A Call to Action

bullhornspeaker-firefightersdaughter-CalltoActio

I recently listened to a short piece on my local public radio station from the TED Hour (http://www.npr.org/2015/02/06/379184277/what-s-the-antidote-to-political-apathy). The speaker talked about getting people to the polls and ways to overcome apathetic voters. As I listened, a light bulb appeared over my head about a way to improve training. If trainers expect students to change behaviors based on their training, they need to issue a call to action to participants. A call to action ensures students leave knowing how to change their behavior, possess excitement to change, and where to find help when they run into road blocks.

In this TED talk, the speaker noted in an unscientific study he conducted that in local publications, the editors would include information about how to contact a local charity, the hours of a new eatery, or the phone number to the box office of a show they reviewed. The reader knows how to learn more. When the local periodicals ran political pieces they often present information in a fair and balance way. They explained the issues about the topic. They did not include information about websites, phone numbers for involved organizations, or other information to make the reader take action on that subject.

Often trainers and leaders behave the same way. They call for changes. They show people one way to do something that works in the classroom. They may even provide some sort of high energy event that fires up the students and employees so they feel motivated. When they return to their cubical, they stumble on road blocks and because the trainer or leader provided no information about where seek help, the change they and their proteges hope for starves on the vine.

The fix is easy. After providing students their call to action, provide resources to use for follow up. When students return to their offices and run into a roadblock, they know where to find more information to help overcome the road block and successfully implement the desired change.

Provision of follow up resources requires more than a short bibliography at the end of your note-taking guide or a sheet tucked into the back of a participant folder. The trainer should call attention to the resources. He should provide screen shoots of the websites. He should point out email addresses and phone numbers of people who are willing to help. He should also provide a short sales pitch for each of the follow up resources provLearningSailing-John-ModsOK-croppedided so the student understands help really is there.

Many trainers already provide such information and calls to action for their students. Adapt a page from Keith Ferrazzi’s book Never Eat Alone by sending out a group email reminding students to look up a website, read an attached file, or how to find a book.  They are more likely to click on a link and incorporate what you taught them after leaving your class.

At they end of your next training, issue a call to action for change. Motivate students to implement what they have learned. Sell them on the resources available to help them over hurdles. When you issue a call to action, change will happen.

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Photo credits:  Both photos downloaded from flickr.com under a Creative Commons license and modified to fit the space here.

Speaker photo by firefightersdaughter.  Sail boat photo by John, yes, just John.

Everyone Needs a Mentor

“Every Soldier needs a Sergeant.” is an old Army adage based on the traditional role of Noncommissioned Officer taking care of their men. More senior sergeants use the phrase to encourage new platoon sergeants to look out for their young lieutenants with the understanding that the lieutenant is in charge, but the sergeants know what needs to be done, why it needs to be done, and the correct way to do it. Smart lieutenants understand the wisdom of their sergeant’s advise and follow his lead.

TelemachusMentor

Career progression outside the military is less clear. What works in one company or organization does not work in the next. Even if you are the boss, like that young lieutenant, you need a trusted, wise guide to show you the path to success no matter how you define success. Like the old Army saying above, everyone needs a mentor.

It can be difficult to find a good mentor. Mentors are trusted guides. Typically mentoring relationship occur voluntarily between a person with less experience and another who has accomplished similar goals as the protege. The relationship is characterized by mutual trust and respect. Frequently these relationship occur outside supervisory channels.

Good mentors are interested in the success of others. They help their protege gain confidence and encourage growth. Mentors serve as role models. Mentors help their protege develop achievable goals, identify steps required to accomplish those goals, and as a result increase the likelihood of success.

Next time you take on a new task, think about finding a mentor to guide you along the way. You may find their experience leads you down paths you never would have found and methods to overcome obstacles. Every journey is an adventure, but with a mentor to guide you along the way, you improve your chances of reaching the end of the road and achieving the success you envisioned at the beginning of the trip.

Overcoming Hurdles to Change

I recently listed to a short piece on my local public radio station from the TED Hour (http://www.npr.org/2015/02/06/379184277/what-s-the-antidote-to-political-apathy). The speaker talked about getting people to the polls and ways to overcome apathetic voters. As I listened, a light bulb appeared over my head about a way to improve training. If you want to changed behaviors based on what you train, you need to issue a call to action to the participants. When students leave, they need to know what to do, the excitement to change, and ways to find help when they run into road blocks.

hurdle.melinda.huntlyIn this TED talk, the speaker noted in an unscientific study he conducted that in local publications, the editors would include information about how to contact a local charity, the hours of a new eatery, or the the phone number to the box office of a show they reviewed. The reader know how they could learn more.

When the local periodicals ran political pieces they often present information in a fair and balance way. They explained the issues about the topic. They did not include information about websites, phone numbers for involved organizations, or other information to make the reader take action on that subject.

Often trainers and leaders behave the same way. They call for changes. They show people one way to do something that works in the classroom. They may even provide some sort of high energy event that fires up the students and employees so they feel motivated. When they return to their cubical, they hit road blocks and because the trainer or leader provided no information about where seek help, the change they and their proteges hope for starves on the vine.

The fix is easy. After providing students their call to action, provide resources to use for follow up. When students return to their offices and run into a roadblock, they know where to find more information to help overcome the road block and successfully implement the desired change.

Provision of follow up resources requires more than a short bibliography at the end of your note-taking guide or a sheet tucked into the back of a participant folder. The trainer should call attention to the resources. He should provide screen shoots of the websites. He should point out email addresses and phone numbers of people who are willing to help. He should also provide a short sales pitch for each of the follow up resources provided so the student understands help really is there.

At they end of your next training, issue a call to action for change. Motivate students to implement what they have learned. Sell them on the resources available to help them over hurdles after the training ends. When you do, change will happen.

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Photo credit: Melinda Huntley, flikr.com  https://www.flickr.com/photos/piratepix2/4540203839/in/photolist-7VcJqx-GY8o3-8hDo4J-z3Akfw-7Laq5N-7VfYnb-84VQLx-eonsYx-bER96W-rkfoWv-9HcTG2-fEQaXu-4gXG8H-aoi8Ah-fdTQxU-82taWc-dgMHan-bmHArb-bzCtcn-6SH1c9-dAxF2t-9MMqtH-dAxEk4-bTKTPZ-rhcUEV-m5EDBX-xmhWs9-84VWcY-8hDfW9-H9y4B-8hDpi3-dAxExk-8hA7mV-8dTP4e-dAxEqM-r3PBRy-r3NJrC-rkfqt8-rkfpsF-8hA6ZV-82LnjE-my6DVw-eefeA1-6EPXjR-2AwKvD-rtAXvb-7Aw3ZS-ie4JrZ-7Aw4sU-pyEHWJ

Leadership at Every Level

The newly elected President of the local civic group calls a meeting of his key leaders. The Vice-president, Secretary, Finance Officer, Program Director, Membership Chair and Information and Relations Director are all invited. In real life, the new Prez is a successful executive and understands the importance of focusing the energy of leadership of the organization on the organizational mission. The Vice-president and Finance Officer don’t show or call. The Program Director calls moments before the meeting starts saying she will be late and the Information and Relations Director shows up late without a call. All accepted these positions because they said they supported the vision of the yet-to-be-elected President in the weeks leading up to the election. Working with and leading volunteers can be difficult because of situations like this. Strong leaders use these opportunities to hone their skills, influence others to meet their obligations and achieve success for their organization whether a volunteer civic group, a municipal committee, a non-profit or a billion dollar cooperation.ShellVacationsHosp

There are lots of lessons in the above story that we will explore in the next few editions of this blog. This month, attracting the right people. In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins discusses the importance of identifying good leaders for organizations and guiding them to where they will most help the organization grow. Sometimes that requires pushing people out of their comfort zone. For example, someone who has demonstrated strong leadership with a background in engineering but desires to work operations. The engineering section lacks quality leaders but great engineers so she would better serve the organization (at least for now) heading up engineering. As the organization improves and she develops younger leaders to replace her, the head of engineering may be transferred to a supervisory position in operations.

In order to achieve this success both the Chief executive of the organization and the head of engineering need to identify the future leaders within the section. After they are identified they need to be coached, mentored and trained as leaders. In great organizations they will be sent to train with the best whether it is in seminars, college course work or operational assignments, the next generation leaders will be groomed to move ahead.

Some reading this now are in positions of leadership and may ask, “Well what happens if we spend all that money training someone to take over the section and they leave taking our training with them? Look at all the money we wasted.” Every organization needs some depth on the bench, so you should be looking at the section leader’s replacement today. However just imagine if you did not train that person to lead the section and they are promoted when the current section leader leaves. Without the proper education and training you have set them up for failure which may result in the failure of the organization!

Jerry.PansingAs the leader of an organization, any organization, your most important responsibility is the selection of those who will lead your units, sections, divisions or any other name you give your areas of responsibility. Your next most important responsibility is to develop your bench. Identify the future leaders. Train them and mentor them. Give them some operational opportunities to make mistakes where it matters little so they learn to lead, make decisions and learn from their mistakes. Remember to always share your vision so they are all following the path to success. If you are one of those one the bench, seize the opportunity. Step up and lead.

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Photo Credits:  Jerry Pansin, Shell Vacations Hospitality, from flickr.com.  Creative Commons License

Voice: Feathery Touch vs. Booming Motors

onceuponatimeiattendedapresentationgivenbyareallysmartpersonwhospokesofast,butrathersoftlylikehewastryingtosayeverythinghehadtosayinonebreathsohecouldquicklycompletehispresentation, breath, andgospendtherestofhisallotedtimedrinkingcoffewiththosewhocametohearhimspeak.

During my instructor deImagevelopment classes, I teach a segment on the importance of using your voice. Trying to write a wimpy presenters fast pace, low volume and even monotone speech is more difficult than demonstrating it for a class. There are many reasons people use poor vocal skills while presenting such as lack of confidence in front of others, inexperience as a presenter and contempt for the topic. The opposite is also true. Speaking at a rapid pace in a loud volume continuously sounds like you are recording a commercial for the latest monster truck rally. Three cliches come to mind when considering the use of one’s voice during a presentation. The first is “Slow is smooth and smooth is fast”. The second, “Variety is the spice of life.” The final, “Silence is Golden.”

Slow is Smooth; Smooth is Fast

Speaking slower during a presentation allows you to select the best words to express your ideas the first time. Students understand what you say better. A slower pace allows students time to hear what you said and think about how it relates to them so they can effectively incorporate that information into their behavior. But what about the fast part? Great question! If your students understand what you said the first time, have time to reflect upon its meaning and ask necessary follow-up questions you only have to state the point once. No need to repeat what students all ready know. Fewer repetitions allow time discussing information unfamiliar to students. Result; better learning, and fewer remedial trainings.

Variety is the Spice of Life

Changing your pace, volume and tone of voice helps keep students attention. Turn up the volume to clue students of important information they may see again, say on a test. Use a fast pace to sound like the voice over announcer on TV reading the legal disclaimer for a predatory loan suggests important information has been provided and is available to reference later. A soft whisper tells students you are sharing a well guarded trade secret. Now they belong to an inner circle of trust. Certain patterns may suggest transition from one topic to the next. An effective phrase a friend uses is, “ALL righty, then…” his clue to the class the discussion is changing.

Silence is Golden

Silence seems the reverse of what a trainer should do while standing before a group of students. Periods of silence encourage participation. Ask a question and wait for someone to answer. Make a controversial statement and allow a student to challenge your position. Student participation always improves training.

ImageNext time you find yourself in front of a class or giving a presentation remember and use these three rules. Silence is only bad because you do not know what to say next. Use it to encourage student interaction. Silence is golden. Using a slower pace allows information to sink in like a slow steady rain. Students absorb the information the first time allowing the class to progress faster. Slow is smooth; smooth is fast. Changing up pace, volume and tone signals students about important information, topic changes and help keep their attention. Variations in vocal qualities keep things interesting. Variety is the spice of life. During your next introduction, let the class know, YOOUU ARRRRRE REEEADDY TO RUUMMMBBBLLLLLLLEEEEE?!?!?!?!?!?!?


 

Photo Credits

Both pictures from Flickr.com used under Creative Commons Attribution License

Nick Chill

Mitchell James

Positive Peers

OldWatch.C.Guthier   In the last year I have had the honor of attending several retirement ceremonies for people I consider to be friends and great leaders. As I listened to my friends’ remarks during their retirement speeches, I realized how important peer leaders are to those who strive for continuous improvement and change. With the proper spirit of competition, support and cooperation, quality peers encourage you to become better than you are. It is easy to point to a current or former boss who provided a few words of wisdom, spent some time mentoring you or introducing you to some powerful people as sources of inspiration. Often we overlook the inspiration provided by those we work with and against every day. John Maxwell has long endorsed the 360 degree leader. Many have written about competition improving results. In many ways peer leaders may be more important in our personal growth as leaders than our bosses.

One common area peers are recognized as improving other organizational leaders is through competition. The peer may be your equal in another organization in the same industry courting the same customers, or within your organization leading a similar group. Their accomplishments provide inspiration to improve your own performance. Keeping up with or staying ahead of the competition, especially a friendly competition, encourages people to evaluate what the competition does well, which practices we can adapt and adopt, and identify improvements for performance ahead of them. Such continuous improvements start the momentum Gary Collins talks about in his book, Good to Great.Peers

Another area peers help fellow leaders improve is by providing support. Support may come in a variety of ways and reasons. You may find a former competitor now works for your organization and understands the importance of your success because it translates into success for everyone. Your peer may have moved on to another organization working in a completely different field; however provides support because of your past relationship. Other members of your network maybe able to point you to an expert or service that meets your needs. Sometime their support results in a mutual benefit, many times there is no directly benefit.

Your peers may find they need your cooperation to accomplish their mission or you need theirs. Cooperation requires trust and confidence in the skills of the other. Completing a project together improves relationships and greases the wheels for future ventures. When two or more people or groups of people work to develop something new, and all the players do their part, the completed product often exceeds the quality for the same product produced by an individual. You have a good idea to make something work. Your peer adds to the idea and makes it better. Through cooperation both win and the organization completes its mission.

Developing a network of peer leaders helps you improve in many ways. Associating with other successful leaders improves your attitude, expands your sphere of influence, increases available resources and inspires you to accomplish more than you could on your own. Developing positive relationships with others allows each to provide support and cooperation today, yet compete against each other tomorrow. Developing positive relationships with peer leaders is its own reward. Acrimonious relationships make for a lonely retirement. Positive relationships fill your life with good friends and good times. The next time the guy running the shop across the hall knocks on the door looking for help, or stops to brag about his latest accomplishment, take the opportunity to improve yourself and become a better leader.

Thanks to those of you who have helped make me a better leader and a better person.


 

Photo Credits:

Watch photo:  Christian Guthier from flickr.com Creative Commons License

Soccer photo: author

Suggested Reading:

The 360 Degree Leader by John Maxwell,

Good to Great by John Collins

Better Presentations

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a terrific training presented by Jon Blum of Force Concepts. One thing that set his training apart from others I have attended was his slide deck. He followed two simple rules to keep his slide simple and effective. With some thoughtful planning, a little research and some practice with layout your next presentation can benefit from the same principals Jon employed. The first principle is minimize text. The second is maximize images. Image
The original popular presentation software PowerPoint was named so to help presenters make the points of their presentations powerfully. They were intended to be short and sweet. A common rule is to limit the text on a slide to six words per line and no more than six lines per slide. Often presenters read their slides verbatim which defeats the point of inserting the bullet point on the screen. The audience can read. They came to your presentation to hear what you have to say. If the only thing you say is what is written on your slides, they could have stayed in their offices and read your work. I suggest that you tell your group what your want to say, pause then show the slide and allow them to read the text on their own. The points on your slide should emphasize what you said.
Another great thing Jon did in his presentation was the way he presented the text on the slide. First he discussed the point. Next he showed the text and led a discussion about the point. Upon conclusion of the discussion on that point, he introduced the next point and then revealed the text. The previous line remained visible, but the font was in a light shade of gray drawing the viewer’s eye to the current point. Identifying the few simple words that effectively communicate the idea behind the point of discussion requires you to identify the principals and key points of your presentations.
How many times have you said or hear that a picture is worth 1,000 words; at least a thousand? How many pictures have you seen in a slide presentation? I would guess the answer is few. Today images are inexpensive and plentiful. Choices include charts, graphs, clip art and photographs. Websites such as flickr.com, gettyimages.com and shutterfly.com have a large selection of photos to purchase, within the public domain or under the Creative Commons license. Sometimes finding the right photo or image on line is time consuming, but with the advent of digital photography and paint software you can create your own images that convey your message. The images I use to attract readers to my blog are my own creations or images I found on line available under the Creative Commons license for use by only providing attribution to the person who took the photo.
When selecting an image, pick one that communicates your message. You may use a few words to ensure your point is understood or to ask a question to start a discussion. If you use text with your image, keep it shorter than the suggestions offered above.
Following simple rules improve the slides you use in your presentations. Reduce the text on your slide. Use pictures and communicate 1,000 words without uttering a syllable. It may not always be possible to limit your idea to six words or to one picture, but with practice implementing these principals becomes second nature. As you prepare your next presentation, add a few extra pictures and subtract some words. Your audience will be grateful.

For a more detailed disucssion about improving your presentations, check out my Prezi at http://prezi.com/uaxckg-4fkkn/using-media/. Another great resource is http://www.slideshare.net/ArtilleryMarketing/you-suck-at-powerpoint-12040413.  Update 3/15/14:  57 slides in 18 minutes…exact amount of text during the presentation…zero!!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOYIKJho18I&feature=youtu.be

Photo credit: Kei Kondo add.me flickr.com