When offering your team training is a bad idea
Every good manager wants their team to have the skills to succeed. So it makes sense to invest in training, right? Not so fast. Training can be powerful when it addresses an underdeveloped skill or knowledge deficit. But too often managers turn to training or formal learning when it won’t actually solve the problem it’s meant to. When is training worth trying? First, be sure your internal systems support the newly desired behaviour. For example, training in proactive decision making won’t help employees if senior leaders make all the decisions in your company. Second, there needs to be a commitment to change. If your team isn’t willing to address a problem’s root cause, training won’t have the intended benefit. Third, the training needs to be connected to strategic priorities. If employees can’t see how what they’re learning relates to where the company is headed, you’ll waste your money — and their time.
(Adapted from “When Companies Should Invest in Training Their Employees — and When They Shouldn’t,” by Ron Carucci.)
Know your idea, audience and objective before giving a speech
You need to have three things clear in your mind before giving a speech: your main idea, your audience, and your objective. Start preparing by focusing on your idea: Why are you the right person to deliver this talk? What unique perspective can you offer? Then, consider who will be in your audience and craft your talk with them in mind. For example, if you’re speaking on a small panel, you can frame your remarks in more intimate, personal terms. If you’re at a conference for professionals, you can use technical terms. Speaking the same language as your listeners increases the odds that they will understand and be inspired by you. And finally, make sure you’ve pinpointed your objective. Maybe you want to get the audience to donate to a worthy cause, or spread the word about the importance of your topic. Whatever your goal is, it will inform your preparation and delivery.
(Adapted from “To Give a Great Presentation, Distill Your Message to Just 15 Words,” by Tricia Brouk.)
Covering for a colleague
When you’re covering for a co-worker who is out of the office, it can be difficult to keep up. To maintain your sanity and stay productive, put the onus on your colleague to do a clear handoff of responsibilities. Ask for a plan with details on the status of projects, next steps, deadlines and key contacts. Once the colleague leaves, focus on deadlines and what’s critical to accomplish each day; less-urgent tasks will have to wait. But keep an eye on what’s coming up next. You may need to work further ahead than usual, because there’s a greater chance that something unexpected will happen, or that multiple deadlines will be clustered together. And you may be tempted to spend extra time in the office, but don’t overdo it. Putting in long hours can make you resentful and lessen your productivity. There’s only so much you can do each day — and that’s OK.
(Adapted from “What to Do When You’re Covering for Colleagues — and Can’t Keep Up,” by Elizabeth Grace Saunders.)
Create ways for your employees to learn
Peer to peer learning can be a powerful (and free) development tool. Research shows that when people want to learn a skill, turning to colleagues for help is often the first thing they do. You can encourage this kind of learning in your organisation by setting up a formal programme for it. Start by appointing a facilitator to oversee the programme. It’s important to have a neutral party — who is not the team’s manager — to organise sessions, keep everyone on topic and maintain a positive atmosphere. You also need to build a safe environment so that people feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, experiences and questions. Setting ground rules around honouring confidentiality and accepting feedback graciously can help. During sessions, be sure that learning is tied to real-world situations and problems so that participants can apply the skills they’ve learned quickly. And encourage employees to network, whether online, at networking events, or through another method, so that anyone in the company can get involved.
(Adapted from “How to Help Your Employees Learn From Each Other,” by Kelly Palmer and David Blake.)
Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, January 7th, 2019