Posts Tagged ‘Communication’

20 Minute Manager Leading Virtual TeamsThe Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation title 20 Minute Manager: Leading Virtual Teams aims to help managers of remote groups succeed from afar. Virtual teams can present a unique set of challenges, including maintaining accountability from a distance and depending on technological means of communication, but these challenges can be overcome. Leaders of virtual teams can achieve success by ensuring that their teams have the right mix of skills and abilities for remote work, the right technological tools are in place, goals and processes are clearly defined and understood, and their employees remain engaged and accountable.

Leaders of virtual teams can overcome the unique challenges of remote workforces by employing six basic strategies:

1. Ensuring that their teams contain the right mix of skills and abilities. Team members must be able to communicate and collaborate effectively, be open to the use of technology, and possess the skills that are needed for success.

2. Assessing and fulfilling their teams’ technological needs. The success of virtual teams depends largely on the technology that they are given. Virtual team leaders must assess and implement the right tools to enable communication and the creation and sharing of content.

3. Clarifying goals, processes, and norms. Leaders of virtual teams must define common expectations, goals, processes, and norms to align the priorities of their teams.

4. Regulating the messages and communication channels that enable effective collaboration. Leaders must find ways to effectively share information through the appropriate channels. They must find the right balance of communication to avoid overburdening team members with information and undercommunicating their visions and objectives.

5. Keeping team members motivated, engaged, and accountable. Virtual team leaders must build rapport and trust among their teams and mobilize the social bonds that keep people engaged in and motivated about their work. They must also hold people to their commitments to prevent missed deadlines, poor results, and interpersonal conflicts.

6. Resolving conflict from afar. Leaders must manage conflict before it damages work relationships and creates toxic work environments. This can be achieved by practicing active listening, mediating, and encouraging transparency.

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7 Secrets of PersuasionMost people make decisions so quickly that they may not even know they are making them; therefore, logic seldom has anything to do with the process. Psychological and scientific studies have proven that the brain’s nonconscious, automatic system is responsible for quickly generating impressions that lead to making choices. In 7 Secrets of Persuasion, James C. Crimmins, PhD explains how people can appeal to the brain’s automatic system to impact the decisions of their family members, work associates, friends, or customers.

People can successfully persuade others by:

  • Getting to know the lizard–the nonconscious mental system that makes most decisions without people’s knowledge.
  • Discovering the triggers that quickly engage the lizard.
  • Learning how to speak to the brain’s emotional side.
  • Attempting to change people’s behaviors rather than their attitudes.
  • Giving people what they want–not changing what they want.
  • Unearthing the reasons people respond in certain ways.
  • Focusing on how people feel (or want to feel).
  • Creating an expectation that a desired experience will be superior.
  • Engaging listeners using images and spokespeople with whom they wish to identify.

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what-great-trainers-doIn What Great Trainers Do, Robert Bolton and Dorothy Grover Bolton target the underlying need for trainers to energize and motivate individuals to enact relevant change in their workplaces. They present an approach to attaining well-run training programs that ultimately drive future business for clients. Using time-tested techniques, trainers can deliver dynamic workshops that ultimately help boost profits and positively generate personal growth. From PowerPoint presentations to the effective management of group dynamics, this book offers no-nonsense advice to trainers seeking to create lasting and valuable learning.

Businesses spend upwards of $60 billion each year on training for employees. Despite this, studies have shown that scantily more than 10 percent of teaching material is incorporated into participants’ work environments. The ultimate task for an effective trainer is ensuring lessons learned during training translate to the workplace. This can be achieved by:

  • Creating a framework for training. To build a successful training program, a trainer must integrate content with how the group operates as a whole.
  • Developing a dynamic workshop. Effective trainers are enthusiastic, open-minded, and focused, and they maintain a conversational style.
  • Debriefing to gather the learning. Trainers attain feedback and learning from individuals when they debrief after activities, practices, or presentations.
  • Making presentations interactive. Great trainers involve participants early and often to create learning environments where thoughts are exchanged in a meaningful way.
  • *Evaluating and ending the workshop. Dynamic trainers have evaluation processes where sponsors and participants understand the degree of satisfaction.
  • Serving as a facilitator. Good trainers battle personal and group resistance by intervening when trouble arises.
  • Maturing as a trainer. First-rate trainers redesign failing workshops in real time, should groups feel that coursework is off the mark.

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20-minute-manager-difficult-conversationsWhether confronting a colleague, giving feedback, or filing a complaint with management, finding the right words and methods to express oneself during a difficult conversation can be a challenge. And while most professionals might prefer avoiding any workplace confrontation, doing so often makes things worse. Harvard Business Review Press’s 20 Minute Manager: Difficult Conversations not only demonstrates the benefits of confronting contentious issues head-on but also provides a step-by-step guide to transforming interpersonal conflicts into productive dialogue. The book highlights the qualities and skills professionals need to become better communicators and examines how they can maintain positive relationships at work.

The book explains that in order to transform contentious conversations into highly constructive ones, professionals must:

  • Pinpoint the root of the problem. To resolve an interpersonal conflict with a productive conversation, a professional must first have a clear understanding of where the problem is stemming from.
  • Develop self-awareness and emotional intelligence. Only when professionals look within and empathize with how others are feeling can they calmly navigate difficult conversations.
  • Prepare for the conversation. To ensure that a difficult conversation goes smoothly, a professional must carefully plan what he or she is going to say and anticipate the different ways the conversation may unfold.
  • Stay calm and collected. Difficult conversations can easily become emotionally volatile; therefore, professionals must always try to maintain a calm, neutral tone and ignore any inflammatory language directed their way.
  • Reflect. To have consistently better and more productive future interactions, professionals must take a moment after the conclusion of each difficult conversation to identify what did and did not work.
  • Follow up on the conversation in writing. To fortify the positive outcome of a difficult conversation, a professional must quickly reiterate and reinforce what was agreed upon with the other party in an email.
  • Become better communicators. Effective communication does not just make difficult conversations easier, it can also help professionals’ self-esteem, improve workplace relationships, and mitigate conflict.

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Speaking PowerPointVisual communication is the new language of business. When a leader explains an idea clearly, persuasively, and simply, that idea can spread to others. Therefore, leaders who can master visual communication will drive their business strategies. In his book Speaking PowerPoint, Bruce R. Gabrielle outlines the Mindworks Presentation Method for visual communications. This method of creating PowerPoint presentations helps leaders use this tool to communicate more effectively. It focuses on three main strategies: (1) the story should be carefully planned out on a storyboard before the PowerPoint presentation is created; (2) visuals should be easily understood and each slide should promote a single message that ties into the overall argument; and (3) the design should feature color and decorative elements that draw attention to the message.

According to the author:

  • Every business is an idea marketplace in which managers jockey to get their ideas heard and implemented. Used well, PowerPoint can be the key to winning in today’s business environment.
  • When creating a boardroom-style PowerPoint presentation, the first step is to determine the main message of the deck. The best way to figure this out is to ask the question, “What does the audience want?”
  • A successful PowerPoint deck is like an iceberg, with 10 percent above water and the rest submerged below. The main message and three to four supporting points make up the above-water argument. The rest of the evidence and explanations should be kept underwater until necessary.
  • The title is the most important element of a slide. The best way to make the title memorable is to put it in the form of a sentence. Using a full sentence to clearly state an argument also makes it easy for the audience to understand the point of each slide.
  • The average person can only understand four ideas at one time. This Rule of Four is based on neuroscience and should dictate how much information should appear on each slide.
  • Research has shown that most people think in pictures. Adding pictures to a document makes it easier to understand, agree with, and remember.
  • Research has shown that people are more likely to agree with something if it is easy for them to process. Slides that are more visually pleasing are easily digestible and more memorable.

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Resolving ConflictIn Resolving Conflicts at Work, Kenneth Cloke and Joan Goldsmith help readers understand the underlying causes of conflict and how to approach it in new ways. Conflicts at work arise because companies are made up of diverse group of people with different communication styles and differing expectations. Few people have been trained to resolve conflict in a healthy manner, which is why conflict is common in every workplace. Transformation does not occur until people first resolve how they became stuck in conflict and take time to develop new strategies. When an organization operates with a culture where conflicts are avoided, honesty and creativity is lost in the process. People need to take time to look inward and understand what conflict means to them and how their perceptions impact the way they respond to these situations.

According to the authors:

  • All conflict is influenced by an individual’s background and learned responses. When people understand this, they can work to uncover the hidden meanings behind any conflict.
  • When people listen to opponents with an open mind, their opponents will do the same for them.
  • The language used to describe a conflict reflects attitudes and assumptions. It can reveal the interests, emotions, and histories that are behind the surface-level issue.
  • Difficult behaviors are present in every workplace and, in some cases, are inadvertently encouraged through reward systems. When these behaviors are discussed in the open, there is opportunity to improve on all sides and develop perseverance.
  • Resistance is often the result of an underlying need, such as improved communication or greater involvement in decision making. When the reasons for resistance are explored, it becomes easier to collaborate and negotiate for a solution.
  • To prevent the same conflicts in the future, systems can be developed within an organization. This prevents conflicts and sets the standard for how they are to be managed when they do occur.

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The Social OrganizationWhile increasing numbers of organizations are investing in social media technology, few are successfully using it to create value through mass collaboration. In The Social Organization, social media experts Anthony Bradley and Mark McDonald explain how firms can leverage these tools to innovate and solve problems faster and better than traditional companies. The authors provide frameworks and proven techniques that any manager can apply to rally people around a collective purpose; launch an effective collaborative environment; guide collaboration toward meaningful goals; and adapt internal culture and systems to support collaboration as it evolves and helps the organization outperform the competition.

Social media can be used by any organization to enable mass collaboration. But “social organizations” are ahead of all others in ensuring that collaboration delivers value and creates a competitive edge. Becoming a social organization involves the following actions and priorities:

  1. At the heart of a social organization is not social media technology itself but the mass collaboration it enables. Mass collaborative efforts succeed by enlisting the interests, knowledge, talent, and experience of all stakeholders in pursuing shared goals and creating value.
  2. Social media efforts rarely succeed without management guidance and support. Too much management involvement can stifle collaboration, but too little creates significant risk that the initiative will lose its focus and its alignment with organizational strategy.
  3. Becoming a social organization begins with a vision statement. A vision statement serves two purposes: it articulates leadership’s belief in the value of collaboration, and it identifies specific opportunities where collaboration can add value to the firm.
  4. Organizations need a community collaboration strategy to guide their social media priorities and investment decisions. A strategy should identify which collaborative communities the organization sanctions, when and how it will support them, what behaviors will be encouraged, and what benefits the organization expects to receive from the collaboration effort.
  5. In addition to planning and supporting collaborative efforts in general, organizations need to cultivate the individual communities that make up their collaboration portfolios. Cultivating a community requires specification of its purpose and a business justification that identifies its benefits and costs.
  6. While too much interference from above can stifle collaboration, appropriate management guidance is essential to creating a sustainable social organization. Managers must ensure that collaboration works productively, that participants stay focused on its purpose, and that the organization’s broader systems and functions support the collaborative effort.
  7. Effective managers guide the collaborative community based on its purpose, progress, and direction. To provide appropriate guidance, managers should view the community as a group, track progress toward its purpose, continually assess the value of its purpose to the organization, and seek new, high-potential purposes.
  8. By adapting processes and power structures to the needs of the collaborative community, managers make the organization safe for mass collaboration. A social organization is safe for collaboration when all stakeholders recognize its value and potential and all functions are aligned to support it.

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