Ask the Experts - Answers and Ideas

Do you have ideas to get managers to learn from written training (self-study)? I'm sure some will just sign off without really reading it
Is there a book that provides tips to inspire the downtrodden?
Is there a sample action plan or some easy guidelines for handling the transition between CEO's?
Do you had any ideas on how to effectively (without boring the class to sleep) teach the company code of ethics and compensation plan?
When using the Strategic Planning tool, how can I determine next year's plans now?
How do recruiters calculate turnover rates and cost of hires?
How can a room be too large for a group?
Can you help me (and where can I find more information) with the procedures, processes, materials and to be included for an induction /orientation program for our new employees?



I am going to be doing some training for my supervisors (otherwise known as the Group Leaders) and wondered what your thoughts were on the best way to do this. There are 4 GL's and the CEO. I'm thinking of doing the annual Sexual Harassment training as well as some on the SOX Act (Sarbanes Oxley), some Retaliation claims, and communications. 

My thought was to write the training, have them read through it and then sign off that they have read it. This would of course cover the legal aspects of the training, but I'm quite sure that several of them would treat this as another "handbook" type and just sign without reading. 

Do you have some ideas to facilitate this or are there some issues of Recruit, Inspire and Retain that I could go to. I appreciate the monthly newsletters and your responses to my questions!!!!

Blessings, Manager - HR

Response:                                       back to the top

Remember piano lessons? I would never have practiced if it weren't for the need to show Mrs. Carroll, my teacher, that I could play the piece. We are the same with the things we need to learn at work. Self-study needs to involve other people or we'll never make the time to really learn. 

Here are a couple of ideas for making your written (self-study) training interactive:           

* Instruct them in the training to get some info (and give them a place to write it) from another person in the organization or even outside. 

* Have them read a case study (from outside your organization) and talk about it in the next manager meeting. 

* Instruct them in the training to read a book/watch a movie (obviously choose something that has scenes that relate to the learning) then discuss at your next manager meeting. It's much more comfortable for people to talk about someone else's situation and within 10 minutes they'll be saying "well, when John Wayne did ..., that was like what happened to me last week ..." - sneaky and it works. 

Do you every wonder what happens when questions and responses are posted to this page? Patricia Santarpio (Blackwell's Book Services) actually told us! Read her question, our response, and the follow-up she sent below.


Our Company has found itself in the awful position of realizing their Management has failed in sufficiently inspiring their warehouse staff to cut down on in-house damage of our product.

Our new Vice President has decided to empower the employees to motivate each other. We are attempting this by holding weekly meetings with a non-management representative of all departments.

These meetings are to be co-chaired by myself and another employee, both "volunteered" by the Vice President because of our positive attitudes, and our realization that attitudes, both positive and negative are contagious.

Our mission is to cut down on in-house damage of product and by doing so, increasing profit which will be shared with employees through our profit sharing program.

One would think this would be inspiration enough, but this is a tough socio-economic "working poor" area and negativism is a life experience for many of these people.

Our company is doing their part by offering us cost of living raises along with profit sharing, free education for business related degrees, an extra holiday has been added. We have decent benefits and ample time off and still our profit is eaten away by bad attitudes.

Response:                                       back to the top

Get the book Motivating Negative People and Motivating at work. It's full of ideas for creating inspiration in your employees! The book includes planning forms.

My question is, is there a book or can you provide me with any tips on inspiring the down trodden? I have read all your archived tips and have found many good ideas, thank you for sharing them.

Best regards,
Patricia Santarpio
Blackwell's Book Services


Hi Carolyn,
I ordered the book, and I must say even a small amount of positive reinforcement has profound effects on employees whose negativity has become habit. I love your website, and plan to use it often.

We are holding once a week meetings with employees only, no management. Within three meetings we have initiated a small change inn procedure which will enable us to save money from damaged product.

We have two other procedural changes in the works that have come about from employees who ordinarily battle with each other because their respective supervisors are at odds.

It's amazing how people respond to respect and an equal exchange of ideas.

Thank you for your guidance. I have no experience in this area and am learning as I go.

It helps me greatly to receive tips and I really like reading other people's problems and your tips and ideas.




We are in the process of losing our current CEO and getting a new CEO. I would like to put together an action plan that helps employees, through this transition, but have never done this before. (Transitioned between CEO's) Is there a sample action plan or some easy guidelines for handling this? It would be very helpful if I could get some feedback on this.

Thanks again!
Manager Human Resources

Response:                                       back to the top

Sorry I couldn't get this to you yesterday. Now that you've met with staff, you likely have some ideas for what to put on the checklist already. Below are two articles that'll round out your checklist. I'd be glad to take a look at the checklist you come up with firm these ideas and add to it:

The New Boss
On my first day as manager of a small department, one employee seemed really angry. I kept

reaching out, but it had no impact. In fact her verbal outbursts seemed to increase. The entire
team suffered. Every meeting we had as a group, we endured her childish or negative comments. I started progressive discipline to work on her destructive behavior. She walked a fine line and was never fired, but continued to be a disruption to the team. Later after I had moved on from that position, I learned that she had applied for the job that I got and had blamed me for getting "her" position. That explained her attitude. However, I can't help but think how things could have been different. If she had put her bitterness aside, we could have worked together to improve her skills so she could have taken my place when I moved up. I would have been happy to mentor her, as I did many others. It is seven years later, and she is still in the same position. Another employee in that group would frequently say, "We've never done it this way before." That hardly supported the change that I was hired to implement. She came around when she saw the positive outcome of our changes. However, I would have welcomed a supporting voice in those early weeks. If you have a new boss, why not try to be his ally. Treat him as innocent until proven guilty. This person could be your greatest mentor or coach. Here are some practical tips for starting off on the right foot. 


Research Your New Boss 

Talk to insiders that you trust and find out about the new boss' style, past work experience and what his role will be in your department. The better you know your boss and what is important to him, the easier your relationship will be. 


First Meeting 

A new boss can be a fresh start for you. Your first meeting is not unlike a job interview. You want to impress your new boss, not compete with him or alienate him. Offer to assist him with his transition. You can be a terrific resource if he is new to the company. Be the welcoming person that he comes to rely upon. 


Demonstrate Your Value Regularly 

Just like a public company must consistently produce value for its shareholders, you must demonstrate your value to your boss, and the company. Refer to your past accomplishments, without bragging. Take on new challenges, especially high profile tasks that improve efficiency, save money, or increase revenue. Also, take the task that nobody else will do. You'll be seen as a team player. Let Your Boss Set the Tone Your new boss may want to jump in and follow the routine already in place. However, he may want to change everything. So avoid the urge to say, "We usually do this." If he wants to know how it was done in the past, he'll ask. Let your boss set up new routines and change things. He may have been brought it to turn things around, rather than keep the status quo. 


Respect Your Present and Former Bosses 

Don't say negative things about your old boss to your new boss, and vice versa. It may cause them to wonder if you are also talking about them. It is best to be loyal, even if the other person initiates it. It is tough to overcome an early impression. If you come off as threatened or bitter, it will take longer to earn your boss' trust and respect. For more advice on employee-boss relationships

Getting Along with Your Boss

Your boss may be the second most important person in your career, second only to yourself. It is a special relationship, one that can be rewarding, or painful. Don't take this important part of your career for granted. "My boss is a boss is always out of the office or in boss does not even know what I do." Even if one of those describes your supervisor, you can still form a meaningful partnership. "A partnership with my boss, you must be kidding!" No joke. A partnership is a mutually beneficial relationship in which both parties respect each other. Isn't this the ideal supervisor-employee relationship? It is achievable. We'll give you some good ideas that may pave the way your partnership. Before you read on, accept that your boss is human. Just like you, your boss has bad days, and makes mistakes too. You're boss brings value to the organization and to you. Even if their only value is determining your next pay increase and whether or not you are approved for a promotion. A little research helps. Know your boss' pet peeve? Now you know what to avoid. What are his biggest issues? Here's your chance to solve them. What info they need and when needed. Starting to see a pattern? What makes your boss valuable to her boss? Help her shine. What is the hot item at your company? Make sure you are in sync. 


Pay Attention to Style 

How does your boss like to be updated, or alerted? (e-mail, voicemail, drop by) Make sure you work around his preference. Does your boss prefer a formal weekly meeting, or a spontaneous discussion? Whatever the case, follow the lead. Does your boss require the whole story, brief highlights, or quick report and documentation ready if needed? 


Building Trust and Confidence 

Rather than take action without permission and apologize later, know your authority and stay within it. Be aware that you are one piece of the puzzle. Don't take more than your fair share of your boss' time. Don't dump problems at your boss' doorstep. Instead, present the issue and your plan for solution. Keep your boss posted. Nobody likes to be blindsided. Don't go over your boss' head, or steal glory from your boss. Respect communication channels set by your boss. In return you'll likely be rewarded. When talking to or about your boss, avoid "us/them" statements, try using "we" instead. Anticipate your boss' needs. Become your boss' best resource. If you had a good resource, wouldn't you keep that person happy? Choose the right time for discussion, requests or questions. Above all, be loyal and sincere. Remember, you are both looking for the same things... Trust, Support, Communication, and Recognition.


Good luck in building your partnership. These suggestions will not guarantee your success, but they should improve your odds.

Copyright (c) 2000-02 TD Strategies LLC


I was just currently promoted to the role of trainer here at my organization and was wondering if you had any ideas on how to effectively (without boring the class to sleep) teach the company code of ethics and compensation plan? It has been just read to them in the past and I refuse to teach it that way (boring!!). I would appreciate any ideas you have.

Thank you.
Corporate Trainer

Response:                                       back to the top

I’m so glad you want to come up with a new way – reading by itself rarely creates enough retention for people to do anything with it. Ideas below are very generic so you‘ll need to fit them to the amount they need to learn:

Concert Reading - Have the group read parts of the Code one after the other (1st person reads a para out loud, 2nd reads next etc.) Then each writes quiz questions on the part they read and asks it of group.

Flash Cards – put different parts of the Code on individual flash cards (poster board size so they can read). Hold up each, let them read to themselves then flip card over and they read as you say a question that was about an earlier flash card.

Who Wants to Be Millionaire? – they get time to read and then “host” asks questions (run it like the TV show)

Jeopardy – same as above

Questions on Cards – facilitator reads scenario (relating to ethical situations) from a card and asks for answers. After they answer, tell them to highlight the section in the Code that relates.

You get the idea – and now I know you’ll have even more.

One of our Associates has a great book Preventing Death By Lecture with tons of ideas like the above. You can order it at, click on Train.


I just learned how to set up & facilitate your Strategic Planning Game, but we just finished our planning! I have to wait until next year to start using the staff intervention planning idea, so....

Executive Vice President/CFO for an association

Response:                                       back to the top

I'm going to start asking in performance appraisal discussions "what is your Plan for next year" instead of "what are your goals" (Plan sounds more continuous).


Hi Carolyn, 

With regards to recruiting benchmarks, more specifically, I would like to learn more about how recruiters from other companies "evaluate" their performances as recruiters. For example, do they calculate turnover rates and costs per hire, etc? I hope this is more clear, and thank-you again!! 

Response:                                       back to the top

  • Number of days from opening posted to hire
  • Number of hires remaining after 1 year
  • Average number of open positions longer than a certain time period (to be determined by organization)
  • Number of other staff involved in recruiting and hiring per hire
  • Cost of recruiting/assessing/hiring per hire
  • Comments re: ease/difficulty/enjoyment of recruiting/assessing/hiring process for the applicant


One small question, if I may. . . .how can a room, short of a superdome or a huge meeting room, be TOO large for a group? Are the physics imposed by the rooms such that you can't simply occupy a corner of  it, or is there some advantage to sizing a room to the  group of which I am not aware (always looking to learn!). 

Warm Regards, 

Response:                                       back to the top

Great question - you can occupy the corner of the room but it's not always easy to steer people there - they tend to want to sit all over the place and be physically apart from each other. So the use of the crime scene tape* not only makes it funny that you're directing them to a certain part of the room but keeps them sitting together. Learning is enhanced when people are closer. Notice how much more energy is in a room when people are close vs. separated by several  chairs. One of my favorite subjects - love to talk more-- if you'd like, feel free to call 815-469-1162.


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