Leadership

Practice Doesn’t Always Make Perfect

Why Training from Day One Just Makes Sense

We’ve all heard the expression “practice makes perfect.” When I was young, my dad would provide me with all kinds of objects of curiosity to keep me active, help me learn discipline and (most of the time) test my resolve. My first BB gun, a set of weights, baseball bats/gloves and footballs all were handed to me with instruction from dad to “get out there, use these things, and get good at them.”day1training

Now picture yourself at eight, nine or even 49… and someone simply hands you something to do and tells you to go out and get good at it. Don’t get me wrong, my dad was a great man and meant well, but it was near impossible to succeed without basic instruction and direction, encouragement when I succeeded and consequences when I didn’t.

Each of us has witnessed firsthand the results of self-directed instruction without skill or discipline. Schools and businesses are littered with self-proclaimed experts in skills untested. Employees are placed into jobs with some preparation, but not always tested or incentivized to perfect their trade, service or skill. We rock along looking for performance, and performance doesn’t come. When performance doesn’t come, the employee and employer become frustrated and perhaps disengaged. They try “emergency room” triage education and encouragement, then move to minor – and sometimes major – surgery (i.e., classes, seminars, coaches and mentors). More often than not, it’s too late.

Blueline Simulations offers a variety of blended learning solutions to give your employees the skills and strategies they need to succeed from the beginning… thereby avoiding frustration, disengagement and the need to backpedal in an effort to get things on the right track. For you, this means your strategic goals are being pursued. For your employees, it means added competence and confidence to meet those goals.

Our engaging curriculum includes immersive onboarding experiences that engage and prepare new hires for success from day one – a move that could save your organization millions of dollars. We also offer leadership development for new leaders and business transformation for organizations that want to set their employees up for success through change.

I invite you to contact us to learn more about any of our business acumen options, custom classroom simulations, Blueline Blueprint™ learning visuals or other innovative delivery methods that have been generating notable business results in leading organizations worldwide for more than 13 years.

By the Numbers: Showing some love for business literacy

Watch the faces of your employees the next time you tell them they need to learn business literacy. You’ll likely see blank stares as they imagine themselves adrift in a sea of numbers, ratios and acronyms.

Financial acumen training” doesn’t get much love from the folks in organizations who would benefit from it most. But we’re on a mission to change that. 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 entire organization?bl-financial-acumen-training

It turns out that “excitement” and “fun” are not such difficult goals in business literacy training. The trick 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 one is an event, a decision, a problem and/or a human drama that played out in the halls of your organization. Tell the story well, and that squiggly upward-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 into the deep waters of financial acumen.
  • Making it fun. Business literacy training is a lot more palatable when flavored with high-engagement learning techniques such as “gaming” principles, compelling story lines and plenty of opportunities to engage with colleagues.

Adult learning theory says that retention increases when learners are able to make immediate application of the concepts to the challenges and pressures they’re facing right now. Blueline Simulations’ business acumen training does just that.

Contact us today to discuss more about how we can increase the relevance, urgency and fun of your business acumen training.

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Business Acumen Training: A Quick (and Lasting) Bottom-Line Impact

Clear ROI has been the Holy Grail for training and development for years. And even more so these days, with heightened sensitivity to cost and delivering maximum return to the business. So how do you answer the ROI question when your boss comes calling?

In more than 25 years in the training industry, I’ve encountered only one type of off-the-shelf solution that consistently has an immediate impact on the bottom line: developing business acumen.

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Surprisingly, business acumen is a challenge that exists in even the most high-performing organizations. Without a business acumen lens, employees are unable to see or understand the impact their work has on the larger enterprise. Business acumen training solutions give employees a practical understanding of how each decision they make can impact the business and their future.

Imagine for a minute that everyone in your organization, from housekeeping to the CEO, practically understands how the decisions they make contribute to your bottom line. It’s a feasible vision, and I’ve seen companies make amazing strides by equipping their employees with such an understanding. Let’s have a little fun with the math:

Let’s say your company has 5,000 employees and that every employee makes a decision that can save the company $1 a day. That translates to $1,825,000 in a single year!

If your business typically returns a net profit of 10%, that means your business would have to generate $18,250,000 in revenues to have the same impact. Alternatively, imagine how much that $1,825,000 can return to the business over the next decade: more than $6,000,000 at a 12% return on capital.

And this is a conservative scenario! Imagine if every employee committed to making a daily decision that saves your company not just $1, but $5, $10 or even $100 a day.

In my experience, employees adopt this sensitivity only once they’re equipped with an enterprise big-picture view of the organization and understand the drivers of both profitability and cash flow.

So what do you say? Are you looking for a way to make a quick impact on the bottom line – one that pays dividends for years to come? Check out Blueline’s broad range of business acumen solutions. Then contact us to discuss how to put these solutions to work for you.

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Taking Ownership: What Your Leaders Don’t Know Can Hurt You!

Many years ago, I completed the grueling process of proving my senior thesis. I researched big restaurant chains that had both company-owned stores and franchised stores. My thesis – which I was able to prove – was that the franchise stores outperformed those owned by the company.

Why? For one simple reason: because franchisees have more on the line… and therefore more reason to think and act like the business is theirs.

Knowledge is power
Think about this as it applies to large organizations. Many of the world’s most admired companies have decentralized their business operations. Top executives worldwide are pushing decision-making down into the organization.

Yet while these companies celebrate innovation and intrapreneurship (the corporate version of entrepreneurship), the vast majority find that their leaders still fail to think and act like business owners. They know their jobs, they know the organization, they know how to build relationships, manage employees and serve customers. But they don’t really understand the business. They don’t know the financial metrics that lead to success. And that, research shows, hinders the organization’s ability to achieve its strategic priorities.owners-fail

So why don’t leaders at these high-performing organizations act like business owners? After dedicating the past 25 years to training and developing the workforces of some of the world’s highest-valued companies, I’ve come to a startlingly modest conclusion: they simply don’t know how.

At Blueline Simulations, we have many years of experience addressing this knowledge gap. The solution is more than simply teaching business finance and strategy, and it goes beyond incentives. The most impactful answer is for leaders to experience what it’s like to be a business owner. They need to see, understand and experience first hand how their role impacts the top and bottom lines – and how making decisions based on financial indicators drives strategy execution across the board.

There’s never been a more critical time to maximize business results. And there’s never been a better time to help all of your leaders succeed by thinking and acting like business owners.

Take the first step by downloading this simple matrix that provides a side-by-side comparison of Blueline’s business finance & strategy programs today. Then call us at 813.269.7467 to discuss the best way to equip your leaders to act like key stakeholders in your organization.

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Reflections on Coaching: Why a Mirror Might Be Your Most Valuable Development Tool

Organizations worldwide have spent hundreds of millions of dollars over the years on peer assessments and live skill practice, all in an effort to hold a mirror up to their leaders.

The goal? To get leaders to see themselves as their employees and others see them – namely in coaching situations – and build on their strengths while improving on their weaknesses.

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This approach reminds me of a time when I coached my sons’ youth sports teams. I was that guy on the sidelines, screaming at a group of 8- to 9-year-olds to do this, stop doing that, run over here and block over there – all in the name of winning.

Of course, at the time I didn’t see myself that way. After all, coaching pre-teens in an athletic environment is easy, right? Kids trust quickly, expect to make mistakes, love to learn, and the culture on the playing field is one of constant coaching. Besides, I cared about the kids and enjoyed the incredible environment in which they trusted me and craved my coaching.

But then came the video

I asked my wife to shoot video of some games so I could watch them afterward and look for ways to help the children improve. What I discovered came as a shock: It was me who needed to improve. The videos were key to learning about and improving my own coaching weaknesses.

Through the videos, my coaching style evolved, and I became supremely confident in my skills with the children. I discovered how to challenge them, pick them up when they were down and even occasionally inspire them to greatness. To this day, many of my sons’ friends still refer to me as “coach.”

Your associates, of course, aren’t children in a sports environment; however, I believe there are still some important lessons to be learned from my experience. To enjoy success as a leader, you need to:

  • Build a culture of trust and constant coaching. Encourage your people to take risks and make mistakes.
  • Honestly assess your skills as a coach. You likely model a compilation of everyone who has coached you over the years, which may or may not be a good thing.
  • Find a “mirror” so that you can watch your skills evolve over time. What you see is likely to be truly eye-opening and possibly career-changing.

If accessibility and cost make finding a “mirror” difficult, I’ve got great news: Blueline’s simulation technology offers an exceptionally affordable mirror that enables anyone who needs it to develop and hone their coaching skills in a safe environment. Imagine rehearsing delivering difficult feedback in a range of real-life performance improvement scenarios to a broad range of employee personalities. Imagine using these newfound skills to build a culture of trust and constant coaching. Imagine the positive impact your high-performing team will have on your organization. Demo the simulation now to experience the possibilities.

Contact the coaching specialists at Blueline today to learn more about our leadership-related offerings or any of our custom classroom simulations, Blueline Blueprint™ learning visuals or other innovative delivery methods that have been generating notable business results in leading organizations worldwide for more than 13 years.