LSA Global Insights Newsletter

4.24.2017

Leading Virtual Teams - The Top 4 Challenges and 3 Winning Strategies

3 men trying to communicate through bull horns illustrating the kind of challenge virtual teams face

We call them "Virtual Teams" but the only thing virtual about these teams is their cyber office. Otherwise, these teams are made up of real people solving real problems and producing real deliverables. 

These teams have some special challenges. If you are leading a virtual team, there are three dimensions of communication you need to know.  

Distributed Teams are More Challenging
Let's start with the problem. Why treat virtual teams any differently than other project team? What's special? Distance. This translates into four specific challenges:
  1. First, where's the informal communication that happens at the coffee pot or water cooler? "So tell me, Eric, how many of these kinds of projects have you worked on?" or "I have a few simple questions I didn't really want to raise in the team meeting - you know, I didn't want to look dumb, but..."
  2. Second, what are you going to do about that old rule of thumb that 75% of communication is non-verbal when the only communication you have is verbal or written?
  3. Now add that most teams hit headwinds and must rely on trust and commitment to stick together when the going gets rough. Can you build trust and commitment across time zones?
  4. Then there's the logistics: What time do you meet? And where do you keep the project's "stuff"?
Three Winning Communication Strategies of Leading Distributed Teams
Notice the key term is leading. Not organizing, but leading. 

Former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Colin Powell, emphasizes that "leaders have followers." To be a leader of a distributed group of people that you don't see daily, you must be conscious of three dimensions of communication.


About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned


Project Team Toolkit

a graphic of 5 oarsmen (plus their coxswain) all rowing in the same direction the way project teams should work

Do you need to get your team rowing in the same direction?

Recognizing that nearly all projects are accomplished through the concerted, coordinated work of project teams, effective project team leaders balance the art of leadership and the science of project management.

Whether your teams are made up of part-time volunteers or highly-skilled professionals, their productivity and success is dramatically affected by the relationships within the team and the ability to function as a cohesive unit.

Project teams have a special challenge: they come together for a temporary assignment in which they face a unique problem. Successful project teams build a positive project team environment and learn to work together to solve problems even in the face of conflict. 

This research-backed project team toolkit includes:
  • The Critical Characteristics of a Great Executive Project Sponsor
  • The Top 5 Warning Signs of a Bad Project Leader
  • The 3 Keys to Successful Project Leadership
  • How to Break the Resource Gridlock: Prioritize to Accelerate
  • Must Have Tips for Getting the Project Resources You Need to Succeed
  • Proven Strategies on How to Better Choose Between Projects
  • The 6 "Get Right" Basics of a Great Project Kick-off Meeting
  • The Top 4 Project Challenges Every Team Must Overcome
  • 3 Proven Steps to Better Manage Internal and External Project Stakeholder Risks
  • The Top 5 Warning Signs that Your Performance Environment May Be Destroying Your Project
  • 20 Project Management Best Practice Templates
  • 5 Steps to Get Your Project Team Pulling in the Same Direction
  • How to Best Handle a Fixed Deadline when Project Scope is Unclear
  • Top 10 Project Mistakes and How to Prevent Them


About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned

3.27.2017

The 3 Levels of a High Performance Culture

3 steps in a plant's growth with light and water to money showing a high performing culture


We define corporate culture as the way work truly gets done in an organization on a day-to-day basis.

Think of culture as the collective attitude, assumptions, purpose and behaviors of a company's workforce. Your workplace culture answers the fundamental question of "how?" It exists in every company whether by design or by default.

Does Culture Matter?
Yes. Here is why... 

Research by Harvard established that an effective culture can account for up to half of the differential in performance between organizations in the same business. As Peter Drucker famously said, "Culture eats strategy for breakfast." And the global consulting firm Watson Wyatt found culturally aligned organizations return as much as 286% more value to stakeholders.

Our own organizational alignment research at 410 companies across eight industries found cultural factors account for 40% of the difference between high and low performing companies in terms of growth, profitability, customer satisfaction, customer retention, leadership effectiveness and employee engagement. Indeed, culture matters.  

The Link between Culture and Strategy
In general, strategy must go through culture to get results. 

We define business strategy as the clear and compelling choices about where the company competes and what critical few actions it takes to succeed. A successful strategy allows a company to perform beyond the sum of its parts. It answers the fundamental strategic questions of "why, what, where and who." First, consider strategy as the big problem you are solving or the big question you are answering. Then decide how to ruthlessly prioritize your time, money, people and energy to make it happen.

The Three "C's" of a High Performance Culture
Based upon over 25 years of research and experience, we have identified three critical and interrelated components required to create a workplace culture that matters: 
  1. Little-C: Organizational Health
  2. Middle-C: Performance Environment
  3. Big-C: Strategic Alignment
While each is essential, each must be assessed and shaped very differently if you, and your leaders, want to create a high performance culture.



About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned


Aligned Culture Health Check

people are pulling in a tug of war showing the power of culture alignment

Is your corporate culture helping or hindering your business strategy?

Is your corporate culture helping or hindering your business strategy?

We define culture as how things truly get done in an organization.   Workplace culture can be measured by understanding the way people think, behave and work. To be successful, strategy must go through culture to get implemented.

While often invisible, organizational culture becomes very apparent when strategies are deemed to be against accepted cultural norms. 

Accounting for 40% of the difference between high and low performing organizations, company culture matters.  How leaders define and shape their corporate culture over time has become a critical variable in defining the success and failure of their strategies. 

While building a strong and healthy culture is a priority for many leaders, corporate culture is rarely designed to align with an organization's strategic goals. Having a healthy (engaged) culture is good, but not sufficient.  Cultural alignment is the key.

If you would like to know where your culture is today, and where it needs to be to meet your strategic goals, then this cultural alignment health check is for you.


About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned

2.26.2017

The 6 Top Reasons Sales Training Fails


a cartoon runner trips over a hurdle

Most sales training initiatives fail to deliver.

At a minimum, the ROI is fuzzy, bolstered by only a few anecdotal stories strategically captured to make everyone FEEL a bit better about making the training investment. 

The critical question...why do most sales training programs fall short and what can we do about it? 

From our experience at implementing hundreds of sales training initiatives over the last two decades, we have put together a list of the top six pitfalls-the most common mistakes organizations make when rolling out a sales training program-and a checklist of how to avoid them.

Pitfall 1 - Focusing on the What vs. the Why
The first hurdle of any change initiative, whether in a one-to-one coaching session or in a classroom, is ensuring there is actually a desire to change and grow. With so much to learn, most programs are designed to jump into the learning without investing the appropriate time to ensure participants understand (1) change is needed and (2) it's in their best interest to change. 

The first step for senior leaders is to "get the troops on board." Consider the following Four P's to ensure participants will embrace the need to change. 

Personal Goals
People change for two simple reasons. First, because they believe it's in their best interest to change and, second, because they believe that change is possible. You need to position any sales training initiative as a resource to help reps reach THEIR personal goals and not a workshop designed to "fix them" for the sole benefit of the company. 

Ensure participants understand the personal payoff for change and that the organization has the will and the means to fully see the change through to completion.

Principles
Then address the "why" to change by identifying the principles that support every pillar of the program. There are fundamental laws at work for every effective approach to selling. Whether you are trying to improve response rates to emails or creating receptivity to a presentation, there are principles that, if understood, remove the mystery as to why one approach fails and others succeed. These principles provide a framework to guide hundreds of decisions. If you define and gain agreement to the guiding principles for each core competency to be learned, you ensure that the recommended approach will be embraced.
As you think about the design of your sales program, have the fundamental principles been defined for building the relationship? The sales process? How you engage a new prospect? Discovering needs? Building value or advancing the opportunity? Negotiating and responding to resistance?

Problem-Based Learning
The next step is to describe situations or scenarios in which the desired outcome was not achieved and the principle was ignored (the problem). Buy-in grows as participants roll up their sleeves to address the problem and share their assessments of the recommended approach. The student becomes the teacher and, if the principle is sound and applied to the situation, success is guaranteed. 

People
Lastly, the person chosen to deliver the program is at least as important as the design itself. Choose a facilitator the participants would want to emulate. When they throw out situations or challenges they face, will the facilitator be able to respond in a way that builds credibility with the audience? Can the facilitator go off script and apply the model to any situation, based on real life experiences? If not, buy-in diminishes and the learning objectives are jeopardized. 

This also holds true for the development of exercises, examples, and training simulations. You need an instructional designer with "street experience" or participants will decide the program was built by a person who never "carried a bag" and the engagement level and chance for behavior change and improved performance plummets.


About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned


Assess Your Sales Health

A doctor with a stethoscope measuring vital signs

Our Organizational Alignment Research found that sales leaders who align their sales culture and sales talent with their sales strategy grow revenues 58% faster, are 72% more profitable, have 9-1-to-1 greater leadership effectiveness and 16.8-to-1 higher employee engagement levels. 


The highest performing sales leaders:
  • Create go-to-market sales clarity by ensuring everyone understands the go-to-market sales strategy, has no doubt that the company is committed to it, is highly responsive to changes in the market, and believes the sales strategy is being consistently implemented throughout the organization.
  • Build high performance sales cultures by ensuring their teams clearly understand the desired sales culture, frequently observe the majority of sales leaders modeling the desired behaviors, regularly feel the sales culture motivates top performance, repeatedly receive and share information in a timely manner, and continually believe decisions demonstrate a healthy short- and long-term perspective.
Differentiate top sales talent by ensuring their teams believe the quality of sales talent creates a competitive edge.  This is accomplished by repeatedly hiring and retaining top sales talent while ensuring the right investments to meet sales targets. 





Voice of the Customer

"LSA's ability to get a group of 20+ executives from around the globe on the same page, push their thinking to new heights, and ensure an executable plan was excellent. I would recommend LSA to anyone looking to take their leaders and sales execution to the next level."
Rob Sturgeon | Executive Vice President | ServiceSource

About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned


1.30.2017

The Only 16-Step Employee Retention Strategy You Need

photo of 4 happy people together

Talent management matters. The ability to attract, develop, engage and retain talent accounts for 29% of the difference between high and low performing organizations. 


Do you want to know the secret to lowering turnover and increasing engagement? It's all too simple. Treat your employees well. Increasing retention isn't a complex web of 100 different metrics; increasing retention comes from treating your employees like the people they are.

Retention of top talent is essential to the bottom line. Every time you lose an employee, you lose money, time and employee morale. Here are just some of the costs associated with employee attrition:
  • Lost business if they go to a competitor
  • Lost engagement when retained employees see a peer leaving
  • Lost money and time hiring a replacement
  • Lost money, time and team productivity while training the new employee
  • Lost productivity while the new employee is in the early stages of the learning curve
  • Lost business through inevitable learning errors
However, if you can increase employee retention, you can eliminate costs and reap additional benefits. Think of employees as an appreciating, rather than a depreciating, asset; they are worth more to your company the longer they work for you. Additionally, a consistent workforce is necessary to build a high performance company culture and organizational health.  

We believe that people are at their best when they feel happy, healthy, and heard. This is the key to retaining top talent-if you can make and support the best version of a person's self, it will be near impossible to get them to leave.

5 Steps to Keep Employees Happy
  1. Hire right from the beginning.  A lot of workplace unrest comes from the mismatch between how the job/company was presented and what the actual job/culture entails, or between the capabilities of the new hire and what is actually needed to do the job. These mismatches create anxiety and mistrust, both on the employee's and employer's sides. Not only will properly informed and qualified candidates be happier in their jobs, hiring the right candidate will also reduce the number of people that leaders will have to let go. 
  2. Provide challenging work and goals.  Employees are happy when they are making important contributions to the team. Challenging work, and goals built around those challenges, provides a sense of accomplishment and pride, both of which are important to employee engagement and retention. 
  3. Recognize your employees, and help them recognize others.  One of the most meaningful gifts you can give an employee is recognition. Though there are endless ways to accomplish this, a sincere "good job" in front of peers is sometimes all that is needed. 
  4. Give employees clear expectations, direction, and purpose. Employees are happiest when they are delivering on the expectations set for them. When they don't know what the expectations are, they feel adrift, spending their work hours checking boxes without knowing why. Connect your employees' tasks with the company's overall direction and purpose, and they will be less likely to leave. 
Engage your employees.  Employee engagement is the strength of the mental and emotional connection employees feel toward their workplace-and it's deeper and longer-lasting than happiness. Engagement keeps employees going during those rough quarters and makes it easy for them to say they love their jobs. Disengaged employees, on the other hand, are almost 4 times more likely to leave an organization than engaged employees. 




About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned


Employee Engagement & Retention Health Check

silhouettes of business people on a graph with arrows up and down
Are you and your managers engaging and retaining the top talent you need to succeed? 


We define employee engagement as an organization's ability to create a work environment that drives high levels of employee advocacy, discretionary effort and intent to stay. 
  • Employee Advocacy - Do employees think and speak highly of the organization, its leaders, managers, employees, products, quality and future outlook?
  • Discretionary Effort - Do employees think of ways to do their jobs better?
  • Intent to Stay - Do employees want to be a part of the organization?
The highest performing managers create the environment required for their employees to stay and thrive.  Why?  Because engaged employees are more than satisfied, more than committed; they are emotionally connected.  They consistently go out of their way to over-achieve, actively promote your business, and stay with you during good times and bad.

Put simply, engaged employees are more productive AND more profitable.

If you would like to know how you stack up to leading organizations in the areas of employee engagement and retention, then this health check is for you.




About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned


12.31.2016

Top 10 Downloads for 2016



LSA Global Wishing you a
Happy Holiday Season!

The top 10 strategy, culture and talent downloads for 2016.
  1. 3 Major Factors that Contributed to Wells Fargo's Toxic Culture
  2. How to Know if Your Strategy is Clear Enough
  3. Sales Toolkit - Sales Strategy, Culture and Talent
  4. Training Toolkit - Assess, Design, Reinforce & Measure
  5. 12 New Manager Tools for Higher Performance
  6. Are 2-in-5 Bosses Really Bad Managers?
  7. Why Talent is only 1/3rd of the Recipe
  8. Top 10 Ways to Boost Engagement
  9. The Missing Leadership Ingredient
  10. 5 Training Strategies and Mistakes to Avoid

About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned

11.28.2016

4 Ways to Move Customers to True Advocates

silhouettes of business people meeting one-on-one and shaking hands

It's great when you have customers who are so pleased with your service that they buy from you again. 

It's great when you have customers who are so pleased with your service that they buy from you again.

But it's even better when you can shift them from being "merely" loyal to acting as true and committed advocates. That's when they act to persuade others to buy your brand and offerings. 

The question is: How can we motivate good customers to become brand promoters?

We have all been besieged lately by follow-up online evaluations on customer service. Organizations --from the U.S. Post Office to the local bank-- want to know how we perceive their service reps and how satisfied we are with the results of recent interactions. I don't know about you...but I routinely delete these email requests unless I am moved by either deplorable service or the kind that goes above and beyond. An example of deplorable service could be having to call a big city newspaper four times to get a message to the deliverer who repeatedly tossed the paper into the one small area where water collected.

An example of outstanding service was when an airline (believe it or not) booked my colleague on another flight for free after they missed their red-eye. The result was better than she hoped. And unlike most passengers these days, she has become an advocate of this airline. 

Why does it matter? 

According to Bain & Company, organizations that excel in the customer experience grow revenues up to 8% faster than their counterparts. To gain the most from fulfilling the promise of your brand, you need to do whatever it takes to make it easy for your best customers to buy and then recommend you.    




About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned


Assess the Health of Your Contact Center

a woman is looking through binoculars that show up-and-down graphs in the lenses

Is your contact center set up to succeed? 

Creating loyal and repeat customers makes sense.  Research has shown that a 5% increase in customer loyalty can boost profits by as much as 25% to 85%. 

Determining the best way to create loyal and profitable customers in a way that makes sense for your specific strategy and culture is not straight forward.

When Harvard Business Review recently researched the dimensions of customer service they would most like to see companies provide, the highest number (65%) said "knowledgeable employees." Consumers defined these desirable employees as being able to "answer my questions without putting me on hold, searching for someone, or transferring me." 

Organizations must create positive experiences for customers with each and every interaction if they wish to thrive. These customer experiences drive repeat business, cross-selling and up-selling of services, loyal customers, and referrals. It also decreases the overall cost of service and the cost of sales.

If you would like to know how your contact center stacks up to leading organizations across 16 fundamental best practices, then this diagnostic is for you.

Assess Your Contact Center Health Now

About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned


10.31.2016

6 Ways to Foster Better Project Team Collaboration

a photo of many hands in the middle showing cooperation

Project teams that work collaboratively are high performing teams that consistently produce high quality results and care about the goals they reach together. 

And the reverse also is true...project teams that don't value and practice collaboration are low performing teams that miss deadlines, do not meet quality standards, overrun budgets and drain the company resources and energy. Have you taken a close look at the teams in your organization lately? 

There are many reasons why teams fail to work well together. Signs that they are struggling could vary from ineffective meetings to poor decision-making processes, from nasty turf wars to a practice of side-bar conversations that undermine trust. In today's world where so many initiatives depend upon team effort and success, you cannot afford to have teams that are stymied by conflict rather than greased by the oil of cooperation.

Granted, teams are larger and more complex in this global economy. Organizations depend upon many diverse, highly educated team members to get important jobs done. Team members come from different backgrounds, range across geographical borders and must connect virtually with previously unknown experts and often under an urgent and highly visible timeline. The challenge for teams and team leaders is huge. How can you successfully coalesce a global team, keep them focused on the objectives you have set, and count on their working effectively and productively together? 

Numerous studies point to the critical underpinning of successful teams...a pervasive feeling of trust.

We know that trust is the foundation of strong, positive relationships. Since all teams (not just project teams) are based upon relationships that work, trust must also be the foundation of strong, successful teamwork. Our research has uncovered six ways that you can establish an atmosphere that promotes trust among the players and set the team up to succeed.

Read the 6 Ways to Foster Better Team Collaboration

About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned


Assess the Health of Your Team

A woman is looking through binoculars with graphs reflected in each lens

Is your project team set up to succeed? 

By most accounts, too many teams fail to meet expectations.  As projects become a bigger proportion of how work gets done, fundamental project management skills are becoming as essential for organizations as emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills. 

The highest performing project teams follow some common practices that set them apart from the pack.  Recognizing that nearly all projects are accomplished through the concerted, coordinated work of project teams, the technical and human factors required to succeed can sometimes feel daunting.

Whether the team consists of outside experts or internal professionals, their productivity and success is dramatically affected by the relationships within the team and their ability to perform as a cohesive unit pushing toward a common goal.

Successful project teams build a positive project team environment and learn to work together to solve problems even in the face of increased pressure and conflict. 

If you would like to know how you stack up to leading organizations in the areas of Project Management Environment, Project Definition, Project Planning and Risk Management, and Project Execution Best Practices, then this complimentary diagnostic is for you.

Assess Your Project Team Health Now


About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned