Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Extract from Better - Best - Brilliant! Your comprehensive guide to excellence in training delivery

It was a lot of hard work and many late nights - but finally my book, "Better, Best, Brilliant" is on the shelves and shortly will be available in e-book format as well in the Amazon store.
Here is another extract with some straightforward advice on how to use a full range of tools and techniques to ensure that sessions are engaging and that participants know how to apply their skills once they leave the training room.

        Tip Number 33:
    Establish your own personal branding

Whether you work in-house as part of a training or facilitation team or whether you are in your own consultancy, personal branding is becoming critically important.
Branding, broadly speaking, is vital to leading organisations because in a crowded marketplace it is essential to be on-message and to deliver this message in a consistent way.
Personal branding is about ensuring that people remember who you are and what you stand for. 
Think about personal branding as a way of ensuring that your training and facilitation stands out from the rest and that you are the go-to person in the organisation.

Some tips for how to achieve this level of being able to stand out from the crowd:

·         Make sure that you have an elevator pitch – this is a your way of introducing yourself to your colleagues, clients and students.  You need to be able to state in a few words what you are known for and why they should be talking or listening to you.    
Here are some of the words that I use in my own elevator pitch and I adjust these based on who I am talking to: “I am Denise and I work for an organisation that cuts through language and behavioural barriers to get people performing at their best.”  OR “I am Denise and I design and deliver innovative training for companies wanting their management teams to function in a cohesive way.”

Think about these questions when forming your elevator pitch –

    1.       What is my central purpose?
    2.       Why do I make an impact on the people I encounter?
    3.       What differentiates me from the rest?
    4.       What can I do for others that will resonate with them?

    ·         We have said it before, but will repeat it here – first impressions do count, whether you like it or not, and so ensure that when you are on a face to face basis you are well presented in terms of your appearance..  nothing sloppy or outrageous, and if you need a make-over, get one done!
    ·         Ensure that you have a positive on-line presence.  Often potential clients or students will have done their research on you and you need to come across in a professional way.  In order to do this:

     1.       Conduct an on-line search of your own name on the internet and see what emerges.  We have had had a case of a trainer who discovered that she had the same name as a criminal and their name appeared before hers when a search was conducted.
     2.       Ensure that the way in which you come across is with your professional background as the number one listing and not a disastrous photo of yourself at a social event.  In order to achieve this, ensure that you are listed on professional sites such as Linked In or that you have your own blog which publishes content where you have expertise.  This is irrespective of whether you are self-employed or work in an organisation.

    3.       If you choose to be even more pro-active in establishing an on-line branding, start to use social medial sites such as Twitter to create an image that is professional and demonstrates that you are an expert.  It is also worthwhile in this regard spending money on a professional photo so that you look at your best.

    Tip Number 34
        Make ‘high quality’ your mantra

Here are some suggestions for maintaining a high level of quality:

      ·         Constantly ask for feedback – I know it is not always easy to accept the feedback but it does push you to review materials and seek better ways of doing things.
     ·         If you have access to some form of advisory board, either in-house or external, it is also worthwhile meeting to validate your materials, your methodologies and your assessment tools if you are using these.  This form of validation is often required if you are being formally audited by an educational authority and is a way of double-checking that you are in fact delivering to the standards that you promise to your students.
     ·         Keep an eye on the competition – there is nothing like working hard to out-do the competitors!  It drives your own standards higher and ensures that you are constantly on your toes.  Set those benchmarks high and you will achieve them in all respects. 
    ·         Mark yourself on some of the following criteria and keep a log-book of what improvements you are making:
    1.       How well was the program organised from a logistics point of view?  What could I have done better in this regard? 
    2.       How well prepared was the group – had they understood the need for the training and had they arrived at the session, well-motivated and prepared.  What could have been better at this level of preparation?
    3.       What could have been done to achieve even better delivery of the program?  Did I tap in to as many tools and techniques as possible or as appropriate?  What would I do differently next time in order to ensure that change takes place post-training?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Holding Fierce Conversations

I attended an interesting session last week on how to hold fierce conversations. There were some really strong points made about how to go about dealing with conversations that we tend to put off holding for a number of reasons.
If you, as I do, tend to avoid these tough conversations here are some very good guidelines on how to prepare and how to use the right wording:

1. In team conversations, accept that there are different and sometimes competing realities.

Companies are often highly matrixed and there are so many silos - like airtight containers with no windows. There are also competing objectives. Sometimes there are power struggles. It is often more about ego and someone has to win.

Everyone owns a piece of the truth. It is up to us as managers and leaders to pivot our viewpoint and see all the multiple viewpoints so we can make best possible decisions.

2. It is up to us to encourage others to speak up at these meetings. Give them the space to talk by inviting them in to the conversation.

Say things like: "Help me see this from your perspective. What else can you add to this discussion?"

3. Some other strong questions to ask and good statements to make in a real consultative discussion with your team:

"The way I see the issue is as follows..."

"It is significant because .... is at stake"

"My ideal outcome is .... because...."

"What I have done so far is...."

"These are the options I am considering:..."

"Push back on anything I say that does not match your view of reality. Tell me what I am missing or not seeing clearly. Did I miss anything essential?"

"What would you do if you were in my shoes?"

"What values do we stand for and are there gaps between those values and how we in fact behave?"

"What is impossible for us to do that, if it were possible, would change everything?"

4. In one on one conversations, please avoid that dreadful feedback sandwich.... saying something positive with the negative sandwiched in-between. Rather, be upfront about the issue and avoid using the word, BUT.

Try to say what you have to say in the initial 60 seconds of the conversation and then listen and elaborate later:

Name the issue

Give an example of what you are saying - make it real and concrete and not a broad statement

Describe your emotions around the issue

Clarify why it is so important and what is at stake for you, the other person and the team

Identify your own contribution to the problem and apologise if appropriate

State how you wish to resolve the issue

Invite the other person to respond and say you will be listening closely to their point of view