Training Article

Knowledge at Wharton’s picture

By: Knowledge at Wharton

Real-world, face-to-face communication—complete with eye contact, body language, and other important sources of information—is a rarity in business today, and the potential for failing to convey an intended message or giving the wrong impression has grown. Neuroscience research has uncovered specific ways that you can fine-tune your message—whether it’s giving performance feedback, persuading your team to embrace a change initiative, or selling a product or service.

Two of the most effective methods for connecting with your audience, whether an individual or a group, are making eye contact and mirroring (i.e., subtly mimicking the gestures of the other person). Both of these methods lead to synchronized brain waves, which are linked to engagement, learning, and good rapport. Both methods are much harder to do when you’re not meeting in person, but that doesn’t mean you can’t engage. Try one or more of the following ideas to improve your chances of being heard.

Klaus Wertenbroch’s picture

By: Klaus Wertenbroch

From a customer perspective, the only thing more frustrating than being denied a product or service is when that denial comes without a satisfactory explanation. As humans, our ability to deal with disappointment depends on understanding why it happened. Without an acceptable rationale, we’re apt to assume the worst: deliberate disrespect, and blind prejudice.

This aspect of consumer psychology may create problems for companies relying on decision-making algorithms for vetting purposes, fraud prevention, and general customer service. We’re seeing widening adoption of AI in fields such as marketing and financial services. On balance, this is great news, allowing companies to serve customers with unprecedented speed and predictive precision. However, while bots beat humans hands down at making accurate decisions at scale, their communication skills (so far, anyway) leave much to be desired. As algorithms assume a more prominent role as gatekeepers, where will rejected customers turn for an adequate explanation? And how can companies provide one without revealing too much about their proprietary algorithms—which are, very often, essential IP?

Jessica Ellspermann’s picture

By: Jessica Ellspermann

How you communicate a message is as important as the message itself. When it comes to internal communications, this certainly holds true. Company culture can give your organization a major strategic advantage in these changing times. But what your culture consists of—goals, values, and practices—must be effectively transmitted according to best practices if employees are going to understand and act upon them. Therefore, it’s essential to focus not just on what you’re communicating but also how you’re communicating it.

The 18 internal communications best practices below can improve your internal communications strategy and get your team connected, engaged, and motivated.

1. Envision, strategize, and plan communications

“Good ideas need good strategy to realize their potential.”
Reid Hoffman, founder, LinkedIn

What do you want internal communications to do for your team and your company? How will you get there? Where does your communication process stand right now, and what needs improvement? How soon would you like to reach your goals?

Gleb Tsipursky’s picture

By: Gleb Tsipursky

Does the phrase “garbage in—garbage out” (GIGO) ring a bell? That’s the idea that if you use flawed, low-quality information to inform your decisions and actions, you’ll end up with a rubbish outcome. Yet despite the popularity of the phrase, we see such bad outcomes informed by poor data all the time.

In one of the worst recent business disasters, two crashes of Boeing’s 737 Max airplane killed 346 people and led to Boeing losing more than $25 billion in market capitalization as well as more than $5 billion in direct revenue. We know from internal Boeing emails that many Boeing employees in production and testing knew about the quality problems with the design of the 737 Max; a number communicated these problems to the senior leadership.

However, as evidenced by the terrible outcome, the data collection and dissemination process at Boeing failed to take in such information effectively. The leadership instead relied on falsely optimistic evidence of the safety of the 737 Max in their rush to compete with the Airbus A320 model, which was increasingly outcompeting Boeing’s offerings.

MIT News’s picture

By: MIT News

As part of the MIT Task Force on the “Work of the Future’s” recent series of research briefs, MIT professors Paul Osterman and Kathleen Thelen highlight the critical role that skills, education, and workforce training play in providing pathways to employment for low- and moderate-skilled workers and young adults. The briefs explore the highly fragmented U.S. workforce training system and comparable programs in Europe, in which the private sector is significantly engaged in both the classroom and the workplace.

Sue Via’s picture

By: Sue Via

Research has shown that during economic uncertainty, companies that find a balance between reducing resources to survive and investing in key areas for growth will fare better through the recession and beyond. It’s a nuanced approach to playing offense and defense at the same time.

But many small and medium-sized manufacturers that have been significantly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic find themselves with what seem to be few options. They have reduced resources to the point that they have no time for anything beyond operations. When they do have time, it’s from a decrease in business, which means they do not have money to invest.

As a result, they may have become risk-averse, hesitant to upgrade machinery, or hire before business returns. But opportunity involves risk. Hunkering down to wait out economic uncertainty is typically not a path for future stability, growth, or even change.

A key for getting out of risk-aversion mode is creating a culture that encourages ideas and is willing to question if there might be a better way to do something. Continuous improvement starts with a mindset. But it also depends on a methodology or systems so that activities become part of routines and are measured and reviewed.

Multiple Authors
By: Jason Davis, Thomas Mannarelli

In 2017, Indonesian state-owned giant Pertamina had two ambitious strategic objectives: Transition from oil and gas to a more diverse portfolio, including renewables; and entrench itself deeper in the global market.

But there was a problem. Thanks to a remarkably low retirement age of 56 for Indonesian state-owned enterprise (SOEs), the organization—one of the nation’s largest, with more than 31,000 employees—would be losing nearly all its top leaders within a few years. Worse still, a past hiring freeze that lasted more than a decade had left a plunging experience gap between the highest-ranking company directors and their appointed successors.

In order to meet its audacious goals for the future, Pertamina would have to prepare hundreds of second-tier leaders to assume command before the retirement window closed. That meant cramming up to 15 years of missing experience into a two- to three-year time frame. For SOEs, which are not known for their agility, this was a tall order to say the least.

John Young’s picture

By: John Young

During the course of helping organizations and teams develop more effective ways of working, I have found that many of the obstacles to delivering value quickly to customers originate from mental models and assumptions that have been internalized. These mental models and assumptions largely exist and operate outside of our awareness. Listening and asking questions can help drive these concepts to the surface.

Listening and asking questions helps me create the partnerships needed to realize more effective ways of working and ultimately help companies serve their customers better and faster. I have found that open-ended questions, when asked with sincere curiosity, spur deeper thinking. This is true for people on both sides of the question—the questioner and the person to whom the question is posed.

Deborah Blumberg’s picture

By: Deborah Blumberg

In the summer of 2014, Aruna Ranganathan was doing postdoctoral research at a garment factory in Bangalore, India, when she noticed that some worker stations—but not all—were equipped with radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology, a tool used to quantify workers’ output.

Ranganathan, now an associate professor of organizational behavior at Stanford Graduate School of Business, wondered how the technology impacted workers’ productivity, a topic that’s received little attention.

So she spent the next several months embedded in the plant, then analyzed multiple years of the factory’s data to find out. Ultimately, she discovered that when companies quantify simple tasks, productivity goes up. Quantifying complex work, however, has the opposite effect: It drives productivity down.

What’s behind this phenomenon? When workers completing simple tasks have their work quantified, they’re more likely to turn the experience into a personal game, a concept known as “auto-gamification.” They compete against themselves to increase efficiency, even when there’s no reward for doing so and no punishment if they don’t.

Celia Paulsen’s picture

By: Celia Paulsen

October happens to be (among other things) Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Dental Hygiene Month, National Bullying Prevention Month, and my personal favorite, National Pizza Month. Plus, it’s Halloween! But I digress. We’re here to talk about cybersecurity.

Every manufacturer should hold cybersecurity awareness training for all its staff at least once a year. Many people are spooked by the mere mention of the words “cybersecurity” and “training,” so October could be an appropriate time for it. Your training should, at a minimum, cover relevant company policies such as your IT security, information security, and physical security.

Over the years many of us have taken this type of training and learned to dread it: Training where someone gives the exact same cybersecurity speech they gave last year, and then hands out a paper for you to sign saying you were there. A real snooze fest. This kind of training does its job as far as meeting the bare minimum but has little impact on actually molding employee behavior.

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