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TRAINING: Your One Stop Shop

mikeharringtonwebsiteI am routinely struck by how hungry people are for answers to the daily situations they find themselves in.  Whether it’s the need to just have someone listen to their ideas or they’re actually seeking advice for how to tackle a “sticky situation”, I have witnessed my organization continually exceed the expectations of the people who seek out our services.  Some are with specific clients, while others are simply interactions that occur by happen-stance.  But whateverthe circumstance, we continue to be seen as the resource that provides the tools and the talent.

A few weeks ago I was sitting at my desk working on a project for a client when a long-time friend Instant Messaged me.  It didn’t take long for her to get to the point, saying “So I was promoted the other day and this morning I learned that I need to lay off three of my staff… I need help?!?!”  I quickly realized that this was her first official task as a manager and that she had never had to terminate anyone before.  So often we think someone becomes a manager because they’re good at managing – but how far is that from the truth.  You don’t manage until you have positional power to do so, at least not officially.  So when does someone learn how to be a manager, when they’re already in the role?  For this person, her first reaction was to contact someone who could give her advice on proper termination from both a managerial, as well as legal standpoint. We discussed for a while the different things she would need to keep in mind during the process and how to minimize the risk to her company. Have you recently promoted someone to a management position based on their ability to do their initial job, not on how well they manage people?  It’s not uncommon, but are you providing them with the training to learn the appropriate way to manage?

My brother and I were at a Chamber event not too long ago and met a woman who has owned her own business for over ten years.  We got to chatting and realized our businesses were located relatively close to one another.  After some time she approached my brother and asked if he would be willing to help her with some of her internal marketing (i.e. image, communication processes, rebranding) along with giving her professional insight on different ideas she had.  Each week they connect. She shares her thoughts about her vision for moving her company forward, and my brother provides feedback, not just from a marketing standpoint, but as an outsider looking in.  People often struggle when they’re in the thick of it.  Having an outside consultant, with no vested interest other than to see the client do well, provides our clients with the perspective that they typically are unable to find from within the organization. Did you know that a well-constructed blog can increase traffic to your website by upwards of 400%?  Possibly a forest that would not have been seen through the trees. 

Often we are contacted by clients at the last minute because of a “problem” they’ve been having and they’ve exhausted all their internal resources.  One organization found that the root of many of their customer complaints pointed back to either one department or division within the organization.  The president decided one day to flip through a catalog I had given him and he saw a training titled Quality Customer Service.  Thinking that’s exactly what he needed, he contacted New Directions and asked us to provide training to his service-oriented departments.  The first questions we asked the group were “Do you have a service Value?… no”, “Do you have a service Platform?… no”, “How about a set of service Standards you all work from?… no.”  Within moments it was clear that each person was using personal preference when talking with the customer.  If they were having a good day, the customer would have a positive interaction;if the day was going poorly, it would be a negative interaction.  That’s not something a department head or president wants to hear. Could you imagine if your sales force decided to deal with clients however they saw fit? Too often employees never look at themselves as a sales force because they don’t carry the title, but if they’re interacting with clients, then they most certainly are selling their company, if only on image.

An interesting note – one client called us in to get an in-tact team back on track that had gone six months and $700,000 over budget.  Imagine what could have been saved with $5,000 worth of training up front?

Are you familiar with the phrase “you get credit just for showing up sometimes?” I totally believe that is true, at least when it comes to opening the door.  My brother and I spend a lot of time in Albany , NY because we see that as being our closest, most viable area for prospective clients.  We participate in the Albany-Colonie Chamber of Commerce and sit on committees for the GeNEXT program, both of which have provided us with a number of opportunities to expand our client list, as well as our services. Having recently taken interest in the Entrepreneurial Assistance Program of the Capital Region, I was able to speak to the class last week on mission, vision and values writing.  It was a lot of fun and from all accounts the group found it to be of great benefit.  I’m not sure they would’ve all said that prior to me conducting the course. Missions and visions are usually thought of as those things that every organization must do, hang on the wall or up on a website for people to see, and never refer to again, and mainly because people have no idea the purpose they truly serve.  Tom Peters calls the mission a “compass in a stormy sea”, and when we can begin to view it as a vital part of the organization not just in motivating or inspiring staff, but as a decision making tool, we will begin to harness the full power of a mission and vision statement.  The class walked away with an understanding of the importance of these three components, as well as tools and tips for constructing them correctly.  Do you have a mission, vision and values statement, and do you know how to use them?

So who is your life preserver?  That person who gives you guidance and helps you look at a situation through a different lens. Or are you the one floating in the middle of the ocean waiting for a rescue ship to come along? For over 25 years we have been that rescue ship to clients, friends and family, that outside voice of reason that brings practical and research-based understanding to those quagmires we as people face every day. I challenge you to do better tomorrow than you did today.  Get the tools to be an outstanding manager, visionary, employee and person.
Some of our areas of expertise and services:
- Facilitation
Event Design
Marketing and Strategic Social Media
- Strategic Planning
- Leadership Development
High-Performance Teaming
- 360 Performance Evaluation
Employee Surveying
Customer Questionaire
Executive Coaching
- Performance Coaching
- Personality Assessment
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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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