Monthly Archives: November 2011

Overcoming Obstacles to Behavioral Embedding


Now that our son is grown and out of the house, it’s great when my three little nieces visit so I can get my “kid fix.” But talk about problems with coaching and up-skilling! My husband is forever reminding me to use my management skills to get the little one to stop smearing gravy on the tablecloth and the oldest to turn off the light and go to sleep. We have the ability, whether with kids or with clients/members/teams, to effect Behavior Change.

Here are some guidelines:

When you are asking someone to do a behavior they haven’t done before or are not comfortable doing, make sure they’re absolutely Clear about what you expect them to do, Capable of doing it (at the very least, you’ve shown them how), and Motivated to do it (with goals and/or incentives).

Don’t let time management issues prevent behavioral embedding. Let’s face it. Every manager is well intentioned, but life gets in the way. You plan on role playing with your teams, or helping them on some upskilling, but clients have issues you need to deal with and employees have urgent (not always important) tasks they need help with. So Time Lock, Prioritize and Batch Process your work for efficiency, so you have time to embed those desired behaviors.

Avoid emotional reactions. Expect that team members may be resistant to your coaching, but take it in stride, regardless of how rude or offensive you perceive the little darlings to be.

Enlist all levels of management in the Behavior Change process down to the branch manager who has the biggest opportunity to effect change and is closest to our clients and members.

And, last but not least, do the hard stuff first. As my dad always said to the children he had to supervise (and his clients), “Eat your onions in the morning!”

Your thoughts?

Melissa Marvin is the Performance Results Network Director for Community Banks and Credit Unions at Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.

Are You Sure You Don’t De-Motivate Your Team?


The other day my physiotherapist was talking about the professional football players he’s treating. He was totally shocked by the fact that these young men, at the beginning of a promising career, seem to lack the motivation to give their best and go the extra mile.

My initial reaction was to be indignant…how dare they? They earn a six-figure income (or more), they live every boy’s dream, and they still don’t give their best for the sake of their team and the club?

This conversation stuck with me and after giving it some thought I realised that we often know what motivates our teams, but we don’t always know what sinks the ship.

Here are my Top De-Motivators and how to avoid them:

  1. Lack of clarity and capability
    Make sure your team is clear about your expectations. Always give a rationale for specific tasks and/or behaviours. Help your team members build skills to increase their capability.
  2. Not enough inspiration
    Be a role model – walk the talk! You set high expectations and at the same time you need to encourage your team to accomplish their dream within their capability. Deal with fears honestly and establish trust with your team.
  3. Too much lip service; not enough “walking the talk”
    Bring a personal level of passion into the business environment – be sincere, credible, and persuasive in your encouragement of team members. And it doesn’t hurt to get your hands dirty.
  4. Lack of appropriate attitude
    Always put on your “game face” and mentally prepare yourself and your team members for the “game”. And remember, you should always act as you must, not as you feel!

So don’t let your team’s ship sink!

Your thoughts?

Claudia Irmer is a Results Consultant for Cohen Brown Management (Europe) Ltd.

Deliver Better Business Results by Avoiding These 10 Training Traps


As a consultant who specializes in embedding behavior change that leads to sustainable business results, it drives me crazy when poor design of a training initiative is at the heart of results not being achieved after training. Please don’t fall into any of these traps with your next training initiative!

1.  Believing training is the only answer.

First, ask yourself: Why aren’t they doing what you want/need them to do? Is training really the issue?

  • Are they perfectly CLEAR on what they should be doing to drive results? No? Training is not the issue.
  • Are they MOTIVATED to perform the desired skills that will drive results? No? Training is not the issue.
  • Are they CAPABLE to brilliantly perform the desired skills that will drive results? No? Training may be the issue.

If training is the issue, see below.

 2.  The training is missing a clear linkage to a behavior change that will impact business results.

  • Clearly illustrate how, where, when and why the employee should use the new behavior to improve business results.

3.  Mid & Senior level managers aren’t involved in leading the learning.

  • Managers should do more than just show up for lunch and deliver opening & closing comments. If the content matters to your business, then at least co-facilitate to show your level of commitment!

4.  Managers don’t participate in the training.

  • This blows my mind. You can’t coach what you don’t know. And an “overview” briefing on the content isn’t good enough.

5.  There’s a lack of alignment with performance expectations.

  • Ensure you’re not sending mixed messages in your goals, incentive compensation, job descriptions, etc.

6.  There’s a lack of follow-up by the direct manager or supervisor immediately following training

  • This one also blows my mind. If the content they learned matters to your business (& therefore your success), take the time to follow up & coach to it before employees get busy & forget everything they learned.

7.  Executive management doesn’t weave the behavior change outcome into their strategic initiatives and expectations (especially for large-scale, critical training initiatives).

  • As a result, senior executives often forget the training even took place and move on to the next initiative…creating a ripple effect throughout the organization on uncertainty of priorities.

8.  Training is developed in isolation by the training department without partnering with end users.

  • Set yourself & your training course up for success by getting a reality check and buy-in from your internal clients.

9.  Training is too complicated to digest in one learning event.

  • See #10.

10.  Training is structured as a one-time event vs. a piece of an ongoing learning chain of events.

  • Any training that strives for important behavior change shouldn’t be tackled in one shot. Think “layered learning” in smaller bites with on-the-job application assignments in between.

Your thoughts?

Lisa B. Wicklman is Regional Director for North America for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.

Who Are Your Time Bandits?


Time-BanditI started working on my new blog this morning. At this moment it is 3 pm and I am sitting at my desk and still working on it. I feel frustrated by not having it done already and I am wondering, “What happened today?”

When I started I was really enthusiastic and began thinking about what I wanted to write, and I put my first sentence on paper. Immediately, my phone rang and a colleague asked me a question. After a 5–minute phone call, I returned to my blog and read the first sentence. It was a good beginning. So I wrote my second sentence. Then I heard my son coming up the stairs (I work from home), and he started talking with me about a challenge he has at school. I put the blog aside. After my son left, it was time for a conference call I had planned with one of my clients.

Two hours later, I realized that I had forgotten about my blog. My enthusiasm was not as high as it was when I started, but I convinced myself that now my blog was my #1 priority, and I went back to it. I was halfway through when my husband called me from downstairs to ask if I wanted to have my lunch break. Since I was already in interruption mode, talking to him, I agreed.

After lunch, I started to answer some e-mails that had come in. Now it’s 3 pm and, oops, my blog needs to be finished, but my motivation and concentration are as low as they can be.

So the first question I asked myself was, ”Who are the people that interrupt me constantly?” My colleagues, my son, my husband, my clients, and even my boss. I love them, but they still steal my time. From now on, I will call them my Time Bandits.

Secondly, why did I let myself get interrupted over and over? If I had the courage to say no and explain why they can’t interrupt me now, or the self-discipline to lock my time and not pick up the phone the second it rings, would that not have saved me a lot of time, fun and motivation?

The positive result from today is that I finally finished my blog. I am enthusiastic and motivated about my future approach to time management using time locking, and I’m certain it will save me a lot of time!

Thank you my lovely Time Bandits!!!!

Your thoughts?

Time Locking Sign

Brenda Schäfer is a Results Consultant for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.