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Breakthrough Strategy for Rapid Skill Development

AlexanderHancock is proud to present a breakthrough, creative way to address a critical need – the lack of interpersonal communication skills in managers and other key professionals. Our new Rapid Skill Developmenttm approach is the result of over 30 years of research and practice with thousands of managers and other professionals in a wide variety of organizations.

Rapid Skill Development involves intensive small group practice and coaching in a compressed time period, and is customized to each individual participant.

Many of today’s businesses hire and promote very bright, technically skilled people who unfortunately have not developed their interpersonal skills – the so-called “soft skills” so critical to managing people and influencing peers and others. These difficult conversations are in fact the engine for getting things done, and interpersonal communication skills continues to be one of the top 3 most critical skills to help companies regain competitiveness in the global marketplace.

Through analysis of 360 degree feedback for over a thousand managers and professionals, we found a pattern of concerns about leaders who are abrasive, confrontational, and difficult to deal with, who instead of inspiring and motivating others, often de-motivate. Many stir up conflict causing others to do work-arounds to avoid dealing with them. According to comments in the reports from the subject’s managers, direct reports, and colleagues, this skill deficiency impacts productivity, timeliness, quality, creativity, efficiency, and morale. It’s hard to put a dollar figure on this impact, but the cost to business is significant.

Some of these individuals have taken on-line courses, and have been to public seminars, and some say they gained insight from these experiences. However, most indicate that they don’t actually know what to do differently, even though they are usually motivated to improve.

This dilemma prompted us to research ways to help companies find ways to salvage individuals with strong technical skills but weak interpersonal skills. We analyzed videotapes of over a thousand individuals to identify and target the specific behaviors that are causing the problems. And we have developed a solution that is uniquely tailored to today’s fast-paced, intense work environment. This solution is a practical, high impact, cost-effective way for these individuals to develop skills rapidly, an approach that is customized to their particular situation, and to each company’s unique business culture.

Rapid skill development – enduring results

Here are the benefits to your business:

  • Minimum time away from work (and we know how important that is)
  • No travel time or expense for participants
  • Can be site-specific: can be done with as few as 3-5 participants in a particular location – no need to travel to another city to attend a seminar
  • Can be implemented with very short notice
  • Rapid learning through high impact practice labs with coaching and feedback
  • Not just new knowledge and insight, but real behavior change
  • Immediate impact – participants practice real situations they are currently dealing with, so they can use the skills immediately.
  • Addresses the needs of Managers as well as professionals working in a matrixed environment, because the practice labs are tailored to the individual – each chooses 3 specific difficult conversations to practice.
  • Uses a blended approach: webinars to introduce concepts and to increase insights combined with on-site practice labs with an experienced coach to build skills.

Here’s how it works:

  • You identify managers who need to improve the way they handle difficult conversations with others (employees, colleagues, managers, or customers), or professionals who need to improve their ability to influence people they have no authority over – anyone who needs to improve handling difficult conversations.
  • We’ll schedule two webinars for 4-15 attendees per group, where participants can interact – from their own desktop – with the consultant and with each other to gain insight, and to learn how the video practice labs will work.
  • A skilled, experienced facilitator/coach will go to a designated site and conduct practice labs using video with groups of 4-5 participants to develop behavioral skills.
  • As follow up, participants, their managers, and their HR Business Partners will receive tips and tools to help reinforce the new skills.

The Rapid Skill Development video practice labs are where the real learning and behavior change take place. In before- and after-training surveys, the employees of over 1000 participants said their managers showed significant improvement on all behavioral measures – and the improvement was evident one year after the training – proof of real behavior change and lasting results.

In the practice labs, each individual practices a real live situation he or she is dealing with. This practice is videotaped and played back with a small group (4-5 people) of colleagues and the coach. Each individual receives intensive coaching and feedback from the coach and the colleagues. Each individual also provides coaching and feedback to the other group members, thus sharpening their ability to identify effective versus ineffective behaviors. Attention is paid to body language, facial expressions, tone, choice of words, and all the other subtle elements of effective communication in difficult conversations.

Each lab takes 3 ½ – 4 hours, and each individual is engaged 100% of that time either being coached or coaching others. These intense small group labs keep everyone focused and energized. Our experience with thousands of participants over the past 25 years shows that it takes 3 practice labs to produce the long-lasting behavior change we noted in our research. The labs can be held on site in a small conference room. The only equipment your company needs to provide is a TV monitor – we provide the camera. Managers and non-management professionals can be in the same group since the lab practices are tailored to the individual.

Here are just a few examples of the types of difficult conversations the 360 surveys have highlighted.

For managers:

  • making an employee feel that he or she is valued
  • getting employees on board with changes
  • getting an employee to improve some aspect of performance
  • making it clear to an employee what management expects from him or her
  • helping an employee have realistic expectations about their future potential
  • coaching an employee to deal with a conflict with a fellow employee
  • telling an employee why you can’t comply with a request
  • providing feedback to an employee who is resistant to feedback
  • motivating an employee whose performance or morale is lagging
  • presenting a decision by upper management that you may not agree with yourself

For non-management professionals, especially those who need to influence without authority:

  • many of the above topics, plus the following:
  • getting someone on a project team to meet deliverables, when you’re not their supervisor
  • explaining to internal customers why you can’t do what they want, when they want it, without making them feel you aren’t supporting their business
  • driving results without driving the people crazy
  • getting your ideas approved and adopted
  • setting expectations with internal customers
  • expressing disagreement with someone without being disagreeable

Think about it: What is it costing your company to clean up the problems created by leaders with poor interpersonal skills, day in, day out, month after month? With a small investment of approximately $1000 per person, you can enable these individuals to change behavior immediately and make a positive contribution.

We’d love to talk with you further about how we might partner to enable technically bright leaders chart a path to greater success. Call us at 704-892-5097 or send us an email.

Click here to download a diagram of a visual model of how this process works. It also includes optional before and after surveys, and post-training distance coaching options.

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