it’s important to coach employees to recognize bullying in all its forms.

The second component of a bullying action plan should be to stop bullying when it occurs. This involves teaching employees to speak up for themselves when they experience behavior that “crosses the line.” Harassment training will go a long way to empowering employees to speak up for themselves when they’re being bullied. Speaking up takes courage, but when done calmly, confidently and factually, it can have a very good outcome. It helps when employees plan what they will say ahead of time – even practicing it aloud – and focus on stating the facts of what has happened along with how it made them feel.

Another important part of a workplace bullying action plan is to  encourage employees to stand up for others when they witness bullying. Sometimes the victim of bullying doesn’t feel they have the courage, power or will to stand up to their bully. But if other employees witness the bullying, they have an obligation to take action: either addressing the bully directly or reporting the bully to a higher authority. If a witness chooses to stand up to the bully personally, they need to state their observations (the bullying behaviors they’ve witnessed); share their concerns for why those behaviors are a problem, and explain the impact of the bully’s behavior – on the victim, the team, and the whole organization.

Providing training on harassment and bullying can build awareness among employees to help recognize problematic behavior, and can also teach skills and techniques for preventing and stopping bullying and other abusive and disrespectful workplace behaviors. CRM Learning offers numerous harassment training videos including Preventing Workplace Bullying: How to Recognize and Respond to Bullies at Work.

Having Productive Conversations in a Diverse Workplace

September 16th, 2016

By now we’ve all heard the amazing benefits of diversity in the workplace – more creative ideas and problem-solving, and employees’ varied backgrounds and experiences that drive innovation and make a company more representative of the markets they serve. But, when diverse teams of people work closely together, there is an increase in the potential for conflict, misunderstandings, and greater tension. Using good workplace communication skills can help employees to shift those tense moments into respectful conversations and greater understanding of one another.rick-harry_sm

Here are some examples of tense diversity-related moments that can happen at work:
• You witness an act or hear a joke or comment that is disrespectful.

  • Someone treats you in a way that appears to be biased.
  • You say or do something that inadvertently offends someone.
  • You witness someone else being falsely accused of bias.
  • You are uncomfortable because of the differences between you and someone else.

It’s important in these moments to first manage how you feel. Acknowledge whatever emotion you are feeling and accept it. Name the emotion. Naming a feeling has an uncanny way of making it more manageable. Once you’ve stopped, taken a moment to breathe and become aware of your feelings, decide whether your emotion will help or hurt your chance of having a productive conversation with the other person. If you think it will hurt your chances, walk away for a moment to cool down and clear your head.

Once you’re prepared to talk, communicate in a way that demonstrates respect. This starts by not assuming or assigning intent to the other person’s actions. Remember what it feels like to have someone incorrectly assume they know why you did something, and try to offer the other person the same open mind you wish you’d been afforded in the past. Give them the benefit of the doubt, and then engage them in respectful conversation to assess their intent.

Have the dialogue in private to maintain dignity and increase openness in the conversation. Use respectful phrases to start the dialogue like “I’d like to understand,” or “Do you have a minute to talk about it?” or “Thanks for telling me.” Then share what you’re feeling and listen with genuine engagement to the other person’s point of view. Honor the other person’s right to feel the way they do, even though you may not agree or understand them. Keep the dialogue open and moving towards mutual understanding and, hopefully, resolution.

With diversity in the workplace at an all-time high, there are more chances for diversity-related tension and misunderstandings to cause hurt feelings, embarrassment, anger and resentment. But workplace communication that is productive and respectful can heal relationships, help us to know each other better as individuals and colleagues, and help reduce the biases that create so many problems in the workplace. Finally, if we can communicate with each other even when there is tension, we help create a workplace that is more harmonious, open, productive and ripe for innovation.

Gateways to Inclusion: Turning Tense Moments into Productive Conversations teaches skills that turn moments of diversity-related tension into “gateways” for increased understanding and improved relationships. This video program explains that opening such a gateway to conversation — and holding it open, rather than slamming it shut in fear or anger — has immeasurable benefits.

What Makes A Good Team Player?

September 2nd, 2016

Organizations which provide team building training to their employees recognize the power of what a high-performing team can accomplish, and they invest time and resources into building stronger, more collaborative teams. Team building videos and exercises can challenge employees to evaluate how they behave when on a team, and provide tips to improve communication, cooperation and trust.

But, what skills or personal characteristics make a good team player? Interestingly, the best teams are made up of very diverse people with different personalities, but that all coalesce by exhibiting self-awareness, interpersonal honesty, and mutual respect.teambuilding


We all tend to have different “styles” when it comes to working in a team. Some of us tend to be task-oriented, wanting to focus the group on the steps needed to accomplish the goal, while some people are more comfortable communicating, working to mediate differences and talk through challenges and ideas. Others still are great at challenging – they naturally ask “why?” or “why not?” and question assumptions, forcing the team towards better innovation and critical thinking. No matter what our natural style, though, it’s important to be aware of how we interact in groups and be able to “dial back” our style when necessary, or even switch styles when the team needs it.

Interpersonal Honesty

It’s important to understand that a good team player is not a “yes-person,” someone whose main concern is achieving consensus and not rocking the boat. As any good team building training will teach, teams only succeed when individual members feel safe enough to speak up when they disagree or feel something isn’t right. High-performing teams rely on members who are creative rather than conformist, and who bring interpersonal honesty to the table in order to push the group to higher standards.

Mutual Respect

With all the benefits of having a team comprised of diverse individuals – fresh ideas, different expertise and unique experiences – comes the potential for conflict and “head butting.” Therefore, team leaders and members should become adept at managing – not avoiding – conflict, and channeling it in productive ways. This begins by team members exhibiting mutual respect towards each other, even when they disagree. Behaviors like not interrupting when you disagree, listening with an open mind, and avoiding talking behind someone’s back all demonstrate respect. Because a clash of viewpoints is essential for creative, high-quality solutions.

CRM Learning offers numerous team building videos that help teams build trust and respect, learn their natural communication styles, and speak up against the status quo.

Team Building: What Makes a Good Team Player? focuses on Glenn Parker’s four types of team players, illustrating how groups can build on the strengths of each personality to reach team goals.

Groupthink A powerful reenactment of events surrounding the launch of Space Shuttle Challenger helps viewers see how “groupthink” can lead to costly decisions.

See other team building videos here.

Build Employee Morale By Staying More Engaged

August 27th, 2016

The leadership skills exhibited by an organization’s executives, managers, and supervisors set the tone for employee productivity and morale. questionsWhen leaders are disengaged, untrustworthy, and fail to ask for input or give any kind of feedback to their team, employee morale and performance suffer. But, when leaders are competent, accountable, inclusive, and are genuinely engaged in the day-to-day functioning of the organization and their employees’ lives, team members take notice and feel excited to come to work every day.

Providing comprehensive, effective leadership training to your formal and informal leaders is the best way to improve their leadership skills. Leaders must understand how vital their own behavior is to the success of their employees – they should lead by example by being present, trustworthy and generous.

Be Present and Engaged

Ask any lower-level employee, and they can describe immediately what a disengaged leader looks like: someone who spends meetings (and even one-on-ones) looking at their phone or tablet, and who is disinterested in status updates, employee ideas or participating in discussions or company functions. Instead, learn to be a leader who pays attention, is fully present in meetings and who asks thoughtful questions to draw out the input of your colleagues. Set the standard for your team’s work by showing employees that you are highly competent and are interested in what they have to say.

Be Trustworthy

Another leadership skill that is an employee morale-booster is trustworthiness. Leaders can build trust by being open and forthcoming with information, even bad news. They can also demonstrate trustworthiness by doing what they say they’re going to do – being someone who can be counted on and who keeps their word.

Be Generous

Lastly, leaders should be generous – with their time, their praise, and their credit. Leaders are busy people, but you should learn to recognize when a person or a situation warrants a bit more time – avoid acting rushed, and be giving of your time. Also, good leaders go out of their way to praise employees for their efforts and results; this builds morale because everyone likes to feel valued and recognized. Also, a leader can show their generosity by sharing credit with others when he or she is successful. A sure way to lose credibility with your team is by taking all the credit for a success, so never pass up an opportunity to “share the glory” with your team members.  

You don’t have to be a born leader – exemplary leadership skills can be learned. CRM Learning has been providing award-winning, effective leadership training videos for over 40 years. Leadership: What’s Trust Got To Do With It? tells the story of a team leader who, when met with budget cutbacks and his own lack of accountability to his team, regains their active participation by learning five essential trust-building behaviors.

How The Power Of Words Can Change The Dynamic of Your Workplace

August 20th, 2016

Words are powerful – they can be weapons of conflict and confusion, or tools for encouragement, clarity and harmony – and effective communication_skillscommunication skills training can help any team wield words in a way that benefits both team members and the whole organization. If your team struggles from occasional negativity, disagreements, miscommunication, or problems with morale, plan some communication skills training soon to learn how changing your words can change the dynamic of your work.

CRM Learning offers numerous communication skills videos that help teams communicate more clearly and respectfully, whether in front of a group, one-on-one, in person, or electronically. Using techniques like choosing clear language, being a receptive, empathic listener, and showing people you value their input all reinforce the power that word choices have on your work environment.

Choose Clear Language

Many times communication breaks down because we fail to say exactly what we mean. The failure to be precise and thorough can result in a misunderstanding, at worst, or at best, can eat up time because the listener has to ask follow-up questions to decipher our meaning. While there ARE occasions when it’s socially polite to be indirect, we need to know how to speak directly, clearly and openly in most workplace situations. This requires knowing the objective of the conversation, and using precise language to obtain it.

Be an Empathic Listener

It may seem counterintuitive, but sometimes the word choices that will help you most are either choosing NOT to speak, or using words to enhance your listening. Empathic listening requires you to listen to others with the intent to understand them, not to reply. When you are preparing your response as you “listen” to others instead of really trying to understand them, your focus is on YOUR needs, not the speaker’s. Conversely, when you listen for real understanding, you set aside your opinions while you’re listening, so your mind is clear enough to hear what is really being said. This results in greater clarity, better solutions to complex problems, and faster problem solving.

Show People You Value Their Input

Another way communication skills training can help you use words to change the dynamic of your workplace is by teaching employees to communicate respectfully and inclusively (even during disagreements). Using phrases like, “I’d like to hear what you think about this,” or “Who here has a different opinion?” helps you show your co-workers that their ideas and input are valued. When in an argument, go out of your way to remain respectful: tone things down, listen, and look for a solution.

Communication skills videos from CRM Learning can help you and your organization employ the power of words to change your workplace dynamic. Verbal Communication breaks successful verbal communication into 5 critical components. The Power of Words is a short meeting opener video that gets right to the heart of communication that works, inspiring people to choose their words carefully. And Empathic Listening, featuring Stephen Covey, gives practical tips you can incorporate immediately into daily conversations to ensure that you are listening with the intent to understand.


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