Core Communication Skills

This class presents the research base from both behavioral studies and neuroscience indicating certain “core conditions” for successful, goal contingent interpersonal communication.  The core conditions are then converted to three critical skills sets: effective non-verbal communication, listening and reflecting, and then presenting (your) perspective.  These three skills sets are described and modeled throughout the entire class, as well as being put into the context of front-line and middle management of a service organization.  Participants of these high energy, tightly focused sessions will be asked to interact and present their point of view throughout the process.  

Effectively Handling Objections and Questions from Clients and Prospects

When clients and prospects present objections, a natural reaction is to present an opposing perspective.  It’s the same when the client or the prospect asks questions that are clearly critical or confrontational.  We try to marshal facts to counter the objection, or we try to answer the question with defensive content.  It’s natural; when we feel we are being attacked, we become defensive.  At the same time, being defensive is exactly the wrong thing to do.  It simply escalates the conflict.  Confronted with an objection or critical question, the ‘right” behavior is to listen carefully and then respond with an empathic reflection.  Not the claim of understanding; instead the demonstration of understanding.  When a person experiences being listened to and fully understood, it increases the probability that he or she will, in turn, be more willing to listen in return.  There is no guarantee here, but an empathic reflection, especially one that shows real insight, is, at once, persuasive and at the same time, a stimulus for further dialogue.  It opens doors, rather than building walls.  Another tool for handling objections is agreement.  While counterintuitive, agreement sets the stage for further discussion, not further conflict.

Relationship Management – Best Practices

The demand on Relationship Managers (RM) has never been greater.  Managing the client relationship toward increased satisfaction and retention is no longer sufficient for success, if it ever was.  The effective RM needs deep knowledge of the client, knowledge of the entire array of relevant organizational capabilities and knowledge all existing and potential intersection points.  This knowledge then needs to translate into behavior in which the RM becomes a trusted advisor to the client.  This workshop presents RM Best Practices.  These practices were developed from the input of working RMs with a track record of success.  Best Practices in the following categories are presented, discussed and demonstrated in this workshop:

1. Relationship with Client Personnel
2. Knowledge of Client Organization 
3. Representing Your Organization
4. Marketplace Knowledge
5. Preparing for Client Meetings/Conversations
6. Leveraging Internal Resources

Negotiating Solutions with Your Internal or External Client

In the best of all possible worlds, we can say “Yes” to any client request and doing so is revenue positive or cost neutral and has no negative risk consequences.  Unfortunately, it is not always the best of worlds.  We may not be able to say yes because it may create, unrecoverable cost, contract issues, aid to a competitor, create a compliance or risk issue or produce myriad of other downstream problems.  This class provides some of the ideas and specific behavior as useful to those serving both internal and external clients.  The class describes conditions – both practical and ethical - when, rather than saying “Yes,” you need to negotiate a solution.  Notice that this class is not about how to say “No.”  On occasion, you may have to say “No,” but there are alternative behaviors and behaviors that can lead to a negotiated solution.  (As with most Driskill lead classes, participants can expect to hear about and experience examples of empathic reflecting as one of the tools leading to a negotiated solution.)

Influence Without Authority

In one sense, everyone is a salesperson.  If we are not selling products or services, we are selling our ideas and ourselves.  The focus of this workshop is enabling participants to make and close the “sale” – whatever is being sold.  There are certain well-understood elements of effective influence.  Workshop participants will learn how to present themselves in a credible manner, tie their approach to an understanding of others and manage their presentation of content.  The model that is presented extends back to ancient Greece and through the present day, giving it unquestionable validity.  As with all Driskill classes, participants will be asked to actively engage from the first few minutes and throughout the session.  In this way, session content will be a response to participant experience and discussion.  Participants will leave the session with an immediate and concrete challenge to apply their learning.

What do all customers want? – “A “Unified Field Theory” for Service 

The focus of this workshop is on defining the attributes of all customers (both internal and external) and then identification and discussion of what all customers want from their service provider.  At the same time, it turns out that some customer desires are simply expected, if we deliver on these desires dissatisfaction goes down, but satisfaction does not go up.  Other customer desires, if fulfilled, will drive satisfaction up.  Still other service behaviors can produce customer “delight” even though the customer may not know what these behaviors are before they are delivered.  In this highly interactive class participants will bring their own experience as customers to the discussion, as well as their experience as a service delivery professional.  Participants will leave with a clear understanding of the dissatisfiers, satisfiers and “delighters”in the customer service relationship and, more importantly, how their individual performance plays a critical role.  

Superior Telephone Customer Service 

In the 21st century the inbound or outbound telephone professional is often the “voice” of the company.  The communication behaviors of the customer service representative will dictate caller satisfaction, dissatisfaction or even delight.  This highly interactive session all of the basic elements of the inbound call for service, from the greeting and initial dialogue, through closing the call effectively and all of the “mechanics” (e.g. holds/transfers).  In addition to verbal content, this session speaks directly to the issues of tone, pace and other verbal mannerisms that have a profound effect on the customer experience.  Even in the short version of this session participants will have a chance to practice the skills being discussed and demonstrated.  A longer version of this class is available.  It can be embedded into new hire training for phone reps and is supported by a participant booklet and Trainer’s Guide authored by David Driskill(“You are the voice of your company,” HRD Press © 2006, ISBN: 0-87425-899-5).

Coaching, Mentoring and Managing 

This session presents the similarities and critical differences between coaching, mentoring and managing service personnel. For example, a mentor, or “trusted advisor,” is typically not in an employee’s chain of command, while the job coach may or may not be in the employee’s department, while the manager certainly is.  While different, these three functions also share certain common attributes and, in ideal circumstances, function in a coordinated way.  This workshop focuses on the common functions with the presentation of a simple set of “Do’s” and “Don’ts” (ensuring a practical take away) and then provides examples relevant to each role.  As with all Driskill led sessions, this high-energy delivery will involve the participants and result in a few practical results that participants can immediately apply on the job.

The 6-Minute Presentation 

Participants of this highly interactive workshop are exposed to a variety of proven methods for presenting to large and small groups. This workshop is focused on specific techniques to “get the content out” in a brief time period.  Templates for making a recommendation, giving a status report, and making a proposal are provided.  Options and ideas for preparing PowerPoint slides and handouts are also presented and discussed, as are techniques for getting and keeping “audience” attention. This workshop is targeted at anyone responsible for making presentations, or anyone interested in building this capability.  

Strategies for Employee Retention

Retaining employees is a key responsibility of every manager. Losing people especially people who perform well has a wide variety of negative consequences, including; the cost of hiring and training a new employee, the loss of investment in employees who leave, and having to explain the loss to a client. While some turnover is inevitable, and even desirable, managers can take steps to avoid unnecessary and undesirable turnover. This workshop will provide very specific and practical ideas about how to engage and retain employees. Not surprisingly, many of these ideas have to do with creating and maintaining a positive and productive relationship with each employee. This is accomplished through feedback, providing development opportunities, and, perhaps most important, by listening to employee concerns, values and goals. The issue ofsalary will also be discussed but be put into the broader context of the total employee experience. Many managers are aware of their role in creating a positive work environment, but far fewer are taking the daily steps necessary to make it happen. This workshop provides both added awareness and specific strategies for employee retention.

Managing & Adapting to Change at Work

This session delivers both general information about organizational change and specific content about successful adaptation to change.  Facts and insights from relevant research are provided, including basic change facts, the emotional cycle of change, and basic Do’s and Don’ts. This information is then put into a specific organizational context through discussion of industry and market forces, the (global) regulatory environment, and service Industry’s long history of responding to change effectively. This class is highly interactive, timely, and will include discussion of organization specific challenges to the change process.

 High Performance Teams

This short but critical workshop identifies and discusses the critical ingredients of building and maintaining a high-performance team.  The content of this workshop does not represent the thinking of a single person; rather it is based on a literature review of the best thinking of many people, from business leaders and sports coaches to military models and financial service lessons.  For example:

1. A clear vision, philosophy or goal and core values that are communicated throughout the organization.
2. Getting and developing the right people, people who are talented and the “right fit” for the team.
3. Expectations and performance goals are clearly defined in an atmosphere of openness.
4. Discipline: the ability to stay in alignment with the core values and vision. And the values and vision are constantly reinforced and reiterated.
5. A bias for action: High Performing Teams get it done.

The session concludes with a presentation and discussion of the three “core of the core” conditions for creating and maintaining a high-performance team.   

Making Meetings Work – For People Who “Hate” Meetings

If you want to hear business people whine and complain, ask them about meetings. Depending on to whom you speak with, there is almost universal agreement that many, most or all meetings are a huge waste of time.   The research about meetings tends to confirm the anecdotal evidence.  Some researchers suggest that over 50% of the time spent in meetings is unproductive.  Furthermore, we all spend a lot of our time in meetings.  Mid level business people spend in excess of 25% of their working hours in meetings.  For senior executives it’s even worse – they spend in excess of 50% of their time in meetings.  This brief seminar is targeted at diminishing the ineffective parts of meetings and improving the meeting process. This seminar is focused the presentation, discussion and illustration of the “core conditions” for effective meetings.  Specific emphasis will be placed on the delivery of practical ideas, tactics and techniques for raising the efficiency and effectiveness of meetings.  It is important to note that this seminar is aimed at the relatively small things that an individual can do to improve meetings 

Another Form of Diversity: “Managing and Working in a Multi-Generational Workforce” 

This workshop addresses the reality that each generation in today’s workplace brings both common and different experiences and attributes to the job.  Today’s workforce has Boomers (1943-1960), Xers (1961-1980), Gen Ys (1981-2000) and now, Gen Z.  This workshop will address both the realities of each generation as well as the myths – of which there are many.  Included in the discussion are the facts and challenges of the new entrants to the service workforce, who are both learning the job and learning how to work full time in a professional setting.  Facts and discussion are then used to illustrate and define the challenges of both being in one of the generations and managing a multi-generational workforce.

Managing Conflict

It seems a natural and unavoidable part of life and work that conflicts arise.  In fact, there is strong evidence to suggest that people are “hardwired” to react emotionally in difficult situations.  Since emotions are not useful in problem solving or conflict resolution, which require cognition, they can disable resolution.  While there are no “magic bullets” for conflict resolution, there is knowledge and skills that can be learned and applied – some instantly, others with practice.  Participants will learn why most people behave the way they do under stressful circumstances.  More importantly, participants will learn specific skills/techniques to reduce and manage conflict.  It would be inaccurate to say that all participants will leave this training experience able to resolve any conflict.  However, participants will leave this session with specific knowledge and skills to predict or recognize emergent conflict and some tools to respond thoughtfully and skillfully when conflict arises.  The odds for conflict resolution will be in their favor.

© 2019 David Driskill