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Archive for the ‘Leadership & Engagement’ Category

Thumbnail : LEADERSHIP: Stepping up to Workplace Demands in 5 Innovative Ways

LEADERSHIP: Stepping up to Workplace Demands in 5 Innovative Ways

I don’t know about you, but I am very glad to leave 2009 behind. In fact, the whole “00” decade wasn’t what I had dreamed about when we were all preparing for Y2K. At that time, we were on the cusp of a new century and everything sounded exciting: the projected technological and scientific advances, globalization of […]

Thumbnail : LEADERSHIP: In The Trenches – Quite a Year for HR Departments

LEADERSHIP: In The Trenches – Quite a Year for HR Departments

I have a good friend who came on board as the HR manager for a manufacturing plant in the past year or so and within the first month he was required to lay off about 75 people. In the beginning, it was probably a bit easier for him because he didn’t know the people well, […]

Thumbnail : COMMUNICATION SKILLS: What's Your Body Saying to Others?

COMMUNICATION SKILLS: What's Your Body Saying to Others?

When the experts analyze human communication, they report that 55% of our effect is based on our body language. That means that over half of how our communication is received, is not based on the words we say or our tone of voice, but on the signals we are sending through our eyes, facial expressions, […]

Thumbnail : 4 Immediate EMPLOYEE MOTIVATION: Ways to Add Personal Success and Power to Your Staff by Year's End

4 Immediate EMPLOYEE MOTIVATION: Ways to Add Personal Success and Power to Your Staff by Year's End

This is often the time of year when staff are scrambling to finish projects by year-end or preparing to formulate goals, both professionally and personally for the coming year. How can we help our staff to choose a path of success and personal power rather than failure and lowered self esteem? 1. Help them to […]

Thumbnail : LEADERSHIP: Thanks as simple as a popcorn kernel

LEADERSHIP: Thanks as simple as a popcorn kernel

We’ve always had a variety of traditions during our Thanksgiving dinner. We start the meal by reading Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation (1863) as a way to remind us from where all our blessings come.

Thumbnail : TRAINING: The Blueprint for 'Ah Ha' Training

TRAINING: The Blueprint for 'Ah Ha' Training

  We’ve been in the business of training adults for over twenty-five years and one thing we know, adults learn differently than children. As more and more organizations recognize the necessity of training their workforces on a continual basis, the challenge of how to train adults needs to be addressed. The science of adult learning, first […]

Thumbnail : MILLENNIAL: The Fuel That Drives the Engine

MILLENNIAL: The Fuel That Drives the Engine

Privileged, altruistic, opportunistic, argumentative – Just some of the words used by a room full of trainers to describe this newest workforce generation; and as a millennial, I more than likely possess some of those traits. However, as someone who was born on the cusp between Gen X and Gen Y, I feel as though […]

Thumbnail : PERSONALITY: The 4 "Gets" of Personality: The Impact of Your Personality at Work

PERSONALITY: The 4 "Gets" of Personality: The Impact of Your Personality at Work

Last week in a project team meeting, one member spoke up in an annoyed tone and said, “Okay, okay, haven’t we talked about this enough?  Let’s move on.” Was that desire to move on based on the topic having been fully explored, or just the personality preference of someone who became impatient very quickly? In […]

Thumbnail : COMMUNICATION: Deb's Top Ten Tips for Effective Communication

COMMUNICATION: Deb's Top Ten Tips for Effective Communication

My team suggested that it might be fun for me to do my Top Ten Communication Tips for this week’s blog, as a change of pace from our rather “heavy duty” ones of late. So, imagine you’re watching one of the late shows on TV where they count down from ten – with drum roll […]

Thumbnail : SOCIAL MEDIA: Social Media in the Workplace – What You Do On and Off the Field Matters

SOCIAL MEDIA: Social Media in the Workplace – What You Do On and Off the Field Matters

My high school football coach had a mantra: “You represent this school and this football team both on and off the field.” The idea was that your conduct and behavior symbolized the attitude and behavior of the team as a whole. Your poor decisions to go down to the party on Friday or mouth off […]

Thumbnail : MANAGERS AND SUPERVISORS: Helicopter Managers: No Parent-Child Approach In This Performance Feedback!

MANAGERS AND SUPERVISORS: Helicopter Managers: No Parent-Child Approach In This Performance Feedback!

When my oldest son, Michael, was Chief Student Affairs Officer at Paul Smith’s College, he used to use the phrase, “helicopter parents,” when describing parents who ran interference for their kids, made all the decisions, and then told their kids what to do.  This might happen with a roommate argument, upset over dining hall food, […]

Thumbnail : LEADERSHIP: Creating and Sustaining Senior Leadership Teams

LEADERSHIP: Creating and Sustaining Senior Leadership Teams

Autumn is the time of year when senior leadership teams are working on strategic plans, finalizing budgets, and making last minute adjustments to bring the fourth quarter in on target.  While some leaders question whether a team is a viable structure to coordinate strategy at that level, others are becoming increasingly aware that business demands […]

Thumbnail : MANAGERS AND SUPERVISORS: The Belief: Behavior Connection – A New Look at Behavioral Management

MANAGERS AND SUPERVISORS: The Belief: Behavior Connection – A New Look at Behavioral Management

This week we bring to you a special edition of our weekly blog highlighting Deb Mackin’s recent publication in Training Magazine’s online resource ManageSmarter.com.  In the publication, Deb introduces her new model of analyzing and responding to behavorial management in the workplace: The Belief: Behavior Connection model©, a concept that Training Magazine and others have found […]

Thumbnail : STRATEGY: It's a Matter of Values

STRATEGY: It's a Matter of Values

In my Quality Customer Service training, I ask participants to complete a simple exercise where they answer some quick questions: (1) how old should a piece of pie be that is served in a restaurant? (2) what time should a 16 year old be home on a Saturday night? (3) how do you know if […]

Thumbnail : STRATEGY: No-Nonsense Goals: Developing a Lean and Mean Strategy

STRATEGY: No-Nonsense Goals: Developing a Lean and Mean Strategy

Someone once said, “A goal is a dream with a deadline.”  For many organizations, the time is approaching to set goals for 2010.  There’s always lots of debate about how to set goals and whether they should be stretch goals.  So, let’s look at the goal setting process to make sure we’re doing it correctly.  […]

DECISION MAKING: Taking the Mystery Out of Building Consensus

A lot of people throw around the idea of building consensus as a way to sound collaborative. “Hey, let’s be in consensus on this idea, okay?” or “We want our managers to build consensus with the workforce, rather than just telling them what to do.”  In fact, there probably aren’t any people who are against […]

Thumbnail : LEADERSHIP: Are your actions creating a "Zone of Rejection" among your employees?

LEADERSHIP: Are your actions creating a "Zone of Rejection" among your employees?

I guess you know a blog is successful when people start to ask you to blog on particular topics. That happened to me last week when someone asked me to write a blog on the importance of a boss being consistent. Apparently, this individual was struggling with his boss and wanted to forward the blog […]

Thumbnail : LEADERSHIP: Are You Maximizing Your "Generation" Potential? [part I]

LEADERSHIP: Are You Maximizing Your "Generation" Potential? [part I]

When we hear the word “generation” we typically think about our parents. We begin to compare values, and how our generation is so much more liberal and forward thinking than our parents’ generation, that stodgy, highly-conservative veteran or baby boomer generation. However, we fail to think about how our generation is or will be perceived […]

Thumbnail : MANAGERS AND SUPERVISORS: Eight Steps to Becoming Value-Added in Your Organization

MANAGERS AND SUPERVISORS: Eight Steps to Becoming Value-Added in Your Organization

Years ago, as a consultant, I remember sitting in a meeting with a group of extremely intelligent research scientists and thinking to myself, “What on earth can I add to this discussion?” Then the little voice in my head said, “Well, you better add something if you want them to keep asking you back.” I […]

Thumbnail : LEADERSHIP: Best Practices and “Next Practices” – Leading in a Confusing, Demanding World

LEADERSHIP: Best Practices and “Next Practices” – Leading in a Confusing, Demanding World

Last week I was reading an interesting article on leadership in the Harvard Business Review entitled, “Leadership in a (Permanent) Crisis*” which asked the question:  How will we adapt to the new reality of constant uncertainty, urgency, and high demand? In other words, if the human condition begs for consistency and stability, how will we […]

Thumbnail : CONFLICT RESOLUTION: The Well of Distrust

CONFLICT RESOLUTION: The Well of Distrust

When I train on conflict resolution I ask people at the start to write down the first five words that come to mind when I say conflict. Invariably the following words come out:  stress, difficulty, tension, pain, loss, anger, frustration, and impasse. Only one or two will comment that conflict represents an opportunity or a […]

Thumbnail : LEADERSHIP: Leaders, We're Not Communicating Enough!

LEADERSHIP: Leaders, We're Not Communicating Enough!

Recently, I was walking with a participant the day before one of our training courses on quality service. I asked her what had been communicated to everyone about the reason for the course and why quality service was important to the organization. “Not much,” she replied.  I mentioned that the leadership group would be seated […]

STRATEGY: Strategic Planning or Strategic Dreaming: Which are you doing?

So many businesses and organizations are facing futures of uncertainty or tremendous demands; some need to reinvent themselves; others must transform into something completely new and different. The current strategic plan may now be obsolete, even while still in design. As we look to generating new plans, I believe there are some important things to […]

PERSONALITY: Your Personality Determines How You React to Change

When we train leaders on change management, one of the tasks for them to complete is a change personality assessment*. The tool identifies three types of personality preferences and how each responds to change. The first personality type is the Conserver, an individual who is very disciplined and organized and prefers change that maintains the […]

STRATEGY: Big Business Isn’t Always Safer

A dear friend and colleague of mine, with whom I have worked closely, found out last Friday that she will lose her job in 60 days. She’s been working for a large, national company for over twenty-five years, starting as an operator in a tool crib and growing into the role of training manager at […]

FACILITATION SKILLS: We Need More Skilled Facilitators

Awhile back one of our clients needed to train employees who facilitate problem resolution sessions. We all made an assumption that the participants would be capable of basic facilitation:  opening a meeting, assigning roles, launching a brainstorming session, narrowing the focus, and guiding the group through to decision making. Boy, were we wrong. By the […]

EMPLOYEE MOTIVATION: Four Key Factors to Motivate /Re-engage Staff In a Recession

One mistake that we make as managers and leaders is to believe that people are not motivated. People are always motivated, just not necessarily in the manner we want them to be. Take, for instance, the person who does just enough on the job to get by. We might look at the behavior and think […]

MANAGERS AND SUPERVISORS: Belief Drives Behavior

For years as leaders and managers we have identified the problem behaviors we see in the workplace and tried to correct them with various “carrot” or “stick” approaches. The carrot approach focused on rewards and recognition to drive behavior change. The stick approach emphasized consequences, predominantly punishment of various sorts (e.g. coaching conversation, first verbal […]

LEADERSHIP: Workplace Trust

In Stephen M.R. Covey’s book, The Speed of Trust, he suggests that trust is critical to the workplace because of its effect on speed and cost. When we have high trust, speed increases because we believe in the other person. As speed increases, cost goes down. Conversely, in a low trust or trust bankruptcy environment, […]

LEADERSHIP: Building Accountability

Last week I had the opportunity to work with and train 15 scientists from a pharmaceutical company in a new leadership series. We started discussing accountability, especially how to get others to take accountability when they have no positional power to make them do so. They experience a lot of difficulty with this because sometimes […]

STRATEGY: 25 Years and Growing

It’s quite amazing how things turn out. As we’ve been developing our new website, social networking capability, and increasing our marketing efforts, we’ve been relying more and more on the expertise of my younger son, Matt Harrington, who’s been working for us on weekends. Matt secured a job last year with a marketing firm in […]

CHANGE MANAGEMENT: Why Change Initiatives Fail

I happened to be preparing for a change management training for the Naval Reactors Headquarters in D.C. when I came across some material from Peter Senge’s work on change that is definitely worth sharing and remembering. In his book, Dance of Change, he identifies a number of challenges that cause change initiatives to fail. I’ve […]

Thumbnail : TRAINING: 2009 Annual ASTD Conference: Our Story

TRAINING: 2009 Annual ASTD Conference: Our Story

Last Friday, Michael, Matt and I participated in the Hudson Mohawk 14th annual ASTD conference. While I gave a presentation on the cost benefit of in-house training teams, the guys manned our vendor booth. The morning keynote speaker, Mike Mears (Leadership Consultant, author and speaker), shared some interesting information about the brain and its relationship […]

CHANGE MANAGEMENT: Change and the Future

There is the feeling that we’re in the midst of a cataclysmic change — a change so fundamental that it will disrupt the current order of things. I remember years ago viewing a Joel Barker video called Paradigm Shifts. In it he speaks to the notion that when large-scale change occurs everything goes back to […]

STRATEGY: Family Business

I thought it would be interesting to start a blog on the process of engaging my two sons in the business I created 25 years ago and how this process of starting a “family-owned” business is developing. When New Directions began in 1984, Michael was just three years old. In January 2009 he joined the […]

SOCIAL MEDIA: Social Networking and the World Wide Web

I have been getting an intense education from my younger son, Matt, in the art of social networking. During the past several months he has introduced me to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, iGoogle, and YouTube. I’m realizing that there is a whole new way of communicating going on that I had been oblivious to until he […]

PRESENTATION SKILLS: Murphy's Law at Work

Recently, I had the opportunity to train a group of engineers on presentation skills, getting them ready to deliver presentations to approximately thirty Navy sailors. Obviously, when you train on presentation skills, you particularly want everything to go right — from the equipment to the PowerPoint slides. In addition, we had offered to video tape […]

TEAMING: Implement Teams . . . Sooner or Later?

Last summer I had the opportunity to attend the University of North Texas conference for collaborative organizations and heard several key points that I think are worth sharing. One speaker talked about the characteristics born in a crisis driven organization: Bad planning where there are few requirements and resource shortfall due to always saying yes […]

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An innovative training and employee development firm located in southern Vermont since 1984, we specialize in helping organizations get the most out of their people by raising the bar, inspiring potential and partnering with organizations to build a people-centered, high-engagement culture.

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