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Are You Sure You’re Training the Right Things?

Not long ago a training consultant got a call from a sales manager who said, “We need sales training!”

The consultant answered, “Are you sure?”

The caller explained that some of their customer service reps were doing four times the volume of others. It had to be because they were better salespeople … right? So, they needed sales training!

The consultant agreed to help, but insisted on observing the company’s top performers to get a better understanding of what sales techniques they were using.

As it turned out, the top producers weren’t better salespeople at all, but rather had developed a more effective method for processing customer transactions. Once the consultant recognized that, it was easy to document their techniques and build short training interactions around them. The result was an almost instant uptick in sales across their entire customer service rep population.

The message? To get the results you want, you need to understand the reality of your situation. Here are some non-obvious, commonsense steps to help you do that and avoid wasting time and resources.

Step One: Get Real Information from the Right People

A modified version of DACUM (which stands for Developing a Curriculum) can be effectively used in situations like that one. DACUM, which was created by educators to design courses, analyzes what people really do and what they need to learn.

In stark contrast to getting only the leadership team or training department heads in a room, training designers should invite the “boots on the ground.” These are the top performers, the gurus, and the go-to people everyone in the organization knows and relies on. A facilitator leverages a process by which they can extrapolate all that delicious institutional or “tribal” knowledge that exists only in their heads.

Diversity of perspective is key here, so don’t be afraid to have a mix of people. Here’s a sample group:

The new person who really gets it! – That person on your team who’s been in a role for six months to a year and really seems to get it. He or she provides a fresh perspective.

The go-to person who has been there forever! – He or she can be described as having forgotten more about the job than most people will ever learn. They provide historical knowledge about how the role has changed over the years.

An adjacent collaborator role – Don’t be afraid to bring in someone who is not in the role, but “close” to it. This individual can provide an outsider’s perspective and bring knowledge and experience to a different role.

Key stakeholders – This group is essential because they need the results. They are often your champions who need to understand the process and often support your budget.

Step Two: Create an Occupational Definition – Prime their Minds!

Get everyone in the room focused on the role and get discussions about leadership, work ethic and good communication out of the way. You can use a simple quadrant matrix to document:

  • Reporting lines – Who does the role report to up, down and laterally.
  • Critical knowledge and skills – What specific skills are essential to doing the job well?
  • “Nice to have” abilities and traits – What type of person tends to perform well?
  • Learned but wasn’t taught – What were those “a-ha moments” your group had on the job?

Step Three: Define the Body of Knowledge for Peak Performance – The Meat and Potatoes!

A Duty/Task Matrix can be used to define the body of knowledge necessary to perform in the role. You only need some big post-it notes and sharpies. Get the information on the wall so everyone can see it. Put duties down the left, and tasks going across left to right. Here are the definitions and some examples:

  • Duties – This is a something that is top-of-mind for the role. It doesn’t have a beginning or an end. It is ever-present while on the job and usually ends in –ing. Some examples:

Restaurant Manager. Duty: Maintaining food safety

Automotive Maintenance Manager. Duty: Selling products and services

  • Tasks – These are processes or procedures that have a beginning and end. They usually can have a metric associated with them. These roles fulfill duties by repeatedly completing a series of tasks, usually four or more. A defined task requires an object, verb and qualifier. Some examples:

Restaurant Manager. Task: Wash hands properly

Automotive Maintenance Manager. Task: Write a customer-facing estimate

When you identify all the duties and the tasks required to fulfill a role, you’ve documented the entire body of knowledge used by your experts in the room. You’ve also just blown your LT away, because they had “no idea!” your people did all this stuff!

Step Four: Understand the Gaps and Criticality

Your Duty/Task Matrix stands before you and now you need to know where the information is and what tasks have the highest impact on performance. Here are steps to follow:

Draft a Gap Analysis – Go task by task. Where is it documented how to perform this task? In HR? Marketing? Sales? Ops? Or is it in one of your expert’s head? Has it been passed down over time? If it’s the latter, it’s a gap!

Consider criticality – Everything in your Duty/Task Matrix is important … but what’s most critical? Use a simple rubric and define the impact to the business, performance, individual or team upon failure. Ask the question: If the worker fails to perform this task, does anyone notice? Does it create some rework—possibly a lot? Will you lose a customer? Will someone get hurt?

Step Five: Build Your Plan

You now have all the information you need to build your plan. You know what the role looks like, contained in your Occupational Definition. You know the body of knowledge that needs to be learned, as described in your Duty/Task Matrix. You know what exists and what doesn’t, laid out in your Gap Analysis. And you know what information is critical to performance, as summarized in your Criticality Analysis.

You can build your Learning Maps for the role, from beginner to expert. You can start to design and develop training around the gaps that really impacts performance. You can map these duties and tasks to competencies and leverage them in cross-team training interactions, and make decisions on the right method for delivery

Now you are armed, much like a marketing department, with an analysis of your customer base and potential for results based on empirical data and not simply feelings. Now you can go to your LT with a plan that justifies a budget and will deliver results. Oh, and you’ve done it all in two days. Good luck!

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Employee Retention: What Employees Want: Pillar #1 Clear Goals

Employee Retention: What Employees Want: Pillar #1 Clear Goals from Tina Greenbaum on Vimeo.

This is the first in the series about Employee Retention: What Employees Want. We’re talking about Clear Goals – both in the direction you’re going as an individual employee and the direction of the company.

To view the rest of the series on Vimeo as it is published, click here.

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Employee Retention: What Today’s Employees Are Looking For

Today’s workforce is a different breed from the dedicated 9-5’ers of yesteryear; this makes employee retention an entirely new ballgame. The current financial landscape has a great deal to do with it. The internet allows consumers to buy more than ever before with a few clicks of a mouse, while real estate prices continue to rise and income rates remain relatively static.

Decades ago, 40 hours a week at a menial job could buy a house, a car, and a middle-class lifestyle for an entire family. Those days are over. Today’s workers may not intend to create a family and sustain it in the traditional sense; both partners in a relationship usually go to work every week. Therefore, the landscape of employees’ expectations has changed, as they attempt to derive deeper satisfaction from employment than ever before.

Employee retention is a matter of ensuring that their expectations are met.

I recently had the opportunity to partner with a company called Beaconforce. They have built software that allows managers to survey their employees a twice a day to determine their employee’s mindset: how satisfied they are with their work, and how comfortable they feel with their managers.

In the process of building the software, Beaconforce learned that the key expectations for today’s employees include a feeling of purpose and belonging, autonomy, freedom, clear goals, continuous feedback, and a sense that they are growing and improving over time. Today’s employees also want to be challenged and have an aversion to boredom.

The software Beaconforce developed creates a chart demonstrating the employees’ level of satisfaction in each of these areas, along with their level of trust in their managers (and the company at large.) It also indicates how often they are in their “flow zone”—feeling fulfilled and constructive in their work, as opposed to stagnant and/or confused.

So, let’s say the software reports that employees are not entirely satisfied. Perhaps they don’t feel a sense of autonomy, they are bored or, worse, they don’t trust their manager. What’s next?

That’s where my partnership with Beaconforce comes in. As a transformational business coach, I work with managers to identify their blind spots and determine which ideas and behaviors are creating a less-than-ideal environment for their employees. In the days that follow, managers have the opportunity to make choices regarding how they relate to their employees, rather than continuing to act in the same way that generated the problems they want to address, to begin with.

If you are in a management position, with or without the Beaconforce software, it is very important to pay attention to each individuals’ satisfaction to ensure employee retention for your company.

If employee retention is something you are struggling with or something you simply feel you could improve, consider a three-month coaching package. Six sessions (once every-other-week) can identify blindspots you were completely unaware of. The resulting changes in management style will make a huge difference in how your employees feel about working with you.

Contact me to set up a free consultation to discuss what this particular program looks like, and how it can benefit you. Also, if you have any questions about employee retention (or how you might create a better work environment for your employees) feel free to contact me directly, or leave a comment below!

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Tips for Succeeding as a First-Time Manager

Jennifer Gluckow, founder of Sales in A New York Minute, knows a thing or two about sales. She’s also a first-rate manager with plenty of street cred. When she was placed in a sales management position, she quickly learned how to motivate her reps. Here’s what she shared with us about young and first-time managers in her recent Manage Smarter podcast.

Immediate Feedback

It’s always great when your younger reps make a sale. But, they need you most when the sale doesn’t happen. When you, and they, are first starting out, make sure they discuss their disappointments with you. These sessions allow you to point out what they could have said or done differently. The discussions also give you a chance to boost their ego, so they don’t get lost in negativity.

Mind the Age Gap

Long ago, presidential candidate Dan Quayle questioned the suitability of his opponent, Ronald Reagan, based on age. Reagan scored huge points, and went on to win re-election, after he famously turned around the challenge by saying, “I am not going to exploit for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.” If you’re much younger than the team members you’re supervising, be prepared to feel some heat. “They’ll seem nice and friendly, but they’re totally judging you,” remembers Gluckow, who was in the situation of supervising much older sales reps. You don’t have to form deep personal friendships with your team members. You just need to get them to do their best. To earn their respect, and cooperation, Gluckow quizzed her team members on what mattered to them about the job. Once she tapped into their emotional connection to the job, it was easier to convince them to work with her and make quota.

Make a List

Most sales managers have been reps. They’ve suffered under managers who were rude. Or, they’ve put up with constantly being handed the worst assignments. Or, they’ve had to figure out how to succeed on their own, because their manager couldn’t be bothered training them. You don’t have to be that kind of manager. Gluckow made a list when she first started managing people. She wrote down the traits of the best managers she had and made sure she emulated them.

If you want to start your management career on the right path, consider doing the same.

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Workplace Civility Starts with Management


Most Americans would agree that we’re living in an increasingly uncivil society. Our incivility is now invading the workplace, and bad behavior is demoralizing managers and employees. If you want to do something about this negative trend, listen to what Christine Porath has to say.

I recently interviewed Dr. Porath, an associate professor at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University and the author of Mastering Civility: A Manifesto for the Workplace, on an episode of my podcast Manage Smarter.

Porath suggests that managers increase awareness of their own civility. Managers often don’t realize that simply checking their phones during a one-on-one can be seen as rude. Porath urges managers “to ask people they work with about how they could improve their effectiveness. They should also ask which of their habits rub employees the wrong way.”

While they’re at it, managers should solicit feedback across the organization. Once you hear about how your habits and behaviors impact others, reflect on what was said. If people say you have a sharp tone in your email, think about how to change. For example, maybe you’ve been firing back responses to emails when you’ve been stressed. Are you always a bit stressed in the afternoons? If so, don’t respond to email until the morning, when you’re feeling energetic and positive.

Remember that uncivil behavior on the part of a manager can result in a big hit to the bottom line. Porath’s research shows that when managers act like their computers or phones are more important than anything else, employees react negatively. They:

  • Cut back on work effort: 66%
  • Worry about the incident: 80%
  • Leave the organization: 12%


Besides demonstrating their own commitment to civil behavior, managers should be on the lookout for employees who are rude and condescending. Some employees may act that way directly to their managers, while others are only rude to co-workers. If you want to curtail this kind of behavior, pull the offending person aside for a private chat. Explain how their behavior is hurting company culture and their personal reputations.

Another path toward a civil workplace is to establish a formal policy. Your policy could address topics that frustrate team members. For example, employees should show up on time for work. They should behave courteously to everyone in meetings. And they should nip their other rude tendencies in the bud.

Managers must showcase their commitment to civil behavior if they want to see change in their workplace.

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How to Use Anchoring Better in Your Negotiations

“Anchoring is a way to keep a negotiation within boundaries, but it can also be a way to weigh it down.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert

“We can pay your bill if you’re reasonable about the settlement. That means, we’re willing to start the discussion at $300,000, not the $650,000 that you indicated. Anything else is a none starter. Do you wish to start the discussion?” Those were the words of one negotiator to another. He was using a technique known as anchoring to advantage his position. How would you respond?

The following information will give you insights as to how you can use and defend the technique of anchoring in your negotiations.

What is anchoring?

Anchoring is a strategy that you can use to set boundaries in a negotiation. If you and the other negotiator agree to those boundaries, you have the confinements in which the negotiation will occur.

Be mindful, depending upon the depth of the negotiation, those outposts can be violated and lead the negotiation to unsavory places. Thus, be cognizant of the signals that indicate that the other negotiator might be in the process of abating those boundaries. At the first sign of such actions, note the cause that promoted the change in behavior. That will give you the clue about what to address if you wish to bring the negotiation back in bounds.

Why use anchoring?

As stated, anchoring is a way to set parameters around the negotiation. Therefore, if abided by, the agreement should allow for an easier flowing negotiation.

Boundaries in a negotiation can be a curse or a blessing. That’s the inherent dilemma in using this strategy. If you’re negotiating with a weaker negotiator, you can skillfully use anchoring to limit his abilities, while leaving your options open to explore the upper realms of possibilities. If you’re the weaker negotiator (i.e. fewer resources, little leverage, etc.), you risk being susceptible to an unfavorable negotiation outcome.

Factors to consider when using anchoring tactics.

  1. Negotiation (resources, personalities)

As mentioned above, you should consider the resources that you and the other negotiator have at your availability. The more resources that a negotiator has, the more leverage he can bring to bear on the negotiation. That doesn’t mean if you have fewer resources that you’ll automatically fall into the weaker category. It means, if you’re the weaker negotiator, you should attempt to limit the leverage of the other negotiator so he’ll not be able to employ those resources against you.

In addition, consider the other negotiator’s personality. Some negotiators don’t like to take advantage of others. And other negotiators will stomp on you while you’re down to keep you from getting up. The better you know the personality type that you’re negotiating with, the better you’ll be able to predict what he might do.

  1. Leverage points to consider (i.e. urgency, unseen negotiators, etc.)

If you have a grasp into the urgency, deadlines, and timeframes that the other negotiator needs to conclude the negotiation, you’ll have insights into how you can use anchoring to lead him down the negotiation path. For example, if you know that he must conclude your negotiation before another phase starts with those that are not part of your negotiation, you can anchor his deadline to a timeframe. Then, if he doesn’t make concessions that you request, you can slow the negotiation down.

Anchoring can be an extremely powerful strategy to use in your negotiation. Most negotiations contain some form of anchoring embedded in them with them identified as such. If you’re more aware of anchoring in your negotiations, you’ll be less likely to get sunk by them … and everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating! 

After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d really like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com 

To receive Greg’s free “Negotiation Tip of the Week” and the “Sunday Negotiation Insight” click here http://www.TheMasterNegotiator.com/greg-williams/

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Retain Talent: Pay Attention to Employees

Think back through your career and recall the best boss you’ve ever had. What made them so special and unique?

Chances are better than not, they gave you authentic, frequent and personalized attention. Whether it was support for a project you were working or inquiries into your goals and aspirations, your best boss invested attention in you. They knew to retain your talent, they needed to uplift, support and invest in you.

Good leaders know their service to employees is key to retaining top talent and developing a staff of engaged, happy employees. Here’s the secret:

Recognize Hard Work.  It’s not enough to reward employees when they knock a project out of the park. Hard work, even on daily, mundane tasks is essential. It’s the tedious daily grind that can wear down a person’s mental well-being. As a leader, ensure you’re recognizing their effort.

Engage Often. Don’t just wait until the scheduled one-on-one to inquire about an employee’s work or their well-being. Stop by and check in periodically. Be careful not to appear as a micromanager. Instead, encourage the employee to use you to help meet their deadlines and objectives.

Watch and observe. Pay attention to the amount of time an employee spends behind the computer. Acknowledge if a team member is seeming particularly frazzled, stressed or overwhelmed and volunteer to help them if possible. Encourage employees to get rest and recover, even if it means stepping away from the computer and getting fresh air.

Get to know them. Understand their priorities. Does their family rank top of mind to them? Consider encouraging them to plan a vacation or take time off. Refrain from messaging them after hours and ask questions to show interest. Perhaps it’s a promotion they are working toward. Set up a mentor for them, a coach or development planning path. Be an accountability partner helping them reach their goals. Whatever they consider being most important to their life, understand it and see how you can help them achieve it.

Be genuine. Most everyone can detect someone’s sincerity in their interest. Don’t praise for the sake of praising. Instead, be sincere in your compliments and comments. When giving feedback, acknowledge your genuine desire for their success. Be meaningful in your questions and give everyone your undivided attention in every interaction.

Surprise elements. Jot down little notes about your employees to help you remember their favorite food, dessert, coffee or flower. Keep note of their anniversaries, birthdays and special celebratory events. Surprise them on special dates, or just for the heck of it. Either way, your attention to detail will not go unnoticed.

Employees are your greatest asset. If you want to drive accountability, boost productivity and create an engaged team of people, pay attention to what matters most to them.

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Intention Makes Attention Valuable

Ever thought about the value of paying attention?

Attention sometimes gets a bad rap in today’s society. Perhaps that is because we’ve come to associate the concept of attention with unrelenting selfies that scream “look at me’ and the constant sharing of eery details of one’s life on social media. That is not the type of attention I want to discuss. The type of attention that truly matters and makes a difference in our lives is intentional attention – the kind that helps you show up as the best version of yourself in all roles of your life.

We all want and need attention from the people who are important to us. We want to feel we are the center of somebody’s attention, even if we don’t want to be the center of everybody’s attention.

Attention is critical throughout all aspects of our lives – including our jobs. We need focused attention from our leaders and employees to get work done, to achieve results, and to succeed. our customers and our teams need attention, too. People want to be seen and heard and to know that their concerns are being addressed.

Attention is not optional; it’s vital. It is attention that drives the results we all want and need.

Perhaps this why we always hear the phrase “Pay attention!” Our parents told us to pay attention. Our teachers told us to pay attention. We tell our kids to pay attention. These are all valuable life lessons.

The issue is that most of us are giving distracted, unfocused attention (like texting while driving) to everything and everyone we come in contact with. That kind of attention is worthless. It sends the message that the focus of our attention has little value, meaning, or importance to us.

Intention is what makes attention valuable.

Intentional attention is active. it involves seeing, hearing, and thinking about who is with you and what needs your focus right now. it requires us to choose consciously, act deliberately, and invest transformationally with our attention.

If you are ready to intentionally invest your attention in what matters at the moment; the people you are talking to, the priorities you are acting on, and the passions you are pursuing, it’s time to pick up a copy of Attention Pays and start paying attention to what matters most.

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