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Team Training Needs to be like Music Lessons

My humble set up. Love my Taylor guitar and the discipline of practice and working toward mastery.

My humble set up. Love my Taylor guitar and the discipline of practice and working toward mastery.

Team Training as Music Lessons

If you really want your team training to make a difference . . . fashion them after music lessons . . . not school.

Remember music lessons? You go, have a 30 minute “lesson,” get your assignment, and go home to practice, hopefully daily, some exercise, technique or mastering a piece of music. Similar, but critically different, than the experience of school—at least as I experienced it—where much of the time the focus was on imparting information—through a lecture for example—where the goal was to master content and demonstrate that through regurgitating it on a test. (BTW: I realize that modern didactic approaches are trying to address this singular approach . . . through recognizing different learning styles and more comprehensive teaching processes . . . but let’s allow the simple duality for the same of drawing, what I think is, an important distinction.)

Two Distinct Approaches

Think about the differences in these two approaches . . .

Music Lessons Classroom

Focus is on skill acquisition. Focus on imparting information.

Short, repetitive instruction and daily practice. Lectures, homework and testing.

Narrow focus: scale, song, technique. Broad focus: history, terminology, theory

Emphasis on practice. Emphasis on teaching.

Outcome: improved skills. Outcome: content mastery.

Moving from “School” to “Lessons”

To often, team training is modeled more on a “school” platform instead of a “music lesson” style. I worked for a time for an organization that had an internal “university” for training. Once a month, the managers would get together for training and typically it was some form of “telling us” about something that would help us do our jobs. At best, it was a way to get a break from the daily grind, conduct business during breaks with our colleagues, and impart some . . . some . . . useful information. Many saw it as a “requirement” and generally a waste of time. Did we walk away with new skills? Rarely.

Supervisors and managers are in their positions precisely because they have skills. But that does not mean they have reached mastery. Like a musician or artisan, the skill building process is on-going because every new situation requires the application of skills in a new way. Just like each piece of music is different and the student has to learn how to apply their talent to performing that particular composition.

Practice . . . and Mastery . . . and Superior Performance

Yo-Yo Ma, the world renown cellist, said, “The goal of practicing is to achieve a freedom of the mind that enables one to physically do whatever they want to do. Careful practicing eventually allows one the freedom to be spontaneous, to react onstage to the moment.” I also heard this virtuoso in a live interview once comment that if he missed a day of practice, he would notice. If he missed two days, his teacher would notice. If he missed three days, the audience would notice.

Yo-Yo Ma, Wikipedia

Yo-Yo Ma, Wikipedia

How many leaders dedicate themselves to continuous skill development? How many organizations allow for, or prioritize skill development, as a goal for leaders? In my experience, not many.

Two stand out in my experience. One provided their “point person” to take several weeks each summer for continuous training. Another limited the role of their leader to one primary task in order to have them continue to develop a high degree of skill in that task. In both cases, the results were spectacular. Those two leaders excelled in their roles and it was clear why. The organizational support for their practicing and mastering their talks was remarkable.

Organizations have come to understand the need. They provide coaches, they allow time for continuing education, they promote leadership development. But few, really have a clear focus on creating a “music lesson” mentality and a consistent focus on specific skill development. The well-documented decline in interpersonal skills in the age of social media and virtual relationships among younger cohorts of leaders makes this need an urgent focus for the future of leadership in organizations.

Buy Engaging Your Team: A framework for leading “difficult” people here, or get it for free by joining our email list!



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A Peek into Our . . . not Google's (sorry!) . . . Consulting Algorithm

I think a map would definitely help in this case! Photo by  Victor Garcia  on  Unsplash

I think a map would definitely help in this case! Photo by Victor Garcia on Unsplash

Just finished a post for our email subscribers about the critical need for professionals, turned consultants, to have an “algorithm,” or decision-making process, process or path, to guide them as they engage with human systems. This engagement may be in developing their private practice through contracting or by going “beyond the couch” and becoming a consultant. In plain terms, this algorithm can be boiled down to a series of questions and decision points that creates a path to follow, such as . .

HSC CONSULTING ALGORITHM: (Sample questions to ask yourself.)
1. Do I have contact with a decision maker? YES .....
NO ......

1A. If, YES, go to #2 . . .
1B If, NO, then ask to make contact or move on . . . .

2. Does the decision maker recognize a need? YES ....
NO ....

2A. If, YES, go to #3.
2B. If, NO, go to 1B.

3. Does the recognized need, require a deep understanding of the human system? YES . . .
NO . . .
3A. If, YES, go to #4.
3B. If, NO, Is the need solely training/coaching for the decision maker? YES . . .
NO . . .

3C. If 3B is YES, then seek conceptual agreement to propose training/coaching.
3D. If 3B is NO, explore the issues and how they relate to the system, then seek
further exploratory meetings or a conceptual agreement to propose
consulting.

The Power of an Algorithm

The power of an algorithm like this is comes in . . . confidence. Confidence in knowing where you are in the process, what has been done already, what needs to be done next, and a process that is replicable—and can be used again and again with decision makers. This algorithm, for HSC, has developed through more than two decades of consulting work, reading the consulting literature, teaching graduate students and professionals how to do consulting, and our own publishing.

Developing this process at HSC has evolved to the point that we created our IMPACT Model of consulting and forms the core of our Competitive Edge Coaching process . . . helping mental health professionals who want to develop consulting contracts. We even created a “cheat sheet” of our process in our IMPACT Model Quick Start Guide.

Moving from Healthcare to Contracting/Consulting

For those starting, or wanting to start, this process . . . here is a place to start:

  • Recognize that this process—creating an algorithm—is helpful for getting private practice contracts that provide “health care” . . . as well as consulting with organizations. At HSC we have done both—private Employee Assistance Programs, for example, and business consulting/coaching. We use the same process for both.

  • Read everything you can get your hands on about consulting. Especially, resources coming from those who transitioned from health care to consulting since they will speak the same language and can highlight the similarities and differences.

  • Consider getting training as a coach or consultant. Training programs will decrease the time and effort to make the transition and start getting contracts. Organizations such as the International Coaching Foundation, or others, can help you get moving.

  • Adopt an “algorithm” process or plan that has worked for other consultants until you develop your own—if you ever need to. Don’t “reinvent the wheel” start by finding a template to follow then you will tweak that, or create your own, as you gain experience.

  • Be patient, but aggressive. Remember, it will take time to transition into a new product or service and to transform yourself into a new skill-set. Be realistic about your progress and not overly self-critical. Get support, find mentors, and just keep working . . . and it will be likely to happen.

Sign up for our emails . . . and get a free eBook.



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Update: Announcing . . . Free training . . . June, 2019.

Engaging Your Team People Small.png

Teamwork through Gaming . . . free training in June

On Sunday, June 23rd from 3 to 4 pm central time Bryan Miller, Ph.D. will be providing an on-line training on the HSC process of using gaming to train work teams to be effective. This is a training we have done in 4 to 6 hour segments with nonprofits, ecclesiastical bodies, business owners, and governmental departments.

The training is for professionals in the behavioral health field who are interested in providing training to organizations and who would like to find new and innovative ways to deliver good value and work outside of their typical clinical practice.

May 13th Update: We are now opening the training to professionals beyond our subscribers.

Want to know more?

Watch our You Tube trailer.

Email Bryan

Reserve your seat at Gumroad. A $20 fully refundable fee required —to prevent no shows.

Or check out our website where you can Subscribe and get a free eBook.

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One Tool to Rule Them All . . . My favorite tool by far!

Wikipedia

Wikipedia

"One Tool to Rule Them All, One Tool to find them, one Tool to bring them all and in the darkness bind them."   Someone other than J.R.R. Tolkien

My precioussssss . . .

Ever find something that captivated you like nothing else? Something you could not get off your mind? Something you constantly return to over and over again to find new facets of it's nature and utility?  No, it's not time for a trip to Mt. Doom to rid Middle-Earth of the dangerous ring. It's only an awe-inspiring app called Trello.

Trello is by far my favorite tool. I use it for almost everything I do as an entrepreneur and consultant. Among other things too numerous to mention, I use Trello to: track my business operations, market my business, store and deliver products and services, communicate and provide value to customers, create "tool carts" of resources to be used again and again with new customers . . . and I just keep finding new ways to use this tool.

The best thing about Trello is that it is so flexible and so intuitive.  You can learn to use it in minutes and you can still be finding new ways to use it after more than a year. Oh, another nice feature is it is free for the basic app--which will be all that most users need.

I am so excited about Trello that I have trained my HSC consultants on using it, provided a free web-training, and tout it's use to my customers.  Finally, because others continue to ask, I decided to record a video of my basic training so it can be shared by more people.

Pic by . . . me.  Hobbiton near Matamata, New Zealand

Pic by . . . me.  Hobbiton near Matamata, New Zealand

While Trello itself has really good resources to train you on it's use (and I would recommend using them) they often are very broadly applied--there simply are so many ways to use Trello that it would be impossible to target the training to a specialized interest. Thus you often have to search out applications that help you apply Trello's usefulness to your business needs.

In training consultants, I demonstrate the basic structure of Trello, introduce them to the common features they need to understand, and then show them the many ways we have put this to use working as a consulting firm. We think it will open up new ideas for how consultants can increase your efficiency and make the work easier. If you check it out, just don't get too obsessed with it, you don't want to end up like Frodo.

 

Available eBooks:

Private Practice through Contracting: Decreasing dependence on insurance.

Engaging Your Team: A framework for managing difficult people.

Family Legacy: Protecting family in family business.

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What is an Organizational Behavioral Consultant?

Keith & Bryan.png

Organizational Behavioral Consultant.  

Organizational Behavioral Consultant. It's a mouthful isn't it?  That’s the title one early consultee used as a label for what HSC does with organizations. What exactly does it mean?  Well, I'll give you my take.  

First, the focus on Organizations means understanding the human "system."  Our founder, Bryan Miller, was steeped in systems theory including taking courses on topics like “Cybernetics of Cybernetics”—a course on the “system of human systems”—whose underpinnings were all about systemic theory. Studying how complex systems of human work was critical to the founding of HSC.

So, when we talk about consulting with organizations, or being an Organizational Behavioral Consultant (OBC)—the consultant should have a focus on the organization as a wholistic richly cross-joined system.  He or she needs to understand the entire "animal" and how subsystems work within the larger needs of the organization.  They need to understand that each subsystem is interdependent upon the others and a change in one will effect the other subsystems.

Second, Behavioral means that the focus is on how the organizations actually "acts"--what it believes, says, and does. No grand theoretical models here!  Instead it is a practical, pragmatic, approach that focuses on real outcomes and solutions. Understanding human behavior can, of course, be acquired over time by any consultant. However, at HSC, our consultants have backgrounds in the helping professions and leadership. With high-level training, and experience, in understanding the complex behavior of groups and individuals, HSC provides a rigor and depth of analysis and direction not found in typical consulting processes.

Third, consultant.  At HSC, this means a collaborative partnership.  Working with the talented, smart, experienced leadership in a way that allows our "outside" perspective and experiences with the methods, processes, and tools of consulting to help influence and guide the steps to creating the most effective and successful system. Our approach is to build upon the strengths of the organization and it’s leadership. Challenging each to rise to its best performance and breaking down barriers to that goal.

These traits . . . system-focused, behavioral, collaborative . . . enable us to use our tools (employee interviews, focus group, action planning, coaching) to quickly identify and target issues holding back the organization and free it to move forward in a less stressed and sustainable manner.

Well, that's it.  Organizational. Behavioral. Consultant. This defines HSC and the work we do to help leaders and organizations support and connect the power of their human resources.

Available eBooks:

Private Practice through Contracting: Decreasing dependence on insurance.

Engaging Your Team: A framework for managing difficult people.

Family Legacy: Protecting family in family business.

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