I am not a big fan of new year’s resolutions, so I never set any but I do set business goals for myself. New year’s resolutions are usually pipedreams or hopes and as they say ‘a dream without a plan is just a wish’. So setting business goals with plans behind them is the way to go.
As I outlined in my last blog post, in 2018 the 3rd biggest challenge my clients had (that I supported them to work on in our 1-2-1 coaching sessions) was how around staff retention, specifically “do we attract and retain the best staff?“.
There are a multitude of answers to this complex question, not least getting the recruitment and induction process right. Research shows that staff are highly engaged during their first 6 months of employment and that millennials are prone to ‘job hoping’. The same research also identifies that millennials are also highly motivated by self-development.
So is learning high up on your agenda for 2019? Not only to keep staff engaged and retain the best talent, but also for you to ensure you are using best practice?
This is such a big part of retention yet is one area that is frequently overlooked by employees (‘we don’t have the time’ or ‘we don’t have the budget’, are 2 statements I frequently hear). Indeed I have had my clients ask me if I have a face to face course I delivered as an online course or if I could take a particular subject I coached them through and turn it into some kind of online learning. It was these conversations that led me to launch a series of online courses around everything to do with starting, growing and running a successful agency (7 courses to date with plans to add at least 2 more in 2019). Take a look here to see all 7 courses.
The advantage of online learning
There are many advantages (and a few disadvantages) to taking an online course rather than a classroom based course. Here are 4:
Of course one disadvantage is that there is no interaction with the trainer or fellow students. To help counter that I invite all my students to join my closed Facebook group where I regularly post content and also am available to answer students questions.
There is really little excuse for not planning to have learning and development on your agenda for the new year. The benefits of increasing skills and retention make it a no brainer, so make sure you have it on your plan for 2019!
I ran a workshop last week with a group of business owners focused on developing a niche and communicating effectively with well researched and understood target audiences.
I really enjoy running these types of courses and they are always well received. Part of my style of delivery is to ‘follow the energy’ in the room and go ‘off piste’ if that is where the conversation takes us. I am also a storyteller so share examples (both good and bad) of my experience of the subject matter. This includes letting the audience know that I don’t have all the answers and that I sometimes get it wrong and need to follow my own advice! This is just my style – as I said, I am a storyteller.
I had some excellent feedback following the event including a couple of blog posts written by attendees (you can read them here and here). If you read these blogs you can see that by presenting myself as ‘human’ and ‘on their side’ it builds great empathy. As one of the writers notes, often trainers stand in front of an audience telling them what to do and implying they have all the answers and always get it right themselves. This doesn’t build empathy and smacks of their ego getting in the way.
If you want to win your audience over (whether that audience is one person or 100) you need to first build rapport and empathy. You do this by listening, by being honest and genuine, by being yourself and remembering you have nothing to prove. Maybe that is the difference between me (who has been doing this a long while) and others who stand in front of an audience and feel they have something to prove! Why?
Yes of course we need to appear confident and knowledgeable but if we read the audience carefully, be sure to listen and share our own experiences (both positive and negative) then we will build rapport and trust and remove barriers to ensure great conversations and learning takes place.
We know all the great leaders lead by example; inspiring their staff and exhibiting great management skills but sadly that isn’t always the case in every SME business. So what happens when senior managers expect their managers to show strong leadership skills but don’t themselves? What are the consequences when someone like me is brought in to deliver some leadership & management training yet the senior managers don’t participate because they think they have all the skills already themselves?
This happens to me occasionally where the leaders are endorsing and/or organizing the training; believe they have excellent leadership skills themselves so don’t take part. Yet the reality often is, that they exhibit the worst leadership skills because they are running around doing 1001 tasks so ‘don’t have time’ to manage. And the managers quickly identify this as an issue – “it’s great that we are learning these skills and techniques but our managers really need to be here too.”
Let’s explore the consequence of this:
Lack of a consistent management approach
Managers will gain some new skills, tools, techniques and language that they can implement with their teams. Yet if their managers haven’t attended the same training then we already have an issue of differing management approach in the same organization. The most likely outcome will be confusion from team members and the good work the training did, quickly dissipating away.
Cynical lower manager
This in turn will create cynical managers because they already know that their managers aren’t great so wonder why they are not attending the training. Senior managers derail the good efforts of the managers by showing the hypocrisy of asking them to attend management training whilst not attending themselves!
Lack of delegation
Strong management is a huge part of creating a successful motivated and cohesive team. Weak managers don’t delegate because they believe “I don’t have time” or “it’s quicker/easier to do it myself”. Those senior managers who didn’t attend the training and are running around doing 1001 things will be the ones who don’t take the time to successfully delegate thus increasing their own workload and creating demotivated teams. A lot of my time is spent training and coaching managers around the art of good delegation. Not something that comes naturally to everyone.
So if you are in charge of management training or are one of those senior managers who doesn’t believe leadership & management training is for them. Think again!