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About


"Organizations don't achieve results - people do."

"Organizations don't achieve results - people do."
Excel Group has worked with enough organizations to know that a culture of engaged teams of people and effective leaders produces superior results. For over twenty years, Excel Group has worked with a vast enough selection of clients to experience and observe that fact amidst changing customer markets. Using leading edge behavioural technology we're passionate about helping organizations enhance team and leadership effectiveness with our engaging interventions. From technology firms and government leaders in Ottawa (French and English), national sales organizations, international healthcare and accounting firms, to US Marine Command at Quantico, our clients represent diverse industries and geographic areas.

We help organizations achieve superior results through solutions in core performance areas:
We serve clients at meetings and conferences in Canada, the U.S. and the Caribbean.

Contact us for a free phone consultation about your upcoming conference or off-site/in-house meeting.

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For over 20 years, Excel Group has helped organizations to build superior team, sales and management effectiveness with behavioral science and engagement practices. They are known for building superior Teamwork/Leadership at off site Team Meetings and Sales Conferences in Canada, the US. and Caribbean. (including Toronto, Collingwood, Niagara on the Lake, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary as well as New York, Virginia, Atlanta,Florida, California and the Caribbean)

Charles (Chuck)

Chief Team Officer

Anick

Chief French Facilitator Extraordinaire

Heidi

Chief Client Service Officer

Lori

Team Facilitation Officer

Global Associates

Leonie

Chief Number Cruncher

Blog


Welcome to the Blogs by the Excel Group Team. We're passionate about building Team and Management Effectiveness.

28Jan

Talent management. What does this year hold for managers and their teams? A new year often brings a new mindset and in a post-pandemic pivot, many may be looking to change jobs (or managers).6 Key Points to Prepare for a Post-Pandemic Pivot.


What does 2021 hold for managers and their teams? A new year often brings a new mindset and in a post-pandemic pivot, many may be looking to change jobs (or managers).


This past year, I found it interesting to observe my oldest son’s experience with the pivot to remote work for his summer internship. In January 2020, while away in his 3rd year at university, my son was excited about the offer of a summer job at a respected bank’s head office within a 5-minute walk of our Toronto home. But by the time he started work in the spring, he had been transitioned to working remotely in front of his laptop, at home. He loved the onboarding, a virtual welcome that included participation from the CEO, as the organization found new ways to do things with the global ushering-in of a remote-work culture. After a summer of handling mortgage renewals from his home-based set-up, he returned to his final year of undergrad in September, while most of his coworkers continued to juggle working from home and navigating their kids’ online learning until daycares and schools re-opened. 

Impact of Remote Work

For my son, the experience was a time-limited novelty. But how is the sudden, protracted pivot to remote work going for those folks who have spent years in a totally different environment? What is the impact on organizations and their now-digital workers? Studies indicate that many are finding the adjustment challenging. A study byTelus International found that 75% of respondents “struggled at work due to anxiety caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and other recent world events,” and a full 80% said they would consider leaving their jobs for one that better balanced remote work and mental health.Research conducted by mental health tech firm Ginger found that almost 70% of workers feel more stressed than at any other time in their careers. Clearly, in this evolving work-from-home culture, everyone is facing challenges, especially in the area of communication. The regular stream of conversation between coworkers, and between managers and staff, ordinary discussions about how things are going in the organization—all have been muted. So, it becomes an even more critical management responsibility to communicate what is unseen and what is taking place, to give clarity and transparency of expectations and metrics, and to listen to team members. 

Leading Through The Pandemic Pivot

With remote working, managers who lead teams are tasked with a cultural pivot in the way they lead people. From Zoom meetings to onboarding new talent, some managers are adjusting well, but many are failing. Those who are less successful are responsible (often unknowingly) for the disengagement of team members, leading to a decline in performance. And, in a post-pandemic world, these managers and organizations will almost certainly lose talent to the teams and leaders who have mastered the people pivot. To avoid losing staff to stress and overall dissatisfaction, leaders need to master the post-pandemic pivot in building resilient teams. Here are a few tips to keep your people engaged and productive, despite the distance. 

6 Keys to Mastering the Post-Pandemic 

1) Start with Personal Wellness

Recognize that as a leader, the first person you lead is yourself. You can’t lead from a place of poor health and personal exhaustion. Especially post-holidays, many health and wellness experts encourage regular exercise, adequate rest, and healthy eating while limiting alcohol and sugar intake for positive mental and physical health.

TIP:Determine the best time in your routine to build in some regular exercise. Personally, if I don’t get out early in the morning, I run the risk of not working out at all. There is less opportunity for interruption at 6 am (check out The 5 AM Club, a book by Robin Sharma). Perhaps set up a regular socially-distanced walk or run with a friend or neighbour for accountability.

2 ) Engagement begins with Empathy: Balance People Performance with Profit

A study published in Harvard Business Review found that “empathetic companies outperform their more callous counterparts by 20 percent. When people feel understood themselves, they’re more receptive to others’ concerns—and team cohesion, collaboration and innovation tend to follow suit.” This last year has required the prioritization of people before productivity and profits in the short term. People perform better when they feel listened to and supported.

TIP: Enhance active listening skills by asking great questions. If your direct report is more introverted and you need to discuss significant issues, consider emailing them questions for discussion a day in advance of your online meeting. They will appreciate the preparation time to make a virtual dialogue more productive.

3) Stop Managing; Engage by Coaching and Communicating

In the pre-pandemic world, many managers failed to make the shift from directing or micro managing to coaching. During the pandemic, managers already have enough fires to put out, so they need to keep their coaching hats on. It’s crucial to frame the context of problems and challenges and then use focused questions, inviting team members to contribute solutions themselves. This strategy will continue to be vital for goal coaching in the future, looking beyond pandemic issues to post-pandemic goals and metrics.

TIP: Coach team members to be solution-oriented. When they have a problem to overcome, don’t rush to solve it for them. Encourage them to bring up 2–3 potential solutions to any challenges they present. Get into the habit of asking, “What do you think we should do with that? How can you solve that?”  Be the leader that practices collaboration vs dictatorship. Developing a team culture that embraces and effectively navigates change together ensures transferable success through to post-pandemic times.

4) Build Trust with Empowerment 

In support of a culture of superior remote work practices, Siemens CEO Roland Busch shared their two guiding principles: 1) Focus on outcomes rather than time spent in the office, and 2) Trust and empower your employees. For some work cultures, this may already be a big leap. In his book The Culture Connection, my friend Marty Parker makes the point that for the organizations that get it right, “Culture is a competitive advantage.” Some cultures will adapt and thrive in this shift to remote work, while others will have significant talent turnover.


TIP: Building on point 3 above—empowering staff in problem-solving is a display of trust that enhances engagement. Your role is to bridge the gap between the performance metrics of the organization’s “what” and the staff’s evolving need for pandemic flexibility in determining the “how” of getting the job done. Find the balance of holding them accountable to established outcome metrics while coaching them to be creative and innovative in taking ownership of the “how” in their solutions. Inculcate the habit of asking (can you think of 3 ways you can expedite that?) vs. telling them. Your engagement and performance scorecard results will be directly related to how well you do this.

5) Avoid Cookie Cutter Management

Learn your team members’ unique communication styles.Remember each team is made up of different members who have different communication styles, different work preferences, and different management needs. Moreover, everyone has different stress triggers as they navigate the pandemic. Some prefer more interaction, while others are fine to work from home methodically in seclusion. What may create stress for one may be preferred for others. It will be important for you to reflect on the behavioural dynamics of your team members and allow for some adaptation.

In short:

  • Get to know your own style first. (your communication style, pace, how you come across to others etc)
  • Then, get to know your people.
  • Adapt as needed and invite their unique proposals for how and when they prefer to interact to achieve their needed work outcomes.

TIP: Using psychometric profiles such as DISC can help to accelerate your understanding of team members' styles. This proactive step reduce the conflict, stress, and mismanagement that comes from a lack of understanding style differences (see XLTeamwork.com).

6) Nurture Passion and Creative Fun

In his book Passion Capital, Paul Alofs makes the case that the greatest asset an organization has as a competitive advantage is the engaged passion of staff. At a time when office real estate assets are often sitting empty, it is the people and talent that organizations are depending on to continue to achieve organizational objectives. Passion Capital expressed as a formula in the book is shown as: Passion Capital = Energy + Intensity + Sustainability. During the pandemic, these factors are all challenged. Looking after and engaging your greatest asset—your people—is critical.

TIP: Be intentional about encouraging their wellness and creative about noticing people in times of accomplishment and then expressing gratitude.Things like a personal handwritten note mailed to their home, or an electronic gift card for a catered meal or house-cleaning, can go a long way during these chaotic times. Build in some fun, too. Find out what engages your team and unleash some fun on the job. Competition? Virtual team cocktails at the end of a busy week?

In the end, it’s important to remind ourselves, organizations don’t achieve results—people do. Starting with yourself, stay well, and let’s get our people through this together.















C.  Reynolds
Chief Teamer
XLTeamwork.com




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6 min read
09Dec

Never before has it been so important for managers at all levels to fully engage in coaching their staff. How can managers help lead their people through pandemic times?


5 Tips to Coach Through the Pandemic
Never before has it been so important for managers at all levels to fully engage in coaching their staff. With the pandemic and accompanying global economic crisis continuing to impact organizations, many are trimming costs, including headcount. Research indicates high levels of employee stress and concern for the future, both of which are likely to escalate. Global studies have documented an increase in on-the-job stress levels relating to unachievable targets, poor management, and poor work-life balance—especially for those now working from home.
Two significant questions for leaders to ask today are, “What impact is this having on productivity?” and “What can managers and organizations do to coach through the impact?”


What managers must understand about coaching
There are a few things that managers must understand to coach more effectively through these times.
First, emotions are contagious—as documented by Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence. Since people watch their managers, the boss has an outsized emotional impact. Does she appear stressed, worried, and fearful? Or is she energized, relaxed, and confident in this economic climate? Observers often noted that former US President Barack Obama, throughout both his campaigns, always appeared calm and confident in the face of opposition and so inspired these same emotions in the electorate.


Second, coaching is crucial. It’s not just a nice-to-have; it’s a must-have. Before expanding on this, let’s define coaching since it often means different things to different people. To answer the question, “What is coaching?” I like to use the analogy of a stagecoach. This early form of horse-drawn transportation picked people up and transported them to their desired destination. Likewise, coaching can be a virtual vehicle of sorts. Through strategic, questioning-based dialogue, it can help people get from where they are to where they want or need to be in terms of goals and accomplishment.


5 ways to coach effectively 
So what can be done to help staff through these challenging times? Here are five ways managers can coach more effectively:

1. Listen to understandKeep in mind that each team member has a unique behavioural/communication style (perhaps different from yours) and how they respond to current uncertainty/changes . Acknowledge staff concerns. Some may be carrying a heavy load as their job demands increase along with demands at home—from busy children’s schedules to ailing parents. Some may even be experiencing financial troubles due to a spouse’s job loss. 


2. Give affirmation: At the end of the day, organizations don’t achieve results; people do. Let staff know you’re all in the same boat, you appreciate their efforts, and you are confident in their abilities to work through organizational challenges.


3. Engage them: Ask what they think they could be doing to be more effective. Questions like this can be a catalyst for innovative thinking. Sometimes it is helpful to ask them to provide a list of 10 to 20 possible actions. Encourage your staff to be creative and produce a quantity of ideas you can later look at together and evaluate for quality.


4. Think holistically: The best coaches are creative and consider the whole person. Encourage staff to try and develop a regular exercise schedule they enjoy. From morning walks to gym visits, consistent activity goes a long way towards reducing stress and enhancing productivity.


5. Help them make a plan:
 From the list of possibilities, ask them which two or three of the most practical actions they would like to commit to. These could be new habits at work or beyond. Managers with strong relationships and good coaching skills can help employees make personal changes that translate to less stress in their lives overall and, consequently, greater productivity at work. I know of a manager who was called on to coach an individual through some issues of significant personal debt at the employee’s request. These issues were causing a great deal of personal stress, which in turn was impacting professional performance. The manager began simply by asking him to suggest possible options and solutions, which they then evaluated together. The employee chose to sell his vehicle and rent out his basement, providing much-needed cash flow and allowing him to retire substantial credit card debt and avoid looming bankruptcy. Was he happier and more productive at work? You bet.

Asking which goals and actions employees will commit to is important because it helps them focus on things within their control. Psychologists document that when we focus on the “external locus of control” (things beyond our control) we experience more stress and feelings of helplessness. When we focus on the “internal locus of control” (things within our control) we feel empowered and less stressed. Essentially, as a coach, you work to guide them in focusing on solutions versus problems. In some cases, some of your employees’ goals may require your support, where possible. For example, a change to flex time to accommodate daycare drop-off in the mornings can go a long way. I also know of a manager who gave an employee, a busy single mom, gift certificates for a maid service during a demanding quarter at work. 

The next few years will be challenging for organizations and their people. Keep in mind that leaders with who  a great coaching  can enhance their people's performance by coaching them to be more effective, engaged, and productive through times of change. Organizations that develop superior coaching talent will not merely survive; they will thrive.

In the Spirit of Growth,



 XLTeamwork.com

Chuck Reynolds is President and Chief Performance Officer of Excel Group Development in Toronto. He can be reached at (416) 481- 4802 or visit www.XLTeamwork.com for more information. 
** Adapted from an article originally published by Thomson Reuters Canada in HR Reporter. WANTED; Managers Who Coach Well in a Crisis, February 9, 2009.

Coaching Teams Through Change #Teamwork #coaching #leadershipdevelopment #culture


Contact us to learn more about what we could do to make your team meeting a success.

Stay connected and share ideas that help others Excel.

                         


 #XLTeamwork #Hirerightfit #Talent #teamwork #coaching #leadership #meetings #conference #meeting #salesteam #sales #disc #discstyles #Bluemontain #toronto #vancouver #montreal  #collingwood #meetingplanners #recruitment #management #engagement

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4 min read
26Aug

Disc profiles are used for recruiting, coaching, team building and sales training..






The 4 DISC Styles

It is said that people skills are more of a contributing factor in personal, team, sales and leadership success than virtually any other factor. Behavioural Intelligence  is also important in hiring "right fit" team members who's styles and motivators align with the position. For example one sure way to accelerate failure in the hospitality industry (hotels or restaurants ) is to hire staff who don't enjoy serving people and lack the ability to sustain positive communications and service interactions.




There are a variety of  4-quadrant behavioural profiling systems (like DISC) that are available to help you learn about your behavioural style. Full Disclosure: We use a special integrated psychometric instrument with Motivators and DISC that is highly validated by TTI. (Sales Leaders, see below for how you can receive a complimentary profile.)


The D (Dominance) Style 

Tends to be: extroverted, fast-paced, strong, direct personality style, task-focused, direct communicators, and comfortable with taking calculated risks aligned with their goals.


Best Approach (to communicate with the D style):

  • Be prepared, brief and on point.
  • Listen, then maintain a fast-paced response. (Folks with strong S or C will be challenged to get to the point faster)
  • Be direct with responses, staying on track.
  • Maintain eye contact, strong tonality, and a firm handshake.


The I (Influence) Style

Tends to be: outgoing, fast-paced, extroverted, creative, conversational, optimistic and people-oriented.


Best Approach (to communicate with the style:)

  • Use a friendly approach with engaging tonality (not monotone). Listen to their ideas and goals.
  • Use references from people they know or admire in similar purchasing situations. 
  • Focus on big picture ideas and goals.
  • Don`t dwell on all details, but do offer to send them the follow up information.


 

The S (Steady) style

Tends to be: relaxed, introverted, people-oriented, reserved, a good listener, indirect communicator, a team player and  risk-averse.


Best Approach (to communicate with the S style):        

  • Use a sincere, friendly, calm approach.                                        
  • Listen patiently without interrupting. (at times a challenge for people with strong D and I)
  • Don’t pressure them to make a decision immediately. (Sometimes it is better to send them information in advance, or follow up later, allowing them time to review.)
  • Use a relaxed conversational pace.
  • If you offer guarantees, don’t over-promise without fully delivering as you will be challenged to earn back their trust.


The C (Compliance) Style

Tends to be:
analytical, detailed, task-oriented, introverted, and more interested in quality and accuracy of  work than the pace.


Best Approach (to communicate with the C style):  

  • Use a professional, conservative and direct approach.
  • Use a measured, patient pace, allowing them to ask detailed questions. Be prepared with facts and data to support your presentation points.
  • Listen carefully and respond to questions with attention to details requested.



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5 min read
16Oct

We've seen more change in the last decade than our grandparents saw in their lifetimes. Customers are changing. Markets are changing. How can managers help lead their people through on going organizational change?

Often, we have clients in senior management who land in a new organization and opine that there is need for "culture change." We are experiencing such rapid change we often forget to appreciate the velocity  and yet that inherent challenges organizations face in implementing "change" initiatives.

I always enjoyed speaking with my  elderly neighbor, Richard Harrington, prior to his passing at the age of 94.  He shared many experiences from his long life as an award-winning photo-journalist long before digitized smart phones. He was equally mesmerized by my kids and their comfort with technology at an early age. When Richard passed away, he was still mentally sharp and had seen a lot of change in the world.

We've seen more change in the last decade than our grandparents saw in their lifetimes. Here's the thing, though: The world is changing, technology is changing, customer consumption habits are changing, and organizations are changing rapidly - but people are notIt's because of this that in the drive for change, stress runs so high. Whether we're looking at the response to global tech induced disruption or labor relations in North America, the need to change is creating challenging levels of tension for some. There's no question that it's easier to plan change than to manage people during its implementation. Change is necessary in a changing world, but if mismanaged, the result can be a serious decline in productivity.

Whether you look at the rise and decline of Blockbuster Video's 9000 stores,  the past challenges of Blackberry in the mobile space, or the current impact of Amazon on Walmart,  the lesson is clear: Sustainable growth requires a culture of constant innovation and change. As celebrated in the annual Most Admired Corporate Cultures produced by Waterstone HC, Culture can be a Competitive Advantage.

Here are a few things that effective "change leaders" need to watch for while managing through the process.

3 Things Managers and Change Leaders Need to Keep in Mind

1) People don't "change" - they "transition". That's why managers at all levels need to coach/lead people through it with dialogue, vs. managing (telling) them to do it. When people experience change in the form of job/organizational change, job loss, grieving the loss of a loved one, or going through a divorce, they will inevitably go through stages of transition until they arrive at a new perspective and acceptance of the new reality.  In his book, Managing Transitions, change strategist Dr. William Bridges documents that transition is a 3-phase psychological process that people go through.

  1. Ending - Letting go of their old perspective
  2. Neutral Phase - a sort of "no man's land" in between the old reality, and what the future holds
  3. New Beginning - Starting over again with new passion, vision, and sense of purpose. This essentially is a new identity.

 To be effective leaders will need to be patient and use a coaching dialogue with team members.


2) Different Strokes... Not only is change a process of transition with stages, but it is a process that will be approached differently by different people. In a team where there are a range of behavioral styles (think DISC styles) , you will encounter a range of approaches. Managers need to understand the behavioral style needs of their Direct Reports, in order to tailor their coaching styles through transition.
In some cases, a team member may feel they are no longer a fit with the new focus, in which case the job of the manager is to be open and coach them to be "successful elsewhere" (within the organization or not). At the end of the day, it's about engagement that stems from a "Right Fit" with the new role. Better to have a team member engaged elsewhere than remaining unengaged in the evolving role.

3) Nurture the Culture. Continuous change requires continuous learning. Organizations need to embed a coaching culture that equips managers with the capacity to coach staff to evolve comfort zones with confidence (rather than fear), practice continuous learning, and ultimately to initiate and embrace new ideas and innovation to serve changing client needs. The challenge comes in balancing the urgency of change (Step 1 of Creating Change in Harvard Professor John Kotter's 8 step process) with the strategic coaching of people in transition, to result in effective organizational transformation.

Whether it be the print media or Yellow Pages brand navigating to a new digital value proposition,  a political administration leading change, or a media provider evolving to a mobile platform streaming culture,  change is constant. What is certain is that organizations that end up succeeding will be those that succeed in aligning change with a culture of coaching the transition of their talent in serving customer centric transformation .  Coach your team to transition through the change. Align a coaching style that matches communication styles and  lead a culture that helps teams get comfortable with ongoing transformation. After all, Organizations don't innovate or get results - people do.


In the Spirit of Growth,



 XLTeamwork.com

Coaching Teams Through Change #Teamwork #coaching #leadershipdevelopment #culture


Contact us to learn more about what we could do to make your team meeting a success.

Stay connected and share ideas that help others Excel.

                         


 #XLTeamwork #Hirerightfit #Talent #teamwork #coaching #leadership #meetings #conference #meeting #salesteam #sales #disc #discstyles #Bluemontain #toronto #vancouver #montreal  #collingwood #meetingplanners #recruitment #management #engagement

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4 min read
08May

Top Do's and Don'ts for leading off-site Team Team Meetings.


For every manager with a great reputation for leading offsite meetings, there is a manager who is known for planning meetings that provide cerebral nap times.

Offsite meetings can be great tools to re-calibrate, motivate, brainstorm, and creatively connect with staff. In a world of virtual teams, email and Skype meetings, there is a special need for offsite meetings where teams can connect in person without interruptions or work distractions. Having had the privilege to work at many client team meetings, and sales/management conferences over the last 20 years, we have often been relied upon for some advice in planning and referring locations etc..

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, we’ve also heard from clients about the offsite meeting nightmares they’ve endured in the past, meetings that haven’t exactly led to better team cohesiveness or the fostering of future buy-in. While large conferences often employ teams of internal and/or external meeting planners, smaller offsite team meetings are generally left to a manager to arrange, perhaps with the help of an assistant or coordinator. These off-sites can have a variety of stated purposes, from building strategy to quarterly business review, often sprinkled with a dash of fun and “team-building”.

So if you or a colleague are in charge of organizing the team’s next offsite, here are some of our top Do’s and Don’ts to consider:

Do’s...

  • Do choose a creative location
    If your goal is to get undivided attention away from the office, choose a nice location (and go see it yourself, first). Whether it be an original school house or a place overlooking a lake or waterfall, select a spot with some independent appeal. This will be especially valued by attendees if your session involves being away from their families for an overnight stay. The opportunity to walk in some green space at break times is often refreshing. We’ve attended events at castles, cooking schools, bed and breakfasts, and even a unique funeral home. Many resorts have some different pros and cons. From  Meeting Rooms and Resorts in Blue Mountain Ontario to golf clubs in Dominican Republic  or Dolce Hayes Mansion in California, there are endless options to suit  your group and budget.
    • Do customize to your audience
      This means you need to know how to pack the “what” into the meeting. I recently attended a large evening event that featured a former NHL hall-of-famer, now in his late-60’s. Some certainly enjoyed it, but others (the audience contained quite a few millenials’ ) had not even been born yet when he was a player, and probably wished he had gotten the hook from stage right a little sooner. Know your audience, and make sure your planning reflects that.

    • Do schedule for engagement
      Plan interactive dialog vs. an “information dump”. Team meetings are an excellent opportunity to gain input and brainstorm team solutions. If you spend the day talking “at" vs. "with" the team, don’t be surprised to see the smart phones come out as they disconnect from meeting content and connect to other issues online. (email us for a free article on  a creative problem solving technique any group can use in a meeting)

    • Do engage in Team Activity
      Feature something unique, beyond just the same-old, same-old. This is where 
      outside vendors or consultants may help. Do your homework and relate it to the day. Be fun, but not frivolous. We’ve been asked to work at multi-day team offsites where our sessions were integrated with unique add-ins such as “team drumming”. On the other hand, know your group; you may get a big “yawn” with  the old ropes courses from the 90’s.

    • Do energize the atmosphere
      Ever attend a cocktail party in a library quiet environment? There is no buzz kill like having complete silence when a group gets together, which is why you hear music in Starbucks locations.  Play music at the beginning, while attendees are arriving or having coffee, and at content break times. It could be smooth jazz instrumental or some genre that appeals to the group. Note: it shouldn't be loud and distracting, so nix the Twisted Sister or Profanity-laced Snoop Dog (or Lion). You may even want to appoint a team DJ to select some tunes the team would like and have them create the play list.

    • Do consider a good outside speaker and if larger conference, a good meeting planner.
      Partner with an outside speaker who can add value and bring a new perspective to your team. Be sure to brief your speaker with general info about the team, the goals and themes of the offsite, as well as any recent issues to be aware of. If they are good, they will weave your theme and team objectives into their presentation. Another “outside voice” idea is to bring in a client or customer panel to add a valuable perspective. For larger meetings/conferences a good meeting planner or event firm can ensure a productive event aligned with strategic direction.

    • Do communicate while planning
      Build engagement before the event by communicating goals and desired outcomes of the meeting. If there is some prep work to be completed, send it out in advance with clear deadlines. You could even send out ‘welcome’ emails or cards the week before the session. We had one client that did this with the simple question, "What will next year look like?" on the card in advance of a planning meeting. Afterward, send out a follow-up communication thanking them for their participation, and summarizing the key points addressed, if appropriate.

Don'ts...

  • Don’t procrastinate in your planning
    A good team meeting requires forethought and planning. Allow time for all the content and logistics to be mapped out for a successful team event. Also, allow team members time to plan their personal lives around it. If it is overnight they may require notice to schedule baby sitters or dog walkers, etc.


  • Don’t put team members on the spot in front of peers
    If you would like any of the participants to speak at the offsite, be sure to advise them in advance. If you are planning to ask them questions about their area of business, let them know ahead of time so that they aren’t caught off guard. Not everyone is comfortable speaking extemporaneously, and most would appreciate being able to prepare.

    • Don’t encourage excessive alcohol consumption
      Many years ago, we were asked to provide facilitation at an overnight offsite meeting of national sales managers. There was an email sent out prior, stipulating no alcohol at the 3-day event. When we asked about it, we were told that they had encountered issues at previous events and for safety and liability reasons, they now have a no-alcohol policy.

    • Don’t forget to do a post survey
      Find out what they liked – and what they didn’t like. Asked what ideas they came away with, and what they’d do differently next time.

Most teams are working pretty hard these days.  If you have team offsites, develop a reputation for leading great meetings. Make use of offsites to allow for team connection and fun, along with the content, and you will build engagement and interest from the moment you announce the date. If have a team, management or sales meeting coming up and you're looking for suggestions, feel free to email us and ask any questions.

In the Spirit of Growth,

 XLTeamwork.com

Chuck Reynolds is President and Chief Performance Officer of Excel Group Development in Toronto. He can be reached at (416) 481- 4802 or visit www.XLTeamwork.com for more information. 

Contact us to learn more about what we could do to make your team meeting or conference a success.

Stay connected and lets share ideas together that help others Excel.

          

              

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6 min read
21Nov

How to turns customers on. Selling with behavioural Disc styles.

Do you know how often your sales people turn customers off?

Do they know?

How to Understand and Approach the 4 Main Buyer Styles.


Have you ever been turned off by a salesperson?
Learning and applying behavioural intelligence to understand the 4 main buyer styles helps increase sales.

As Certified Professional Behavioural Analysts (CPBAs), we understand the importance of learning about and applying behavioural science to personal and professional relationships. We've worked with many from C-suite leaders, sales teams, administrators, professional service firms, to the U.S. Marine Corps, and with each of these groups it was easy to see the value and ROI for learning about behavioural styles. But not everyone gets it. No matter where you are, it's easy to find examples of the "sales fails" that result from a lack of behavioural intelligence.

Even with the growth of online marketing and artificial intelligence (AI), good sales professionals continue to be in demand, and their skills can be amplified with new technology. However, the human touch doesn’t guarantee success. Can you recall an experience where you were “turned off”, and opted not to buy a product or service because of the behaviour of a sales person?

Do you know how often your salespeople turn customers off?

Do you think they do that intentionally? With their compensation likely based on establishing a successful relationship with the client, they probably don’t mean to offend.  But the best of intentions are of little value when you don’t have the knowledge to carry them out. I once walked out of a car dealership, resolving to change car brands and end a relationship that spanned over 12 years and 3 vehicles. My previous sales manager, Gord, was no longer there and the new guy was an awful listener – more like a vacation timeshare salesman at month end. He most certainly wanted to keep me as a customer, but his behaviour drove me away.

Studies show that clients change suppliers mainly due to their dissatisfaction with the human interactions, rather than with to the product. The behaviour of a sales professional has an enormous amount of influence on the client or customer’s decision to continue or to conclude a relationship.
Studies indicate that:

  1. Buyers and influencers tend to feel comfortable with and buy from sales professionals that display behavioural styles similar to their own.
  2. Sales professionals tend to sell more effectively to people with behavioural styles similar to their own.
  3. When sales professionals adapt their behavioural style to that of the client/customer, their sales increase.

In short, a behavioural style clash can result in a sales crash.

Whether it be in financial services, real estate, professional services or B2B, most traditional sales development focuses on the same few areas. Salespeople everywhere focus on following up on target marketing, identifying and understanding needs, building trust, qualifying, handling objections, closing skills, etc. Although these sales competencies are important, the ability to use them in a way that uniquely matches each customer will largely determine their effectiveness. If you want to build trust with your clients, the ability to understand their behaviour and adapt yours to match it will be a critical success factor.

The 4 DISC Buyer Types

There are a variety of  4-quadrant behavioural profiling systems (like DISC) that are available to help you learn about your behavioural style. Full Disclosure: We use a special integrated psychometric instrument with Motivators and DISC that is highly validated by TTI. (Sales Leaders, see below for how you can receive a complimentary profile.)


The D (Dominance) Style

Tends to be: extroverted, fast-paced, strong, direct personality style, task-focused, direct communicators, and comfortable with taking calculated risks aligned with their goals.

Best Approach (to communicate with the D style):

  • Be prepared, brief and on point.
  • Focus on alignment of product or service benefits with their objectives. Listen, then maintain a fast-paced response.
  • Be direct with responses, staying on track.
  • Maintain eye contact, strong tonality, and a firm handshake.


The I (Influence) Style

Tends to be: outgoing, fast-paced, extroverted, creative, conversational, optimistic and people-oriented.

Best Approach (to communicate with the style:)

  • Use a friendly approach with engaging tonality (not monotone). Listen to their ideas and goals.
  • Use references from people they know or admire in similar purchasing situations. 
  • Focus on big picture benefits for them (or for their organization if B2B).
  • Don`t dwell on all details, but do offer to send them the follow up information.



The S (Steady) style

Tends to be: relaxed, introverted, people-oriented, reserved, a good listener, indirect communicator, a team player and  risk-averse.

Best Approach (to communicate with the S style):        

  • Use a sincere, friendly, calm approach.                                        
  • Listen patiently without interrupting.
  • Don’t pressure them to make a decision immediately. (Sometimes it is better to send them information in advance, or follow up later, allowing them time to review.)
  • Use a relaxed conversational pace.
  • If you offer guarantees, don’t over-promise without fully delivering as you will be challenged to earn back their trust.



The C (Compliance) Style

Tends to be: analytical, detailed, task-oriented, introverted, and more interested in quality and accuracy of  work than the pace.

Best Approach (to communicate with the C style):  

  • Use a professional, conservative and direct approach.
  • Use a measured, patient pace, allowing them to ask detailed questions. Be prepared with facts and data to support your presentation points.
  • Listen carefully and respond to questions with attention to details requested.


If you’re a sales professional, behavioural science can help you and your team…

1)  Gain some self-awareness about your own behavioural style, and

2)  Understand the different styles of clients, customers and prospects, to engage them more effectively than the competition.

You’ll be rewarded with superior sales, increased business and referrals.

P.S. If you're in sales leadership and planning a team meeting, we'd be delighted to provide you with a complimentary profile. Just drop us a note here>. (https://www.xlteamwork.com/complimentary-sales-leader- profile)

XLTeamwork.com 


XLTeamwork.com, works with organizations to enhance Team, Sales and Leadership Effectiveness at Conferences and Meetings. #sales #salesmeeting #salesconference #salesteam #salesdevelopment #salestraining #salesmanagement.

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6 min read
15Sep

The Best Coaching Tips for Managers.

Have you met a manager who (unknowingly) undermines the engagement of others? While Artificial Intelligence is growing in use, anyone who manages people, should understand the importance Behavioural Intelligence for effective coaching. Managers have an impact on team engagement,  talent retention,  and productivity. To make sure you're coach-leading your staff in the way that works best for them - and helps them work their best for you - here are 10 tips outlined below.


1. Ensure you fully understand what coaching is.

Many managers make incorrect assumptions about coaching. It's important that a manager uses a clear and consistent coaching model, and understands the "why" - to enhance staff engagement and performance - as well as the "how" - using a collaborative questioning dialogue model of engagement. The manager should be able to distinguish between 'bossing, coaching, counseling, training, and therapy." Coaching seeks engage for commitment vs. manage for compliance.

2. Check your perspective on people.

A manager who sees people's potential is far better at coaching them towards it. A manager that judges people based on past and current performance, or believes that people are inherently limited, will not make a strong effort to engage staff for optimal performance. An engaged, well-coached employee will out-perform one who is being mismanaged by a weak boss while a mis-managed team member will be shopping their resume to leave. A person tends to quit their manager more than the company.

3. Learn and practice an Effective Coaching Model.

It's crucial that you start with a coaching model that is research-based and proven. That being said, there is a difference between taking a two-day seminar on coaching, and actually developing coaching skills. The course is an event, but the other is a process. Just as getting into (and staying in) shape requires consistent workouts rather than just one visit to the "fitness bootcamp" class, becoming a great coach isn't a quick fix. After acquiring the coaching knowledge, it's important to engage in continuous application. Partner with an organization that offers ongoing follow-up options. (See Coaching the Coaches for more information on a proven, research-based model.)

4. Engage your Boss.

With engagement at all levels of the organization, investment in a coaching culture will achieve greater traction and superior results. Sometimes a lack of engagement or support from senior management can be a real coaching roadblock. Present a case for the economic benefits of coaching, and make sure that they can see the ROI involved.

5. Understand and value personality differences.

When coaching staff, be aware that each person has different motivators and communication styles. Learn the styles of your team in order to adapt your communication to the listener for increased impact. If someone is slower to speak and respond, for example, allow them time to think and process rather than interrupting with 'helpful' suggestions. Effective coaching adapts to the unique style and needs of the person being coached.


 6. Prioritize your time - Stay focused.

Coaching can happen in different ways with different needs and circumstances. At times, there will be "mini" spontaneous coaching opportunities that shouldn't be missed. Often we call this "lazer coaching" in the moment. On other occasions, longer or more intensive coaching sessions are called for. Plan your coaching times and know when enough is enough. Keep the session focused on arriving at a solution within the time frame allowed - avoid endless verbalization about the problem, and coach to a resolution.

7. Stop putting out fires.

A manager who regularly steps in to solve staff's problems isn't doing them (or himself) any favors. He's only training them to bring him the problems, rather than solving them. Coach your staff to develop their confidence and problem-solving ability. This alone will increase organizational efficiency. Sometimes the simple question, "What can you do about it?" will help to uncover a solution.

8. Seek regular feedback.

To support your continued growth, make sure that you get regular feedback. Awareness of where and how you are succeeding (and not) will assist you in making the changes you need for sustained improvement. This is an area where 360 Feedback is often helpful.

9. Listen, listen, listen.

One of the greatest skills a coach/manager must practice is active listening. Fully deploy active listening skills with an open mind in order to ask more effective questions of the coachee, and get to the heart of an issue to assist them in finding a solution. (hint-- put communication devices away)

10. Keep growing and developing.

The rate of change in the world today means that every year, more and more of what we've previously learned becomes obsolete. Keep current with the latest research and development in the field.  A great way to multi-task is listen to leadership/coaching podcasts while commuting or on a stationary bike at the gym. Stay sharp in engaging your team for superior results. Remember "Organizations don't achieve results. People do."


In the Spirit of Growth...

Chuck Reynolds, Chief Team Officer- Excel Group

Connect with me at Chuck Reynolds  

XLTeamwork.com

#Engagement #Teamwork #Coaching #Leadership #XLTeamwork

                         

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4 min read
24May

When you hire and retain talent, their engagement is critical. 3 Tips for Team Engagement


Can you tell the difference between an employee who is truly engaged, and one who isn't? Try looking at the difference in quality of service you receive.

 On a recent business trip I was provided with the opportunity to experience and juxtapose some very different levels of service and employee engagement:

At a Tampa hotel, we were greeted by energized staff who went out of their way to assist us. We had also noted several employees at the airport who seemed to honestly enjoy helping the passengers. But then there was the disappointment I experienced during a visit to my preferred addiction supplier, Starbucks. When I arrived at the coffee house located in a Chapters store during what was clearly a slow period, three baristas were chatting behind the counter, and were unenthusiastic about interrupting the conversation to take my order. As I waited for my caffeine fix, my dissatisfaction with the service level was only amplified by the obvious lack of store cleanliness, with litter scattered on the floor and tables. If this was the consistent experience offered, would most brand loyalists return? I think not.

In any organization, a lack of engagement is costly. Disengaged staff often take more sick days, turn off more customers, lag in productivity and, when in management or on a team, can spread their "disengagement virus" faster than a runny nose in a day care.

Conversely, engaged staff create superior customer experiences, initiate innovative problem solving, and inspire their peers to greater performance - all factors that, when sustained, will contribute to the organization's bottom line. In his book Passion Capital, Paul Alofs discusses the energized, sustained, and strategically deployed engagement of associates as the most valuable asset an organization can have, using the equationPassion Capital = Energy + Intensity + Sustainability.

Customers and clients can certainly tell the difference between a team member who is engaged, and one who is not. Following a tour of the new Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel and their amazing 50,000 square foot wellness center, it was a pleasure to meet and speak with CEO Brian Adams. He is an engaged leader who sees the connection between engaged staff and excellence in patient care. From the person at reception, to security guards, to management team members, to the obvious pride that the VP of HR exhibited during the tour, it was clear that the level of engagement in their mission was high.

So how does an organization go about enhancing staff engagement? There is no single answer to this question - there are three areas that need to be integrated in order to both achieve and sustain a high level of engagement.

3 Important Factors for Engagement

1) Hire Right Fit Employees

Understand and align staff members' intrinsic motivators with the job. Don't hire Mother Teresa as a sales leader, or Donald Trump as the director of counselling for a homeless shelter. Mother Teresa was passionately engaged by helping and serving others, hence the work she did in Calcutta.  Mr. Trump, on the other hand, is passionately engaged by “The Art of The Deal” in his business/political pursuits, and would likely not be energized in the same role.

2) Coach Your Staff Uniquely and Effectively

With the understanding that staff members have different styles and motivators, managers must learn how to coach them accordingly. Coaching Mother Teresa and Donald Trump requires two different approaches in order to engage their natural, intrinsic talents. Also, understanding how important the role of culture is, it can sometimes become necessary for managers to recognize poor fit and “coach them to be successful somewhere else.” As Alofs mentions in his book, “A culture of passion capital can be compromised by the wrong people. Tend the weeds.”

3) Engage Teamwork

Years ago I heard Jim Jacobus repeat the quote "Inside every human being, a champion heart beats." The challenge at times is, once you have a talented team of engaged champions, they need to work together. In 1984, when Bob Geldoff wrote Do They Know It's Christmas? and recruited talented celebrities to record it together, he knew enough to hang a sign at the entrance that said “Please leave your ego at the door.” Engaged people need to work together, respecting each others' unique passions, talents, and roles to accomplish the bigger purpose ahead of them. Imagine our human body as a team, driving a car. If the foot says to the eyes, “I’m the most important when it comes to controlling how fast we go” and the eyes respond by simply shutting, there might be some trouble reaching our destination. When engaged talents don’t work together well, it compromises productivity, performance and even talent retention. Again, in a “Coaching Culture” managers lead by leveraging engaged people in a way that cultivates their multiplied talents. As the saying goes “It takes teamwork to make a dream work.”

Hire Right, Coach Effectively, Embed Team Effectiveness, then stand back and observe engagement extended to customers and clients.

In the Spirit of Growth,


 XLTeamwork.com

Chuck Reynolds is President and Chief Performance Officer of Excel Group Development in Toronto. He can be reached at (416) 481- 4802 or visit www.XLTeamwork.com for more information. 

Contact us to learn more about what we could do to make your team meeting a success.


                         

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3 min read
12Oct

Have you ever had what you felt was lousy service while on holiday, and vowed never to return? Well, this hotel experience transformed us. We've all heard or read about nightmare experiences in hotels or resorts.

Have you ever had what you felt was lousy, nightmarish hotel service, and vowed never to return? This hotel experience left an indelible impression.  We often say that the culture is set from the top down: if managers and leaders don't lead a service culture, they can't expect the rest of the organization to serve clients well, and soon the brand is adversely affected. News of bad customer service reaches more than twice as many ears as praise for a good service experience.



 Being originally from Brazil and Jamaica respectively, my wife and I enjoy regular breaks in a warmer climate ( its part of our DNA). We have enjoyed countless trips to the Bavarro beach in Punta Cana in the D.R., usually staying at the Melia or Paradisus. On our recent trip, however, we opted to try a new hotel chain that we weren't previously familiar with. With some trepidation, we booked a 2-week stay with teens in tow at a property that featured a massive water park. Within 30 hours of our arrival I was frustrated, irritated, and ready to believe that this entire vacation would be a nightmare of lousy service. In fact, I had already decided never to return to a Memories or Royalton hotel ever again.


SPOILER ALERT: It didn't work out the way I planned. They transformed our minds and we have returned several times to Royalton since this was first published and have referred many friends and family members there. Why? The short answer is, they fumbled, but the recovery was so phenomenal we became self-appointed Royalton ambassadors. I've never seen such a service recovery before. The remarkable recovery led by one manager and his team made all the difference. Below, we've unpacked the glitch and recovery as well as 5 tips we observed for Leading a Service Culture.


The Service Glitch (if you're a Core D style scroll to the bottom )

We wanted to try the Royalton Hotel in Punta Cana as it was closer to the beach, but it was sold out. (bummer). We learned after our arrival that this was due to one of the largest (150 guests) and most beautiful destination weddings that I'd ever seen. We opted to book at the neighboring sister property (with some older rooms) , Memories Splash.

On the first day , our room keys didn't work. No worries - we went to the front desk and got a new set. We returned about 6pm after an active day, ready to freshen for dinner only to find that the new keys no longer worked and we were unable to gain access to our room (again). A little disappointed, I walked back to the main office and requested a third set of keys. Once I returned to the room, however, I found that this set did not work either and we were still locked out, necessitating yet another trip back to the front desk. This time I was told that someone would be sent to help within 5-10 minutes.

He arrived (20 minutes later) examined the locks but there was no progress, and he radioed a colleague for help. As we sat in the hallway for another half hour, the two employees called a third person, and eventually the team effort (over 2 hours later) did lead to results. After finally getting into our room - we were tired, hungry, and irritated - only to find that it had never been cleaned. Apparently the cleaning staff had also been unable to open the doors when they came by earlier in the day, but it seemed they hadn't alerted anyone to the problem at the time (a simple move that could have saved us more than two hours of aggravation).
As my family headed to the showers to prepare for a late dinner, I pulled out the laptop, found the information for the head office (in Canada), and emailed off a note voicing my extreme displeasure - should anyone there care to listen.



The Incredible Service Recovery

By the time we returned from dinner, I had a response to my email, both online and in hard-copy letter under our door, from a member of the management team onsite. He invited us to meet with him the next day to discuss our experience, and what followed was a perfect example of what to do right, when something's gone wrong.

At our meeting the manager listened patiently, took notes, and politely asked questions to clarify what had happened. At the end of the meeting he thanked us for our feedback, sincerely apologized, and promised to look into the matter (we later found out that it was a major software glitch in the card access system). He explained that it was a relatively new hotel, and they would appreciate any further feedback. He went on to say that they wanted to take this opportunity to demonstrate the level of service that Royalton aspires to as a brand standard. He upgraded us to a new room with expanded restaurant privileges and introduced us to our dedicated butler, Franklyn. (Having watched a lot of Fresh Prince of Bel Air episodes, my youngest wanted to call him "G".)

We spent the remainder of the two weeks learning about and enjoying the resort, and we have since shared with many friends and family just how impressed we were with the Royalton Punta Cana property. Our often-demanding teens loved the Teen Lounge, meeting other teens from around the world (and using their French). The waterpark also lived up to the marketing, and was indeed "Splashtastic". My wife and I enjoyed the 24-hour gym, the coffee shop, the food, the ambient time themed music and much more - (too many things to list.)

We would never have become the self-appointed volunteer Royalton Brand Ambassadors, were it not for the head office response and service leadership of Mr. Juan Carlos Perolta. He checked in with us each time he saw us on the property. His actions demonstrated the importance and benefits of leading a service culture. Out of curiosity, we extended an invitation for him to complete one of our online behavioural surveys. The resulting profile documented his listening skills and showed just how well-suited he was to leadca team in his role. Regardless of industry, leading a service culture is crucial for sustained organizational success.


5 Keys to Leading a Service Culture

1) Hire "Right" - Hire managers who sincerely enjoy serving the public (think smiling persona vs. accounting boss type). Hiring wrong fit can adversely impact your brand and bottom line.

2) Coach - Clarify service expectations regularly and coach staff for alignment, e.g., Greet guests with a smile and "Hola" when you pass them.

3) Model Service - Ensure managers lead by example. They should lead first, by treating their staff with respect and encouragement so staff have the esteem, confidence and desire to assist in serving customers at a superior level.

4) Listen for Understanding and Improvement - When service glitches occur (and they will), don't listen to the customers just to shut them up. Listen to learn and turn it around. What can you do to change their experience?

5) Get Customer Help - Turn customers/guests/clients into brand ambassadors. Invite them to assist in helping your organization learn what is going well, and how you can improve. You would be surprised how easy it is to do this by simply asking, "What can we do better or differently?"

There's no big secret to service excellence. It all begins with a sincere desire to serve your customers/ clients, and grows from there and could end with engaged long term customers. Remember, every time you encounter a service "fumble", view it as an opportunity to demonstrate a commitment to excellence in the recovery.

In the spirit of growth,

Charles (Chuck) Reynolds

XLTeamwork.com

Excel Group is a Canadian based firm with a reputation for helping organizations to enhance their engagement and effectiveness in Team, Management and Sales Effectiveness using Behavioural Science. 

#Teamwork #Disc #Conferences #Meetings #Coaching #Royalton #Sunwing #hotels #Service.

** UPDATE **

In the few years since this service recovery we have been back a few times. We have also been to their sister brand Chic Punta Cana and referred friends and family seeking a warm break.





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4 min read
17Sep

Sometimes even executives leave if teamwork doesn't work. 3 Tools leaders can use for better teamwork.

Sometimes even if executives leave if teamwork doesn't work.
3 Tools leaders can use for better teamwork.

 A while back the President  of Microsoft's Windows and Windows Live operations Steve Sinofsky, was reported to have left his employer. Yes, the gracious press releases indicate a civil parting of the ways with the executive, however inside reports indicated the departure came as a result of infighting that had reached a boiling point (see story on Bloomberg.com).

"Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft's Windows and Windows Live operations, is leaving the company just weeks after launching its new operating system, Windows 8... Still, there was immediate speculation that the company had become worried over Sinofsky's ability to get along with other executives, including CEO Ballmer, given a new emphasis on collaboration.
Reuters reported Tuesday that one former Microsoft staffer who worked with Sinofsky had said his aggressive style exasperated other leaders and may have alienated too many people, including his mentor, Microsoft founder Bill Gates." (from CBC News Online)

Without a doubt, constant innovation requires an exchange of ideas mixed with healthy disagreement. Unchecked however, deeply-rooted conflict and personality clashes serve to undermine trust, which is the foundation required for team and organizational effectiveness (see our earlier blog post on Relationship Mismanagement).

In working with organizations as diverse as the Marines, global Pharmaceuticals, and not-for-profits, we've seen 3 major tools that leaders can harness for enhancing team effectiveness and reducing conflict.

1) Understand your team members’ unique personalities (behavioral stylesand motivators).
Some will be quite extroverted and voice their opinions without hesitation (often dominating meeting time), while others are more reflective and slower to verbalize ideas. The challenge is that, while the introverts may have incredible ideas, if there is perceived conflict they may not feel comfortable sharing them. I recall having the honor of working with a  large group that  combined military commanders with private sector project leaders. The session on working styles and motivators created such team understanding and impact that their senior leader proceeded to share the information of how best to optimize working with him on their shared intranet, and encouraged his whole team to do the same as he sought to understand them better.
A leader who can recognize and coach to different styles, overcoming their own natural style preference and biases, will be valued by any team/organization. They will be able to engage more productivity and minimize unproductive conflict while increasing retention.

2) Coach-Lead with Questions.
You may recall the quote, “a person convinced against their will is of the same opinion still." In working as a team member or leader, one engages others and opens team learning with the use of strategic questioning. The days of "boss-management" dictating orders to staff, much like some of the theories of  Fred Winslow Taylor in the late 1800's, are from a bygone era. In our knowledge-based economy, it is more about gaining commitment vs. enforcing compliance. It is the team member or leader skilled at strategic questioning who will engage others in maximizing commitment for developing and sharing ideas. The "dictatorial boss" will just gain compliance to minimal job requirements. A leader who asks the right questions will harness intellectual and creative engagement, and enjoy the resulting deployment of discretionary effort.

3) Practice Active Listening. 
Whether it be in team communications, customer services or coach-leading staff, the discipline of active listening is critical for 3 important reasons. First, listening facilitates focus – it allows us to be very clear on where we are before we start making the changes that will lead us to where we need to be. Secondly, given ongoing continuous change, continuous learning is crucial. Talk show host Larry King once said, “I never learned a thing when I was doing the talking." His discipline of asking questions and listening on the show was well documented. Listeners are learners. And finally, think about how you feel when you are fully listened to vs. interrupted or ignored. Extrapolate that feeling to behaviors/actions. With that "ignored" feeling, team members or staff will dial down their engagement. If your goal is to foster collaboration and engagement, active listening is a discipline that will increase your effectiveness.

At the end of the day, organizations don't achieve results - people do. As a team member or coach-leader, your ability to understand and get along with others will be one of the most important attributes you can develop. It takes true, non-ego-driven teamwork to make a dream work. Organizations that foster a culture of understanding and coaching to leverage differences will harness sustainable performance, innovation and retention.

In the Spirit of Growth

Chuck Reynolds Excel Group

Chuck Reynolds

XLTeamwork.com


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3 min read
10Sep

Did you unplug a bit this summer? Lately I have noticed that when you ask people how they're doing, they don’t generally use the word “productive” in their response.



Did you unplug a bit this summer? Lately I have noticed that when you ask people how they're doing, they don’t generally use the word “productive” in their response. The word that often does come up, however, is “busy”. As you can imagine, when you feel extremely busy but don’t feel productive, the overall result is a sense of growing frustration. With the new normal of being in touch 24/7 with online access, digital communication, and streaming media, the pace can seem absolutely relentless. It’s enough to make you want to scream (like ‘80s weight-loss celeb Susan Powter) “Stop the insanity!”

Research is showing higher stress levels at work, less-than-ideal levels of engagement (~30%), and increasing incidence of mental and physical health challenges. None of that is surprising given the pace at which we attack our schedules, and how little time we carve out in it for ourselves. Studies have shown that more than 40% of American workers did not take all of their allotted time off last year (and Canadian stats likely aren’t much different), yet there is ample evidence that we are more productive and engaged at work when we take time for rest and recreation.

This summer I took more time to unplug from my usual role, and made an effort to prioritize some other aspects of life. I spent time with family in sunny Punta Cana, attended and hosted several family events, and completed the acquisition of another investment property (another one of my passion areas). While relaxing at the Royalton Hotel in Punta Cana (more on that in a future blog), went to the gym every other day, hiked, walked the beach, visited the huge waterpark with my family, and got into a few books that really sparked my creative process.

The more you look at the research and observe the chaos of today’s organizations, the more you can see the value of 2 habits that Dr. Steven Covey discussed in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:

  1. Sharpen the Saw
    This habit is illustrated with the story of a lumberjack, who was so busy cutting down trees that he did not have time to stop and sharpen his saw. He labored away with his increasingly dull saw, producing less and less in the way of results. Likewise, your tired and overworked team members may be operating on diminished capacity, with an accompanying decline in productivity.

  2. Put First Things First
    This habit is based on Covey’s insightful 4-quadrant time management model (There's an image included at the bottom of this post, but if you’ve never heard of it, do a quick Google search – it’s worth the effort). Too often we spend time in the unproductive quadrants, #1 (Putting out fires – important and urgent) and #4 (Busywork - unimportant and not urgent). Instead, we need to expand the amount of time we spend in quadrant #2 – with things that are important, but not urgent. This would include planning, prevention, recreation, relationship building, and seeking out new opportunities.

Managers/Team Members, when coaching yourselves and others, “Stop the Insanity” and ensure you have regular time for recreation and to unplug. Do whatever works for you - exercise, pray, meditate, read, walk, run. You can’t lead well when tired and stressed. You can’t give away that which you don’t have – so start with you.

Do you have staff members that are looking tired or burned out? It won't be long before they disengage, if they haven't already. When leading/coaching others, challenge them to reflect on their time usage and a productivity plan that includes time for recreation and unplugging. You will enhance engaged productivity in yourself and the others that you lead when you sharpen the saw and be intentional about productive prioritization. 

Make it an awesome week - I'm off to the gym...

In the spirit of Growth,

describe the image

Stevev Covey's 4 Quadrants:

quadrant 4 time management


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2 min read
02Sep

"What's the difference between a Manager and a Coach?" That question often leads us to another:

One of the questions we often hear discussed is, "What's the difference between a Manager and a Coach?"
That question often leads us to another: "What is the difference between Management and Leadership?"
 Best selling author Brian Tracy says,

"Management is transactional, while Leadership is Transformational." Management responsibilities can include many areas, from budgeting to planning and reports, and general administration. Leadership, however, also includes the component of leading and supporting people, in a way that will ultimately allow them to achieve, be productive, and experience growth.

To answer the first question, "What's the difference between a Manager (a boss) and a Coach (a leader)?", let's look at some context. One challenge that occurs in most organizations is that people move into the management role once they have mastered some technical competence in a department or role. And so, a great sales person will be promoted to sales management, or a top-notch software engineer developing code for the project is promoted to manage other programmers, or a productive accountant is promoted to Controller or Accounting Manager. The challenge is that the familiarity with the transactional side of management (often viewed as completing a list of tasks and achieving a result) is very different than the competence of leading others (through whom you are now tasked with achieving the result). In the absence of effective leadership development, managers can fall into the habit of dictating to-do lists, micromanaging, or unnecessarily rolling up their sleeves to become a 'Do For' boss or reverse delegator. We've seen new Sales Managers take over the sales process in a client meeting, much to the frustration of the Account Executive who is now responsible for the account. Over the years we've reviewed volumes of 360 Management Feedback reports, and have seen some clear habit/behavior distinctions between what we call the "Boss Manager" and the "Coach Leader".

Here are 5 Key Differences between a Manager/Boss and a Coach/Leader:

A Coach spends more time listening and asking questions, while a Boss spends more time speaking and giving directions.

A Coach invests time in observing, while a Boss makes quick assumptions.

A Coach uncovers issues to get the the root of a problem, while a Boss takes the quickest route to deal with the surface symptoms.

A Coach helps Direct Reports accept responsibility, while a Boss assigns blame.

A Coach supports employees in developing their plans, while a Boss gives them the plan and tells them to follow it.

We've all experienced variations of Boss vs. Leader types in our working lives. The truth is, it seems easier and more expedient to "boss" than to coach. But research and anecdotal evidence both show that coach/leaders have more engaged employees, and get better results. Do you have more "boss" types or coaches in your organization? Whether you're the head of a global organization, or just trying to be effective in leading a small team, perhaps it's time to ask yourself - am I more of a boss, or a leader? What would your employees say?

In the Spirit of Growth,

Chuck (Charles)

XLTeamwork.com

                         

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