Teaching Your Organization to Learn

Written by Dave Kahle

Continued from page 1

Not only isrepparttar institutionalized competency of active learning a strategic imperative but it is also a powerful fringe benefit for your employees. One ofrepparttar 127261 biggest problems for growing organizations inrepparttar 127262 last few years has beenrepparttar 127263 challenge of attracting and retaining good employees. One ofrepparttar 127264 things that attract employees to an organization is their perception thatrepparttar 127265 organization is headed for success and is willing to invest in its employees alongrepparttar 127266 way. Helping your employees gain new skills or deepen their current capabilities is a powerful way to show your commitment torepparttar 127267 future and your investment in your employees. Helping them learn to learn is viewed as a powerful fringe benefit.

So creating this learning capability within your organization and instillingrepparttar 127268 capability at every level inrepparttar 127269 organization provides a double benefit: it's both a strategic advantage as well as a powerful fringe benefit.

How to begin...

This all sounds good, but how do you do it? Here are four simple steps to startrepparttar 127270 transformation.

No. 1. Develop a compelling vision forrepparttar 127271 company's future and show your employees how they can be a part of it.

A vision is a description of whatrepparttar 127272 company can be inrepparttar 127273 future. By describing a future that is different then today's you provide a reason for every individual to grow:repparttar 127274 organization needs them to become something better than they are now. The difference between your vision forrepparttar 127275 future and your current situation is clearly an opportunity forrepparttar 127276 different pieces ofrepparttar 127277 business to grow and expand.

One ofrepparttar 127278 core principles upon which active learning is based is this: that adults don't learn unless they want to eliminate some pain or achieve some gain. As long as everyone is content withrepparttar 127279 status quo there can be no serious growth. Your job, if you're going to build this capability of active learning, is first to instill some discontent.

The individuals within your organization must want to be something that they are not now. The more challenging and exciting is that vision,repparttar 127280 more likely it is thatrepparttar 127281 individual will want to hop aboard and be motivated to change. Here's a great example. Steve Case,repparttar 127282 CEO of America Online, has been quoted as espousing this vision:

"We want to berepparttar 127283 most valuable and respected company on earth." How'd you like to be a part of that organization? That'll quicken your pulse.

So, challengerepparttar 127284 organization with your vision ofrepparttar 127285 future, and see to it that every individual knows that you expect him or her to grow in their job, so that they can be a part of it.

No. 2. It is not enough merely to instillrepparttar 127286 vision, you must also enablerepparttar 127287 learning. That means that you must invest time and money inrepparttar 127288 learning process. That can mean something as a simple as creating a budget item for "training and learning" and allocating money for this process. It can also mean creating policies that reimburse employees for job related learning. It can mean investing in outside trainers, classes and courses, and continuous growth programs. It can also mean policies which allow for released time for seminars, retreats and training programs.

No. 3. Begin to instill this capability in your organization by mandating personal growth. Write into every job description a phrase that says every employee is expected to continually grow in their capabilities to do this job better as well as to expand their knowledge of other jobs withinrepparttar 127289 organization.

Make learning a strategic initiative. Manage it like he would any other strategic issue. Give it lots of conversation. Mentioned it in newsletters and memos. Write it up inrepparttar 127290 annual report. Talk about it at employee meetings. Create learning lists for individuals and small groups. This is a list ofrepparttar 127291 things that they need to learn in order to do their job more effectively. Let everyone know fromrepparttar 127292 top torepparttar 127293 bottom that continuous personal improvement, i.e. active learning, is a necessary part of everyone's employment in your organization.

Let everyone know that coasting along with last year's knowledge and last year's capabilities is no longer acceptable.

No. 4. Lastly, be a model ofrepparttar 127294 kind of behavior you expect everyone with an your organization to mimic. Let people see you learning and growing. Let them see you invest in your own development. Let them see you go to seminars, be involved in CEO round table groups, read books, periodicals, and go to training courses. Become a model forrepparttar 127295 kind of active learner you want your whole organization to be.

Implement these four strategies, and you'll begin to instillrepparttar 127296 number one competency for success inrepparttar 127297 Information Age into your company. You'll begin to turn your organization into a learning company


Complete this quick assessment to determine how well your organization has embraced active learning. Answer Yes or No to each question. Do you have a budget for training/learning?

Isrepparttar 127298 budgeted amount larger than 3 % of payroll?

Do all employees know that they are expected to continually improve their capabilities?

Are employees regularly evaluated on how well they are learning and gaining new skills?

Does your organization have a compelling vision of what it could become?

Are all your employees aware of that vision?

Does each employee understand how he/she can contribute to attaining that vision?

Does each employee understandrepparttar 127299 benefit to them for movingrepparttar 127300 company toward that vision?

Do you encourage employees to expand their skills via reimbursement or released time programs?

Do you modelrepparttar 127301 kind of continuous personal growth that you expect of them? If you answered yes...

9 or 10 times, you are in great shape.

7 or 8 times, you are well on your way. Focus on addingrepparttar 127302 missing pieces.

5 or 6 times, you are off to a good start but you need to spend more time moving your organization toward active learning.

Under 5 times, you are lagging behind. Time to get serious about building this competency into your organization. If you would like assistance structuring a learning program to suitrepparttar 127303 specific needs of your company, you can reach Dave Kahle at 800-331-1287 or via email at dave@davekahle.com.

You can get a FREE 30 page Handling Objections workbook when you join Dave Kahle's "Thinking About Sales Newsletter." The monthly newsletter contains content-filled, action-packed articles, helpful hints, useful resources, on-line specials and sales tips. JOIN FOR FREE now on-line at http://www.davekahle.com/mailinglist.htm.

Dealing with Difficult Customers

Written by Dave Kahle

Continued from page 1

More often than not, oncerepparttar customer has had an initial chance to vent his rage, it's going to die down a little, and that's your opportunity to take step in.

Even if he has started calming down on his own, there comes a moment - and I can almost guarantee you'll sense it - to help calm him down. Try something alongrepparttar 127260 lines of: "It sounds like something has gone wrong, and I can understand your frustration. I'm sorry you're experiencing this problem. Let's take a look atrepparttar 127261 next step."

Try to calm yourself first, and then to acknowledge his feelings. Say, "I can tell you're upset..." or, "It sounds like you're angry..." then connect torepparttar 127262 customer by apologizing, or empathizing. When you say something like "I'm sorry that happened. If I were you, I'd be frustrated, too." It's amazing how much of a calming effect that can have.

Remember, anger is a natural, self-defensive reaction to a perceived wrong. If there is a problem with your companyís product or service, some frustration and disappointment is justified.

This is so important, let me repeat it. First you listen carefully and completely torepparttar 127263 customer. Then you empathize with whatrepparttar 127264 customer is feeling, and let him or her know that you understand. This will almost always calmrepparttar 127265 customer down. You've crackedrepparttar 127266 shell ofrepparttar 127267 egg. Now, you can proceed to deal withrepparttar 127268 problem.

2. IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM. Sometimes whilerepparttar 127269 angry customer is venting, you'll be able to latch right on torepparttar 127270 problem because it's clear-cut. Something is broken. Or late. Or he thinks a promise has been broken.

But sometimes inrepparttar 127271 middle of all that rage, it's tough to comprehendrepparttar 127272 bottom-line issue. This is a good place for some specific questions. Askrepparttar 127273 customer to give you some details. "What day did he order it, when exactly was it promised. What is his situation atrepparttar 127274 moment?" These kind of questions forcerepparttar 127275 customer to think about facts instead of his/her feelings about those facts. So, you interject a more rational kind of conversation. Think of this step ofrepparttar 127276 process as cutting throughrepparttar 127277 white ofrepparttar 127278 egg to get torepparttar 127279 yolk atrepparttar 127280 center.

It's important, when you think you understandrepparttar 127281 details, to restaterepparttar 127282 problem. You can say, "Let me see if I have this right. You were promised delivery last Friday, because you need it for an important project this coming week. But you haven't received our product yet. Is that correct?"

He will probably acknowledge that you've sized uprepparttar 127283 situation correctly. Or, he may say, "No, that's not right" and then proceed to explain further. In either caserepparttar 127284 outcome is good, because you will eventually understand his situation correctly, and have him tell you that "Yes, that's right."

And at that point you can apologize. Some people believe that an apology is an acknowledgment of wrongdoing. But you can appreciate and apologize forrepparttar 127285 customer's inconvenience without pointing fingers. Just say, "Mr. Brady, I'm sorry this has happened." Or "Mr. Brady. I understand this must be very frustrating. Let's just see what we can do fix it, OK?"

3. AVOID BLAME. You don't want to blamerepparttar 127286 customer by saying something like "Are you sure you understoodrepparttar 127287 price and delivery date correctly?" This will just ignite his anger all over again because you are questioning his credibility and truth-telling.

And you don't want to blame your company or your suppliers Never say, "Iím not surprised your invoice was wrong. It's been happening a lot." Or, "Yes, our backorders are way behind."

In general, you AVOID BLAME. Which is different than acknowledging responsibility. For example, if you know, for a fact, a mistake has been made, you can acknowledge it and apologize for it. "Mr. Brady, clearly there's a problem here with our performance. I can't change that, but let me see what I can do to help you out because I understand how important your project is."

4. RESOLVE THE PROBLEM. Now youíre atrepparttar 127288 heart ofrepparttar 127289 egg. You won't always be able to fixrepparttar 127290 problem perfectly. And you may need more time than a single phone call. But it's critical to leaverepparttar 127291 irate customer withrepparttar 127292 understanding that your goal is to resolverepparttar 127293 problem. You may need to say, "I'm going to need to make some phone calls." If you do, giverepparttar 127294 customer an idea of when youíll get back to him: "Later this afternoon." Or "First thing inrepparttar 127295 morning."

Then do it. Makerepparttar 127296 phone calls. Getrepparttar 127297 information. Find out what you can do for this customer and do it. Then follow up withrepparttar 127298 customer when you said you would. Even if you don't have allrepparttar 127299 information you need, call when you said you would and at least let him know what you've done, what you're working on and what your next step will be. Letrepparttar 127300 customer know that he and his business are important to you, that you understand his frustration, and that you're working hard to get things fixed.

Userepparttar 127301 tools of respect and empathy, andrepparttar 127302 "crackrepparttar 127303 egg" process, and you'll move your professionalism up a notch. ###

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