Category Archives: People Development

5 Approaches To Thrive In The Connection Economy

We live in the most connected world ever. Social media, cell phones, satellite broadcasts, internet – we have launched so many methods to reach out and touch someone across the globe.

Yet how connected are we, truly, with our own teams?

Have we connected the dots within our organizations? Are there opportunities where teams and individuals are isolated from each other? In a connected organization, people having access to everything and everyone is where it’s at.

Here are some real definitions of what connection is about:

Connect. To link people, A to Z, Amanda to Zech. Join together to provide access, communication.  It’s vital to understand this concept as your starting point.

Connector. The person doing the connecting. The leader, but building everyone into connectors themselves. As a leader, are you instigating connection? Are you developing others to be connectors as well?

Connected. All systems are set up. The process is in place, and working. All points lead to everywhere.

Connection. An established link between two or more people. An relationship in which a person, idea, or things is linked to someone or something else. Every connection is unique based on the people’s needs from each other.

Connecting. To build the personal open network. The process of bringing together. What are you doing each day to bring people together?

It may seem like a lot, but the process to start is quite easy. How does a leader connect?

Build trust & mutual respect. People only connect with those of common bond and trust. This foundation is critical to any relationship.

Open communication – both ways. A conduit provides access from A to B, but does not restrict the flow to just one way. Foster and develop people to open the lines. This can only happen when the trust and respect above is established.

Make sure all points/dots are connected. Anyone not in the loop? Everyone have access to everyone else, resources, vision? Make every effort to link everyone, through formal and informal means, systems, personnel functions, and so on. “No employee left behind.”

Check for weak connection links. Daily. Examine every interaction in your organization against the connection model. Find the weak links. Fix them, or replace them, before the chain snaps.

Foster and encourage internal & external connection. Within the organization, yes. Outside of the organization, even better. Get your people connected and involved w/ mentors outside, organizations, and associations. Don’t make your organization an island. Connect entire teams, companies, and industries with this connectivity culture and watch the magic happen.

We live in the “connection economy” today. Don’t circumvent your people. Work on connecting everyone to form a stronger web of vision and synergy.

(image: pixaby)


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, 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)




The Third Crucial Question Leaders Need to Ask Every Day – Guest Post By Susan Fowler

Today’s guest post is from noted author and leadership guru Susan Fowler. Earlier this year, Susan had a re-launch of her classic book Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work…And What Does and I encourage you to read to get some great thinking started on how to better engage and lead people. Susan’s post delves into 3 crucial questions that will help you stay aligned with the real needs of your people.

This post was originally published on on 10/28/2016.

In previous posts, I’ve written about asking crucial questions to help satisfy the basic psychological needs every human being requires for thriving at work …

1st Crucial Question: Encourage autonomy by asking “What choices did you make today?”

  • Acknowledging that you have boundaries you need to work within, what choices do you have within those boundaries?
  • Upon reflection, what choices could you have made that you didn’t?

2nd Crucial Question: Deepen relatedness by asking “What did you find meaningful about your work today?”

  • What values did you use for making decisions today?
  • How did you make a contribution today?
  • The third question is simple, but powerful.

3rd Crucial Question: Build competence by asking “What did you learn today?”

  • How did you use your expertise to help someone else grow?
  • How did your competence grow today?

On the second day of an Optimal Motivation training session, Lauren shared an example of asking the third crucial question:

“I was so eager to use the ideas I learned yesterday, that I decided to apply them immediately. I got home and asked my ten-year-old son, ‘What did you learn today?’ He rolled his eyes and said, ‘Mom, that’s the dumbest question I ever heard.’

I thought, well, maybe these ideas work in the workplace with adults, but not so much with a ten-year-old. Then my son added, ‘Today was the first day of vacation, we didn’t even have school—so I didn’t learn anything!’

I was stunned. I have a value for learning—that’s why I’m in this training session. Here is my son telling me that the only time he learns is in school! We sat down and had a deep conversation about the value of learning—and how learning happens every day and all the time. We would never have had such a truly remarkable discussion if I hadn’t asked him, ‘What did you learn today?’”

Lauren’s story is a wonderful example, but it also might sound an alarm about how we help people build competence. Anyone who has been around a two-year-old has experienced the toddler’s incessant question, “Why?” Why does the toddler ask “Why?” Because she loves growing and learning. We have good intentions to encourage her learning through systems such as school. But, then we begin spurring her on with sticks in the form of stress to earn good grades, pressuring her to be at the top of her class, and urging her to engage in activities that look good on college applications. Next, we evaluate her learning by rewarding her positive performance with carrots in the form of gold stars, public praising, and student-of-the-month awards. Have you ever considered what happens to the majority of the children who do not receive the rewards?

Some school systems started to see the futility of incentive programs that reward the few and discourage the many. Now the trend is Everyone gets a trophy! This solution does not provide the effective teaching or realistic feedback our children need for satisfying their competence.

Bribing children or adults with carrots or driving them with sticks diverts them from their natural love of learning. We question what happened to a child’s sense of wonder as we watch him years later, just going through the motions at work. Children who fell victim to ineffective motivational techniques for learning are now in the workplace hooked on motivational junk food in the form of pay for performance plans and elaborate reward and incentive programs.

You cannot impose growth and learning on people, but you can remind them of their joy for learning. Have you ever delighted in watching babies learning to walk? What do you notice? They fall. A lot. You never question why they fall. It is obvious they are learning. A fascinating question to ask is, “Why do they get back up?” When they pull themselves up to try again, why are they smiling and giggling instead of crying? The answer is that they find joy in learning, growing, and gaining mastery.

We all have a basic need to build competence—to feel effective at meeting everyday challenges and opportunities.

You can promote a workplace that doesn’t undermine your people’s sense of competence. Consider creating new norms, as Garry Ridge, CEO of WD-40, did when he asked his tribe not to talk about mistakes, but instead, focus on learning moments. I’ve heard employees at WD-40 say, “I had a tribe member who had a major learning moment today!” instead of complaining, “One of my employees just screwed up big time!”

At the end of each day, you may be missing a great opportunity if you only focus on, “What did you achieve today?” instead of asking the third crucial question, “What did you learn today?”


Susan Fowler implores leaders to stop trying to motivate people. In her latest bestselling book, she explains WHY MOTIVATING PEOPLE DOESN’T WORK… AND WHAT DOES: The New Science of Leading, Engaging, and Energizing. She is the author of by-lined articles, peer-reviewed research, and six books, including the bestselling Self Leadership and the One Minute Manager with Ken Blanchard. Tens of thousands of people worldwide have learned from her ideas through training programs such as the Situational Self Leadership and Optimal Motivation product lines. For more resources, including a free Motivational Outlook Assessment with immediate results, visit

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