By Randy Sabourin

workshop old

Traditional learning wisdom tells us that if we need to educate or train a large amount of individuals, we gather them in a classroom or workshop with a teacher teaching and students learning. This process has not served us as well as it did Socrates, who had Aristotle and his peers search for the answers through group discussion and debate. The model of a single teacher educating a group of those eager to learn remains as the foundation for our educational system. This approach works well because students are truly learning new content and the teachers are more knowledgeable. When we graduate to a corporate learning environment we encounter a very similar delivery process. Participants experience a combination of ‘one to many’ workshops and webinars. This ‘one to many’ approach still rings true in a corporate setting economically until costs associated with travel and lost opportunities mount. Research reveals further challenges with the model:   learners only retain 15% to 20% of the knowledge provided during these group setting learning assemblies.

The solution to higher education is recognized throughout almost every profession as ‘one to one’ coaching, which helps transform knowledge into skills through individual attention and adaptation. A coach directs practice to specific areas and motivates the learner to achieve new heights. In the sporting or corporate learning world, the costs associated with this ‘one to one’ approach restrict its application to a select few.

We recently conducted work for a client that challenged the economic model that prevents ‘one to one’ coaching and new learning from working side by side. Read the rest of this entry »

by Randy Sabourin

Practice makes perfect.

We have all heard the adage before: it takes time, practice, repetition, exploration, mistakes and successes to master a new skill. Perfect, though, is a rather lofty goal..

“When I was in school the teachers told me practice makes perfect; then they told me nobody’s perfect so I stopped practicing.”   Comedian – Steve Wright

So let’s say practice makes better or perhaps practice makes permanent.

Let’s explore how we generally acquire new business skills. Consider training a large group of sales people on objection handling and cross-selling and their managers on coaching to the new process. Usually the Corporate Learning and Development (L&D) team designs or purchases the training material, which is then incorporated into a workshop and perhaps an e-learning module. The participants are assembled; flights, hotels, venues are booked, and workshops are attended. The feedback from the workshops is outstanding, the e-learning scores are magnificent, and everyone is happy. Mission accomplished. If they were lucky, the Managers received an extra day of training regarding their responsibility to sustain the new sales process through coaching. While this process varies depending on the size of the organization and the commitment to the learning, this approach has been the norm for decades.

The real test of the training is whether the participants change their behavior in the field. If the way to measure ‘lift’ (a change in behavior and results) was part of the design process a key question is whether the Manager will have the skills to recognize any lack of change and then have time to coach to it. Usually, a few months go by and a small percentage of people are using the new content while Managers go back to focusing on their jobs with little time to coach. The status quo wins out and the L&D team goes back to the drawing board to design an even better training and coaching program for next year. Fingers point in both directions and the L&D budget is in jeopardy again next year with little or no evidence of return on training dollars invested. Read the rest of this entry »

by Cameron O. Anderson

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT – PART 2: How to Increase the Return on Training Dollars Invested through Knowledge Retention and Learning Sustainmen

Since corporate training began, Learning and Development professionals have strived to determine the ROI on training programs. While the REACTION level (Kirkpatrick, Evaluating Training Programs, 3rd Edition, 2006) or “smile sheets” administered during or post program are often very positive, the final three levels (ACTUAL LEARNING, BEHAVIOR CHANGE AND BUSINESS RESULTS) are traditionally more difficult to measure. As you saw in Part 1 of this article, the reinforcement and coaching of what is taught in a training program is frequently left to overworked managers so the sustainment and ROI of the training is often also low. While good internal coaching definitely has a positive impact on changing behaviors and business results, the consistency of the follow up coaching is what is being examined around the training world.

So if coaching is the key to sustainment and internal coaching is often hit or miss, what is the solution? TELEPHONE ROLEPLAY!!!

For 13 years e-roleplay has been successfully reinforcing training programs for major corporations around the globe using professional actors who are also certified coaches. The key requirement that our clients have in common is a desire to gauge the results of their training, both quantitative and qualitative.

Let’s talk about quantitative results first. Return on Training Dollars Invested (ROTDI) can be measured in multiple ways and our clients have used almost every conceivable metric to do it. Quantitative measurements can be divided into two types: financial-based and skills-based. Read the rest of this entry »

By Randy Sabourin

There is some fascinating research about status and body language.  It has always been a topic included in our Leadership Development and Sales Training Programs. Recent research by Amy Cuddy of the Harvard Business School reveals that taking on ‘high status’ or ‘power poses’ even when pretending has a dramatic effect on our neurology. She proves that ‘fake it till you make it’ is indeed powerful. This is a video of her research.

If this topic is interesting to you this article on mirroring is note worthy. Researchers at Stanford showed that a simple mirroring process in a computer animated sales pitch increased sales by 20%!

Status is a hierarchical concept that is ingrained into our social style. It is body language, words, actions and drives how others see us as leaders. This article is good overview of Status and how we can exploit it (in a good way) to help with influence and collaboration.  Enjoy.

By Randy Sabourin

I often find myself in the situation of giving professional advice about whom in a group of ‘up and coming’ professionals will be a good leader.  I coach executives in large and small organizations in a variety of market places and there seems to be one critical common denominator among these leaders; the more self-aware they are about their strengths and weaknesses the more successful they are. A small caveat to that statement- they are not only self-aware but are willing to do something with their self-knowledge.

Being self-aware is a little more difficult than introducing yourself to your self in the mirror or reading (and dismissing) your latest 360 evaluation. Understanding yourself is a complex and ongoing process, one you need to be dedicated to in order to see results. I recently tried an app that tracks the calories you take in at every meal. I’ve never been a dieter but I found the process very interesting because I became aware of what I was eating, when and what my caloric intake was. Based on that information I started making decisions about what or how much I would eat, I became aware of what I was eating. As the experience continued I recorded the details of each meal less and less, I felt I had gained an understanding and didn’t need the feedback any longer. Sure enough the success I had gained by being aware faded and I was back to the same eating habits. I started using the app again and I was back in the groove, reaching my goals, staying aware, and receiving positive reinforcement.  The same awareness and feedback cycle is needed in order to increase your leadership self-awareness.

Leadership self-awareness is based on understanding your behavioral preferences, particularly when you are under stress.  Anyone can manage his or her behavior in a calm situation; managing behavior under pressure is much harder.  Performance in the moment- under pressure- is often the difference between success and failure.  Without self-awareness we react to stressful situations consistent with our core behavioral preferences. Behavioral preferences rarely change over time; they are neural pathways created over time and are a combination of nature and nurture that are usually set in our early 20’s. If changing them is near impossible then our objective is to manage them along with the stress that exposes them.

Where to start? Read the rest of this entry »

You are being asked to provide ROI numbers for your Learning & Development programs. It’s a budget justification cycle and some consider L&D a “necessary evil” cost center. You know the programs are good and that participants enjoy them, the surveys say so.

The problem is that there is no real measurable change in the field; the training doesn’t ‘stick’. Increasing the amount of training sessions doesn’t help, there is no budget and no one wants to come out of the field, especially sales people.

Is there a way to increase the return of your existing training, without taking people from the field?



The moment of truth…

Your sales person is finally one on one with your client. All the investment in your product, the marketing message, sales training, and coaching is about to pay off. It comes down to this moment.

Your sales team are professionals; they need to make diving catches that win games. They’ve studied the product literature, understand the client’s requirements, and have anticipated every objection. And, like a  Professional, they’ve practiced this conversation over and over to be ready for every possible outcome… or have they?

Don’t let your people practice on your clients.

The Challenge

Three individuals from various leadership positions (Branch Manager, District VP, Commercial Branch Area Manager) within the Personal and Commercial division of a large Financial Institution required assistance to overcome challenges in inter-personal and communication style. All three individuals have been recognized as potential leaders in the organization and are in line for promotion if these issues can be resolved. The Bank’s traditional coaching process had yielded minimal results.

The Client

ASCI was appointed by the VP of Human Resources and Talent Management of the Personal and Commercial division of a large Financial Institution. Behavioral analysis (TAIS) of each individual revealed a consistent leadership profile that emphasized Analytical/Conceptual as the dominant attentional style combined with a very high need for Control, higher than average Expression of Criticism & Anger and a very high Response Style Influence.


Each Coachee had unique manifestations of the behaviors that were creating issues with their teams and clients. Although the situations and symptoms were different, the objective of the sessions was consistent.

  1. Have the coachees accept that the challenges they are facing are a result of their behavioral preferences.
  2. Explore the behavioral issues highlighted by TAIS and tie them to situations and challenges.
  3. Develop awareness to recognize adverse behaviors and employ mechanisms to modify the behavior.


Each coaching engagement started with a face-to-face meeting, where possible, so that the coach and coachee felt comfortable with each other. The relationship is built on trust and mutual respect. The session content included:  Read the rest of this entry »

Business Improvisation – Performance Under Pressure (download the pdf)

The Challenge

A group of 25 Sales and Marketing leaders want to ensure that they are at their best in front of clients, speaking opportunities and industry events. They are of diverse background, some coming from sales, product marketing and industry analysts. Poor handling of objections during the sales process, questions during presentations and thinking quickly under pressure have been issues that their traditional Sales Training has not been able to address effectively. The client also felt that the team would benefit from team building in the process enabling them to get to know each other better while having fun.

The Client

ASCI was appointed by the VP of Sales and Marketing of an Electronic Goods manufacturer to work with her team. The team consisted of Regional and District Sales leaders, Marketing Directors and several Corporate Account Executives. Behavioral analysis (TAIS) of the team revealed that the dominant attentional style was Analytical/Conceptual combined with a very high need for Control and a very low propensity to risk.


The VP of Sales and Marketing wanted: Read the rest of this entry »

by Lauren Davey

Organizations often look outside for top talent as a way to “raise the bar” or avert a talent crisis.  There is much being written today about talent shortages among organizations – it is real and prevalent.  Yet, what if we could help our organizations fight the war for talent by taking a more active role in our development?   Could that role reduce the talent shortage by creating opportunity for others and our selves already on the payroll?  After all, the workplace is filled with skilled employees who have accrued countless years of valuable experience.  First, however, a commitment to change is required to meet the new and growing demands of organizations for their leaders today.

Over the years we change our hairstyle, our clothes, the cars we drive, our home furnishings.  We spend time researching and evaluating items such as the latest Smartphone to determine whether we should upgrade our current hardware for the latest version– yet when it comes to an upgrade of our leadership capability, we tend not to invest much thought and even fewer resources. Though leadership may not evolve as quickly as Smartphone technology, the principle remains the same.  Upgrades eventually make previous versions of the same thing obsolete.  Read the rest of this entry »

by Cameron O. Anderson and Randy G.J. Sabourin

The rules for work are changing. We’re being judged by a new yardstick; not just by how smart we are, or by our training and expertise, but also by how well we handle each other and ourselves. –Daniel Goleman

Corporate leaders face a future where the performance of their organization will rely on the ability to adapt their behavioral styles to meet the needs of their direct reports. Getting the most from an individual or your team means first having a way to understand yourself while accepting responsibility for the success or more importantly, the failure of business relationships.  The interactions of people within a team or externally with clients or other stakeholders does not fall into the same classification as controlling manufacturing quality or forecasting enterprise resources. If we accept that everyone is unique (as we believe ourselves to be) how can we apply the same coaching advice, or sales training, or decision making processes to everyone the same way. It is tried daily, and fails daily.

While “rapid cognition” and intuition are important elements of management coaching in today’s rapid fire environments, relying on experiences and values-based techniques for problem solving, learning and discovery (aka heuristics) is only part of it.  A reliable, repeatable process for positively impacting the behaviors of staff includes a full self-understanding of the coach. A typical management leadership failure often sounds like “…everyone is great at their jobs but they can’t work together… there tends to be too much unhealthy conflict and politics”. Read the rest of this entry »


Does your organization face a challenge with on going retention of knowledge delivered during event based training?

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