It Is Time to Fail Faster

It Is Time to Fail Faster

Founder and Managing Member Ron Slee shares words of wisdom he heard recently in today’s blog post: It Is Time to Fail Faster.

I never thought that I would call for “failing faster” in my life. Imagine failure? Of course, if we think about this, a moment’s failure is important to anyone who is interested in getting better at how they do things. 

I was given this “line” by Stephanie Smith, Vice President of Marketing from Newman Tractor on a recent Podcast with Mets Kramer. We were talking about Marketing and the Digital Dealership and how fast change was happening. Stephanie calmly stated that we have to learn how to fail faster. I stopped her and asked her to repeat it. I found it to be so profound. Days later, to me it is still a very profound observation.

I was in school in the 1950s and the 1960s. It was a very basic education. Nothing particularly fancy. Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. My Mother was a teacher, she was the Vice Principal at the grade school I attended. She chose all my teachers. I couldn’t get away with anything. My Grandmother was a teacher in the proverbial one room schoolhouse. She got a Master’s degree from the University of Manitoba in the early 1900s. One year I was doing miserably in Geometry and Latin. I hated studying so I refused to memorize. I either understood it or I felt it was not that important. My Grandmother took over my schooling on the weekends. I spent several months with her every weekend. The first semester I got 38% in both Geometry and Latin. That was unacceptable to Granny. By the final report card, I averaged 78% for the year. I had no choice but to stop failing. I was “taught” a very important lesson that year. It wasn’t “don’t mess with Granny.” No, it was “apply yourself or there will be a consequence.” Did I ever learn! That, plus my experiences in the swimming pool as a competitive swimmer, made me who I became.

That led me to my favorite question: “Why?” It seems from a very young age I was always asking why. Perhaps every child does. But that meant I would try things. That was when I started experiencing failure. I remember one instance when I was doing some work in the warehouse at the Caterpillar dealership in Montreal. I think we were moving parts around trying to make more space. Bob Hewitt, the dealer principal, came out to the warehouse and put his arm around my shoulders. I was surprised. Here I was in a sweat shirt and jeans working and dirty in the warehouse. He was in a three-piece suit looking very elegant. He looks me in the eye and says “I am really disappointed in you.” Even in those early years I was rarely at a loss for words. I quickly responded “me too. Why are you disappointed?” I looked up at him and I could see his face start to twitch. He said “when you are finished come see me in my office.” The thing he was disappointed in was that the roads to a remote branch were closed for the winter and I had placed a stock order that wasn’t going to get there. I hadn’t planned for an early snowfall. I told him if I would have known that snowfall was coming, could have predicted that, I would be working somewhere else. True story.

I have made an unbelievable number of mistakes over the course of my lifetime. They continue even today. The trick with mistakes from my perspective is very simple. You are going to make mistakes, that is clear, identify the mistakes as quickly as you can and make adjustments, corrections, fix it. Fast. Today with the rate of change in society, in technology, in telecommunications, in fact in nearly every aspect of our lives is dramatic. Change is coming at us so fast it is impossible to keep up. At least that is true for me.

When Stephanie made the comment, we have to “fail faster” I was amazed. It was so appropriate. It was profound to me. It was an “aha” moment. It forced me to think about things again in a new way. I needed to pick up my pace and make more changes more quickly. Don’t worry about making mistakes. Don’t worry about failure. That is going to be a consequence of doing more things. Mistakes and failures are also a part of the process of learning. You just have to recognize when things don’t work and make adjustments. Make corrections. Everything will continue to be alright. No one is going to shoot me. At least, not for making a mistake. 

Thank you, Stephanie.    

The Time is Now.

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How Do We Find Our Individual Potential?

How do we find our individual potential? 

As many of you know, the primary purpose of our Learning Without Scars business is to help people find their personal potential. That confuses a lot of people. Most of us don’t have any idea of our potential. Early on in civilization it was quite basic and very simple – to have the strength to be able to find and get food. We were hunters and gatherers. If we couldn’t find food, we died. Simple, right?

Today it is much more complicated. Governments are determined not to have people die from lack of food. We have many social programs to ensure that people will have access to the basic requirements of life. Even in these advanced times, we have many who choose to stay off the grid for one reason or another.

In the United States in 2020, about 18% of the population was under 15 years old; 65% from 15 years old to 64 years old; and 17% over 65 years old. I believe that understanding our potential changes with our age. It varies as we get older. One of the definitions of potential causes me some difficulty. It is the “possibility of becoming something more.” Isn’t that always the case? Aren’t we constantly learning things? Another definition is “coming to self-realization that there is more to our lives.” This definition gets rather personal for me. One day, while my father was still alive, we were having a glass of “brown water” and solving the problems of the world, he paused and looked at me and said “I don’t understand you. You are never satisfied.” I responded quickly with the blithe comment “well there is always more, isn’t there?”

And that becomes the challenge of potential. There is always something more.

One of my grandchildren is in High School and we were talking about what he wanted to do with his life. He said, “I don’t know.” It is a terrific answer for someone in High School today. There are so many choices available to us. There are the sciences and the fantastic developments being made within them. The arts and the various media – sculpture and painting – as well various methods to express ourselves visually. Music and literature and drama. Fashion and Makeup. I might add that many of the early school years tend to “stifle” creativity not “encourage” it. How do you start in finding this something “more?”

Well, how about starting with those things that do not turn you on? These are the things that you don’t like to do. In 1998 Sir Ken Robinson led a commission created by the government in the UK – “Commission on creativity, education and the economy.” It turns out he was highly critical of the education system under which he was taught. He regretted the fact that neither the primary school, secondary school nor college enabled people to develop their talents and discover what they really wanted to devote themselves to in their lives. Doesn’t that condition still exist where you live? Where you went to school, or your children and grandchildren are going to school? Where are we supposed to find this magic “thing” to which we want to devote our lives?          

This is a difficult undertaking, isn’t it? This pursuit of our potential. How about we look at the other side of the question. What don’t we want to do? What aren’t we very good at in our lives? Sometimes that is easier to identify.

  1. What was something you disliked studying?
  2. What were some jobs you hated?
  3. What are some of the household chores you really don’t like doing?

Isn’t there anything common in the items above? 

  1. Are they some activities you do alone or without somebody else?
  2. Does someone tell you to do these tasks or does it depend only on you?
  3. Do the activities need something physical or intellectual?

Now let’s make another list.

Write down everything you like or liked to do in the areas below: 

  1. School or Education
  2. Jobs
  3. Everyday tasks

Now find the common denominator in these items.

Have you stopped any of these activities you enjoyed? 

  1. Why?
  2. Can you recover it and start it again?

Now let’s rank the things you liked to do.

  1. What is in first place?
  2. Can you make it more prominent in your life?

Some things should now be standing out. Things should be clearer.

Now comes a big question. I think it will have become clearer to you. You know better now some of the things you want to do. So, let’s ask that magic question? What have you always wanted to do but were afraid to start doing it? Do you think it is time to start doing it? That is the beginning of your potential. The possibility of becoming something more. Are you ready to get started?

The Time is Now.

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A Special Announcement from the NTDA

A Special Announcement from the NTDA

The National Trailer Dealer Association (NTDA) offers resources to their members across North America. Established in 1990, NTDA has strengthened the voice of independent semi-trailer dealers within the trailer industry. This week, they have shared a special announcement on their website:

NTDA Announces Partnership with Learning Without Scars to Provide Online Parts, Service, Sales Training

The National Trailer Dealers Association (NTDA) Board of Directors voted at its April 11, 2022 meeting to partner with Learning Without Scars (LWS) to provide online parts, service, sales and marketing training for members. LWS is accredited by the International Accreditors for Continuing Education and Training.

INDIVIDUAL SKILLS ASSESSMENTS

The NTDA will work with LWS  to  develop  trailer-specific  content for members in the future. The site, learningwithoutscars.com, provides comprehensive online learning programs for dealer employees starting with individualized skills assessments. The assessments allow the Learning Without Scars staff to create a personalized employee development program.

Based on assessed skills, the employee is  asked  to  select  from  classes designed for their  skill  level,  allowing  them  to  address  gaps in their knowledge level. This allows  employees  to  move  through  four progressive categories of learning: Developing, Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced.

Classes are designed to offer both employees and employers something that matters: continuous improvement to the benefit of each. Too often, we hear employees talk about wanting to have a career path, but not being sure where they fit in their profession. Learning on-demand classes build and develop the professional skills an individual needs to continue to grow and make progress with your company and your industry.

Managers/supervisors have access to employee skills assessments and employee training scores. There are 108 online classes available in 12 languages. Online assessments and courses are available for $125 per each.

DEALER-SPECIFIC COURSES

Courses can be taken on a PC, a Mac, a tablet, or a smartphone. A student requires an Internet connection to access all course materials. Supplemental reading for each class is available as a .pdf, so a .pdf reader such as Acrobat is recommended any device on which students are taking courses. Students will need access to speakers for video clips and audio tracks (these are optional).

Classes are categorized by department,  job  function,  and  skill  level to ensure employees are able to target the right skills. Learning on- demand programs cover Parts, Service, as well as Selling and Marketing of Product Support.

NTDA Members can sign up for LWS’ free e-newsletter at https:// learningwithoutscars.com/signup, or take advantage of free blogs, podcasts, and audio learning opportunities.

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Find and Develop Skills

Find and Develop Skills

Founder and Managing Member Ron Slee writes about how we can find and develop the skills we need in life. He brings the idea of Ikigai to bear on this crucial and timely subject.

How do we find and develop the skills to provide us the best possible life? 

I have written often about happiness. From the philosopher Tom Morris and his book Plato’s Lemonade stand to The Art of Happiness at Work it is clear I want people to be happy in their lives. This I find out is a Japanese word – Ikigai. It is a word that is the meaning of life. It is what gets you out of bed in the morning.

Ikigai is the center of a circle that touches on four basic elements.

 

This is a very simple graphic, isn’t it? I would like everyone to be doing what they love, what they are good at and what the world needs. And clearly you need to be paid for it. 

One of my first clients in 1980 was a cancer survivor. His name was Ron Miller. He was an extraordinary man in his early 30’s who gave Caterpillar fits. He was the largest broker of Caterpillar equipment in the world. He hired me to put him in the parts and service business so that he could feel he was a pseud CAT Dealer. He was quite force. My family and I were living in Vancouver, BC and I was working for Finning Tractor. I was effectively, or not, running the parts business for them in British Columbia and the Yukon Territory. We had fifty-three stores then and my job had become babysitting and politics and I neither liked nor was I any good at either. Ronnie successfully lured me away and that was the beginning of my consulting life. I remember as if it were yesterday sitting at the poolside in his building with my wife and daughter Caroline who was about four years old at the time. Ronnie had lost a leg to cancer and Caroline was fascinated with the “six-dollar man.” 

I have met many gifted people in my life and Ronnie Miller was clearly one of them. He once told me that there were three words that he used to quide his life. Happiness, Effectiveness and Making Money. He said each day he tried to be happy and be effective and make money. I have never forgotten that lesson.

I am not as successful at living u0p to that as I would like but I continue to try. Notice he said “effective” not efficient. Two different words. He was all about doing the right thing. Not doint things right. That is a very telling statement. It fits into my mantra of doing your best, doing wha is right and honoring the golden rule. Simple things.

But let us return to Ikigai.

  • What You love to do REQUIRES Passion and Mission.
  • What The World Needs REQUIRESs Mission and Vocation.
  • What You can be paid for REQUIRES Professionalism and Vocation.
  • What You are Good at REQUIRES Passion and Professionalism. 

The British journalist Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book called Outliers. In it he proposed that it takes 10,000 hours to be good at something and succeed at whatever it is. Aristotle said “We are what we do repeatedly.” There are many wonderful books written around the same theme. I was a swimmer in my youth. I swam hours and hours each day for years to get good at it. And I did get good at it.

When I started at a Caterpillar Dealership in Quebec, Canada, in 1969 I had the Senior partner from a consulting company spend one day a week, all day with just me, to show me and teach me about inventory management and systems. I had a passion to get good at what I did. Ad I did get good at it.

Along the way I had very talented people step up and help me get better at everything I did. Bob Kirk who was the “guru” of inventory management for Caterpillar took me under his wing. Larry Noe, one of the founders of Caterpillar Dealer Data Processing di the same. I don’t know why they did that but they did. Similarly, although later Roger Fay, who was responsible for the Caterpillar parts business in “Caterpillar Americas,” Canada, Mexico, Central and South America did the same. I will never forget those men. The truly “paid it forward.”      

So, what was my passion? To do the right thing and to do things right. It started with swimming and my coach would watch where I put my hand in the water and wasn’t happy until I did it right. It continues today with everyone who influences my thinking about doing everything I do a little bit better. The “Kaizen” way.  

That takes me to Professionalism. That is tough. It is a matter of opinion. I hate that. I don’t like opinions I like facts. 

But let’s look at professionalism.

Professionals are:

  • Competent
  • Reliable
  • Communicate well
  • Poised
  • Ethical
  • Organized
  • Accountable

As a consultant I have to be viewed by my clients in a specific manner:

  • I have to have oral and written skills
  • I have to have observation skills
  • I have to have problem solving skills
  • I have to have people skills
  • I have to have organizational skills
  • I have to have time management skills
  • I have to be objective
  • I have to be independent.

Once have become established I have to have references that will attest to my skills. That is my professionalism.

Let’s return one more time to Ikigai.

I am passionate about what do. It shows. I love it.

I have a mission. I have goals and purpose.

I have to be professional.

I have to make money.

In my life, professionally and personally I live Ikigai. I would hope that each of you would be in the same place. It is not easy and there are many roadblocks. But don’t give up. It is worth the pain and struggle to get there. I promise you that once you get there you will be happy and life and long and fruitful life.  

The Time is Now.

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The Great Reshuffle: How to Retain Top Talent

The Great Reshuffle: How to Retain Top Talent

Guest writer Sonya Law tackles on of the challenges facing businesses today: how to retain your top talent in the face of what is being called the great reshuffle.

The great resignation: could it best be described as the great reshuffle?

It’s true that there has always been staff turnover, so the great resignation is not new, however the reasons for leaving and staying are!

So how do we retain our talent?

  1. Career discussions: We need to be proactive in talking with employees, to discuss their career aspirations or a recruiter will have this conversation for you!
  2. Training: Employees want to learn and grow.  Be prepared to invest in their personal and professional development and ask them an open question: What do you CARE about?
  3. Purpose & EVP: They want clarity on the purpose of the company and align themselves with it. We need to know what our company’s Employee Value Proposition is in order to attract and retain staff, furthermore, we need to believe it and articulate it with authenticity. Ask yourself the question: What do you CARE about?
  4. Empathy: Employees want a manager that CARES for their wellbeing. We need to have a holistic approach to the wellness of employees, both physically and mentally. This will require a budget for the investment into structured wellness programs that detects, monitor and support the wellbeing of staff. What is your financial investment into employee wellbeing?
  5. Leadership: Hiring and educating our mid-level (branch) managers – we know the top reason that employees leave is because of their manager. We need to hire managers who have good leadership skills and educate our existing managers on how to evolve and become better leaders. When was the last time you engaged in leadership training or coaching?
  6. Value: Visibility of leadership and valuing its people is critical in retaining talent, it is also having the conversation with a resigning employee, to ask the reasons why they are leaving and to ask them to stay. Try to keep them!

We are only as good as our people and our team without our employees we do not have a business.  It’s important we understand as HR and Leaders, what are the roadblocks in our businesses and where do our employees need support.  Its having a difficult conversation about an employment contract that needs to be sorted, so that we can get on with business.  All too often we get sidetracked on what it is we think we should do, what leaders DO is focus on the right things.

When, we are put in a position of leadership it is to serve, it is to understand what is needed to get business done and achieve our goals together as a team.  Gone are the days where apathy is a defense or I don’t like conflict is used as an excuse for not having uncomfortable but necessary conversations.

As leaders we need to be addressing issues and people who don’t fit or risk losing talent.

Post Pandemic, employees are looking for:

  • Autonomy about when and where they work.
  • Flexibility to do LIFE, to spend time with their partners, family, pet’s and be connected to the community in which they live.
  • Clarity on what is their passion, what gives them joy, fulfillment and align their life with it. This is the new work life, do LIFE balance!

The entrepreneurial life:

The most interesting reason, that employees are leaving is to pursue their own start up’s, creating businesses that align with their passion and are becoming entrepreneurs.

  • Forbes reported statistics that in the US, new business applications are up 95% according to the Census Bureau.
  • France is up 20% according to McKinsey.
  • Japan is up 14%, in the UK are up 30% according to National Statistical Office.

Jobs in most demand are seeing increases in salaries of up to 30-40%:

The great reshuffle has also pushed up wages because of the lack of supply of seasonal labour and good candidates, due to a candidate short market.

The industries most affected and experiencing this great re-shuffle and increase in salaries are:

  • Human Resources
  • Information technology
  • Accountancy, Legal and Finance.

Compliance is a constraint on time:

The biggest roadblock HR and leaders are facing in retaining its talent is the constraints on time to invest in these initiatives, so much of the role is about compliance due to Pandemic and Vaccinations.

We know though that if we take proactive and positive steps to engage with our employees our businesses will thrive!

“Take the time to look after your people and they will take time to look after your business.”

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Training Develops Skills That Can Be Measured

Training develops skills that can be measured.

Guest writer Natalia Dmitrenko continues to build from the foundation of last week’s blog post, “Loyal Staff” with her exploration of the skills that training develops. Each of these skills can be measured.

Any corporate training initiatives have a similar purpose: evaluation of the difference in the performance of staff before and after the training took place. That way the company gets a much better picture of all the benefits or potential drawbacks which come with any L&D training.

But if you’d look at the other side of the coin, you’d see that developing effective training mechanisms that would provide up-to-date data about the gaps in knowledge and skills within the departments can be time consuming and rather costly.

Good news is that collaboration with e-learning platforms doesn’t mean companies have to invest tons of funds in training since there are already-made training solutions available. Luckily there are some tools that provide good assistance for these kinds of compliance training. One is Grinfer for Business that offers a training platform that takes the stress out of learning. Participants can log in from anywhere and on-the-go because it’s incredibly mobile. Person can watch one course or even a lesson per day and he/she is done. It’s almost like checking your Instagram, but more informative and career related.

Grinfer for Business is not only about the value-adding L&D activities but is also about performance metrics which can be now implemented easier, thanks to online technologies. This e-learning solution effectively builds a continuous cycle of learning with easy access on-demand not just to career related courses but also to a wide library of content for “your body and soul”. Or, in other words, things that are fun to learn in your spare time.

Business teams get instant access to free live webinars and masterclasses on any topic from top instructors, 1,200+ online courses, workshops, access to authors’ blogs, personalized learning paths/curriculum, and much more. Here learning is not a part of the job, it is mixed with enjoyment of learning something new about the stuff that you love to do outside of your job.

An experience shows that whenever a company builds a continuous cycle of learning, this will not only contribute to a corporate culture across the SME. It also adds a competitive edge that encourages staff in a good way to become more productive and efficient. However, everything really depends on the type of company’s training initiative.

For example, a good showcase of such team training would be collaboration in 2021 with a middle-sized IT company called Severex. Initially, this company’s goal was to find a highly efficient e-learning solution that would work well for upskilling company’s work teams with on-demand skills upgrades, rapid upskilling, and reskilling.

Since Grinfer for Business also engages teams by continuously measuring students’ progress/learning outcomes, after about 3 months of training, Grinfer has collected feedback from the Severex learning teams about their personal learning experiences, insights, achievements, success stories, and any drawbacks that they’ve faced along the way. The survey responses indicated that learning paths correlated with employee engagement which boosted productivity and the effectiveness of teams.

At the same time, this training initiative has built a stronger team spirit and contributed to maintaining a healthy corporate culture across the business. Severex employees, who took part in team learning, have admitted that the learning experience positively influenced their overall job satisfaction. And that most of them felt like the company does a good job in taking care of their needs.

Many respondents admitted that most upgrades they received on hard and soft skills were useful and helped them find new creative outlets for scaling and accomplishing set goals more effectively. By the end of the training cycle, the overall productivity of Severex staff had ticked up to about 15%. At the same time, interaction with the Grinfer for Business platform has ramped up showing the increase of 30%.

In addition, Severex’s HRs were provided with enough data (accumulated from the Grinfer’s custom reports and learners’ engagement rates) for finding better ways to develop long-term learning paths that wouldn’t demand costly investments. And, at the same time, would increase the absorption rate, break the daily routine, and boost employees’ loyalty.

Taking into account that retention rates and employees’ loyalty to a place of hire are the two pressing issues (since the cost of employee turnovers can be high), this puts L&D training programs in a high priority list of organizational charts. And if a company’s staff is filled with people who are always up for learning – always is a good sign.

Coping with today’s already accepted “new normals”, companies start to realize that using e-learning platforms for corporate training provide many undoubtful benefits due to its incredible flexibility, mobility, and accessibility. Some companies go for external e-learning resources like LMS or eLearning marketplaces that are available now for both, individual and group training sessions.

Some prefer to stick to blended learning, which could be the best choice too since it’s also highly effective and also less costly. And saving money is what most companies want in the current realities caused by the global pandemic.

Corporate training delivered via e-learning platforms may still raise some contradictions. The main concern is that you can motivate employees with proper training and you can kill your employees’ motivation with improper ways of training. However, with the rapidly growing popularity of the eLearning industry, investing time, money, and efforts into adequate online educational resources is one of the smartest decisions that business teams can come up with today.

Find more info on how we can help at Grinfer website.

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Loyal Staff: Does Corporate Training Really Work Well for Uplifting Employees’ Skills and Boosting Loyalty?

Loyal Staff: Does Corporate Training Really Work Well for Uplifting Employees’ Skills and Boosting Loyalty?

We are pleased to introduce another new guest writer here at Learning Without Scars. Natallia Dmitrenko is a content specialist at Grinfer with a focus on content management and blog promotion. She gained experience studying at the University of Nebraska taking graduate-level classes and working for a number of companies based in the US and in Minsk, Belarus. Tonight, she writes about loyal staff, and asks the question that many of our clients have asked: does corporate training really work well for uplifting employees’ skills and boosting loyalty?

What is one of the most expensive mistakes managerial staff makes? The answer is: unsuccessful hires. Indeed, statistics indicate that a wrong hire can cost three to five times the compensation of the candidate.  On the other hand, according to Go2HR (one of the most trusted sources on HR): “40% of employees who receive poor job training leave their positions within the first year.” Lack of loyalty among employees?

So, how to stave people off from leaving in the first year of hire? No wonder why HRs spend a big chunk of time figuring out best ways of improving training programs for staff. In fact, an engaging corporate L&D training program can become an effective solution for boosting retention and reaching business goals.

Today, L&D online training programs have become a dynamic and almost inseparable part of any business venture. In 2022, almost 50% of L&D professionals confirmed that those employees who were engaged in corporate training were highly engaged in overall corporate processes as well. Hence, being aware of all the popular/efficient trends in the world of L&D is essential for the effective management of staff. Well, especially in the current COVID-19 realities.

Indeed, there are two types of L&D training that exist today: on-the-job training and online training. If the question arises what kind of training to give, this depends upon a multiple of factors: overall productivity and work experience of employees, particular types of hurdles faced at work, the recent work performance, etc. However, the rising tension caused by the never-ending COVID-19 epidemic is forcing companies to pay more attention to L&D training offered via the Internet. Many have already admitted that it really works!

New “work from home” practices prove that if companies engage employees into online training programs, they won’t bet on the wrong horse. Some of the main positive impacts of taking classes on e-learning platforms are:

  • E-learning boosts cooperation by enhancing such soft skills as leadership and communication. As employees work and interact in these training sessions, which helps to build stronger interpersonal soft skills, reliance, and support which ultimately leads to better cooperation.
  • The main advantage of e-learning is in its ability to convert staff into a skilled workforce while providing instant access to learning resources. And then the upskilled workforce can turn complex scenes to opportunities in more effective client-centric ways.
  • Effective online programs open more opportunities to employees to apply new skills in response to potential job challenges.
  • Less supervision required if the employees are trained well. If employees’ liability is amplified resulting from the effective online training program, more man hours can be put to good use. Plus, staff will be more worked up to take on challenging tasks at hand in the future.
  • An effective corporate training program delivered online instills values of learning, evokes creativity in staff, improves decision making skills, breaks the ice and contributes to interacting more openly. Hence, an increased self-esteem motivates employees to work better and develop a stronger sense of loyalty to a place of employment. And that’s just like having a healthy fruit in the diet – the bigger employees’ loyalty, the more companies benefit from the positive corporate culture.

Of course, corporate training programs vary depending on the company. For example, a company that lays concrete for warehouses odds are will probably need a different training program compared to a tech software company.  Still, engaging workers in online training builds a progressive company’s image, foster loyalty, and boost retention rates. Plus, a good online training program also makes any company look more progressive therefore, more attractive to new recruits.

Obviously, staff upskilling through e-learning helps employees understand their jobs and company’s policies better. Proper training contributes to higher retention rates, greater job satisfaction and, as a result, increases loyalty of staff. People feel like they work in an inclusive atmosphere where everyone feels like they can contribute. And this is a part of the retention secret sauce.

Job satisfaction is a necessary ingredient for efficient and enthusiastic job behavior of staff. And that’s the case when a proper corporate training really adds to that dish and brings the whole meal together.

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What is True Success?

What is True Success?

In our lives we are all involved in work, our jobs, as well as our families. That gives us both the professional and personal aspects of our lives. Many of you know I have referenced Tom Morris and his books, in particular True Success, A Philosophy of Excellence and Plato’s Lemonade Stand. They are both very helpful in our lives. I have referenced them many times.

Everyone seems to have some formula for us to follow to achieve success. Some are about market share, or customer service, or parts availability or labor efficiency. However, let me ask a question. These measures, while extremely important, do they make you successful? Is that how you define your success? I don’t think so.

I still remember, as if it were yesterday, when I was looking for my first job after finishing my university career – what was it that I wanted to do? What was my passion? What excited me? I had no clue. I was too young and I had no real-life experiences from which to make the choices necessary. From where I am now, I wonder how it is that we are supposed to be able to answer these questions. My grandchildren are in Gen Z. Recently at a family meal, I asked them both what they wanted to do. My grandson is a Junior in High School. He has many things that he is interested in and cannot make a selection yet. My granddaughter who is a Senior in University has a little more clarity. She is taking Biology with a focus on Genetics. It would seem clear that she has a path she is following. Yet it is clear that nothing could be further from the truth. She doesn’t know yet either. One of the troubles today is that there are so many choices. I always told (and still tell) people, particularly when I was teaching Education at University, that everyone should leave their options open as long as possible. When I was out looking for work the people that influenced my life – my parents, teachers, advisors, and counsellors all told me the same thing. Take your time. Whatever you choose that will be where you will work for the rest of your life. That was 1968. Things have definitely changed.

Today the average number of jobs that an individual will have over the work life for men is 12.5 jobs and women 12.1 jobs. It takes that many before a person can make their own selection of their life’s work. But then we still have the question that needs to be answered. What is success? Is it status in the community? Is it money? Is it your job title? I submit to you it is happiness.

For this particular subject I have to turn to psychology and psychiatry. Those two particular disciplines deal with the human experience in many ways. From the challenges that various groups of people have in learning or reading or concentration to depression and other human issues they have more knowledge than most in what success means.

I am currently reading a book, What Happy People Know, by Dan Baker, PhD, Director of the Life Enhancement Program at Canyon Ranch (This is a pioneering wellness resort which helps people make a lasting transformation that inspires people to find their “well way of life) and Cameron Stauth. The book cites research that has shown that the root of unhappiness – fear – lies in the oldest, reptilian part of our brains, and negative reactions are often dictated by primal instincts. In other words, we are “hard wired” for hard times. Over the past twenty-one months, since March of 2020, we have experienced hard times. This has been a very challenging time. We are all hoping that 2022 will bring us more positivity.

The book is designed to help us, and it has helped me, to understand that in order to be successful – we have to be happy. The authors give you a road map to happiness by breaking down the elements and qualities of Happiness. You get a very detailed description of how each of these qualities can be influences in your life in the book. I am simply listing them here now:

  • Love
  • Optimism
  • Courage
  • Freedom
  • Proactivity
  • Security
  • Health
  • Spirituality
  • Altruism
  • Perspective
  • Humor
  • Purpose

Of this list of a dozen elements, I relate to many. Let me focus on Purpose first. Without a Sense of Purpose, you will flounder. Most of you, by now, understand that our purpose, at Learning Without Scars, is to help people identify their individual potential and then we provide tools to allow them to realize their potential. Many of you will see that purpose as a difficult of not an impossible mission. Obviously, we have a different view on that. One of my fundamental beliefs is that “Everyone wants to do a good job.” This is followed with the fact that “everyone can do more than they think they can.” Put those two facts together and you see the seeds of understanding individual potential.

One of the challenges many of us face is that we get “stuck.” We get stuck in our jobs, in an Industry, a Company, a department. We are stuck and unfulfilled, and bored, and clearly, we are not challenged. But we need the job and don’t want to move, because we don’t think we can replace the job. We are anxious, we are afraid. Whenever I find this situation, I ask the question “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

There is a fresh question for me to consider in the book. “Am I living a life I love?” Perhaps that is a little too theoretical for most of you. But think about that. Isn’t that a terrific question to be asking yourself? Of course, it is. There is an interesting aspect to this question and the work of these authors. They always, every time, provide something that each person has to do. Some action. This is not simply a theoretical exercise. They are trying to create a perspective of success. Of happiness. Nothing is allowed to get in the way. For instance, many of us will use our health or bad habits as a “reason” that we can’t do something. They do not accept that excuse. They give us a perspective to consider with an interesting quotation. “Health is the optimal condition of being that allows for the ultimate engagement in life.” If you smoke or are overweight, they suggest you make the best of that reality. No excuse and no reason for inaction. It seems that there is a trigger when we leave our fear behind and pursue a life we love. I strongly suggest that everyone read this book. I think it could make a difference in your life.

This is the ultimate place to ask that age old question “What If?” Can you improve your life? Your job performance? Your family life? Your relationships? I am by nature an optimist. I know the answer to these questions for my life. Of course, I can. I just need to start. To take some action. To get on the path to success. Care to join me?

The Time is Now.

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Learning and Teaching Have Changed Forever

Learning and Teaching Have Changed Forever

For some time, the education world has been struggling to maintain itself in the face of the obvious need to make changes. Normally change is an evolution not a revolution. However, the competing interests feel very much comfortable with how things are operating. The Teachers Unions, The School Boards, the State Bureaucrats and the Federal Government were very much into the status quo. BUT. The Students and their Parents, who I believe are the customers of the education business were not.

Then came the Pandemic.

All of a sudden, the students and parents were in the same place at the same time and both parties could see how and what their children were being taught. The parents didn’t like what they heard and saw with the material and the methods with which their children were being taught. They then started to show up in larger numbers and more regularly at Parent Teacher Meetings and School Board meetings. And they made themselves heard. The School Boards didn’t like this one bit, imagine the parents interfering with what the Boards were doing. Their expertise and authority were being challenged by these unruly parents who were demanding answers.

Then the National School Board Association wrote a letter to the government of the United States complaining about these parents and even going so far as to call them terrorists. Imagine calling your customers terrorists? My intent is not to get into the weeds of politics with this introduction. It is simply to provide the background to a subject that I am very passionate about and want to discuss with you. Each person on the planet should be able to receive a good education.

Learning takes on what I believe are four major methods: classroom, webinar, internet-based and self-study.

The classroom will never go away. There is a real benefit to having a person who knows how to teach and has subject matter expertise sharing that knowledge with willing and able interested people. We have learned a lot about classroom learning. The fifty-minute class is changing. The material is being delivered in smaller chunks. Statistics are showing that this has an extremely positive impact on learning and retention.

The webinar is a tool that I am not particularly fond of as a teacher. I cannot see the students. I don’t get the feedback that I am used to in the classroom on each individual’s understanding about what I am talking about in the session. However, when it comes to product knowledge and other very specific learning, they are a terrific tool. I have always liked to have one of the employees conduct this training. The employee doesn’t want to be embarrassed in front of their peers. So, they really learn the material. Each session is done by a different employee and as a result we improve the skills and knowledge of the complete team of customer service employees.

The internet-based learning programs have become a serious and growing concern in a relatively short period of time. You can see that major United States Universities, Harvard and MIT and Georgia Tech to name a few, have their complete curriculum available for online learning. Specialty businesses have arrived from The Khan Academy to Coursera and many others there are learning opportunities online that will be here for the rest of time or until the next major disruption.

Self-Study will always be here as long as there are people who want to learn. Reading is one of my favorite hobbies and pastimes. You can transport yourself to any era and any area on any subject in the world and beyond between the covers of a book. We still have a Reading List on our Consulting Website until the end of this year at www.rjslee.com under the tab Reading List.

Katy Tynan, a principal analyst at Forrester Research recently made the following observations. “Prior to the Pandemic, there was an overemphasis on formal learning as a delivery mechanism. Formal, classroom-delivered training was easy to plan and deliver, but organizations didn’t always see the intended results.” Haven’t most of us felt that way at one time or another about classroom training?

Tracy Malcolm, a global future of work leading at the consulting firm Willis Towers Watson goes further. “Organizations are starting to pursue learning in new forms, and certainly at a new pace, where it’s much more frequent learning opportunities. The formal training itself is certainly bite-sized, so that it can be consumed more quickly. And the pace of learning increased.” At the same time, we are now flooded with a massive amount of student debt. The largest single debt in the country.

There are many voices starting to sound similar alarms.

When we started with Management Training at Quest, Learning Centers, we did the same thing as most other teaching or training business did. Our classes spanned two days in locations that were easily accessible to our client base. Sixteen hours of training. We built the classes to cover sales, operations, assets and leadership. Four hours for each of those areas and two subjects in each four-hour time block. The students would come in from their dealerships the day before and spend two nights in hotels and pay for their room and board as well as the tuition cost of the classes. We got very good response and also very good reviews of the content and the way we taught. We built eight such programs.

We started to notice a problem with our teaching, or more appropriately the learning and retention of our content that the students experienced. They would get back to the company and be caught up instantly in the old routines to the point that they were not able to implement any of what they had learned. We had too many people working in the business and too few people working on the business.

Our sponsors and clients were noticing similar things and wanted to approach the teaching from a different perspective. Thus, the webinar was born.

The webinar did not require people to travel or stay in hotels or eat meals in restaurants. It was cheaper. It also was shorter. The webinars that I conducted typically ran between forty-five minutes and an hour. The vehicle for teaching and by extension learning was changed. It is shortened, which leads to measurably more learning and better retention. Further, the employee was not taken away for two days at a time. But the teacher didn’t have the same tools to evaluate the learning of each student. We changed the delivery methods on our webinars and using a computer driven projector that I could operate remotely and turn off the slide presentation and walk in front of the camera and talk to the audience directly. They could see me and my antics. I was transitioning to Hawaii at the time so I started to wear Hawaiian Aloha Shirts. Many people have commented on those shirts in that they were annoyed when I wore the same shirt more than once.

We moved away from webinars in 2015 and converted all of our learning programs to the internet starting in 2016. It has been a much larger job that I had anticipated. With our two-day programs and the structures that we used, we had three separate programs; What it Looks Like When it is Right, Reaching Market Potential, and Performance Excellence. So, we had six discrete classes for each of the four disciplines. Twenty-four classes for parts, and service and product support selling and marketing.

The first order of business was to research and select a “Learning Management Software.” This was not easy nor were we very sophisticated or knowledgeable about what we wanted and needed. Needless to say, we are on our second LMS. We make mistakes like everyone else.

Then we had to determine how we wanted to build the classes. That is our wheelhouse. Caroline has a Master Degree in Education and I taught people how to teach at McGill University in Montreal. We built our classes to start with optional reading material, then a mandatory pretest to gauge the knowledge of the student before they start the class. The subject specific material we created covered in the range of 125 to 160 slides each one of them with audio tracks. We then embedded film clips to highlight key points and material. Further we added quizzes to break up the learning. We put about ten quizzes into each of the programs. Caroline then put all of this material, the slides, the audio tracks, the film clips and the quizzes into the form of a video. That allows the students to stop and start or go back and forth to review the material. We wanted the students to learn, to understand the material and become more knowledgeable as people both personally and professionally. Then we added a final assessment. This was a twenty-question assessment of the knowledge and skills of the students on that specific subject class. They had to obtain a score of 80% on this assessment in order to pass the class and earn their certificate. However, before the students can get their certificate, they have to provide us an evaluation of the class through a survey. Finally, they can print their certificate which will also show them how many CEU’s, Continuing Education Units.

We now have one hundred and eight subject specific classes, and we will continue to add classes as they are requested. Each class is reviewed monthly for adjustment based on the surveys and the assessments results. For instance, if a majority of the students get the same wrong answer to the same question, we review that section of the class to ensure that it is not our teaching that is at fault. If it is the material that is causing the problem, we make adjustments.

Another interesting aspect of our work is the feedback that we receive constantly about what our customers want and need. They tell us what they want. And we listen. Do we ever listen.

When we built the classroom material, we used voice recognition software and I dictated to the computer. It was like I was teaching in a classroom. In the nineties the voice recognition software was not at all at the same level as what it is today. I would talk to the computer and go away. Thirty minutes talking forty minutes doing something else while the computer continued to convert my voice to a word document. Once I had the classes built, I invited people for whom I had a lot of respect and asked them for their time in a classroom with me to see what I had created. I wanted their objective evaluation of what I had done. From that platform, my background and experience in the business and in teaching, complimented with the experience and knowledge of the very generous people who helped put the final touches on our work and created Quest, Learning Centers. I will never forget what those people did to help me. You know who you are and I thank you sincerely.

Over the years our twenty group facilitation businesses first with Insight, M&R, Institute in partnership with Malcolm Phares who started the “Twenty Group” concept when he was VP of Dealer Development for PACCAR, and now with The Capital Goods Sages, in partnership with Dale Hanna of Foresight Intelligence has provided invaluable discussions and debates with experienced executives on their dealerships. This provided learning opportunities for me that was also invaluable.

Since 1980 our consulting business has afforded me the opportunity to work with hundreds if not over a thousand dealerships around the world. I have been provided an opportunity in my business life that few others have been given. As I have said to many people over the years. “If you play two rounds of golf everyday for six months and you don’t get pretty good at it, well someone is trying to tell you something. I have learned something from each consulting engagement and each of the twenty group meetings and from a large number of very skilled people in our classes.

Over the past fifty-two years we have had over twenty-five thousand students either in a classroom or a webinar or an internet-based class. I have learned a lot from the interaction with all of these people.

Yet even with that background and experience we are in a constant state of looking to get better at what we do and how we do it. We offer blogs, podcasts, newsletters and audio learning on a complimentary basis as a means of transferring knowledge to interested people. We have a group of people as Contributors helping us. These people are an invaluable help to us. They are Thought Leaders who are challenging the status quo and the world in which we live as well as experienced executives and influencers. We are grateful to each of them for everything that they do for all the employees in the Product Support world.

One of the changes that we see being beneficial is to have training going on continuously for everyone. We advocate that each employee in the Product Support world who leads people or touches customers have one skill assessment tied to their job each year and take at least three classes each year to improve their skills and knowledge. “You need to have regular reinforcement of what you’ve been learning” so says Wayne Vascio, Professor of Management at the University of Colorado. He continues “You use it or you lose it.” “Simply doing it one-off or learning a skill one time and then not being able to practice and use it on the job, is a recipe for skill decay.”

Another thing Caroline is taking us to is the fact that passive learning is not sufficient anymore. She gets that from her continuous learning for her teaching job and her education. I am excited about it. She caused us to put the quizzes into all of our classes. She is pushing to have optional Zoom meetings with people who have taken the same class with either Caroline or me leading the meeting. We talk about the subject specific class that they took and provoke discussions in a group setting. We are exploring having chat rooms for people who have taken classes with us where they can reach out to others in the Product Support World. Even going so far as Gamification of the Learning Experience.

One of the other things that has become painfully clear. There is an expression “those that cannot do, they teach.” This has never been a good idea. Over the course of my career at two different CAT dealers I was a Parts Manager, a Service Manager, I established the first Product Support Selling function, I designed buildings and dealer facilities, I was a Data processing Manager. I have walked the walk I don’t just talk the talk. The teacher has to know what the employees do in their jobs. What are the challenges and the obstacles to the job? This is not an abstract experience. We are even exploring, in some cases, having the employees training each other. This is invaluable in other ways as well. Everyone finds out who the best is at a particular subject or task.

Over the course of our fifty-two years in the industry, and the wonderful training I have received myself and the people from whom I have been able to learn from I am very humble and extremely grateful.

We will continue to keep you posted as we continue to change and adapt to the new realities in education and learning.

The Time is Now.

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The Hidden Revolution in the Equipment Industry

The Hidden Revolution in the Equipment Industry

With 20+ years of business system design and business intelligence experience, Dale Hanna founded Foresight Intelligence in 2009 to help leading equipment dealers achieve operational excellence and a sustainable competitive advantage through effective use of real time KPI’s throughout the organization. Recently, Dale has added telematics to his passion and is enjoying the challenge of making oceans of disparate data useful to manufactures, dealers, rental companies, and end customers.  Dale obtained a BSEE degree in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University and has been engaged in many associations serving the equipment industry. In his first guest blog for Learning Without Scars, Dale writes about the hidden revolution taking place in the equipment industry.

Technology is driving a revolution in the equipment industry that we can easily see: grade control, idle tracking, fault codes, autonomous equipment, electrification, etc. While the advancements are amazing and will continue to be, dealers are noticing brand differentiation becoming more and more of a challenge. In this margin-conscious market, we see the battle of the future being fought on customer experience and we see technology is quietly but rapidly driving that revolution.

This hidden revolution is happening in all areas of dealership operations.  Today we focus on how technology is increasing efficiency and enhancing customer experience in the service area, especially during this time of unprecedented labor and parts shortage.

Below are strategies that are giving some equipment dealers a leg up:

 Increasing Trust from Your Customers

We all know trust is a vital ingredient in delivering a great customer experience.  If you are like me, I used to think building trust was an elusive and subjective endeavor.  Chris Voss, a lead FBI hostage negotiator, gave us a formula to build trust quickly and predictably:

Trust = Predictability.

A system that can be configured to your workflow to automatically notify customers at key milestones creates a predictable service experience every time without adding more work for your people.  Yes, UPS and FedEx have perfected this.  You know exactly where your packages are all the time and the moment they are delivered.  It is hard to imagine any shipping company being able to survive without it.  Our expectations for the service experience are quickly reaching the same level.

Doing Business at the Speed of Text

When we do not get an email response from someone, what do we do? We text. According to a research report, on average, people respond to a text in 90 seconds and an email in about 90 minutes.  Adding an integrated SMS (text) platform is like adding nitrous to your service engine.  A fully integrated text platform notifies your customers of progress, provides new quotes, gets instant sign off for additional work, shares inspection results and obtains satisfaction survey results at lightning speed. All the communication history is saved for future reference. With the busy schedule your customers have, who would not appreciate a faster ride?

Self Service Makes Happier Customers

The pandemic has accelerated a trend that was already happening – we want to do more things online, by ourselves, at whatever hours we want, without having to wait on anyone.  Providing information your customers need, in the forms they need, always accessible makes them feel informed and in control, both are important elements for happiness.  A robust dashboard, easy to use interface, searchable/sortable/exportable data and schedulable reports keep your customers smiling while your people sleep.

Have Your Process Your Way

A lot of service systems were built based on someone else’s ideas, usually from the first few customers the system makers had. Your workflow is what makes your people efficient, and your organization stand out. Today’s technology allows an effective system to adapt to you rather than the other way around. Dynamic dashboards by user and role, quick and easy work order assignment and tracking, Apps for field technicians to easily add comments, pictures/videos, inspections can be required and enforced as a part of your workorder process are all examples of how today’s systems serve you the way you do business.

We Are More Powerful When We Are Connected

So are data and systems. At dealerships, we still use multiple systems to get things done. The last thing we want to add is another siloed system. Any service system today should connect with your OEM system for fault codes, warranty information and even submission, your telematics system for real time dispatching, customer’s telematics system for asset location and hours, maintenance management system to organize all the maintenance plans you sold and your business system for cost and PO information. The more your systems are connected, the more efficient you become.

The current pandemic will end for sure, but our world has changed forever. If we look at carefully, there is an undeniable trend – tech rich companies have done better in general, some has done exceptionally well and taken sizeable market share from competitors during COVID 19. This trend is definitely here to stay. Technology is not only changing things we can see and buy, but it is also changing the way we perform and experience service. Customers will certainly buy more equipment, especially with the new infrastructure bill, and whoever delivers the best customer experience will have the bigger share.

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