Category Archives: Human Resources

Listening is paramount for business growth

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

Do you have employees who are smart and engaged and that you suspect have great ideas but don’t seem willing to contribute? Do they trust you to acknowledge their contribution? Do they think you will even listen to their ideas?

Most employees have ideas and while not every one is a gem, some of those ideas will inevitably be good ones. But if the right environment isn’t present, most won’t step forward.

SpyingListen, encourage and acknowledge. Not every idea is a breakthrough but don’t be afraid to say so, while creating a listening environment. It’s an indicator of the health of your business. Talk to  your employees individually on a regular basis. Encourage them to contribute. Build trust.

Over time they will know you value their ideas and it will encourage them .

Good companies don’t have people working in silos. Build a culture that requires interactive listening where people contribute in a meaningful way and are acknowledged for their contribution.

Listening affects how you learn and grow.  Talk to everyone involved in your company and ask for their ideas. The results may surprise you.

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Filed under Communications, Human Resources, Managing, Uncategorized

Save your business – don’t hire a snooty waiter

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

Jan van der Hoop, a blogger at the Mississauga Board of Trade writes – your people – and not you or your product – will ultimately determine the fate of your business.

Jan writes about the rude treatment he received from a waiter at a French restaurant and wonders if owner of the restaurant is aware.

rude waiterHe had clearly invested heavily in his restaurant – the building, the kitchen, the team, promoting and building his business… only to have one guy’s indifference sully his hard-built reputation.

It is your employees’ standards, attitudes and values that ultimately determine how your customer will feel during and after they have done business with you.

And too often business owners don’t know the damage that is being done. Hire right. Spend time on their training so they fully understand that they are an ambassador for your business and your reputation.

As Jan points out, anything less amounts to “management malpractice”

Read Jan’s full post here


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Filed under Branding, Human Resources, Managing, Uncategorized

Do You Measure Training ROI?

JBMG_5500aBy Jeff Bowman

For more than 25 years now I have watched various corporations take the training that has been provided for their employees and try to measure the return they received from the investment. Not as easy as it sounds.  Measuring ROI is a process, and it includes collecting and analyzing performance data both prior to and in a fixed time period after training, then trying to quantify that into some measurement of real financial benefit. There are conditions attached to getting true measurements that are rarely taken into account.

  • Was there an accurate benchmark set before training occurred?
  • Was there a control group to measure against for improvement??
  • Was there any environmental difference that would affect performance results?
  • Are there clear improvement expectations?
  • Is the performance improvement measurable or anecdotal in scope?
  • Was there follow-up coaching for improvement and reinforcement?

For those that want a predictive outcome of the value of training prior to the actual training taking place, we can only rely on analyzed data from a multitude of studies in North America over the last few years.  As Trainers we can make no guarantees because we can’t control the variables after we leave the building.  We can, however, leave you with some proven statistics;iStock_000028228004Medium

  1.    A Lou Harris and Associates Poll says “employees who say their company offers poor or no training, 41% plan to leave within a year”, compared to 12% where the respondents receive excellent training.
  2.    On average $1.00 invested equals an $8.00 net benefit
  3.     Companies investing $1,500 per employee experience 24% higher profit margins
  4.     Investment in Personal development results in a 21% increase in productivity.

The ROI on training and development can have a huge impact on your business, not just in revenue, but in employee morale, creativity and leadership retention!

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Filed under Human Resources, Jeff Bowman, Training and Development

Expert credentials, but who checks anyways?

By Jeff Bowman

If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck well then it must be ….  Not always!  During my 25 years in training and development I have seen a great number of “elite” programs come and go.  I have seen “experts” in their field give absolutely terrible workshops, and time and time again I have seen companies who want to pay the minimum to get the maximum in terms of knowledge transfer, retention and results. How many times have we bowed to expert opinion only to learn later that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to hang on their every word like lemmings?

The word expert has many different connotations to different people.  Experts, when I was young were elders who had life experience.  Then I grew to learn that experts possessed specialized knowledge on certain subjects such as teachers.  Now, I am a little confused as to what criteria is used to anoint experts, because there are so many of them out there. When faced with such a dilemma I head to the dictionary and Wikipedia, figuring the answer lies somewhere between. An expert can be anything from a reliable source, a person with extensive knowledge and training, may have credentials through education and practice, a sage thinker or someone who has more knowledge than an average person. The key attribute that runs through all definitions is they must be recognized by peers and have proven authority.

The last test is the truest in my opinion.  How would an expert prove that they are an expert Testimonials would be a good start.  Letters from clients, peers and other experts stating that there are valid reasons why this person should be given your ear. This goes back to my question about who checks anyways.  In training and development situations whether it be sales, leadership, teamwork or other forms of workshops and activities, the person responsible for sourcing the trainer needs to be diligent in finding a person with the knowledge, skills and experience to properly facilitate the training. This is accomplished through checking of credentials.  You wouldn’t hire an employee without a background check.

There are billions of people on the planet who are self-proclaimed experts at something (I can hang a spoon from my nose!) Each day I see more examples of people with expert credentials that may or may not fit the definition.  Who heard of hoarding even 5 years ago, yet there are experts at dealing with the problem.  Anyone who uses social media seems to be an expert, but I defy them to stand toe to toe with the likes of Chris Brogan.  Even website optimization has thousands of experts ready to make your site number one! (64,900,000 hits on Google) A quick check of the “expert’s” background, experience and testimonials will give you a good idea if they are experts or merely more knowledgeable than the average person.

I was once told that if you pay peanuts you get monkeys.  Now that certainly isn’t always the case, as many experts may have very reasonable fees. In my experience with organizations, some are truly motivated to train and understand the cost benefit relationship, and others train for the sake of training at the lowest cost, then argue that the impact was negligible or unmeasurable, and don’t venture into the human capital development field for many years. It is relatively simple for those that want results.  Check credentials, meet with the facilitator to discuss desired outcomes and be reasonable in your cost/result expectations. It might look like fantastic training, sound like fantastic training, but if you don’t check you might be “ducked”

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Filed under Communications, Human Resources, Jeff Bowman, Managing, Sales, social media, Training and Development

At What Cost Employee Training?

By Jeff Bowman

In the past several months, I have witnessed the polar extremes in attitudes of businesses towards employee training.

I met one organization that is about to launch a corporate-wide training program for all of its employees.  Yup, I said ALL. Every employee from the bottom up will take part in some form of training ranging from cross training for other positions, leadership development to coping with stress in the workplace.  The cost in terms of “spend” dollars is relatively high when you factor in lost time for training, lunches, rewards, not to mention trainers.

I have also encountered organizations who feel that training is unmeasurable in terms of results, costly and therefore unwarranted at this time of tight budgets. Why the two different attitudes?

I wrote a couple of articles a year or so ago about the greatest bosses you could work for and some of the worst bosses you could have.  You may have heard the adage that sports teams adopt the persona of their coach, so to in businesses. If the leadership believes in enhancing employee’s self worth, developing them for future corporate roles and increasing returns on their investment through increased productivity, decreased turnover and higher overall satisfaction at work, then they will make the investment.

I haven’t yet mentioned that training will make them far more competitive in local and global marketplaces. Those that hold the belief that training is simply an added cost that reduces profitability, provides employees with paid time off and that the corporate succession strategy will take care of itself will invest little if anything in training that isn’t mandated for safety or regulatory reasons.

I have to admit that training for the sake of training is worse than no training at all. Nothing turns a good employee off faster than training that is not applicable to their daily activities and will never be used, or demeaning “parent-child” type lectures about how to do their jobs better, sometimes by people who have never done their job!

The choice is clear to employees looking to grow with an organization.  The choice was also very clear to the company that is instituting a corporate wide training agenda.  Through studies they found that 50% of their workforce will be retiring within 5-10 years.  There was no succession plan in place for managerial development, and skill sets had not kept pace with technology.  It was decided, and rightly so, that an investment was fully warranted for the development of a corporate culture which included systematic training, employee feedback and personalized skills upgrading programs for everyone. The cost of the training in “spend” can be fully measured now, the results over the next 5 years of implementation will be accrued through retention, process management, higher skills and dedication to a corporate culture that believes in the strength of its human and intellectual capital.

Want to discuss your company’s training requirements? Just let me know.

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Filed under Human Resources, Jeff Bowman, Managing, Strategic Planning, Training and Development