Change Your Thinking

There is a law in psychology that if you form a picture in your mind of what you would like to be, and you keep and hold that picture there long enough, you will soon become exactly as you have been thinking.

There is a law in psychology that if you form a picture in your mind of what you would like to be, and you keep and hold that picture there long enough, you will soon become exactly as you have been thinking.

Once upon a time there was a woman, about 30 years old, married with two children. Like many people, she had grown up in a home where she was constantly criticized and often treated unfairly by her parents. As a result, she developed deep feelings of inferiority and low self-esteem. She was negative and fearful, and had no confidence at all. She was shy and self-effacing, and did not consider herself to be particularly valuable or worthwhile. She felt that she was not really talented at anything.

One day, as she was driving to the store, another car went through a red light and smashed into her. When she awoke, she was in the hospital with a mild concussion and complete memory loss. She could still speak, but she had no recollection of any part of her past life. She was a total amnesiac.

At first, the doctors thought it would be temporary. But weeks passed and no trace of her memory returned. Her husband and children visited her daily, but she did not know them. This was such an unusual case that other doctors and specialists came to visit her as well, to test her and ask her questions about her condition.

Eventually, she went home, her memory a complete blank. Determined to understand what had happened to her, she began reading medical textbooks and studying in the specialized area of amnesia and memory loss. She met and spoke with specialists in this field.

Eventually she wrote a paper on her condition. Not long afterward, she was invited to address a medical convention to deliver her paper, answer questions about her amnesia, and share her experiences and ideas on neurological functioning. During this period, something amazing happened. She became a new person completely. All the attention in the hospital and afterward made her feel valuable, important, and truly loved by her family.

The attention and acclaim she received from members of the medical profession built her self-esteem and self-respect even higher. She became a genuinely positive, confident, outgoing woman, highly articulate, well informed, and very much in demand as a speaker and authority in the medical profession.

All memory of her negative childhood had been wiped out. Her feelings of inferiority were wiped out as well. She became a new person. She changed her thinking and changed her life.

“You are not what you think you are, but what you think, you are.”

I would love to hear your thoughts on change.

Wade Younger
WadeYounger.com

1/18/18: Ya Gotta Ask!

When I was in college I remember getting my first interview opportunity.  I was excited.  I was also in a small panic when I realized I didn’t have a business suit to wear given our economic situation (broken, student assistance, etc.).   I don’t remember how, but we managed to scrounge up a few dollars before heading over to K-mart (Wal-mart of yesteryear) to pick up a cheap suit and tie.  Task one complete.

I then went over to the career center to find out more information on the company.  When I was going to college, there was no Internet to “Google” the company.  I went through the company prospectus and I read as much as I could about their products and services.  Task two complete.

On the way to the interview that Friday, I had to take two buses to get there which took a little over an hour just to get there.  On the way I mentally rehearsed various scenarios of questions that would be asked.  I was having mental conversation with myself anticipating what I would say to certain questions and what types of questions I should ask in order to sound “intelligent”.   I managed to arrive twenty minutes early and during that time I went into overdrive on the mental preparation.  I was ready!  Task three complete.

It was interview time.  I walked into the manager’s office and he closed the door behind me signaling that I was now in the ‘arena’.  It was time to get down to business. The interview started out well.  The more questions he asked the better my answers began to sound.  Then I countered with a few well-placed questions.  In the back of my mind, that little voice from within was routing me on saying, “You’re doing great!  Keep it up!”  I felt schizophrenic having another voice in my head encouraging me on while I was interviewing.  The interview concluded and I left the manager’s office feeling like I had nailed it!  My ego, and my head, was of gigantic proportions.  Task four complete.

On the way back home I began to mentally go over all aspects of the interview trying to recall every minute detail so I could analyze it carefully.  The more I mentally replayed the interview tape in my head the better I was feeling about the eventual outcome; a job.  I’m telling you, I was on cloud nine and my big, helium inflated head resembled a dirigible.

When I got home I was excited, talking a mile a minute.  As the conversation went on my dad was clearly excited for me.  Then he asked the single question that ‘popped’ my ego-balloon, “When are they going to call to let you know if you got the job?”

I stopped dead in my mental tracks and said, ‘I didn’t ask and they didn’t say.”
He nodded his head politely and my excitement went from 60 to 0 in 3 seconds.

What I didn’t tell my dad was that I was afraid to ASK when they were going to make a decision or when I could expect to hear from them.  I wanted to ask but I didn’t; I chickened out during the interview.  Task four…not completed.

Knowing that I should’ve asked and but didn’t, really bothered me.  But I reassured myself that things were fine nonetheless and I would probably find out next week whether or not I got the job.  It was time to enjoy the evening for now and wait for morning to come.

Mental Log of Events Starting Monday:
Monday rolls around and I don’t receive a call.
Mental State: “Well, it’s Monday.  They probably have a lot to prepare for and will most likely call me Tuesday.  Also, they probably don’t want to seem too anxious that they want me.”

Tuesday comes and goes; no call.
Mental State: “Well, maybe they’re reviewing a few things and need to be sure before calling me.”

Wednesday comes and goes; no call.
Mental State:  Concern begins to set in. “Why haven’t they called.  What could be taking them this long to decide?”   I’m a little worried but not too much.

Thursday comes and goes; no call.
Mental State: Concern now becomes anger.  “I wonder why the hell they haven’t call.  I mean, damn it, the interview went well.  What more could I have said or done?  What the hell is their problem?”

Friday comes and goes; still no call.
Mental State: Anger becomes resentment.  “Aw hell, I didn’t want the damn job anyway!  It would’ve probably been a lousy job anyway.”

By the time Friday ended, I did everything to “rationalize” why I they hadn’t call.  I tried to convince myself that it probably wouldn’t have been a great job anyway.  I tell myself that it was no big deal.  But the truth was that I was angry and feeling very resentful at the company not calling.

In hindsight, my anger at the end should not have been directed at the company who interviewed me.  It should’ve been directed at me for not asking the key question, “When are you planning to make a decision or when can I expect to hear from you?”  Although the outcome may have been the same (i.e., didn’t get the job), I could’ve avoided the mental anguish of waiting all week for a call that was never forthcoming.  Worst, for the following two-three weeks I was holding out hope that they would still call.    Deep down inside I was telling myself to expect the worse, but I was still hoping for the best.

The call never came and that experience taught me two valuable lessons:

1) Ignorance is not bliss.  Deep down inside there was a part of me that didn’t want to ask for fear of getting rejected.  We often times think it’s best not to know the truth thinking somehow that ignorance is bliss.  Wrong!   It’s best to know the truth no matter how painful it may be.  It was actually more painful not knowing for the next few weeks whether or not they would call.  When they didn’t, and I eventually accepted the reality that they wouldn’t, but I also realized that I had just spent the last few weeks worried about something I could’ve had the answer to sooner if I had only asked.

2) I deserve an answer.  I believe the other part of the reason I didn’t ask was because I was afraid to because I didn’t feel I had the right to ask.  I saw myself as someone begging for a job.  And we all know that beggars can’t be choosers.  What I should’ve done is see myself as an equal, offering my services to a company knowing that if they didn’t see my value I would simply go elsewhere.  But I didn’t; I felt inferior not superior.  I should’ve treated the person interviewing me as an interviewee also.  Because not only was I interviewing for the job, they were being interviewed by me to see if I wanted the job.  This change in mindset would’ve given me the confidence to ask the tough questions.

We often defeat our own means at success when we undermine our capabilities and sell ourselves short.  That’s what I did during this interview.  And in doing so, I lost the courage to ask because I didn’t feel worthy of asking.

That same little voice in my head who was encouraging me during the interview also held me back when it would whisper, “No, maybe it isn’t a good idea to ask for a date.” Or “If you ask you may get rejected because you seem to anxious.”  The voice in my head was undermining my confidence in asking.

What I didn’t anticipate, by not asking, was dealing with the mental anguish of not knowing what could’ve been possible.   I’ve come to the conclusion that it is more painful not knowing.  So today, when I need to know something, with little hesitation, I ask.

In everyday life we are presented with situations where we have to ‘ask’ for something.  If you want a raise in our pay or promotion in your company, you have to ask.  If you’re going to buy a new car, or house and feel you need a better price, you have to ask.  If you see or meet someone who strikes your fancy and would like to know their name or get their phone number to ask them for a date, you have to ask.  You may not always get the answer you want, but it’s better to know, than not to know.   The cost of asking may be high (i.e., rejection), but the cost of not asking is incalculable.   Life is too short…ASK!

 

R. Wade Younger, CSP
wade@wadeyounger.com
401 North Tryon Street
10th Floor
Charlotte, North Carolina, 28202, U.S.A
980.200.3000

WadeYounger.com – International Speaking & Business Consulting
TheValueWave.com – Project Leadership & Organizational Development
Youthapedia.com – The World’s Largest Collection of Life Skills for Kids

1/11/18: The scare of making a sell?

  • What is it about selling that makes you so afraid?
  • Do you get nervous at the hint of having to sell?
  • Is it the fear of rejection that scares you?
  • Is it the fear of not being able to communicate effectively?

Defining Your Fear

What is it about selling that makes people afraid?  Next question, how did you develop this fear?  What is the bases of this fear?

a) Many people fear sales because they’re afraid of being rejected.
b) People simply fear being the center of attention; especially when giving a presentation in front a large group of people.
c) Some fear selling because they’re simply unprepared to answer tough questions or don’t have a deep understanding of the product or service they’re selling.
d) The rest don’t believe in the product or service they are selling?

Checking Your Premise. 

Question the validity of your fear.  If you see yourself in option C, for example, then your fear isn’t selling; it has more to do with being unprepared and the potential ‘shame’ of being exposed in public.  Take the necessary steps to learn the product; this confidence in your knowledge will minimize your fear.  If you chose B, you have to question why you’re afraid of getting up in front of others.  Did you have a bad experience when you were younger?  Or, are you still programmed by the “children should be seen and not heard’ parental reminder?  To overcome the fear, you must first check the premise (validity) of why you hold that fear. No one every died from giving a sales presentation…at least not to my knowledge.

Like What You Sell.

I can’t emphasize this enough.  When you sell what you love, you’re selling from a position of belief.  When you believe in something strongly, that enthusiasm squeezes out the fear.  Are you selling something your really believe in or are you selling in order to get a paycheck?  If the answer is the latter, you may be successful selling, but you’ll never achieve a true level of success (i.e., making money doing what you love).  If you don’t truly believe in what you’re selling, you will always be selling from a position of doubt.  Doubt breeds fear.  Seek out products you love to sell.

Measure Success Over Time.

Many trainers advocate measuring your successes on a daily basis.  Let’s get real here.  Some of my days are full of setbacks making measuring success on daily basis painful.    Daily actions are just minor events leading up to the main event; the sale.  Don’t measure minor events, measure main events.  A runner doesn’t count how many running steps it took to get to the finish line, he instead focuses on getting there!   Stay focus on the main event, the sale, and not the day-to-day ups and downs.

Small Elephant Bites. 

Remember, the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.   Begin with small attainable objectives, than move on to larger ones. Build momentum.

Indicators.

When you succeed or have a win, take a mental inventory of how it came about.  Analyze in your mind the steps you took to manifest this win.  When things don’t go well, do the same thing; analyze your thoughts and actions and ask, “What should I have done differently?”.  Setbacks are indicators or guideposts on the road to sales success.

Don’t Take It Personal.

Earl Nightengale once said that success plays no favorites.  Success only favors those who persist and don’t give up.   Selling is about persistence.  Persistence is about not taking rejection personally.  When clients or people refuse to buy from you, learn to ask “Why?”.  And no matter the response you get back from the customer, learn to depersonalize it and then learn from it.   Only sissies take things personally (don’t be a sales sissy)!
There is one eternal truth about this free market we call capitalism…selling keeps the economy moving.  Selling is the grease that lubricates the economic machine and keeps all its moveable parts in motion.  From this moment on, as a salesperson, I want you to view your profession as the necessary component for keeping this economy going. I want you to see purpose in your profession.  Purpose squeezes out fear in order to make room for enthusiasm.

 

R. Wade Younger, CSP
wade@wadeyounger.com

401 North Tryon Street
10th Floor
Charlotte, North Carolina, 28202, U.S.A
980.200.3000

WadeYounger.com – International Speaking & Business Consulting
TheValueWave.com – Project Leadership & Organizational Development
Youthapedia.com – The World’s Largest Collection of Life Skills for Kids

1/4/18: Sometimes Opportunity is Right Where You Are

An old Arab guide told a story of an ancient Persian named Ali Hafed who once lived not far from the River Indus.

He said that Ali Hafed owned a very large farm, that he had orchards, grain-fields, and gardens; that he had money at interest, and was a wealthy and contented man.  He was contented because he was wealthy and wealthy because he was contented.  One day there visited that old Persian farmer one of these ancient Buddhist priests, one of the wise men of the East.

He sat down by the fire and told the old farmer how this world of ours was made.  He said that this world was once a mere bank of fog, and that the Almighty thrust His finder into this bank of fog, and began slowly to move His finder around, increasing the speed until at last He whirled this bank of fog into a solid ball of fire.

Then it went rolling through the universe, burning its way through other banks of fog, and condensed the moisture without, until it fell in floods of rain upon its hot surface, and cooled the outward crust.  Then the internal fires bursting outward through the crust threw up the mountains and hills, the valleys, the plains and prairies of this wonderful world of ours.  If this internal molten mass came bursting out and cooled very quickly it became granite; less quickly copper, less quickly silver, less quickly gold, and, after gold, diamonds were made.

Said the old priest, “A diamond is a congealed drop of sunlight.”  Now that is literally scientifically true, that a diamond is an actual deposit of carbon from the sun.  The old priest told Ali Hafed that if he had one diamond the size of his thumb he could purchase the county, and if he had a mine of diamonds he could place his children upon thrones through the influence of their great wealth.
Ali Hafed heard all about diamonds, how much they were worth, and went to his bed that night a poor man.  He had not lost anything, but he was poor because he was discontented, and discontented because he feared he was poor.  He said, “I want a mine of diamonds,” and he lay awake all night.
Early in the morning he sought out the priest.  I know by experience that a priest is very cross when awakened early in the morning, and when he shook that old priest out of his dreams, Ali Hafed said to him:
“Will you tell me where I can find diamonds?” “Diamonds! What do you want with diamonds?”  “Why, I wish to be immensely rich.”  “Well, then, go along and find them.  That is all you have to do; go and find them, and then you have them.”  “But I don’t know where to go.”  “Well, if you will find a river that runs through white sands, between high mountains, in those white sands you will always find diamonds.”  “I don’t believe there is any such river.”  “Oh, yes, there are plenty of them.  All you have to do is to go and find them, and then you have them.”  Said Ali Hafed, “I will go.”
So he sold his farm, collected his money, left his family in charge of a neighbor and away he went in search of diamonds.  He began his search, very properly to my mind, at the mountains of the Moon.  Afterward he came around into Palestine, then wandered on into Europe, and at last when his money was all spent and he was in rages, wretchedness, and poverty, he stood on the shore of that bay at Barcelona, in Spain, when a great tidal wave came rolling in between the pillars of Hercules, and the poor, afflicted suffering, dying man could not resist the awful temptation to cast himself into that incoming tide, and he sank beneath its foaming crest, never to rise in this life again.
When that old guide had told me that awfully sad story he stopped the camel I was riding on and went back to fix the baggage that was coming off another camel, and I had an opportunity to muse over his story while he was gone.  I remember saying to myself, “Why did he reserve that story for his ‘particular friends’?”  There seemed to be no beginning, no middle, no end, nothing to it.  That was the first story I had ever heard told in my life, and would be the first one I ever read, in which the hero was killed in the first chapter.  I had but one chapter of that story, and the hero was dead.
When the guide came back and took up the halter of my camel, he went right ahead with the story, into the second chapter, just as though there had been no break.  The man who purchased Ali Hafed’s farm one day led his camel into the garden to drink, and as that camel put its nose into the shallow water of that garden brook, Ali Hafed’s successor noticed a curious flash of light from the white sands of the stream.  He pulled out a black stone having an eye of light reflecting all the hues of the rainbow.  He took the pebble into the house and put it on the mantel which covers the central fires, and forgot all about it.
A few days later this same old priest came in to visit Ali Hafed’s successor, and the moment he opened that drawing-room door he saw that flash of light on the mantel, and he rushed up to it, and shouted: “Here is a diamond! Has Ali Hafed returned?”  “Oh no, Ali Hafed has not returned, and that is not a diamond.  That is nothing but a stone we found right out here in our own garden.”  “But,” said the priest, “I tell you I know diamond when I see it.  I know positively that is a diamond.”
Then together they rushed out into that old garden and stirred up the white sands with their finders, and lo! There came up other more beautiful and valuable gems than the first.  “Thus,” said the guide to me, and, friends, it is historically true, “was discovered the diamond-mine of Golconda, the most magnificent diamond-mine in all the history of mankind, excelling the Kimberly itself.  The Kohinoor, and the Orloff of the crown jewels of England and Russia, the largest on earth, came from that mine.”
When that old Arab guide told me the second chapter of his story, he then took off his Turkish cap and swung it around in the air again to get my attention to the moral.  Those Arab guides have morals to their stories, although they are not always moral.  As he swung his hat, he said to me, “Had Ali Hafed remained at home and dug in his own cellar, or underneath his own wheat fields, or in his own garden, instead of wretchedness, starvation, and death by suicide in a strange land, he would have had ‘acres of diamonds.’  For every acre of that old farm, yes, every shovelful, afterward revealed gems which since have decorated the crowns of monarchs.”
When he had added the moral to his story I saw why he reserved it for “his particular friends.”  But I did not tell him I could see it.  It was that mean old Arab’s way of going around a thing like a lawyer, to say indirectly what he did not dare say directly, that “in his private opinion there was a certain young man then traveling down the Tigris River that might better be at home in America.”  I did not tell him I could see that.
R. Wade Younger, CSP
wade@wadeyounger.com

401 North Tryon Street
10th Floor
Charlotte, North Carolina, 28202, U.S.A
980.200.3000

WadeYounger.com – International Speaking & Business Consulting
TheValueWave.com – Project Leadership & Organizational Development
Youthapedia.com – The World’s Largest Collection of Life Skills for Kids

12/28/17: Why Customer Service is so Bad?

We all frequent a lot of businesses; most have so-so customer service at best. (But not if you hear their advertising! Customer service is always outstanding!) We’ve become used to clerks who seem put out if they actually have to help us, and we even find ourselves feeling bad if we have to ask for their help! Customer service has become a customer guilt trip. Sure, we all know there are tough customers – but the majority are nice folks who just want the products or services each company is supposed to provide.

Since I conduct customer service training, I know why customer service is often so bad:

1.) Company leadership stinks. They haven’t defined what they expect OR they enforce the rules with some front line people, but not with others OR they have no idea how to motivate and inspire their people OR they assume their people know how to give good customer service. This list could go on and on. I ALWAYS attribute poor service to poor leadership. Period. It starts at the top.

2.) Nobody in the company has truly defined what good customer service is. How can front line people deliver it if no one knows what it is? One of the biggest things missing in customer service today is friendliness. It’s also one of THE most important things. Do you train your people how to be friendly? If not, don’t be surprised if they aren’t. How do you define “friendliness”? When FireStar gives customer service training, we spend a great deal of time on just that – tone of voice, body language, facial expressions – we talk about how to be friendly!! You would be surprised how many people don’t know how to be consistently friendly to customers. And when we give leadership training we talk about how to define expectations for employees.

3.) Front line people are treated poorly by the company. Imagine that! The most important people in the company – the ones who deal with the customers on a daily basis – are treated the worst! You know it’s true. They often get paid the least, have the least amount of freedom and get hammered if they mess up one phone message. They get it from all sides, all day. And the ones who are good – who show up on time and handle things well – are usually ignored. Leaders spend all their time trying to fix the problem employees and these superstars of dependability get nothing. If you treat your front line people like dirt, how do you think they’re going to treat the customers? You got it – like dirt!

4.) Companies want short term profits and forget the long term. They focus on speed of processing and don’t give their people time to be friendly. They set up crazy policies and procedures and don’t do a good job of educating customers. This is guaranteed to result in problems that front line people will have to straighten out. It’s one thing to sit in the corporate office and invent policy – it’s another to battle the 100 irate customers in the lobby. A short term view usually makes companies harder to do business with (ex. it’s cheaper to hire people in India – so what if they can’t understand our customers? We’re saving millions!). Making it hard to do business with you is not providing good customer service. It may make money in the short term, but in the long run, customers will go elsewhere.

These are just the tip of the bad customer service iceberg. It’s just a matter of time before this iceberg sinks some companies. And just like the crew of the Titanic, you may never know how bad it is until it’s too late.

 

R. Wade Younger, CSP
wade@wadeyounger.com

401 North Tryon Street
10th Floor
Charlotte, North Carolina, 28202, U.S.A
980.200.3000

WadeYounger.com – International Speaking & Business Consulting
TheValueWave.com – Project Leadership & Organizational Development
Youthapedia.com – The World’s Largest Collection of Life Skills for Kids

 

12/21/17: A Process for Innovation

Our thinking has created problems which cannot be solved by that same level of thinking. –  Albert Einstein

A problem presents itself; people work very hard to solve it; they decide on an action that appears to be a change for the better; yet, after a period of time, it becomes clear that although the surface issue may have been resolved, the basic problem has not been touched.

In the results of an organizational-effectiveness survey that the author helped to develop one item began to show up as highly predictive of the success or productivity of a company: “Even though my fellow team members and I agree to solutions, the same problems keep coming back over and over again.” The score on this item is among the lowest for every organization surveyed, regardless of location, size, or type of industry. It appears that organizations in the U.S. do a lot of what is called “problem solving” without addressing the real issues or problems. Typically, the things that need to be discovered and changed continue to exist just under the surface of the group’s attention, then rise to the surface somewhere else as the same or “another” problem.

This happens for two reasons:

1. The solution agreed to was not a good one because it failed to contact the deeper issue of which the “problem” was a manifestation; or
2.  People did not follow through on what they decided. (It might have been a good decision, but nobody carried it out.)

The STRIDE process is designed to identify the root issue(s) and to produce high-quality solutions that are actually carried out. The process also creates the potential for a “breakthrough,” which is very different from the typical “solution.”

BREAKTHROUGH

A breakthrough is a fundamental shift in the situation, usually experienced as a basic or profound change in the way those involved “hold” or view the problem. A breakthrough is a new way of thinking. It creates the space for something totally new to happen. People explore the “problem” at a different level than the one at which it shows itself at first; they “get to the bottom of things.”

A breakthrough solution is always accompanied by unusual amounts of energy released in the people involved as well as by a high level of confidence in the ultimate success of the decision, even in the face of early evidence to the contrary. This happens because of a strong commitment to see that the solution works.

The Ingredients of a Breakthrough

It often happens that all of the information needed for a successful resolution of a situation is already present in the system. For example, three incidents from U.S. history—the Titanic disaster, the Bay of Pigs invasion, and the war in Vietnam—all revealed that people had data and points of view that, if brought forward and accepted, could have produced the breakthrough decisions needed.

Valuable information or a crucial point of view may not be recognized by the person who holds it, much less by the group; or it may not be available in the right format at the right time in order to be utilized. After a breakthrough occurs, people usually say, “That was simple; why didn’t we think of it earlier?”

The STRIDE process is a common-sense method for creating the mental environment (the frame of mind) in which a breakthrough can occur. It is designed to help a group to determine and find access to the information it needs (1) to address a problem, not a symptom; (2) to make an intelligent decision about what to do; (3) to obtain sufficient commitment to guarantee success; and (4) to be able to determine how the solution is working later.

In “breaking through,” there is a clear sense of hurdling or surmounting an almost tangible mental boundary. This boundary represents the group’s (or person’s) belief in the existence of certain limits or circumstances, characterized as a “mental rut” or a pattern in the way that problems are approached. This mental rut is, in most cases, a major contributor to the problem, the inability to solve it, and the frustration that results.

Resistance to Breakthroughs: Why We Fight the Best Solutions

Ironically, most groups have a natural resistance to obtaining the breakthroughs they are seeking. We are afraid of the alternatives, of what might be “outside.” People instinctively realize that in attaining something, they must give something up; and the way that one has been thinking about something is very personal and, thus, very precious.
By unwittingly holding on to a problem while “trying” to solve it, we allow ourselves to retain our view of the way things are. Many of us would rather be “right” and have valid reasons for why things do not work than be willing to be “wrong” about something and obtain the results we want.
 
Conditions for Breakthrough Problem Solving

In order to achieve breakthrough, the individual or the group must be in the right frame of mind (context) and then think about the right things at the right time (process). The context is characterized by four conditions. They must exist before the problem is attacked. Within this context, however, virtually any problem-solving process will work.

Alignment

Alignment implies a “critical mass” of participants around the ultimate purpose or mission of the group and agreement about how the breakthrough will contribute to it. This means that the people involved in the process must agree on the overall purpose of the larger system. To generate sufficient commitment to achieve breakthrough, the effort must be connected to something “big” and must be important to everyone in the system. People must perceive the opportunity that is inherent in the breakthrough.  There also must be clarity and agreement about how the final decision will be made, that is, how much influence the group will have and how much influence the boss will have. It is imperative that this be clear in each person’s mind before the process begins.

Integrity

Each individual in the group must believe that the others will do what they say they will do. In a context of mistrust, no breakthrough is possible except, perhaps, to create a shift toward greater trust. It is imperative that a condition of integrity characterize the discussion and decision making. If this condition does not exist to begin with, everyone must commit to make it happen, regardless of the past, and then act accordingly.

Responsibility

The people involved must be willing to take 100-percent responsibility for resolving the situation. The group must identify the ones who have the power to create the change. Blaming someone else or waiting for something else to change creates an atmosphere of powerlessness in which breakthrough cannot occur. Only those who decide—often despite common sense or “fairness” or the chain of command—to take 100 percent of the responsibility for producing the breakthrough will be in a position to make a difference.
An example of this can be seen when two people attempt to shake hands. If both of them simply extend their hands, the hands may not meet. If, however, one person takes responsibility for making it happen, he or she will reach out and pursue the other person’s hand until the two make contact. Progress is rarely made when people limit their efforts to a portion of what is needed.

Commitment

If there is commitment, the group goes on record that it will make the breakthrough happen, no matter what. Commitment implies the will and the energy to make the breakthrough occur.

Creating the Right Context

Any group, no matter what its history, can decide to act in accordance with the four conditions just described. In fact, just the act of reaching agreement about these conditions may change the nature of the “problem.” The lack of one or more of these conditions may be the real problem that needs to be solved.

To help the group to prepare for the STRIDE process, each member must do the following:

1. Tell the truth, at least to himself or herself.
2. Adopt the position that “I don’t know…” rather than “I already know….”
3. Be willing to let go of whatever is not working.
4. Keep the image of the transformed situation and the ultimate mission in mind at all times.
5. Approach the problem-solving session as if it definitely could transform the situation.
6. Allow any cynicism and resistance to be transformed by the process.

Each member must think of the breakthrough process as a holographic one. The “problem” is actually a manifestation of something else. The group members must ask, “What is this specific problem trying to tell us about our group or situation?” and “What still will be left unresolved even if we successfully resolve this specific problem?” Each “trip” through the STRIDE questions may produce a new awareness of the situation, and the process may have to be repeated again and again until the group reaches the “source issue” or root of the problem. Every superficial solution produces new dilemmas.

When the group generates a breakthrough concept or proposal, everything else will be seen in a transformed perspective. Any new problems that may be engendered by the solution will not seem to matter very much. The group’s whole way of approaching the situation will change, even though many of the details of the situation may appear
the same.

THE STRIDE PROCESS

S: The Situation Now
Any breakthrough must start with what is. Clearly identifying the present situation, including any pain in it, can help to provide the commitment needed later. The potential breakthrough is an opportunity implicit in the current reality.

The group members must identify the following:

1.  What is happening now in the situation that we intend to transform?
2. What is a recent, concrete example of the problem?
3. What/how is the situation costing the group or organization? Who is suffering the most?
4. Who else do we need to be talking with (or involving in our deliberations) if we are to succeed? Who is affected by or will have to carry out our solution? How should we involve these people?
5. When we have produced a breakthrough in this area, how will it impact our mission/purpose?
6. Where is the impetus for change coming from? Who currently “owns” the problem?

T: The Target
When you don’t know where you are going, you’re liable to end up somewhere else.

“Pogo”

A clear picture of the possibility that a breakthrough represents is necessary to direct efforts toward it. Groups that focus only on the problem achieve less than do groups that focus on desired outcomes. The following questions can help the group members to develop a “target”:

1. What would success look like? What will happen/not be happening (in concrete examples) when we create the breakthrough?
2. Who shares this picture of the way things could be? Who would like to see this picture become reality?
3. How should these people/groups be involved in the process?

One way to help the group members to envision the way things could be is to use guided imagery. Group members may be directed to close their eyes, to travel into the future, and to hover over various aspects of the situation, listening to and noticing the things that surprise and delight them—things they never thought could be achieved. Many useful insights, as well as positive mindsets, are generated by this process.

R: Reasons/Restraining Forces
An accurate analysis of the forces that restrain or oppose a solution or breakthrough is necessary. The group members also must identify the “opposition,” that is, people who may hinder the envisioned solution. There usually are several reasons that a problem continues to exist. Every problem serves some function in the situation and will leave a hole when the breakthrough occurs.

The group must accomplish two things in order to deal with these issues:

1. Determine why the problem continues to exist. (Why has it not taken care of itself?)
2. Conduct and draw a force-field analysis of the situation. (What is working for and against a breakthrough in the situation?)

I: Identifying Key Restraints/Ideas
It is necessary to identify the one or two most important aspects of the analysis of the situation developed thus far. A single factor, or a cluster of them, usually emerges or is sensed by the group. If the members can agree to a commitment to transform that factor or cluster, they have won half of the battle. The following questions may help in this process:

1. Which of the restraining forces are both significant and reducible?
2. Which ones seem closest to the source of the issue?
3. What specifically needs to happen that is inhibited by these forces?
4.  What might the group do about these things?

D: Deciding/Doing/Designing
To decide to do something means to commit 100 percent. It helps to be clear from the beginning about how the final decision will be made and by whom. If this information about the decision is not clear, resistance, reluctance to commit, or picky arguments about details may emerge. If the group is aligned as well as committed, progress will be greatly enhanced. The following questions can help the group members to ready themselves for action:

1. What do we agree to do? Are we willing to commit ourselves 100 percent to do this?
2. What do we need to have others do?
3. What is our plan of action? Who will do what? By when?

E: Evidence of Success/Evaluation
This is an important step that is often overlooked. It closes the loop and creates accountability and expectancy. When signs of success are identified, the breakthrough is supported and nurtured in the face of resistance. The following questions will help the group members to evaluate their progress:

1. What will be the signs of success?
2. Who will be responsible for ensuring that these things are achieved?
3. What evidence will convince us that a breakthrough has occurred?
4. How long will it take for us to decide or know?
5. How will we celebrate or acknowledge our success?

During the STRIDE process, the group must check continually to ensure that all four contextual conditions (alignment, integrity, responsibility, commitment) are present. If one or more is absent, the group must stop the process and work on the contextual issue(s).
Although the process is presented in a linear sequence, it need not occur in that order. If a great idea emerges, it may be most feasible to work outward from there, going backward and forward in the model until all of the steps have been covered. If confronted by an obstacle, the group members would be wise to start with identification of the restraining forces and proceed from there.

As with any new process or skill, the time that it takes (and the self-consciousness that it engenders) to use the process diminishes as the process or skill becomes familiar and as experience is gained in using it. After a while, it can become part of the way in which the group operates.

HOW TRAINERS AND CONSULTANTS CAN USE THE PROCESS

With a work team or other type of group, the STRIDE process can be used for problem solving. A suggested format for this use is as follows:

1. Deliver a lecturette on the four contextual conditions necessary for breakthrough.
2. Obtain a statement of group alignment on the ultimate purpose or mission of the group or organization.
3. Ask “Who is willing to take personal responsibility for ensuring that a breakthrough occurs here?” Do not proceed until at least one solid commitment has been made.
4. Deliver a lecturette on the STRIDE process.
5. Post a sheet of newsprint on the wall and record all aspects of the STRIDE process. Tell the group members not to worry about “getting ahead” or “being off the subject.”
6. Start with the situation and move ahead.
7. Stop periodically to check for the four contextual conditions.

The process can be used as a consulting model to guide the conditions required in one’s working relationships with clients. A description of the STRIDE process can be distributed to key participants, and the similarity between STRIDE and an action-research model of change can be pointed out.
The STRIDE process can be used as an interviewing framework or in making a first personal or telephone contact. Covering each of the steps in the STRIDE process creates a framework for the discussion and helps to keep it on track.
In designing training events, the consultant/trainer can use the model to ask the client the right questions. Substituting “Design” for “Do” turns STRIDE into a
design process.

HOW MANAGERS CAN USE THE PROCESS

STRIDE is particularly effective as a problem-solving process, both in meetings and for thinking through a problem alone before deciding how to handle it. STRIDE also has value as a model of transition management because it clarifies how one wants to work with a new group or organization. Finally, the process can serve as a consultant-client model from the manager’s point of view, to guide the consultant in dealing with the manager’s issues and in working with the manager and his or her people.
R. Wade Younger, CSP
wade@wadeyounger.com

401 North Tryon Street
10th Floor
Charlotte, North Carolina, 28202, U.S.A
980.200.3000

WadeYounger.com – International Speaking & Business Consulting
TheValueWave.com – Project Leadership & Organizational Development
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12/14/17: McDonald’s wins with all-day breakfast!

Give the customers what they want! You can never go wrong when you list to your customer.

McDonald’s sales at U.S. outlets open at least 13 months rose 5.7 percent in the quarter ended Dec. 31st, the best quarterly growth in nearly four years and far ahead of forecasts of 2.7 percent.

Why?

McdonaldsMcDonald’s Corp (MCD.N) smashed expectations for quarterly same-restaurant sales as the launch of all-day breakfasts proved a hit with diners in the United States and demand continued to recover in China.  The performance adds fuel to McDonald’s revival, after the chain had seen its U.S. sales fall for two years up to the third quarter of 2015 following a series of missteps under former chief executive Don Thompson, who left the world’s biggest restaurant chain last year. This was due to a greater need for healthier food choices.

McDonald’s new CEO, Steve Easterbrook implemented a turnaround plan last year that involved making the menu simpler, improving service times and raising worker wages.

McDonald’s launched the all-day breakfast menus in October in the United States, a move aimed at countering increasing competition from chains such as Wendy’s Co (WEN.O), Starbucks Corp (SBUX.O) and Burger King (QSR.TO).

“All-day breakfast positions us to regain market share we had given up in recent years,” Easterbrook said on a post-earnings conference call, adding it would take at least six more months of positive sales to cement a more sustained turnaround.

 

R. Wade Younger, CSP
wade@wadeyounger.com

401 North Tryon Street
10th Floor
Charlotte, North Carolina, 28202, U.S.A
980.200.3000

WadeYounger.com – International Speaking & Business Consulting
TheValueWave.com – Project Leadership & Organizational Development
Youthapedia.com – The World’s Largest Collection of Life Skills for Kids

12/7/17: Being the change

untitledGhandi said “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” And he was absolutely right. But how many of us really believe him?

I find that most people are waiting for someone or something else to be the change they wish to see in the world. Let me give you some common examples:

Employer X wants Employee Y to sell more. Rather than being excited about the new products and offering more training and reward opportunities (i.e. being a better leader), he requires Employee Y to make more cold calls. You can force an employee to take certain actions, but they will only be effective if they do them with all their heart. They will only do that if you have inspired them with YOUR actions. Employer X can only get real change by changing himself.
Jill X wants more love in her life. Rather than working on being more loving or loving herself more, she tries to get Joe Y to love her more. This will never work. The only person Jill X can ever change is herself.

If you pay attention, you’ll see this phenomenon all the time. This summer season I went to Washington State and fell in love with hiking. When I returned home I wanted to join a hiking club. When I found none existed in Charlotte, I took the next obvious step and started one. Over eighty people have since contacted me and all have said, “I’ve been waiting for a club like this!” Starting the club wasn’t hard. But someone had to be the change. What change have you been waiting for?

Do you realize how much power you have if you simply act? Want to mend a relationship? Pick up the phone. Need a new job? Reply to some job listings. Want a better employee team? Start being a better leader.

What change do you want to see in the world? Be it!

R. Wade Younger, CSP
wade@wadeyounger.com

401 North Tryon Street
10th Floor
Charlotte, North Carolina, 28202, U.S.A
980.200.3000

WadeYounger.comInternational Speaking & Business Consulting
TheValueWave.comProject Leadership & Organizational Development
Youthapedia.comThe World’s Largest Collection of Life Skills for Kids

11/30/16: Failure – Be Bitter or Be Better

“You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.” Margaret Thatcher

Failure. Even the word sounds bad, doesn’t it? That is because since the time we were young children we were taught that failure was bad. But is that true? Is failure all bad? Let’s consider some things.

If I shared with you the trials and tribulations that I have been though over the past few months,

I like a baseball analogy. Do you know what the record is for a season batting average (That means how many times the batter successfully hit to get on base)? It is a gentleman by the name of Ted Williams and his season batting average was .406 one year. That means that out of 1000 times at bat he would get a hit 406 times. That is considered by baseball fans as one of the greatest records ever. There are players making millions of dollars who hit .280!

But what does that stat also tell us if we flip it around? It tells us that the best season any batter ever had in the major leagues was a FAILURE RATE of .589! Even the best fail on a regular basis!

What about the richest people on Wall Street? Do they fail? Of course they do. They pick the bad stocks sometimes, but they cut their loses and learn from their failure.
Did Michael Jordan miss shots? Over 50% of them!

So what about all this? What does this mean for us? The fact is, I think we can learn a lot about failure that will actually make us a great success. So here are some thoughts to help you use failure to further your future!

Failure is inevitable if you are trying for greatness.
Failure is something we must accept as a part of the road we travel to success. This is a very important item and number one on the list because a lot of what stops people from pursuing success is their fear that they may fail and not reach their destination. When we embrace the fact that we will fail, and that is okay, then we have nothing to fear anymore. Instead, we keep our eyes open and pick ourselves up, adjust from the failure, and move on.

Failure is never failure unless you fail to learn something from it.
That’s right, we ought to stop calling these bumps in the road “failures” and start calling them “Learning Experiences!” When you fail, the first thing you should think is “What can I learn from this?” If you can pull just one idea out of that question, then the experience was worth it.

Sometimes failure is a blessing in disguise.
Just ask the 3M Company. They were looking for an incredible adhesive and actually got a sticky paste that held, but not permanently. What a failure! No, instead, they spread some on the back of little sheets of yellow paper and called them “Post-It Notes.” Have some? I’m sure you do. The 3M company thanks you for rewarding their “failure.”

People won’t think poorly of you if you fail.
This is perhaps the biggest myth, and the one that causes us to never attempt our dreams. We don’t try because of what Aunt Martha may say about us at the family reunion. The truth is, however, that people will actually respect you for trying. The only thing I have found that people think poorly about you is if you handle yourself badly when you fail. Sore losers get the bad press, not people who attempt great things!

Failure isn’t the end but the beginning.
One of our greatest fears is that our whole world will collapse if we fail. Or at least the project will. The truth is that that rarely happens! Most of the time we can pick back up again, make some adjustments and be on our way! This is a new beginning. Now there is no need to go down the road you have already taken, so there is one less option you have to try on your new journey.

Sometimes we miss out on success because we quit in the middle of a problem and it becomes a failure instead of an obstacle we could have persevered through.
When people encounter trouble they have a tendency to quit. And then they see themselves as having Failed. My question is this: What if they would have kept on going – persevered? Perhaps they would have struggled a bit and then broke free again. The failure happened only because they quit! So don’t give up – keep pushing – and perhaps you will see yourself through to victory!

The greatest thing to overcome is the fear of failure.
Most of the battle is right between our ears. It has been said that “we have nothing to fear but fear itself,” and that is true because in most of our “failures,” the end result is usually much less than we feared it would be. Yet in giving into fear and not trying, we suffer the ultimate consequence – no success! So begin to tell yourself the good stuff! Change the direction of your thinking and begin to see the possibilities of success, not failure.

Remember, properly looked at, failure can help you further your future!

Bonus:

Questions to ask yourself when you “fail”:

What can I learn from this?
What did I do right in this?
Where did this go wrong?
How can I start again?
What resources do I need to make sure this doesn’t happen again?

Then use the answers to these questions to plot your new course. There is a choice to be bitter or be better….I choice better.

11/24/17: Co-Facilitation Strategy Sessions

“Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.”

I believe that co-facilitating a group is one of the most important and helpful steps in becoming a professional trainer. Even after one has gained proficiency in leading groups, co-facilitating is superior to working alone. This article will discuss some major advantages, some potential disadvantages, and some suggestions for avoiding problems in co-facilitating.

ADVANTAGES

Facilitating Group Development

One of the most convincing reasons for working with a colleague as a co-facilitator is to complement each other’s styles. One person may have a group-dynamics focus while the other may have an intra-individual focus. Together they may be able to monitor and facilitate individual and group development better than either of them could separately.

Dealing with Heightened Affect

In some groups (e.g., personal-growth groups or team building), highly emotional situations may arise, and the facilitator must be able to deal not only with persons who have a heightened affect but also with the “audience effect.” It is difficult to help an individual to work through deeply felt reactions and, at the same time, to assist other group members in integrating this experience in terms of its potential learning. In such a situation, it is always advantageous to have a co-facilitator. One facilitator can “work with” the person(s) experiencing significant emotions, while the other facilitator assists the other participants in dealing with their reactions to the situation.

Personal and Professional Development

Co-facilitating offers each partner support for his or her personal development. Facilitating can be a lonely activity; the opportunities for meaningful personal development are lessened by the complexity of the facilitator’s monitoring and intervening tasks. When there are co-facilitators, each can better work his or her personal-development issues both in and out of the group setting.

Another major advantage of co-facilitating is the opportunity for professional growth. Participants usually are not able to offer meaningful feedback on facilitator competence. When facilitators work together, they can provide each other with a rich source of professional reactions. In this way, each training experience becomes a practicum for the facilitators involved.

Synergistic Effect

The remark that “two heads are better than one” often has been validated experientially in consensus-seeking tasks. When people work together collaboratively, a synergistic effect often develops. That is, the outcome of the deliberation exceeds the sum of the contribution of the individuals. Co-facilitating can generate synergistic outcomes through the personal and professional interchange that results from working toward a common task.

Modeling

One way in which participants learn in training is by studying facilitators as behavioral models. Co-facilitating provides not only two models of individuals coping with their own life situations, but it also offers a model for meaningful, effective, two-person relationships. The interaction between the co-facilitators gives participants a way to gauge dyadic relationships. The likelihood that the training will transfer to the participants’ back home, everyday situations is increased.

Reduced Dependence

A recurring issue in training groups is the problem of dependence on the facilitator. Facilitators who work with many groups alone sometimes dread having repeatedly to face participants’ unresolved authority conflicts. With co-facilitators, the leadership is shared and, therefore, the dependence problem is dissipated somewhat.

Appropriate Pacing

A facilitator can pace himself or herself more effectively when working with a partner. Observing and intervening in a group session is demanding, and the facilitator sometimes is not able to relax enough to permit the process to emerge at its own rate. However, co-facilitators can check each other’s timing of events and provide some respite from the detailed monitoring necessary to provide meaningful interventions.

Sharp Focus

A final advantage is that issues can be focused more sharply when they are seen by two facilitators. Facilitators usually have “favorite” issues that are likely to emerge in their groups, and co-facilitating can offset biases.

POTENTIAL DISADVANTAGES

Different Orientations

Some dangers are, however, inherent in co-facilitation, and it is necessary to be aware of potential problems. Individuals with different orientations theoretical, technical, personal can easily impair each other’s effect in the group. It is, for example, difficult to imagine a good melding of a Tavistock-oriented “consultant” and an Esalen-trained facilitator. Such partners would likely discover themselves working at cross-purposes.

Extra Energy

Co-facilitating takes energy. Not only are the facilitators occupied with the development of the participants and of the group, but they also have to expend effort to develop and maintain the relationship that may be pivotal to the success of the training. The training sub goals include not only the facilitators’ personal and professional development, but also their relationship with each other.

Threat and Competition

Because two professionals in a group may constitute more of a threat to individual participants than one would, they may see co-facilitators as colluding with each other. The “clinic” sessions that co-facilitators engage in between training sessions can arouse suspicion and create an emotional distance between the facilitators and the participants.  Co-facilitators can become competitive with each other, too. Although they may deny any concern for popularity, they may, perhaps without knowing it, engage in behavior that meets other needs besides those inherent in the training.

Overtraining

It clearly is possible to “overtrain” a group, particularly with the presence of two active facilitators. It is important to recognize that too many interventions may stifle both participation and learning. This is especially true if facilitators play the “two-on-one” game, simultaneously attempting to interpret and facilitate one participant. Group-member helpfulness is one of the most potent dimensions of group training events. After an initiation period, participants as well as facilitators can make meaningful interventions. It is important that the facilitators stay out of the way in order to permit this to occur.

Blind Spots

Co-facilitators may have mutual blind spots in observing inter- and intra-individual dynamics, and it is possible to reinforce each other’s failure to attend to particular areas. If co-facilitators are similar in their theory and technique, it is quite likely that they will pay attention to the same data. Thus, they may neglect (or pay less attention to) other data, thereby increasing the possibility that they will fail to notice significant learning opportunities that are outside their normal purview.

A Misleading Model

In any human situation, there is the possibility that people will react to assumptions rather than to clear understandings of one another. This, of course, can occur with co-facilitators if they are not clear about each other’s positions on recurring and predictable group issues. In this event, they can provide an ineffective model for the participants.  When the relationship between co-facilitators is tense, mistrustful, and/or closed, the modeling is negative. Participants may mistakenly conclude that what “works” in a human relation is to behave in ways directly opposed to the values on which you are based.

Different Rhythms

A final potential disadvantage in co-facilitating is that the facilitators’ intervention rhythms may be different. One may intervene on a “beat” of ten, while the other intervenes on a beat of three. The facilitator who is slower to react or who hesitates in the hope that the participants will take responsibility for the maintenance of the group may find obtrusive the partner who intervenes more rapidly. Disjunctive contacts that may result between the co-facilitators provide a negative model for the participants.

AVOIDING THE DANGERS

Facilitators who are considering joining together to work with a group can engage in a number of activities to obviate these potential disadvantages. The obvious first step is to share orientations to and experiences with similar kinds of group situations.

A second way of avoiding the problems of ineffective co-facilitation is to solicit feedback frequently and regularly. As a check on behavioral perception, there is no substitute for honest and straightforward reactions.

In order to counteract one facilitator’s tendency to overtrain the group and to cut into the rhythm of interventions of the other, it may be useful to count to ten—or twenty—before intervening. If any participant speaks during that time, the count is begun again at zero.

It is important that the co-facilitators be honest both in presenting themselves and in soliciting feedback from participants. In this way, they can de-emphasize the impact of their presence in the group. Each co-facilitator needs to monitor the reasons for his or her behavior in the group. Each intervention should be “located,” that is, the facilitators need to know what they are observing, what they are responding to, what the needs in the group seem to be, and what the intervention is designed to elicit. Otherwise, it is likely that the intervention will meet the personal needs of a facilitator at the expense of the needs of the participants.

Testing Assumptions

It seems axiomatic that all assumptions need to be tested continually. Facilitators clearly are not above making errors in communication. It is critical that they check the bases of their professional judgments.
If co-facilitators experience difficulty in working together, they may solicit a third party as a consultant. This activity can produce a great deal of learning not only for themselves but also for any observers.

Personal Awareness

In confronting the potential disadvantages of co-facilitating, partners can create for themselves opportunities to experiment with and to enlarge both their personal development and their professional expertise. The following inventory can help facilitators to become more aware of their assumptions, preferences, and motivations in facilitating groups.

  • Learning Style: (Write a brief statement to explain your concept of how people learn.)
  • Personal Motivation: (Complete the following sentence: I am involved in training because . . .)
  • Expectations: (What things do you expect to happen in the type of group in which you will be working? What would be the best thing that could happen? What would be the worst thing?)
  • Intervention Style: (What are your typical responses in the type of group in which you will be working?)

Here are some other examples:

  1. When starting the group, I usually . . .
  2. When someone talks too much, I usually . . .
  3. When the group is silent, I usually . . .
  4. When an individual in the group is silent for a long period of time, I usually . . .
  5. When someone becomes upset or cries, I usually . . .
  6. When someone comes in late, I usually . . .When someone introduces outside information about family or friends into the group, I usually . . .
  7. When group members are excessively polite and unwilling to confront one another, I usually . . .
  8. When there is conflict in the group, I usually . . .
  9. When there is a group attack on one individual, I usually . . .
  10. When group members discuss sexual feelings about one another or about me, I usually . . .
  11. If there is physical violence, I usually . . .
  12. My favorite interventions in this type of group are:
  13. My typical “intervention rhythm” (fast/slow) is:
  14. My style characteristically is more (a) nurturing or (b) confronting.
  15.  The thing that makes me most uncomfortable in groups like this is:
  16. Other information about me that might be useful to a co-facilitator (e.g., FIRO-B scores, social style, NLP preference, training/learning style, etc.) is:

Coordinating with the Co-Facilitator

In planning to co-facilitate a training event, there are several things that trainers can do to enhance the process. The first is to establish a personal connection with each other for at least an hour to share information and expectations. This includes sharing responses to the inventory in this section, discussing professional experiences, and explaining what personal issues each anticipates working on in the group. It is a very good idea to state some of your co-facilitation patterns and to indicate the behaviors that your co-facilitator might see as idiosyncratic. It also would be helpful if each of you were to note issues that have arisen in your past work with other facilitators.

When you have shared this personal information, it is time to define together the training goals of the event on which you are about to work; to reach consensus about the expectations and experiences of the participants; and to discuss your reactions to the makeup of the group, its size, and any other special considerations. Then work to reach agreement on the following issues.

Operating Norms

  1. Where will each of you sit during the sessions?
  2. When presenting and not presenting?
  3. Who will open and end each session?
  4. Are there differences in status between you? If so, how will this be handled?
  5. How will it be presented to the participants?
  6. Will there be open-ended or specific time periods for starting, breaks, etc.?
  7. Will you end at specific times?
  8. What are your preferences for attendance for yourselves and for the participants?
  9. Will either of you be free to leave the group or will you both remain part of the group during all sessions?
  10. How (and possibly when) will you make theory inputs, and which of you will do what?
  11. How will you work to facilitate transfer of learning and back-home application?
  12. Will there be follow-up and, if so, how will it be done?

Co-Facilitating Style

  1. Where, when, and how will you deal with issues between you?
  2. Can you agree to disagree? How much tolerance is there for differences?
  3. Will you encourage or discourage conflict?
  4. How much of your behavior will be role determined and how much will be personal and individual?
  5. Is it possible to use each other’s energy; that is, can one of you be “out” while the other is “in?”
  6. How will you establish and maintain growth-producing norms?
  7. What is non-negotiable with each of you as a co-facilitator?

Ethics

  1. What are your responsibilities if someone in the group has psychological difficulty?
  2. Are you responsible for referral?
  3. What responsibilities do you have after the training experience is over?
  4. What responsibilities, if any, do you have for screening participants?
  5. Are you adequately qualified?
  6. How will you communicate your qualifications to the participants?
  7. What are your ethical standards and typical corrective measures with regard to issues such as sexuality, prejudice, and so on? (In the U.S., offensive communication based on sex, race, religion, age, disability, or country of origin tends to be prohibited by law.)
  8. After sharing information and discussing it, it might be a good idea to take a break in order to review and consider the information that you have received from each other, and then meet again to discuss any items that need clarification.

Clinics

“Clinicking” is the term that Fruition uses for the brief, “how-are-we-doing, what-should-we-consider-changing” meetings that co-facilitators have during the breaks in a training event and at the end of each day. Some of the questions that you may want to ask are as follows:

Diagnosis

  1. On a scale of one to ten, how did things go in this session?
  2. What is happening in the group(s)?
  3. Are there any problems that need to be addressed? If so, what are we going to do about them?

Soliciting Feedback

  1. What did I do that was effective?
  2. What did I do that was ineffective?
  3. How am I doing as a co-facilitator?
  4. To what degree are we colluding, that is, not sharing all the information we have?

Renegotiation

  1. As we re-examine our contract, do we find anything that we ought to renegotiate?
  2. How are we feeling about each other?
  3. What is each of us going to do in the next session?

Finally, it is important to have a debriefing session at the end of the training event in order to conduct a final clinic and to discuss what happened, what was or should have been done, and what each of you learned from the experience. The following questions may be helpful at this time:

  1. To what extent were the training goals achieved?
  2. Under what conditions would we work together again?
  3. What are our personal and professional learnings from this event?
  4. What can I do personally to improve my training competence?

Facilitation is an art that should be developed over time, very much like a skilled pianist.  No one expects us to just walk up to a Baldwin Grand and perform Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4.  What is expected is a serious period of time that is used for diligent practice, preparation and patience.  View the art of facilitation, whether it’s “co” or “solo” in the same matter – an ability to effectively disseminate information that enhances human development.  Strive to touch the heart, evoke thinking, and stir emotion.  This will move your audience to action every time!

R. Wade Younger, CSP
wade@wadeyounger.com

401 North Tryon Street
10th Floor
Charlotte, North Carolina, 28202, U.S.A
980.200.3000

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