Section 3.2 in the CPTD Certification program for ATD is Consulting and Business Partnering. Section A reads, “Skill in synthesizing information to formulate recommendations or a course of action to gain agreement, support, and/or buy-in from stakeholders.”
To be successful at consulting, you must operate as a strong business partner with the client. The people involved in the training must be truly excited about the venture and anxious to have it work out well for them.
If you follow these eight tips, you should have agreement, support, and full buy-in.
1. Start with solid research
The way to gain commitment is to listen well to what the participants say they need. This sounds easy, but it is more difficult than it seems. I start with interviews of the key players in the organization. That sets the stage, but it is not enough because they may not be able to articulate the real needs.
2. Needs analysis
I do a survey of the people involved in which they select what topics would create the most significant payoff for them. The key here is to involve as many people in the group that will ultimately be trained so that each person recognizes he or she had real input into the topic selection.
3. Create a rough draft of the program
Based on the research, I put together a draft of the main topics to be covered as well as the delivery style to be used. Be sure to state the objective clearly and outline the deliverables in detail.
4. Review and gain commitment
This is a critical step that is often overlooked or short changed. Let me share an example of how this looks, if it is done well. I was doing a design for a CEO of a major training effort. I did the research, needs analysis, and a draft of the proposed program. I came back a few days later and shared a list of seven things the proposed program would accomplish. The CEO looked at the seven things and wrote BINGO in large letters next to my list.
5. Design the program in detail
In this phase it is necessary to customize the material so that you will be speaking “their language.” Do not offer the same program for a hospital as you would for a manufacturing plant. Make the entire program feel like it was made for that specific client. I normally use their logo and pictures that reflect their actual business.
6. Make sure the program delivery is user friendly
For people to be excited about the training, they need to have it done on a schedule that is most convenient for them, not you. They may want it delivered very early in the morning or even on weekends. Always bend to their needs.
7. Avoid “Death by PowerPoint.”
Only a few points per slide, and do not read the points. Instead, talk about the topic area letting them absorb the actual words on the slide. Always have a photograph (and obtain the license to use it) on each slide. Do not use clip art or cartoons. Make sure the photo is illustrative of the points you are making and has some element of creativity or twist to keep people interested.
8. Make the training experiential
Do not have just hours of lecture. Have an activity, like a role play or body sculpture every 20 minutes or so to break up the training. This keeps people from getting bored.
Following these eight tips will ensure your program has the full support of people in your client’s organization.
Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of: The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind, and Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations.
How can you tell if another person is being coy? In this article I will give some tips to recognize the body language gestures associated with being coy and give some ideas to deal with the situation.
I will start with being coy in a business setting and then cover the same topic from a social point of view. The former usually involves someone being somewhat evasive while being coy in a social setting runs the gamut between deception all the way to overt flirtation.
What is being coy?
The definition of coy is “pretending to be shy or modest.” Another definition from Merriam-Webster’s 11th Collegiate Dictionary is..”marked by cute coquettish or artful playfulness.” A third perspective of being coy includes a reluctance to make a commitment or give details about something regarded as sensitive.
When a person is being coy, he will usually have one eyebrow noticeably raised. You do not see both eyebrows raised, because that gesture would normally be associated with the emotion of surprise or even shock.
The clandestine look is what gives the gesture the appearance of some mystery. That can be what creates the playfulness of the gesture. The uncertainty of what he is thinking enhances the effect.
A coy person will usually be looking sideways. He does not look up or down, but the eyes are noticeably looking to the side. It is an evasive kind of movement, like he is making an effort to hide something.
He rarely will make direct eye contact when being coy because that would reduce the mystery effect.
When a person is being coy, you usually see only one cheek as he will turn his head and not look at you straight on. He may also have a tilted head to accentuate the expression.
There is often a slight pulling back of the one cheek in an effort to make a mysterious smile. Alternatively, the mouth can also form a sober frown, as in the picture.
Often the chin is lowered a bit as if to hide something. It would be unusual to see a coy person with his head held high. Part of the secret look is to lower the chin.
In a Business Setting
Being coy in a business setting means that there is something a person wants to express but prefers to only hint at until the other person begins to get a message. It can also mean reluctance to give information the other person wants.
The desired outcome is rarely sexual, as in social expressions of being coy. Many of the body language signals will be the same, as is shown in the picture above of a male being coy in a work setting.
Perhaps he knows something, but he does not trust the other person enough to reveal it. Perhaps he is playing some kind of game where he wants to stall for time for some reason. This is not necessarily negative, since a person can have valid reasons for keeping something private.
One approach to break the tension is to ask the person if he is uncomfortable at the moment. If he agrees, then you have the opportunity to make open ended questions in an attempt to find out the root cause of the discomfort.
Being coy is also used in marketing when an organization wants to build anticipation for a new product but is not quite ready for the grand announcement.
The art of being coy is often seen in political situations where a candidate is not ready to announce his or her true intentions. This application often comes across as artful dodging, which tends to lower trust because people recognize they are not getting the full truth.
Being coy in a social setting
The most well-known examples of being coy occur in a social setting, rather than a business or political setting, as in the attached picture.
The gestures are usually intended to be provocative and involve another person. People would not make these movements if they were alone.
The smile may be slightly pulled to the side reminiscent of the Mona Lisa look. The half-smile is an indication of potential pleasure. She may also exhibit pursed lips as if in a mock kissing gesture.
When a person (male or female) is being coy, you have to recognize that there is some kind of agenda going on. Be careful to not misinterpret the coyness as attraction. There could be a number of things going on. The best advice is to remain unsure until you have other indications for why the person is making these gestures.
Look for the opportunity for some dialog. Observe more and try to ask open ended questions for more data. If the person begins to open up, then you can improve the accuracy of your understanding and not make unwarranted assumptions.
This is a part in a series of articles on “Body Language” by Bob Whipple “The Trust Ambassador.”
A very common gesture when people greet each other is a kind of mock kiss called “air kissing.” The movement occurs more in social than in business settings, although in some cultures the gesture is used in business settings routinely.
Air kissing should not be confused with “blowing a kiss,” which always starts with kissing one’s hand then blowing the kiss to the other person.
With air kissing, there is always some form of loose embrace going on. The two people move their faces to the right of the other person’s face as they move toward each other to embrace.
It appears as if they were going to actually kiss the cheek of the other person. The gesture can be awkward, and with the heightened attention to sexual harassment, it is best to refrain from using an air kiss unless it is initiated by the other person. This is particularly important in a business setting.
The air kiss is often associated with movie stars, rock stars, or other celebrities. In entertainment settings, the air kiss is depicted as a way to demonstrate super-star power when greeting someone.
Rather than actually contact the cheek with the lips, a kissing motion is made with the mouth while the two cheeks are touching. It is a way to show affection without spreading a lot of germs, so it has become quite popular. The French phrase for air kissing is les bises. Sometimes the air kiss is accompanied by a verbal sound imitating a kiss, e.g. “Mwah.”
The only confusing part of the air kiss is a kind of awkward situation where as the two parties come together, one person assumes this is a situation for an actual kiss on the cheek or even the lips while the other person wants to perform the air kiss move. Sometimes that movement can result in kissing an unintended area of the face.
Kissing is a common gesture that is highly culture specific. You need to use care to understand the culture of the other person to do the right thing. Here are a few examples of how the gesture differs in specific cultures. This information, plus a lot more detail, is available as a reference in a book titled “Kiss. Bow, or Shake Hands” by Morrison, and Conaway.
A traditional Saudi greeting consists of shaking the right hand while placing the left hand on the right shoulder of the other person and exchanging kisses on each cheek of the other person. In this culture they use an actual kiss rather than an air kiss.
The correct greeting gestures in India vary greatly as there are several subcultures involved between the different religious sects: Hindu, Muslim, Sikhs, Christian as well as several others. Indians of all ethnic groups disapprove of public affection between people of the opposite sex. Do not touch (except in handshaking), hug, or kiss in any form when greeting someone of the opposite sex.
Men may kiss men and women kiss women as a greeting in Egypt, but avoid the gesture with a person of the opposite sex. It is not uncommon for a businessman to kiss another businessman who he knows well on the lips in Egypt.
Indonesia and Malaysia
In Indonesia, and Malaysia, it is common to air-kiss an elder’s hand as a traditional form of respectful greeting. Instead of pursing one’s lips, the younger person exhaling through his nose softly on the hand before drawing the hand to the younger person’s forehead.
Inuit Nose rubbing
The kunik or so-called “Eskimo Kiss” consists of rubbing both noses together as a sign of affection, usually practiced by family members or loved ones. It is a non-erotic but intimate greeting used by people who, when they meet outside, often have little except their nose and eyes exposed.
Around the world, you will see the practice of air kissing or some other variant as described here. The precaution is to use this gesture sparingly, especially if you are not among good friends or family. It works better in a social setting than in a business application, although you will find it used in both in several cultures.
As with all body language gestures, if you are unsure of the suitability of the action with a particular person or in a specific situation, it is best to refrain from initiating it.
This is a part in a series of articles on “Body Language” by Bob Whipple “The Trust Ambassador.”
In any organization there is going to be a certain amount of chaos. It is an unpredictable world, and the global pressures have made mere survival a constant struggle.
One can pine for the good old days when we could go to work at 8 am and check out at 5 pm, but those days are gone forever.
We can wish that people would always do right, or customers never get angry, or the weather habitually cooperate, but none of those desires is realistic.
To keep from going insane or just withdrawing, we need to invent new defenses from the reality of our time.
Chaos is going to happen.
You are going to have at least three crises in the next six months and so am I. The good news here is that with practice and cunning, we can learn to ride the waves of chaos like a surfer does the ocean waves.
Rather than fight back against the incredible power of the sea, the surfer uses the momentum to climb up and make a game of it. That is what we need to learn how to do in business.
Success belongs to those who can practice some simple precepts.
1. Train Well – An unskilled surfer is a danger to himself as well as others. You need the proper gear and you need to know how and when to use it to be successful. Trying to navigate a complex outsourcing decision without solid international experience is as ridiculous as going out to surf using snow skis.
2. Be nimble – Have the systems set up so that you can move with the vicissitudes of the current conditions. Anticipate as best you can what may happen, but be ready to veer off path at a moment’s notice. Consider it a core competence to not be thrown off the surf board, rather cut and weave with the wave not only to survive the pounding surf but actually enjoy the ride.
3. Be flexible – See your own paradigms and be willing to modify them or even let go completely to catch the next wave. The fluidity of changing conditions can be like a choppy sea that you are forced to fight against, or you can begin to recognize there are patterns and start paddling long before the wave is breaking upon you. Have bright creative people on the team who know how to keep from being submerged and actually “shoot the curl” or “hang 10.” Having these wonderful people is not enough; you must be prepared to listen to them and support their ideas.
4. Be undaunted – Unexpected things are going to surface like jellyfish in the water. You need to take all possible precautions and be vigilant, but there is a time to be courageous and strong as well. When you fall, and you will many times, learn from any mistakes you made, but by all means get back out there for another try. If you give up because of a specific failure, your muscles will stiffen and you will become calcified by the fear.
5. Be Alert – know the danger signals well and watch for them like you would a shark in the water. Courage is one thing, but being foolhardy with too much risk is likely to lose you a leg or more.
6. Be Smart – Great surfers know that each wave is different. They have the innate ability to know which wave to catch and which one to let pass. In business, you need to make decisions on engagement every day. Knowing which opportunities not to pursue is as important as knowing which ones to chase. To do well in this dimension, you need to have a great strategic plan. The strategy tells you both what to do and what not to do.
7. Be adaptable – every surfer knows there are new techniques being invented every day that can change the whole game for everyone. When there is the opportunity to learn a completely different way to do the job, dive in with full energy to learn it.
If you can practice these seven skills, then the waves of chaos and change will be stimulating aids to your success rather than the source of burnout or failure.
Over the past 20 years, I have taught Business and Leadership at seven universities, along with several hundred corporate and professional groups.
One thing that has disappointed me is the discussion of corporate culture in most of the MBA textbooks. They usually leave out the most important parts of culture. This topic has fascinated me for years.
The success and longevity of any organization is directly linked to its culture. We sometimes notice the parts that make up culture, but often they are transparent because they are just a part of doing business in a particular group.
If we stop to think about what defines culture and work to manage or influence it, we can uncover some powerful leadership leverage.
Most of the Leadership textbooks I have read describe the culture in terms of physical attributes that characterize an organization.
For example, here is a typical list of the things purported to make up a company culture.
1. Physical structure
2. Language and symbols
3. Rituals, ceremonies, gossip, and jokes
4. Stories, legends, and heroes
6. Values and norms
The above list is a montage of the lists in several textbooks. When you think about it, these items do go a long way toward defining the culture of an organization.
Unfortunately, I believe these items fall short, because they fail to include the emotions of the people. After all, organizations are made up of people, at all levels, interacting in a social structure for a purpose.
Let us extend the list of things that make up the culture of an organization to include how the people feel.
1. Is there a high level of trust within the organization?
2. To what extent do people have the opportunity to grow in this organization?
3. Do people feel safe and secure, or are they basically fearful?
4. How do people treat each other on their own level and on higher or lower levels?
5. Is the culture inclusive or exclusive?
6. Do people generally feel like winners or losers at work?
7. Is the culture one of reinforcement or punishment?
8. Are managers viewed as enablers or barriers?
9. Are people trying to get into the organization or trying to get out?
10. What is the level of satisfaction for people in this organization?
11. Can people “speak their truth” without fear of reprisal?
12. Do people follow the rules or find ways to avoid following them?
I could go on with another 20-30 things that relate to the human side of culture. I hope you agree that the items above are at least as important as the items on the first list in terms of describing the culture.
Why then do most textbooks on leadership not mention them when they discuss culture? It baffles me.
Perhaps the view is that these “people-centered” items are best discussed separately and only the “system-centered” items define the culture. Personally, I do not agree with that.
Let’s zoom in on just one item of my list above: item #1. The level of trust in an organization is actually the most significant part of the culture, in my opinion.
The reason I put Trust in the front and center of culture is that with high trust, all of the other things (rituals, ceremonies, values, language, etc.) work to engage people in the business. With low trust, you can have all the trappings, but people will laugh at you behind your back.
You are probably familiar with the CEO who spouts out the values at every chance, but does not live them, so there is no trust. The values are just a useless pile of words.
In fact, they are worse than useless, because every time the CEO mentions the values it reminds people what a hypocrite he or she is.
Why is Trust so powerful? Let’s contrast a few dimensions for a company with high trust versus one with low trust to view the impact.
All organizations have a steady stream of problems. If the culture is one of low trust, each problem represents a high hurdle to overcome. We have to stop everything and have a meeting to figure out who said what and try to unscramble the mess. We also have to contend with the interpersonal squabbles that are part of a low trust culture.
If there is high trust, first of all there will be fewer problems, but then the remaining problems are easily overcome, like pebbles in the road we kick aside with our shoe. We can focus energy on the vision rather than the problems.
Any problems will be resolved quickly, and the solutions will be of higher quality, because people will not be afraid to voice their creative ideas.
In groups with low trust, trying to communicate is like walking on eggs. Every word or phrase is a potential trigger for a sarcastic remark. Things are frequently taken the wrong way and create damage to control.
With high trust, communication seems easy. People have the ability to “hear between the lines” and the instinctively know the intent of the message even if the words come out wrong. Employees are not coiled and ready to strike anytime there is an opportunity.
In areas of low trust, people are focusing on protecting themselves or bringing other people down. Most of the energy is directed inward to the organization in numerous battles that really don’t help the organization succeed.
If trust is high, people are feeling aligned, so their focus is outward at the opportunities (customers) or threats (competition). This shift in focus from inward battles to outward opportunities is huge in terms of organizational success.
When trust is low, rumors spring up due to poor communication. Since there is nothing to retard them, they take on a life of their own. The rumors and gossip spread like wildfire all over the organization creating significant damage control for management.
In areas of high trust, there will still be rumors from time to time, but they will be easily extinguished before they do significant damage. This is because people believe management when they say something is not true.
Look at the people in an organization of low trust; what is their general attitude? Usually it is one of apathy. They need their job in order to live, but they dearly wish it wasn’t such a struggle.
Now look at the attitude of people in an organization of high trust. You will see passion and motivation to really help the organization succeed. The difference here is huge in terms of organizational survival.
For one thing, customers notice the difference immediately. You know the feeling of sitting in a restaurant where the trust level between management and the servers is low. You get an uncomfortable feeling and may net even realize why you decide to not patronize the place again.
With these differences, the result when workers have high trust has been shown by several authors is that they are between 2-5 times more productive than low trust groups.
Think of the number of organizations where managers are constantly feeling under-staffed. “We need more people,” is the common phrase. My retort is that it is a leadership problem. What you need is not more people, but better leaders who know how to build a great culture of trust.
We could go on with numerous more examples of the difference between a culture of high trust and low trust, and that is only the first item on the list above. I hope it is obvious that having the right kind of culture makes all the difference in the ability to survive in business. Take the time and energy to work on your culture; the ROI is astronomical.
The preceding information was adapted from the book The TRUST Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, by Robert Whipple. It is available on http://www.leadergrow.com. Mr. Whipple is also the author of Leading with Trust is like Sailing Downwind, , and Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change.
Bob consults and speaks on these and other leadership topics. He is CEO of Leadergrow Inc. a company dedicated to growing leaders.