The Ultimate Guide to Skills Development – Many Learning and Development ‘professionals’ don’t understand how to develop skills…

Skills development

The Ultimate Guide to Skills Development

There is a bit more to skills development than just practice. This Oxford Review guide to developing skills in organisations will lead you through just about everything you need to know to become an ace at skills development.

Following on from my last post two posts:

Why many people’s idea about how we learn is just plain wrong


At what point can you say you have learned something?

I now want to turn my attention to skills development, the second of the three domains of learning.


As mentioned in Why many people’s idea about how we learn is just plain wrong Bloom, whose categorisation of learning (called the taxonomy of educational objectives) is the basis of most of the western (higher) educational system, proposed that there are three learning systems.


  1. Cognitive
  2. Psychomotor – This guide
  3. Affective


I covered the traps many educators and development professionals fall into with cognitive development in Why many people’s idea about how we learn is just plain wrong. The problem lies in in the fact that Bloom was describing levels of learning not how we learn.


Skills development


The essence of skills development is the process of becoming more effective and efficient (faster, more precise, more contextually aware, etc.) at a task or set of tasks. To become more skilful.


The psychomotor domain

The same issue applies to his psychomotor domain, however there are other deeper issues with skills development that many human development (L&D and educator) professionals don’t really understand.


Learning skills


The point Bloom was trying to make was that learning and teaching/coaching/tutoring in any domain should be aimed at helping the learner to master their abilities with knowledge, thinking, skills and control over their own emotions, beliefs and values. He was trying to get away from the idea of ‘shallow’ learning or a situation where teachers/trainers etc. think they have done their job simply by presenting information.


When you look at many L&D programmes, workshops  and even coaching events it makes you wonder, given that this work was done in the 1940’s and 50’s, what progress has actually been made.


The first issue with Bloom’s psychomotor domain was that it was largely only sketched out and was unfinished at his death. As a result it wasn’t very useful. Bloom had arrived at three levels of psychomotor development when he died:


  • Competency
  • Proficiency
  • Mastery


This in itself isn’t that useful beyond describing a progression of skill and the fact that we are aiming for mastery, a place where the skill is instinctual.



Since Bloom a number of people have further developed this domain. Probably the most used framework is what is called the Dave version of the psychomotor domain, named after one of Bloom’s students R.H. Dave.  This comprises


  1. Imitation – copying an instructor or other skilled person
  2. Manipulation – reproducing the actions from memory
  3. Precision – Becoming reliable and building speed and precision
  4. Articulation – Being able to adapt and fit the skills to a new context
  5. Naturalisation – This is similar to the process of characterisation I mentioned in At what point can you say you have learned something?. This is the point at which the skill becomes instinctual and you do it without thinking.


Developing Skills


Basically what we have here is a ‘see-try-do’ process.

Other less well known skills taxonomies 

Simpson’s psychomotor taxonomy:

  1. Perception – Awareness that something new needs to be done that they haven’t done before
  2. Set – Becoming ready
  3. Guided response – being instructed
  4. Mechanism – learning the basics of the skill
  5. Complex overt response – Becoming more expert
  6. Adaption – learning to adapt the response in new situations
  7. Origination – creating new responses

The issues I have with this is that not all skills development is guided, many of our skills are self taught and that we are often creating new responses (shortcuts) even before we have embedded the original skill.


Harrow’s psychomotor taxonomy

  1. Reflex – instinctual and involuntary reaction to the situation or stimulus/trigger
  2. Basic movements – really simple actions
  3. Perceptual abilities – simple perception of the context and when to do what
  4. Physical abilities – having the skill or fitness to carry out the operation
  5. Skilled movements – More refined and expert actions
  6. Non-discurvie communication – creates and communicates meaning through their actions

I have to say Harrow’s taxonomy feels more like it was done on the back of an envelope.


Now obviously any skills development requires practice, particularly if the individual is to get good (proficient) at the skill. There are however a few problems that these and many other skills development frameworks fail to address like how. How do you move from one state to another? Does practice alone create this movement?

There are a few issues that need to be considered with skills development…


Skills come from 4 things:

Skills are the culmination of four things:

  1. Capability – are they physically, emotionally or intellectually able to do this thing?
  2. Ability – Do they have the expertise and practice required to carry out the task at the level of difficulty or complexity it exists in?
  3. Motivation – Do they want to do the task?
  4. Provocation – Do they know when and how to start doing or active the skill or behaviour. This is the trigger.




Complexity and capability


The first is that there are different levels of complexity of skill that this does not address. Learning to drive and learning to pilot a jet fighter are two very different levels of complexity. And whilst they still follow a ‘see-try-do’ methodology, not everyone will be able to master the skills required. Think for example about the people who pass their driving test first time and with ease and those who have tried twenty and even thirty times and still fail. So at one end of this equation is the level of complexity of the task and at the other is the ability of the individual. Not everyone is capable of everything.

This is an issue of capability and skilfulness vs difficulty and complexity of the task or behaviours the individual is developing.




Context matters. Years ago I was in the Army and then the police. Both services place a lot of emphasis on training (skills development). You aren’t allowed out of training until you have a basic level of competency, because the consequences of failure are severe and frequently fatal. However, formal ‘in school’ training is not enough. In the Army, for example, I witnessed a number of ’trained’ soldiers freeze or do the wrong thing under fire. Likewise, I witnessed ’trained’ police officers ‘losing it’ in a live brawl or a riot situation. For this reason, the services and emergency services place newly trained personnel on probation, in the case of the police in the UK for two years, during which time they are meant to be under the continual tutelage of an experienced tutor officer.


This extended training is for three reasons. The first is the complexity of many of the tasks requires a range of different responses. These are not simple psychomotor tasks but complex shifting tasks that require complex combinations of knowledge, thinking skills, beliefs, judgement, emotion regulation, attitude and contextual sensitivity or the ability to read the situation, often in high stress predicaments.


Whilst many jobs aren’t as acute as the armed services or emergency services, all of these factors still apply in many of them.


Developing the skills in context is vital.


Skills in context




The next thing that skills development requires is feedback. Whilst this may appear obvious, there are some issues about feedback that are less obvious and frequently not understood.

Skills development is not just about getting feedback from experienced practitioners. Rather it is about developing the environmental and contextual sensitivity to notice, get and act on feedback from the environment and context. For example, the reactions of others to their actions is good feedback. Developing this level of adjunct skill is both necessary and usually ignored in the skills development arena.


Flexibility and adaptation – training for failure and change


The next area skills development programmes almost always omit is to help the learner develop the skill of judgement. To know when the skills developed no longer apply, either because of change or because of contextual limitations. Many skills development processes end at developing the skill, rather than helping the learner to plan for failure. At some stage the skills will fail or will not be relevant or applicable as things change. There is no plan for irrelevance. The consequence of this is that people keep applying the same old thinking and skills, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that change has occurred.


Examples of training for failure: In the military a lot of training time is spent on failure training. For example soldiers are taught what to do if their weapon fails or they get a blockage.


In the police, whilst I was undergoing advanced driving instruction, a significant proportion of the police advanced driving course is spent on a skid pan, firstly learning how to correct a skid under numerous conditions, then in different types of vehicles; front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, four wheel drive, automatic, manual etc., as every type of vehicle has different characteristics in a skid and requires different actions.


Skid skills


Not only that, but part of the police advanced driving test is on the skid pan in each type of vehicle and includes car control, anti-skid manoeuvring and finally, to show complete mastery, there is a pursuit chase where you have to stay between half to one and a half car lengths behind another car being driven by an instructor as they try to escape spinning across the skid pan.


Not all skills are psychomotor


Bloom and those that followed him have focused on psychomotor skills by which people assume are physical skills like driving, playing football, operating machinery. However there are many other sets of skills that are not psychomotor. For example:


  1. Olfactory skills (smell)
  2. Auditory skills (hearing)
  3. Tactile skills (touch)
  4. Visual skills (seeing)
  5. Gustatory skills (taste)
  6. Cognitive skills (thinking, reasoning, recognition, discernment, creativity and awareness)
  7. Affective or emotional skills (being able to recognise, identify and change our own and others emotions at will)


Many skilled individuals combine a series of skill sets to do what they do.


Why practice is everything but it isn’t enough


Any skill needs practice. Even simple skills like drinking, walking or talking required continued practice and feedback, often over many years. At the heart of skills development in any area is repeated practice.


Practice on its own, however, does not necessarily mean that an individual will develop and hone their skills. If they keep doing the same thing, don’t learn and don’t adapt to feedback, they are unlikely to progress with skills development.


Skills development is primarily a change issue. As you learn to adapt and change what you are doing, you move from failure to success.


Feedback for skills


Without feedback, motivation and persistence (particularly in the face of failure) mastery of a skill is not going to occur. As mentioned above, feedback not only needs to come from other skilled practitioners or a skilled coach (think about any sports personality), but the individual or team/group needs to use environmental cues as feedback- what messages are they noticing – and this requires the honing of awareness and perceptual skills. They first have to learn to see the signs, notice the feedback. Then they have to learn how to act on it in ways that are healthy and productive.


Perceiving feedback and learning to act on it and importantly, create and test new methods, is in itself a set of skills that is developed over time.


Motivation and persistence 


As noted above not all skills are equal. There are more complicated sets of skills than others. The more complicated or harder the skill set the more motivation or drive will be needed. The harder and more complex the skill is to develop the more likelihood there is of failure and repeated failure. Success in skills development under these conditions requires persistence and good feedback, often with some form of coach or mentor. This often requires resilience and grit, the ability to keep going, keep trying, keep failing and still maintain the drive to succeed.


Three things need to come together for a skill to be used or a behaviour to occur (Fogg 2009):

  1. Motivation
  2. Ability, and
  3. A trigger

The trigger tells the skilled practitioner when to do certain things. For example a skilled driver knows when to change gear usually based on the engine noise or level of vibrations (particularly if the driver is deaf. Skills acquisition


Sometimes you can’t imitate

Sometimes you can’t start by imitating someone else who can do the skill. It is ideal if you can, assuming they are good and here’s the rub. If you aren’t skilled yourself how do you know who is good and who isn’t?

If there isn’t anyone around to imitate or coach you then you are down to good old trail and error, to developing your own way. Whilst this can take longer it is also entirely possible that you may invent a new and even better way of doing something. Of course it is also entirely possible that you will invent a worse, less effective and efficient way of doing something as well.


Skills development, behaviour change and habits

Developing skills and changing behaviours and habits are the same thing. For some reason many people separate these two things. If someone isn’t behaving in a way you need them to they either don’t have the skills (motivation, ability or capability) or they are stuck in a habit.  Behaviour and habits change is a skills issue. They still need the capability, ability, motivation and provocation to change and do something differently.

The thing with habits is that that they are often largely unconscious, characterised or automatic behaviours. In effect they are an ingrained skill. They may not be the skill you want but they are a skill. Yes smoking, drinking, drugs they all have capability, ability, motivation and provocation.

This brings me to another issue….


behaviour and skills are the same


Skills, behaviour and habit change or acquisition don’t occur in a vacuum. Firstly there will be pre-existing:

  • thoughts
  • perceptions
  • skills
  • habits
  • behaviours and importantly
  • emotions.

Additionally new thoughts, skills, perceptions, habits, behaviours and emotions will be created during the skills development process. These all have an impact on the speed, accuracy and flow of the development process.

Teams and groups

The idea behind a good team is that a group of people acting in concert can bring a wider range of skills and skills consistency together to bear upon a problem. It is necessary that the skills in a group are coordinated and that the skills represented in the group are pertinent to the task at hand. The intention being that when you have more than one person they cover for each others weaknesses. However rather than being a collective of strengths, if not composed and managed (based on feedback) correctly, it becomes a collective of weaknesses.


There are a number of takeaways from all this:

  1. Skills development is more than practice. You also need:
    • Persistence and motivation
    • Perception – To build the skills of perception to get feedback from the environment
    • A trigger or know when to take what action and in what order
    • And practice with feedback
  2. Skills are not just psychomotor. The areas of skills development include and often involve a mixture of development in the following areas:
    • Olfactory skills (smell)
    • Auditory skills (hearing)
    • Tactile skills (touch)
    • Visual skills (seeing)
    • Gustatory skills (taste)
    • Cognitive skills (thinking, reasoning, recognition, discernment, creativity and awareness)
    • Affective or emotional skills (being able to recognise, identify and change our own and others emotions at will)
  3. You also need to think about, plan and train for failure and change. What happens when for example the skills you are developing don’t work anymore or the context changes?
  4. Practice makes perfect, but it also locks you in. Train to be adaptable as well.
  5. Practise in the context the skill is needed.
  6. Try new things and create new ways of doing things (unless someone’s life depends on it). You never know.
  7. Skills development and behaviour/habit change are the same things.
  8. Skills development doesn’t occur in a vacuum. Pre-existing and developing thoughts, skills, perceptions, habits, behaviours and emotions can all either slow down skills development or help it. Don’t ignore them.

Next: The Ultimate Guide to Changing People’s Beliefs, Values and Emotional Reactions – The Affective Domain


Bennett, N., Dunne, E., & Carré, C. (2000). Skills Development in Higher Education and Employment. Taylor & Francis, Inc., 7625 Empire Dr., Florence, KY 41042.

Bloom, B. S., & Committee of College and University Examiners. (1964). Taxonomy of educational objectives (Vol. 2). New York: Longmans, Green.

Dave, R.H.  in Armstrong, R. J.(ed)  (1970). Developing and Writing Behavioral Objectives. Tucson, Arizona, USA; Educational Innovators Press

Delaney, Y., Pattinson, B., McCarthy, J., & Beecham, S. (2017). Transitioning from traditional to problem-based learning in management education: the case of a frontline manager skills development programme. Innovations in Education and Teaching International54(3), 214-222.

Fogg, B. J. (2009, April). A behavior model for persuasive design. In Proceedings of the 4th international Conference on Persuasive Technology(p. 40). ACM.

Harrow, Anita J. A taxonomy of the psychomotor domain: A guide for developing behavioral objectives. Addison-Wesley Longman Ltd, 1972.

Hazucha, J. F., Hezlett, S. A., & Schneider, R. J. (1993). The impact of 360‐degree feedback on management skills development. Human Resource Management32(2‐3), 325-351.

Simpson, E. (1972). The psychomotor domain. Washington DC: Gryphon House.

David Wilkinson

David Wilkinson is the Editor-in-Chief of the Oxford Review. He is also acknowledged to be one of the world’s leading experts in dealing with ambiguity and uncertainty and developing emotional resilience. David teaches and conducts research at a number of universities including the University of Oxford, Medical Sciences Division, Cardiff University, Oxford Brookes University School of Business and many more. He has worked with many organisations as a consultant and executive coach including Schroders, where he coaches and runs their leadership and management programmes, Royal Mail, Aimia, Hyundai, The RAF, The Pentagon, the governments of the UK, US, Saudi, Oman and the Yemen for example. In 2010 he developed the world’s first and only model and programme for developing emotional resilience across entire populations and organisations which has since become known as the Fear to Flow model which is the subject of his next book. In 2012 he drove a 1973 VW across six countries in Southern Africa whilst collecting money for charity and conducting on the ground charity work including developing emotional literature in children and orphans in Africa and a number of other activities. He is the author of The Ambiguity Advanatage: What great leaders are great at, published by Palgrave Macmillian. See more: About: About David Wikipedia: David’s Wikipedia Page

How to Craft Your Resume to Attain More Senior Positions

Guest Post by Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter

If you are a Millennial who has been struggling to move past the entry-level or early-years phase of your career, then you are not alone. Many Millennials set out on a course toward senior expert or management status at their jobs only to hit walls or be foiled by too-frequent job changes, layoffs or other unplanned delays.

Or, perhaps you are a Millennial who has experienced fairly smooth career movement, from intern to entry-level to specialist to manager, but now you’re feeling stuck. Where do you go next? How do you position yourself for that breakthrough role, and more so, how do you start paving the way for increasingly senior positions as you grow your career?

Craft Your Resume to Attain More Senior Positions

A good place to start is by crafting and nurturing a colorful career story comprised of a portfolio of content. The most popular items in this portfolio include your resume and various digital profiles. These portfolio pieces should be forward-looking, harmonious in nature and seamlessly interlocking.



When someone requests your resume, the instinctual response may be to comply with the request with an, “I’ll update it and send the resume along to you in a few days.” The reality is, once you dive into your story: strategizing, being introspective, researching, recalling past achievements and envisioning your future goals and dreams all become necessary.

These thought processes are complex, multifaceted and sometimes rigorous — but in a good way. Like building new muscle, the rewards are multifold.

The best way to leverage this newly resurrected thought-work is to construct a foundational framework of who you are and why it matters to your target audience: people that are hiring for roles that are more senior than what you’ve held in the past.

In the research phase (mentioned above), you will have unearthed positions with the type of next-level accountabilities that appeal to you and companies with cultures that fit your personal values. From that research, identify key phrases and words that jump out of those positions and keep them top of mind while identifying and parlaying your top traits and achievements. Ensure you weave some of those phrases into your resume.

Bridging the Gap Between Positions on Your Resume

If you’ve never held an official leadership role but are striving to make that leap, then you must bridge the gap on your resume. This means, identifying areas in your current role where you exhibit leadership influence or mentoring abilities.

Don’t just “keyword” your resume to death, though. Instead, you must write out stories that show challenges you faced that catapulted you into a leadership role and how you used that role to save money or time, drive new revenue to the bottom line or rescue a customer about to abandon ship. In other words, show, don’t tell, that you are a leader.

Here’s how one Millennial’s resume addressed the leadership requirement without yet having the leadership title. He leveraged his temporary person-in-charge role to his advantage.

Leading People: Led team to 115% of objectives after being named interim PIC (Person-in-Charge) of branch during leadership vacuum, after only one month in new role. Hybrid management role included branch compliance oversight, team leading, motivation, keeping the ‘train on the tracks;’ and overall performance accountability. Mentored two Client Service Specialists on a roadmap I created to a promotion to Investment Consultant in 15 months.

Moreover, when you are building your resume, keep in mind roles that you are not yet vying for – more senior roles that may be three, five or even 10+ years down the road. Research a couple of those roles and consider what areas of your resume story you must equip in the next couple of years. Write those items down; keep them top of mind. As you begin acquiring that experience, make note so that during your next iteration you can flesh it out in your resume and profiles.

Staking Out Future Goals

You might be surprised that the act of committing to the future goal will accelerate your acquisition of such experience. Or, you might find that you are more closely aligned with that senior-level role than you thought, and can immediately weave a few new items into your resume that, heretofore, you were unaware you had achieved.

For example, perhaps you were instrumental in overcoming a revenue slump while keeping an eye on overall margins. Here’s an example.

Strategic Solutions: Thwarted revenue dips and sparked 18% improvement in sales via trunk shows, special discounts, and other techniques, while maintaining a healthy profit margin.

The more aware you are of what it takes to attain a more senior-level role, the more likely you will be to start volunteering or asking for projects or tasks that align with building your experience muscle. These muscular stories will translate nicely into your resume, helping you to grow your career.

Guest Post

Jacqui Barrett-PoindexterJacqui Barrett-Poindexter, CEO at CareerTrend, is 1 of only 50 certified Master Resume Writers and has crafted >1,500 interview-spurring career stories. Her BA in writing/journalism allows her to apply a journalist’s eye to your career.

Parlaying her learnings and musings into blog stories, Jacqui writes regularly for Glassdoor for Employers as well as her own lively career blog. With a love for the water, she puts value into words from her office on the shores of Lake Texoma, Texas.

Digitally active, you can find her publishing and sharing content at TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

6 Powerful Ways to Make Anyone Into A Great Leader

 The function of a leader is to produce more leaders, not more followers.

CREDIT: Getty Images

If you work or study in the field of leadership, you already know there’s a glut of information and ideas. We already have thousands of articles about leaders and leadership, and countless thoughts on what leadership is and isn’t–not to mention a constant stream of new articles, blogs and information.

With so much going on, it becomes more important than ever to stay focused on what’s most important.

For me, that central message of leadership is this simple, clear thought: Within everyone there is a leader.

If you’re helping to develop new leaders–whether they’re rising executives, entry-level employees or 10-year-old students–you’re doing leadership right..

If you’re not sure, or if you want to be more effective at leadership development, here’s a quick review of the basic steps for bringing out the leader in anyone:

1. Let them know they’re a leader. The first step is to let them know that whatever their title or their position, their actions affect someone else and that puts them in a position to lead. Help them see what lies within them and understand that they can learn to unlock it and leverage it; establish the expectation and the belief that their influence makes them a leader. Show them that leadership begins within.

2. Treat them like a leader. Treat people in a way that reflects what you want them to become, and they will be much more likely to grow into their leadership. If you want to have a huge influence in their life, let them know you believe in them and treat them as you know they deserve to be treated. Be a people builder by looking for opportunities to encourage others and bring out the best in them.

3. Challenge them. Make it a point to assign people the kind of tasks and projects that will stretch them and challenge them, build their confidence, grow their strengths as a leader and shore up any areas where they need to improve. Work with them to help them understand the importance of each element of their leadership growth.

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4. Make them responsible. Show that you believe in people and that you have confidence in their abilities by trusting them to get things done. At the foundation of great leadership is the idea of accountability for actions and responsibility for behavior, so make sure those elements are in place from the very beginning. Set a high standard and remain available as a resource, but give them room to make their own choices. Help them celebrate the victories and learn from the mistakes–and understand that both are important to their growth as a leader.

5. Help them communicate like a leader. Encourage people to communicate with candor and confidence, to speak in a way that helps the listener and to pay attention to their body language. Even more important, make sure you model these elements in your own communication.

6. Have them act like a leader. Bring everything full circle by connecting them with the central truths we started out with: that their leadership begins within, and that they are charged with finding and developing the leadership abilities in those around them. If you’ve done your part well, they will have seen a great example of your interest and care, your willingness to help them feel important and know that someone cares, your gratitude, and your lack of ego. You will have equipped them for their own leadership journey.

A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.

3 Ways to Support Employee Side Hustles

I tell all my teams to dream big and aim high — and that includes their side hustles. By encouraging professional growth among your employees, you gain the potential of more loyalty and buy-in for your ultimate goals.

July 17, 2017By Michael Ray Newman

Leaders who encourage employees to pursue their side hustles can be rewarded for that investment of trust. People gain skills and master new technologies through side hustles, which can end up benefitting you, their primary employer.

Millennials enter the workforce with limitless dreams but limited options for high-paying jobs. Their median household income is about 20 percent less than Baby Boomers earned at a similar stage in their lives, and many Millennials wrestle with staggering student loan debt and skyrocketing healthcare costs.

As dispiriting as this situation might sound, Millennials can kick open the doors of professional opportunity thanks to fast-moving technology advancements that have created countless side hustles. About one-third of workers have a side hustle, according to a CareerBuilder survey of 3,200 private sector workers. Millennials are particularly active in the growing trend, with 44 percent of 25- to 34-year olds and 39 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds reporting that they have side gigs.

Side hustles helped make me who I am today. I have never been satisfied with owning only one company or settling on one dream. When I entered the workforce, I was rich with dreams but practically penniless. I hustled my way out of the cellar with grit and fortitude, often taking advantage of opportunities that others brushed aside.

If you ever feel like you have hit a ceiling in your profession, consider sticking with what you know instead of branching out into unfamiliar territory. And do not be afraid to dip into the proverbial basement of your industry to find revenue opportunities. The side hustle surge has been a godsend for young upstarts and savvy entrepreneurs alike.


side hustle side business

I tell all my teams to dream big and aim high — and that includes their side hustles. By encouraging professional growth among your employees, you gain the potential of more loyalty and buy-in for your ultimate goals.

I speak from experience, having juggled several side hustles throughout my career. Although I am most publicly visible as the CEO of Zig Ziglar International, I also run several other companies. They all share a foundational model of success, which focuses on disrupting the status quo by offering better alternatives than the competition.

I try to build a buffer into the days of my employees so they can pursue their passions. I encourage them to spend 85 to 90 percent of their days working to earn their pay, but they are free to dedicate the remainder of their working hours to side hustles.

Why do I support this personal work on company time? I am a realist. I understand that my employees will pursue side hustles regardless of what I do, and I would prefer they openly pursue their passions instead of hiding their ambitions. Instead of quashing their creativity and entrepreneurial spirits, it is best to nurture and encourage their dreams.


side hustle

Leaders who encourage employees to pursue their side hustles can be rewarded for that investment of trust. People gain skills and master new technologies through side hustles, which can end up benefitting their primary employer. If you support a project manager who does graphic design work on the side, for example, she might eventually be able to use her creativity to help your company.

Here are three easy ways to support the side hustles of your employees:

1. Encourage true work-life balance.

The best employees have a healthy work-life balance. Ask team members to complete a work-life analysis, and work with them to identify opportunities for side hustles. If they are working in the office around the clock without any personal time, try to find ways to make their workload more manageable. Once you define any gaps, you can collectively track where they are in life and where they want to go.

2. Push employees to write down their goals.

It is imperative to track short-term and long-term goals. I call this a W.I.N. list (short for “what’s important now”). Do not treat it like a to-do list; think of it as a road map for achievement. In life, you need to use steppingstones to get to the peak of the mountain.

Remind employees to check their W.I.N. list every day. Putting their goals in writing gives them a greater sense of responsibility — and accountability — to achieve what they want in life.

3. Inspect what you expect.

Ask employees to identify a new side hustle every quarter and to give you a progress report on their long-running projects. Keep the conversation casual, but hold your employees accountable with legitimate follow-ups. When employees know you truly care about their well-being, they will buy into the mandatory responsibilities you set for them in the workplace.

All CEOs and managers should embrace the dreams of their employees. In the long run, business leaders will be rewarded for betting big on those with long dreams and short revenue streams. As Zig Ziglar famously said, “You can have everything you want in life if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

Michael Ray Newman

Michael Ray Newman is the CEO of Zig Ziglar International. ZZI trains leaders, transforms businesses, and changes lives through the time-tested principles of Zig Ziglar. Michael has committed his life to helping others and inspiring employees with high energy and higher expectations. Follow ZZI on Facebook and Michael on Twitter.

How to Be a Good Boss: Start by Understanding Why You Want to Lead


Sep 6, 2016

Research explores the pros and cons of two distinct leadership styles.

A boss decides which leadership style to use.

Michael Meier

Kids on the playground and military generals both know that there are two ways to hold onto power. You either dominate everyone and demand their support, or you get them to like you and offer up their fealty freely.

Those two leadership styles—motivated by the desire for either dominance or prestige—are examined in research from Kellogg’s Jon Maner. Each one has pros and cons, and they work best under different circumstances.

“It’s not that one strategy is good and one strategy is bad,” Maner says. “They both can work in different kinds of organizations.”

And both can work within the same leader. The research shows that most people who have a drive to lead others harbor both skill sets; one is just generally more dominant than the other. The key to effective leadership, Maner says, is to be able to nimbly switch between them.

“Although the two traits are positively correlated, they have very, very different consequences for leadership behavior, often opposite consequences.”


Dominance vs. Prestige

One of the most interesting findings, Maner says, is the strong correlation between a desire for power and being motivated by both dominance and prestige.

“Although the two traits are positively correlated, they have very, very different consequences for leadership behavior,” Maner says, “often opposite consequences.”

Maner’s recent research, which he conducted with Charleen Case, a visiting pre-doctoral scholar at Kellogg, is an in-depth look at of both his own and others’ studies. It takes an evolutionary perspective, noting that primates have a long history of using dominance techniques, while prestige-motivated leaders are a strictly human phenomenon. Looked at in aggregate, the studies paint a clear picture of the two types of leaders.

Dominance-motivated leaders rise through the ranks and gain followers via intimidation and coercion.

“They demand deference instead of allowing it to be freely offered,” Maner says.

There are upsides to this. They are swift, decisive decision makers and are good at uniting an organization behind a single vision. However, these leaders are sometimes willing to sacrifice the best interest of the group in order to keep their hands on the levers of power. (Read more about Maner’s research on why bad bosses sabotage their teams.)

For instance, participants in one experiment were told they were leading a group and had to decide which subordinates to assign to a difficult verbal task and to a difficult math task. One subordinate was particularly gifted in verbal skills, they were told.

Dominance-motivated participants who believed their grasp on power within the group was tenuous were much more likely to assign that subordinate to the math task, even though the performance of the group would ostensibly suffer. This kept the talented subordinate from shining too brightly. Conversely, participants who tested as being high in prestige motivation assigned that subordinate to the verbal task.

Prestige-oriented leaders achieve their status by displaying their knowledge and skills, and convincing people they are worth following. They are good at fostering creativity and getting their teams to innovate. However, because their power comes from being liked, they can sometimes forgo making the right decision in favor of a popular decision. Additionally, “they pull their punches when it comes to giving hard feedback,” Maner says.

One study found that prestige-oriented leaders go against what they see as the best course of action for the organization when making a public decision that will be unpopular. But if the decision is made without subordinates knowing, these same leaders will stick with the best choice for the group.

Leadership Styles in Action

In his classes, Maner points to Steve Jobs and Warren Buffett as examples of dominance- versus prestige-driven leadership styles. These days, it is hard to contemplate these two styles and not immediately think of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

“Trump is a paradigmatic example of a dominant leader,” Maner says. “ Clinton, I think, and Obama for that matter, are much better at fostering relationships. And that’s much more about prestige.”

Interestingly, Maner’s research consistently shows that there is no correlation between leadership style and gender.

“Everybody has the intuition that men are more dominant, and I have to admit that when we started this program of research, we had that intuition as well,” Maner says. “However, we never found [a correlation]. Women are just as likely to deploy both of these strategies as men are.”

Identifying Your Leadership Style

So what kind of leader are you? Maner offers some easy ways to tell.

Do you find yourself doing most of the talking in meetings? If so, you are likely a dominance-motivated leader. “Whereas, if you’re doing more listening, you’re probably more prestige-oriented.”

Another question to ask yourself: Do you often mentally step into the shoes of your employee? If so, you are likely a prestige-motivated leader.

There are similar litmus tests you can do when you are hiring or assessing team members.

Try to put the person in a group setting, Maner suggests. “Dominant people tend to dominate conversations,” Maner says. “They don’t listen very well. While other people are talking, they’re thinking about the next thing they’re going to say.”

A tricky wrinkle is that dominance can often initially masquerade as competence.

“They may not know the most, but they assert themselves in ways that make them seem like they do,” Maner says. So, as a check, try to give candidates an objective test of their knowledge and skills, or have someone join an interview who can quickly assess whether what the person is asserting is correct.

Another subtle signal of leadership style, which bears out in studies of other primates, is that dominance-motivated people tend to lower their voice when asserting themselves in a social situation.

“People who care more about the relationship, they don’t do that because it’s intimidating and other people don’t like it,” Maner says.

The Right Leader for the Right Organization

Maner knows that much of the research in this field has painted a fairly magnanimous picture of prestige-motivated leaders. And, if you have to pick one, he says prestige is the better bet.

But the choice really comes down to what your organization’s goals are.

“When you need all the people on your team to present a unified front and move quickly in a common direction, when you don’t have time to have people thinking outside the box, that situation really calls for a dominant leader,” Maner says. “Conversely, if you’re trying to get your team to innovate or produce creative solutions, that calls for more of a prestige-oriented strategy.”

Your organization’s structure can also dictate which sort of leader will thrive. Very hierarchical organizations with large power gaps between positions appeal to dominance-motivated leaders. “They really like to have a lot of distance between themselves and their underlings because that helps them maintain power,” Maner explains.

Those large power gaps make prestige-motivated leaders uncomfortable. “It makes them feel anxious because they really value the relationships,” he says. “They tend to work best in organizations that are relatively flat.”

The research shows that dominant leaders are willing to sabotage their own teams when they feel their power is unstable within the organization. Yet the opposite is true when faced with an external competing group. This tends to galvanize dominance-motivated leaders to prioritize “the good of the group over any selfish desires,” Maner says.

So organizations with a strong dominant leader might benefit from highlighting the successes of their competitors to keep their leader’s bad instincts in check.

Because most leaders are versed in both leadership styles, the key is knowing when to slip into each mode, Maner says.

“Good leaders intuit the need for one strategy over another,” Maner says. “But there is always room for improvement in knowing which hat to wear depending on the situation.”

Be a Leader People Choose to Follow


When you let go of your expectations . . .
Without integrity, your other values don’t matter.

Your Vision Statement Puts People to SleepPeople follow leaders by choice.

You can get compliance through imposing your authority, by coercion or manipulation, but you won’t be trusted and respected.

And when your followers do have a choice, there is no guarantee they will continue to follow you. Or if you find yourself out on a limb, it is likely you will find you’re alone.

To lead without relying on authority, your most powerful Portal of Influence is your character.

Character is the expression of who you are. When your character is built on a foundation of integrity, people will trust you.

Do you lead by example?

Are you honest, respectful, and authentic?

Are you consistent and dependable?

Do you do what you say you will do?

When you make a mistake, do you take responsibility for it without brushing it off?

To be a leader people want to follow, they must trust you.

Several years ago I facilitated a simulation for a new CEO and the company’s 25 seniors leaders where they were divided into four competing teams. There was a lot of laughter, joking and spirits were high as we moved toward the close. In the last few minutes, the CEO’s team surged ahead and grabbed the prize.

Shortly afterward, someone spilled the beans that the CEO had cheated. There was more laughter, but some of it sounded uncertain.

Privately I mentioned to the CEO that the purpose of the simulation was to learn, not to win. I was concerned that his actions might have affected his credibility as a leader. He dismissed my concern, saying, “it was only a game.”

Fast forward, one year later, the CEO was no longer with the company.

Did this one activity cause his demise? Not likely. But it was part of a pattern of ethical inconsistency on “small matters” that eventually eroded his team’s confidence and trust.

It’s never “only a game.”

When you are a leader, everything you say and do is magnified.

You raise an eyebrow and people wonder what it means. You make an off-handed comment and people jump. Each nuance is considered a mandate.

This is the nature of leadership. It doesn’t matter whether you like it or not. Your actions are being scrutinized every moment.

You can’t take “time off.”

If you are slightly inconsistent, it is magnified in the view of others.  You don’t have the luxury of cheating in a silly game or telling a crude joke.

Your character is your most precious asset. Don’t squander it needlessly for something frivolous.

Build your character on a foundation of integrity to be a leader people want to follow.



By Alicia Wyant on February 19, 2018

A skill we all learn as children is the ability to play well with others, and the need for this skill doesn’t go away as we get older. In fact, it becomes vitally important once we’ve entered the workplace.

Employers expect employees to be team players, and teamwork is required in almost every industry, from corporations to information technology to retail. This is true even if your job is primarily individual. You may complete your job duties alone, but you still must think of your work in the context of the company’s goals and communicate your goals and accomplishments.

No matter your role, you must be able to work well with a group—and communicate that fact to recruiters, hiring managers and prospective employers. Thus, an important qualification for any employee or manager is the development of effective teamwork skills.

But what skills, in particular, will strengthen your ability to work on a team? Here are five critical ones.



People stacking hands in a team huddle

Being a good team member means clearly communicating with the group. You must be able to clearly relay the essential information through phone, email, chat and in-person. When communicating, keep a professional yet friendly tone. Remember that verbal and nonverbal communication is critical when working with a group face-to-face.


Another important part of communication is listening well. Everyone needs to listen to the ideas and concerns of all group members for the team to be effective. When team members feel heard, they are far more likely to feel accepted, understood and part of the team.

Remember, effective listening is more than simply hearing the words shared. It involves hearing what’s said and then responding appropriately based on that information. People who “listen” without actually processing what was said to them can hinder teamwork.


Adults meeting around a table and looking toward a female presenter

Conflict resolution skills are essential to creating a successful team. Even in the best of work environments, a conflict will occur from time to time. Avoiding or creating disagreements will only make things worse. One must be able to negotiate with team members to settle disputes and ensure agreement on team choices.


A reliable team member is a trustworthy team member. You show up on time, meet deadlines and complete your assigned tasks. You also show colleagues and employers that you can be trusted and depended on. If you aren’t reliable, you’re going to drag your teams down.


People are more open to talking with you if you demonstrate respect for them and their ideas. Simple things like calling a person by name, maintaining eye contact and actively listening when someone speaks will make that person feel appreciated.

When you’re able to develop these skills for successful teamwork, your group will maintain a good rapport, meet deadlines, complete tasks successfully and create a network of mutual respect and camaraderie.


Aerial view of adult professionals working at a table and looking at a calendar, laptops and notebook

In our individualistic culture, it can be easy to downplay the necessity of teamwork. This is a critical mistake. The importance of teamwork at work is vital to the success of the company.

Why? Several reasons.

Teamwork offers the staff the opportunity to become more familiar with each other and learn how best to work together. When employees work together, they grow individually as well. If you want to grow personally, you need to be able to work well in a team.

Teamwork also allows far more to be accomplished. One way that teamwork is sometimes described is as “one plus one equals three.” A group of dedicated employees can accomplish far more than a single, very talented employee.

Additionally, individual weaknesses can be minimized through the efforts of the team. You may be strong in an area where another employee is weak and vice versa. When you work together, you each can work out of your strengths rather than trying to compensate for your weaknesses.

Finally, teams build on each other’s ideas and share in completing assignments together. There are many pairs of eyes to look at the work, which decreases the potential for errors and mistakes.


Adult male leaning over a table and writing

Maybe you’re one of those people who prefers to work alone. Is it really that important for you to develop these teamwork skills? Yes, it really is. Here’s what happens if you don’t.

  • You’ll miss out on early feedback, creating problems with your timeline and output.
  • You won’t have the opportunity to learn from others’ input and critiques.
  • Projects will progress slowly, reducing morale.
  • The lows experienced during projects are harder to handle alone.
  • The highs experienced during projects increase motivation and excitement on a team.

While it may be more appealing to lock yourself in your office and crank through projects alone, you’re missing out on tremendous opportunities for growth AND hampering the overall progress of your company. That’s something you can’t afford to do.


Hand stacking wooden blocks with graphical representations of people printed on them

Of course, all this raises the question: how can you build an effective team? You know teamwork is essential and you know that teams can achieve great things, but how can you make this a reality in your workplace?

Here are some essential steps to building a team:


Before you can build a team, you must be a leader. This doesn’t mean being in charge. Rather, it means you lead the way in building trust and respect between yourself and the team members. Managers have many responsibilities and cannot be in two places at once. If your teams have faith in you, they can function even when the leader is not present.


Get to know your team members personally. Show that you value their skill sets and that you want them to enjoy using their skills and experience in their current position. By knowing your team members well, you can assign them to appropriate teams and tasks.

Don’t just delegate. Rather, give teams open-ended projects and let them make decisions as a group. As they make these decisions, they will have more accountability and personal investment in the success of any project.

Once teams have been established, have them do a team evaluation to identify problem areas and come to some solutions. Don’t get involved in team arguments; be the mediator who listens to both sides of the argument. Offer solutions and suggestions to the group and allow them to decide what the best course of action is.


Any information the team develops or uses should be shared with not only their manager but also with other parts of the company when appropriate. As a responsible leader, you should communicate with your teams regularly to gauge their progress and give them the opportunity to discuss roadblocks in their tasks.


Without guidelines and values to govern behavior, you are leaving it up to the team to decide how they will function. This can often create a lot of confusion about what roles each team member is playing. When a team has clear boundaries and roles, they can function much more efficiently.


Aerial view of a wood surface with a pile of resumes, a potted plant, pen and pair of eye glasses

One other big benefit of building teamwork skills is that they make you much more attractive to prospective employers. However, you can’t simply list ‘teamwork’ as a skill and expect interviewers to know what you mean.

When you are building your skills section of the resume, there are certain steps you can take to emphasize your team skills.

Use relevant keywords from a job opening in your resume to show that you understand what the company is looking for. For example, if a job posting states that a candidate must be able to lead a team of programmers, use that language to highlight your ability to work well as a team leader.

You can use the primary keywords in all parts of your resume including in listing your objective, past job descriptions, your skills section and any other part of your resume that seems appropriate. Your goal is to highlight the fact that in every facet of the job, you have the skills necessary to be a team player. Remember to use them in your cover letter as well. Oftentimes the cover letter is what gets you the interview.

The more you highlight your team skills on your resume, the more likely your chances of scoring an interview. Potential employers want and need skilled team players to improve the quality and production of their company.


Knowing how to be a team player is just as important as a manager who knows how to lead teams. By learning essential skills in teamwork, understanding their importance and including these details in your resume, you’ll show yourself to be a valuable asset to employers and perform better in the workplace.

Michael Jordan said, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”

The same is true in the workplace. Talent can produce great individual results. Teamwork can create amazing company results.

17 Incredible Employee Perks of Successful Companies

Cloud Communication Advisor


February 20, 2018
By Reuben Yonatan

The unemployment rate in the United States currently sits at about 4.1 percent, the lowest it has been in nearly two decades. That has put job seekers back in control of the job market, particularly in the tech industry. While there are reports that salaries are finally on the upswing after years of stagnation, it’s not just about the money for many employees.

Career site Glassdoor reports that nearly 60 percent of all workers say perks and benefits are among their top employment considerations, and almost 80 percent of employees say they would opt for new benefits over a pay raise. Perhaps that’s not too surprising, given that the average person spends 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime.

Companies like Google and Facebook are famous for their full-service campuses that sound like an adult version of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, from its gourmet food to the Wi-Fi enabled buses that ferry workers to and from the facility.

However, Google and Facebook aren’t the only cool companies to work for. There are plenty of big corporations and startups that offer perks and a unique company culture that helps attract and retain the best employees, with benefits for both employer and employee. Many are related to helping employees maintain a healthy lifestyle, such as offering free health-conscious food or subsidized gym memberships. The benefit here is obvious as companies spend more than 7 percent of their budget on health care costs.

Other perks just seem like fun, from hosting soccer tournaments to jamming in the company’s music studio. Companies that show employees are a top priority are seeing a payoff in their bottom line.

Here are 17 successful companies that can give anyone company culture envy:

Why Focus on Company Culture?

A 2016 report from the Institute of Labor Economics showed a positive correlation between a rise in happiness and an increase in productivity. Experiments involving close to 800 subjects found that a rise in happiness leads to a marked increase in productivity in a paid piece-rate task.

Providing meaningful work will produce higher quality results. That’s the conclusion of a study in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization that involved 2,500 workers. While all were paid equally, some were told the work they were doing would be analyzing medical images of cancerous tumor cells while another group was told their work would be discarded. The former spent more time on the task, meaning they were earning 10 percent less on average, but the quality of work was better.

It’s not always about the money, says a study commissioned by the Association of Accounting Technicians in the United Kingdom. About 80 percent of 2,000 people polled said they would turn down a big salary increase if it meant working with people or in an environment they didn’t like.

The reality is that a company that ignores fostering a positive culture will pay the price. The cost to hire and retrain an employee varies, but estimates range from 50 percent to 450 percent for a highly skilled salaried worker.

Tips for a better company culture:

Empower employees – Design employee roles in ways that will motivate them. Toyota encourages assembly workers to suggest new tools and designs on the factory floor.
Review together – Avoid performance review systems that encourage an adversarial dynamic between employees. Zappos encourages egalitarian performance reviews.
Embrace transparency – The more employees are looped in, the more problems can be solved before they hit crisis level.Buffer reveals the pay rate and formula of each employee by name, which helps reduce feelings of frustration when everyone understands the pay structure.
Build teams not cults – Teams can encourage innovation and creativity but must be inclusive.In one MIT study, changes in a bank’s call center break schedules, designed to increase team cohesion, increased productivity by $15 million.

Bureau of Labor Statistics
Americans for the Arts
Business Insider | 2 | 3
Harvard Business Review
International Coaching Federation
National Business Research Institute
National Marine Manufacturers Association

Once a HiPo, always a HiPo?


Today, when organizations are fighting the war for talents and unemployment rate is at an all-time low in many countries, organizations are struggling with different people related topics. Though I can name different topics that are on the table of many employers, we know that the greatest challenge that employers are facing is Employee Engagement.  Especially, how to keep your people engaged and engage those that are disengaged. But should organizations focus on all employees and try to engage all of their people or should they focus on some specific group?

Well, that is definitely a great question with no one right answer. Yes, of course, employers should take care for all of their people, we know that employee turnover is really expensive for organizations and up to some point it is definitely worth do avoid that. But. Yes, there is again a but. In all organizations, there are high performers (a.k.a. high potentials) and there are low performers.

HiPo’s contribute 21% higher performance, 50% more value than core employees, and are 3X more likely to succeed as future leaders. So, should they be treated the same way as low performers? When we are talking about talents and HiPo’s in organizations then according to Gallup this is what we must bear in our mind:

– Truly talented people are rare.

– They are the most expensive to replace.

– They may take other high performers with them if they leave.

– They are the easiest to engage.

– And they are the quickest to leave if they are disengaged.

The same has been found in research conducted by Jean Martin and Conrad Schmidt, who found that under normal circumstances, high potentials put in 20% more effort than other employees in the same roles.

In case HiPo’s are so valuable to an organization then what could employers do to keep them engaged? Here is what I would recommend:

– create a program for your high performers to develop them. According to this AON report, this is something that attracts and engages them. They do not want to listen to empty promises; they want to see the actions. “High performers need to see the development opportunities, not just hear about them. Without this line of sight, high performers may get frustrated and leave.“

– offer them new career opportunities in your organization. For instance, you can motivate your HiPo’s with a new, exciting and challenging task that makes them go the extra mile or you can promote them to the new challenging role. According to the beforementioned AON report, HiPo’s were roughly three times as likely to leave if they had poor perceptions of career opportunities.

– praise them for great work done. Everyone wants to be noticed and recognized for their contribution and achievements, and so do HiPo’s. Even if they know how valuable they are for you and for your organization they still want to get feedback from you. If their work goes unnoticed they will be disappointed with that and might leave your organization.

– listen to them. Talk to them and listen to what they have to say. They are the people whom your organization needs to perform so well so definitely do not underestimate what they have to say. Organize think tanks or Thank God it’s Friday meetings, as done in Google (though I do not think that this the best name for such meeting).

– offer them fair compensation and benefits. Money definitely isn’t the only reason why they are so great at what they are doing, but it is important. In case they are not paid fairly for their contribution they definitely will get disengaged and starting to look for new challenges outside of your organization.

There are actually a plenty of ways what organizations can do to engage their HiPo’s and to create a happy workplace. In case you want to learn more about them then have a look at different ideas in here.

Let me know what do you do in your organization to engage your HiPo’s!


Sources used in this post: