Tag Archives: business

Three Simple Training Tips to Dramatically Boost Company Performance

By Cordell Riley

Company Perfomance-Cordell RileyMany companies view training as a “nice to have.” They think it is important to create an attractive, engaging training program for new hires, and that it might be good to have a focused course that teaches employees how to perform certain tasks or use certain pieces of company technology. Once those companies cover the bases by offering training in just a few areas like those, they turn the page and start to think about other realities of doing business.

But what if . . .

What if those companies thought about employing training in a larger, more strategic way to improve performance in a wider range of business activities? What, for example, if they stopped to consider that a 10,000 dollars  investment in training could net a 10 percent increase in the sales made by each salesperson, resulting in an additional 10 dollars million in annual sales revenue? What if they stopped to think that a similar investment in training could result in a 10 percent increase in the accuracy of order filling, and would save 1 million dollar a year?

In short, what if companies made the connection between training, performance, and the bottom line?

And what if your company did? You see, training offers you the potential to dramatically increase profits and performance. Here are three tips to get that to happen for you.

1. Start with the End in Mind

Chances are you know where you would like to see improved performance or profits in your organization. But specifically what would those improvements look like? Would there be fewer defective products, better company reviews online, a 15 percent increase in the sales of one of your product lines—specifically, what?

Specific goals begin to emerge when you consider questions like those. They help you define the specific business challenges and goals you need to address. And once you have defined those issues and goals, you can begin to determine if there is training that will assist in reaching them.If you don’t measure and adjust, your training will never deliver the results it is capable of. Click To Tweet

2. Develop an Appropriate Curriculum

Your curriculum should be designed to teach people the skills they need to learn or improve in their specific role. But developing an effective curriculum is a bit more complex than simply defining skills. It should be right for the people in the roles who are performing the tasks and jobs that your training addresses. And it should be designed to have a focused, specific impact on the business items where you are trying to “move the needle” and bring about change.

An appropriate curriculum is also about more than just a list of skills and behaviors. It should consider how those lessons will be delivered—by a live training presenter, on phones or tablets, enlivened with games and exercises, in short “chunks” or longer lessons, for example. Creating an effective curriculum depends on considering who your learners are, where they are, and how they would prefer to learn.

3. Measure Results, then Tweak and Adjust Your Training Accordingly

At this point, you loop back to the decisions you made in the first step, when you started with the end in mind. The difference is that you are now going to develop ways to measure the change you have brought about through training.

You might decide to measure how much more each of your retail salespeople is selling on an average sale, whether fewer of your products are being returned, whether your rates of repeat business are improving, whether your online reviews are more positive, or other hard or soft metrics that tell you how effective your training has been.

Once you are measuring, you can tweak, modify your training, and find ways to improve results. But one thing for certain? If you don’t measure and adjust, your training will never deliver the results it is capable of.

In Summary

Start with the end in mind, develop an appropriate curriculum, then measure results and adjust your training. That is a simple, yet powerful, approach to improve company performance. And you can use it to improve more company performance that you have probably stopped to consider.

Cordell Riley is sought-after keynote speaker, and the Owner and President of Tortal Training, a leading training development company he founded in Charlotte, North Carolina. Tortal uses strategic engagement methodologies and specializes in developing mobile training platforms for organizations with distributed workforces. A recognized training expert with extensive experience in the service, automotive and franchising sectors, Cordell has spent more than twenty years helping thousands of companies achieve outstanding success through training. For more information about Cordell Riley, please visit: www.Tortal.net.

Call Center 101

Peter DeHaan: Author, Blogger, Publisher, Editor discusses call centerBy Peter DeHaan

I receive calls and emails from people who want to start a call center or contact center. I used to spend quite a bit of time with them discussing the nuances, ramifications, and challenges of starting a contact center. (They would already be optimistically filled with the upside, so there was no point in covering the satisfaction of helping people, the variety of work, and the profit potential.) However, after numerous such calls, I grew weary of repeating myself, so I put the basics online and simply refer people to www.StartACallCenter.com.

In talking to these inquirers, I would ask two questions. This helps me could provide the information relevant to their goals. The first was, “Will your call center do inbound or outbound work?” This sometimes confused people. On inquirer, who claimed 15 years of contact center experience, responded with, “What do you mean? I don’t understand the difference.”

My second question was, “Will this be an in-house or an outsourcing call center?” This query generated even more confusion. One caller gasped; her nonsensical retort was, “We’re in the United States!”

In similar fashion, when people subscribe to my call center magazine, Connections Magazine, I ask if they are an in-house or an outsource call center. I’m surprised at how frequently this question is fumbled. In view of all this—and at substantial risk of offending knowledgeable contact center veterans—I offer the following:To be successful, the work must be done well. Click To Tweet

Inbound Call Centers

Inbound call centers answer calls. Their agents are in a reactive mode, waiting for the phone to ring or the next call in queue. Inbound call centers are equipped with ACDs (Automatic Call Distributors) to efficiently send calls to the “next available agent.” Many inbound operations are staffed 24 x 7, with their agents scheduled to work in anticipation of projected call volume based on historical data and marketing initiatives.

Outbound Call Centers

Outbound call centers make calls to customers and sales prospects. Their job is proactive. Even if agents work is not sales per se, they still need a sales mentality. They must engage the called party, lead them towards an objective, and deal with rejection; some of which may be personally directed. Outbound call centers rely on predictive dialers to place calls. Agents are scheduled as needed to complete a requisite number of calls within a certain window of time, as limited by law.

In-house Call Centers

An in-house call center is an internal department or division of a company; it provides services exclusively for their own company. The chief advantage of an in-house call center is that greater control and oversight can be given to the call center, its agents, and their activities. An in-house call center can be a cost-center or a profit-center. Cost-centers they do not generate enough revenue to cover their expenses. They need to be subsidized by the company, whereas profit-centers generate enough business to cover their expenses.

Outsourcing Call Centers

An outsource call center does work for other companies. Their business is making and receiving calls. They often enjoy an economy-of-scale that is not feasible for the in-house operation. As such, their margins allow client’s to save money, while they make money. Agents at an outsource contact center work for their clients, but work with their clients’ customers or prospects. Outsource call centers are increasing in number and importance as more companies look to outsourcing as a way to increase service levels and options, return to their core competencies, save money, or all three.

Offshore Call Centers

An offshore call center is simply any call center that is located in a different country, or “offshore.” Offshoring is often erroneously considered synonymous with outsourcing. Offshore call centers are a subset of the outsourcing call center industry. (An in-house call center can be moved “offshore” as well.) A recent trend has been moving call center activity to other countries that boast stable technological infrastructures and offer qualified workers who possess lower wage expectations. This is offshore outsourcing, which is too often incorrectly shortened to outsourcing.

Despite all these distinctions, the essential lesson of Call Center 101, is that to be successful, the work must be done well!

Peter DeHaan is a commercial freelance writer who provides content marketing services and does ghostwriting.

You Want Your Family Business to Last?

Five Tips for Getting There!

By Mitzi Perdue

You may be familiar with the statistic that 70 percent of family businesses don’t make it to the second generation. The big question is: how can you beat these odds?

Family members need to learn some basic cultural attitudes. They need to know that they’re part of something bigger than themselves. They need to know that they can’t always be right. They need to learn that being a member of a family business sometimes requires sacrifice.

The biggest reason that business families fall apart is that the family hasn’t developed the kind of culture that supports keeping the family business in the family. Families that leave this to chance rarely make it to the next generation.

So, how do you create this kind of culture?

1. Know Your Family Stories. We are the stories we tell ourselves, and high-functioning families have heard their family stories over and over again. How much does your extended family know about where the family business came from and what made it what it is today? How much do they understand the sacrifices, efforts and tenacity that went into making family business you have today? Do they know stories about family members putting the good of the family ahead of their own interests? Be intentional about telling these stories. The more stories, legends, myths, and parables, the stronger your family’s culture and the more likely your family business is to endure.

2. Have Family Vacations. Your family vacation could be five people or 100 people, but whether it’s a large group or a small one, having aunts and uncles and cousins spending time together greatly increases the chances of building a family business that lasts. A vacation means time set aside to share experiences and to get to know and appreciate each other and to embed the family’s values. It’s a time for all branches and all generations to build the shared stories and memories that lead to trust and caring. This is especially important if family members are geographically dispersed, because it allows extended members to get to know each other.Family harmony is so important, that anything you can do to nurture it is a wise investment. Click To Tweet

3. Subsidize a family vacation after you’re gone. All too often when the patriarch or matriarch passes on, family members stop seeing each other. Maybe for the first few years they’re together at major holidays, such as Thanksgiving. And later on, maybe they get together for weddings. But gradually, there’s nothing left and family members have superficial relationships—or no relationship at all. A highly effective antidote to this is, leave money in your will to pay for a yearly get-together. Some families subsidize an annual dinner while others pay for a nice vacation. Either way, having an endowed yearly meal or vacation can keep families together across the centuries. Ideally, there’s even money budgeted for baby-sitters and child-friendly activities. ­­Endowed family get-togethers can be a highly-effective tool for helping the family continue across the generations.

4. Write a family newsletter. In a geographically dispersed family, a newsletter can play a huge role in helping the family to maintain a strong and vibrant culture. Include in it interviews with the older family members or employees about the early days and some of the company’s struggles. Maybe interview the matriarch or patriarch on such issues as why it’s good to be public, or why our family should never wash its dirty linen in public, or why it’s a terrible thing to be “addicted to being right.” The newsletter can also help people catch up on family news— maybe someone became an Eagle Scout, got into the college of his or her choice, or got a promotion. It’s also excellent for recording weddings, births, or in the case of an engaged couple, telling the story of how they met. Other topics for your newsletter can include what’s going on in the company, including company milestones. Make it short, ideally no longer than one or two pages. You want people to read it, and unfortunately, there’s an inverse connection between how long it is and how many people will read it. If it’s limited to one page, your family members are more likely to read it when they get it, as opposed to putting it aside for later and then never getting to it.

5. Get help if you need it. Fortunately, there’s a whole new ecosystem of family advisors who can help. There’s no such thing as a family business that doesn’t have conflict, and when there’s a serious family conflict, the pain from it can permeate every hour of every day. Not to mention that it can blow up the whole family, and with it the family business. So just as you’d get medical help if you if you had alarming chest pains, don’t put off getting professional help if a conflict in the family is getting out of hand. If you Google “family business advisors” you’ll get more than 45,000 hits in half of a second. Or if you have a financial advisor, he or she is likely to be able to refer you to a professional trained in family business relationships.

Family harmony is so important, that anything you can do to nurture it is a wise investment. Many families don’t stay intact over the generations. This is likely to happen when a family leaves its culture to chance. The good news is, planning is something you can do, and even better, the implementation can be enjoyable and fulfilling.

Mitzi Perdue is a celebrated speaker, businesswoman, and author of How to Make Your Family Business Last. A cum laude graduate from Harvard University and holder of an MPA from George Washington University, Mitzi draws from her direct experiences in two long-lasting family enterprises to assist businesses in preparing for lifelong success. She is a past president of the 35,000-member American Agri-Women, a former syndicated columnist for Scripps Howard, and the founder of CERES Farms. For more information on Mitzi Perdue, please visit www.MitziPerdue.com.

1+1=7! Leveraging Intangibles for Business Wealth

By Baldwin Tom

Every day, businesses lose money by not understanding or leveraging their investments. When one considers the financials of organizations, it is clear that a significant portion of those investments are not captured in financial statements. Why? Because these are the people-side or soft-side intangible investments the accounting industry has yet to document. This may be a reason one views these same intangibles as not of significant value.

But your intangible investments can be just as valuable as those that appear on your quarterly report.Judicious investing on the people side components when paired with task side investments yields significant ROI. Click To Tweet

The Magnificent 7

There are seven capital investments available to every organization. Two are strictly on the task or tangible work side and five are focused on people and what they produce. This means that five of the seven, or 71 percent, of all capital investments are on the people, or the soft (intangible) side of the equation. Not surprisingly, there is hidden wealth and power buried in these people-side investments. When people work together, such as in teams, there is powerful leveraging such that 1+1 is no longer 2, but is more like 1+1=7.

As a simple means to frame the seven investments, all work and efforts can be separated into two components—Task side and People side. The Task side encompasses tangibles such as hard issues and assets, work to be done, things, structures and fixtures. The People side is comprised of the intangibles like soft issues and assets, those who do the work, interactions, teamwork, culture and norms.

Task Side (Tangibles)

  1. Financial Investments: Financial capital is the monetary currency used to run the business by purchasing materials/resources and investing in people to facilitate its success. There is little mystery here. Financial capital is one of two currencies of exchange between people who do the work and the work they do. The other currency of exchange on the intangible side is spiritual capital.
  2. Physical Investments: Physical capital is represented in fixed materials needed for products and services. This includes tangible machinery, buildings, equipment, computers, together with land and labor. The benefit of timely investments here is so the enterprise remains competitive. Importantly, a commensurate investment on the people side—either in human, relationship, and/or customer capital—is necessary to maximize ROI.

People Side (Intangibles)

  1. Human Investments: Investing in human capital is an easy one. Just as with physical capital investments, without upgrades, technology becomes slow and/or obsolete. It is the same with people; you need continuous upgrades. Training, coaching, education, mentoring, and internships are obvious ways to increase people’s value. Importantly, the value of this investment spreads throughout an enterprise—in organizational capital (patents, processes, procedures), physical capital (innovative products and services), spiritual capital (morale, work satisfaction), and relationship capital (teamwork, customer relations).
  2. Relationship Investments : One of the most valuable assets in an organization is relationships. Value is derived from this investment daily from leveraging people’s interactions. It’s about power and influence. The network of relationships (people inside and outside the organization) that interact with a business represents a significant resource. Building relationship capital delivers a host of ROI benefits resulting from a higher level of trust in products, sales, customer retention, and even resolving disagreements. The multiplier for ROI may appear small, but secondary impact and synergies of relationships can be huge.
  3. Spiritual Investments: Spiritual capital in a business is derived from the values created by an organization’s leadership. With a great deal of spiritual capital, there is ethical decision-making built into a value-based culture where the goal is less shareholder gain and more gain for customers and stakeholders. The culture engendered energizes and enriches the human spirit, fostering social connectedness and personal satisfaction. It spurs people to go the extra mile. It is about ethical leadership and how people are treated. It is about consistency in leadership, i.e., no surprises. Such investments include a conscious effort to build a family culture that honors and supports each other.
  4. Customer Investments: Customer capital is the relationship value a business builds with its customers. This goes beyond customer loyalty and includes customer feedback to the business, and partnering with the customer to produce new products and services. Value also manifests in the form of referrals and great press about the business from customers. Every executive recognizes the importance of paying attention to the customer. But just being nice (sending holiday cards or gifts) is only a beginning when it comes to enhancing ROI. Making efforts to partner with the customer is the ideal investment.
  5. Organizational Investments: Organizational capital represents the value of an enterprise derived from mostly intangible assets such as processes, procedures, systems, patents, trade secrets, reputation, brand and intellectual property. Organizational investment is a most important investment leaders can make because this is where the memory of the enterprise resides. Building, investing in, and maintaining one’s brand and reputation and protecting intellectual property (trade secrets, patents, processes, and procedures) are critical to sustaining the enterprise. This is where one protects the knowledge, skills, and expertise from being lost when talented people depart from the organization.

Intangibles Control Business Success

As a means to discern which of the Magnificent 7 investments were most critical in a merger or acquisition, the corporate, healthcare, and the accounting industries were studied. In nearly every merger, success or failure was predicated on alignment or misalignment of culture between the merging entities. Culture in the Magnificent 7 schema is established within the collective investments of Human, Relationship, and Spiritual capitals. These people-side intangible investments reinforce the notion that soft-side investments have significant impact in generating success or failure in a business.

How do you discover and leverage hidden wealth in your organization? Here are the steps:

  1. Inventory your investments: Identify the investment areas you are focused on.
  2. Pair investments: Match any task side investment with a people side one. Thus, if you invest in new technology, be sure to invest in training for personnel.
  3. Set goals for each investment: Determine goals and completion dates for each investment.
  4. Determine where you are now: Track the success of reaching investment goals.
  5. Monitor progress toward goals: Evaluate the investments and how you are doing in achieving goals. Make corrections or change course as needed.
  6. Celebrate success: Reinforce success to encourage new efforts.
  7. Repeat steps 1-6

There is no doubt that judicious investing on the people side components when paired with task side investments yields significant ROI. Leveraging the intangibles accentuates power, creativity, innovation and thereby new products, services, and thus value generation and wealth in organizations!

Baldwin Tom is a management consultant, professional speaker, and author of 1+1=7: How Smart Leaders Make 7 Investments to Maximize Value. A medical school scientist, professor, leadership program developer, and founder of an award winning science and technology firm, he leverages his experiences in those fields to provide insight and strategies to fit client needs. Baldwin is a Certified Management Consultant and served as the National Board Chair of the Institute of Management Consultants USA. For more information on Baldwin Tom, please visit www.geoddgroup.com.

Want to Wow at Work? 3 Secrets From The Business Magician

By Kostya Kimlat

Have you ever done something difficult at work, but made it look easy? Solved a problem, helped a client or negotiated a deal in a way that astounded your colleagues? Felt amazing, right? Inspiring delight and wonder is powerful, even addicting. It’s what drives magicians to do what they do and why people love them for it.

What most people don’t realize about magic shows, though, is that it’s not all props and performance. To truly surprise and delight, a seasoned magician uses his or her mind. And you don’t have to run away with the circus, or even learn a single magic trick, to apply magical thinking to your business or career.

I’ve been a magician for over twenty years, specializing in teaching businesses the secrets of magic and how those insights can improve communication, sales and client relationships. As a speaker, trainer and facilitator, I teach that magic is a rich source of thinking tools. Those tools apply to any organization and any industry, but they also apply to individuals. You can make magic work for you, at work.

To prove it, I’m going to share a few magicians’ secrets that can help you improve your career in the following areas:

  • Innovation and lateral thinking
  • Perception management
  • Social intelligence
Being more magical at work isn’t about deception or manipulation; its about being better at how you communicate and collaborate. Click To Tweet

Innovation and lateral thinking

Magicians have always had to work backwards: They come up with a surprising effect and then devise a means to accomplish it. They must consider all mental, visual and physical tools available. That’s why magicians were the first to employ mirrors, magnets, and electromagnets, and why they are often a decade or two ahead of the mainstream in using new technologies or scientific principles to surprise their audiences.

And to continue astonishing people, a magician can’t stick with the same tactics. Their tricks must constantly evolve, but—here’s the key—their approach to developing new material stays the same: Magicians start the creative process by acting as if anything is possible. They don’t limit themselves.

To be creative and innovative, you have to be able to see existing resources as more than they are, you have to seek methods and technologies unknown to you (and maybe to others). You can’t do any of those things when you decide preemptively that any end goal—a new product, service, client or corporate structure – is outside the range of what’s possible.

Magicians start the creative process by expanding that range to include anything and everything. That mindset is the takeaway that you can apply in the workplace, whether you directly manage thirty people or write code for a living.

Perception Management

However creative, no magician’s trick is complete with only physical tools and technologies. To fool someone, a magician has to do something the other person doesn’t know, recognize or perceive. Knowing and managing an audience’s perceptions are what make the trick.

Similarly, to be the most magical person in your office, it’s not enough to just be creative. You must also accurately understand what people around you perceive – what they believe and expect.

If you’re going to communicate better, produce better, manage better or sell better, you need to know what others see. How? The Fortune 500 companies I consult with might perform surveys of thousands, but you can collect this information easily (and much more quickly) if you’re OK with informal feedback.

Before an important meeting with a client, your boss or employees, perform your own survey. Do some digging on what your investors believe about your company before you present. Find out what delighted or disappointed at the last board meeting—and why.

Simply taking the time to do this will put you ahead. Do the work beforehand to more deeply understand what others believe they know, how they see you and what they are looking for, and you’ll be able to deliver and even dazzle by going beyond expectations.

Social Intelligence

Really successful magicians aren’t just good at tricks. They’re great entertainers. They pull people in. They enchant. Why? They read people in a way others don’t. They take our second secret a step further. Perception management—the ability to understand how people perceive you and what you do—is a skill that can be learned, developed and refined. Practice taking others’ perspective long enough and you’ll develop a powerful tool: social intelligence.

Magicians influence imaginations and suspend reality, but influencers of all types practice the kind of empathy that rises to the level of social intelligence. Being a great thinker doesn’t just mean having great thoughts; it’s understanding and anticipating the thoughts of others. It’s knowing how they think and feel and making informed guesses on how they will react. It’s about being ready instead of reacting in panic. And you can do the same thing at the office.

Constantly assess what those above, below and beside you are perceiving, what they expect and how they feel. Do this not just during crucial moments, but at every point of interaction. Do it well enough and it will be what sets you apart. It will become your magic, your own wow factor.

What being magical at work really means

Now, I realize magicians are known for fooling people. That’s part of the performance and the fascination. A magician is, as Carl Germain wrote, the only one honest about his lying. But magic is not just a matter of technical, mechanical or visual trickery. Magicians see people differently. That’s my core message: Learning to Think Like a Magician™ can help you avoid misperceptions and miscommunication by more deeply considering others.

Being more magical at work isn’t about deception or manipulation; its about being better at how you communicate and collaborate. And you don’t need any cards or wands to create magical experiences.

With these three magician’s secrets, you can amaze your co-workers by bringing innovation and lateral thinking to your job, wow them by anticipating what they’re going to think or say at the next meeting and astonish them with your masterful ability to connect and communicate with anyone you meet.

Kostya Kimlat is a keynote speaker and corporate magician who fooled Penn & Teller on their hit TV show, “Fool Us”. Kostya speaks to businesses about how to Think Like A Magician™ to improve sales and customer service. For more information about Kostya Kimlat, please visit www.KostyaKimlat.com