Team

The Power of Rapport

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The basis of all relationships is trust and we establish this upon our very first connection with people.  It is for this reason that rapport building is a skill set which is critical for success in every field of one’s life.

Think about the last time you went into a store and had somebody ask you the classic “Can I help you?” question, as against somebody genuinely wanting to connect with you asking a more intelligent question, for example: "What occasion do you want a dress for today?" or "Are you wanting a new kitchen or are you looking for a renovation?" or "Is this for a rental or for your own home?". The ability to connect with somebody very quickly is reflected by how easily they can open up and start to share information with you. It is this sharing that builds and develops trust.

In rapport building, what we are really aiming to do is to find some common ground which will allow us to make a connection with another human being.  It is this search for common ground that leads to most people resorting to talking about the weather. Subconciously we all know that the weather we are all experiencing is something we all have in common with the person with whom we are attempting to engage.  The better you know someone, the more in depth and meaningful the connections/ questions can become. Consider, for example, the difference between “Has it been raining a lot here lately?” or “It’s a really lovely day outside isn’t it?” against “Did you go and enjoy the game last night supporting your team?” or “How’s your daughter doing with her broken arm?”

As we get to know people better, we know what their passions and interests are, and when we connect at this level, people open up very willingly and quickly.  It is this ability to get conversation going and flowing naturally that makes rapport building such a core skill. The amazing thing is that it is not a difficult skill to develop. Whether you are going to a network event, a customer service agent, a tradesman or a sales rep, you know you will be meeting people and therefore you can deliberately plan ahead by developing questions with a bit more depth, thought and care than the "How are you?", "Isn't it a nice day?" or "Can I help you?".

Along with developing questions, some other things you can do are have good eye contact, handshakes and overall confident body language (which obviously includes a smile). Take an interest and actively listen to the person you are speaking to and take notes so that you can refer back to them when you see them again. Being prepared to share some personal information about yourself also creates a degree of authenticity and vulnerability that makes it safe for other people to open up and be authentic with you.

Here’s to your success!

Where Is Your Company IP?

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Do you have trademarks or even patents?

Where is your company knowledge held?

If you lost your three longest serving team members what impact would it have?

I am privileged to work with businesses than believe in investing in their people. However, over the years, what I have noticed is that it is not enough to just invest in your people. You have to make sure that information is shared and that knowledge is transparent and available.

I have worked with businesses that have, sadly, lost some of their best staff very suddenly through an accident; others who have lost their staff because they've had to move on for personal reasons or because they have been offered better opportunities. One of the single biggest challenges businesses then have, is when all the skill, knowledge and experience walk out the door with a person - because the time has not been taken to record what that person knows and how that information and knowledge links into other people's skills and knowledge.

If you were to lose your three longest serving team members, or the three people who knew the most in each section in your business, would you be able to recover?

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When you get a new team member on board, how quick and easy is it for them to learn what they need to know so that they can perform at the highest level? One of the incredible things that comes from having a culture where knowledge is shared and information is openly available, is that people do not hoard their skill and knowledge and what they have learnt over the years as a way of keeping their job secure.

One of the best methods of making this happen is to make an expectation that all staff will have somebody that knows as much as they do, so that they can take leave and have holidays. This allows for job rotation; makes work a lot more interesting and creates a security - the company cannot be held to ransom by a small group of people or single person who for a short period of time has some crucial skillset which only they hold.

The use of a Skills Matrix is one of the best ways of ensuring that this is done effectively. This shows the Core Skills per department; followed by who is able to do the work under supervision, do the work competently and train others to do the work. When this is openly displayed for all to see, it is easy to see where your skill gaps are.

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It is also easy for employees to see who they can approach to help them learn something. One of the great benefits is that we can show people a career path and what they need to know if they want to grow into a new role. This can then be tied into professional development plans and can ensure that your organisation develops a learning culture.

Ensure that your company's future is sustainable and secure by putting into play some basic reporting - creating a culture that allows and encourages people to expand their skillset, share information, to grow and thrive - and in turn help the company to do the same.

As always if we can help in any of these areas please do get in touch.

Here's to your success!

Professional Development

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Are your people really your greatest asset?

Would your balance sheet attest to your answer?

Do you invest as much in developing your people as you do developing your physical assets, your market share, your R&D?

More & more I find that companies that use personal development plans are finding a long term edge in the marketplace. Ken Blanchard & Spencer Johnson’s classic “The One Minute Manager” held many gems that I have used from the day I first read the book. One of my favourite quotes is “The best minute I spend is the one I invest in people.” This marries nicely with 2 of my favourite Richard Branson quotes:

“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough, so they don't want to.” and “Learn to look after your staff first and the rest will follow.”

PD’s allow people the chance to honestly assess themselves and consider where they want to progress to in their life. Done well, they ensure people are more engaged, feel invested in and are more loyal and productive. If you do not use personal development plans, here are my top tips on what they should include:

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Part One - Personal Self Analysis and Reflection - This can include a brief description of words that shows “who they are”, their education, employment history (not a copy of their CV but rather a short synopsis to show life experience), a space to share their personal preferences, their values and any areas they identify as limitations. Noting current competencies, skills, knowledge, experience is the last part of this section.

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Part Two - Goal Setting  - For some employees this will be the first time they have done this. I encourage companies to have goal setting split into 3 time periods - Short term / 1-2 years; Medium term 3-4 years and Long term 5years+. Each time period should include a section on Personal/Home goals and Work/Business goals. The purpose of goals is to give people something to aim for and measure themselves against and to help people know when they are winning. Clarity = Action so do ensure goals are SMARTER.


Part Three - Identify, Define and Create Action Steps
- Once there is clarity on who a person is and what they want to achieve/who they want to become then the stage is set to work out what the first steps are, when they need to be done and the resources required to make this happen. By comparing Part One with Part Two the gaps will be obvious and this facilitates discussion on development needs and skills required  for current job and future goals.

Once discussed and agreed clear action steps need to be written up and signed off. Ideally these will be reviewed at least every quarter noting if team member is on track/off track with notes and new action steps.

PD’s take time to implement and maintain. The return on invested time is akin to compound interest - the longer it is done the greater the return. I conclude with a quote often attributed to both Henry Ford and Zig Ziglar, “The only thing worse than training an employee and having them leave, is to not train them, and have them stay.”




Making Training Stick

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Is training worth the investment?

When we launched Learning BITES back in 2016 this was the question we tackled and touched on the topic of making training stick to be effective and see an ROI.

After as I enter my 10th year of full time training I have given further thought around the long term impact and would love your comments and insights:

1) Cascade training is something we encourage on every session we deliver. Getting people to share what the training was about, what they took from it and what action they believe they and/or the team need to take is effective way to ensure people look for actions that can be applied.

2) Accountability make a difference. Involving team leaders in the pre and post training discussion increase their buy-in and adds valuable insight. Team leaders can:

a) write up what areas they believe the training can be applied to

b) the current state of the area

c) the expected/desired state if the training is 100% successful and then

d) a follow up in 1-2 months post training to see what was implemented and the impact to the organisation

3) Send a survey out pre and post training (using something like survey monkey) asking team members/clients/organisations to rate you/themselves on some key metrics and identify improvements

4) Ask for written testimonials from participants - - their willingness to do this and the points they raise will show the current attitude towards the training

5) Create 'champions' and give them some additional training. When the champions are well trained the training is more likely to be effective. (Tip: It is better to keep champion training to short time blocks to minimise effect of having these team members away from the workforce.)

6) Measure the training impact and effectiveness. Some additional thoughts:

Do you currently have an "Gauge" for office tempo? - https://www.officevibe.com/  is a programme some of my clients use to great effect.

In line with Donald L Kirkpatrick’s "Four steps to measuring training effectiveness” - (This model uses four separate stages for the evaluation of the effectiveness of a training program being: Reaction; Learning; Behaviour; Results - As above we gather feedback at the end of each training session; encourage "Cascade Training" after each session; Incorporate individual actions into peer accountability, management feedback, reporting and reviews and measure customer feedback. )

Measure customer satisfaction as this is the ultimate key driver  (NPS scores; surveys; call backs after service delivery)

Measure key metrics - what really important factors does your business hinge on - e.g  response time, DIFOTIS, return rate?

(Share this information across the whole team)

Do team member personal development plans and measure their progress.

Do a departmental skills matrix.

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Measurement is one of the most important factors in leadership, management and exceptional team performance. "You can only manage what you measure" is an oft used quote but there is more than just measurement:

- You have to measure the right things

- You have to share and feedback the information - speed of feedback and willingness to receive it is vital

- You have to reward what you want more of - "What gets rewarded gets repeated!"

How do you let your team know they are winning?

Here's to your success!

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Spread the Love

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There are so many studies and suggestions around what makes a life well lived, worthwhile and enjoyable. One of my favourite pieces of advice was that the 3 necessities of life are “To love and be loved, to have a reason to get up and to have a purpose worth pursuing.” At this time of year we often get to reflect and remember all the people who are special to us.

Movies and programmes with a love theme or romantic undertone abound, in a plethora as innumerable as the stars. This is for good reason - we all want and need love. Humans are social creatures and we derive much from connecting with each other and while you might be 1 of 7+million people, to some people you are their world.

“The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves."

Be sure to take time to tell and show those near and dear to you that they are special - we never know when there won’t be a tomorrow.

Enjoy your time these holidays and strengthen the bonds of love and friendship - “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage." May you find and create much strength and courage as you spread joy and peace.

Thank you for being a part of our world and we look forward to connecting again next year.

Aim to Team Think not Group Think

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Having facilitated another company team day, I have had cause to reflect on what makes for an exceptional team. There are, of course, many factors. 

Team days are such an awesome way to help team members get to know each other more and work more effectively together. The opportunity to brainstorm possibilities and explore how to tackle challenges, utilising the whole team's knowledge, skills and perspectives, creates powerful buy-in and innovative solutions IF the team is free to express their thoughts.

Groupthink is a term coined by Irving to describe his influential theory of group decision making that he called groupthink. The idea is that groupthink is a kind of thinking in which maintaining group cohesiveness, harmony, conformity and solidarity is more important than considering the facts in a realistic manner.This can result in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making process and outcome. 

To get the most from a team, they need to feel safe to discuss, debate, agree and disagree. The enemy is artificial harmony. Team Think occurs when a team of people have an agreed common goal that they are committed to achieving. Team Think is characterised by a mindset that is eager to participate and collaborate. There is a sense of unity and the team sees and refer to themselves as a unit - “we” rather than “you and me”

Team Think is focused on adding value (contrasted with group think which is focused on the individual and being valued). One of the most powerful aspects of Team Think is common alignment to a clear goal - this allows the team to focus on the ‘prize’ as against the cost. 

The whole team needs to think right, if they are to act right and get the right results. This thinking, however, has to start at the top. Very broadly speaking Team Think has 5 key elements:

Team leadership - How the leaders think set the tone and creates the culture

Team identity - from this culture the team forms its identity. When the ‘team’ as a unit becomes more important than the ‘individual’ team members that make up the team the team can transcend to new heights.

Team purpose - Strong leadership and culture combine as core elements to build a strong sense of purpose. People need to know that they matter and that what they do makes a positive difference. People with purpose and on a mission will often outperform higher skilled teams.

Team prize - The purpose give people something to aim for. This sense of striving for a prize fires people up to give more, do more and be all they can be.

Team energy - When teams have the above elements they can create an almost self perpetuating energy that allows the to operate at higher levels and outperform their peers.

What could you do to enhance the latent potential inside your team?
If you need to look at a team event to review this year and plan for the year ahead do get in touch - we would love to facilitate the day for you!

What Skills Do You Need?

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What is your greatest point of difference as a company?

Whenever I ask this question, inevitably I get a similar answer - the one thing people cannot copy. It’s not your product, or your systems, or your processes - it is your people and the culture that they create which enables them to be the best and deliver the highest quality of work. It is this characteristic that makes organizations stand out.

Are you getting the most out of your team?

Do you have a culture where people feel enabled and empowered to give the very best?

Do you invest in your team members and help them to increase their skills so that they are able to give even more?  When I ask this question with business owners and managers, one of the responses I often get, is that they are not sure who to develop and in what areas.  How do you select which team members you will invest in and develop and how do you ensure can you get a return on the investment in your people?

Firstly, whoever you choose must actually want to develop.  Some people are very happy just the way they are, doing what are they are doing and don't actually want any more responsibility or to do anything other than what they are currently doing.  This is, of course, their choice.

Secondly, it can really help to have a succession plan in place so that you know what skills you need to meet the growth plans that you have outlined in your business plan. Any business plan needs to have a people development section - it's who people bring the skills and the time which we need to grow internal capacity.

Thirdly, it can really can help your succession plan to create a skills gap analysis.  This is simply done by dividing your business into its relevant departments and then breaking down each task within each department and indicating which people are able to do that task unsupervised. Also, which people are able to train others to do

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that task and which people are able to do the task under supervision. One of the benefits of this exercise is that it can often show big gaps in skillsets within your organisation and your over-reliance on certain individuals in certain places.

Fourthly, it is incredibly motivating for your team to have a personal development plan created for each person. I strongly recommend that your PD plan includes both future goals for work and for home, as this shows people that you care about them as a whole person - they are not just what they can do for you in a work environment.

My final recommendation comes from years of working in this industry and it's simply this. Make sure training methodologies encourage people to cascade train after every training session. You can find out more about cascade training on our website: www.thinkright.co.nz/cascadetraining/  We find when people come to training with a sense of expectation, they pay more attention and they are actively looking for takeaway action points they can share with the team. This shared team approach helps people to take more action.

If you need any help in working out how to best develop your team to ensure you are maximising their engagement and enjoyment at work as well as their ability to produce well, please do get in touch.


Know the Course - Stay the Course

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Success is made up more of the continual movement forward than one-off actions - Mike Clark

For the month of April we chose the topic of “overcoming.” We set the topic at the beginning of the year and it has been an interesting topic to delve into. For me the topic resonated around the resolutions I have set towards achieving our goals especially in the area of being more consistent and focused.

It has not been without challenges as I suffer from “the next shiny thing” syndrome and overcoming being distracted by the exciting, new, interesting has been too easy. The key difference this year is that I am quicker to self correct. I resolved to ‘stay the course’ this year. When I see I am off track with our annual goals I go back to what I know is important.

My 4 keys for to help you STAY the course:

Set what you want. This is crucially important. It needs to be done properly. Yes it is hard doing this. It is much easier to set some goals to sound right and move on. Don’t do this. Setting what you want requires clarity in what success looks like, why you want it and what life will look like when you achieve this. In setting your goal, ensure you set the strategic goals and the daily KPI’s. The better these are set, the sooner you will know when you are off track.

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Team clarity on the goal is key. When the team knows what they are aiming for and why, then there is an exponential amount of unified effort - synergy in motion! We all know we are far more likely to do something when we know someone is going to check on us. Leverage this tendency by regular reporting and transparent progress against KPI’s.

Action gets results. Planning has its place but it is only as good as the action it creates! Have good reporting that shows how close you are to achieving your goal. Great feedback is quick and precise and allows you to adjust your actions as necessary.

Yield of your efforts is important. ROI is one of the most important measurements in business. Ensure you are getting the return you want. Financial return is only one measure. Faith, family, friends, contribution, learning, health and wellbeing are all important make a complete life that is worth living. Your goals and actions must align and be underpinned by your values and your greater life purpose.

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When you know who you want to be, you can set out each day and be that person and that is who you will become. Know what matters. Focus clearly on that. Start and STAY the course!

Here's to your success!

Process - The Answer To Everything

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Question time finished and after the customary photo I could scarcely wait to call and share my biggest learning with the team – “The answer to everything is process!” Earlier this year I was privileged to hear All Black Ben Smith share some insights on Team Motivation and high performance. My single biggest takeaway is wrapped up in one word “Process.” As we look at the topic of “Flow” with our Learning BITES I felt it was perfect to briefly share my top takeaway.

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AARRGGHH!!

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Ever looked at something someone in your workplace has done and slapped your hand against your face in absolute frustration? Or burst out in anger and outrage? What were they thinking? Did they even think? From observation in many sessions of our team training, it would seem this is not an unusual state for team members to find themselves in. This week, I was reminded again that observation is not the same as experience, and that theory is best understood in practice.

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Tough Calls - Reality Check

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How many calls do you get in a day? Ever had one that made you stop and gave you a reality check? We had one this week. Saw a call coming in from Australia and answered thinking it was a work call. It was my in-law's next door neighbour. She told me to sit down and then said that my Mum and Dad in-law had dropped 5 meters off an embankment and had been cut out of their car and taken to hospital in highly critical condition.

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The Best and Worst of Meetings

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The best meetings don’t waste people’s time. They add value to businesses and team members by giving them the opportunity to tackle issues collaboratively, and by involving every member. They are action- based, not appearance-based. In other words,their purpose is to get something done which needs to be done. It may be to create a product or form a strategy, or it may be to foster internal connections and an understanding of each team member’s importance in the business. They value the people and the purpose of the meeting. They have a goal, a structure and an outcome. Whether your meetings are regular or spontaneously as required; contribution, acknowledgement and action focus make the best use of the time your people have chosen (or are required) to invest in turning up.

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A million dollar question

Compromise can be the dove of peace or a deadly viper - Mike Clark

What would you do for a million dollars? 
Lie? Cheat? Steal?  How about sell company secrets? Murder someone? 
Many people would tell a lie for a million dollars, some waver on the cheating and stealing and many stop at murder. 

What's Important?

What moments take your breath away? When you stop to reflect on life what is front of mind? Who do you think of and worry about in moments of great anxiety? All of these are indicators of what is important. They make up the parts of your life that...

Counter Intuitive Action

“Sometimes it pays to go against your gut instinct” – Mike Clark

What would you do? You are asked to guess which one of 3 boxes has a large prize in it. You guess box 2...

So You Want to Change?

I am fascinated with change that is effective, and lasting.  I have to be.  Our very livelihood depends on it.

We offer a triple guarantee. If our training does not work - you don’t pay. With an offer like that - It pays to be absorbed in techniques that work.

How Do You Receive Feedback?

Have you ever heard the words, “I have some constructive feedback” and cringed internally knowing that statement precedes negative feedback? Of course we all know this is meant to be constructive criticism but ….

In a previous blog on 'Feedback and Mindset', I covered how organisations can make receiving feedback easier and a productive element in individual and team development. This week I wanted to speak to you - yes ‘you’ the person reading this. How do you personally receive information that is counter to what you want to hear, and/or what you are currently doing?

My Wonder Woman’s 8 Essentials for Effective Feedback

Today, 1st August, marks the birthday of my best friend, my wife and the most amazing Mum (and yes they are all wrapped up into one very special person). We have 10 great kids between us ranging from 10-25. We are often told we are lucky to have such good kids - while one must admit that there is a solid dash of ‘luck’, it is mixed with loads of hard work, tons of love, regular communication, quality time and lots of feedback. Watching someone juggle 10 kids, run a business and home, volunteer weekly for charity and radiate love is an honour and privilege. I thought I would share some of love and joy through the top 8 skills I have seen Kiri apply when it comes to FEEDBACK.