Category Archives: Uncategorized

Our High Touch Approach to Outplacement Services

As 2021 fast approaches there has been consistent news of the high unemployment rate and what the job picture will look like in the New Year. Outplacement services have been offered to existing workers for the past 50 years. It evolved from high-touch support to high-tech support over the years. But, like all change, you take the best parts and make certain that users of outplacement services are supported to meet current challenges.

At Learning Dynamics, a Career Partners International firm, our “Respect and Support” Outplacement services are built on a foundation of “high-touch.” That has been a challenge this year, but services like Zoom and Webex have given our daily and weekly interactive sessions with outplacement candidates the ability to meet the needs for their job search.

One particular thing that is consistent in how we support our outplacement candidates is the use of “job interview role playing.” Without sharpening your interviewing skills, a person may be eliminated from final job offers. It is of paramount importance to be your best, and for Learning Dynamics it is a skill we look forward to working on with our outplacement candidates.

For more details about our “Respect and Support” Outplacement services please visit us here.

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Learning Dynamics offers training, organization development and coaching services that can help your organization grow and excel. Contact us today, call 203.265.7499 or email

Company Culture When Many Are Home

As we are approaching the six-month mark of the COVID crisis in the Northeast, it is appropriate to take stock of what has worked and what has not in our new, physically distanced, technology-dependent work environments. At Learning Dynamics, we have been collaborating closely with our clients to equip their supervisors and managers to be effective leading remote teams. While much has gone well for them, the experience has had its challenges. One of the greatest is the need to maintain organizational culture in a transformed workplace.

Culture is what makes every organization unique. As an example, we work with many banks and credit unions in the US, and it is arguable that they all provide nearly identical services. They take deposits, make loans, provide banking apps, and all the rest. While this is true, it is also true that each of these organizations has its own vibe, a feeling that is different from all the others.

How is it possible that so many companies doing similar work can be so different? Contributors include hiring standards, organizational mission, leadership styles of key people, community engagement, and many other factors. While each alone might seem small, combined they create a distinct environment that is palpable; customers and employees feel it. So, what happens when so many are working from home? Here are some points to consider.

When we all went home with our laptops in March, we knew what we needed to do. Because we each worked in our companies together, collaborating face-to-face for months, years, and even decades, we all brought the culture home with us. But culture can fade when it is not reinforced through regular interaction. What happens with new employees?

Employee turnover might be the greatest challenge to the long-term sustainability of a work-from-home environment. Where side-by-side learning was the norm, it is now the exception. Where people occupied the same spaces and picked up on the verbal and non-verbal cues of others, sensing the dynamic of the workplace, they are now sitting at small desks in the corners of their bedrooms. Culture formation suffers. Here are some ways to address this.

Collaborative Teams: When possible, match newer and more tenured people to work on projects and routine tasks together. These deliberate assignments will not only help accelerate knowledge transfer. They will enhance culture transfer. A well-chosen, experienced employee can become a mentor, guiding the new person about how things are done in the organization.

Think Mission and Values: We see this executed at varying degrees across client companies. When the mission is top of mind and leaders use language aligned to drive this message, all employees develop their knowledge and embrace the culture of the organization more quickly. Those companies that are not as focused get different results and, of course, a different cultural atmosphere.

Hire and Coach for Culture: This complements the previous point. If we have clear mission and cultural standards, we can hire people who will fit in well. Of course, we should also be coaching for cultural competence, a skill that is just as important as technical competence for the employee’s long-term success in the organization. We never want to lose a good person because we did not make the effort to coach that person to fit and feel valued.

Use the Language: We all spend a lot of time on conference calls and videoconferences. We are Zoomed out. But knowing this is part of our new normal (for now, anyway), encourage all supervisors and managers to make the company’s language theirs, especially in these remote communication environments. This is not about indoctrination; it is about building a differentiated team that knows its mission and values. The team and its members must know why they are there for the customer.

The remote work environment presents its challenges. Learning and development efforts can be hindered, but it is possible to build culture from a distance. By being purposeful, managers can make progress and teams can excel. We have seen Learning Dynamics clients do it well, and your team can too.

Learning Dynamics has been helping many clients navigate the COVID-19 environment. We are committed to your success. Please contact us today to learn more about our learning and development options so your organization can maximize employee engagement and productivity despite distance challenges.


Leading Effective Meetings that Drive Results

Meetings are a part of the fabric of every working person’s life. Oftentimes, however, people feel that meetings are unnecessary, are too long yielding no results, or are ineffective, in general. With the right tools, managers and supervisors can lead meetings effectively, and lead meetings to drive results, thereby creating a win-win scenario for both supervisors and employees alike.

Here are some general effective meeting guidelines.

Ensure that the meeting has a clear purpose with intended outcomes.
When calling a meeting, it is important that you and all attendees understand that there is a clear purpose and that you have intended outcomes for the meeting. When attendees see these elements in every meeting you lead, they will more likely be engaged and participative.

Prepare and distribute a well-structured agenda ahead of time.Meeting attendees want to know ahead of time what the meeting will entail. This enables them to think about the topics in advance and how they might contribute during the meeting itself.

Begin and end the meeting on time.
There is nothing more frustrating to employees than starting meetings late and extending them well beyond the allotted time. Punctuality shows everyone that time is valuable and garners the respect of others. Since you are leading the meeting, you have control over the duration. Adhering to the time allotment shows good time management.

Ensure that all attendees arrive prepared for the meeting.
This characteristic may be out of your control as a supervisor, at least at the outset. This can be something that happens over time, particularly if you utilize these effective meeting tools, and are prepared to facilitate an engaging meeting discussion.

Provide an opportunity for attendees to share their perspectives.
Employees want to feel that they are contributing to the discussion. It is important for managers to welcome feedback from all employees and ensure that they are open to such feedback, even if they might not agree with some of it. If employees feel they are being heard, they will be encouraged to contribute. 

Ensure that the meeting leads to decisions and/or actions.
This goes back to proper meeting preparation with a stated, clear purpose and intended outcomes.

These are just a few general guidelines to help managers and supervisors lead effective and impactful meetings that drive results. Your team will recognize and appreciate your efforts and enable you to glean the maximum contribution from each of your team members.

Looking to get started with leading effective meetings? Here’s a look at our successful “Meetings that Drive Results” learning solution: 

Meetings that Drive Results

Meetings that Drive Results teaches supervisors, managers and senior leaders how to plan for powerful, results-focused meetings and conference calls that get work done. It also offers insight into when you should not have a meeting. Practical tools for planning, following up, and evaluating meetings are part of the program. Your leaders will run better meetings when they apply what they learn.

Topics Covered:
• Characteristics of Effective Meetings
• Planning: It’s in the Details
• Handling Challenging Personalities
• Engaging Participants
• Assignments & Follow Up
• When Not to Have a Meeting
• Post-Meeting Assessments

Other Program Details:
Length: Half Day; Lunch-Time Learning Sessions

Audience: Supervisors & Managers

Methodology: Group Discussions, Exercises, Video, Lecturettes, Self-Assessment and Workbook

Ready to start leading meetings that drive results? Email us at or take a look at our full portfolio of learning solutions.

Leaders Listen

A recent Learning Dynamics training workshop with managers of a healthcare organization served as a reminder of the importance of listening at every level of the organization. The program, Leadership Communication, includes a discussion and exercise on active listening, and it was one of the most productive parts of the day’s effort.

Nearly everyone has heard the term “active listening,” but how many of us use the skill regularly? In Leadership Communication and other communication-themed programs, we highlight the value of asking questions, listening without interrupting, paraphrasing, and confirming understanding. We know that many people don’t use active listening techniques often; rather, they frequently are just waiting for their turn to talk.

On this day, we asked the participants to pair off and ask a simple question: “What can I do to help you be more successful in your job?” These were not people who reported to each other. They were managers who lead their respective work centers, so this is not a question they frequently present to each other. The results were thought-provoking.

Within minutes, one of the participants said, “This is great! We never have a chance to speak like this.” After several minutes of productive conversation using intelligent questions and active listening skills, all came away with ideas to help each other move the organization forward. The total invested time was ten minutes.

So, what can leaders take from this exercise? Here are some ideas:

Encourage idea-sharing vertically and horizontally within the organization. Schedule some high-value business partnership time to allow for activities like that described above.

Ask questions at all levels. Then listen. Employees in customer-facing and production roles likely have ideas to share. After all, they are the ones executing on management’s direction. What might they teach leaders who are willing to listen?

Managers don’t always have the best answers. Paraphrasing Steve Jobs, we hire smart people, so shouldn’t we listen to them?

Finally, employees become more engaged when they feel heard. A key engagement question concerns one’s ideas and opinions carrying weight. What better way to show an employee that her opinions count than by asking questions and actively listening?

It is not always easy to just listen. The potential benefits – new ideas, better team work, and more committed employees, to name a few – make it worth the effort. Be a better leader and listen.

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Learning Dynamics offers several instructor-led, webinar-based, and digitally-delivered learning and development solutions to help your team members become better communicators. Contact us today to discuss your priorities.

An Organizational Workplace Conduct Assessment

1) Is everyone in your company aware of your company’s workplace conduct guidelines?

2) Do all employees know what can constitute a hostile work environment?

3) Do all employees know the difference between quid pro quo sexual harassment and hostile work environment harassment?

4) Is there a written and publicized policy for reporting workplace conduct violations?

5) When reporting a workplace violation, is there a defined process that is in place for investigating?

6) Are egregious behaviors swiftly dealt with in your company?

7) Is your HR department highly regarded in terms of trust and integrity?

8) Is upper management fully committed to a harassment free workplace?

If you’ve answered “No” or “Unsure” to any of the above questions then check out Common Decency®, our award-winning workplace conduct program.


The Value of Leadership Assessment Centers

Organizations, both small and large, are in the business of attracting, developing and retaining leadership talent. They continually ask the question, “Do we have the right talent in the right place at the right time?”

Leadership development is vitally important but, oftentimes, organizations don’t know how to handle it effectively. The key is to have a system in place to ensure that organizations can answer the question affirmatively, such as an effective succession plan. Such a system begins with identifying key talent, or those employees with high potential, in an organization. The talent is gauged by assessing individuals against the key leadership competencies vital to that organization or vital to a specific leadership role within the organization. Once those key individuals are identified, the next step is to determine the development plans necessary for those individuals to progress to more responsible leadership roles.

An effective method of assessing individuals against key leadership competencies is to conduct a leadership assessment center, which consists of a series of timed activities that may include interviews, simulations, and exercises designed to predict how well participants will perform in a specific role. Assessors independently observe, review and assess the participants’ actions and behaviors in each of these activities and then collaborate to provide a rating on each competency, together with a narrative on how the participant performed. The assessors then provide feedback to each participant on their performance relative to the competencies assessed and also provide a summary report to senior management.

A combination of well-designed exercises and the use of independent, objective assessors to gauge competency proficiency in a leadership assessment center is a win-win for both the individual and the organization. This combination, done effectively, yields a fairly accurate profile of the individual who, oftentimes, confirms the results. Together, the participant and assessors can highlight strengths and determine development plans for competencies needing improvement.

The leadership assessment center is a powerful tool that can provide both the individual and the organization with some answers to the question on what it takes to progress to a higher level of leadership.

Learning Dynamics has over 25 years of experience designing and facilitating leadership assessment centers. For more information, visit us at

Enhancing the customer experience. Focus on a quality conversation, not just quantity.

Many customer contact centers are being challenged with enhancing the customer experience while at the same time managing their call volume and statistics. Reduced customer loyalty and expectations of high levels of service are becoming the norm. Our experience in working with customer contact centers has shown us there are three things to consider:

1. Determine the real reason for the call. Representatives fall into what’s called “automatic listening” as they hear a customer issue. When a representative thinks they know why a customer is calling they tend to jump right to the solution. Without knowing it, they may be cutting off the customer conversation leaving the customer feeling they haven’t been heard or valued. Even though they may have heard the issue 47 times this week, it is the first time for the customer. It is crucial to ask probing questions to gain a clear understanding of that specific customer’s situation so the customer feels like they’ve truly been heard.

2. Restate the issue. When you have to sign for a package, it indicates delivery. Communication happens the same way. The customer needs to know their communication has been delivered. One way to do this is to restate the customer issue. In general terms, restate something the customer told you so they know they’ve been heard and their communication has been delivered. You don’t have to restate every word of their story, just pick some highlights. I usually start with “So if I understand you correctly…” or “It sounds like you…” , then I restate their concern. If you’re off base, then it gives you the chance to clarify the issue before jumping to a solution.

3. Solve the problem and ask the key question, have I resolved the reason for your call? One way to track customer experience is to measure first call resolution. When a customer has to call in a second or third time, studies show the call actually takes longer to complete. The customer usually provides more and more detail while they vent their frustrations making the call take longer and more upsetting for everyone which ultimately ends up with reduced customer loyalty. It is easy to set up a tracking field or tick mark system to track your progress.

Customer experience is a differentiating factor for business. If you want to learn additional approaches, call us at 203.265.7499 or email

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.

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.

Moving the Needle by Motivating Millennials

Millennials now make up about 40% of the US workforce. As Baby Boomers retire, these youngest workers who were born in the 80’s and 90’s are becoming more important than ever before to the success of your organization. Companies that engage this group will win, while those for which Millennials are a mystery will struggle.

There are things Millennials have in common with everyone else. Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and our youngest employees (Gen Z?), all like to be recognized for doing good work. Who doesn’t like to be appreciated? Also, everyone needs their basic needs met. A reliable paycheck, pleasant work environment, and other base-level considerations must be addressed. That’s the foundation. Here are some ideas to consider, and some things to avoid, as you take the Millennial motivation and management challenge more seriously.

Do These Things

Help Millennials understand the meaning behind their work. Why is what you are asking me to do important? How does it affect others in the company? How does it help our customers? How does this work move us forward in our mission? These and other questions should be answered to get Millennials engaged. It’s not that they enjoy playing 20 Questions; rather, they want to understand how their work is important. Help them connect the dots.

Engage Millennials by showing them corporate values are real. Nearly every industry has been affected by Millennials’ search for authenticity. Whether considering the food they eat, the cars they drive (if they do at all), the clothes they wear, or where they choose to work, Millennials want to know your words are backed by action. If your actions are inconsistent with stated goals and values, you can expect Millennials to head for the exits.

Spend time with career planning. How do you see your youngest employees progressing in the organization? Have you shared this by discussing it directly with them? If not, you run the risk of losing talented people to other organizations that present a more compelling vision. Your Boomers might have been OK with a no-news-is-good-news approach, but that isn’t going to work with your youngest employees.

Respect them and ask for their opinions. Millennials come from different parenting and educational experiences than earlier generations. Relationships have been less rigid and more open. They expect their opinions and ideas to be heard and respected. If they don’t get this chance, they will find somewhere else where their contributions will be considered.

Don’t Do These Things

Expect loyalty. This isn’t your fault. Millennials are a product of the economy they have witnessed and experienced. They know nobody who has experienced lifetime employment with the same company. On the contrary, they have seen parents and others laid off in round after round of downsizings. They do not expect to be with you forever, even if you try to convince them otherwise.

Set rigid work rules and requirements. Why, exactly, do your employees need to be in at 8:30 AM? Why do you want them to dress a certain way? “Why?” is a big question, so be prepared to answer it effectively. If not, you run the risk of being seen as a fossil who makes rules “just because we’ve always done it that way.” You will also alienate this group and lose some great people.

Talk about shareholder value. Millennials are not interested in making the shareholders wealthy. This will be especially true if shareholder interests are in conflict with some other social value. See the comments about authenticity above.

As Millennials continue to grow in importance in the workplace, their contributions can make a significant difference in the performance of your organization. By getting this intelligent, tech-savvy, high-energy group engage in their work and your mission, you can move the performance needle to new highs. Get to know your people and what’s important to them so you all (yes, even your shareholders) can reap the rewards.

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Learning Dynamics can help you maximize the contributions of all generations in your organization. Ask us about Managing a Multigenerational Workforce and other training programs to help your company invest in people.