Areas of Expertise

Respect is one of those words and concepts that carries with it big ideas and expectations

Part 3:

Equally critical to creating and maintaining trust among project teams has to do with having respect for each other. That includes respect for the client organization…what they’re trying to accomplish, the steps that they must go through in their process and their challenges, and respect for what each team member brings with them to a project.

Respect is one of those words and concepts that carries with it big ideas and expectations. It happens that in my role as project manager, sometimes I’m the only one who may have worked with everyone on the team, and often the team members may not even know each other. And yes, in those cases there can be skepticism about the value of team members, what they can contribute and initial impressions of personality, knowledge and/or skill may need to be overcome. In building trust in these situations there are some things I’ve found that work well.

  • It’s important to allow each team member to share with me, and when appropriate, with the other team members, the experiences and ideas they have that they think are relevant to the project at hand. That doesn’t mean that at times discussions aren’t stopped because they are headed in the wrong direction, but even that can be done in a respectful manner that acknowledges the person offering the suggestions.
  • It’s important to be mindful of personal preferences and to accommodate those whenever possible. It may seem small, but being considerate of meeting times and locations, of restaurant choices/dietary restrictions of team members, and of family or other personal obligations can go a long way in building trust.
  • It’s important to understand the capabilities of people and to respect that they may need additional help in new areas OR that they may be a great team resource and can provide assistance in a particular area of expertise.

Creating and Maintaining Trust Among Project Teams

Part 2:

project-blog2It won’t come as a surprise that clear communication is vital to building relationships with project team members. But what does that mean? It encompasses a myriad of things when bringing people together to work on a project.

  • It’s not assuming that the members of the project team want to be communicated with in the same way that you like to receive or deliver information.  It’s important to find out each team member’s communication preferences, especially in this world of various communication devices and methods, and to be flexible enough, when possible, to accommodate those differences. And to trust that the information will flow when, and as, needed.
  • It’s anticipating client and internal team member needs and asking great questions with sincerity and without ulterior motives, then proactively engaging in dialogue that leads to meeting those needs or searching for alternative solutions that can be agreed upon.
  • It’s also about identifying and interpreting non-verbal cues. Doing a literature review will net varying statistics regarding percentages of non-verbal vs. verbal communication, but for the purposes of this discussion, that’s really not important. What’s important is that we know that non-verbal communication is a very significant part of communication, and we need to pay attention to and acknowledge what we observe…and act accordingly. It makes an impression when we notice the little things about others and helps to build the relationship.
  • Building trust through communication means deciding to communicate even when the message isn’t pleasant. I find that sometimes team members want to shield sharing a message that may be unpleasant or that there may be hesitancy to deal with something that is messy. In my experience, THIS NEVER WORKS! I have found that in the long run, hitting situations head on and dealing with them leads to trusting relationships — a lot better than pretending that a problem doesn’t exist. What a great way to build trust by acknowledging with the team that yes, what’s facing us is difficult/not what we expected/will take us some time and effort to figure out, but that we have the tools to do it and we’ll do it together.

Communication is important to building trust because it’s how we stay in the reality of the situation we’re working in – it’s how we gather information about how we’re doing and what we need to start, stop, or continue — as we work together throughout the project. It’s the way we course correct as, and when needed, and it’s one way each team member knows that they matter.

Learning Business Literacy… and Eating Your Vegetables

Watch the faces of your employees next time you tell them they need to learn business literacy.

I bet they look a lot like my ten-year-old when I tell him he has to eat his vegetables.

“Financial acumen training” doesn’t get much love from the folks in organizations who would benefit from it the most. They imagine themselves adrift in a sea of numbers, ratios, and acronyms. (“EBITDA?” Really?)

At Blueline Simulations, we’re on a mission to get your people excited about business acumen. After all, what’s more energizing than recognizing that the work you do at your desk has an immediate impact on the financial health of the enterprise?

It turns out that “excitement” and “fun” are not such difficult goals in business literacy training. The trick – and yes, we are about to share some of our “secret sauce” with you – is to make it real and relevant. We do this by:

  •  Focusing on the story, not the numbers. See all of those numbers on the balance sheet? Every one of them is a story. Behind each is an event, a decision, a problem, and a human drama that played out in the halls of your organization. Tell the story well, and that squiggly, upwards-trending line on the graph is suddenly imbued with urgency.
  • Changing the point of view. A lot of business literacy training is written from the high-level perspective of an accounting professor. But the employees’ line of sight (and influence) begins at his or her own desk. Make the connection between the job and the financials first. Once you’ve established that critical context, you can lead the learner surprisingly far out into the deep waters of financial acumen.
  •  Making it fun.  With a little melted cheddar, my ten-year-old will eat his broccoli and ask for more. Business literacy training is a lot more palatable when flavored with high-engagement learning techniques – such as “gaming” principles, compelling story lines, and lots of opportunities to engage with their colleagues.

Adult learning theory says that retention increases when learners are able to make immediate applications of the concepts to the challenges and pressures that they are facing right now.

Give us a call at Blueline Simulations, and we’ll tell you more about how we can increase the relevance, urgency, and fun of your business literacy training. And if you ask, we’ll even tell you our secret broccoli casserole recipe.

What do you do when your sales model no longer works?

Your marketplace is changing in fundamental ways. Your customer’s business model has changed.  The decision makers have changed.  Not surprisingly, the sales model that you and your competitors have relied on for decades is no longer delivering the results you need.  You aren’t sure that you even need a sales force anymore.  But there are pockets of success in your organization.

What do you do?

One major pharmaceutical company reached out to Blueline Simulations to help revamp their sales model to better meet evolving market conditions and customer expectations. Building on the company’s market research that showed clearly that most customers still value pharmaceutical sales reps, but don’t value the industry’s standard sales approach, we used our Voice of the Business (VoB) process to identify what was needed in a new sales model.

Using our VoB process, we culled our client’s research for insights, and identified best practices in existing pockets of success. Then, drawing upon our decades of sales training experience, together with our client, we mapped out a new customer-focused sales model, defined the core skills and competencies required to execute the new model, and identified key triggers we could use to engage and inspire the representatives.

Of course, designing a new sales model is only the start. The real key to results is driving adoption in the field. The company had already designated three states to use to test the new customer approach and we helped them create a roll-out strategy for testing the new model. The training design utilized a custom Blueline Blueprint as a central element in a 3-day meeting in which representatives were introduced to the new sales model. We used the Blueprint Learning Visual as a launch point for a broad range of practice and coaching activities led by sales managers – to provide practice, and allow time for concerns and questions to be explored.

The six-month test in the three states proved very successful. Based on learnings from the initial pilot, the sales model was further refined and then rolled out across the US and eventually, with adjustments for local markets, applied across the globe.

Is your market rapidly shifting? Are your customers’ expectations changing significantly? Is your historically successful sales model no longer getting the results you need?

What do you do?  Give Blueline a call and we’ll help you explore possible solutions to get you back on track to the results you are looking for.

Creating and Maintaining Trust Among Project Teams

Part 1:

In our business, like most others, working effectively with project teams is critical to our success. Today’s constantly changing marketplace is forcing teams to evolve while demanding higher levels of productivity and efficiency.

The modern workforce is much more diverse now than it has been in years past, not just with ethnic or gender diversity, but with diverse work styles, diverse personal priorities, generational diversity, etc.

All of this is changing the nature of the project team and workplace dynamics. Today, we must frequently consider things like:

  • Resources external to a physical location as team members
  • Flexible schedules
  • Global time zones
  • Heavy work loads
  • Different work styles
  • A plethora of communication methods and technologies

Because there is so much being said about trust in the workplace, I thought I would weigh in on the importance of creating trust among these diverse project teams. It has been my pleasure to work with some very talented professionals throughout my career, and sometimes I wonder how and why I’ve been so lucky to have derived so much satisfaction from what I’ve chosen to do. I do understand that a good part of that is due to the people I have worked with, what we have been able to create, and the relationships that we have created while working together.

So when you think about it, how does it all work? How can these people with distinct characteristics/needs/backgrounds/values/technical know-how trust each other enough to work together to create success… however that is defined for a project?

Over the next several weeks, I plan to share a few specific ideas and experiences with you. See you next week…