Monthly Archives: July 2013

Building “Virtual” Teamwork : More than Clear E-mail

Virtual Team – By Robert Day, Learning Dynamics Consultant

What is your attitude about remote teamwork? In your view, is a remote team just a poor substitute for a team located together? Are the tools of instant internet communication just a replacement for face-to-face contact?  Do you see your main challenge in managing distance workers or telecommuters as a matter of keeping them from being unproductive? If you answered “yes” to any and all of those questions, I’ll say first that yours is a common reaction. Many view virtual leadership as a half-empty glass (at best).

We’ve had the tools of remote wireless communication available for almost 30 years, but managers and leaders in all types of organizations are still struggling.  Building effective teams and developing productive management styles with telecommuting, dispersed, mobile, and overseas colleagues requires skill and a plan.

I’d like to suggest that when it comes to managing virtual teams, effectiveness starts by seeing dispersed locations not as obstacles, but as opportunities to build bridges.  Jeff Edinger argues in his Harvard Business Review blog that remote workers are more focused, more committed, and more disciplined than groups that are “co-located” (in the same location).

There is an “if” to that: if the teams have effective leadership.  Effective remote leaders have learned how to develop focus, accountability, and creativity with their colleagues. They know how to motivate them, and how to make best use of all their communication tools.  Most of all, they have learned how to build trust and commitment.

When it comes to managing virtual teams, then, the glass is a lot more than half full.  If you approach your remote management responsibilities with that attitude, you’ve made the best possible start to effectively leading your virtual team.

Many strategies and techniques for leading virtual teams have emerged, largely through trial and error (or success!). Learning Dynamics offers an online module, Managing Virtual Teams, that covers the best of these. Let Learning Dynamics help you maximize the effectiveness of your company’s virtual teams.

Training ROI: Include it in Your Plan

When was the last time your company spent money when the question of ROI was not raised? In the 90s? Never? Every manager worth her paycheck needs to consider the benefit of every investment and expense. Training is no exception. Here are some ways to think about the benefits of training and how you will measure it that will satisfy everyone.

Include your ROI calculations from the start. Why are you going to deliver this training? What do you need to change that includes training as part of the solution? Think about what you want to change, how training can assist, and how you will measure it. Getting approvals for this and future training initiatives will require this crucial step.

Where is the organization now (especially compared to your strongest competitor)? Some baseline measurements can be crucial in determining the need for training and the effectiveness of the path that your organization takes. How is your organization performing relative to competitors or other units within your company? Identify a handful of metrics that you want to improve with training as the solution.

What employee behaviors will change with training? Your training focus and goals will always include some behavioral changes in the trainees. How can you measure whether or not that has happened? Think about customer surveys, secret shoppers, risk reporting or new tools that you can create to measure the training’s effectiveness.

Monetize the measurements. Not every metric will easily convert to dollars, but most will. If you make the effort to do it, you can answer the ROI question easily for this and future initiatives. Here are some data points to consider: Customer acquisition costs, sales closing percentages, cost per incident (e.g., safety, HR, complaints). Show the financial improvement that comes from your training initiatives and follow-up.

What are your dashboard items and how can behavioral changes driven by effective training improve results? If you can answer that question, you can not only justify training, but you can articulate the costs of not training. How are you helping your competitors by not investing in staff development?

Learning Dynamics has over 30 years of experience helping its clients maximize their training ROI with its consultative results-based approach. Contact us today to discuss how we can help your organization meet its goals with the help of customized training solutions.

You Can Trust Me. Really.

Can you remember the first television commercial that you saw? How about the first ad that you heard on the radio? Of course you can’t. All of us have been marketed to for our entire lives. Younger people have faced the onslaught of marketing messages from their first moments in the maternity suite when free samples of formula, diapers and lotions are presented to new moms. We have all grown wary of marketing messages and our trust needs to be earned.

How are your organization’s employees doing earning your customers’ trust? If your organization depends on relationship-building and confidence in your team (and what organization doesn’t?), this is a valid, and maybe even urgent question.

Studies have shown that a few simple factors play important parts in how customers view you, your people and your entire organization. How does your team perform in these areas?

  • Professional Appearance
  • Face-to-Face Communication
  • Written Communication
  • Professional Relationships at Work
  • Knowledge of Products and Services

At Learning Dynamics, we call all of this Total Professional Image Quotient. TPIQ is a way to assess and coach your people to provide better service and deliver better results. The organizations that commit to TPIQ see a real difference in their financial and customer-service performances.

Strong business results are built on a foundation of trust between your customers and your employees. TPIQ training workshops accelerate the move from potential to actual customer by creating an environment where customers trust your team because they have earned it.

Learning Dynamics is an award-winning national training company with over 30 years of experience delivering innovative and engaging training at all levels of client organizations. Find out how we can help you by contacting us today. [subscribe2]