Boosting Team Performance

AssertivenessBoostersLeaders and managers have a direct impact on team performance. But is it their technical expertise or something else that helps boost team performance?

In 2014, Learning4Managers conducted a survey with participants ranging from Director to C-Level. We asked them what helped them be more assertive at work. Their answers showed us the importance and value of soft skills over technical expertise.

The top performance booster, found in 60% of the answers, was showing support. Respondents revealed that they appreciate leaders that take the time to show appreciation, give feedback, and take time to encourage them.

Managers and leaders could benefit from updating their motivational and feedback skills. Team members appreciate to hear positive and constructive feedback from their leaders. Developing positive professional relationships also motivate team members to please their managers by demonstrating higher performance.

Next in the list with 25% of the answers came allowing autonomy. Respondents expressed that when leaders and managers gave them sufficient instructions accompanied by adequate freedom to do their job, they felt empowered and engaged.

Last at about 15% each came leading by example. Respondents indicated that they respect a leader that shows energy and a positive attitude.

In summary, update you skills giving feedback and motivating others. Work on your delegation skills and allow for autonomy. Finally, set an example for your teams.

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Be Careful What You Ask For

Many managers struggle with employee performance. It is evident when you look at job description that often list “self-starter people” or “independent thinker” and other similar statements as highly desired characteristics.

The fact is that at work you’ll find different kinds of individuals

  • Those who need prompts to do their job
  • Those who are self-motivated
    • to perform their job functions
    • to look for additional duties beyond their own

Leaders hope for the last type listed here to work for them because they believe that these individuals will work with as little supervision as possible. And how could this be a bad thing after all? They also hope to avoid those who appear to need direction because they appear to be the least motivated individuals in the group.

The issues leaders face with highly motivated people are not as obvious as those you’d expect from low-motivated individuals.  It begins when these highly independent and self-motivated people start diverting their attention to extracurricular work activities that are not aligned with the corporate objectives.

High energy and motivation can be an asset, but only when it is pointed in the right direction. Don’t assume just because someone shows initiative that that they will know what they are supposed to do or what their boundaries are.

Always set clear expectations with individuals and discuss clearly what the boundaries are, both in terms of minimum expectations as well as how far their independence can reach.

To discuss how you can get access to training about alignment and how to maximize the potential of highly motivated employees Contact Us Today.

Better Results With the Use of Mirroring

The ability to influence customers and employees is a necessary skill for many individuals. However, it appears that some people are far better at it than others. What are they doing differently and what can we do to be more like them?

To get better results, researchers suggest that you should pay closer attention to two very important factors: your mirroring skills and your attitude towards the product or the service you offer. For example, research conducted by Duke University in 2007 shows that mirroring the other person’s behavior can influence a customer’s decision to buy.

The study revealed that by making a conscious effort to mimic the customer and showing interest in your offering, you can increase your chances to close the sale. Similar studies by Université de Bretagne-Sudclaim indicate that mirroring can in some cases influence people enough to increase sales by up to 17%.

Mirroring is something many successful sales people do intuitively. However, what’s interesting in the Duke report is that demonstrating a positive attitude and enthusiasm about your product or service can further increase your sales ratios.

The important lessons we can take away from these studies are that nothing will influence others more than your own attitudes and behaviors. Pay attention to the other person’s use of language and body language, and start mirroring that behavior. Furthermore, focus also on your enthusiasm and attitude towards the idea you are presenting to the other person. These steps will help you win them over.

Learn more about this and other ways to improve performance with our courses. Contact Us Today!

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Management, Hispanics and Retention

As a part of their strategy to reach out to Latinos, companies have shown a renewed interest in hiring Hispanic employees. But are these companies aware of the cultural shock this strategy will cause? And do these companies know how to manage and keep their newly hired Hispanic workforce?

In 2006, Berkley University published a study of 1,500 store managers and over 100,000 front line employees at a large retailer in the USA. A portion of the study tried to identify the role race plays on employees getting promoted or fired.

The report reveals that the rate of dismissal (people fired) from low-skill, entry-level positions is 60% higher for Hispanics than for Caucasians.  Conversely, the promotion rate for Hispanics is 28% lower than for Caucasians.

Furthermore, when Hispanics have a non-Hispanic manager, that factor alone will raise their rate of getting fired by 18% and reduce their rate of getting promoted by 54%.

Can we change this? I think so, as long as we work together. Non-Hispanic managers need targeted training on how to work with a Hispanic workforce. Together we can learn to appreciate cultural values and improve performance.  Targeted Hispanic Management Training can make a world of difference.

Contact us for information on how to develop a culture of inclusion.

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What can we do to prevent resignations?

In the first to portions of this report we learned that around 2.5 million workers in the USA quit their jobs voluntarily each year. In the second portion we also learned some of the main motivators why people may decide to leave and why they may decide to stay.

Before we start taking action based on this information, we need to decide if we even want to do anything about it. Some of you may feel like this is simply part of the cost of doing business, while others may think this will never happen to them.

In the first article in this series we learned that there is a real economic impact to losing an employee. Each person that quits can cost the company between $22,297 and $222,975 depending on salary and expertise of the individual. But the cost of resignations goes beyond simply dollars and cents.

What makes things worse for all of us is a discovery made by Right Management in a 2011 survey. The results revealed that three out of four organizations lost people they hoped to keep that year. It is one thing to lose any employee. It is another to lose someone you wanted to keep.

If these numbers are reason enough for you to decide to make an effort to keep valuable employees with you, then we need to discuss what we can do to maximize our retention rates and minimize these high quit rates.

First, we need to recognize that all of the reasons for leaving mentioned in the many different surveys are all matters that we can control or influence. The problem is that companies seldom take a proactive approach to addressing these matters. It simply isn’t in their culture to do so.

If the company promotes ongoing management training and coaching, and this training teaches managers to listen to their employees for specific cues, then they will be able to pick up on signs and triggers they can act upon to keep top talent from quitting.  Let’s take a look at the different issues to watch for and address.

The top issue to discuss is the desire to become your own boss and own your own company. Managers need to pay attention to these aspirations and take them seriously. Once we learn that someone working for you has aspirations of this kind, we can take steps to keep them engaged with us.

While many people may have fallen in love with the idea of being a boss and to own a business, they may know little about the responsibilities and effort it takes. Defining the role of a boss or owner and discussing the skills necessary for the role may help the person have a more realistic view of what that means.

More importantly, identifying why people want to be their own boss may lead to a set of underlying needs that could be met in alternative ways. Specifically, many of these individuals are simply asking for more meaning in their jobs and more autonomy.  A well-trained manager with advanced communication skills will be able to identify these underlying reasons, and build a career path for the individual that allows them to earn their way into independence and autonomy at work.

Next comes the issue of compensation. As many of us have learned with experience, throwing money at problems is seldom the most effective strategy. First let’s keep in mind that, at least in the published surveys, this is an issue of bigger importance for men than for women.

Is there anything we can do other than to offer a raise or a promotion to somebody to keep them with us? Managers need to remember the top reasons why people choose not to leave: the relationship with their peers and their managers. We may not always be able to simply offer more money to staff, but we can minimize the desire for more of money by improving the relationship with the employee.

Finally we need to address work-life balance. This issue too can be addressed if a manager takes the time to build a relationship with the employee and works on a plan to help with the employee’s needs. A simple change to a more flexible schedule might be all it takes to keep an employee with us for years to come.

We should work under the assumption that our top staff are being actively approached by recruiters ready to make a better offer in pay and benefits. Other offers may include the promise of upward mobility.

The best way to prevent finding a resignation letter on our desk is to get to know our staff better, build a closer (but professional) relationship with them, and help them see the value of working with a strong team. The better they feel about their relationship with their peers and managers, the harder it will be for them to want to leave.

What does this all mean? It means we need to ensure managers are continuously improving their communication and relationship building skills. From a strategic point of view, the investment we make on developing these managerial skills is well worth preventing high quit rates.


Why Employees Quit

In the last report we learned that about 2.5 million workers leave their jobs voluntarily in the USA. We also calculated the serious economic impact to the economy at large and to a company’s budget. While some of these departures can be attributed to people moving up, not all of these workers leave in pursuit of a promotion. Let’s take a closer look at the reasons behind quitting.

First, only a small percentage of people have their dream job. A 2013 survey by the University of Phoenix indicates that only 14% of the respondents felt they were in their dream career. Conversely, the same survey showed that 55% of employees were interested in a career change. This is true not only of young workers. In fact the percentage of people looking for a career change remains near the 50 percentile for employees in their 40’s and 50’s.

Next, reports from Gallup and the University of Phoenix indicate that 60% of employees would like to be their own boss and 39% would like to own their own business.

Another important observation is highlighted in a 2007-2008 Survey by The survey results are similar to results of more recent surveys. The data reveals that over 25% of the respondents consider compensation to be the top reason for leaving a job. However, the same surveys reveal that 22-28% of respondents also choose to stay in their jobs due to their relationship with managers and peers. The survey also reveals that for 55% of respondents to be lured to another company based on salary alone, it would take a raise of over 16% to convince them to leave.

So while compensation is a key factor, the relationship with managers and coworkers is also an aspect that deserves serious consideration. A 2014 survey by CareerBuilder supports this notion stating that 79% of workers that have no intention to quit in 2014. The top reason for choosing to stay: because they like the people they work with (54%).

Furthermore, a survey published in July 2013 by Office Team reveals that 61% of employees expressed they would be likely or very likely to leave their company if they did not feel engaged. A study by Accenture in 2013 and the previously mentioned survey also reveal that work-life balance is another deciding factor in retention for 25-31% of women.

To summarize what we have learned, we have a workforce where 86% of employees feel they are not in their dream career. About half of them would like to change careers and be their own boss. A fourth of them feel they are not compensated as they should, but to leave most people would only consider a raise of over 16%. The other most common factors in deciding to leave or not are relationship with peers and managers, engagement and work balance.

In our final segment we’ll discuss our options and what retention strategies make most sense.

Don’t forget to enroll in our October 22 Productivity Strategies Webinar.


Training Great Managers – Part 1

The Economic Impact

As of August of 2014, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that approximately 2.5 million people in the USA quit their jobs voluntarily in the last 12 months. The good news is that this number has been steady for quite some time and remains below pre-recession years. However, it is still a very large number of people.

Consider the cost to the employer to replace each one of these employees. The US Census states that “In 2013, the median earnings of women who worked full time, year-round ($39,157) was 78 percent of that for men working full time, year-round ($50,033).”  Some people estimate that an employer may need to invest between half and up to five times the employees annual salary to replace them.

Under these circumstances, if an employee earns $44,595 a year (the average between the median earnings of men and women according to the Census), then an employer would need to spend between $22,297 and $222,975 to replace that employee. Multiply that by 2.5 million and you can quickly see the real cost to our economy.

The questions we need to address are a) why do these people quit? And b) what can we do to keep them from quitting?

In the next section of this report we’ll explore the reasons why people quit and the expectations these people have. In the last section of the report we’ll explore if it is even worth trying to retain these individuals and how to do so effectively.

Don’t forget to enroll in our October 22 Productivity Strategies Webinar.


This is our final blog reporting the results of our 2014 Workplace Attitudes Survey. At the end of this article we’ll explain how you can get the full report plus the analysis we have put together along with tips and techniques you can implement at work today.

In this portion of the report we’ll discuss our findings about Productivity and Motivation.


When asked what makes people less productive we identified four clear categories.









At the top of the list were time management related issues, including interruptions at the top of the list. Other time management issues included wait time, attending too many meetings, lack of relevant content in meetings, and poor managerial guidance regarding time allocation for projects.

Next came lack of team and managerial support. Micromanagement, lack of recognition, and lack of trust in employees appeared to be common issues too. Distrust and lack of team cohesion were also mentioned as common issues.

Finally, the last two categories included unclear expectations about desired results, and poor or lack of access to the right tools and information to accomplish the task at hand.


Finally we wanted to hear from participants examples of what managers can do to help employees feel motivated for higher performance.








Taking 26% of responses, allowing people autonomy in order to achieve results their own way is one of the reasons listed as the top three motivators for performance.

Another 26% indicated that leading by example is what people perceived as most motivating for them.

At the top of the list, with 48% of responses, is encouragement. According to our respondents, when they feel encouragement and recognition from both peers and managers, people tend to feel motivate to perform better.

The Final Report Plus Analysis

To receive the final report and analysis, you can do one of two things.

  • One is to become a participant of our ongoing survey efforts. To do so, Follow This Link  and tell us that you want a copy of the report.
  • The other way it to order the 2014 Survey Report from our secure online shopping catalog. Shop Here.




In this continuing report of our 2014 Workplace Attitudes Survey we’ll discuss Confidence. It appears that there are three key behaviors managers engage in that have the most negative  impact upon employee confidence. Managers should consider their role in each of these key areas.









Our survey reveals as a primary response that when people feel they do not receive sufficient support from their managers or peers, they lose confidence. Some of the lack of support is attributed to the workplace culture. If the culture isn’t nurturing and promotes intimidation, distrust, and lack of cohesion, then confidence suffers.

Next, the survey shows that the lack of clear instructions as to what is expected or what the approach should be can lead to lack of confidence. When there are no clear goals, instructions, or training, people begin to lose confidence in their ability to perform well.

Finally, about 26% of the respondents indicated that they lost confidence when they perceived strong disagreement with their expert opinion. Specifically, people perceive a loss of self-confidence when the other person disagrees with their expertise and conflict arises.

In our fourth and last blog about our survey results we’ll discuss our findings on productivity and motivation. It is not too late to participate in the survey. To be part of it and get the full report Follow This Link.


2014 Workplace Attitudes Survey Results – Part I


In the first half of 2014, Learning4Managers surveyed leaders from government and corporate fields to understand what factors make staff assertive, confident and overall more productive.

At Learning4Managers, a division of Accolade Institute Inc., we believe that attitude and performance go hand in hand. Gaining a clear understanding of factors that affect our attitude at work can provide us insight as to what may help improve or affect work performance.

The survey intends to give us a first glance at what leaders perceive to affect assertive behaviors, confidence and motivation. This first glance will allow us to further study and inquire about more specific work performance enhancers and hindrances.

The Survey

In regards to workplace attitudes, the following questions were asked in the survey:

Do you think you are assertive at work? Why or why not?

Part of the definition of assertiveness is the refusal to be intimated by others. Lack of assertiveness is a known factor that could lead to issues such as bullying in the workplace. 37 percent of workers have been bullied at work, and 45 percent of the targets reported stress levels that affected their health (U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey:  September, 2007). Assertiveness is generally accepted in the Western world as a necessary quality for leadership.

We decided it was important to gather an initial view on what makes people feel assertive at work and what would keep them from feeling assertive. The survey question was open-ended allowing participants to elaborate as much as they felt needed.

Describe what type of situations make you less confident at work.

Lack of confidence is generally associated with lack of assertiveness. We added this question to our survey to further inquire about factors that might make people feel less confident. Furthermore the question is open-ended and allows participants to elaborate on behaviors and/or circumstances that may impact their confidence.

What are the things that make you less productive at work?

We also wanted to know from our participants what factors play a role into decreasing their productivity at work.  We expect to identify the top three issues that most directly affect productivity in the workplace.

Think of a person who motivated you to perform better. How did they motivate you?

Finally we wanted to hear from participants examples of what managers can do to help employees feel motivated for higher performance. Speaking of specific examples would help us extrapolate a list of best practices.

In the next article we’ll start discussing the results of our survey and we’ll start with our findings about Assertive Behavior.