Thursday, January 13, 2011

Performance Checkup: What’s in your box of chocolate?

Our clients engage us to work closely with them on a challenge they are facing within their company. We work with many organizations and industries to invest in their employees and improve performance. We take our work seriously and go in with not only our experience but the sensitivity we know it will take to help them work through it in a results-oriented manner. And, at the same time we always respect their privacy which is why the following example does not mention the company or any details that would lead you to presume who it is.

With one client, we addressed the concerns of management and their communication with their employees. Feedback and discussions can be counter-productive when you are unable to drill down to the real issues and receive meaningful feedback to address a particular problem. Managers are faced with limited time, multiple tasks, meetings, and increasing interruptions from all angles. Actually “hearing” the concerns of your direct reports to solve issues and provide direction on how to best handle challenges is important to managers. However, they are often overwhelmed with white noise and long winded conversations that do not provide the information they need to resolve the issue. Many times this can force a situation to escalate when it could simply be addressed in a manner that leaves everyone feeling much better – which means everyone can move on to complete the other important tasks at hand.

In separate sessions with employees and managers, we facilitated on-site training providing them with the skills to effectively listen. We provided targeted development to a group of employees and then separately to a group of managers listening to what their barriers were in regard to listening. We then assessed their listening strengths and style to determine areas for improvement. We worked closely with them introducing our powerful communication process and model to enhance their listening ability. Once we left the facility we provided additional long-distance coaching as needed.

Both groups discovered techniques to drive conversation to the information needed to effectively address concerns. They also learned their listening skills were not as sharp as they once thought. The participants appreciated the fact that our process was easy to learn with quick results improving their communication skills and promoting productive dialogue. The managers have since reported during the distance coaching and follow up process that the strategies and techniques are working positively outside of the classroom. They are now more aware of the distractions and behaviors fostering negative attitudes that were once counter-productive. By continuing to implement the techniques they learned in this program communication is enhanced which in-turn means a higher-level of production for the company.

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