How to Develop Stronger Relationships Without Causing Conflict!
10 Aug

How to Develop Stronger Relationships Without Causing Conflict!

Interpersonal Skills

Do you need to develop stronger relationships at work, adapt and connect with others easily and manage conflict more confidently?

 

Who amongst us doesn’t have to try and get along with others at work, a bit like the pen pot you have on your desk, all stuck together in a confined space!

 

When we work together, conflict is inevitable; perhaps with other members of your team, with your manager or even your stakeholders. This can lead to feelings of stress and disengagement, so much so that often it’s not the organisation we leave, it’s the environment.

 

The one thing you can control and influence is the quality of how you communicate and interact well with other people.

 

Catch-up with our free online training session below, delivered from our Facebook Group, to find out how you can develop these vital skills and learn how to change your life for the better!

 

Let us know if you would like any more details on the programme mentioned from 45 minutes in!

 

 

…and as if that’s not enough, download our cheat sheet to help you start making a difference TODAY!

Save

Performance Management – a Proactive Partnership, or a Positive Pain?
20 Jan

Performance Management – a Proactive Partnership, or a Positive Pain?

It’s often seen as a laborious and unnecessary ‘tick box’ exercise – preceded by lots of last minute scurrying around for evidence – and little else…but if this is the case for you then you’re missing a trick!

It’s that time of the year, often towards the end of one or at the beginning of the next, when the dreaded performance review looms. Even the most developed PM systems won’t work if your managers and employees aren’t held accountable for their part in the process. Investing the right amount of time, energy, and resources in to how your people manage their performance will yield results.

Firstly, it’s vital that you have a sound system that the whole organisation is committed to. If your company culture doesn’t reflect this commitment, then performance management will be doomed to fail.

The whole business needs to understand that the process of PM happens throughout the entire year – rather than done as a one-off or annual event coordinated by either the manager or the HR department.

Of course, it’s about supporting the business’ objectives and aligning them with those of its employees; so it helps if it’s based on both increasing performance and learning and development, in order to make the most of a high performance workforce.

Dynamic organisations of today – and the future – need to be more responsive. There is a recognised shortage of key talent, and success will rely on a business’s ability to offer the best coaching, engagement, and continuous employee development as part of a holistic approach to how performance is managed.

 

Download our PM Checklist for Managers and make sure your PM process matters!

 

At Right Trax Training, we specialise in developing your business through your key asset; your people. Get in touch to find out how we can help your managers to more effectively support and manage performance.

How to WOW with your Presentation Skills!
09 Dec

How to WOW with your Presentation Skills!

interpersonal skills presentation wow

Presenting is commonplace for most of us, and a pretty common thing that many dislike having to do as well…but some straightforward techniques can take your presentations from the mundane to the magnificent!

 

Easier said than done?  Just consider the amount of presentations we are subjected to, where the ‘presenter’ hasn’t done their groundwork, is still getting themselves ready once the clock has started ticking or we spend all our time wondering what they are saying and leave with no idea what the point was.  Fear not!  By following some simple steps, it really is easy to WOW with your presentations and make them stand out from the crowd.

 

1.Failing to prepare = preparing to fail.

Very few of us can stand up there and knock it out of the park without putting the effort in up front.  How long you need to prepare depends on a number of factors, such as:

  • How well you know the subject
  • How much content/material already exists
  • How skilled you are as a presenter

Factor in as much time as possible, scheduling the time out in your diary if necessary – do this sooner rather than later.  It can take anywhere from 10 hours to 30 hours+ to prepare your content and delivery, including time to rehearse.  Don’t forget, preparation should also cover getting set-up on time and having a Plan B just in case things don’t go to plan (technical problems, anyone?).

 

2.Tell a story.

During your preparation time, start off by thinking of how you will structure the presentation. What’s the Twitter-style 140 character intro that will grab people’s attention, hook them and make them interested in why they need to listen?  A great story connects with us on an emotional level and has a captivating introduction, killer content and a powerful ending.

 

3.Keep it real.

Realness is about bringing an idea to life and not relying solely on words, taken from ‘Sticky Wisdom‘ by What If: The Innovation Company.  There are 3 elements to how we create realness in our presentations:

  • Engage with the ‘theatre of the mind’ – we all see and feel things differently so do your best to tune into your audience.
  • Avoid ‘insider speak’ – go easy on the jargon, acronyms and corporate language (good advice to live by really!)…this alienates your audience and adds confusion.
  • Remember ‘brain styles’ – put something in your presentation that appeals to all styles.  Confucius said “I hear and I forget.  I see and I remember.  I do and I understand”, so make it come alive.

 

4.Create an experience.

During the main part of your presentation, you should now have the interest of the audience; now you need to give them the substance and create an experience.  There are a number of ways to do this:

  • Introduce the antagonist or counterargument (i.e. what’s the problem to solve or what is the benefit of your recommendations?).
  • Explain what you think needs to be done.
  • Use anecdotes, examples, testimonials, stories and relevant statistics to prove the effectiveness of your solution.
  • Pre-empt any potential arguments which you might be challenged with.
  • Give the audience a vision – something they can see, hear, taste or touch.
  • Get the audience involved to keep them engaged.

 

5.Brush up on your delivery technique.

Something that’s often left until the last minute, if considered at all…PRACTICE!  Let us repeat…PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!!!  To yourself, in the mirror, in front of the cat / dog at home but ideally in front of real-live human beings who can give you helpful feedback, we can’t stress this enough.  Here are a few other pointers to help with your delivery style:

  • Use the space around you in the room, avoid being rooted to the spot by moving slowly and fully around your space.
  • Watch out for tells that could show your anxiety, such as clicking pens or rocking on the spot where you stand.
  • Brush up on your questioning and listening skills.
  • Observe your audience – watch out for signs of restlessness or boredom.
  • Use silence to your advantage rather than filling them with noise.
  • Give your audience time to think and reflect on what you are telling them.

 

Of course, we would argue that you can learn to love presenting, but even if not love, by trying out these tips you’ll certainly love being better at delivering presentations in a way that helps you to feel 100% more confident!

 

We hope these ideas help to refresh your presentations, but of course it really just scratches the surface.  At Right Trax Training, we can help you to deliver truly powerful presentations.  Find out more about our interpersonal skills workshops and get in touch to find out how we can help you.

Listening Skills (part two): Why Should We Listen To You?
28 Oct

Listening Skills (part two): Why Should We Listen To You?

We often pride ourselves on our strong listening skills, yet we are guilty of demonstrating the complete opposite not only when listening to others, but when we want to be listened to!

 

Last week, we looked at how to be a better listenerbut good listening works both ways; you must make sure that you are not only listening to others, but that people also want to listen to you.

 

How to make sure others want to listen to you:

 

  • Know what you want to say. This may be easier if you ‘think to speak’ rather than ‘speak to think’, but take time to consider the main points you want to get across before you speak.

 

  • One step at a time. Ensure your audience is more likely to understand you by making one point at a time. This is preferable to overwhelming them with too many ideas at once. This can also help to focus your own thoughts whilst speaking.

 

  • Slow down! If we are anxious or excited, we often talk too quickly. It’s worth listening to a television newsreader and you will hear that they speak much more slowly than you do. Strive to emulate the professionals by adopting an effective rate of speaking. It’s a skill worth practicing.

 

  • Fight the monotone. A monotone voice can convey to the listener that you are bored or too controlled. Again, this takes practice, but it is well worth the effort.

 

  • Right place, right time. Think about the environment where you are talking and respect the subject matter. People speak more freely and openly when they are comfortable. Don’t have a potentially sensitive discussion with someone in a public setting.

 

  • Repeat and confirm. From time to time, it can be worthwhile asking your listener to repeat what you have said to check their understanding. This avoids misunderstanding and differing perceptions that can lead to confusion and frustration down the line.

 

Thanks for listening!

 

Right Trax Training are a learning & development consultancy who are passionate about helping businesses to develop their people to be better at what they do. Get in touch today to find out how we can help.

Listening Skills (part one): How Good Are Your Listening Skills?
21 Oct

Listening Skills (part one): How Good Are Your Listening Skills?

Being a great listener is a valuable skill that we can all work at improving and developing…but how often do you stop to consider just how good your listening skills are?

 

Here are some techniques you can try to increase the effectiveness of your listening skills:

 

  • Concentrate on really hearing the speaker. Try to clear your mind of other thoughts or agendas you may have, and just focus on their voice.

 

  • Two ears, one mouth! During conversations, aim to consciously listen for around 75% of the time and try to speak for only 25% of time. This is one of the most powerful ways to ensure that you are learning all you can from the other person. If you ask a question, be sure to really listen to their answer before asking another one.

 

  • It’s not what you say… Use your body language to show the other person that you are interested in what they have to say. Nodding is a powerful but silent way of showing that you are interested in hearing them. Think about how you know when others are listening to you – for example you might notice them leaning forward and maintaining eye contact. Try to watch for physical gestures towards you and ensure that yours are compatible.

 

  • Stay in the moment. Try not to think about what to say next whilst you are listening. Our brains work much faster than the human voice and therefore your brain can easily lose the ability to concentrate on the other person’s voice. As a better alternative, trust in the fact that you will get your chance to respond when they are done…and for a bonus tip: silence is okay too! It shows that you are respectfully listening and considering what someone has to say.

 

  • Listen between the lines. Pay attention to the other person’s speaking style. Do they speak loudly, or softly? Slow or fast? Knowing which style people prefer means you are more likely to get agreement or ‘buy in’ if you also use their favoured style when it’s your turn to speak.

 

  • Let them finish. Be patient and let the speaker finish each of their points before you offer your opinion or contribution. Taking time to check your understanding, or asking for time to summarise, shows the other person that you are really listening – and that you will expect the same from them.

 

Before we go, our friends at Merlin have put together a great resource of tips for crucial customer support problems, which you can view here.

 

Thanks for listening.  Come back next week for help on making sure others want to listen to you!

 

Right Trax Training are a learning & development consultancy who are passionate about helping businesses to develop their people to be better at what they do. Get in touch today to find out how we can help.

Refresh Your Coaching
14 Apr

Refresh Your Coaching

coaching management training

Life moves at such a pace that it’s easy to get stuck in a rut in all sorts of ways; including in what we may have learned from management training…how we coach and support our people.

When was the last time you considered the quality of your coaching?  If your people were asked to rate the quality of the coaching you deliver out of ten, how would you score?  Chances are, if you average any lower than a seven, you could do with brushing up on your technique.

 

Coaching, in the context of a professional workplace is about supporting, encouraging and unlocking.  What it is not is doing, telling or counselling (and that includes doing all the talking!).  Successful coaching should provide development as a result of guided conversation and questioning that helps the person being coached (i.e. the coachee), to get to their own solutions.

 

So take some time to refresh and see how many of our top 10 tips for better coaching you can check off!

 

10 Tips for Better Coaching

  1. Be human    Always keep it real.  Don’t apply a process or shoehorn the coachee into your preferred coaching structure.  Use structure to keep the conversation guided and on-track whilst having a natural conversation.
  2. You’re a passenger    Just like a driving instructor, they’re in the driving seat and you are next to them, perhaps using the dual controls at certain points to guide and steer, but ultimately it is them that is in control.  If any coaching is to be successful, the coachee must take ownership; only they can make the change and you can only be there to support that change.
  3. Questions are the answer    Coaching should feel like a bit of an exploration for the coach, and like any true explorer, you don’t always know where you will end up when you set off.  As the coach, you don’t have to know the answers to all of your questions – gone are the days when the coach was expected to know it all.  Set off on the exploration together and use good quality questions to get to the destination together.
  4. Listen up    Our top 10 list would be incomplete if the next tip following great questions wasn’t about great listening.  Forget about what’s going to come out of your mouth next, what happened in the last meeting or what you’re going to have for lunch: just listen.  Which questions are easy for the coachee to answer and which ones put them on the spot?  Listen to what they are saying and what they’re not saying and use your intuition to guide you.
  5. Do your homework    Spend some time preparing for the coaching conversation.  What do you know already?  Where were they last time you talked?  What have they been doing recently?  Where do you think they want or need to be?  Don’t over think this stage and make sure that you can still ‘be human’ and flexible in the conversation.
  6. Think ‘mindset’    Naturally, coaching must address knowledge and skill however don’t underestimate the power of attitude and mindset.  When all is said and done, we must want to develop or change our approach.  Remember: no will, no way!
  7. Look who’s talking    Most of us know that the coachee should be doing most of the talking, although that’s easier said than done.  Sometimes, when we get going we do just love the sound of our own voices.  It’s natural enough for us to want to takeover, after all we are trying to help the coachee and give them the benefit of our wealth of knowledge, aren’t we?  Always aim for that golden rule of 70 / 30, with them doing 70% of the talking and use your great questioning and listening skills to get there.
  8. What can they do    The conversation should be all about positive action that they can take, rather than what they can’t do or what is the responsibility of someone else.  Consider the responses to asking this question in different ways: What can they do?  What can they do?  What can they do? What can they do?
  9. Lay your cards out    If you are having a natural and open conversation, it should be easy for you both to lay your cards on the table when you come to a brick wall or a stumbling point.  Sometimes, if you’re not getting anywhere it just takes you to say so and ask what’s going on for the coachee.  Where are they right now?  What aren’t they telling you?
  10. To be continued    And finally of course, you can both have the greatest coaching conversation ever known, but it still needs you as the coach to follow up on what was agreed to keep things moving.  Agree with them what this follow-up looks like (remember: they decide), and always keep your side of the follow-up bargain.

 

How many did you check off and what are your top tips for better coaching?

 

At Right Trax Training, we can help your people to be better coaches. Find out more about the management training that we offer or get in touch to talk about how we can help.

In a February Funk With Your Goals?
22 Feb

In a February Funk With Your Goals?

Have you joined the crowd of people giving up on their resolutions…

it may be time to step back, take stock and refocus.

How’s your New Years resolution going?  Are you still hitting the gym?  Off the booze?  Kicking the cigs?  It’s common knowledge that by February, most of us have well and truly hit the Wall of Willpower with our goal setting and forgotten just why it was so important to make a change in our lives.  So, it’s not too late to step back, take stock and refocus.

First of all, let’s forget about whether or not we’re talking about a NY resolution – we believe that if you want to make a change there is no point in waiting for a particular time of year.  Whatever goal you’re working towards, step back and remember why it’s a goal in the first place.  Why was it so important for you to commit to changing your routine, habits and way of life?  Then ask yourself if these reasons are the same; perhaps there are new or different reasons that will help to bolster your willpower.  Don’t allow that little devil sitting on your shoulder to try and deter you (he might say something like “It wasn’t really that important in the first place”).

Once you’re clear on the motivation behind your goal, take stock.  This is the part when you give yourself a pat on the back for what you’ve done so far.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve slipped a couple of times, it might be that you’ve met your goal for 90% of the time; 90% is brilliant!  Remind yourself of the benefits of achieving your goal.  Maybe you’ve stopped smoking, initially to save money but you’re noticing that now you’ve stopped for a while you don’t get so out of breath taking the stairs – so you’re saving money and getting fitter!

So you’ve reminded yourself why your goal is important and what’s in it for you…time to refocus.  Set a point in the future when you can see in your mind’s eye that you’ve achieved your goal and it’s just a new way of living.  How does that feel compared to telling yourself there’s no way you’re ever going to get there?  Think of and act upon a couple of actions that you can do to get back or stay on track.  Change your way of thinking from making it something that you can’t / mustn’t / won’t do forever and ever (eat cake, smoke, etc), but that it’s something you choose not to do or do less of.  The very fact that you’re telling your brain there is a choice involved will help you to get there.

Good luck!  How are you doing with your current goal, and what do you do to stay on track?

At Right Trax Training we can help your managers and teams to step back, take stock and refocus. Get in touch to find out how.

Why Can’t Managers Just…Manage?
14 Jan

Why Can’t Managers Just…Manage?

It seems so simple; managers are there to manage.  

Then why is it that so many get it so wrong?

We all know that the impact of bad management is far reaching.  Every manager has the power to make their people angry, stressed and overwhelmingly disengaged.  Dictatorial managers who shirk ownership, unduly pressurise their teams and get frantic about workloads stifle employees and suppress engagement.

So far, so unsurprising.  Yet why do we keep hearing this over and over again?  At least one of the answers is pretty simple.  If you are you a manager, you weren’t given a book called ‘How to be a Brilliant Manager’.  It’s not an easy job; there are a lot of plates to keep spinning and all-too-often little or no formal development is provided, particularly for those rising through the ranks or expected to suddenly be capable of managing a team who, up until the point of promotion had been peers.

All is not lost…there are some simple things to remember, and all of them begin with this:

Managing is about people

Working with people is about relationships

Relationships take time to build and to maintain

Commit to being a better manager.  Here are our top 5 tips to get started with:

1. Know your team

Arguably the single biggest tip; understand what makes your team tick both individually and collectively.  There is a lot to be said for having the emotional intelligence to tune in when they are feeling happy, challenged, motivated or angry, stressed, resentful.  Adapt and tailor your approach to suit people’s personal approach.  Sure, this may not always be possible, but 80-90% of the time is better than zero.

2. Give regular feedback (good AND bad)

We’ve all heard the old saying along the lines of ‘praise is the lowest costing incentive’, but clichés are clichés because they tend to be true.  Take time out of each day to recognise and thank people for their contributions and achievements; you don’t have to wait until your next scheduled time with them!  On the flip side, don’t shy away from giving bad feedback (replace ‘bad’ with your current word de jour…developmental, formative, etc).  Being a good manager is about facing up to the tough stuff and your team will respect you for having a fair and consistent approach.

3. Be imperfect

No-one likes a know-it-all.  Your people might not tell you upfront, but you’ll be the subject of office gossip if you’re the sort of manager who has an air of knowing everything about any given subject, or whose motto is “I told you so”.  We tend to respect managers and leaders who can put their hands up when they don’t know the answer or when they get it wrong rather than go around the houses and bluff their way through.  Be imperfect and it will encourage an open and honest culture.

4. Set the standard

It’s no good playing the ‘unprofessional’ card with someone one day and then be spotted yourself in a similarly unprofessional situation the next.  You need to make your standards clear to each person on the team and then role model these yourself.  Set clear boundaries for what is and isn’t acceptable (this will differ depending on the environment and company culture), then ‘walk the walk’.

5. Learn, learn, then learn some more

The final tip is two-pronged.  As a manager you must support each person with their development (that’s ‘support’, you don’t have to do everything yourself and they should take ownership of their own development).  Equally important, and easier to forget, is your development.  Be a manager who is eager to learn more and improve whilst constantly challenge yourself and you will set an excellent benchmark for your team (see tip 4!).

Take time today to consider how you can be a better manager.  It’s never too late to make a change…what will yours be?

At Right Trax Training we can help you to become a better manager!  Get in touch to find out how.

Sign-up for our news and updates...
Regular support for your personal and professional development!
* indicates required
Sign-up Now!
Don't worry, we hate spam too and will never pass on your information.