Training can be an Antidote to Workplace Violence

In today’s volatile world, workplace security has become even more important. Progressive organizations realize that workplace violence could happen within their organizations and take steps to ensure that their employees are prepared.

One of the strategies that has proven helpful is providing training, especially to managers and supervisors. This training helps managers and supervisors recognize and respond to potentially harmful situations in the workplace.

In approximately 70% of the incidents we read about, there were warning signs. In some instances, these warning signs were not recognized and/or responded to. Effective training can raise the awareness of these warning signs.

Sometimes, reprimands, poor performance reviews, terminations and layoffs can turn volatile and lead to workplace violence if they are not handled properly. Also, a growing number of domestic situations spill into the workplace. Workplace violence training needs to address how to best handle these situations.

Workplace violence preparedness training also needs to remind managers and supervisors of being aware of suspicious individuals (“malicious intruders”). If something does not seem right, trust your instincts and contact Security, HR, your EAP, or even 911.

For more than 20 years, our “Safe and Sound” training program has been used to help keep organizations safe.
http://www.learningdynamics.com/training-safe-and-sound.htm

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Coaching Virtual Teams

Image result for online meetings

Because of globalization and business projects that often span across the country or across the globe, coaching virtual teams can bring its own set of challenges. Here are some guidelines for effectively coaching a virtual team:

1. Develop a common focus or purpose that aligns with the organizational goals. This includes clarifying tasks, processes and milestones to ensure team and individual accountability.

2. Create a unique identity for the entire team such as a special name for the team, a logo, or a Facebook page that defines the overall team purpose.

3. Establish communication guidelines for the team. Be clear and disciplined about how the team will communicate given the dispersed locations of team members. For instance, holding team meetings at the same day and time each week provide some structure for all team members.

4. Establish frequent individual connections with each of your team members to show your engagement and involvement with them as individuals. This could include using Facetime or Skype to communicate with them.

5. Provide constructive feedback both to individuals and the team through regular virtual coaching sessions. Holding regular virtual team building exercises keeps the team engaged and helps to create a productive and fun environment.

6. Clarify and track individual and team commitments through project management software like Basecamp, Work Zone and Wrike , so everyone on the team can see how their efforts link with the rest of the overall project.

7. Be available after regular business hours for questions or concerns. Different time zones make this critically important.

Remember, coaching virtual teams brings both challenges and opportunities to connect in different ways. Effective coaches understand that frequent communication is critical to the success of the team and its goals.

Learning Dynamics’ popular “Managing Virtual Teams’ webinar expands upon these topics.
http://www.learningdynamics.com/training-ManagingVirtualTeams.htm

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Servant Leadership

Now Can Be the Time for Servant Leadership
by Vice President Bill Florin

You want to do the right thing for your people, being there as a resource to help them do their best work. You want your team to be open, honest and engaged. Maybe you are trying to figure out how to lead Millennials and the next cohort of people hitting the job market, Generation Z. If any or all of these ideas resonate with you, it might be worth looking at Servant Leadership and what it can offer your organization.

Servant Leadership (SL) is a concept made popular by Robert K. Greenleaf. He realized, during his 38-year career at AT&T, that it is as important for the organization to serve people as it is for people to serve the organization. This was a revolutionary concept when he published his essay detailing the model in 1970. Since then, SL has grown in popularity. Learning Dynamics has been doing more work in this area as organizations seek ways to create inclusive, inspiring and engaging environments as a platform to growth.

Surveys have shown that the youngest generations of people in the workplace value authenticity, honest feedback, and an opportunity to be heard, respected and contribute. The leader who practices SL concepts makes this a part of her everyday work experience. More than a dictatorial, order-issuing boss, the SL manager works as a coach, creating a culture in which people can experiment, explore new ways of doing things, make mistakes, and innovate. Ultimately, work becomes a place where people feel supported and valued, a place where people can and want to do their best work.

One of our Connecticut-based Learning Dynamics clients recently engaged us to facilitate a workshop to review that organization’s SL journey since its official launch as a component of its operating platform more than a year ago. During this session, which hosted nearly 30 people, the entire management team engaged in discussion of their SL experiences. This conversation included the company president. The mood was relaxed; you would not know the president was the top person if we did not do introductions.

While there was much discussed during the three hours, one message was clear: The company is going through a transformation, becoming a place where trust, respect in every direction on the organizational chart, and open communication are reality, not some wish for the future.

Importantly, accountability is a critical part of the formula. The same culture that fosters collaboration also demands honesty and a coaching approach when an individual is falling behind. The leaders view open, honest, timely feedback as a vital component of their core roles. Servant Leadership is not soft.

It is true that changing culture is hard work. It can be a years-long journey. But for organizations that embrace the idea and align everyone it, from the part-time individual contributor to the CEO, Servant Leadership can be an energizing shift that boosts the company to new high-water marks for performance.

Learning Dynamics offers training, organization development and coaching services that can help your organization grow and excel. Contact us today to discover if Servant Leadership could be appropriate for your company.

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Creating the Space to Lead: Mindful Leadership

If you are like most of us, you can become so accustomed to constant busy- ness – going through the motions of meetings, calls and conversations – that you are only partly attentive most of the time, and completely inattentive some of the time.

We have a national epidemic –if not worldwide epidemic of continuous partial attention. As leaders, we go on autopilot for much, or all of our lives. We begin to believe that this is just how it has to be in the fast-paced distracted-filled world we work and live in.  We believe If we don’t live on this treadmill, we will fall behind or fail.

It comes as no surprise that when asked, leaders say what they need is to create more space for themselves, so they can step off the treadmill, focus on what is important, and not be pulled along by the demands of the squeaky wheel. We can take more space by taking a purposeful pause, which is a moment or moments in the day when you notice the swirl and intentionally decide to pay attention. For example, you are sitting in a meeting and your mind is speeding into the future, not paying attention to what is happening in the room. At these times, you can use a simple practice to bring your attention back to the room. Just take a breath and a purposeful pause. Then you can redirect your attention back to the moment in the room.

Another way to practice mindful leadership is to identify and reflect on your leadership principles. When you create the space to identify them, it is more likely you will access them in those moments as a leader when the choice is less clear, or when there is an opportunity to change the routine. Your principles help you make tough choices, to take the risks often inherent in innovation.

Mindful leadership practices can also train you to notice your emotions and when your reactivity is triggered by an emotion. You can train your mind to notice and cultivate the space to make conscious choices. You can then expand your repertoire of responses to emotions.

Being a mindful leader can be a transformative experience, and have you be a more effective and productive leader and person!

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Knowing When to Seek Assistance from HR

Managers face a myriad of daily responsibilities that can, at times, appear daunting.  In addition to carrying out business objectives, managers are simultaneously organizational advocates and employee advocates.  This is where HR can help.  HR supports the organization in staffing, development, policy management, performance management, training and development and employee relations.  Effective managers recognize and understand the importance of reaching out to HR, when necessary.  By working with HR, managers can make better decisions and, in the case of employee relations issues, lessen the risk to them and to the organization.  Here are just a few areas where it is advisable to seek assistance from HR.

Harassment – HR is trained to handle allegations of this type to ensure they are handled fairly, consistently and legally.  While managers are agents of the organization and, therefore, have a “duty to act,” seeking HR assistance can ensure that harassment allegations and complaints are handled in a timely and thorough manner and support the manager in carrying out his or her normal duties.

Workplace Violence Warning Signs – Any issue that can put the health and safety of employees at risk must be brought to the attention of HR.  Some examples include physical assaults, threats, intimidation or bullying, and physical or verbal abuse.  The manager who recognizes workplace violence warning signs must contact HR (and, possibly, Security, your EAP or 911).  HR or these other resources can best advise and work with the manager on how to handle employees who display workplace violence warning signs.

Employee Development and Performance Management – HR often plays the role of career counselor and many times has good ideas on how to help develop employees.  HR can assist the manager in creating development plans.  By the same token, HR is a knowledgeable resource when writing performance reviews to ensure that the reviews are fair, balanced and unbiased.

These areas are, by no means, exhaustive.  Effective managers seek HR assistance and guidance in the face of many challenging issues involving employee behaviors, interactions and policy compliance.  When in doubt, it is always advisable to call HR.  The common goal is to ensure there is a positive, productive work environment for all.

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Emotional Intelligence: Not Just a Buzz Word

The concept of emotional intelligence has been around since Aristotle. He wrote:

“Anyone can become angry – that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not easy.” ~ Aristotle

Even back then, the great philosophers understood the importance of managing your emotions.

Some people seem to have it to a greater degree and some people, well, not so much. We have all known a few bullies at work, yes? People, who when they are having a bad day, seem determined to pull everyone else down with them.

Leaders especially need to be in charge of their emotions. Take the time to raise your awareness on this important topic. If you master it, every area of your life will improve.

Emotional Intelligence is known as EQ (Emotional Quotient) and it is more than just self-regard or self-esteem.

It is also not about being nice or smiling all of the time. It is not about expressing every emotion you are feeling either.

A person with high EQ has the following qualities and awareness:

  • Empathy: The ability to pick up on emotional and social cues and respond appropriately. The ability to read body language and non-verbal communication to understand others better.
  • Self-honesty: The ability to know and accept your own qualities, faults, limitations and be able to recognize patterns of behavior that either help or hinder situations. (But don’t beat yourself up.)
  • Consciousness: Recognize that emotions you may be feeling can get in the way of accurately assessing emotions in others. Be aware of when you may be projecting your feelings onto others.

The way you work on and improve your EQ is to:

1.    Manage your feelings. You can begin with positive self-talk. Tell yourself that you have great coping skills. Tell yourself that everything is okay and not an emergency. Accept that: a) you have a choice, b) you make a difference, and c) you are an important part of the situation.

2.    Develop social behaviorsRespond to people’s needs instead of reacting and don’t take anything personal. When others are behaving or acting poorly it may have nothing to do with you. Build conflict resolution skills and be open to feedback.

3.    Identify and prioritize what is important. Understand why you may be feeling the way you feel and weigh your decisions based on what is really important (not the urgency you feel in the moment). Separate your feelings with your reaction. You can still be angry but react kindly. By doing this, sometimes we realize we are getting upset over nothing and it’s just NOT that important.

A few words about optimism . . .

“A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities; and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.”

~ Reginald B. Mansell

Educate yourself and grow your EQ to increase your happiness, manage life’s challenges and be a better leader.

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This article was written by Maureen Ross Gemme, Senior Consultant with Learning Dynamics. Visit her personal profile page to learn more about Maureen’s career and expertise.

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Learning Dynamics offers an  Emotional Intelligence program designed to maximize the value of EI with leaders who are entrusted with motivating staff. Contact us today to learn how we can help your organization develop your supervisors and managers into EI conscious leaders.

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Performance Management: Beginning the Discussion

How many of us have heard…or uttered … these phrases in our professional lives?

“I haven’t had a performance review with my boss since I got here.”

“She couldn’t really tell me why I got the performance rating.”

“It’s not fair.  I know I did better than he says I did.”

“He said, I should ‘be happy’”

Are these the comments that stellar organizations and relations are built upon?  I think not.  If this is, or has been, a part of your journey, how can we as leaders make change?  Some believe that change can only occur from the top of an organization.  There is a grass roots component that I believe can enhance your work place and potentially have an impact on the larger organization.  It begins with first level leaders understanding key themes about managing employee performance to better the organization.  I have always thought of these as the key components of understanding outstanding employee performance management:

1.  WHY

2.  WHO

3.  WHAT

4.  HOW

5.  WHEN

Let’s address each of these in successive posts, starting with WHY.

WHY IS PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT IMPORTANT TO THE WORKPLACE?

1.  Critical to Business Success.  Employees must have expectations for performance excellence tied to goals.  Without employee performance expectations aligned with company vision and mission, employees and leaders struggle with focus.  When employee expectations are aligned and met, it is a simple progression that leads to enhanced engagement.

2.  Improves Colleague Engagement.  Simply doing without understanding why limits employee engagement.  Imagine the motivation when an employee actually gets it.  Think of how that employee feels about him/herself and the work required on a project, when they are clear on the importance of how their role relates to the end product.

3.  Drives Individual Employee Development.  As the leader assigns goals and/or objectives, it can be done with an eye toward stretching the ability of the employee.  In so doing, a business-complementary stretch objective is introduced; the employee senses trust on the part of the leader and can more easily align with growth/development opportunities.  Success for both parties is derived from employee growth and business success. Of course, employee accountability for performance is an important part of development and growth.

4.  Enhances Rewards and Recognition Program.  With a clear, established performance program, employees understand what is happening to them.  Comments like those that opened this blog can be reduced and eliminated.

We may even get solid suggestions and recommendations from our employees concerning rewards and recognition.  Talk about engagement!

5.  Incentivizes Employees.  Now we have employees who understand and participate in the organization’s rewards and recognition program. They are bought-in to their individual development objectives. They are engaged because there is clarity and understanding about what they are doing and why.  Because they see the alignment with overall business vision and goals, these employees are now leaning forward, looking for additional opportunities.

Once we have clarity about WHY performance management is valuable, we need to next look at WHO is involved in our performance management process. That is the topic for our next blog.

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This article was written by Gary Steele, Vice President with Learning Dynamics. Visit his personal profile page to learn more about Gary’s career and expertise.

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Learning Dynamics offers several customizable leadership development programs including Coaching for Results. Contact us today to learn how we can help your organization develop your supervisors and managers into leaders.

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Training on Awareness and Preparedness Reduces Workplace Violence

Workplace violence is a good news/bad news story in the United States. The good news is that workplace violence has declined in the last decade as reported by Department of Justice statistics. The bad news, according to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), is that there are still nearly two million cases of workplace violence reported in the United States every year. The decline, we can hope, can be credited to better awareness among employers, especially human resources and corporate security practitioners, but we know there is still a lot of work to be done. This is where manager and employee training can play an important role.

The first and best step to reducing workplace violence is to confront the issue with training and consistent reinforcement so employees at every level are aware of the situations that can lead to violence. Actions like unfair treatment, bullying, and behavior by outsiders need to be recognized. (Did you know that the vast majority of violence incidents in retail environments are committed by strangers?)

Safe and Sound, Learning Dynamics’ workplace violence awareness and preparedness training, focuses on two key concepts: recognizing and responding. Through this training, managers and employees recognize behaviors that could lead to workplace violence if not promptly addressed. That’s where responding – appropriately and quickly – can literally become a life-saver.

Responding can include one or more of the following actions: calling 911; contacting security; engaging the help of human resources leadership; consulting with your company’s employee assistance program (EAP); using proven de-escalation techniques; and sometimes just documenting behavior.

Many employers have seen a bottom-line benefit to providing workplace violence avoidance training and services. A major communications company, for example, saw an immediate improvement in employee productivity when it provided support for employees dealing with domestic violence issues, something that can and has spilled into the workplace when perpetrators (“malicious intruders”) visit work sites and act on their anger.

Workplace violence is a risk employers need to recognize and mitigate. While training cannot ensure that violence will never happen, it can raise awareness and prepare people to act before tragedy strikes. Consider a training initiative now. Your employees and your corporate reputation will both benefit.

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Safe and Sound is Learning Dynamics’ workplace violence avoidance and preparedness training. Recently updated to address concerns in today’s workplace, it provides an engaging and awareness-raising opportunity for leaders and employees to address this important issue. Contact Learning Dynamics today to learn more.

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Five Steps to Conference Call Success

Meetings that Drive Results is a popular training program with Learning Dynamics clients as many are working to find ways to have more effective meetings, fewer meetings, and different ways to communicate across teams. Conference calls are one option toward that end.

A participant at a recent session asked, “How do I help other managers who don’t trust the effectiveness of conference calls? This person wants to have in-person meetings, even when they are inconvenient for many. He doesn’t think conference calls work. He says that people don’t pay attention and no work gets done.”

While there are many ways to make conference calls more effective, we offered a five-step strategy to get everyone engaged in the calls and to ensure that work is accomplished.

Prepare an Agenda. This should be a part of every effective meeting, whether in-person or virtual, and it is especially valuable for conference calls. Let your participants know the start and end times, the topics to be discussed, and who is presenting what information. A compelling agenda will help get people on your call on time, ready to collaborate.

Track Participation. After you have taken attendance at the beginning of the call, keep a tally of who participates. Is Bob lurking in the shadows and staying quiet? Call on him for his insights and opinions. You will only have to do this a few times before people realize they can’t just dial in and go quiet.

Get Commitments. Make task assignments and clarification of next steps a non-negotiable part of every call. You cannot afford to let a call end without having a clear plan for what will happen next.

Follow Up. When the call is over, send out notes and a summary of commitments. Follow up individually with participants at appropriate times to ensure they are staying on track with their work.

Celebrate. Starting with the second conference call, recognize and celebrate the work accomplished to which your participants committed during the previous call. This positive feedback loop will help everyone understand the value of the conference calls and will keep them striving to fulfill the commitments they make during them.

While conference calls are not always ideal (sometimes the technology can be a big challenge!), they can save a lot of time and expense. The trick, of course, is to plan for the calls to be productive and successful, and then take the steps above to make the plan reality.

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Do you even need to have that meeting? Read this to decide for yourself.

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Learning Dynamics has been delivering customized employee training and development solutions to its clients for 35 years. Meetings that Drive Results is just one of many training initiatives that can help your organization improve efficiency and effectiveness. Contact Learning Dynamics today to learn more.

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Three Ways to Explode Training ROI

During the 35 years that Learning Dynamics has been offering training and development solutions, we have seen client companies make significant changes for the better, with comprehensive, coordinated training being a crucial part of the initiatives. We have also seen companies make no changes at all. Our interest, of course, is to see our clients maximize their training budget return on investment (ROI). After all, if we can show that training and development investments pay for themselves, we are likely to be brought back for future engagements (more than 80% of clients invite us back). We are truly partnered with our clients.

The companies we have worked with, and continue to work with, those getting the most out of their training dollars, do all or some of the following. More effort in these three areas can lead to better outcomes.

Big Bang. One of our banking industry clients recognized that they were spending too much time having meetings, and some – maybe more than just some – were ineffective or not as efficient as they could be. Senior leaders decided to make a change and implement it immediately. Learning Dynamics helped with training to enable their managers to make better use of meeting time and to consider other options. By getting involved and making it happen at the highest levels, the organization paid attention. They made a big deal of the change and did it quickly. It got everyone involved in making the changes successful.

Leadership Engagement. Walk the walk, don’t just talk the talk. We have found the most successful implementations include senior leaders modeling the behaviors they want to see and making the improvements part of their everyday discussions. Rather than just budgeting for training for everyone below them in the organization, these leaders took the time to understand and influence the training initiatives and their content, and supported them by changing their own behavior.

Reinforcement & Refreshers. Another client with a large customer-facing team, one that has a long history of excellent customer service and loyalty, wanted to encourage its people to be more purposeful in understanding customer needs and making recommendations for additional products and services. The goal was to deepen the customer relationship with the company without being too “salesy.” Management did not want to alienate long-time customers or sacrifice its service standards by trying for a hard sell.

Learning Dynamics provided organization-wide training and additional follow-up materials over six months – what we call Skills Sharpeners – to allow company managers and supervisors to continue the training conversation over an extended period. They used the tools to conduct short follow-up training and as a script for one-on-one coaching. The result: customer-facing employees are asking more exploratory questions and generating incremental business. This Learning Dynamics client considers its investment a success, and they’ve agreed to have us back in this year.

Keeping a training initiative alive after the training event is over should be the goal of every organization. By using some or all of the above ideas, your company can boost ROI and make managers at every level of the organization embrace and champion training and development efforts. In the end, employees and customers benefit while sales and profit grow. Isn’t that the point? Ask us how we can help.

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Learning Dynamics is proud of its 35-year history of consulting with clients on how Investing in People(TM) can make a big difference in business outcomes. [subscribe2]Contact us today to learn more.

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