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Formatting a Team Building Plan
Like any other key initiative, team building needs a plan. Take the time to format a solid team building plan so that you know where you’re going. This helps you keep your team abreast of what’s happening, what they can expect, and what they need to do. Create your team building plan with input from your team, as well as your own research. Create a plan that is manageable and realistic, yet diverse and fun.
Define the Goal
The most important step is to define the goal of your team building plan. Just saying you want to “build a team” isn’t enough. What needs to change or improve on your team? This will help you focus your team building efforts. Also take into account the circumstances of your team. Are you spread out over many office locations? How large is your team? What special considerations are there, such as remote employees or heavy travel schedules?
Some common goals for team building include:
- Improved interpersonal communication
- Improved collaboration
- Higher morale
- Greater camaraderie
- Integration of new team members into an existing team
- Motivating the team
Based on your goal or goals, choose activities that best support what you are trying to achieve. Be sure to evaluate your plan regularly in case your goals change.
In addition to an overall goal for your team building plan, it is key to define a goal for each team building activity and clearly articulate it.
Consult Team Members
Your team members are your best source of information when you plan team building activities. There is no sense in scheduling social gatherings, for example, that no one comes to! Take the time to ask your team what kind of activities they’d like to engage in and what they would like to do. Also ask them what they think could be improved about your team and how you might go about making those improvements occur. Taking time to consult your team shows that you want to create a team building plan that works for them, and that you are invested in what they care about and have to say. Check in with your team often about different activities. Also encourage your team to come to you when they have new ideas for team building activities.
Research and Create Structure
After you’ve consulted your team, research their suggestions. Look at what industry leaders and your colleagues are doing in terms of team building. Spend some time surfing the Internet, which is a wealth of team building ideas, as well as looking at books of team building activities and games. Figure out what types of activities are possible and practical for you to do. This may include creating a budget, contacting outside vendors and consultants, and otherwise examining the logistics of various activities. Then create a structure. Decide in what order you will do activities or what goals you will address first. Determine whether you’ll have monthly, bimonthly, or more/less frequent team building activities. If possible, start putting these on a calendar. Then communicate with your team what this schedule will be like. Let them know what to expect. Having a structure in place helps make it easier to consistently implement your team building activities and plans.
Keep It Fun
Perhaps the most important thing when creating a team building plan is to keep it fun! If team building is a drudgery, your team is not likely to benefit from it. Find ways to keep even meetings and trainings infused with a sense of fun. Balance more task-oriented sessions with fun activities. Have a sense of play. Make note as you research of ideas for infusing team building with levity and fun. This will help ensure that your team gets the greatest benefit from your plan. And don’t be afraid to revise your plan if you start to implement is and realize that no one’s having any fun!
For more on the Team Building For Managers course from Corporate Training Materials, please visit:
Managers Learn by Being Managed Well
If you ask a good manager where he or she learned how to manage, the answer is likely to be from a manager who was important to their own career. While courses and trainings on management skills are valuable and should be used, people appear to learn the most about managing by being managed. And while a bad manager can provide valuable lessons in what not to do, people learn more about management by being managed well. Employees who are managed effectively tend to be happier and more productive. As a result, when they enter management, they want to recreate that environment for their own employees or direct reports.
Pair New Managers with Mentors
Mentoring is invaluable when developing new managers, whether they are freshly in the position or on the management track for the future. Identify the top managers in your organization, and encourage them to mentor up and coming managers. When you hire a new manager, or identify an employee with management potential, pair him or her with a manager who has a track record of effectiveness. Encourage employees who aspire to management to seek out mentor relationships with managers they admire as well. Mentoring relationships give employees a chance to see good management “in action” and also to seek feedback from someone they respect. Mentors can help provide development opportunities and can also serve as valuable sounding boards for new managers.
Reward Effective Managers
One of the surest ways to promote and reinforce effective, quality management is to reward effective managers. Recognizing and rewarding those managers who demonstrate the skills and competencies valued by the organization reinforces that good management is itself valued. When employees at all levels see effective managers being recognized and rewarded, they aspire to demonstrate the same traits they see from these individuals. Depending on your company culture, rewards for effective managers may be financial (as in raises), incentives (such as extra vacation time), symbolic (such as plaques or certificates) or a mix of the three. Finding out what motivates individual managers and tailoring the rewards is also an effective strategy. Whatever reward system you choose, take the time to not only reward effective managers but recognize their efforts in a public way.
Emulate Effective Managers
Who was the best manager you ever had? What qualities did he or she demonstrate? Managers who have been managed well often emulate behaviors and practices they’ve learned from past managers, which in turn give their own employees the experience of being managed well. Emulating effective managers whether they are currently inside your organization or not, is another way to model desired behavior and develop new managers. When working with new managers, encourage them to emulate the best traits and practices of managers they’ve had in the past, whether at your organization or another. Encourage new managers or those aspiring to management to reflect on the best bosses, supervisors, or other managers they have ever worked with. Have them list the qualities, behaviors, or practices that made them so memorable and so effective. Encourage employees to emulate these qualities, behaviors, and practices. Also encourage them to look to managers they see as effective in your organization, and identify traits of those individuals they can emulate as well.
Create and Document Best Practices
There are many ways to be an effective manager, and each organization’s culture will influence the type of management it values. Creating and documenting a set of best management practices helps to reinforce the organizational culture and serves as a resource for new managers – and indeed for all managers as they grow and develop in their careers. A best practices document need not be long or exhaustive, and it should be a living document which can change as new practices emerge as effective. Working with employees at multiple levels, identify what management practices and behaviors are consistently identified as effective, engaging, and motivating. Also review organizational policies (such as around hiring and termination) and develop a set of best practices based on these. Adopting a central set of best practices helps to ensure consistency, and also serves as another guidepost for managers as they develop and grow. Make the best practices document readily available.
For more on the Developing New Managers Course from Corporate Training Materials, please visit:
Why Are Some Customers Difficult?
While many of your interactions with customers will be pleasant and positive, you inevitably will have to interact with customers who are difficult in some way. Keep in mind that just as all of your emotions communicate to you so you can assess your situation, this is also the case for the difficult customer. Regardless of why they are angry or upset, their feelings are valid. Understanding the different reasons behind their behavior can help you to resolve their difficulty.
They Have Truly Had a Bad Experience and Want to Vent
Venting swing emotions such as anxiety and anger can be a useful strategy towards slowing down thoughts and reaching a more calm emotional state. When customers want to vent, they want a solution, but what may be more important is that they feel that they are heard, that their concerns are valid. Listening actively with empathy can help customers who need to vent in order to de-escalate their emotional state to a less aroused state.
“Empathy is the faculty to resonate with the feelings of others. When we meet someone who is joyful, we smile. When we witness someone in pain, we suffer in resonance with his or her suffering.”
Want Someone to be Held Accountable
Customers looking for accountability feel anxious and angry. Will anyone resolve their problem? Keep in mind that being accountable is not the same thing as accepting blame. An Adult mode assessment of reality might understand that you personally did not cause their problem, but a Parent mode assessment might perceive everyone at your business as incompetent as evidenced by the customer’s problem. Customers who are looking for accountability may speak in terms of blame and fault. This however is not truly being accountable. To be held accountable is to acknowledge that you can be responsible for where things go from here. When you take responsibility, you are saying that you are able to respond to the situation rather than saying the situation is your fault. Often when you reassure a customer that you are going to help them, and you offer a specific strategy on how you will do so, this helps the customer feel less anxious. By providing specific information, you help customers to de-escalate their anxiety. By showing a willingness to take responsibility you speak to the customer’s Parent mode response, and shift them back into Adult mode.
They Have Truly Had a Bad Experience and Want Resolution
When customers express that they are looking for a resolution, they are operating in the Adult mode. Even if they are angry or expressing frustration, they can quickly de-escalate when they know that you are working towards a resolution. Sometimes conflicts can arise when the resolution is not what the customer wants or expects, including the idea that a complete resolution may take time. In this case, being honest and offering multiple options can help a customer accept the range of resolutions being offered. Remember that the emotion of frustration tells us that something isn’t working. Providing multiple options to a customer can let them know that you are looking for a solution that will work.
They are Generally Unhappy
Customers who are generally unhappy people can be exceptionally difficult. When you ask what is wrong, they can launch into an entire laundry list. Often unhappy people pursue negative rewards in their interactions. Consequently, they may want you to slip into a Child or Parent mode to complement their corresponding Child or Parent mode, because this confirms their negative view of life. Destructive labeling is a common distorted thinking pattern that you’ll find with this type of customer. When dealing with generally unhappy people, you can help them by refocusing their attention on the here and now and the problem at hand. Rather than asking what is wrong, you can ask, how can I help you today, or look for specific steps you can take to resolve a specific issue. Remember that the way to counteract destructive labeling in yourself is to focus on specifics. This focus on a specific and resolvable problem in your impossible-to-please customer can aid in counteracting their destructive labeling. You may find that they continuously resist and try to lure you into a Child or Parent state. If possible, you may have to call a time out to regroup yourself. The most important step in dealing with generally unhappy customers is to remain authentically positive and in the Adult mode. Dealing with this type of customer can be a source of frustration, so be prepared to reframe the problem when you identify this emotion in yourself or your customer.
For more on this course available from Corporate Training Materials, please visit:
Attendance & Wellness Incentives –
Attendance incentives are based only on attendance. A good way to utilize an attendance incentive is by adding it to a yearly review. An employee may feel motivated to go to work more often if they have a chance of obtaining a raise. Unscheduled absenteeism is a chronic problem for U.S. employers, conservatively costing $3,500 per hourly employee, and $2,500 per salaried employee per year. Keeping employees motivated to go to work is essential to a company’s success.
Many companies are starting to realize that healthier employees mean lower insurance costs, and higher productivity. Wellness incentives are being used to help employees adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Keeping those employees healthy means better attendance rates.
An employee wellness incentive plan can come in many different forms:
- Rewarding employees for attending no-cost health education seminars
- Waiver of co-pay under a group health plan for preventive care
- Providing employees with free flu shots and required vaccinations
- Reimbursement of costs for participating in a smoking cessation program
- Reward for completing a health risk assessment
- Reimbursing workers for gym memberships
- Offering weight loss programs
- Providing free health coaching
- Offering insurance-premium discounts to those who meet health standards
A study conducted by Harvard University found wellness program returns to be about $3.27 per dollar spent in reduced medical costs and $2.73 per dollar spent in reduced absenteeism costs. Excessive employee absences can reduce productivity, lower morale, and increase rates of job turnover. Keeping your employees happy and healthy just makes ‘cents’!
For more on Employee Recognition, please visit:
– Tips for Successful Business Writing Collaboration –
Even with exceptional team members, collaborative writing cannot be done without good project structure. Collaborative writing is most successful when a clear outline or guide for the project has been established and used a tool of reference for everyone. Once the various tasks of assigning the group leader and outlining team responsibilities has been completed, the group is much more prepared to work and will know what is expected of them.
Before any collaboration process can begin, the purpose of the project must be identified. One of the most common questions a leader can receive is “Why are we doing this?” or “What’s the point?” Once the collaboration team has been assembled, it is best to have some sort of group meeting to discuss the purpose of the project and what their role in this purpose is. Take this time to define the group goal and what specific objectives you hope to accomplish over the course of the project. The goal of the introductory meeting is to ensure that everyone is aware of the purpose of the project and will have the same goals/purposes in mind. It is best to start everyone out on the same page now than trying to reach a consensus after the ball has started rolling.
Formulate Outline and Organizational Format
Once a collaboration project has been introduced and team members are aware of what needs to be done, they can then move on to outlining and organizing the project. Determine the major parts of the project and outline how they are linked together. Although this is not the stage in which to assign tasks and duties, it is alright to introduce team members to the area they may be working on and prepare them to be more informed about it later. Once the format and outline are determined, lay out any standards for aspects such as heading, titles and general format rules. Explain to the group that while it is reasonable to stray from the outline to some degree, the structure is firm and will need to be followed as close as possible so the group can collaborate smoothly and effectively.
When Choosing a Team Leader, Remember…
Before the team can be divided into different task areas and responsibilities, there must be a team leader assigned to manager and oversee the group as a whole. When addressing the group and introducing the team leader, define what this leader’s roles and responsibilities will be. In many cases, the team leader is someone who does not necessarily have more power over any other team member or have the ability to make stand-alone decisions, but they are responsible for organizing the project, facilitate team progress and help coordinate team member activities and tasks.
Common responsibilities of a team leader:
- Keeping the project flowing over time
- Define tasks and duties for other team members
- Enforce deadlines and group communication
- Help mediate conflict and disagreements
Assign Writing Tasks and Associated Duties
One of the final steps of establishing the collaboration group is determining what writing tasks need to be completed and which employees will be assigned to do them. When making the assignments, remember to consider the talents and areas of expertise of each team member as well as any background experience in the current field. It is also not uncommon to assign some of the more complicated or complex assignments to more experienced personnel. For the writing crew, determine who will be content writers and if there will be separate editors to assist them. Each writer may need to be given a different portion of the task if the project is larger. For the staff not directly involved in the writing portion, don’t forget to assign any other various duties needed, such as conducting research, gather information from different sources, distributing/making copies, or producing document samples. When the team knows what part they play in the project ahead of time, they are more likely to realize the value of their contribution and will be more willing to participate.
For more on our Collaborative Business Writing course, please visit:
Take Control of Your Professional Development
Often we wait for our employers, supervisors, or bosses to suggest professional development. If they do not do so, we remain in the same position and do not grow. To be happy at work, take control of your professional development. Set goals for yourself in terms of new skills to master, new roles to try on, or new positions to aspire to. Don’t be passive – be active! Seek out opportunities for new training or education, and enlist your supervisor or manager’s support. Be willing to develop new skills, and look for opportunities to do so. Create a professional development plan for the next year or even five years for yourself, and actively seek ways to implement it.
Seek Frequent Feedback
Seeking frequent feedback is another way to take control of your career happiness. Being aware of what we are doing well and what we can improve helps us as we set professional goals. Draw on your support team to seek out feedback regularly. Rather than relying on yearly or quarterly reviews, or waiting for a supervisor or colleague to come to you with feedback, ask for feedback on the completion of projects, after presentations, or when collaborating with others. Make an agreement with members of your support team that you will regularly ask for their feedback, and that you will listen carefully to what they have to say. When you receive feedback, listen respectfully rather than preparing to respond. Then decide how best to act on feedback, both developmental and positive.
Practice Professional Courage
One of the greatest things you can do for your own professional development and workplace happiness is practice professional courage. Professional courage involves directly and productively addressing conflicts, advocating for yourself and others on your team, and otherwise dealing directly and pro actively with potential problems. It can be difficult to practice professional courage, as it involves taking risks – it can seem easier to let a conflict go unaddressed or to accept the status quo. However, allowing conflict to be unresolved or your needs to go unmet can breed resentment and undermine productivity and happiness. Professional courage helps to promote open communication in the workplace. It also assures that resentments and grudges do not fester. Learning to practice professional courage is a leadership skill which can help prepare you for, and make you a candidate for, more responsibility or promotions. But even if it does not lead to job advancement, practising professional courage marks you out as a leader and someone who wants to promote the healthiest workplace.
For more on our Increasing Your Happiness course, please visit:
Check out this video by CCF President, Master Coach and our friend, Abe Brown: What Makes People Happy
Understand Emotions and How to Manage Them in the Workplace
As previously stated, having emotions is an inherent part of all human beings. Understanding one’s emotions and learning how to use them is the responsibility of each person. Many times, it may feel like the workplace is no place for emotions, whether good or bad. But the truth is, emotions must be utilized!
For example, if you are the manager and your team is about to miss an important deadline, it is up to you to stress how necessary it is for you to meet the deadline. The approach you take is determined by your natural tendencies as well as level of professionalism. One level-headed approach may be to call the team to a meeting and explain the ramifications of not meeting the deadline. This would also be a good time to listen to the team members to find out if there is something out of their control that is preventing them from doing their job.
A less calm and volatile method would be to yell at everyone and tell them to get to work.
Deciding which style is best can be done by weighing the pros and cons of each as well as which would result in the most positive outcome. Do not rely solely on how you feel, but what makes logical sense.
Role of Emotional Intelligence at Work
Emotional Intelligence plays a vital role in the workplace. How one feels about himself, interacts with others, and handles conflict is directly reflected in the quality of work produced. Both social and personal proficiencies are developed as a result of Emotional Intelligence.
- Empathy – Being aware of others’ feelings and exhibiting compassion.
- Intuition – An inner sense of the feelings of others’.
- Political Acumen – Ability to communicate, strong influence and leadership skills, and conflict-resolution.
- Self-Awareness – Understanding one’s own emotions. The ability to asses one’s self as well as display confidence.
- Self-Regulation – Managing one’s emotions. Maintaining trustworthiness and flexibility.
- Motivation – Being optimistic about situations. Having the drive to take initiative and commit until completion.
To disagree constructively means to do so in a positive, productive manner. Its purpose is not to disagree for the sake of disagreeing or getting your point across. It is also not used to be negative or destructive of another’s thoughts. The workplace is a place where disagreeing is a common occurrence. Companies look for the most effective ways to carry out operations and therefore invest in process improvement strategies, which opens the floor for discussion and compromise.
What does constructively disagreeing look like in practice, you may ask. Well, it is acknowledging and confirming someone else’s ideas before presenting your own.
Ted: Because of the nature of their duties, I feel the customer service phone team should arrive 30 minutes before their shift to bring up their systems and test their equipment to make sure it is properly working so they are ready to take the first call as soon as their shift starts.
Michael: I understand your point, Ted and I agree the phone team should arrive early to prepare themselves for the start of their shift. However, I feel 15 minutes is sufficient time for them to get everything in place.
For more information on our Emotional Intelligence course, please visit:
Using Business Cards Effectively
Networking is not complete without receiving or giving a business card. The business card is a way for you to follow up on the people you have met. Likewise, it is a way for them to contact you for further meetings.
More than that, your business card is a way to brand yourself. Professional-looking business cards send the message that you’re professional. Adding your company motto or tagline in your business advertises you and what you’re all about.
5 Tips on Using Business Cards Effectively:
- Never be without your business cards! (Make sure there’s always a stack in your office desk, and in your wallet. You’ll never know; even a trip to the grocery story can present an opportunity to network.
- Follow the protocol on hierarchy. Cards should not be given to senior executives that you meet, unless they’ve asked for one.
- Time the presentation of your card. Don’t just hand over your business card at any random moment. Handing a business card in the middle of a discussion can be an interruption, as parties would need to take a moment to give it a look. You also want to make sure that your card is perused at point when the other person can give it his or her full attention. The best moments to hand a card is when you’re asked for one, when you’re asked to repeat your name, or when someone offers to send you something.If the two organizations that you represent are well-known to each other, although you haven’t met your host before, offering your card is probably best left to the end of the meeting. If your host is unfamiliar with your company, offering your card at the beginning of the meeting is good practice.
- Accompany your business card with an explanation of what you can offer them. When you hand another person your card, give a brief “action recommendation.” This can increase the likelihood of them contacting you again. For instance you may say: “I think I can help with your PR concerns, Mr. Johnston. Here is my card.” You may also ask for referrals. Invite the other person to send your contact details to anyone they know who can use your services or products.
- When receiving a business card, show the other person that you value their
card. Look at the business card for a few seconds. Comment about the card. Let them see that you take care in storing their card as well, instead of just jamming it in your pocket.
For more information on our Business Etiquette course, please visit:
Divergent thinking moves away from the traditional, convergent thinking, which is linear and analytical. It is looking for the right answer. Divergent thinking, on the other hand, is nonlinear and spontaneous. Rather than finding a single correct answer, the divergent thinker discovers multiple options for addressing problems. Brainstorming, predicting, and imagination activities are all examples of divergent thinking. It is possible to increase divergent thinking by implementing open-ended questions when addressing problems rather than closed questions. We will discuss open-ended questions in a later module. Moving toward divergent thinking may not be comfortable for analytical thinkers, but practice will soon help creativity develop.
Developing Creativity Courseware
Children have an innate creative ability when they are born, but for some reason adults can lose it along the way. Your participants will move out of the mundane, be more curious, engage, and explore new ideas. Recognize creativity and be ready when it happens.
With our Developing Creativity course your participants will learn how to remove barriers that block or limit their creativity. They will improve their imagination, divergent thinking, and mental flexibility. Participants will learn mind mapping, individual brainstorming, and when to recognize and look for what inspires them to be more creative.
For more on the Developing Creativity training course, please visit:
You are in control of your personal brand if you choose to be. When establishing your brand, it is essential that you define yourself. Remember that perception is reality, so it is essential that you carefully cultivate your image. When you take the time to define yourself and present this definition to the public, your will reap the benefits that come with taking control of your personal branding.
It is easy to underestimate the importance of personal branding and avoid actively participating in your brand. The truth, however, is that branding occurs whether you participate in it or not. If you do not take the time to brand yourself, the market will brand you, and it may not do it favorably. Customers can bring negative attention to a company or individual, and attention can easily escalate to the court of public opinion. For example, the video “United Breaks Guitars” brought negative attention to the United Airlines brand. Without personal branding and active intervention, the damage to the brand name could have been beyond repair. Taking control of personal branding is necessary to manage your public reputation.
Brand mantras are short, but they are powerful. This short phrase or statement may only be three to five words, but these words define your brand. A mantra must explore the brand’s points of difference or how the brand is unique along with what the company represents. For example take a look at, Nike’s “Authentic Athletic Performance.” In order to create a brand mantra, you must first identify what sets your brand apart and list your points of difference.
Once the points of difference are identified, you must create a mantra that is simple, communicates, and inspires.
- Simple: The mantra should be short and to the point.
- Communicate: The mantra should define the purpose of the brand and what is unique about it.
- Inspire: The mantra should be significant.
When creating a mantra, you should begin with a word bank of points of difference and your purpose and mission.
People are attracted to genuine people. The key to personal branding is to make it personal. Communicating dry facts will not impress most people. Your brand must have personality. Develop a persona that attracts people. Share ideas, implement humor, and make connections with people. Having an online presence makes sharing your persona much easier.
When you are developing your persona, remember to be real. You are under no obligation to share personal details about yourself, but everything that you do share must be genuine. Never make up facts, statistics, or tell lies. Fact checking has become easier than ever, and lies will do nothing to improve your brand’s reputation.
For more on our Personal Branding course, please visit: