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The City Journals

Business Boot Camp Enriches Attendees

Apr 07, 2016 11:19AM ● By Bryan Scott

By Cassandra Goff [email protected]

Cottonwood - Holladay - The Cottonwood Heights Business Association held business boot camps every Thursday in February. The boot camps were held in the first-floor training room of the city hall, located at 1265 Fort Union Boulevard. The four-part series addressed communication in the work place. All four events were sponsored by Zions Bank and Trader Joes. 

On Feb. 4, Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore gave a presentation titled “Communicating to a Diverse Audience.” Cullimore is the chairman, president and CEO of Dynatronics, a manufacturing company specializing in physical therapy equipment. The attendees for his presentation came from a diverse range of fields including outdoor sporting goods, wellness, window and carpet cleaning, coaching and counseling, telemarketing, gardening, social work, civil engineering, training, volunteering, finance and acupuncture.

Before Cullimore began his presentation he made sure to tell his audience to “speak up if you have a different perspective.” 

“Who do you communicate with [in business]?” Cullimore asked. The accumulated answers were the following: investors, employees, customers and regulators. Cullimore then discussed how to effectively communicate with investors, emphasizing that it is important to be frequent, honest, transparent, conservative and prepared. 

“You need to under-promise and over-deliver,” he said, and “avoid problems through preparation.”

When communicating with employees, it is important to be timely, clean and courteous. He recommends being clear with assigned duties and incentives, giving positive feedback and not keeping secrets. When giving feedback, he emphasized being specific, give a “specification, not a platitude,” Cullimore said. He also highly encourages having personal investments in employees.

When communicating with customers, Cullimore encourages always saying yes, listening, being pleasant, giving gratitude and not coming up with excuses. It’s important to “conform to the customers, not the other way around,” he said.

Vendor communication can be a bit tricky. It is important to build rapport, maintain professional distance, provide honest feedback, share expectations and respect confidences.

Interacting with regulators can be stressful. Cullimore recommends timeliness, cooperation, guarded professionalism and knowledge. It is “your responsibility to know regulations and to avoid noncompliance,” he said. 

In professional communication, Cullimore recommends remembering who the audience is, while practicing clarity, honesty and patience. 

On Feb. 11, Beth Strathman from Firebrand Consulting gave a presentation for 25 members of the Cottonwood Heights Business Association titled “Six Approaches for More Powerful Communication.” The presentation encompassed six different communication styles with the same sample scenario for each, which illustrated how to communicate in each of the different styles. 

The first style Strathman discussed was “left brain.” This style is recommended for communicating with people who work well with facts, logic, data, reasons and analysis. Tips for working with left-brain people are to use facts that matter to the listener (but no more than three to not overwhelm) and to “choose facts that matter to them,” Strathman said. 

The second style was “right brain,” used for communicating with people who work well with stories and art. It is recommended when communicating with right-brained people to use “similes, paint pictures with words, make it relevant to the situation, use metaphors and connect to make a powerful point,” she said. 

The next communication style was “gut.” Strathman described this as “a combined negotiation and performance review.” Examples of gut communicators are real estate agents and Donald Trump. Tips for gut communication include focusing on what control you can offer and telling the person when they are and aren’t doing well. 

The fourth communication style discussed was “heart.” Tips for heart communicators are to “identify values, listen, show commitment but not compliance, find common ground and ask ‘how can I help?’” Strathman further explained, “Be vulnerable to understand what they need in order to really commit.” 

The fifth style discussed was “vision.” This style is used to help you see the future that you have in mind and to inspire and energize people. Preachers, politicians and coaches are great vision communicators. The key is to “create a compelling vision of the future; paint a picture of it. Share exciting possibilities. Get people excited about what you can create together,” Strathman said. 

The last style discussed was “spirit.” This can be thought about as “we are all in this together.” Spirit communication works well with a strong bond, which can be established through shared values, experiences, talents and aspirations. She recommends “using a combination of social capital and common ground to influence the other person.” 

Bonus round — “legs.” This is mentioned because it is important to walk away if necessary. Always have an escape plan to “de-escalate a situation by removing yourself gracefully when emotions are triggered,” Strathman said. “Have a plan to extricate yourself before you go into the conversation in case you need it.” 

On Feb. 18, Jeff Olpin, owner of Positively Critical, gave a presentation explaining the Positively Critical Coaching Conversation. The conversation is for “improving employee morale,” Olpin said. 

He divided the group of attendees into pairs for a talker-listener exercise. The talker was assigned to discuss their day while the listener was assigned to act bored. He allotted 10 minutes for the exercise, five minutes for the original assignments and five minutes to switch. The attendees concluded that it was hard to act bored because it came across as rude. “Why do we not want to be rude?” Olpin asked. 

The brain is filled with negative thoughts. When the brain is slammed with negativity, such as a bored response, it yells “Run!” but sometimes you have to tell your brain, “But, I can’t!” Olpin said. 

The fight-or-flight response is triggered by employee feedback. Employees need positive reinforcement, or, in other words “positively critical feedback.” They need to be self-motivated to grow, Olpin said. 

“Silence is acceptance,” Olpin said. When a boss ignores something an employee does wrong, it tells the employee that whatever they are doing is acceptable, allowing the employee to continue to do the wrong thing. Employees need “proper management, proper training and clear expectations,” Olpin said. 

It is recommended to have a positively critical conversation with each employee at least once per month. This conversation is meant to “encourage and develop how they want to succeed,” Olpin said.

He also recommends “asking employees to brag about themselves.” Afterward, if you have suggestions, ask “can I share something?” This provides “self-discovery for the employee, which is even more effective.”

By the end of the conversation, there should be an agreement on one to two specific action steps. Olpin suggests thanking the host for their time and commitment and to schedule for the next coaching conversation.

On Feb. 25, Karin Palle gave a presentation titled “How to Network Effectively.” Palle founded a women’s networking group at the University of Utah, which has grown extensively over the past few years. She began her presentation, which turned into more of a conversation, by asking the attendees what their learning objectives were. Answers consisted of how to promote new business, learn more about networking, learn to love networking and learn how to maintain relationships. 

She followed up with the question, “Why should you network?” The answers following this question consisted of, sales and building personal brands, as well as relationships. 

Palle discussed how networking is “not always about business.” It can be fun and educational. It can be about giving back to the community, she said.

A “14-word pitch” about yourself that is memorable is recommended. In considering the self-pitch Palle asked, “What makes people want to talk to you? What makes people remember you?”

Palle discussed primary steps to networking, which are identifying goals and budgets (including a time and social media budget). It is also important to think about where to network, considering two to three different channels. Palle recommends asking, “Who do you want to meet?” and remembering to not be afraid to ask questions. 

“Communication is connection,” she said. When considering where to go for networking activities, think about what is fun for you and how it can be fun in networking.

“What activities should you be involved in?” she asked the attendees. Their answers consisted of industry-specific events, charity, nonprofits, business lunches and civic organizations. 

It is important to remember, “networking is never about you,” Palle said. 

When asked about effective business cards, Palle recommends making them simple “Don’t coat one side,” she said, so the receiver can take notes. 

“People need you to engage five to seven times with them, before they will remember who you are,” Palle said. She recommends taking advantage of many opportunities; going to sporting events, creating newsletters, becoming an expert, hosting lunch-and-learns, talking to people within the same business, being a mentor, having meet-ups, building relationships and most importantly having fun.