Tailored Briefs®

 A newsletter from Taylor Training & Development® Summer 2003
In This Issue
· Three Rights Can't Go Wrong
· Don't Waffle, Make It Batter
· Got Time?
· Networking Secret #1
· Grab Bag o’ Goodies
· Looking Forward
The "Great Boss" Rules
Three questions:
  1. Do you want to get and keep great people in your organization?
  2. Do you believe that able, motivated people will help your organization reach its goals?
  3. Do you think your organization could benefit from inspirational anecdotes, surprising observations and useful advice from some of the mightiest and most respected bosses in America?

If you answered, “Yes,” to any of those questions, then follow the sage advice in the “cheat sheet” to being a great boss, How to be a Great Boss, by Jeffrey J. Fox .

Got Time?
Your answer was probably, “No.” It is for most of us. But if you're working you probably feel you spend too much time in meetings.

Meetings can't be avoided, but they can be helped. When they get off track, get them to stay focused and on topic by simply asking questions:

“What have we decided about the first issue?”
“How we can resolve the first topic?”

It is a fact of life that there will be occasions when your meeting will spend time on uncharted routes. You can minimize some of the impact of derailment by creating a “parking lot” for unscheduled, but important issues.

Parking lot issues can go on future agendas or can be addressed by a designated person or group at another, later time.

Having your “focus” questions and a parking lot ready can help you keep a meeting on track and on time, even if you're not conducting it.

Networking Secret #1
The next time you're at an event where you know you should network, instead of beating it to the door with an excuse on your lips, take a deep breath, smile and turn to the first person you don't know and try Boothman's advice for making a great first impression.

Make a comment about the event or location followed by an open-ended question. Example:

“The turn out is great. How did you hear about it?”

One short formula that will lead to more successful interactions at your next networking function.

Who is Boothman?

Grab Bag o’ Goodies
v Got a lot of paper clutter, but too 
    afraid to let go? Go through it 
    once. Put it in a cardboard 
    banker's box and tape it up. 
    Mark the box with a “Destroy By”  
    date no more than six months out.  
    When that date comes, if the box  
    has not been opened throw it 
    away as-is, seal intact.

v Improve your call returns by     always leaving brief messages     that include the reason for     your call, your phone number,     and the best time to return     your call, along with     your name, of course.

    Your callers will appreciate     the convenience of having your     number right there and your     consideration by leaving     to the point messages.

Looking Forward…
Cultivating the Adult Learner
A Talk by MALT

Augment your teaching toolkit in this 90-minute workshop by acquiring the techniques to teach more effectively. The strategies identified for engaging and stimulating the adult learner will be applicable to any subject area.

This “brief” workshop, facilitated by Lisa Jones and Vivian McLeod, both HR and training professionals, is offered through the Mt. Airy Learning Tree (MALT) in Philadelphia.

7:00 p.m.
Monday, September 8 , 2003
Lutheran Theological Seminary
7301 Germantown Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19119

For registration information call the MALT office at, 215-843-6333 or visit them on the web.

Contact Us
Taylor Training & Development
627 Boyer Road
Cheltenham, PA 19012
Phone: 215-663-1296
Fax: 215-663-1297
Email: solutions@taylortraining.com
URL: http://www.taylortraining.com
Taylor Training & Development would like to thank Issue Editors, Lori Timm de Villasmil of inlingua Venezuela, and Jonna Naylor of the Mt. Airy Learning Tree (MALT), for their hard work.  Click here for more information about inlingua. For more information about MALT click here.

Unless otherwise specified, all articles written by Taylor Training & Development consultants.

If you are interested in a FREE subscription to Tailored Briefs, please visit our Non-Profit Success Website.

Copyright© 2003 Danielle D. Taylor / Taylor Training & Development.
All rights reserved. Please contact us if you are interested in content partnerships or reprint information.

We are committed to providing organizations, and the individuals who support them, with the knowledge, skills and values
needed to maximize their potential and actualize their goals.

We accomplish this through
training and education programs, organization development consulting, and professional development coaching uniquely created
for each client.

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Administration & Management
Essential Management
Managing the Stress of Employee Evaluations

What to do about the “problem employee”? Every organization and program has them, lurking in the shadows. Individuals who have difficulty performing the duties and tasks that fall within their job description either consistently or at all. There is little mentioned about the stress felt by managers when faced with handing out discipline to a “problem employee.”

Aside from Marine drill sergeants and sadists, very few people actually like handing out discipline. This fact flies full in the face of what many employees believe about administration and management. It is the power of myth. One component of a popular work myth states that managers, “like to belittle people,” and that they, “get excited,” about firing someone. This usually is far from the truth.

With being a manager there comes inherent responsibilities and stresses, particularly evaluating employee performance. How effective managers acknowledge performance and disciplinary issues and deal with them is diverse, but there are a few basic essentials to handling that stress effectively.

Essential #1: Clarity
One of the best ways to handle any workplace stress, in particular evaluating another person's work performance, is to have clarity about your own role, function and responsibilities. Having a solid foundation and being able to both demonstrate and articulate that foundation to your staff will go a long way towards establishing healthy and constructive norms within the program. Often in social service you find the Workaholic Olympics. This phenomenon is where an employee is more highly valued by the organization when they demonstrate giving themselves “selflessly” to the agency.

This “selfless giving” can involve but is not limited to stretching and/or breaking important boundaries involving caseload, work hours and performing extra duties not included in the job description. What then follows is an expectation from the top levels of the agency down through lower level management that “effective and productive employees” should operate with the same norms.

In this type of workplace the manager does not have a good handle own his or her own role and function. This can be hidden until the manager has to evaluate employees and finds himself or herself stressed because very few are “measuring up” to the standards that have been set. The manager who might recognize themselves in this scenario can be assisted by seeking out support, training and resources from peer supervision groups, outside clinical consultation, the human resources department or an outside consultant who can assist in finding short and long term solutions.

Essential #2: Understand the Culture
Understanding the culture of the agency that you work in can be a useful tool in formulating a plan to deal with the stresses of evaluating employees. If you can, ask to speak with other managers about how they evaluate their employees. Speak to your human resources department, and ask for input about how different departments and managers evaluate employees who are having problems. What are the norms for progressive discipline in your agency? Asking good questions to get a better handle on the mechanics and the context of evaluating employees is an essential stress reduction tool.

Being “nice” when evaluating an employee isn't nearly as effective as being tactful and HONEST.
Managers often find it stressful to address disciplinary issues because of the worry about appearing fair and balanced. This is true for both the for- and not-for-profit worlds. But with human beings having such different ideas about what's “fair” what direction should the manager take?

Giving clear feedback that is designed to help employees produce and function well in the workplace should be the goal of every manager. However, this is often as difficult for managers to do, as is it for employees to receive. The worry about being perceived as unfair often is paired with concern about possible legal or review board action against the manager. Essential for managers to remember is that constructive feedback, which can be clearly linked to observable and documented examples, is part of the responsibilities of being a Manager. Being “nice” when evaluating an employee isn't nearly as effective as being tactful and HONEST.

There is no one simple answer to managing the stress of evaluating employees' performance and dealing with those who require disciplinary action. Each supervisor/manager must balance developing their own style while following the respective company's Policy and Procedure Manual. Consulting with your Human Resource Department and your supervisor when attempting to decide how to address the “problem employee” can be helpful. If you are in an organization that does not have those resources, seek out peers or other professionals who can address your needs. Better yet, trust your instincts about how to handle the situation. Rarely are your instincts wrong. T
About the Author
  Celeste Vaughan-Briggs, L.S.W., is a Clinical Manager with a non-profit that supports and assists the behavioral health system in Philadelphia. A native of Philadelphia, Vaughan-Briggs earned a degree in psychology from Temple University and a master's in social work from the University of Pennsylvania. Vaughan-Briggs, also a therapist specializing in working with traumatized adults and teens, can be reached at celeste@taylortraining.com.

Educational Program Evaluation
Three Rights Can't Go Wrong

Ready to evaluate your program? Maybe you’re not but your funders are, so now you have to conduct a program evaluation of your educational efforts. What do you do? Create a plan.

Program evaluation planning is about asking the right people for the right information in the right way. Focusing your evaluation plan early on will yield solid data on which to create a better program that will in turn enhance the communities in which we live.

In focusing your plan decide what you are evaluating - efficiency, how well the program met specific goals, or some combination thereof. Ideally, this focus was established with the development and inception of the program. If it wasn’t, NOW is the time to decide. Ask who is the evaluation for and what is most important to them?

Ask these questions and the focus of your evaluation plan will begin to emerge. You’ll have made your first “right” into a better program. T

Don't Waffle, Make it Batter

Would you believe less time spent on key components of a program could actually yield better results? In preparing some breads, like waffles, your results are better when you leave the batter slightly lumpy. Over-beaten, over-mixed batter will leave you flat. You will still be nourished - it just won't be as enjoyable.

The same applies to participant introductions at the beginning of educational events and the debriefing of activities throughout. Ofttimes it is not important for every participant to hear the name of every other participant in attendance. It takes up valuable learning time and accomplishes little. The same applies to repeated full group debriefs. The most valuable discussion occurs in individual subgroups. (If the activity is designed well, groups should reach the same conclusions. The full group debrief should be used as an opportunity to identify and share unique learnings and/or to address lingering questions.)

Hearing a report out from every group has the same effect as over-beating the batter. It leaves participants flat. Leave the activity “lumpy.” Check if there are any extraordinarily compelling insights that should be shared with the group, but move on.

This does not mean ample time should not be dedicated to the debrief. That is where the connections are made and the “aha's” occur. In terms of time, instructional designers should allow as much time for the debrief as for the activity. The challenge lays in how to maximize learning actively.

As for introductions, remember that the objective is to make participants comfortable and secure. This can be quickly accomplished by having participants pair up, introduce themselves and share one piece of information about themselves, such as their expectations for the workshop. With a group of 10 or more, imagine how rapidly this can be accomplished versus a round robin* of introductions by each person.

By redesigning how introductions and debriefs are conducted and allowing for some “lumpiness” in your instructional design, you will actually gain more learning time for “batter” results. (You really had to see that one coming!) T
*Jargon Alert
  Round robin is a technique to facilitate discussion and give each participant a chance to speak in turn. One person is selected to start. When he or she is finished speaking, it becomes the next person’s turn, until everyone has spoken. There is usually a time limit. No one is allowed to interrupt the speaker and there is no discussion between speakers.

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