Welcome to this the Toojays Blog. This is a unique way for us to tell you about the latest training events and activites from Toojays, as well as keeping you uptodate with current development & HR issues. Hope you find it useful and look forward to your feedback.
Yes it's here...!!!
As most people are recovering from the New Year Celebrations we let the party continue as we celebrate our 10th Anniversay!!!
In January 2003 owner and MD Lee Martin established TOOJAYS....from our humble beginings we have established ourselves as an award winning, reliable and regular supplier of innovative L&D solutions.
Working with Blue chip global organisations, public sector, SME's and Micro-businesses alike we continue to add value to all our customers.
Our latest video celebrates our 10 years 10th Anniversary
As Toojays steams towards its next 10 years in business, we ask Lee Martin, Managing Director of Toojays to reflect on the key business lessons that every business owner should consider.
"I've often wondered how to summarise the time I've spent establishing Toojays" comments Lee. "Without sounding to cliched it's about finding your passion. If you're passionate about it...you'll make it happen. In doing so its also about who you partner with, work with and how you engage with them. The beauty of my particular business is that I have additional awareness and insight from some of the models and theores we use! It's simply a case of applying the knowledge!"
As we celebrate our 10 successful years, we plan to share the success with a number of special offers, prizes and giveaways over the next 12 months. Watch out for details on our Facebook, Twitter @TTHRC and Linkedin pages.Tags: HR, training, Leadership, Development, Anniversary, 10 years, MD, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, success
We recently had an interesting conversation with a client regarding their new performance management process.
Asked why they let their managers go through the process of recording performance evidence and end of year appraisal discussion, but not to allocate a rating, they replied "basically we don't trust them to be honest and accurate! They tend to avoid confrontation and as a result the ratings are often not correct"
Surprisingly this fear of addressing poor performance is something that we have come across in other organisations.
So why does it occur? Human nature? Not understanding due process? Confused by discipline policy?
Well it could be argued that all of the above come into play. However, this interesting article from Personnel today indicates that breaching code of practice is common place and could be a factor.
How do you...
How do you or your organisation avoid the Fear of Conflict?
Knowing the policy and procedures is one thing, but its more about having the confidence to apply it.
Interested to know how?
Probably the worst thing a manager can do to their own credibility and reputation is to allow poor performance to continue unchecked.
Tags: Conflict Management, conflict, fear, Performance Appraisal, Performance Management, HR, management, Leadership, training
Knee Jerk response
We recently ran a Conflict Management workshop and a debate on the use of email and text message replies came up.
It's so easy these days to respond quickly to a conflict trigger...and as a result potentially regret it!
So what's the best way to avoid those knee jerk reaction emails? Well heres four tips we discussed as a group.
1. Sleep on it. Before you send that reactionary email sleep on it, or at the very least give yourself a couple of hours to reflect, take stock and calm down. This is often easy said than done! For so many of us the first instinct is to attack; to fight or at the least defend our position. Instead though we suggest you walk away. Remove yourself from the situation. It is amazing how your perspective changes when you have some time to think about it.
2. Share the frustration. If possible find someone you trust and respect and 'vent' your feelings and thoughts with them! This allows you to "sense check" your feelings and actions.
After talking to another you often can find your self realising that maybe your words were a little too toxic or you weren't being fair or realistic.
3. Verbalise it. The problem with email and text is the lack of tone. Tonality is left to the interpretation of the person receiving the email or text. So ensure you give the right tone..call or better still meet with the person you are frustrated, hurt or angry with.
Let's be honest meeting with someone when there's conflict, is difficult. For the majority of us we would probably prefer to avoid this. However there's no substitue for using the right tone of voice, body language and facial expressions to get your message across effectively...and to remove any mis-interpretation from the other party.
4. Let IT help you. If you have the ability and software...let IT help you out. Put a delay send set up on your email server so that even if you do decide to press the send button you've got the ability to re call the message before it reaches the intended party!
Be interested to hear any other thoughts and experiences!
Tags: Conflict Management, Calm down, training, HR, Leadership
HR as a revenue generating stream?
Reading the above I can imaging the Finance Directors and Business owner's sitting up and paying attention, where as the HR personnel would be cringing at the thought of meeting sales targets and losing the focus on nuturing and developing people.
Historically HR, Personnel and L&D have always been viewed as a 'cost' on any organisations balance sheet. A worthwhile and necessary cost....but none the less a cost. They don't practically 'produce' anything that can be re-sold or passed on to customers to generate an income.
As more and more businesses look at reducing costs as the global economy struggles to recover...HR & L&D become an even bigger target on the shooting range.
But does it have to be this way?
Change the way you think
Some organisations charge 'internally'. So if Marketing Department want to send three staff on a course they are 'billed' by HR. Or if a meeting room or organisational venue wants to be used then there is a cost to be paid by the relevant meeting holder.
All these processes do is to internalise the costs and in our experience don't win any friends or favours.
What we're talking about with HR becoming a revenue stream is actually aquiring new wealth,new money into the business - or at the very least reducing costs incurred by offsetting.
How does this work?
Well if you are an organisation that is running for example generic management development courses....why not seek to invite key suppliers, associates, even select customers to attend. Charging them a fee - a special offer that reflects your relationship, which may be considerably reduced to what they may pay externally....but still a fee for attendance.
If the courses are provided by external training organisations, you can reduce or offest your own outlay. If they are courses you run internal yourself you are potentially making 'pure' profit - hence becoming a revenue generating stream.
Training course are an obvious example. However there maybe other areas of your HR department that can attract value from associates, suppliers etc.. HR consultative services, generic templates and forms, access to legal services, room hire...the list goes on.
This is really about preventing HR becoming a cost cutting target...and proactivley looking at ways to retain the services cost effectively.Tags: Revenue generation, management, Radical thinking, Development, Leadership, HR
A very common situation encountered in business is people who don't have the skill or confidence to generate more business though use of the phone. It's quick, cost effective and allows the salesperson to gain far more information on a prospect than a conversation over email.
Email makes life easy, who could argue with that? However it's worrying that so many sales teams have become comfortable with emailing and not recognising the value of a courteous, good old-fashioned telephone call. Believe it or not, this trend is soaring and companies who get the telephone sales right will no doubt have a competitive edge over the competition.
What is actually more interesting is that when clients are shown the solution through training and consultancy, they struggle to justify the training. This is because they fail to do a simple calculation, which is "How many sales orders do I need to make in a month to break even on the training spend?" More often than not, the answer is less than one, before they see the value and return on their spend. Most of the time people think of the spend/activity rather than the outcome.
Here are some points to consider...
Work out your average order value and then how many sales orders you would need to break even on the training spend.
Does the trainer have a track record in the subject they are training? Ask for a biography of the trainer's background as this provides you with an opportunity to see if your instructor is a good fit for your business.
Do they have genuine testimonials? Ask if you can contact one or two for feedback. It's a good idea to contact other companies who have used the training provider's services. Ask what the company liked and what they didn't like about the service they received. Doing this will help you make a well informed decision.
Training companies credibility:
Are they doing what they train? For instance, if they are training your staff on telephone techniques, are they using the phone correctly in their business? Call them and find out before you engage in their services.
Some companies are happy to sit your team in front of a PowerPoint presentation and bore them to tears. In our experience, participents get more out of the training when it is interactive, fun and can be used in their job roles. Decide what style will best suit your company.
One-off training sessions are fine for refreshing knowledge and to motivate your staff. However if you really want to get the full benefit of your investment, consider a monthly or quarterly training programme so that your clients get real value as they can see the continuous improvement their staff are making.
Quality of materials:
Ask for a sample of materials they will use in the training so that you can see what your staff will see and learn from.
Roundabout or a Road block?
I've worked with a lot of organisations, teams and individuals in my career.
During my time I've tended to come across individuals who can be described as 'Roundabouts' or 'Road blockers'.
What's that you say? Well its those people who either have a 'can do' attitude or a 'more than my jobs worth approach'.
With customer centric strategies adopted by more and more companies and focus, rightly so, being emphasised on going that extra mile for excellence/customer satisfaction, it still surprises me to come across 'road blockers'.
I'm sure you've experienced them, know them and may even work with them. They can be, like road blocks, so frustrating to the drive toward your or your customers goals. The people who tend to say "ohh, I'm not sure about that..." or take a sharp in take of breath...or "I need to think about that/check the precident on that"
In trying to service our customers needs we experience such road blockers.
Now lets be clear..we never ask anyone to do anything that's illegal, in breach of copyright, IP, moral or ethical codes of conduct. Yet we still come across professionals, experts and individuals that appear to be rowing in the wrong direction!
Navigating Road blocks
So how do you deal with Road blockers? Well historically I used to let my frustration drive my actions. I decided that if 'they' weren't willing to play...then I'd distance myself from them and find someone who was on the same page...and who'd help achieve the goals. Seeking out the shortest route as it were.
This may not always be an option though, so in terms of a longer term strategy it has to be about communication.
You need to explain the bigger picture, explain the context of your requst. You also have to clarify the exact requirement of them as well as reducing their concern over the risk/cost/fear or factor impacting on them.
Only by doing this will you stand a chance of removing the Road block and preventing further blockers in the future with them.
Tags: team development, management, Motivation, Leadership, Can do attitude
Sales are not everything
As any business will tell you sales are critcal. But repeat sales are often down to the quality of the customer experience.
An article from the BBC shows that two thirds of us will not use a company again once we have experienced bad service.
So while many organisation hope to survive the recession and emerge intact the key to ensuring their survival is great customer service.
Adding or Detracting?
It should also be remembered that Customer Service is as much about how you handle the customer experience when things go wrong as it is when things are going well.
So how confident are you that your staff are adding to the customer experience or detracting from it?
If you're not sure, what price the loss of sales or repeat business? more than training and skilling your staff?
Time to invest in your lifeblood?
Tags: Management Development, Customer Experience, SME, Small Business, Leadership, HR, training, Customer Service
Game of two halfs
There has often been a link to sport and business leadership for many years. Sport has provided an easy to relate framework for individuals to understand leadership and performance concepts.
With the start of the European Championships this week football provides yet another analysis opportunity.
Using a few well know football managers a recent article by Personnel Today What can we learn from football managers? highlights the different leadership approaches.
What is your football manager style?
So what's your style? or preference?
Truth be told effective leadership is situational. Knowing how to adapt and change in order to get the best out of the situation or individuals.
Tags: training, Management Development, Leadership, HR, football management
With the increased focus on social media and networking sites the lure for independant, freelancers, one man bands and small businesses to utilise them as a marketing opportunity seems to be in freefall.
However, ill advised or inapropriate status updates can often do more harm than good for attracting business and future clients.
There seems to be a trend of status updates that seem to 'boast' of current activity even though the actual activity is quite mundane and of no apparent interest to others. This is sometimes followed up by a very loosley linked sales pitch. As recently seen...
"currently planning my trip abroad. v excited about going back to africa"
"If you're struggling with YOUR planning why not contact us for project mangement training?"
!!!..Mind the shoe horn!
Too my mind this can't be the best way to advertise your serivces and does nothing to inspire potential clients.
This style of approach reminds me of the MBTi extroversion preference....as 'tongue in cheek' demonstrated below.
So before you post consider are you engaging the interest of your reader? or dis-engaging them?
Some key things to consider:
1. WIIFT - That's 'Whats In It For Them"? What topic will capture the interest of your intended audience?
2. Call to Action - What are you trying to achieve? What do you want your audience to do? What's your call to action?
3. Tone - What image are you trying to create? Credible professional or jovial friend? This is often forgotten about.
If unsure what to include in your status update, then maybe you don't have anything to say? Does 'No news is good news' still apply...or "better to keep quite and be assumed a fool...then to speak and to have it confirmed!"
Certainly the lesson would appear to be more considered about what you post.
Tags: Social media, status updates, Leadership, management, CIM, Marketing, training
Interesting article here from The Telegraph with the alarming title that "1 in 4 managers don't know how bad they are"
Is this the real 'Reality'?
Why is there no honest feedback being given to them? By their staff, their colleagues...their manager? Or even their customers!
The natural inclination is to jump on them and their poor ability. However, you have to question the effectiveness of the performance management process their organisations have in place.
Why has their performance not been addressed?
Does the Performance Management process allow for 360 or 180 feedback? How else will they become aware of their shortcomings?
Even if there is a 'process' for feedback to be given....does the 'culture' allow for it to be given freely...without fear of consequences or repercussions?
The answer is not always as straight forward as looking to blame the managers shortcomings.
Increasing awareness of personal style, impact and effectiveness is key and there are lots of tools out there to do this with.
But also looking at the organisational culture, the performance management process and the motivations of staff is also critical.
Tags: Constructive Feedback, 360 feedback, L&D, Bad boss, management, Leadership, HR, Performance Appraisal
A True Story
No this isn't a ghost story or management theory on conflict management...although both can be pretty scary!
This is infact a true story.
Yesterday I took my 9 year old daughter for an eye operation. The procedure, of being sedated, operated on and her eye ball stitched, would be daunting to most let alone a 9 year old little girl.
Whilst waiting with her I asked how she was feeling. She said scared. I asked if she'd been this scared before...hoping to help her relate to an experience and how she came out of it OK.
She replied with "Yes...the first time I went to school...the first time I went into the classroom. I wish I knew how things were going to be."
I smiled and agreed with her. Then to my surprise she pulled out a piece of crumpled paper and said "That's why Daddy, I've got these".
"What have you got there?" I asked.
"These" She said proudly "are my questions to ask the Doctor!"
Excellent set of Questions
She unfolded the piece of paper and I could see she had written in her best handwriting the following question's.
1. What will happen?
2. Will it hurt?
3. What if it goes wrong?
4. Are you a good surgeon? (OK she'd actually written 'sturgeon' but we knew he wasn't a fish!)
"An excellent set of questions" I told her...and the attentive Surgeon dutifully answered all of them as he sat with her pre-Op.
His calm reassuring manner and answers put her mind at rest and reduced her fear.
Her actions and particularly the reference to her previous classroom experience got me thinking about how do we as Trainers handle the fears of our delegates?
Lessons for all trainers
Do we take the time to explain:
So check your introductions...are you addressing these fears?
Tags: HR, Learning, training, true story, CPD, L&D, management, Leadership, train the trainer
There's alot of comment in HR circles about the war for talent at the moment with businesses ensuring they keep their workforce engaged and motivated during harsh economic times.
Trying to prevent the Talent drain is a concern.
But knowing the key facts around aquisition and retention of talent is crucial.
The following infographic on the recent findings from Kelly Services makes for interesting reading
Does your retention strategy take into consideration these points? How does it vary between the Generations?
Failure to engage correctly could be driving your employees away.
Tags: Leadership, Employee engagement, Recruitment, Retention, HR, Talent
A case of The Emperor's new clothes....or the future for business?
Mention the term Social Media for businesses and you're sure to get a discussion started as we recently found at one of our training courses.
Love it or loath it views are polorised.
But what's the truth? Are businesses seeing the benefits from Social Media integration?
Indeed what are the benefits? Increased traffic? Brand awareness? Customer engagement?
How do the measurements and ROI stack up?
One thing that does appear consistent is that there is a view that most businesses don't know if they're doing the right thing or as much as they should....and are often doing it becuase its the thing to do!
A recent report from Social Media Benchmarking - part of The Chartered Institute of Marketing throws up some interesting results
So is it suitable for all?
One things clear if you do decide to engage then you need to have a clear strategy...and resources! It takes dedication, time and thought to ensure that you regularly contribute and keep your Facebook, Twitter, linkedin and blog up todate with the right level of interesting content.
As a result of this is a Social Media marketing strategy suitable for SME's?
There does seem to be a gap in knowledge of how to fly this thing call Social Media, with many of a certain generation looking like startled rabbits at the mention of it.
Plenty of innovative media and marketing companies will offer to 'train' you in the dark arts of effective blogging..or essential tweeting....claiming that they're not marketees but fresh approach to customer engagement.....however most techniques are availalbe for free on the internet with a well aimed google search.
So is there a culture of Emperor's new clothes..? A "We must have it becuase everyone else has it" attitude? Or is it still too early to measure the benefits?
I wonder how we will be looking back in 10 years time and measuring the impact of Social Media for businesses.
(and whilst you're pondering that...check out www.facebook/ToojaysTraining or @TTHRC on twitter!! - Ed )
Tags: Social media, HR, Leadership, SME, Business, training, Marketing, management
Getting a competative advantage
With more and more candidates fighting for fewer and fewer roles its essential that you give yourself the best competative advantage possible when searching for a new role.
Having recently gone through our own recruitment process we have some advice straight from the recuiters mind for would be future candidates that could help you get ahead of the game.
1. Know your stuff. Before any interview, do your homework and research the company. Very few candidates do this, so if you are one of them you’ll immediately set yourself apart. Research the industry and, at the very minimum, read every page of their website to learn more about clients, services, structure and competitors. Read the company newsletter to find out what their latest projects are. Search online via websites like LinkedIn or Google to learn the background of the people you’ll be meeting.
2. Show that you’re a good match for the job and organization. Tell the interviewer how you see yourself fitting into the company and what value you’ll be able to add quickly. Show that you’re a team member who’s willing to go that extra mile, and that you’re not just in the job until something better comes along. Strong commitment and a positive attitude can often go further than actual skill — as long as you’re teachable, open to feedback and quick to learn.
3. Don’t be late. Allow yourself enough time to get lost or delayed in traffic. Make a dry run the day before so you know exactly where you’re going, the best way to get there, and where to park. Have the phone number of the interviewer with you so if you’re unavoidably delayed you can call and see if you should still come or if another time would be better.
4. Don’t be early. If you’re really early, find a place to freshen up a little bit and wait until your appointment. You can present yourself 5 - 10 minutes before your interview time, but no earlier. The interviewer is on a schedule and doesn’t want to see you until the appointment time.
5. Practice the basics. You know you’re going to be asked the following: “Tell me about yourself”; “What are some of your weaknesses?”; “Tell me about a time you disagreed with your manager”; “Why do you want to work for XYZ Corp?”, so have well-crafted, concise, intelligent and creative responses ready.
Whilst these may seem basic steps for some surprisingly the number of interview candidates that do not prepare properly is alarmingly high.
So make sure having got as far the interview you utilse the opportunity....and put yourself in the most advantagous position.
Tags: HR, Leadership, management, Recruitment, Interview
The knives are out....for Team Building.
Recently came across this vodaphone billboard advertisement frowning on outdoor team development activites.
Is this a reflection of peoples perception of such events?
There seems to be an increasing trend of putting down 'Team building'. Is this because its an easy target? Or is it the reality that people in the teams don't value or see the value in outdoor experiential activities?
Well maybe it's both.
As a provider of outdoor activities and team development we often come across clients historic experiences where people have been forced to endur all kinds of 'extreme' activities in the name of 'fun' or 'development'.
These frequently do nothing more than polorize teams rather than bring them together - unless you class hatred toward the event organisor as a common denominator!
Whilst stretching people, taking them comfortably outside of their comfort-zone and involving them in outdoor activities are often used, there has to be consideration and a proven tangible benefit.
When we design our interventions we're careful to highlight the 'challenge by choice' principle.
We never force people to do anything they don't want to do.
The level of engagement they are asked to participate with is entirely down to them.
The other aspect of these activities are that they have to address relevant issues within the team. Otherwise what's the point?
Discussing and debriefing the activity is key. Reviewing the learning and how that can be applied back in to the work environment is crucial for the success of the activitiy and event. Without this it does become a worthless task.
Perhaps that's the problem historically and what's driving this perception of Team Building.
There hasn't been the 'link' back to business issues and behaviours. Maybe the focus has been on mis-guided perception of fun and motivational events, without substance.
Anyone for paintball? bowling...? drumming?...no?!...oh well.
Tags: team building, HR, Leadership, Development, Outdoor activities, training, management
What? I hear you cry...surely the learning we do at the moment, be it 70:20:10 based or otherwise is always collaborative.
We collaborate with the tutor, the author, the fellow delegates, our coach, our work place colleagues.
I grant you this may well be the case, but I'm specifically talking about how are we learning from other businesses, other organisations and industries.
I know from my experience the more enlightened professional may look to complete a bench marking exercise to rank their current status or situation against a comparible team or unit.
But how often do we take the oppotunity to actually engage with that other organisation to discuss, debate, learn from and seek inspiration and creativity?
Not that often I'd wager.
In working with a variety of senior teams across organisations and continents it strikes me that I'm in a very unique position of seeing the familiar process of 'team development' work. One thing I note is that there are common issues and problems within these teams.
I understand the sensativity of corporate IP, and trading information so I'm not necessarily suggesting the collaboration is with your industry rival. However, there are a vast amount of companies and senior teams that are set up and deal with similiar operational, logisitical and strategic issues to perhaps your own.
So why not learn from others experience? Learn from their successes and mistakes..speed up your own teams development as a result.
One thing to consider though before you rush to the nearest comparible organisation asking for them to divulge their key to success....is what's in it for them?! The WIFFM factor.
Consider what can you trade with. What could they benefit from. What would they value in exchange for sharing their learning.
Worth a thought...to speed up the learning process at the very least!
Tags: Benchmarking, team development, management, Development, Leadership, training, HR, collaborative working, 70:20:10
So you're thinking of leaving...?
In 2009 a Right Management survey of over 900 north american empoyees found that over 60% were planning to leave their current role.
More recent surveys have indicated that with the continuation of the recession and uncertain economic outlook that this figure is now much higher with employees just waiting for an up turn before they depart.
This is an alarming stat if true and the impact on businesses through this potential talent drain is enough to make the most hard nosed CEO sit up and pay attention.
So what's the solution? and....more importantly who's job is it to stop this loss of employees!
Employee engagement is the key.
There are numerous postings and articles for EE on the web and the practice is well populated with suggestions for strategic plans and cultural changes to address the problem.
With most of these though the suggestion is that the initiatives and policies should come from HR, Personnel or the Executive Board.
But look at the root causes of why people leave their role and most exit interview data would suggest it stems from the lack of psychological contract or engagement with their line manager.
Why not then make the line manager accountable?
That's right...set an objective a KPI for the line manager that relates to staff retention rates.
Following the adict that "What get's measured...gets done" - why not ensure that staff retention is focused upon and reduced?
If the line manager knows their own performance and possibly their performance related bonus will be impacted upon by how engaged they are with their staff then it becomes a higher priority for them.
Metrics can varied but numbers of or percentage of days training given, absenteesism, promotions as well as leavers within a team could monitored as suitable gauges.
Engaging and empowering Line Managers to increase retention and reduce talent loss has to be addressing the issue at the front line.
Time to revisit the objectives you've set??Tags: Leadership, training, HR, psychological contract, line manager, staff retention, Employee engagement
I recently ran a management training course on Employee Engagement and during the course we discuss how motivating employees during difficult times was so hard.
With financial rewards and pay rises as rare as pixie dust and rocking horse...well you get the idea, the conversation moved on to the pyscological contract and how employees actually got a lot more than they used to.
A question was raised as to how do you stop employees thinking the grass is green elsewhere. Alot of the group agreed with the questioner and the problem facing them.
Whilst most had ensured their payroll was competative there were still employees they felt that weren't fully appreciative of the 'other' benefits they had.
We started to list all the 'additional benefits' their employees received. These ranged from pension contributions, free lunches, parking, fruit, massages, holiday trading, free buscuits to training and development.
Whilst these were given by the employer they weren't detailed in terms of monetery value.
I recalled how many years ago whilst working for a large corporate we were handed a potfolio of Statements. This document, in addition to outlining the annual salary, pay increases and pension contributions, also detailed how many days of training and development we'd received and how that equated to company average and also actual monetary value.
I was surprised to learn that most of the group didn't demonstrate to their employees all of the additional benefits they received and what was invested in them.
You may not want to work out how many buscuits they've had or free cups of tea over the year...but perhaps in difficult times its worth reminding your employees of the benefits they receive and the amount of training and development you invest in them.
A simple statement showing the benefits and monetary value invested in them may work!
Tags: statement of benefits, Leadership, staff development, Employee engagement
Do you know who your Star's are? or who are your Icebergs?
Continuing the thread of Performance Management the need to catergorise performance of individuals to either address poor performance or develop succession plans for high flyers is a key requirement for managers.
As a straightforward approach the People Performance Potential Model is a free resource from Toojays that gives a structured approach to the catergorisation.
Using the model and the results from Performance Appraisal's and regular 121's you can effectively 'plot' your team and identify the key individuals and roles you need to focus upon.
Do you know where your team would sit? How many Star's or Superstar's do you have?
Click on the link to download the model template and start analysing your team.Tags: people, HR, Appraisal Skills, training, management, Leadership, succession planning, performance potential, Performance Management