Monthly Archives: November 2014

Managing Change

It’s a tale as old as time: Companies complain of employee resistance to change and innovation. And every once in a while, it’s because staff members are afraid of failing when they do something differently than they normally would. But more often than not, resistance to change starts with the superiors and managers at an organization. If top management doesn’t buy into the idea of implementing change, then there is little chance change will occur.

Take Company A, for example. I’ve had the pleasure of doing business with this company for years, and lately, it has attempted to put a new sales technique into practice. For months, I attempted to contact Company A so I could schedule its staff training, but management was unable to set aside the time for a training session. Its audit scores were beginning to suffer, and it no longer was meeting the same standards its competitors were achieving.

Ultimately, the corporate office got involved, and everyone at Company A found themselves in the unenviable position of being “under the gun.” Training finally was penciled in; coaching began to happen; and yet, the overall organizational attitude did not change. The reason was that management still wanted to get by with what they’d always done. To their thinking, “the devil they knew was better than the angel they didn’t.” And I could spot the spoilsports from a mile away: They were always the last ones to arrive to a scheduled training seminar and the first ones out the door. Invariably, these were also the same people who gave various excuses as to why new skills couldn’t be applied.

So how do you become the kind of manager who inspires change and motivates growth? Here are some tips you can use to ensure the right kind of attitude is trickling down to your team:

  • Do as you say. It’s essential that management lead by example. Get your staff onboard with your new standards by complying with them yourself. I often see team leaders proclaim how beautifully a new system or procedure applies to their organization without employing it themselves. But actions speak louder than words, and if your team sees you falling back on old habits, they’ll question your faith in the organizational changes. Show your staff that you’re working toward the same goals they are, and they’ll be stimulated to follow in your footsteps.
  • Get invested. Involve yourself in any coaching that your team partakes in by celebrating their successes as they meet their new goals and giving them direction when their performance lags. Don’t wait until your team members buckle under the pressure or your customers complain about your service to manage your staff’s adherence to new rules. Take over the reins in order to dictate the manner in which change will be realized.
  • Take the pulse. Any amendment to protocol should come hand in hand with two-way communication. Really listen to any feedback your staff has to offer about the new work practices. And to take things one step further, get your team involved in generating ideas about implementing the latest standards.
  • Make things fun. Incentives, games, and contests are a great way to accelerate change and generate some healthy competition among staff members. Give your team a fun reason to accomplish their goals.
  • Don’t give up. Changes come with growing pains, but if you’re determined to make change happen, be patient with the process and remain optimistic in your attitude. Always be open to altering your method of encouraging learning and growth if you don’t see the evolution you hoped for.

Be the change that you wish to see in your organization by putting in the effort to manage innovation.

Kevin James Saunders is a trainer and the Chief Company Culture Director for Oculus Training, a British Columbia-based corporate training and mystery shopping company offering sales management, reservations, sensitivity, and customer service training programs for a variety of service-based industries throughout Canada, the U.S., and the world.

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The Power in You

The sun rises in the east, you spend the day doing this and that. The sun sets in the west. You go to sleep. The sun rises in the east….


Life can get into rhythms,…and ruts. Or, every day can be unique in its way. You can make it so.


What if you declared that you will make today special for five people you come across? You send a warm smile to that person. You hold the door with conscious loving for another someone. Or you catch someone doing something right.


Just five small acts of kindness or service. Perhaps 60 seconds in all of uplifting punctuations. What would that do for someone else’s day? And for yours too!


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Brain Power

The new training package you purchased from a trusted vendor has all the bells and whistles—a cutting-edge, immersive simulation; e-learning modules; and even live, inperson classes. And yet six months later, your assessments reveal that the learning goals you set for participants have not been met. What could have gone wrong? As elaborate and comprehensive as the training was, it still may not have optimized the way your learners’ brains work. Training recently got input from several brain science experts and one corporate trainer on how to deliver training that optimizes your employees’ brain function.

“The medium is the message,” Marshall McLuhan famously said—and that appears to be especially true in training. If you and your company’s executives are not showing through your own work processes and behavior what you expect from employees, your message likely will go unheeded. Even the mood of the trainer and managers can make a huge difference. “Thanks to the discovery of mirror neurons, we have found that individuals understand each other perfectly and tend to ‘set in motion’ in their own brain the areas related to actions and emotions they witness in others,” says Matteo Rizzato, co-author of “I Am Your Mirror: Mirror Neurons and Empathy.”

Rizzato says that before trainers and managers present to learners, they should assess their own state of mind. “The first thing I do when I walk into a classroom is to make sure my state of mind is clear and consistent: A minimum concern on my side would be detected and would ruin learning.”

Indeed, sometimes the greater training lessons—whether they be new manager training, corporate compliance, or learning the details of a new product—can be derailed by negative emotion in the classroom or work group. Training often needs to address underlying, distracting issues before learning goals can be reached.

“A minor grudge between two people is often enough to generate a disagreement between them about the slightest possible matter,” says Rizzato. “This can create conflict and a great productivity loss, as well as destroy company harmony, if the whole matter is not governed by specific training focusing on mood management.”

Most of us heard when we were in college that cramming doesn’t result in long-term learning, and that appears to be true, according to Alice Kim, Ph.D., of The Rotman Research Institute. Dr. Kim says research shows short learning modules over a long period such as six months or a year with practice retrieving the information is best. For example, rather than have new product training take place just six weeks prior to a product launch, it’s much better to have it take place three months before or longer with tests each week in which learners are forced to retrieve the information they have committed to memory. Adhering to the two key principles of spacing learning out and practicing retrieval is far more important than worrying about catering to learning style. “It’s a misconception that trying to match knowledge delivery to someone’s personal learning style or perceptual preference translates to better learning,” Dr. Kim says. “There is no scientific evidence to support it. On the other hand, there’s a lot of evidence to support other proven strategies that training providers should be paying closer attention to, such as spacing out content and practicing retrieval.”

Formal learning structures with specialized modules or sessions sometimes are needed, but in many cases, learning by observing and doing and then informally getting evaluated is best, says corporate trainer Michael Blight, senior consultant, Walker Sands Communications. “If you are a smaller firm, less formal means of evaluation are fine,” he says. “For example, PR firms usually require their employees to interact with clients. Staff members typically sit in on calls with the client as they observe managers or other highertiered employees interact with the client.”

Blight also notes the importance of putting the learning into context so employees understand the company’s ultimate goal. “Why is it that they are working for the company in the first place? Why is it important that they overcome these challenges? Employees need to get in the mindset of seeking out new challenges to continue to grow—personally and professionally.”

Rather than rolling training out to learners, you can get them more engaged in the learning, and have the learning be more effective, by having them help create it, says Tim Riesterer, chief strategy and marketing officer at Corporate Visions. “If you can get participants to feel like they are co-creating their experience, they will more highly value the training.”

Riesterer notes an experiment by Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist from Duke University, and his colleagues that shows the act of building furniture resulted in the buyer of the furniture valuing the furniture more. “The same could be true if you can integrate this co-creation concept into your training offerings,” Riesterer believes.

Taking Riesterer’s idea, you could, for instance, have learners divide up the material, do their own research, and then take turns presenting to their classmates.

Riesterer’s colleague, Lisa Cummings, vice president of Products for Corporate Visions, says the language a trainer uses also should put the spotlight on the learners themselves. “The default is to say or write ‘we’ because it feels welcoming. It feels like collaboration and teamwork. You might say, ‘What we’re going to learn today is…’ or ‘Next, we’ll click here.’ By shifting to ‘you’ phrasing, you’re making your participant the hero of your story,” Cummings points out. “You’re helping them try on what you’re saying. By shifting to, ‘What you’ll learn today is…’ or ‘Next, you’ll click here,’ you’re putting them at the center of the story.”

Similarly, Josh Davis, Ph.D., director of Research and lead professor at The NeuroLeadership Institute, says it is important for trainers to ask learners to apply the lessons to their own past experiences. “We all know from experience how good an insight can feel. It has been shown that one reason insights are so memorable is because of the increased emotional brain activity,” says Dr. Davis. “For example, after 15 minutes of sharing content, a trainer can pause, and give learners a question to write or talk about regarding the relevance they see.” 

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Choosing the Thoughts of What You DO Want

It seems so simple. Thoughts guide actions. And actions produce our results. So, think thoughts that serve you and others.


But are you like the masses who "have" thoughts VS "choosing" your thoughts?


No one ever told me I could choose thoughts. The 60,000 thoughts a day seemed to simply swim along on their own. My parents didn’t seem to know. My teachers didn’t teach me. And if that sounds familiar to you, well, I am sorry. But the good news is that we can be in charge of our thoughts. And the WIIFM is happiness and effectiveness and…


Intentionally changing your thoughts takes a bit of practice. Your prefrontal cortex is ready to serve with self-awareness. To remind yourself of your ability to redirect your thoughts at will, try the closing your eyes and counting silently from 1 to 5 exercise. Your self-awareness noticed whether you did or didn’t. That’s the observer at work.


Now if you try counting silently from 1 to 100, you may notice that it’s not as easy. Other thoughts, other images, other distractions will probably try and break in. That’s the life of a busy brain. But as soon as you notice you’ve lost the counting train of thought, well, in that moment, you can turn your brain’s counting back to where you left off.


This is the same dynamic that you can practice when you set your intention to have more positive, serving thoughts (with the accompanying actions, and improved results). This is part of what’s called a mindful life. When you notice your brain running old negative or non-serving thoughts, also notice that in your noticing, they stop for a moment. That is your moment of choice; your moment of power. You can then set your thoughts on to the track you desire. This is like using muscles. It takes lots of continued practice to strengthen the ability; to get good at it. But the great news truly is that you are in charge. Take the time to work your brain in your favor and your life becomes your more fully directed journey. Pretty powerful eh! Enjoy the ride!



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Identifying the Importance of First Impressions

Article Author: 
By Amanda Herder, Training Account Manager, Signature Worldwide

The day arrived for this not-so-frequent traveler: my big arrival in Nashville, TN. Eager to get to my hotel and collapse, I quickly gathered my bags and headed to get my rental car. I soon realized that, as with everything in the country capital of the world, my choices of rental car companies were far from limited. Lucky for me, the choice already was made for me by my company travel department. As I approached what seemed like a really long counter with three rental car companies and four agents, I was a little overwhelmed. As it turned out, I was only greeted by two of the rental car companies. The first company had two associates who stood talking among themselves, not even acknowledging what was going on around them. At the second company, the associate stood with her arms folded across her chest with a glaring look on her face that told me to run and run fast. The third company’s agent stood with his arms wide open, huge smile on his face, quickly saying, “Welcome to Nashville, how may I help you?” I explained to the agent that rental car No. 2 was the rental car company my car was through. The agent happily told me that was “great news” since they recently merged under the same company, so I could choose any agent I liked.

You probably can imagine my relief at hearing this news since I did not have to approach the very distant looking agent with the not-so-good look and arms crossed! I chose the open arms, wide smile, and great welcoming agent to assist me. I felt he was willing to help me the most and made me feel invited and welcome to have him assist me. So, I ask you, who would you have chosen to help you?

Virtually Irreversible

First impressions not only impact the consumer, they strongly impact the seller. They impact the seller’s branding, image, and the consumer’s choice to do business with that company. First impressions take place within the first few seconds of meeting. It is natural human behavior to judge while looking for surface clues to who the person really is. First impressions happen only once and are virtually irreversible. If a negative impression is set, you may lose the attention and interest of your customer. A good impression will captivate your customer; they will want to do business with your company.

There are many forms of first impressions depending on the type of business you are in. People will derive an opinion from your overall look, starting with the outside of your company all the way to employees’ attire, demeanor, body language, and mannerisms, which ultimately represent the company they work for. Some tips we often forget to keep in mind:

  • Curb appeal: Make sure your location has green or upkept landscaping, clean parking lots, and well-maintained sidewalks for a grand entrance.
  • Entrance appeal: Cleanliness is the key. Be sure your entrance or lobby is organized and clear of dust and clutter. The ambiance should be warm and inviting.
  • Personal appearance: Keep jewelry to the minimum. Shirts should be tucked in and attire should professional and match your audience or branding.
  • Attitude: Be positive. Attitudes show in everything you say and do, even if you think you are hiding it. Stay focused on where you are and what you’re doing in the moment.
  • Telephone: Answer the phone in a timely manner. Be polite and courteous and give the caller your full attention.

The impact your first impression makes has the ability to carry throughout the entire relationship with your client—from the beginning, through the middle, and all the way to the end. Each touchpoint you have with that customer will forever take them back to that powerful first impression.

Keep in mind that you only have one chance to create a first impression—a lasting impression that may affect the outcome of the customer interaction and the impression the customer has of your company. People remember how you make them feel. Make them feel legendary!

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