Hard to Motivate Teammates

Strategies to Motivate the Low Performer

Anyone who has worked in a team environment has had the experience of dealing with that teammate who wasn’t performing to the level he or she could. Situations like this put pressure on others to take on additional work and emotional pressures as they struggle to confront the poor performer. So what can you do? Let’s take a brief look at a few tips to manage low-performing teammates.

What are the rules? If there are no rules or if the rules are not known, there is no expectation for accountability. In other words, start by setting clear goals and expectations. Use a SMART goal approach to help you define clear goals.

Point out the light at the end of the tunnel. Even when goals and deadlines are set and clear, team members will feel demotivated if they feel the goals cannot be achieved. Help your team understand how the goal can be achieved in realistic terms. This implies that you should help your team identify the necessary tools and methods they’ll need to use to achieve their goal. Without the right resources, they will simply give up.

Find the challenge and the meaning. Individuals perform better when they feel challenged. Nobody wants to do boring and meaningless tasks. Granted, sometimes completing a task requires doing things most people don’t find interesting or worthwhile. You must find ways to put these tasks into the larger context so even the most menial tasks become part of a larger challenge. Remember, going to a gym and walking on a treadmill can seem pointless, until you consider the reward in the end. Set challenges, and point to the reward.

Dealing with Tardiness

Strategies for Leaders Dealing with Tardiness

Do you know someone who is always late for work or shows up late to meetings all the time? Maybe you are that person, OR maybe you have to manage that person. How do you deal with tardiness in the workplace?

As is the case in many scenarios, everything depends on circumstances. You are not alone. In the courses we have taught, participants tell us of similar scenarios all the time. Here are a couple of pointers.

Keep in mind the “style” of each person. Some individuals have a different personality and communication style. In one of our courses we start with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI), so they become aware of their own type and so they can identify potential conflict issues.

Showing up late may be a style matter. The person may have spent too much time chatting with a colleague before coming to the meeting and lost track of time (Extraverted, Feeling type). Another person may come in late thinking the first few minutes of every meeting are just a waste of time doing introductions instead of going into the core of the meeting (Sensing, Thinking type).

Talking these issues through with the individuals and helping them understand how they patterns are affecting performance may help improve behavior.

Another aspect to consider is expectations. Is it critical that everyone be present at the same time? Will that affect outcomes in any way? Making it clear to everyone and setting the expectations will help people understand the need to be punctual. It is also necessary for the team to understand the consequences of tardiness. I don’t mean disciplinary consequences, but rather how the behavior affects outcomes. If possible attach a metric to it. For example, if a key person is 20 minutes late for a key portion of the meeting, those 20 minutes may equal several hundred Dollars/Euros to the company in lost productivity, plus the project itself may be affected. Helping the team see the impact of behavior on productivity can help them understand the importance of meeting expectations.

You may say, “but these are adults. I should not have to say or do any of these things.” You may be right, but as leaders we don’t have the luxury to think this way. Part of managing people is helping them see behaviors in themselves that they may not have been aware of in the past and help them improve.

Learning4Managers consultants are here to help you with your leadership training needs. For assistance, contact us at info@learning4managers.com

Staff Training: Time for Realignment

Staff Training: Part of the Strategic Plan

Survival in a tough economy is not a matter of chance, but rather a matter of careful strategic planning and thorough reassessment of current practices. Competitive strategies need to be developed, and they need to go far beyond just staying afloat. A critical part of the process includes a long hard look at how we deal with staff training each year. We are presented with the rare opportunity to review and revamp how we look at staff development and education. Given the circumstances, organizations would be remiss not to take advantage of this opportunity.

One fact about this economic crisis, and any other crisis, is that organizations cannot completely stop training staff, just as we cannot just stop marketing, or stop spending altogether. We just need to be very precise on how we do these things, and be diligent during the implementation of our revised plans.

Carelessly cutting budgets without carefully considering mid- and long-term impact on productivity and profitability is just as dangerous as wasting money when the times are good. This is not the right time to act with an axe, but rather with the precision of a scalpel. Instead of giving in to fear and anxiety, leadership teams and managers need to take these three key steps:

  • Determine your business objectives and realign your staff education goals.
  • Take purpose-driven steps to eliminate waste.
  • Reinforce, remediate, and retool.

Realignment and business objectives

Take a look at your organization’s business goals and check to see if your education programs are aligned to help you meet those goals.

For example, if one of your goals is to improve profitability by reducing billing errors by 3% each quarter, you should have a supporting educational solution that addresses the most common billing mistakes your team members run into.

If on the other hand you find that billing staff are enrolled in advanced courses to learn more about how to use Microsoft Office software, you may need to realign your training needs and budget accordingly.
You must answer these questions:

  • Are our educational programs and offerings directly related to any of our business goals?
  • Are these educational offerings helping us meet or exceed our objectives?
  • What learning offerings are we lacking in order to help our staff meet or exceed our objectives?

One item that is easily forgotten at the start of the year is that there may be updates or changes that require just-in-time training interventions. You should allocate a portion of your budget to education programs designed to maintain necessary updates in order to avoid a last minute crunch.

Take purpose-driven steps to eliminate waste

Next comes looking at dispensing with all unnecessary training, and seeking more efficient ways to deliver and even develop training.

E-learning and other methods of distance and asynchronous learning may be better suited to today’s conditions.

Furthermore, the development of training may be best left for outsourced resources rather than internal staff and managers, who need to focus on other aspect of the business.

Reinforce, remediate, and retool

In times of difficulty, stress sets in, and staff are more likely to be distracted and make mistakes. Your goals and objectives need to be supported by an ongoing developmental support plan that includes coaching, informal learning, and re-training. There are 3 reasons for re-training.

  • You need to reinforce best practices, so that the best performers continue to operate at peak performance despite the circumstances.
  • You also need to correct and remediate any performance errors and improve low productivity. Remedial training efforts can help improve both areas.
  • Finally, you need to account for lost jobs. Many employees now need to cover for others who have lost their jobs, while they perform their own regular duties. These staff members need retooling training to support their confidence and to ensure they are prepared for their new work demands.

For consultation services on how to manage your education programs during a difficult economy, contact Learning4Managers

Choosing eLearning Strategy Solutions: eLearning Styles

eLearning Development Incorporates Different Styles

When researching eLearning options, managers are not comparing apples to apples. There are various types of eLearning, just like there are many various types of apples. When choosing eLearning for your next project, remember the details are always important!

Here are some eLearning styles and how they are used:

Self-paced slides: These are usually a series of slides with information. Good for basic tutorials and a walk-through of basic info. Example: HR training on the company’s history.
Self-paced interactive: This is a bit more complex than a slide-show. Here there may be quizzes or exercises that demand the attention of the learner. This works best when you need to check for basic comprehension and test for basic competencies. Example: HR training on operational policies and procedures (how to ask for a day-off, how to address harassment, etc.)
Self-paced with asynchronous human interaction: Here participants learn at their own pace, but also interact with other learners in a threaded discussion board or blog. This allows for discussion of elements pertaining the course. There is  interaction with mentors, peers, and subject matter experts. This style works best with more complex information that requires deeper critical thinking skills and creativity. Example: Customer Service advanced training: handling the most difficult customer complaints.
Self-paced with synchronous human interaction: This style is interesting. It allows the learner to pick up most of the content on their own, but then they discuss the content with peers, mentors and/or subject matter experts in a live chat or even a face-to-face setting. This works particularly well when there are physical skills required as part of the competencies. Example: student nurse learns about the anatomy of the arm online and about the concept of inserting an intravenous needle, but learns with an instructor and a live participant how to insert a needle in the arm of the participant.
Instructor led: unlike the last two, this style is not self-paced. The instructor sets the pace and walks the learner through the content within specified time frames. This works best when the content is extremely complex and requires very strong guidance. Example: teaching of very complex theory (physics, chemistry, engineering, etc.)
Blended (aka hybrid): a mix of any or all of the above.

As you can see, the success of an e-learning strategy depends on the type of e-learning and how well it was matched to its objective.

Which strategy does your organization need?

Focus on Organizational Alignment, continued

From the observations of many managers we have learned that organizational alignment is linked to people’s perceptions.

That is why communication is a key success factor in the implementation of any organizational strategy.

Things to watch for

Technology Executive Gary Clarke reminds us to keep thing simple, and cautions us about pre-existing biases:

“In the past I have framed the “big picture” as simply as possible. I then meet with each manager, and if need be, with each person to link the big picture to their activities. I always use a whiteboard to help create a visual map.

I make certain that each manager can articulate the big picture. You can expect that each person’s version of the big picture will vary to meet either their bias, or limitation in comprehension.”

To better understand some of these biases CEO Eugene Rembor adds:

“There are people who can’t see colors while many others can. There are people who have no night-vision and there are people who simply will never see the big picture. I guess you have to accept it as a fact of live – otherwise every single employee would be a director, VP or CEO because they could see and comprehend the big picture.”

Program Manager Robert Jakobson offers the following suggestion for dealing with individuals who may have trouble seeing the big picture:

“Keep in mind, not everyone needs or wants to see the big picture to contribute to it. In fact many, find that a big picture distracts them from focusing on the element of the picture they’ve defined as their contributing portion. For these people – insure they understand their area of focus, and that it does in fact connect. So even if they don’t “see” the big picture they see how they connect to it.”

Communicating the big picture effectively

Business Developent expert James Potter suggests:

“Learn to paint really well, explain, draw, talk, telephone, engage and explain it again.

Show them the big picture, get them to draw it for you, get them to understand every action has a reaction and the potential chain of events that unfolds.”

Finally, be sure to communicate the big picture to your staff in a positive and memorable way. Web Development firm Owner Eileen Bonfiglio used the following exercise:

“The most successful and memorable meeting I held on this topic was a breakfast meeting in where I brought donuts. I asked everyone to focus on the center and tell me what was lacking or missing, tons of responses. I then asked them to look at the whole donut and tell me what they saw. They got it and remember it to this day – keep your eye on the donut, not the hole.”

Focus on Organizational Alignment

Alignment with the overall corporate strategy depends on a solid understanding of the big picture.

And this understanding starts with the leadership working toward organizational alignment. To put it succinctly, Florida Certified General Contractor Mark Ernest says “Understand it yourself.”

Management Consultant Octavio Ballesta expands on this thought adding:

“Be sure that you have a comprehensive and accurate knowledge from the corporate “big picture”, that includes corporate Mission, Vision and Strategy; corporate goals envisioned in the strategy; projects that are being developed to meet the strategy and relevant metrics to measure effectiveness of corporate strategy.”

The Big Picture Is About Them

Next comes communicating your view of the big picture to staff. VP of Marketing Rajesh Mehta believes communication of the company’s goals is a task of empowering your staff to make them a reality.

Part of empowering staff is to help them realize their own role in the big picture. Leadership Development Consultant Drew Bishop contributes this comment:

“When working to help staff pay attention to the bigger issues, it is important for them to understand how the big picture impacts them, personally, and, more importantly, how what they do impacts the big picture.”

When should you communicate the big picture? The approach by Energy Expert Ray Miller is one of constant open communication: “I communicate it all the time. Hold nothing back.”

How much and how deep you want to go in your communication depends on the situation and the person or group you are talking to. Terry Seamon suggests that at minimum you and your managers ought to communicate

 

  • How the business is doing
  • Where the business is heading
  • The opportunities the business has
  • The challenges the business faces

According to Ballesta, you should plan meetings where you include as much detail as appropriate:

“When the progress of the corporate strategy can objectively measured do not hesitate in sharing the financial performance, operational improvements, technologic enhancements and market positioning achievements that are derived from proper strategy execution. Sharing this information will helpful to align to your staff around the practices that should be followed to achieve the corporate goals in the future.

Schedule periodic meetings with your staff to explain about other business cases where having executed similar corporate strategies signified outstanding financial outcomes; an improvement in the market positioning; a better business agility; operational excellence and/or innovation based culture.”

Knowing the Job Doesn’t Equal Training Skills

Staff Training is a Specialized Skill

The situation is all too common. An organization, in this case a call center, wants the senior associates to coach and train the less experienced employees. So the mandate comes from above that each one of the more experienced staff should plan to do a series of presentations for their units.

Is this a good idea? Let’s be brutally honest with ourselves for a minute. Not everyone is a good presenter. Even with training, there will be those who will stick to reading every word off each slide of a PowerPoint presentation. Others will be long-winded lecturers, and others will simply resent the fact that they are being forced to speak in front of a crowd.

It is true, seniority often means more experience and skill at doing one’s job, but the fact that one can do one’s job well does not immediately translate into being able to train someone else the job. To force staff training on senior staff may lead to conflict and frustration.

Before we send out global mandates like these, let’s remember some of the basic rules of employee engagement. If people are not properly outfitted with the tools for the job, they are likely to fail. If you plan to have your senior staff become the training and coaching body of your junior staff, make sure that you follow these steps

First we need to assess the capabilities of the individual. Perhaps the person is not a good public speaker now, but with training and support he might become one. Or perhaps public speaking is not this person’s strength. Instead this person may be a great coach.  See who is best suited for different staff development tasks. Some will be better presenters than others, some will be better coaches, etc.

Then support them by offering them training and resources to become better at their given task (coaching, delivering training, etc.). Finally, continue to assess their skill level and continue to support their growth and development as part of your staff development strategy.

If you need assistance developing a training strategy for your organization, feel free to get in touch with us. We’ll be happy to help you develop the best strategy for your situation.

SWOT App for Android

New at Google Play: SWOT Analysis App

Check out our newly updated Android App: SWOT Analysis. Now available in Google Play (formerly Android Market).

http://learning4managers.com/SWOTAPP2

Developed by Albert S. Humphrey in the 1960′s, SWOT Analysis is a strategic planning method, and the fist step in formulating a plan. It helps you assess the value of your initiative or goal. Created by Learning4Managers.com. You can learn to apply the concepts of SWOT Analysis.

The updated app contains new examples and an updated SWOT template in PDF format.

Multi-platform Learning Development

An Approach for Holistic Learning Development

A balanced view of learning requires us to recognize and understand that we do not learn in a way, we learn in many ways .

I recall a situation where a director of a marketing organization requested my assistance with a problem. Some of her employees kept running into problems with the clients due to seemingly unforeseen events. She wanted to know if there was some kind of training to resolve the problem.

This was not the first, nor last time I have heard the same request. Not only is there an assumption that the problem’s solution is in training alone, without considering other factors. Many managers have in their mind that when facing a problem, the solution may be in some sort of training program. Mind you, the manager is not considering a long-term process here. They are looking for the silver bullet. The magic pill. The cure to the problem that will in fix it all in just one single instance or intervention.

Fortunately, learning does not work that way. I say fortunately, because if learning was this simple, we probably would have never developed critical thinking skills, nor would we be able to learn from our experiences. We need to face the fact that learning is a complex process composed of many complex sub-processes.

Let’s assume our manager’s problem was indeed one that could be solved with training. You have seen this before, what happens 30 days after the workshop? Studies reveal we will have forgotten most, if not all, of what was taught. That is unless we take some countermeasures to avoid this loss.

Learning requires a Multiplatform approach. If we are thinking of a workshop, immediately we need to also think of supporting the content so it is not forgotten. One vehicle could be ongoing reviews with the individual’s supervisor. Or an informal monthly quiz.

By using several platforms to support the same content over a period of time, we help the individual internalize this knowledge. Once this happens, the person will be able to use the new knowledge more efficiently.

Systematic Approach to Training SAT

Who Does What in the Systematic Approach to Training SAT?

SAT is essentially a blueprint that we use to walk organizations through the design of their training solutions. The most widely used model of SAT used in designing a learning initiative is a process named ADDIE. ADDIE stands for: Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, Evaluation.

But who does all this? Who should be involved at each step of the process?

Each organization will have a different way to approach SAT depending on the project, available staff, resources, and timelines.

Here is a suggested approach and guidance:

Analysis

In this phase you determine the need, the goal, and the gap in-between the two. To this end, it is good for you to establish a project advisory board.

In this board it is a good idea to include someone at the highest appropriate level of management to champion the project and who will keep everyone accountable for the end result of the learning initiative.

You may also want to include feedback from prospective learners and Subject Matter Experts (SEM’s), so make sure their voice is represented in the board. Finally don’t forget the end-user, the recipient of whatever results the training may bring.

To make things run smoothly, we strongly suggest you appoint a project coordinator or Project Manager (PM) to oversee this stage.

Design

Here you will begin the work of developing a learning solution. For this phase you will need the help of an Instructional Designer (ID), and SMEs who will work together with the PM .

Here we have to answer another question: What is an Instructional Designer and what do they do?

We’ll cover that in Part II.