People sometimes get overwhelmed because they have so much to do, or things they need to do are complicated. This short video addresses one simple approach to breaking things down into manageable chunks so you can more easily get things done. The simple question “How can I help?” is powerful. But, don’t take my word for it. Try it and see for yourself.
There are lots of things we cannot control and with all that is going on in the world right now, emotions are all over the place for some people. There are things outside our control that affect our emotions, but we do have some control over how we respond to things.
This short video (less than 6 minutes) covers three things we can proactively take action on to keep our emotions in check.
#emotions #emotionalintelligence #focusonwhatmatters #focus #proactivity #communication
If you don’t believe that Google has manipulated their own search algorithms to serve up what they most want us to see, try doing a search for good news. I did. You really can’t make this shit up.
Google’s idea of good news starts with a hurricane, followed by some hyperbolic crap about Kavanaugh and the last of their top three results is an article about a limousine crash that killed 20 people.
It’s not fake news folks. Google and every other company involved in the media and technology shows us what they want us to see. It seems that finding good news is now harder than ever.
It’s up to you what you choose to read, right? There is plenty of good news out there, you just have to look for it, so I thought I’d help make that search easier.
ADT’s recently published 2017 State of the Industry Report shows organizations have increased their investments in training, both in terms of money and time spent training. Does this ring true for your organization? If you remember just one thing from this article, make it this: Your competitors are investing heavily in training their workforce, so unless you want them to eat your lunch, you better be investing in training your people too.
The State of the Industry
This was the fourth year in a row these figures increased, with 2016 spending up to $1,273 per employee, up from $1,252 the year before. Industry-wide, organizations invested just over $90 billion in training, up 32.5% from prior year spending. These increases continue an upward trend in spending for the fifth year in a row, pointing to organizations continuing to value training very highly. The best indicators of how businesses prioritize things are their spending and what gets on their calendar, and it’s clear organizations are making training a priority.
The time investment per employee in 2016 was up 1.8% at 34.1 hours per employee, a little more than four full work days of training. Employees are increasingly seeing training as more important as the realize how quickly workplace environments and necessary skills change. Whether they are training for skill acquisition, skill enhancement, or simple to get continuing education credits for some certification they hold, people are taking more time than ever out of their schedules to train.
What do these figures mean for you? Simply put, you may want to ask yourself a simple question, “Are we investing in training our people like your competitors are?” If not, you may be losing ground to the competition.
Despite Tech Improvements, Face-to-Face Delivery Dominates
Webinar platform vendors seem to be coming out of the woodwork and existing players keep tweaking their offerings to keep the competition from stealing their market share. But, with all the technology improvements that come at breakneck speed, face-to-face training increased as a percentage of total training time to 51.16%. That’s right, despite its lower cost, webinars haven’t outpaced in-person training. If you’re a training and development professional, that’s probably no surprise because face-to-face training has many advantages that other delivery methods lack. But, focusing on delivery method would be missing the point here, which is…wait for it…training continues to be a very high priority for many organizations and especially so for best-in-class organizations.
What’s Your Plan?
Training spending is up and people are spending more time on it, too, but what are YOU doing about training yourself and your people? If you’re in charge of putting together training events or material, what have you done about implementing whatever training plan you made before your budget was locked down at the end of last year? There are a seemingly endless variety of options out there to satisfy your training needs. If you’re like one of the many organizations who collectively spent $7.5 billion last year in outside training products and services, you have a lot to evaluate to lock down what training you’ll have on your calendar.
You probably have a few questions to answer before you can finalize all of the training you want to get do. Who will I get to deliver the training? What topics do I want on my training agenda? In person or webinar? And the list goes on.
Now is the time to answer these questions and get your training planned and booked. Then, you can look forward to implementation and seeing your training pay big dividends.
If you remember only one thing after reading this article, remember this…get out of your spreadsheets, and into your business. The better you understand what drives your business, the better you will be at planning and forecasting, not to mention analyzing actual results.
SWOT ON THE FLY
By getting out from behind your desk and getting into the different functional areas of your organization you will gain an understanding of what makes your business tick at a broader and deeper level than you ever will any other way. A key advantage this approach offers is it will enable you to do what I call, “SWOT on the Fly”. By periodically gaining exposure to different functional areas of your business, you will be able to identify your organizations strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
If you ever watch the “Undercover Boss” television show, you will hear CEO’s repeatedly praise the process of getting into the trenches of their business. They routinely find things that are working well and things that are broken in their business. This experience makes it infinitely easier to anticipate the contingencies you should plan for.
I have had the privilege of speaking at a number of national conferences where I have presented to audiences of FP&A professionals. There are usually anywhere from thirty to sixty or more people in a session, and when I poll the audience to see how many have spent any appreciable time out in their business, usually only a few hands go up. Most FP&A folks just have not had this type of experience. There are many reasons for this, and one of the biggest is corporate culture. Many organizations have a culture that dictates FP&A crank out endless forecasts and analyses, leaving time for little else.
A big factor in a more effective FP&A function is one that is overlooked by most people. In all the conferences, seminars, conference calls, webinars, and the like that I have participated in I have never once heard a discussion about communication skills. Aside from technical skills, this one skill set has the potential to affect your career more than any other single skill. I have seen statistics that say that as much as 85% of our success in business is determined by our communication skills.
Effective decision-making, good communication skills and being able to act on decisions are key attributes that significantly leverage your technical abilities. In our role as FP&A professionals, we are called upon to provide senior management with information to enable good decision-making. In the best case, we are asked to participate in the decision making process, by not just providing information, but by also analyzing information and communicating recommendations based on our analysis. If we have great information and are amazing analysts, but can’t communicate our recommendations effectively we will fall short of our desired outcome.
If you want to make big improvements in your FP&A function, start putting together a plan to gain exposure to your businesses functional areas to get a better understanding of what really drives your business. Start working on your communication skills, so when you make recommendations based on your insightful analysis, the message is understood loud and clear and it can be acted upon. Do these two simple things and you will have done more than most FP&A professionals out there and you will have a competitive edge.
The current presidential race provides some useful lessons in decision making that we all should be thinking about. In their best-selling book, Decisive, Dan and Chip Heath talk about avoiding the narrow frame as a core principle to follow to improve the quality of your decision making. This short excerpt from the book sums up the problem:
“Psychologists say that we tend to get caught in a narrow frame when we make decisions, often limiting ourselves to a “whether or not” choice: e.g., I’m debating whether or not I should buy this fancy pair of shoes. This is a trap: We focus so hard on the single option we’re considering that we blind ourselves to the other options that may be available.”
In the case of the election, many Americans are narrow framing things as a choice between a Democrat and a Republican. The reality is, those are not the only options. Gary Johnson has been on the radar for a while, but now there is yet another choice. Former CIA agent Evan McMullin has thrown his name in the hat as a presidential candidate. But, you may say, “If I vote for someone other than a Democrat or Republican I’m throwing my vote away.” Are you? Or, are you falling into the narrow frame trap? Aren’t you throwing your vote away if you vote for someone you don’t think is the best choice? Aren’t you throwing your vote away if you allow other people to distract you from viable options and lull you into thinking that choosing from two options is the only way you can make a decision?
I’m not talking about politics here, sports fans (that’s an obscure Great Santini reference, in case you missed it). I’m talking about sound decision making. If you were working on a project at work centered around choosing a new CRM for your company and you focused on the two biggest competitors in the industry, without considering any other options would that be a sound decision making strategy? The marketing from the two top dogs would likely lead you to believe that it would be silly to even consider any option other than them. Sound familiar? Now, think about this. What if Salesforce was one of the options you didn’t consider because it was a new start-up that nobody had heard of. Well, hindsight is 20/20, right? Surely nobody could be expected to predict that Salesforce would grow into such a dominant player in the CRM arena, right? That’s true, but the point is that you may have not even given them consideration as a viable option simply because they weren’t one of the major players already.
This narrow frame thinking is dominating the presidential campaign and it will lead many people to make a decision without evaluating all of their options. Don’t let the narrow frame trap creep into your business decision making. Let’s take a lesson from the presidential race that we can use to improve our own decision making at work and elsewhere. Evaluate all your options, at least more than the two or three most obvious ones. Don’t miss the point and think that I’m advocating evaluating every conceivable option. That will lead to analysis paralysis, another decision making villain. The simple point is to avoid the narrow frame trap. Step around it instead.
Happy side stepping.
When it comes to success there is no shortage of advice on how to achieve it. But, what advice should you listen to and which should you disregard? At a macro level, there is a big divide on the issue of passion vs. practicality. Some popular pundits have expressed their opinions on both sides of the argument.
If you listen to media guru Gary Vaynerchuck, you will hear him talk about the virtues of finding your passion and working hard to make money following that passion. He explains that to be truly successful you need to work hard and you need to put in a lot of hours. Maybe 10,000 hours? If you’re going to put in the kind of ‘hustle’ (Gary Vee, as many call him, loves to talk about hustle) it takes to be very successful, you have to be doing something you love, something you’re passionate about. If you don’t love what you’re doing, you won’t be able to put in the work it takes to be a success he reasons. Sounds like pretty sound advice.
One of Vaynerchuck’s reasons for preaching the follow your passion philosophy is simple: the Internet. He talks endlessly about how the Internet has dramatically changed the game with respect to everyone’s ability to follow their passion. He talks about how the Internet has expanded people’s options and access to so many ways to follow their passion and turn it into a business, not just a hobby. One example Gary Vee points out is the growing abundance of success stories of people who have started YouTube channels or podcasts centered around their passion and they developed huge audiences and achieved success. These are just examples, but there are lots of opportunities that technology and the Internet have brought to the table for anyone willing to hustle, anyone who is willing to put in the work.
You can listen to Gary Vaynerchuck talk about passion in this video: Follow Your Passion
Mike Rowe was a fixture for eight seasons on the Discovery Channel’s show Dirty Jobs where he took on a vast array of notoriously dirty jobs and he talks a lot about the importance of practicality when it comes to work. He thinks that advice telling you to follow your passion is, “Terrible advice.” His advice? Follow opportunity.
As Rowe points out, there is often a major gap between passion and skills. As he so eloquently points out, “Just because you’re passionate about something doesn’t mean you won’t suck at it.” If you’ve ever watched American Idol, you’ve seen this sad reality hit people in the face like a giant hand of truth.
Millions of people with college degrees and tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt have been hit with reality when they head out into the world with their newly minted degrees, only to find there are no jobs in their chosen field. Meanwhile, there are nearly 5.8 million jobs that employers can’t find people to fill because there is a lack of qualified people with the requisite skills to do those jobs.
Rowe’s advice is summed up in this simple sentence. “Don’t follow your passion, but always bring it with you.”
You can listen to Mike Rowe expand on his philosophy in this short (just over 5 minutes) video: Don’t Follow Your Passion
SO, WHICH IS IT?
With such diametrically opposed philosophies about success being thrown around by extremely successful and influential people, which is the right course to follow? I’m not a philosopher, but I think that’s something you have to answer for yourself. I know my answer.
FPA Group has partnered with The Innovation Enterprise Academy (IE Academy) to launch a live online course, ‘Communication Skills for FP&A Professionals’, that aims to solve the problem of miscommunication specifically among finance professionals. The course will be delivered by industry leader and founder of The FPA Group, John Sanchez, and provides students with an understanding of their own unique communication style and how they can leverage it effectively to get their message across. Communication skills are much like muscles in that they must be exercised regularly to keep them in top condition. If you don’t work on them, they tend to atrophy just like a muscle that is not used. Regularly engaging in some type of communication skills training will keep your skills sharp and your communication effective.
This course will give students the skills to understand their audience when communicating which is vital if your audience is to understand and retain your message. By learning about your audience, you can tailor your communication to make it more effective. This understanding comes from knowing a number of factors, including how they best receive communication. These things affect how someone interprets your communication with them. There are many ways communication styles can be categorized, but what is most important is to realize that understanding your audience is a key to effective communication.
Registration is open now and the course will take place on September 6, 2016, 11:00am – Noon Eastern Time. Seating is limited to ensure interactivity and to give everyone a chance to participate and get their questions answered live, so secure your seat while they are still available. Register using this enrollment link.
63% vs. 5%
If you communicate in business meetings the way most people do, it might surprise you to know that only about 5% of people will remember the facts you share. Research shows that is the percentage of people that remember Information presented in a traditional, Joe Friday, manner; “Just the Facts”. If, however, you used stories to convey your message, you would increase your audience’s retention by a factor of twelve. Yup, that same research says more than 63% of people will remember things they hear when it’s in the form of a story.
So, why don’t more businesses use storytelling. That’s a darn good question if I say so my darn self. I’m not Marvin the Mind Reader, but I bet it’s because they think stories are just for entertainment. More importantly, how can you start using stories in your business to be more effective with your communication?
STORIES ARE TIME-TESTED
Storytelling is one of the oldest ways people have shared information. They’ve been around for thousands of years, long before anyone ever researched their effectiveness. And, like many other time-tested remedies to common problems, many people question their real usefulness unless they hear about scientific research that supports the claim. Well, now that we have that out of the way, let’s move on to some basic storytelling tips to get you started on your storytelling journey.
KEEP IT SHORT AND SWEET
Slow and steady wins the race, but stories aren’t a race. Stories should be concise and you better get your audience’s attention quickly. Remember the little factoid at the beginning of this article? I bet you do because it was kind of a startling statistic, wasn’t it? That’s a very effective way to get someone’s attention, catch them off guard. Unless you already knew those 5% and 63% statistics they probably seemed a little shocking, especially when you contrast the two numbers against each other.
If you ever saw the movie City Slickers, you probably remember Curly talking to Mitch about the secret to life, “One thing. Just one thing.” Find the one thing you want your audience to remember if they forget everything else, because they might. Think about some of the most effective stories used in business, advertisements. You probably remember catchy slogans like “Just Do It” or “Where’s the Beef?” Those slogans are decades old and people still remember them because they were short, to the point and embedded in an engaging and very short story. What’s your story’s one thing?
Storytelling doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective.