Tag Archives: corporate training

Terminating Turf Wars in 9 Simple Steps

Conflict is inevitable.

85% of employees say they experience conflict on the job. Even though there is no line item for it on your income statement, conflict is expensive. Managers say they spend 40 – 60% of their time dealing with conflict of some sort!

Fortunately, the negative impact of conflict can be minimized with preventative training and post-incident interventions.

This article will focus on the 9-step Terminating Turf Wars™ process which must happen in order to resolve a major conflict that has erupted.

1. Set your desired outcome
The desired outcome will vary depending on the situation and the players.  It may be a specific decision that all partied agree to support.

It may be the ‘fact’ that the groups agree to any decision (e.g. a now unknown, negotiated decision) and move forward. It may be new behaviors that must be adopted by the people involved. Without such clarity as a starting point, subsequent conversations could go off in counter-productive directions.

2. Communicate the importance of reaching a resolution
This is where the executive in charge must take a stand and tell the warring parties that they must end the war and come up with a solution. Sometimes executives stay out of the fracas and ‘allow’ the parties to duke it out themselves. This is a dangerous practice however as it could likely take much longer to resolve, further wasting precious resources (energy and time) that could be put to more productive use.

3. Identify key players
In any war, there are a handful of people who are at the core of the issue. They are likely the ones who are keeping the conflict in place and are also the ones who will likely be directly involved in the resolution of the issue. Their input, therefore, is critical. Private conversations with each of them will shed light on the history, impact, import and obstacles to solving the problem.

4. Survey and interview
Other parties may have a less involved role but their input is critical none the less. They may be able to provide some much-needed objectivity that the key waring parties can’t see.  Their perspective of the far-ranging impact of the key issues and how they are hampering day-to-day operations, may bring some additional motivation to get the issue resolved. When the key stakeholders to the conflict see how their behavior is impacting others, they may soften their positions. Anonymous surveys are great ways to get issues on the table in a more objective manner.

5. Assess data
Once the interviews and surveys are complete, they need to be compiled and analyzed by a third party, preferably one who is far outside the reach of the issues. Objectivity in this assessment process is critical, lest the parties will dismiss the data as tainted.

6. Articulate the issues
Data will point out major beliefs, trends and impacts of the issues. Sharing the results of the interviews and surveys with the group provides a great starting point for conversations about the key issues, how people feel about them and why it’s critical for the issues to get solved NOW!

7. Design an intervention
Once the data is available, a skilled facilitator will be able to design the appropriate kinds of conversations that will help the people or groups talk with each other in a constructive manner. Depending on the source of the conflict, the focus of the intervention may be on understanding personality styles, establishing communication or decision-making procedures or revamping broken processes.

8. Facilitate conversations
Designing the topics of conversations is one thing. Actually facilitating them is quite another. When tempers have flared and accusations been made, it’s often difficult for the people embroiled in the conflict to talk with each other civilly.

In one difficult situation I helped resolve, the content of the first meeting was all about creating safety for people to air their concerns. Conversations in that meeting were frequently ‘paused’ to analyze the tone and tenor of the dialog and note how that tone facilitated or impeded forward progress.

At some point, if managed well, the group will come up with a solution they can live with. It may take time. It may take removing some players, shifting roles, revising strategies, creating new procedures, learning and practicing new behaviors or adopting new rules for future decision-making. It is at this point that the executive direction really kicks in. People are often loathe to make changes in their processes or communication styles. When the top boss however says, ‘this shall be’, they will be more likely to comply.

9. Monitor and fortify the truce
Truces are delicate things. They may represent the best thinking of the entire group. They may have opened new possibilities for the company. However, people are creatures of habit and could default to their old behaviors. Periodic meetings to assess progress and work through challenges will help turn the truce into a new world order.

These 9 steps are simple. Implementing them can be tricky but will expert guidance, sufficient motivation, personal commitment and collaboration, sweeping changes can be made.

Enhanced by Zemanta

When to Train, Coach, Manage or Fire an Employee

I spent over two decades of my corporate career in various roles in Human  Resources and as a result, had TONS of conversations with managers about how to deal with their employees or teams when their performance wasn’t ‘up to snuff’.  Quite often, their initial ‘remedy’ was to suggest training, but training isn’t always the answer for performance issues.

Train

ASUDowntownTraining (when done well) imparts specific skills and/or knowledge. It’s most useful when targeted and narrowly focused on a particular topic and is attended by people who are willing to learn but not able to do the specific task.

Training’s effectiveness is enhanced greatly when employees can immediately implement the new skills or knowledge back on the job. So it’s best when a group of people need to improve on the same areas. Training an entire department when only one or two people need it is a waste of company resources.

One reason training often ‘fails’ is because managers think one or two days of concentrated training will turn their errant person into a super star and unfortunately, that rarely happens. The value or ROI (return on investment) of training therefore, is improved when it is supplemented by some sort of follow up activities that reinforce the new abilities and behaviors over time.

[I have experienced  some powerful 2- to 3-day personal development programs that generate dramatic mental beliefs and emotional perspective shifts in people that result in new behaviors but those are unfortunately not the types of programs generally offered in the workplace.]

Coach

LLH_on_PhoneCroppedOne of the major values that coaching brings is its ability to produce sustained growth and change over time. People are creatures of habit and habits don’t alter significantly after 1 day of training. The effectiveness of coaching requires that a person be willing and able to move forward productively.

Sometimes people are thrust into coaching because they are good as most aspects of their job but demonstrate some counterproductive behavior that is impeding their performance.  If those people aren’t willing – deep in their hearts – to change, coaching won’t produce lasting change.  (A good coach will recognize when someone is going through the motions and either challenge the person to ‘step up’ or will terminate the coaching relationship if they don’t.]

In a collaborative, productive coaching relationship, the coachee develops critical thinking skills by being guided to tap into his/her own internal resources to reach decisions.  Rather than becoming reliant on the coach, the coach becomes a springboard for the ‘clients’ own self-development.

Coaching can really accelerate the career momentum of an already effective person and make them even better.  With coaching, people can improve their leadership presence, strategic thinking and credibility in the workplace.

SMARTgoalsettingManage

SMARTGoalSettingGraphicClose management is useful when a person is able but perhaps not so willing to perform.    Management involves keeping someone on a ‘short leash’ by instituting short-term goals, objectives and consequences or outcomes.  ‘Hit this quota’ or ‘produce this result by this date’ are examples of management tactics.

Tight management may include frequent ‘check ins’ to make sure the right behaviors that should produce the result are being enacted on a consistent basis.

Managing a person who is not able to perform a particular task won’t be enough to get the job done. In fact, piling on the additional pressure of short term goals will likely raise their anxiety and reduce performance.   This person needs training, coaching or some other sort of ability development process.

Fire

DonaldTrumpYou'reFiredWhen a person is not willing or not able (after the above development efforts have been tried), it might be time to ‘fire’ them.

As an HR executive, I would occasionally have managers drop in my office saying “I need to fire “So-And-So”.  I would always ask ‘why’ and inevitably they would say, “They aren’t getting the job done.”

When I would then ask, “What did they say when you spoke to them about this?” and often heard, “I haven’t talked to them. They should just know better!”

Well, employees can’t read your mind. You must tell them clearly what your expectations are.  You should then give them time to correct the situation.

Even in an employment-at-will state, it’s dangerous to fire someone ‘just because’ because juries generally tend to side with employees and the company (and maybe even the manager) could be left with an expensive lawsuit or complaint filed against them.

If you do get to the point when termination is the answer, always do it with dignity.  The employee may have just been in the wrong job for his or her skill set.Perhaps YOU made the wrong hiring decision.Perhaps business has caused a change in the job requirements.

I remember working with one astute manager who said she never had to ‘fire’ a person but had several under-performing employees who had been ‘counseled out’.

She was so caring and sincere and skilled in counseling conversations, the employees always left of their own volition, happily looking for a job where they could shine and be happy.  They rarely knew she was ‘trying to get rid of them’ and always felt empowered by the separation.

So, next time you’re confronted with an under-performing person or team, use the above distinctions to pinpoint the most effective remedy and you’ll get a higher return on your investment.

Top 10 Tips for Surviving Anything

I’ve learned a lot of lessons having survived 10 years in business plus 30 years in Corporate America. I’m sure you have too. Here are some of the top tips that come to mind as I reflect back on my happy and not-so-happy days.

10. Admit your mistakes

This can be hard to do, especially if you’re the boss. However, people will respect you more when you show the courage to own up to your humanity. You will endear yourself to them in ways you can’t if you present yourself as infallible.

9. Make people feel important

I know there are a lot of egos out there and it’s tempting to not ‘fan the (already- inflated ego) flame’. However, it really doesn’t cost you much to be appreciative. People will love you all the more when you place them on what feels like a pedestal to them. I’m not saying to undervalue yourself nor ignore your own needs. Just put a little love in your heart and share it.

8. Take control of your own career

Time was, when you took a job, your future seemed to be controlled by the bosses. The employment ‘deal’ changed a few years ago. Career ladders aren’t what they used to be. Nothing is a given. Set your sights on where you want to be, experience and learn what you need to in order to best prepare yourself. Stretch yourself. Try new things.

Don’t blame ‘the system’ for your lack of progress. Take aim and steadily move forward (whether sideways or out). My husband, Karl has sometimes said ‘That person doesn’t have 20 years of experience. (S)he’s had 1 year of experience 20 times.’ Don’t be one of those people.

7. Ask for help

People are often afraid to admit they need help because they think it will make them appear weak. If you whine all of the time, that definitely won’t reflect on you well. But when working on something critical, in an emergency or when you just don’t know what to do, asking for advice or help could save your company or business a lot of money. The key is to ask the right person/people and to ask in a way that they see the benefit to them for honoring your request. Don’t make it about you. Make it about them and the business.

6. Have fun

If you’re not having fun, you’re in the wrong job or business. I realized decades ago that I spent too much time working not to enjoy it. So I’ve left a couple of ‘good’ jobs that I hated and let my personality out at work in the jobs I stayed in. (Encourage your team/staff to do the same.)

5. Stand up for what you believe in

Your perspective is important. What makes teams produce incredible results is harvesting the wisdom of everyone in the group. If you tend to be quiet, speak up more. Your voice needs to be heard. If you’re one of the ‘loud mouths’ your perspective is still important. Just don’t cry ‘wolf’ too much or you’ll lose your credibility.

4. Ask your clients / bosses / employees what they need, then give it to them

I fundamentally believe that most people are doing the best they can with what they have. If you want to be successful, the people around you have to be succeeding too. It’s hard to be a rock star with no fans or roadies. When you invest in others, you’ll gain dividends and rewards you were never expecting.

3. Keep your eyes on the prize

This presumes that you have a ‘prize’ – the reason you’re working or in business in the first place. When you’re clear about your purpose in being there, you’ll make better choices, set stronger boundaries about what you’ll tolerate or not and be less affected by the little things that don’t go the way you’d like them to.

2. Remember, this too shall pass

Whether it’s a bad economy, an intolerable boss or a project from Hades, it won’t last forever. Someone once said to me “Never take or leave a job because of the boss. They won’t be there forever”. (That may be less comforting in the public domain where I hear people can stay in jobs a really long time.) In any event, take heed of the earlier tips, do your best and remember you’re in charge of your life.

And the #1 tip for surviving anything…

1. To thine own self be true

I harp on this a lot. You have a purpose. You’re on the planet for a particular reason. You may not be entirely clear about your purpose just yet. If that’s the case, stay true to your values. They will point you in the right direction. (I presume you know what’s important to you. If not, take some time to figure that out.) Don’t engage in behaviors that compromise your integrity.

If something feels inherently wrong, don’t stand by and suffer in silence. Express yourself or extract yourself.

Your life is too important to waste your talents, time or passion.

Getting Maximum ROI on Training

When corporate revenues are down, budgets shrink.  Executives look for ways to cut costs and ‘ride out the storm’.

Cutting training altogether can be a risky proposition.  The question shouldn’t be ‘What training expense can we eliminate?” but rather “What training can we provide that would increase our ‘top line’ or reduce our other expenses?”

When one evaluates training from this perspective, the criteria for success and effectiveness become more apparent.  Train sales people to be more strategic or more relationship oriented in their approach and revenues should increase.

Train employees on proper procedures and processes and error rates (and therefore waste) go down improving profitability.

Improve their communication skills and time-draining conflicts decrease.  Various studies show that almost 85% of employees report conflict on the job.  If an employee earning $30K/year wastes just 1 hour a week on a conflict, that’s $721 (assuming no conflict happened during the 2 weeks they spent on vacation.)  How many hours do you think employees are losing each week dealing with conflict in your organization?

Managers spend 40 – 60% of their time arbitrating conflict.  A manager earning $60K/yr is ‘investing’ about $30K of that salary dealing with disputes. Imagine if that time were instead invested in improving processes, uncovering new opportunities.

Communication problems can be avoided or at least minimized with proper training, yet execs somehow don’t recognize the true cost of conflict because they don’t take the time (or don’t know how) to measure it.

Train managers on workplace harassment and future lawsuits could be avoided.  (Avoided costs are harder to measure, but workplace harassment training is required so ignoring it gets even more expensive.)

So, how can money-smart managers and executives continue their training efforts without breaking the bank?

Look for new models to deliver training.

  1. Rather than flying people in for meetings, use webinars or video broadcasts.  Technology is improving and becoming more cost-effective.
  2. Transition to e-learning, just in time, learn at  your desk training.  Employees select (or are given) specific modules to help them improve on the job.
  3. Conduct a workshop using video with a remote speaker/trainer and even dispersed participants saving travel costs.
  4. Host frequent, short teleconferences to impart information and engage masterminding/problem solving sessions.
  5. Use social networking Web 2.0 technology to enable knowledge sharing across departments and locations decreasing ‘ramp up’ time, building repositories of solutions from which employees can draw to solve their problems and improving productivity…and profitability.
  6. Tie learning outcomes to desired business results – and measure them.

Especially in this economy, it is critical that we develop new ways to improve our people, our operations and our profitability.

Training and knowledge sharing are critical roads toward that goal and cannot be abandoned without jeopardizing the future our enterprises.

Don’t squander your upside potential.  Invest today.