I develop / author e-learning programs about workplace focused on foundation and Next Level Soft Skills™.
What I Do and Why I Do It:
I am fascinated by how people behave at work:
Over the course of my career, I came to realize that my success as a leader depended on the talent of of the people who worked for me. So I reshaped by post graduate education to provide me insight into what I think is the most fascinating of things: the way people behave at work.
Work place behavior is every bit as complex and intriguing as family / relationship behavior:
We preach about the importance of soft skills, but don’t really provide very effective training programs for them. We don’t acknowledge the complexity of work place people skills.
Instead, we see an endless parade of self-labelled Internet experts and business coaches. They may be skilled, but in my view, their skill lies in marketing and gaining Internet followers, rather than in really understanding just how complex workplace interpersonal behavior is.
We simply don’t accept that people need continued support and focused education to become skilled inter-personally at work. We want a silver bullet – a one or three day program which magically creates increased interpersonal effectiveness back on-the-job. We don’t acknowledge that managing / leading is a complex skill of skills that need to come together over a period of time to achieve that increased effectiveness.
But ‘complaining’ does little to change things:
Instead, I translate my fascination with workplace human behavior, and my learning about how people behave at work, into workplace focused soft skill programs. I base my work on the following core principles.
One _ People apply soft skills on-the-job when they value doing so and have the ability to do so:
Values are complex. They are developed through our early socialization and over the course of our lives. If people don’t value being interpersonally effective, they are not likely to take the time and to spend the energy needed to develop people skills.
Two _ Ability is a combination of 3 kinds of knowing:
- Knowing that – knowing facts, concepts, and ideas.
- Knowing how – be able to do things, using our cognitive and physiological capacities.
- Knowing why – making judgments about when to, and when not to use, the ability.
Three _ Managerial Capability starts with Self-Awareness:
Without constantly increasing one’s self-awareness, a person is condemned to endless repeat managerial professional development programs without effectively translating new skills into increased effectiveness back on-the-job.
Four _ Working with people to develop and advance their soft skills takes three kinds of expertise:
1. Expertise in the soft skills themselves.
2. Expertise in adult development / instructional design for adults.
3. Expertise in providing feedback and coaching individuals.
How To Get Actual Payback from Investments in Training
sSoft skills are an 80/20 reality:
20% of the skills get you through 80% of the situations at work, where everyone is well-intentioned and pressure is at a day-to-day level. Many people acquire these 20% foundational soft skills:
- as part of their ‘growing up’ socialization,
- or as part of early work experiences,
- or as part of beginning professional development programs.
Leaders and managers cannot handle their role requirements with just 20% of the soft skills:
Their people management and leadership need mean they need to acquire the other 80% of soft skill. Their roles mean that they are constantly dealing with the exceptional 20% situations – i.e.
- conflict among individuals,
- delivery under pressure,
- decision making under conditions of uncertainity,
- communication under conditions of stress,
- coaching others who are anxious about their current and future performance,
- dealing with people who performance is not up what is required,
- … .
Manager and leaders need to acquire and to develop the other 80% of soft skills in order to do their jobs:
Unfortunately, most ‘leadership’ development programs talk vaguely or generally about what it means to lead. They do not focus on specific soft skills. They do not help managers develop them in progressive ways, which move them over time to become more and more ‘expert’ in their use of these soft skills.
A particular manager may be lucky, and get mentored / coached by a rare self-aware boss, who is also good at developing people skills. But most manager / leaders are not this lucky. They simply fumble their way through with the 20% foundation level situations with the skills they may have.
I know this well, because I have managed hundreds of manager / leaders over the course of my career:
I only began to get real payback from investing in professional development for managers when I focused on the other 80% of the soft skills.
My whole approach to Next Level Soft Skill™ development is driven by 1 metric:
Professional development only pays off when there is improvement in the business results delivered by the person being trained, in the short term and the long run.
E-learning can only take you so far:
Advanced soft skill develop requires focused in-the-moment feedback:
As well as knowing that, people need the ability to role-play the use of the new soft skills, and get immediate feedback on the extent to which they are succeeding. Acquirement soft skills is very much like acquiring sport skills.
Why I deliver customized, face-to-face advanced soft skill programs:
These are customized because shaping the required role plays and simulations to take into account the work place of the participants dramatically increases new skill use back-on-the -job.
They are face-to-face, so that we can incorporate the feedback components (personal and video-based) essential to advanced soft skill development.
I investigate workplace unpleasantness.
Doing workplace investigations well takes Next Level Soft Skills™:
I also run an workplace investigation practice. Doing so keeps me in touch with the use of Next Level Soft Skills and with changes in the dynamics of the workplace. We also deliver pragmatic, actionalble results to individuals dealing the complex dynamics underling workplace bullying / harassment, workplace sexual harassment, occupational fraud, and personal relationships that lead to organizational conflicts of interest.
I write regularly, in traditional and e-publishing formats
I also post on Linked In fairly frequently,