Closures: Endings and Beginnings

00433138At the end of the calendar year, I often wish I could feel like I did as a student who has just completed a semester or grade level. Finishing school brought such a powerful sense of successful endeavor. You made it! You survived a tough class or boring teacher or required subject you didn’t really care about. Endings felt so good – no further worrying about that stuff.

For us business people, wouldn’t it feel great to reach the end of the year with similar sensational endings? In the business world, we are grateful for improved profit, new (and functioning) tech solution, or good riddance to a project we never liked anyway. Instead most of us face continuations of challenging task lists along with new initiatives that never seem to end or go away. There is never really an end, so there is no beginning.

My answer to this challenge is to search for actions I can take, big or small, to gain closure on the old year and welcome the new one.  I know I’ll be in a better frame of mind to tackle the tough issues if I can eliminate some nagging tasks. Perhaps my list will suggest some ways you too can create your own sense of closure and moving on.

Clean up my contact lists
Even though I’m constantly updating my contacts, I make a concerted effort to synchronize and verify my contact data at year end. Now that I’m using so many programs to market, it is even more challenging to maintain every list. As they say, “the devil is in the details” so I spend hours scouring and updating contacts.

Renew Contacts
As I step through the first goal, I always find names I meant to stay in touch with or didn’t follow up with or folks who could use a virtual hug or personal hello. I take my time as I update and try to reach out as I go through the lists. It always pays off to re-connect and stay in touch.

File Cleanup
Yes, I still have lots of paper files and I always downsize, toss, and store them at year end … or in January if I’m lagging. As well, before my final backup of the year, I clean up my computer files. Usually I find many misplaced files as well as reminders of tasks I need to get done. It is tedious, but why continue in a state of disorganization?

Spruce Up Work Area
This is not a big deal, but it sure feels cleansing.  Not only do I give my work area a deep cleansing, I change or add something new like photos or flowers to keep me happy. Why sit at your desk all day and look at the same stuff? Give yourself some joy, I say.

Plan Ahead
Probably like you I can already see some challenges in the new year, so I will ramp up or draft some preliminary work so that I have a running start as events unfold.  Avoid getting swamped by thinking ahead.

Even if I accomplish only part of this list, I know I will be calmer and more prepared for whatever lies ahead. I encourage you to create your own list of endings and beginnings to close out the old and prepare for the new.

Happy New Year 2015!


The Missing View: Others’ DISC Feedback

Little-on-question-mark-webSeeing ourselves as others see us is a rare opportunity for most employees. An opportunity to step into someone else’s shoes and look back at oneself can lift unnecessary blinders.

With the growing use of 360 degree performance evaluation feedback, many people have learned that a broader view can offer a greater clarity of oneself than simply relying on the old familiar self we know so well.

Often, other people’s feedback includes an ability, a strength, or useful asset that we have not credited to ourselves.  Finding and accepting these hidden talents is one of the best ways to stimulate personal development.

Or, others’ view of us will reveal some negative aspects of ourselves that others would like us to adjust, change, or minimize.  Without gaining this knowledge, opportunities to develop stronger relationships and communications will be missed.

Much of the DISC training offered today falls short of one of its most powerful lessons: comparing how others perceive us to how we see ourselves. Self-awareness is crucial. But, it is not the end of the story.

Many a learner has left my DISC training with new insights about their communication challenges based on the self-and-others comparative DISC data. Whether one agrees or not with others’ perception, the reality remains that their perception is their reality of us. Why be blind sighted when a little diagnostic data can reveal such helpful information!

Performance Training Corporation is providing a 360 DISC Assessment based on a self-rating plus observers’ ratings. This user-friendly assessment is completed online, taking only 15 minutes to complete. Users may include as many observers as they wish; 5-10 are recommended. The resulting report includes extensive personalized interpretation and application recommendations. Contact for information or read more at DISC360 on

DiSC Personality Profiles – More Choices Than Ever

For state-of-the art DiSC profile assessments, it is easier than ever to match a specific diagnostic to end user’s needs.  Further, on-line scoring and processing makes the entire process available 24/7. You can usually view or print the results within minutes of answering the survey questions.

The updated DISC profiles from Wiley (formerly Inscape Publishing) provide bottom line usability, easy online accessibility, and multiple technology advancements. Each report not only has new graphics, but a more business like application permeates all of the reports moving the DiSC profile from a “fun to know about myself” document to a “how to make a difference with this information” interpretation.

So, that leaves the question of which profile should you use? See the following suggestions and please contact me for further assistance, report samples, or training recommendations.

DiSC Profile Best For Overview
Everything DiSC Workplace
  • Any employee at any level of experience
  • Group training for various positions.
  • First time users of DiSC profiles
  • Use of newest DiSC resources
A business oriented report on who you are and how to best manage your style. Work based examples that apply the DiSC concepts from your specific results.
Everything DiSC Management
  • Specific to people who manage others
  • Emphasis on working with your staff
  • In-depth management application of DiSC concepts
How do you manage others from a DiSC perspective? This report will help you understand your managing strengths and weaknesses.
Everything DiSC Sales
  • Customer service and sales employees
  • Recognizing customers’ buying style
  • Enhance sales techniques
  • Offer new insights to customer relations
Understand your customer’s buying style and how to adapt your style to theirs. A sales specific application of DiSC that enables sales staff to examine themselves and customers.
Everything DiSC Work of Leaders
  • Learning one’s leadership style
  • Gain strategies for adapting to others
  • Build skills useful to any leader
  • Increase self awareness
Apply your DiSC style to key leader behaviors. Learn your approach to vision, alignment, and execution. Tangible application suggestions and realistic feedback.
DiSC Classic 2.0(paper format)
  • Learning basics of the DiSC concepts
  • Process during workshop – no pre-work
  • Traditional “classic pattern” application
The classic “DiSC” report with broad application to any audience. Learn your own style and the 15 classic patterns.
DiSC Classic 2.0(electronic format)
  • Learning basics of the DiSC concepts
  • Learner can view results online immediately after completing survey
  • Traditional “classic pattern” application
Same as above but completed online instead of on paper.

Kaye Sullivan is an authorized partner of Wiley/Inscape Publishing providing training workshops and DiSC assessments. Read more at

Using DiSC to Manage Family Relationships Over The Holidays

The end of the year is nearly upon us which means back to back holiday events with multiple opportunities to find yourself at odds with your relatives.  Just in case you don’t always see eye to eye, here are some survival tips to keep you smiling through the holiday with your loved ones.

Family at ThanksgivingStep back from your identity as a sister or uncle or cousin and view each person’s communication style objectively.  Don’t judge or let historical events cloud your perspective. Nearly everyone has a predominant personality style. If you can identify your relatives’ type, you will gain some insight about relating to them effectively.  (Read more about the DiSC Personality Types)

The “D” Dominant types are fast paced, get ‘er done now people. Their holidays are packed with events so expect to cook, dine, watch sports, shop, recreate, and keep moving quickly. D’s also like to be in control, so you may feel like they are ordering you around or making decisions for everyone.  Expect a packed agenda of holiday events.

The “I” Influence types are emotional and spontaneous. Their holiday events may be created on the fly and they don’t mind changing plans last-minute. I’s thrive on relationships so the holidays fulfill their need for frequent socializing.  They may obsess about their attire or picking the best venue or selecting the right gift. Expect their schedule to change frequently.

The “S” Steadiness types like their routines and traditions. These folks enjoy the same holiday menu with the same group in the same setting, year after year. They are very good at comforting others, providing a predictable holiday events, and genuinely giving to others.  Expect the S’s to resist any change in holiday traditions and feel hurt if their feelings are not considered.

The “C” Conscientious types like order and attention to details. These folks will be inquiring far ahead about your holiday plans, the food you will bring, and the exact time dinner will be served. They are masters at the details which assures a family won’t  run out of milk when stores are closed. Expect to follow recipes exactly, set the table correctly, and show up at the appointed time.

So, what can you do? Well, your strategies may change a bit depending on which personality you are. Certainly, you are one of these types too so keep in mind your own preferences and habits. Here are some suggestions for everyone.

Communicating with the Dominance Types
Pick your fights carefully and avoid win/lose scenarios. D’s are the best at focusing on results and minimizing trivia. (Any brand of turkey will do. Just get cooking!) If you passionately care about a topic, speak up and don’t let D’s run over you. They respect people who stand up for themselves. Accept their fast pace and action focus.  Don’t let their aloof demeanor fool you. Down deep they do really care about you.

Communicating with the Influence Types
Be willing to be flexible and spontaneous. Remember that I’s really care about people.  Their emotions are tied to everything they do. They may be late, but they spent the most time selecting the perfect gift or stellar appetizer.  I’s are the best at accepting everyone, finding what is right about other people, being spontaneous, and making social (and family) situations tolerable, if not fun.  Plus they entertain everyone with humorous stories and jokes.

Communicating with the Steadiness Type
Remember how much S’s really care about you. They prepare your favorite food item, worry about making you a comfortable visitor, and fuss endlessly. Their casual, relaxed style means it doesn’t matter if you burned the rolls or showed up late.  Be a helper and contribute whatever you can. Be appreciative. Accept the Steadiness folks for their genuineness and determination to please others. Just don’t offend them!

Communicating with the Conscientiousness Type
Keep in mind that any job worth doing is worth doing right, from the C’s point of view. Being attentive to details will take you far with these folks. Their demands for advance and detailed communications keep the holidays on target. Don’t be overwhelmed by their structure and order. If logic suggests a better path forward, just say so. (“This brand of turkey is on sale. Let’s buy it!)Remember to thank them for the small details and follow traditional protocol.

Wishing you a very happy Thanksgiving and Christmas with your family!

For more information about the DISC profile, please contact, an authorized distributor of Wiley DiSC surveys and training.

Know Thyself – 5 Keys to Improved Communications and Relationships

“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.” — Tao Te Ching

CB008257If you can heighten self awareness of your own communications, you can increase the effectiveness of your interactions with other people.  Use these strategies to leverage knowledge about yourself.

1. Knowing yourself increase your ability to anticipate your behaviors

Do you tend to talk too much? Too little?  Are you overly cool or too social at work?  All of us have behavioral tendencies – they’re part of our personality.   But, if our behaviors are too extreme or inappropriate, they become self-defeating.  If you know yourself, you can anticipate how you will probably respond to upcoming situations.  If you anticipate that your behaviors will be successful, great!  If you’re worried that you might fall back into self defeating behaviors or not achieve the outcomes you seek, you’ve given yourself the opportunity to adjust.

2. Focus attention on other people so you gain clues about them

If you know yourself and accept yourself, you will have more energy to focus on colleagues, staff, customers, bosses, and other significant people.  Paying close attention to how other people communicate enables you to know them better, anticipate their preferences, and gain awareness of their communication style.  Sometimes you only get few clues, especially in new or quick communications.  But, people are always transmitting something about themselves.  Pay attention!  Listen! Observe!

3. Adapt yourself appropriately to the situation

The combination of self awareness plus attention to others enables you to adapt.  Maybe you’re feeling very fatigued but you’re meeting with a high energy person.  Rather than inadvertently convey a lack of enthusiasm, pluck up, demonstrate that you care, use vibrant language, and come to conclusion swiftly.  You’re in, you’re out and you’ve retained an ally.  Move onto something less demanding to recoup your energy.  Successful communicators put other people’s needs ahead of their own.  Respond to others in a way that makes them want to say, “Yes! I like working with you.”

4. Monitor and restrain yourself

One of the blessings of knowing yourself is that you can catch yourself doing something wrong before it is too late.  If the boring staff meetings drive you to distraction, be aware of communications that could cause more harm than good.  Strategize and plan what behaviors you DO want to use.  Don’t lose control of yourself.  Don’t lose others’ trust. Monitor your tone, your content, and your nonverbal communications.

5. Use your strengths wisely

Knowing yourself increases your ability to use your strengths wisely and widely. Step up when your communication style supports your team, retains a grouchy customer, or overcomes obstacles. Strengths tend to come naturally to us so they should be at your fingertips.  Let others lean on you.  In return, you’ll be able to lean on them some day.  Hone your strengths.  Strive to be outstanding in areas where you are already very good.

The “Communication Feedback: Know Thyself” workshop has encouraged thousands of participants to study their own style of communications and learn skills to interact effectively with others.  Kaye Sullivan has taught these concepts to executives, teams, and employees at all levels. Contact her for more information, customized workshops, or questions at

Helping Groups Make Decisions – Facilitation Skills Part 4 of 4

Rather than write about specific decision making processes, I’m going to describe five categories of decision making. These categories offer a framework within which specific processes can be applied. 4 at table

Convenience – A convenience decision is one that is expedient with the least effort spent making the decision. For example, lunch arrangements for your meeting. If a caterer has a good reputation with your client, stick with what works and don’t sweat the details.

What are some topics you group can handle readily? Sometimes it helps to load up the front end of a session with simpler decisions to help a group see that it is already making progress. Use convenience decisions to avoid bogging down a group’s progress.

Consult – Sometimes groups need advice before they can move forward. They may lack knowledge, technical expertise, awareness of past practices, or input from a trusted source.  Consultative decisions also mean that advice will be listened to, but not necessary followed. In the end, the group will make its own decision after weighing input from other sources.

Be sure to ask your group if they have all the information and authority they need to make a decision. Suggest the option of consulting with an expert and reviewing additional information.

Control – This “C” means the final decision is in someone else’s authority, not the group. Your group may need to accept that they do not have the authority to make a decision.  A group may decide to present information or advice to another party while realizing the final outcome is up to someone else.

Don’t allow groups to waste time on decisions where they do not have control. Help them accept these limitations and move on to topics where they can make decisions.

Consensus – In its simplest application, consensus means broad agreement among a group.  Often this comes down to a practical outcome that is supported by the majority, but not necessarily one’s first choice. In its strictest application, full consent means 100% of the members are in full agreement. This second definition requires in depth, open, and honest discussion to assure that everyone truly agrees and does not feel coerced into agreeing.

As a facilitator, be cautious that seeming agreement is true agreement. This is especially true if subordinates feel they must conform to their bosses’ point of view. Pent up feelings of coercion will work against the final decision over time. If you choose to use consensus, be sure your group defines what this approach means to them.

Counting  – Majority rules is a fundamental rule of governance in our country and it can be an effective approach for any group. Consider taking tentative votes to discern how close or far apart a group is on issues. Or, ask each individual, “if you had to vote right now, how would you lean?” to get a grasp of member’s position. If issues are highly sensitive, use a confidential process to vote.

Don’t rush to the voting process when topics require thoughtful debate. Conversely, when time is up, participants are frazzled, or discussion is repetitive, move to a decisive ending and conduct a vote.

If a group’s ground rules have identified how they will make decisions, they will not be surprised by the process. Keep in mind that if the decisions were obvious, neither the group nor you, the facilitator, would be attending this meeting. Expect different opinions and be prepared with many options to resolve differences.

Kaye Sullivan is a trainer, coach, and consultant who works with teams of all kinds. Contact her for assistance with your facilitation needs.

Preparing Yourself – Facilitation Skills 2 of 4

Group 3 As my parents used to advise me before a big test, the best thing you can do is get a good night of sleep before the sessions you facilitate. You need to be mentally at ease concerning your own problems, mentally tough about the session’s goals and agenda, and mentally ready to attend to the emotions of a full group of people.

Facilitating is not about YOU. Your presence, your words, your guidance are vehicles to help others accomplish something. You want to be 100% other oriented. Put your stressors aside and get ready to concentrate on the people in front of you. (Actually it can be stress relieving to focus on other people’s problems instead of your own!)

To get to a state of serenity, I encourage you to spend the day before doing some things that relax you. This might be doing mundane work chores that don’t drain your brain. You might seek some alone time where you can be quiet with yourself. Don’t forget the importance of your daily routines including proper exercise and diet.

Know your agenda items and schedule cold. Keep that agenda in front of you at all times so you can refer to it and remind the group about it, as necessary. Have a game plan of what the group should be doing at each point in the session. Take a small clock with you to keep track of the time if your watch or cell phone don’t display the time in a useable way.

Put on a mental arm band of neutrality. Don’t take sides. Don’t speak up for one decision versus another. Do not display allegiance to one participant over another. Your role is an unbiased guide that concentrates on the “process” of helping people move forward, not the results. In other words, you don’t care what they decide, as long as they make a thoughtful, well-informed decision!

Create a “what if” or Plan B that provides you with handy process alternatives. If one decision making approach doesn’t work, what else will you try? If you have to sacrifice any agenda item, what would it be? Identify your group leaders that are your “go to” people to make adjustments to the agenda or schedule, if needed.

Realize in advance, that no one can please all the people all the time. In your facilitator role, it is not about making friends or even pleasing people, but accomplishing some task. In the end, if some people are less satisfied with your approach than others, that is life. Arrive at the meeting with confidence in your capabilities.

Be prepared to let go. Most groups need to become self-directed or managed by their own members.  Your goal is to enable and encourage this capacity. When the group is ready or when time is up, be ready to walk away. Dis-engage thoughtfully and know when it is time for you to move on.

Kaye Sullivan facilitates teams, groups, and training sessions. Contact her for assistance with your tough learners and dysfunctional teams. 30 years experience and still loving it!

On August 22, I’ll be speaking about handling the challenge of being a facilitator at the Northern Rockies ASTD meeting. Anyone can attend and the fee includes a great lunch along with a friendly crowd of trainers. ASTD is the American Society of Training and Development. Click the link for more information and registration astd northern rockies chapter.

Employee Development

Communications and DiSC Training, Partnering Facilitation, Employee Coaching, and Team Development from a veteran trainer and consultant. Customized programs for every client.

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