Teaching Your Organization to Learn

Written by Dave Kahle

Teaching Your Organization to Learn

Copyright 2002 by Dave Kahle

Are things changing rapidly in your business?

Silly question, isn't it? Of course they are changing. Rapid change isrepparttar distinguishing characteristic ofrepparttar 127261 new millennium.

Take that rapid change and add to it growing competition, increasing complexity, consolidations at every level, and increasing demands from customers and you haverepparttar 127262 recipe for a business climate that will turn anyoneís hair gray.

This rapid change whirling around every company puts great pressure on organizations to change themselves. Not only mustrepparttar 127263 organization as a whole change, butrepparttar 127264 individuals within each organization must themselves change, learn and grow more rapidly than at any time inrepparttar 127265 past.

This ability for an organization and its people to change in response torepparttar 127266 changing world around them may berepparttar 127267 ultimate success skill forrepparttar 127268 Information Age.

A few years ago, it was good enough to allow learning and change to happen in a hit or miss fashion. Not so today. If your organization and your employees are going to change as rapidly asrepparttar 127269 environment, they are going to have to get serious, dedicated and systematic about those changes.

That means you must organize and manage an effort to stimulate and support positive personal change. In other words, organizations, including yours, need to develop a new capability -repparttar 127270 capability to change rapidly.

Every organization has a unique set of capabilities. While some of these capabilities are necessary for any successful business, others are unique to that individual concern. For example, every business must be capable of accounting for its money; every business must be capable of generating sales; and every business must be capable of providingrepparttar 127271 goods or services its customers want. Those are universal and basic capabilities. If your organization cannot do these, you won't be in business very long.

However,repparttar 127272 real strength ofrepparttar 127273 business comes from those capabilities that are unique to it, that differentiate that business from its competitors.

Some businesses have created great research and development capabilities, others are outstanding at customer service, while others emphasize quality throughout. Some are outstanding in sales, other marketing, still others in management.

One way to prepare your organization forrepparttar 127274 rapidly changing 21st Century is to develop a unique and new capability. That capability is what I call "active learning."

So what is active learning? And why is it important? Let's start with a definition: Active learning isrepparttar 127275 process of acquiring new information and/or gaining new insights, and then changing behavior as a result. You've experienced it. It's what happens when you go to a seminar or a conference, gain several new ideas, and then come back and implement them in your organization.

Active learning takes place at a number of different levels within an organization. But they are all dependent on an individual employee changing how he/she behaves. The employee who is adept at active learning regularly absorbs new information and acts in different ways as result. It'srepparttar 127276 same process you engage in when you attend a seminar, except that it's required of every one of your employees, not just you.

Hereís an every day example. Let's say you upgraded your software torepparttar 127277 next round of upgrades. Now, every employee who works with that software must take in new information, (the changes inrepparttar 127278 software) and then change his/her behavior to correspond withrepparttar 127279 new information (they must userepparttar 127280 software). This learning process requires that they do something differently then they did before.

There is a fundamental and powerful concept underneathrepparttar 127281 surface of this simple example: Learning to use this software upgrade is not a one-time event. There will be other upgrades soon. And your employees will have to learn (take in new information and change their behavior) again and again and again.

Whilerepparttar 127282 computer upgrade is an easily-identified culprit,repparttar 127283 reality is thatrepparttar 127284 kind of regular change epitomized byrepparttar 127285 software will likely occur in every aspect ofrepparttar 127286 employee's job. Software will change, customers will change, products will change, bosses will change, co-workers will change, strategy will change, policies will change, procedures will change. If it doesn't, your organization is in danger of becoming a dinosaur, wonderfully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.

One of my clients summarizes it accurately when he tells every new hire: "The only thing I can guarantee you is that you won't be doingrepparttar 127287 job you're hired to do a year from now. Eitherrepparttar 127288 job will have changed in such a way as to be significantly different, or you will have grown to take on new responsibilities."

In this kind of environment, it's easy to see thatrepparttar 127289 companies who will berepparttar 127290 most successful are those who have filled their offices and cubicles with individuals who are willing, able, and skilled in learning.

Now that's a good thing to keep in mind whenever your are hiring. Hire well, and eventually you'll evolve into a learning organization. Inrepparttar 127291 mean time, you must work withrepparttar 127292 employees you have.

Unfortunately, not all of them are "change-friendly." Many were educated in slower times, and view change as a threat to their positions and status. Many resent every attempt to get them to do something differently.

Clearly, some organizations, some groups, and some individuals are better at active learning than are others. While it's true that everyone can learn, it is just as true that not everyone can learn equally quickly and effectively. This ability to learn quickly, effectively, and continuously will be one ofrepparttar 127293 most powerful capabilities ofrepparttar 127294 organizations that hope to succeed inrepparttar 127295 information age.

So why is this such an important new competency forrepparttar 127296 information age? For several reasons. First, we have seenrepparttar 127297 economic environment change dramatically inrepparttar 127298 last few years. Every futurist I read or listen to has predicted thatrepparttar 127299 rate of change will continue to accelerate inrepparttar 127300 near future. That means that if you have witnessed a great deal of change in your business environment, you probably have seen nothing yet. The ability to change your organization and allrepparttar 127301 individuals within it will become ever more important. Those organizations, groups, and individuals who excel at learning will have a strategic advantage over those slower to change.

Dealing with Difficult Customers

Written by Dave Kahle

Dealing with Difficult Customers

Copyright 2002 by Dave Kahle

It is easy to work with people you like, and it is even easier to work with people who like you. But that's not alwaysrepparttar case. Sooner or later, you'll have to deal with a difficult customer.

Difficult customers come in a wide variety. There are those whose personality rubs yourepparttar 127260 wrong way. They may not be difficult for someone else, but they are for you. And then there are those who are difficult for everyone: Picky people, know-it-alls, egocentrics, fault-finders, constant complainers, etc. Every salesperson can list a number ofrepparttar 127261 types.

But perhapsrepparttar 127262 most difficult for everyone isrepparttar 127263 angry customer. This is someone who feels that he or she has been wronged, and is upset and emotional about it. These customers complain, and they are angry about something you or your company did.

There are some sound business reasons to become adept in handling an angry customer. Research indicates that customers who complain are likely to continue doing business with your company if they feel that they were treated properly. It's estimated that as many as 90% of customers who perceive themselves as having been wronged never complain, they just take their business elsewhere. So, angry, complaining customers care enough to talk to you, and have not yet decided to take their business torepparttar 127264 competition. They are customers worth saving.

Not only are there benefits to your company, but you personally gain as well. Become adept at handling angry customers, and youíll feel much more confident in your own abilities. If you can handle this, you can handle anything. While any one can work withrepparttar 127265 easy people, it takes a real professional to be successful withrepparttar 127266 difficult customers. Your confidence will grow, your poise will increase, and your self-esteem will intensify.

Onrepparttar 127267 other hand, if you mishandle it, and you'll watchrepparttar 127268 situation dissolve into lost business and upset people. You may find yourself upset for days.

So, how do you handle an angry, complaining customer? Let's begin with a couple tools you can use in these situations.

1. RESPECT. It can be difficult to respect a person who may be yelling, swearing or behaving like a two-year-old. I'm not suggesting you respectrepparttar 127269 behavior, only that you respectrepparttar 127270 person. Keep in mind that 99 times out of 100 you are notrepparttar 127271 object ofrepparttar 127272 customer's anger. You are like a small tree inrepparttar 127273 path of a swirling tornado. But unlikerepparttar 127274 small tree, you haverepparttar 127275 power to withstandrepparttar 127276 wind.

What isrepparttar 127277 source of your power? Unlikerepparttar 127278 customer, you are not angry, you are in control, and your only problem atrepparttar 127279 moment is helping him with his problem. If you step out of this positioning, and start reacting torepparttar 127280 customer in an emotional way, you'll lose control, youíll lose your power, andrepparttar 127281 situation will be likely to escalate into a lose-lose for everyone. So, begin with a mindset that says, "No matter what, I will respectrepparttar 127282 customer."

2. EMPATHY. Put yourself inrepparttar 127283 customer's shoes, and try to seerepparttar 127284 situation from his/her perspective. Don't try and cut him off, don't urge him to calm down. Instead, listen carefully. If someone is angry or upset, it is because that person feels injured in some way. Your job is to letrepparttar 127285 customer vent and to listen attentively in order to understandrepparttar 127286 source of that frustration. When you do that, you send a powerful unspoken message that you care about him and his situation.

Often, asrepparttar 127287 customer comes to realize that you really do care and that you are going to attempt to help him resolverepparttar 127288 problem,repparttar 127289 customer will calm down on his own, and begin to interact with you in a positive way.

Here's how you can use these two tools in an easily-remembered process for dealing with angry customers.


Image that you have a hard-boiled egg. The rich yellow yolk atrepparttar 127290 center ofrepparttar 127291 egg representsrepparttar 127292 solution torepparttar 127293 customer's problem,repparttar 127294 hardened white which surroundsrepparttar 127295 yolk representsrepparttar 127296 details ofrepparttar 127297 customer's situation, andrepparttar 127298 hard shell represents his/her anger.

In order to get torepparttar 127299 yolk, and resolverepparttar 127300 situation, you must first crackrepparttar 127301 shell. In other words, you have got to penetraterepparttar 127302 customerís anger. Then you've got to cut throughrepparttar 127303 congealed egg white. That means that you understandrepparttar 127304 details ofrepparttar 127305 customerís situation. Finally, you're atrepparttar 127306 heart ofrepparttar 127307 situation, where you can offer a solution torepparttar 127308 customer's problem.

So, handling an angry customer is like cutting through a hard-boiled egg. Here's a four-step process to help you do so.

1. LISTEN. Let's say you stop to see one of your regular customers. He doesn't even give you time to finish your greeting before he launches into a tirade.

At this point, about all you can do is LISTEN. And that's what you do. You don't try and cut him off, you don't urge him to calm down. Not just yet. Instead, you listen carefully. And as you listen, you begin to piece together his story. He ordered a piece of equipment three weeks ago. You quoted him X price and delivery by last Friday for a project that's starting this week. Not only isrepparttar 127309 equipment not there, but he received an invoice for it at a different price than was quoted.

"What kind of shoddy operation is this?" he wants to know. Do you understand how important his project is? Do you know how much time and money is at stake? If he doesn't get his equipment and something happens to this project, you're going to pay for it. He knew, he just knew he should have orderedrepparttar 127310 equipment from your competitor. What are you going do about it?

Now you haverepparttar 127311 basic story. Hopefully, after this gush of frustration, there will be a pause while he comes up for air.

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