Enhance Listening – A Catalyst For Relationships – With Outbound Training

Outbound Training

Managing a heterogeneous group in a training program is usually a challenge. But the complexity of the challenge proliferates manifold in corporate outbound training programs if frontline executives have to share space with their super-boss for team activities. Though I have come across few super-bosses who take this opportunity to empower subordinates with great long-term benefits during outbound training workshops programs, most of the super-bosses have left adverse effects on the team morale.

Unfortunately for the executives, the presence of the super-boss constraints their creativity, restricts communication and sets the tone for a low energy session. The Super-boss on the other hand, with the pressures of having to compete with subordinates become vociferous with his/her ideas and thrusts them on to the team.

I had to come down very hard on a Super –boss recently while doing an out bound training program for an automobile giant. This was a one-day out bound program for a heterogeneous group of 72 employees. Right at the start of the program the group was divided into 6 teams to compete against each other over 8 different activities. The team that garnered the highest points stood to win a gift hamper. Barring few members the rest of the group were super-excited. After completing 4 activities the scores were pretty even except for the team that had the super-boss. In the points standing they were way behind the fifth placed team.

My co-facilitators noticed that in each of the activity that preceded, the super-boss found his way to get the team to implement his ideas. The team members, disappointed with the super-bosses’ lack of confidence in their ideas, went about the activities with very little fervour and conviction.  The super–boss was getting frustrated with his team. He was so riled that he ended up making nasty statements about the team.

So, on the fifth activity I pulled out the super-boss from his team telling him that it was unfair for just one team to get the benefit of his brilliance and gave him the responsibility of overseeing all six teams to keep a check on adherence to rules of the activities that followed. As expected, relieved of tyranny the de-moralized team made a remarkably improved showing. In fact they won 3 of the 4 activities that followed and managed to second place in the overall point standing at the end of the last activity.

During the final de-brief, realizing the folly of not listening to other’s ideas, the super-boss made a memorable 2-minute speech, talking about the importance of team communication and trust. His speech did not get a standing ovation but left the participants pondering. And I must admit I can never be hundred percent sure if all of the 72 employees took away relevant outbound learning from the outbound training but the super-boss sure did!

Good Interviews Leave Great Impressions About the Organization

Interviewing Skills Training

I have been lucky to have the experience of working closely with a few HR professionals in my career – sharing space with HR heads as a member of the interview panel. The conversation that unfolds while hiring senior and middle level managers is sometimes classic cases of what not to do in human relations. The first few minutes into an interview follows a usual pattern. But inevitably it turns in to a duel of wits. The loser always in my opinion is the interviewer. Not because the interviewer concedes to the interviewee’s opinion (it seldom happens) but because the interviewer does not know how to interview, leaving the interviewee feeling miserable towards the end. The interviewee is disappointed with the interview, the interviewer and the organization. An opportunity to impress upon an individual the values that the organization stands for is lost. This propagates poor reputation about the company in the market that in turn results in difficulty in attracting candidates for interviews in the long run.

I have noticed 4 common mistakes that even seasoned interviewers commit:

  1. Interviewers conduct an interview unprepared. If you are not thorough with the process, profile and competencies, the chances of hiring the appropriate employee is remote.
  2. Interviewers ask the wrong questions. The resume of a candidate just gives the basic data to filter down the number of candidates applying. The real information that goes into the decision of hiring comes from the interviews. So when wrong questions are asked, you get wrong information and wrong information leads to wrong recruitment.
  3. Interviewers have the tendency to jump to conclusions. Interviewers tend to make up their mind about candidates within the first few minutes even before collecting the necessary information. This also leads to wrong hiring.
  4. Interviewers simply check off a list of job requirements. This generally happens while hiring for the frontline positions.

Good interviewers allow a two-way probe and assessment. This gives an avenue to understand how someone thinks and relates to others. Good interviewers are well prepared, ask pertinent questions, stay in the present without being overtly judgemental and are conscious of their own reactions. They take efforts to make the interviewee feel comfortable. They avoid clichéd questions like ‘tell me about yourself’ or ‘where do you see yourself 5 years from now’. Instead they ask creative questions like ‘describe what you felt when you were shortlisted’. Good interviewers employ sound interviewing techniques and clarify their perceptions with well-focused questions. And mostly importantly regardless of the fact that the candidate is being hired or not, the candidates exit the interview feeling respected and listened to. This results in a good impression about the organization, which will ensure that they will recommend it to others.

The next time you conduct an interview, remember that your company’s future success depends on the right people being hired. In this context, interviewing skills for managers is an absolute necessity.

MMM Training Solutions conducts Interviewing Skills Training, which will provide interview tips on framing effective questions, active listening and the displaying the appropriate soft skills, which will leave a favourable impression in the minds of the interviewees.

Soft Skills Trainers! Enhance Your Careers – Just Buy It!

Soft Skills Trainers, Enhance Your Careers – Just Buy It!

I once invited my girlfriend home to showcase my culinary skill, though it was just an attempt at making vegetable fried rice. The entire effort lasted a gruelling 3 hours. Out of the 3 hours spent in the kitchen, more than 2 hours were spent cleaning and dicing the vegetables. I gave up when my final attempt tasted unpalatable. Embarrassed, I made the wise decision of buying it. She devoured the dish and left very little for me.

All is well that ends well. Lesson learnt, cooking is not my forte! My girlfriend became my wife and since cooking is not her forte too, we eat out a lot. We do not spend time re-inventing the wheel!!

A close friend of my mine, also in the training profession, a process trainer, learnt it the hard way. He was a very talented process trainer. The CEO of his company, impressed by his ability to brilliantly articulate ideas and keep up the interest of participants all through a 6-hour process training, entrusted him the task of training the mid-level managers on presentation skills. My friend who was always ready for a challenge accepted the task gleefully. He had 5 days to prepare a 2-day presentation skills training module.

What transpired the next 3 days was arduous and yet funny (well, funny for me). After seven hours of work he called me and said that he was yet to finalize on an outline. His exact words describing his ordeal was “This is worse than searching for a needle in a hay stack especially when you are not sure if what you need is a needle.” Before the close of day he rushed to the neighbourhood library and got 3 books that claimed tall on how presentations are made effective . That night he hardly slept but managed to collate adequate information.

The next day at office, barring few short breaks the entire day was spent on creating a PowerPoint. In the evening he wanted me to review his PowerPoint. It was a 48 MB file with 322 slides. I made it very clear that I would not go through his PowerPoint and left him with a small word of wisdom – “Ideally an 8 hour training day should not have more than 35 slides.” And so his second night was spent cutting down 80% of the slides.

On the third morning at office my friend sends me a mail with a compact 1MB PowerPoint as attachment and a subject line reading “size zero – presentation skill program.” As I perused his PowerPoint and spoke to him on what methodologies he intends adopting, I realized his program was heading for a disaster. He spent the 3rd day at office working on the participant handbook and few handouts. In the evening when we met I told him what I felt about his preparation and narrated my fried rice story. I suggested he should buy online soft skills training materials  that come with PowerPoint, facilitator guide, participant handout, handbook and other related training objects. He looked at me with mixed emotions. He was relieved that his ordeal might just come to an end but he was piqued with me for not advising him of this option earlier.

I am sure there are lot of us out there who would love do our own stuff. It’s good as long as we have the luxury of time.

If not, why re-invent the wheel, just buy it!!

Consider buying the time-tested and proven soft skills training material created by the expert trainers of MMM Training Solutions.