Category Archives: Communication

Assume, Ask, or Affirm – Which Approach Works?

Many leaders have either one of three approaches to influence people to perform certain behaviors.

They either Assume, Ask, or Affirm. And based on how they use these can yield a variety of differing results from their people.

Approaches that Assume will either:

  • Assume ill intent or poor performance
  • Observe without all the facts
  • Believe once told the training is complete
  • Can be presumptuous
  • Closely associate with top-down, “do as I tell you” managing styles
  • Deter trust form your people
  • Alienate engagement and connection

Some creative ways to use Positive Assumption:

  • Assume good intent
  • Trust people want to generally do a good job
  • Know that people are willing to learn and grow
  • Believe your people want to share the vision

Asking approaches vary in these ways:

  • Asking to find fault
  • Coupling with a condescending or condemning tone
  • Impersonal if phrased incorrectly
  • Puts people on the defensive
  • Hides true motives of the question

An effective leader Asks in these ways:

  • Prefaces questions with reasons and transparency
  • Asks as a favor, not a command
  • Inquires for understanding and facts, not dirt
  • Asks to fill a need, not carry out a duty

The Affirming leadership approach has these challenges:

  • Being too nice and not talking straight
  • Leading people to not face reality of course correction
  • Can give false sense of security and lead to complacency for entire teams and organizations

It’s best to couple the Affirming approach in the following ways:

  • Trusting in the right values and vision that align with the core
  • Believing in the skills and abilities of the individual(s)
  • Confirm shared vision and goals
  • Recognize clear understanding so all parties on the same page
  • Lead others to the feeling of accomplishment during the process

While there are many camps that prefer one way or the other, it all comes down to approach and dynamics from the leader. Any style, managed poorly, can have an adverse effect. But with the right understanding of your people and how to influence up, you can use virtually any approach to a positive effect while keeping intact the mutual respect and drive for your teams.

 

(image: pixaby)

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A Checklist For Proper Training

A recent workplace training study over the last year resulted in an astonishing fact:

Between 79-80% or workplaces spent less than $1000 in training on their employees

That’s a staggering amount and even more when you break it down further:

  • Given a median hourly rate of $22, this equates to 45 hours of training
  • 45 hours is just barley the first week of work for a full-time employee
  • This is an annual figure, meaning onboarded staff from prior years barely get 1 hour of training and development a week
  • Weekly, the average employee gets less than $20 of training spent on them to develop skills or increase productivity

It’s no wonder that lack of adequate training, development of skills, and creation of new challenges are a consistent metric that appears in most every survey of why employees leave.

Leaders and organizations can do better than this. So as to get our mental acuity focused into the realm of increasing training competency, here is a checklist of items you’ll want to consider in making your training programs effective to better develop your staff and organization.

  1. Onboarding with Clear Expectations.
  2. Onboarding with a Mentor, Big Sister/Brother
  3. Mini-boot camp (or training camp) training (any title will do)
  4. Yearly skills calibration
  5. Micro-learning accessibility
  6. Tailor training methods to meet employees needs, not company’s (or the trainer’s)
  7. Thread Culture, Values, Vision through every fabric of training (yes, the finance team too!!)
  8. Subject ALL staff, from hourly to C-level – to the exact same training modules and sessions
  9. Mix up remote digital training with in-person small groups
  10. Find each person’s needs and match to a training plan
  11. Train every day (athletes and orchestras do it!)
  12. Make training a bigger budget line item – it does ensure a solid ROI if done right
  13. Leadership must by in
  14. Training must be a culture, not a counter-culture
  15. Always work to improve content, engagement, and relevancy
  16. Ask trainees for feedback personally, not through a survey
  17. If you do ask for feedback through a survey (because some of you will), leave open ended comment boxes so employees aren’t penned into a few irrelevant answers that don’t allow them honest feedback
  18. Infuse fun and creativity
  19. Encourage training credit in extra-curricular training that augments and dovetails into the work (thru Lynda.com, local colleges, online sessions, etc)
  20. Reinforce continually to keep skills sharp throughout their career
  21. Have a monthly training focus throughout the entire organization to rally around a core value (customer service, safety, communication, integrity, etc)
  22. Combine learning styles for maximum impact and reach
  23. Include your hourly staff in teaching to build there skills and grow future teachers, trainers, subject matter experts, leaders
  24. Don’t make it boring – mix it up with breaks, change seat locations, content structure to avoid boredom and increase retention

These are just a few of the many ways great companies get proper training done. It’s easy – if you’re willing to make it happen. And it reaps benefits – if you execute it correctly.

If you have other methods of training that you’d like to include, please list them below!!

(image: pixaby)

 

 

 

Don’t Let Your People Fill In The Blanks

Have you ever heard the saying “It’s not what’s said, it’s what is unsaid that speaks the loudest”. There are many variations of this quote that say essentially the same message.

More prevalent are those quotes that edify what is unsaid – word and thoughts not wasted, some things better left unsaid, and so forth.

While there is some key advice in these, there is another area where unsaid words can reap a negative impact on your organization. that is when things are unsaid until your people start filling in the blanks.

Consider this: A healthcare facility department learns of their manager tendering her resignation. This director had championed her people and their mission, and came to some resistance within the organization. This news also came at a low time of census, which started to make the staff uneasy. Upper management then informed the staff that there would be a mandatory meeting in a week and a half. they did not answer any questions, and basically asked the employees to carry on in the interim.

During the next 10 days, rumors started to run about the department closing, due to the low census and the fact the the organization as a whole was losing money. That was why the “higher ups” staged a meeting. the staff also surmised that the manager left because of this alleged closure, and got wind of it and bailed before that happened. And perhaps the resistance she received was political and she got fed up, leaving the staff to face the bureaucracy. Staff started to get anxious, work suffered, and patients received a lesser level of care than before.

When the meeting was over the next week, the questions were answered opposite of the filled in answers to the communication gap. The manager left for a larger facility, with a substantial pay and career bump> And the facility was at a low census due to risk management mitigating the level of risk in admitted patients which soon got to normal levels the week after.

While the organization was not at fault for the resignation or low census, it did fail in leaving things unsaid and leaving blanks in communication for the staff to – erroneously – fill in. Nothing will counteract culture, productivity, and synergy faster than not having a strong level of leadership to prevent communication blanks.

Here is what you can do to fill in the blanks before your people do:

  • Jump on the communication immediately. This company should have had an immediate meeting with the staff and contacted everyone to explain the reasons for the events that transpired. The longer they waited the more chance for incorrect information to be manufactured and disseminated.
  • Be upfront, honest, and transparent. Staff like it when you talk straight with them. Give them the faacts and be brave enough to have those difficult discussions, particularly if their is doubt or indicators contrary to what you’re saying. The more this occurs, the more your words carry weight.
  • Give opportunity to listen and answer questions. By keeping an ear to the grapevine, you can gain a lot of insight into what people are feeling. Take every chance to talk with people in groups or individually to hear them and counter their fears and anxiety with the facts and reassure them.
  • Speak to the culture, the mission, and the vision. Finish every conversation by leading people out of the negativity and forward looking to the bigger picture. This is not an attempt to falsely redirect, but rather to truthfully re-calibrate everyone’s thinking towards the overall goal and where you are all heading. The more culture and vision are promoted in your organization, the less likely there will be room for filling in the blanks with anything off-base. Your people will be more readily able to say what is congruent to the organization and squelch rumors and gaps altogether.

Keep your finger on the pulse of your people. Close those communication gaps and work diligently to fill in the blanks that lead to culture breakdown.

(image: pixaby)

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