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Set example and get team involved to meet training goals

Coach's Corner-December 21, 2009

The Client
Name: Sam
Age: 42
Title: Director, Administration
Industry: City government
Issue: Training during tight economic times
Q. I lead a division in a city government unit, and have a great, stable team. I’d like to invest in their professional development, maybe focusing on emotional intelligence, but budgets are simply too tight. What can I do on the cheap to help them continue to grow and remain engaged?

A. Set an example of growth, involve them in planning, and give them time.

The inner game
It’s easy to say “I would, if only I could afford it!” It’s great that you’re stepping outside that box to find achievable ways to create a growth-oriented organization. Start with your vision for team-oriented growth, clarifying what “emotional intelligence” means to you and what it would bring to your group.

More specifically, think about each person, their strengths and weaknesses, and the overall profile of the team in terms of skills and temperaments. Assess yourself, and then move on to others. In the next year, or two years, or five years, what evolution would you like to see?

Your leadership ability is key to this approach. Assess how you model growth. What do you do — or not do — to continue your professional development? Also, evaluate your ability to lead this growth effort.  If you don’t have the skills, how will you acquire them?

The barriers that could interfere are myriad; however, many will come down to time. Decide that this is a priority and anticipate concerns or barriers to success before bringing it to your team.

The outer game
Tap into existing knowledge and find sources to develop new expertise within your team.

Good teams are generally motivated by learning and growth, so this will likely be an easy sell. Be ready to explain your goals, constraints, and expectations for team involvement.

Brainstorm with your team about ways to achieve your goal. For example, to increase the team’s individual and collective emotional intelligence, seek creative ways to develop those skills. Try books, such as “Emotional Intelligence in Action,” to find concrete ideas for team activities; this one even suggests movies that exemplify aspects of emotional intelligence.

Create some structure to make this happen, perhaps defining goals so that it becomes a team priority. Ask a group of interested employees to lay out an approach (on company time). If possible, provide a small budget for books, or perhaps a consultation with an expert to create a realistic, home-grown approach.

Make it achievable, starting with regularly scheduled 30-minute sessions in staff meetings, or lunchtime “brown-bag” learning sessions. But keep it a priority when other agendas are pressing. Ask yourself, “Would I cancel a consultant?” If you wouldn’t, then keep the promise you made to yourselves and keep this on track.

Concerned about what to do during these sessions? Ask each team member to do a quick briefing on an aspect of emotional intelligence. Choose an easy activity that helps people develop their skills, and discuss ways it’ll be relevant to your work. Keep it simple — just focusing on these issues will promote growth.

The last word
Despite budget constraints, you can still foster a robust learning environment in your organization.What challenges do you face at work? Send your questions to Liz Reyer, a credentialed coach and president of Reyer Coaching & Consulting in Eagan. She can be reached at or 651-398-4765. Questions also can be submitted at  

Liz Reyer, President RCC - Posted December 21, 2009
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  [below viewing threshold (-77.5), show comment]tomsshoes (August 7, 2012 6:09:32 AM)