“I wish we had more meetings around here.”
-Said no one, ever

It’s a lot more likely that you and your colleagues often wish for fewer meetings. But of course, the real issue is not how many meetings we have, but how many meetings are actually worth the time spent. Here are three tips for making your meetings effective:

1. Pay attention to the basics. We all know that effective meetings have clear objectives, agendas distributed in advance, a scribe to record action steps, a neutral facilitator when possible, and the right attendees. The problem is that we get busy and think we can skip the basics, especially with routine daily or weekly meetings. But the basics are even more important with routine meetings, because they happen on a regular basis and therefore can be major time wasters if not run well.

2. When determining the objectives of your meeting, put yourself in the shoes of every attendee, and every person affected by the meeting. What are their needs, and what should the meeting outcomes be? What should people know or do as a result of the meeting? Design your meeting with these criteria in mind.

3. Once the meeting is planned, don’t assume everyone knows how to communicate effectively during the meeting. A good meeting is one in which a balance of advocacy and inquiry is maintained, by which we mean that people spend roughly equal amounts of time expressing their own perspectives and seeking to understand the perspectives of others. This takes skill not only in presenting information, but also in asking good quality questions and actively listening. Our goal is to get all the relevant information out on the table, in service of the needs and outcomes you identified in #2 above, and that takes skillful discussion. A good meeting planner will set the example by modeling skillful discussion.

You may never get people to stop wishing for fewer meetings, but your goal should be to have people leave your meetings feeling that it was time well spent.
Do you and your team need help improving the effectiveness of your meetings? Join us for a free one and a half hour webinar on August 21, 2018 at 10:00 PST/ 11:00 MST/ 12:00 CST/ 1:00 EST.

You can register here: https://ciinternational.webex.com/ciinternational/k2/j.php?MTID=tf9b8d4daa30cc476b84f64ea599842f7

For more information about making your meetings worth the time or any of CI’s offerings please contact Wally Welgraven at wwelgraven@ciinternational.com or 507-227-5111.

Although she’d been in management roles for several years, and was considered a strong and capable leader, Mary often found delegation to be both challenging and frustrating. “I know I’m coming across as a micro-manager sometimes, but it seems if I don’t spell it out step-by-step things just don’t get done”, she shared with her mentor Joan. “And, if I give people free rein to use their initiative I get results that look wonderful but are so far beyond the practical that I end up having to tell people “no”. I need everyone to be on their “A-game” these days, and it’s just not happening. Frankly, everyone in my division, from me on down, is getting frustrated and I’m starting to see people disengage. I’m worried and need some help.”

Joan nodded empathetically. “I understand the challenge. When we don’t delegate well, people either self-limit and wait to be told specifically what to do, or they go so far afield that we’re not able to accept their results. This is a shared responsibility, though. You don’t empower those who work for you. They empower themselves with your help.”

Have you found yourself in Mary’s shoes before? Leaders often struggle with finding the right balance regarding delegation. At the same time, employees struggle with how to step into empowerment and take on duties commensurate with their talents and capabilities. If you’re interested in learning a straightforward five-step model that addresses both these issues – a model you can apply immediately to increase your own and others’ effectiveness.

Please join us for a one-hour webinar on “Delegation that Empowers” on July 24, 2018 at 10:00 PST/11:00 MST/12:00 CST/ 1:00 EST hosted by John McCann.

Register here: https://ciinternational.webex.com/ciinternational/k2/j.php?MTID=tc61bfb768265ee04f28f8c09a71cf3e0 

By Terri Harrell, M.A.

One of the biggest challenges to the success of a blended learning program is that it be experienced as one program rather than multiple components.

Each component needs to build off the one before, skills need to be linked and reinforced, and participants need to be mapped into where they’ve been, where they are, and where they are going. To ensure you achieve an integrated approach, you must begin with the end in mind by considering several factors during the design phase. Those include understanding program requirements, identifying the best program structure to achieve requirements, deciding what learning methodologies will work for the content and the environment, matching the content to the methodology, and identifying how to measure the success of the program. The remainder of this article discusses ways to ensure you begin with the end in mind.

Gathering Requirements

Before diving into content or technology, it is important to gain a full understanding of program requirements. To do this, there are many questions that need to be answered. Below are typical questions organized by categories.

The organization –
What does the organization hope to gain from the learning experiences?
What is the culture or organizational norms around what the organization hopes to gain?
What are the norms around training and development?
The target audience –
What will the population expect in terms of training?
What will they tolerate?
The content 
What content will best achieve the organization’s goals?
What content will lead to behavioral change in the participants?
The instructors –
Who will facilitate the learning?
The logistics –
What is the budget?
Are there travel/infrastructure constraints?

From the Answers to Key Questions Comes:
1. Program Goals – outlines the overarching targets and focus of the program.
2. Objectives – defines the desired measurable learning objectives participants will achieve upon program completion.
3. Learning Outcomes – defines the means through which participants will demonstrate proficiency in learning and realizing the objectives established for the course.

Program Structure

Types of Blends:
1. Anchor blend: Initial classroom experience followed by independent experiences
2. Bookend blend: Initial and closing experiences with classroom
3. Field blend: Employee-centric independent and facilitated experiences

Example of high-level pros and cons of each:


Blended learning programs typically feature the following blend of methodologies, among others:

Matching Content to Methodology
One way to match content with method is to use the Tell–>Show–>Do–>Transfer framework. Depending on the content, the learning stages can be addressed through different methodologies.
For instance, the Tell and Show may be achieved through online training. This provides the participant the foundation before trying the skill. The Do may be an exercise or role-play in the classroom, and the Transfer may be in a learning team or rotational assignment.

Establishing Metrics
There are as many ways to evaluate a blended learning program as there are program possibilities. Examples of metrics include:
End of Course Evaluations – Conduct level 1and level 2 evaluations at the end of all classroom sessions and distance learning sessions. These evaluations should collect information such as overall course reactions, quality of materials and instructors, and data on level of learning for each content area taught during the session. Use this data to refine approach throughout the program.
Pre- and Post Multi-Rater Skills Assessment – Conduct a multi-rater assessment on the competencies targeted in the program prior to commencement of the program and again 6 months after program completion. Compare participants’ level of proficiency for each competency from the pre-assessment to that of the post-assessment. Data can be analyzed for each competency for the group as a whole and for relevant sub-groups. This is considered a Level 3 Evaluation – Behavior on the Job or Level of Learning
Questions at the end of the Post Multi-Rater Skills Assessment – Add both forced choice and open ended questions to the end of the participant version and the supervisor version of the post multi-rater skills assessment. The purpose of the questions on the participant version is to evaluate how well participants are able to utilize new skills on the job as well as to evaluate the effectiveness of the coaching aspect of the program. The questions at the end of the supervisor version are to evaluate the impact the participants’ involvement in the program had on the organization (e.g., participants’ change in skill level, impact of having the participant out of the job, etc.). This is considered a Level 3 Evaluation – Behavior on the Job or Level of Learning.
Organizational Impact Study – Collect initial and post-program evaluation data such as how participants faired in relation to employees of the same level in the areas of retention, promotion, and awards. This is considered a Level 4 – Organizational Impact.

Join us for our free webinar on “An Integrated Approach to Blended Learning” on June 5, 2018 at 10:00 PST/11:00 MST/12:00 CST/1:00 EST hosted by Terri Harrell: Register here

For more information about Blended Learning or any of CI’s offerings please contact Wally Welgraven at wwelgraven@ciinternational.com or 507-227-5111.

By: K.J. McCorry, Productivity Consultant and Author of Organize Your Work Day in No Time

It is very stressful and overwhelming trying to remember all the actions and tasks one needs to take on a daily or weekly basis. Having a sound system to manage and organize tasks is essential to effective time management practices.

Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, explains why the human brain struggles to process information that is presented “with the intensity and the quantity and the speed we find ourselves surrounded by today.” Carr explains that our working memory – everything comprising the consciousness at a given moment – can only hold between two and four items at a time. Hence we need a clear, reliable way to keep track of all the things we need to do!

The key to managing priorities effectively is to have a method and system to track activities where you can easily identify priorities. Electronic task systems, like Outlook or Gmail, provide a way to track date, context and who the task was delegated from and therefore help you manage, track, sort and plan around priorities.

With so many things to do everyday, knowing what to do first and/or is most important can seem daunting and overwhelming. Being able to manage priorities increases productivity and is the sign of successful organization skills.

The following steps provide a framework of how to manage and tackle priorities.

Step 1: Use One Task System: It is important to have one master location to track tasks. Having multiple lists and/or scattered bits of paper and Post-it notes, makes it difficult to plan your day and keep on track. Productivity applications, such as Outlook or Gmail have separate Task/ To Do functions which track your action items by date and on your calendar.

Step 2: Identify the Priorities: Set aside 30 minutes a week to identify your priorities from your master task list. Also, review your email, calendar, task list, meeting notes and paper items for those activities that have a due date in the next week. Once you have identified all the activities, now determine which items are crucial to get done first based on type of activity and who delegated it to you. Being clear about what you need to take action on and your current workload provides you the information on how to prioritize those crucial activities.

Step 3: Plan Time in Your Calendar: Then, determine how much time each of these activities will take to complete. Review your calendar and determine which day and time you can get these crucial and high priority items completed. Most individuals find the morning time a good time to complete priorities when you are fresh and have high energy.

Step 4: Get Focused: Once you have the time allocated and know the priorities you need to complete, then it is important to create a focused and non-distractive environment. Set the stage to reduce interruptions and distractions such as; close your office door, let your colleagues know you are busy, or close your email program. Set yourself up for success by creating an effective environment to get the priority actions done as efficiently as possible.

In today’s world, it is impossible to get all the actions you want to do done in a single day. There will always be something that needs to be left behind. The key is to focus on ‘what is next’ and use your task list to help you prioritize and focus.

For more information about Getting Tasks Done, join us for a free webinar on May 1, 2018 at  10:00 PST/11:00 MST/12:00 CST/ 1:00 EST hosted by our national recognized author and expert, K.J. McCorry, or contact Wally Welgraven at wwelgraven@ciinternational.com or 507-227-5111 regarding this webinar or any of CI’s offerings.

Most workplaces are made up of good people, wanting to work in an atmosphere of mutual respect, in support of organizational success. So why does sexual harassment nonetheless occur? What factors contribute to the likelihood of bad behavior? How can organizations equip their leaders and employees with the knowledge and tools needed to create a positive workplace culture?

These are the questions on a lot of people’s minds. Further, how can good hearted leaders recognize individual and organizational blind spots that can contribute to an unhealthy workplace environment? What do leaders need to know when it comes to sexual harassment?

The Extent of Sexual Harassment: 

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) received 27,000 complaints of sexual harassment in 2016, accounting for roughly 30% of all discrimination complaints. These complaints came from all types of industries including government, medical, technical, law, financial, transportation, fitness, entertainment, media, politics, etc.; they came from all sizes of organizations and from every state; they included male, female and transgender victims.

Furthermore, according to the EEOC’s acting Chair Victoria Lipnic, only about 30% of victims who experience harassment ever complain internally and even fewer are likely to file a charge with the EEOC.

The Cost of Sexual Harassment:

The costs for the victims of sexual harassment can be physical and psychological as well as financial. Studies show many victims experience increased anxiety, depression, sleeplessness and a host of other physical issues. The organization is directly impacted as well. Many victims report leaving their positions for lower paying jobs just to get out of the situation. In fact, research by sociologist Heather McLaughlin and others, shows that 80% of people who’ve been harassed leave their jobs within two years.

What Organizations Can Do to Prevent Sexual Harassment:

There are many actions organizations can take to create a work environment that is respectful and inclusive; where harassment is not likely to occur. These actions include:

1. Develop, implement and practice a good anti-harassment policy. Make sure you have a complete sexual harassment policy and complaint procedure. Add examples of unacceptable behaviors and potential consequences. Ensure it is publicized and all employees have access to it.

2. Create a culture of mutual respect. Focus on creating an environment where people understand what’s acceptable because they see it modeled by all levels of leadership through language, behavior and daily interactions. Furthermore, create a sense of responsibility in all employees for a workplace free of harassment.

3. Never discount claims. Dismissing or discounting employee complaints will have a domino effect inside an organization because it inadvertently validates unacceptable behavior which permeates the organization’s culture. It also rewards and legitimizes bad behavior and can have a disastrous effect once exposed on the future sustainability of the company, or the reputation of the Agency.

4. Provide training to managers and employees. Review your current training on sexual harassment and the organization’s strategy for delivering this training. Be sure the training is up to date, contains the right information and activities to make it engaging and effective, and is delivered to every employee, including executive leadership. Also ensure the training and communication around harassment prevention is championed by leadership.