How to bring out the Olympic athlete in employees

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The Olympics demonstrate that talent won’t lead to greatness without practice, coaching and a dedication to improvement, Aubrey Daniels writes. Companies that foster training and coaching “open up an unlimited pool of potentially outstanding performers,” Daniels writes.

In his article, The Potential for Greatness is Everywhere, Daniels cites three tips to improve individual and organizational performance:

  1. Aggressively train and promote people
  2. Spend the time and money to train people to fluency
  3. Have a way of positively reinforcing and rewarding employees who put in extra time and effort

Aubrey C. Daniels is a thought leader and an internationally recognized expert on management, leadership and workplace issues. He is considered an authority on human behavior in the workplace.  .Exerpt retrieved from SmartBriet in the Workplace and (7/31)


Take Control of your Professional Career

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Professional development tips remain key, regardless of where you are in your career. Continually developing your professional skills is critical to maintaining your marketability and shoring up your job security. With business in a constant state of change, it’s critical to have a direction and prepare for contingencies. Committing to the continual nurturing of your career can help you maintain course even in the stormiest of economic times.

But don’t rely on your current position or employer alone to provide ongoing enhancement. To grow professionally and achieve success — as you define it — you must set objectives and build an action plan. Fortunately, today’s business environment provides many opportunities to keep your career in forward motion — if you know how to seize them.

Professional development tips

  • Have a vision. Where do you see yourself in five years? In 10? What kind of working environment do you prefer? Maybe you’d like to move from an inside, desk-based job to an outdoor line of work. Or perhaps you’d like to be your own boss. Determine what’s most important to you and avoid becoming so enveloped in day-to-day priorities you lose sight of the big picture and your end goals and dreams.
  • Develop a road map. To help you remain on track with your professional objectives, create a broad outline of the steps you need to take.
  • helps keep you focused. Create time horizons — monthly and yearly targets as well as those with longer-term time frames. For example, maybe you’re looking to retire from your current line of work in about a decade, but you think you’d like to teach full-time after that. Your timeline might include researching over the next three months local colleges that offer appropriate credentials; slotting time to attend the necessary courses over the next couple of years; then perhaps seeking a part-time teaching role in five years. Periodically set aside time — perhaps even several days — to reflect on what you’ve accomplished and where you’re headed. Make adjustments as necessary. 
  • Capitalize on opportunities. Pursue responsibilities and positions logically keyed to your goals. With many organizations running on reduced resources, there are numerous chances to take on more assignments. Look around you — are there jobs going undone for which you could volunteer? Perhaps you’ve wanted to transfer to another department which is now struggling to meet demands — can you offer your services on special projects? This would not only help you establish a foothold in that group but will also build your experience and broaden your skills base. 
  • Conduct yourself with integrity. Most professionals face a multitude of ethical decisions almost on a daily basis. Recent high-profile corporate scandals have reemphasized the importance of maintaining impeccable ethics. Your reputation is the foundation for all your future successes, so keep in mind that breaches in ethics can do irreparable damage. 
  • Become a better communicator. Develop the ability to listen to others; hear the spoken words but also understand the concerns and motivations they may be conveying. And when it’s your turn to contribute, strive to communicate as clearly, concisely, and persuasively on paper and in e-mail as you do in person or over the telephone. The most successful professionals and leaders typically are also the best communicators. As you progress in your career, these skills will likely be tapped increasingly as you’re faced with more challenging, sensitive or complicated situations and problems that need to be navigated. 
  • Commit to lifelong learning. Take reasonable steps to stay abreast of new developments in your field. Most professional and trade associations, organizations and publications have their own websites, making it easier and more convenient than ever to stay up-to-date. Be sure to read relevant materials regularly and seek out job training. 
  • Maintain and expand your network. For many professionals, networking has played an important part in their career advancement. True, staying connected with people takes time and effort — two precious commodities. But by creating an organized schedule, you can usually incorporate time to mingle with colleagues at an association meeting or another professional event.
  •  Stay visible. Without clamoring for constant attention, be sure that your manager is aware of your hard work and accomplishments. Contribute ideas during meetings that can improve business practices. Remain open to opportunities that fall outside your job description, as these may serve as springboards to career advancement.

Professionals across all industries are increasingly taking ownership of their careers, proactively driving their own development and mobility. With some foresight and planning, you can forge your own career path and fulfill your personal vision of success.

Instructional Techniques: Class Size

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Class SizeWill it be 5 or 25 learners? The numbers really do make a difference. As with most choices in life, both seem to have their own pros and cons.

Let’s start with the smaller class. On the pro side, there is definitely more one-on-one time with each learner and an opportunity to discuss topics in greater detail. The downside? If you have a quiet group, there could be minimal sharing and less energy in the room.

On the other hand, with larger classes, you have more group dynamics, higher energy levels, and definitely a livelier atmosphere. As for the cons, the larger the class, the more difficult it can be to move beyond traditional lectures and use techniques that promote deeper learning. Managing time also becomes much more challenging and some learners may feel lost in the crowd.

Recently, an interesting article addressed how universities are coping with larger class sizes (anywhere from 100 to 1,000 students) and what they’re doing to make classes more engaging, particularly when faced with the challenge of teaching a generation with a shorter attention span and less “class decorum.” Students will even download movies in class! And we thought we had it bad!

Now for the good news; it seems that some teachers are incorporating Hollywood-style podcasts or are giving students MP3 files to explain how to solve class problems. Others are using media technicians and studios to add bells and whistles to video lectures. By the way, we love when those in higher education begin using tools and techniques that we’ve been using in training for years!

With larger class sizes, testing can become a challenge. It seems that more teachers are relying on multiple-choice testing that can be marked by a machine as opposed to essay questions that must be read by an actual person.

Thankfully, psychology professor David DiBattista, has pioneered a way to design multiple-choice tests so students can apply learned concepts instead of just remembering memorized facts. For example, instead of asking them to choose definitions, he asks them to compare scenarios that illustrate the definition, so they have to apply the knowledge.

We’ve realized over the years, that, while we love teaching any group size, we definitely enjoy teaching smaller classes just a little bit more. With smaller numbers, we get to know each of my participants much better, discover their issues, and help them come up with solutions to their problems. We can have more one-on-one time and discuss topics in greater depth without worrying as much about the clock. Plus, with smaller groups, we can actually hear all of the sidebars and offline discussions—and those are usually the most interesting!

So what is your preference for class size, if you had to pick—large or small?

Face-to-Face Training Wins Hands Down

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Survey Results from ASCD Brief 7/12/12

Which do you personally prefer, face-to-face professional development or online webinars/workshops of the same length?

I greatly prefer face-to-face professional development. 


I somewhat prefer face-to-face professional development. 


I somewhat prefer online webinars/workshops.


I greatly prefer online webinars/workshops.


I have no preference. 


Students Must be First

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In too many American schools, current laws, policies, and practices put adult interests ahead of students. The result is an increasingly broken education system that, if not corrected, will keep America from leading in the increasingly competitive global marketplace.

From StudentsFirst Policy Agenda © 2011

Type of Training Preferred

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From ASCD Smart Brief 7/12/2012

Teachers’ pay in Ohio to be determined by student achievement


Ohio has joined other states in tying students’ achievement on standardized tests to teachers’ pay. Under legislation signed into law by Gov. John Kasich and beginning in the 2013-14 school year, teachers will be evaluated and students’ test scores will account for at least half of their grade. The change was prompted, in part, by the state’s No Child Left Behind waiver and the Race to the Top program.

“Congratulations! You Made a Mistake”


by Tara Powers

When is the last time you heard yourself say those words to your employee because she took a risk in the spirit of continuous improvement that didn’t work out?
When your employee does make a mistake, how do they learn from it? More importantly, how do you make sure that others learn from it?
Almost every manager I coach or train asks me how to get their employees to “think outside the box” and be more creative and innovative when problem solving.  However, the issue isn’t that the employee doesn’t know how to be creative and innovative, the issue is that the manager doesn’t know how to create an environment conducive to taking risks and trying something new. The good news is that I am going to tell you how to create that environment. The great news is that YOU have the ability to make it happen. 

  • Make it meaningful. Why would they want to innovate, think differently, try something new or take a risk? What’s in it for them? Could it provide new career opportunities, learning and development, financial incentives, pride, recognition.
  • Lead by example. When is the last time you shared a mistake or blunder with your team and then talked about lessons learned, how it helped you to grow or think differently? When they hear you talk about those experiences, it sends a message that it is ok to make a mistake as long as you share your learning with others.  
  • Support their decision. If you truly want your employees to go out on a limb and take a risk, you have to be willing to back them up when they do. You also have to be willing to go to bat for them with others in the organization when it doesn’t work out.  
  • Offer encouragement. Most people are afraid of retribution if they make a mistake. It is up to you to encourage your employees to challenge the status quo and think differently.  
  • Set clear boundaries. Obviously there are situations where mistakes can’t be made and risks shouldn’t be taken. Those situations depend on the level of the impact if something goes wrong.

“If it’s meant to be ~ it’s up to me”

So if you want more innovation in your organization, then it’s up to you to create the environment where people feel safe and supported to take risks, be creative, and step out of their comfort zone. I encourage you to begin this shift by sharing experiences and lessons learned from your own mistakes. I guarantee it will build the foundation of trust needed for your employees to WOW you with something out of the ordinary.
© 2009 Powers Resource Center

Lean Training and Development

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Bruno Neal, (Go Hoosiers!) learning strategist at Indiana University Health has combined traditional training development methods (ADDIE) with Lean Six Sigma in a simple way in T&D June 2012. Here is a sample of the simple but powerful ideas he writes about. Bruno encourages us as learning developers to ask these five simple questions during each phase of development:

  1. Approach – how are you collecting and tracking data that ensures you are aligned to strategic learning objectives and business strategy?
  2. Deployment – How will I develop the strategy for this work and who else will be involved?
  3. Learning – How does the strategy deal with the potential impact on the learners and organization?
  4. Integration – How will you collect valuable lessons learned as you go?
  5. Results – Who can you compare your results to (competitors, industry leaders, etc.) to benchmark your performance?

 For the complete article:

“Delegation: The Secret to Letting Go”

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Tara Powers

Making the paradigm shift in leadership development means training your supervisors and managers to let go — to delegate, that is. Delegating is about leaders empowering others and inspiring trust. It involves the effective assignment of tasks to other staff members while still maintaining responsibility for the results. All the while, supervisors and managers are considering each individual’s skill level and challenging him or her to complete the assignment. Everyone knows that change is constant and the ability to deliver on results is of utmost importance in the organization. However, one of the most difficult challenges supervisors and managers face is in understanding their own inability to delegate tasks and projects. They mistakenly hold on to the idea that no one else can do the job as well as they can. This line of thinking ultimately becomes counterproductive. Delegating is one way to produce results and at the same time develop employee skills. Many leaders believe that they do delegate well and often. Before you jump to this assumption, think about it. It takes training and a true understanding of the benefits delegating can offer before most supervisors and managers actually let go. Often when leaders delegate they fail for several reasons: lack of planning, taking back the project or task because it appears easier to do it themselves, or concluding that they don’t have time to delegate. If you are one of those people, or you hear your management staff say, “There just isn’t anyone I can delegate to,” then you have to understand that you’re just not that into delegating. And you’re just not letting go. If this sounds like you, then perhaps its time to change your game plan.
Here are 8 tips to Delegating Effectively and Letting Go:

  1. Decide what to delegate and what only YOU can do
  2. Communicate a clear vision of the desired end result
  3. Delegate the right tasks to the right people
  4. Explain tasks and expectations thoroughly
  5. Check for clarity and understanding
  6. Be available to provide consistent feedback and assess progress
  7. Hold people accountable to the agreed upon results
  8. Recognize efforts and reward successes

© 2009 Powers Resource Center
Tara Powers partners with organizations interested in improving their company culture to boost their bottom line.  If you’re ready to make changes in your business that will make employees happy AND make you money, check out our valued services at Powers  Resource Center