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Tracy Learning Blog

Welcome to our blog section. This is the place where we will bring up and discuss issues that face us all. Often, we’ll take our cues from issues that arise as we teach companies across the globe. You’ll find great tips and ideas here as well, so please check back often!

It’s all “intuitive,” right?

customer_loyalty_supportThe other day I was teaching our Customer Loyalty class to a group of very bright people. Before the class began, one student confided that he felt that the class he was about to attend was not needed. When I asked why, he simply said that the skills for dealing with customers are “intuitive” so no training was warranted. I’ve heard that before from many others. Whether the course was Customer Loyalty, Leadership Dynamics or any other “soft” skills training, the voice is the same. Communication skills are intuitive… any bright, thinking adult has no need to go through it.

As with others, I checked in with management to learn more about my skeptical friend and how he was perceived by others. I also wanted to know how customers rated his performance. And like all the others, his ratings were substandard – not due to a lack of intellect, but due to a lack of understanding the importance of handling people appropriately.

The truth is, not everyone is born with these skills. While some may have them more innately than others, we can all learn more and do better. Fortunately, my student was seeing things differently by the conclusion of the class and realized that not everything is as intuitive as he thought. Customer support is more than fixing technical or product issues. It is satisfying customers; and that has more to do with skills that deal with people rather than products.

Productivity - what vs. how

Productivity graphWhile teaching a class for a leading corporation, comments turned to how much the class participants wished the training they were receiving could become widespread throughout their company. Their fear was that upper management would not see the need to invest in the staff the way they did. In frustration, one person blurted out that she didn’t fill valued by the corporation at all. Then she asked for a show of hands to see if anyone in the class of 18 people felt valued by the company. Not a single hand was raised.

While this company was still the leader of their industry, the down economy had been hard on them. Budgets were cut; perks and benefits had been curbed. Further conversation revealed that those things were not the reason no one felt valued. Each person understood the realities of difficult times and each was willing to do their share, even if salary cuts were necessary.

Their concerns were not about what had been done, but how it had been done. The result of the “you’re lucky you still have a job” mentality of their company management had left employees demoralized ̶ loyalty and productivity were low. Each person needs and deserves to feel valued. Their ability to contribute effectively to depends on it. When it comes down to it, a person’s level of productivity is a personal decision. Treating people with the respect and consideration they deserve is not just the right thing for each individual in your organization, it’s vital to the success of each and every business.

Got it, or learn it?

Ron 150x150

Everyone is born with some kind of ability. Some have more than others, but everyone has at least one. Every now and again we come across the rare person who has the innate ability to think in a very linear way. They can put data and information together quickly, without even knowing how they do it, in order to solve problems that leave the rest of us scratching our heads in wonder.

This kind of thinking is called Critical Thinking – the ability to organize information, structure it in a way that makes sense, and come to a rational conclusion. It is the kind of thinking we teach in Systematic Problem Solving, a methodology for uncovering the root cause, every time, to any problem, regardless of its complexity.

Recently, we were teaching a Systematic Problem Solving class for New Zealand’s Inland Revenue Division – New Zealands’ version of the IRS. The class was a huge success with a great interest in bringing these skills to all of the New Zealand Government.

In the class was a woman who has this innate ability. She had struggled to explain it to everyone who asked, “How did you figure out the problem so quickly?” Her only answer was she couldn’t explain how she solved problems so quickly – this was just how her brain worked.

During the class this woman was able to reach pretty much the same conclusions in her head that the other students reached using our method of comparative analysis.

After the class she reported, “Many people ask me to show them how to “do what I do” and I can’t explain it. I now have a tool I can introduce them to which will take them through a process that I use (without realizing I did).”

She is one of the rare lucky ones who can take complex data, analyze it in her head and reach the correct root cause. Fortunately, for the rest of us, we have Systematic Problem Solving.

Too busy to do what's right?

Barry Phillips

Recently I taught a leadership course at a great company called UK2Group. As the class unfolded, it became clear that a major concern of most of the participants was that while they loved the new skills and abilities they were learning but were concerned that they simply would not have the time to use their new abilities. They are a high-tech company that is growing quickly and just keeping up everyday is a challenge. We discussed their barriers and concerns. The truth is, when you try to do something new, it may take more time. But, as you become more proactive and use skills like those learned in Leadership Dynamics, you’ll find that it doesn’t take more time.

In fact, you have more control over your life, and many of the issues you normally face become diminished or no longer exist. That’s because true leaders build trust with their people and are able to head issues off at the pass before they become real issues. What that boils down to is doing what’s right ultimately does not take more time. Leadership is more than just having the time to pay attention to your people. It’s vital to staying competitive, productive and profitable. Your companies very survival depends on it!