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Practical and pragmatic coaching for executives and managers who want to accomplish more - faster. We help companies transform their hiring process into a system that allows them to hire the right candidate for the job. The benefits can transform a company. We offer 'on-site' team building for new or 'stuck' teams.  We also sell TeamTraks, an easy-to-use set of modules which can be used off-the-shelf to address a number of team intervention needs and competencies. Our most requested training is for Improving Communication Skills and Improving Managers' People Skills .  All training is customized to meet the client's specific needs. We sell the leading assessments and surveys available (and support your use of them in any way you need). Assessments include The TriMetrix System (benchmarking job and objectively assessing candidate fit), Attributes Index (job competencies), Success Insights (Personality tests, behavioral assessments, motivations indicator assessments) and Insight Inventory.  Many assessments available in up to 15 languages. Someone completes one of our assessments via the Internet every 4.1 seconds!  We can also 'custom design' any survey to meet your needs including 360, customer and employee satisfaction. For those companies and individuals who are not familiar with our products or service, we provide a free team needs assessment from TeamTraks, an opportunity to complete one of our assessments, newsletters, articles, and a free coaching session. Proudly, our clients include Shell Oil, John Deere, Mr. Goodcents, Short Circuit Electronics, Brass Eagle Paintball, and many more. We'd love to hear from you - ideas, needs and questions. Look through the site and call if we can help you.  
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People Power: Are You Listening Or Just Hearing?
(Reprinted from: Kansas City Small Business Monthly - Thursday, November 04, 2004)

Really listening to your employees shows that you value them and respect their opinions. It is a key skill for everyone to master - especially leaders.

You are at lunch with one of your co-workers, when he asks about the vacation you just returned from in Colorado. You say “It was great! We started to feel like we were really on vacation when we saw the mountains.” You take a breath before continuing to tell him about your exciting trip. Ooooops, too long. He jumps in. “ We went to Texas, you know the home of longhorn steers and President Bush,” he says. “Six Flags was probably the most fun we’ve ever had. Billy rode every roller coaster ….,”and on he goes.

Rather than really listening to you, he couldn’t wait to jump in and tell you about his adventure. In fact, by asking you about your vacation, he was probably just creating a way to talk about his vacation. The fact of the matter is that interruptions—intentional or not—are rude. They signal to the speaker that the listener is not listening or engaged. Casual chats about vacations are one thing, but when this happens in any business, it can be a problem. Think of this bad habit as “listening with your answer running.”

Take Time to Listen!

Employee: “Hey boss, Got a minute? I’ve got some great ideas on how to improve our customer service. I promise I’ll be brief.”

Manager: “I’m glad I ran into you. I was planning to stop by your office to find out what happened to parts we ordered from Taft.”

: “I’ve got Peggy working on it. We should know soon. Here are my ideas.”

Manager: “Wait a minute. Why did you ask Peggy? I asked you to do it. It’s too important to delegate.”

Employee: “Okay, I’ll go work on it right now.”

An excited and engaged employee just got demotivated and became a less engaged employee. The manager didn’t acknowledge his ideas for improving customer service in any way. Instead, she talked about what was on her mind, virtually dismissing his excitement.

The messages sent by the manager:

• My agenda is more important than yours.
• I didn't listen to you when you stopped me.
• You didn’t do what I wanted you to do.

The messages heard by the employee:

• I’m not important.
• My ideas aren’t valued.
• Management talks about delegation, but they don’t believe in it.

Was there a better way for the manager to handle this situation so that both she and the employee could get their needs met? Certainly. She could have acknowledged the employee’s request and asked him to bring it up at another time. The employee would have felt that his manager had listened and wouldn’t have minded moving from his agenda to hers.

Keys to Listening

• Be intentional. Really listening, without your answer or idea or opinion or bias running, is hard. It means you need to be open-minded. Put what you think aside for the time being. Make a small sign that says “LISTEN” and tape it to your computer or bathroom mirror to remind you.

• Avoid distractions. For example, if you have a tendency to look around when others are talking, sit or stand where your view is restricted.

• Set time boundaries. Provide a reasonable time limit for your meetings, and stick to it.

• Avoid multi-tasking. Don’t take phone calls, read or work on your computer unless necessary for the meeting. These actions are rude and shout “you are not important.” If the work is urgent, ask if you can reschedule after you’ve completed it.

• Clarify. Repeat what you believe the main message was. This creates an opportunity to make certain everyone is on the same page.

• Respond as appropriate. There are generally two main actions from a discussion or meeting: schedule a next action or simply thank the person for the information.

Learn to Listen

Studies show that more than 70 percent of workers feel they are mismanaged. Often, this is related to poor people skills, including poor listening skills on the part of managers. Listening is one of the best tools a manager has to coach and motivate employees. Listen to your employees’ ideas, problems, training needs, ambitions and even personal issues. You don’t always have to act. Sometimes listening is enough.

The good news is that all businesses can train its managers to improve their listening skills. Effective listening, like any business skill, takes practice. The benefits to your business, however, can be profound and profitable.

Joe McKenna is president of The KENNA Company, which is focused on helping companies improve their hiring practices and communication skills. Joe can be reached at (816) 943-0868 or The KENNA Company is on the Web at © 2004 The KENNA Company

Permission given to reprint in its entirety with name, company. e-mail and website (live links if posted on the web) and phone number.

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