Category Archives: Training

Training describes the work we need to do to be “match fit”- in organisational terms it is the learning we need to do to be able to deliver the customer promise made by the organisation, now and into the future.

Unfurling HR – conversations for change

koruLast week I attended the Unfurling HR Unconference organised and facilitated by Amanda Sterling of NZLead. The fern was used as a metaphor for unfurling, unravelling and re-positioning the people and culture related disciplines in organisations. It was an inspiring and motivational event and I have included links to other blogs with feedback about the unconference below.

I participated in discussions about leadership, personal development and the internal brand. As a consultant I couldn’t resist putting my feedback into a stop-start-continue format with suggestions for organisations and HR.

  Organisations could…. HR could….
  • Leaving all the people stuff to HR
  • Leaving all the compliance stuff to HR
  • Creating a consumer brand disconnected from the employee experience
  • Tolerating poor people management practice
  • Taking on all the people stuff
  • Taking on all the compliance stuff
  • Creating employment brands
  • Tolerating poor people management practice
  • Ensuring all managers are trained how to manage people
  • Supporting personal development for all staff from day one
  • Supporting a culture that is living the brand inside as well as outside
  • Developing leadership across the board
  •  Facilitating processes to ensure all managers are well trained
  • Facilitating personal development plans for all
  • Collaborating with marketing and others to develop the culture that supports the brand
  • Identifying leadership qualities that support the culture
  • To look for better ways to do things
  • To collaborate with HR to create stronger organisations
  • To recognise the knowledge and experience of their people related teams


  • Having challenging conversations about doing things better
  • To learn about the business and how they can best add value
  • To learn from each other and share knowledge widely in their organisations

Thoughts from other attendees- #unfurlingHR created a lot of food for thought.

Amanda Sterling – Reflections from #unfurlingHR – what next

Megan Borrie – #unfurlingHR – Baking these things in

Richard Westney – Off the beaten Track

Angela Atkins – #UnfurlingHR

Vaughan Rivett – Attending my first unconference

Jonathan Hagger – One quick recap

PS- this event will inspire at least one more blog from me,  so watch this space.

Exploring the possibilities of social media

Screenshot_2014-01-21-20-06-09I have been using social media for a few years now, learning and exploring the possibilities. Initially, like many people, I saw twitter as a bit frivolous, FaceBook as too uncontrollable and LinkedIn a bit staid.  But, I had read enough to tell me that as a small business I should be thinking about social media marketing.

I began without much of a plan. I knew I had to be business-like and that I had a lot to learn. I was very lucky to get some great advice early on from Sonya at Cue Social Media about how to engage better.  And then I just practised, tried things out, read lots of articles, observed what others did, observed the reactions to what I did, took a few risks and figured out what worked for me personally and for my business.

My facebook page still hasn’t many “Likes”, I don’t think that is the perfect medium for me and my business, but it’s there and serves a purpose when I want to share business related stuff. LinkedIn has grown and I have learnt to use it to promote myself and what I do.

But I have discovered my all time favourite, the one that fits me like a glove, is Twitter.

Why do I like it?

  1.  I like to talk
  2. I can get a bit passionate about some things (some would say opinionated)
  3. I like to understand all sides of a story
  4. I am an open person and am generous with my knowledge and my time
  5. I love to learn
  6. I really like meeting new people
  7. I’m not fazed by “what” people are- I respect you for who you are as a person
  8. I advocate for what I believe in
  9. I support my friends
  10. I connect people and create networks

These attributes make twitter perfect for me as an individual.  I also believe twitter is perfect for organisations to encourage their people to engage with others; to learn, advocate, find out what their public think, listen to other points of view and generally have great conversations that will ultimately create richer workplaces. The open nature of it is not something to be scared of, if you are clear about what you want to achieve and then trust people to make good choices. There will be people like me in most organisations; those who see the possibilities, embrace the learning and understand the risks.

Finding the HOW is part of the journey. Some will have achieved great things already, but for many it will be a frightening prospect.  I think it is well worth organisations spending  time thinking about the possibilities.

Who is ready to come on the journey with me?


“What if we train them and they leave?” “What if you don’t and they stay?”

Investing in staff training has taken a bit of a hit since the GFC and is slowly building again. It can be difficult to justify money spent on staff training, particularly in roles which are typically transient or part-time/casual positions. However, it is important to think of the risks of an untrained employee from day one of their employment.  The risks could be: poor customer service, customer complaints, loss of customers, mistakes requiring rework, safety issues, interpersonal issues in the team (and so the list goes on)

Investing in soft skills does return an investment to an organisation, resulting in better customer service, better decisionmaking, less interpersonal conflict, clearer communication, higher staff engagement, better teamwork, efficiency and so-on.

Measuring a return on investment

How can you measure a return on your training dollar? Here are a few examples that may apply to your organisation

  • Overall profit from increased sales, efficient use of time, less rework, increased customer satisfaction
  • Survey customer satisfaction
  • Survey staff satisfaction/ staff engagement
  • Reduced cost of recruitment- reduced turnover
  • Internal succession/promotion

How can I maximise a return on investment?

Unfortunately I still see managers and business owners who think I can perform miracles in training programmes without help from them. To ensure your staff member gains maximum benefit from the training here are a few things you can do:

  • Know what you want to achieve: plan and set agreed goals from the training
  • Discuss your goal with the trainee prior to training: they need to know why you have selected this training and what your expectations are
  • Discuss your goal with the training provider:ensure the course is designed to meet these goals
  • Ask for a report from the trainee when they return: create an expectation of “things I will do differently” as a result of the course
  • Review ongoing learning and achievement of outcomes at regular intervals: remind the trainee about what they have learnt, provide opportunities to apply learning and new habits will develop

Happy staff = Happy Customers

The Service Profit Chain describes how organisations can deliver profitable service to customers by focusing on internal processes for employee satisfaction.

The mantra of customer service is to create good first impressions with a smile, positive body language, good personal presentation and positive communication. I teach it myself in KiwiHost training courses. It is good basic information that we all need reminding about from time to time.

The KiwiHost/JRA Customer Service Pulse survey found that New Zealanders like front-line staff to:

  • Demonstrate a willingness to help me
  • Listen to me and understand what my needs are
  • Take responsibility to ensure my needs are met

Staff who are not happy in their work, who do not feel valued and engaged cannot demonstrate these behaviours no matter how many training courses they attend.

So when you get feedback that your organisation’s customer service is not as good as expected, where do you look?  At your front-line staff or yourself?  I encourage you to answer these questions when implementing customer service improvement programmes:

  • Do we recruit for the right skills and attitude?
  • Is the workplace happy?
  • Do my staff feel valued?
  • Have we provided enough on-the-job training to ensure staff have product knowledge?
  • Do we invest in our staff with time and money?
  • When we invest in training do we clearly identify the outcomes we expect from the training?
  • Do we reward our staff for providing good service?

JRA research shows that engaged employees return on assets is 95% higher on average; sales per employee are 68% higher and staff are 29% more likely to stay.

If you implement practices that result in staff engagement, customer satisfaction scores will increase.

More about teams

When you hear the word “teambuilding” what comes to mind?

Do you think it is a costly exercise, that it involves outdoor pursuit activities which enable you to “face your fears” or do you think it is dinner and drinks with your workmates?

It can be all of these things – but it needn’t be. Building a strong team involves paying attention to the day to day activities of the individuals involved and can simply be an investment of time- possibly the best investment you could ever make.

Try the following four steps and notice a change over time.

1. Say good morning

Ensure that everyone in your team greets each other at the beginning of the working day and you will notice a subtle change very quickly. This is a very simple step that builds trust in each other.

2. Indulge in small talk

Structure some time each day, or at least once a week, to simply pass time with each other. In some workplaces this works well with a tea break or lunch together everyday, in other workplaces it may need to be organised as a simple social occasion- like a morning tea shout, a breakfast or a Friday afternoon BBQ (Not that it has to involve food)

3. Work together

In many teams this will occur naturally, but if your team works in isolation from each other, it is important to develop a team project for everyone to be involved in. It could be the Health and Safety team, or organising the Christmas function or it could be a business improvement project. Planning and implementing something together is a powerful way to build trust.

4. Organised fun

This is more than a few practical jokes during work time. Organising a regular fun activity provides relief from the seriousness of work. Many workplaces use sport and recreation activities to achieve this. Select activities appropriate to the ages and stages of your team, you may need to mix it up to cover everyone’s needs.

The trick is constancy and persistence. These activities are so simple and occur naturally in many cases that we can take them for granted. Incorporate these steps into your workplace culture and you will build a strong team, you will integrate new team members more effectively and your team will be more productive.