4 Avoidable Mistakes Leaders of Underperforming Teams Make

Businesswoman pointing to a mistake in a paper

“Why aren’t my people doing the RIGHT things?”
“My people just don’t listen.”
“My team is lazy.”

If your team isn’t achieving the desired result, take a look in the mirror and think about how you’re leading them. Here are the 4 huge and avoidable mistakes leaders of underperforming teams make:

1. Assuming they already know what’s expected of them. Let’s face it. Some jobs are tedious. The monotony of doing the same thing day in and day out can easily get in the way of achieving results. Ensure your team knows (and is constantly being reminded of) the goal they are working towards. We use this formula to create goals that become achieved:

Clear Goal + Completion Date + Carrot

The carrot is critical and keeps teams motivated for the duration. What is it that your team will get if they reach the goal? Is it an afternoon off? Will you do some crazy stunt like take a polar plunge?

2. Holding them accountable for the WRONG things or not holding them accountable at all. Accountability is a leader’s obligation. Before you can hold them accountable, they have to know what “great” looks like – that’s setting the standard. Then you can hold them accountable to those standards. The best thing you can do when introducing standards is to explain why they exist.

3. Not reinforcing positive, desired behaviors. Accountability isn’t always about showing your disapproval when a standard isn’t met; it’s also about reinforcing positive behaviors you want to continue. Praise people when they exceed the standards set. When you do, you’ll notice others follow suit.

4. Not being consistent. Consistency is king. You have to show up to lead your team with the same level of intensity day in and day out. Hold them accountable every day because the minute you lower your standards is the minute performance begins to erode. Goals are achieved with consistency over time. If you want to reach the goal, you have to do the work.

If you’ve seen any of these mistakes in your managers, consider implementing a leadership development program in your organization. Check out our Building the Best Workshop.

Need Help Developing Leadership Skills of Your Managers? Developing managers into leaders is difficult. A great step is providing a formal development opportunity such as the Building the Best Assessment and Workshop.  Learn more here.

The Obvious Yet Overlooked Fact Leaders Shouldn’t Ignore

Traveler spying through binoculars

Your personal brand includes everything you say and do — in public and private. Yes, in private too.

The truth is, nothing is private anymore. You are always being watched whether it’s in-person or online. Every post you make, comment you leave, or thing you share is open to scrutiny. The same goes for how what you do in public. Did you act out at the airport? Are you treating your waiter poorly at dinner? Do you drive like a maniac – honking your horn and flipping the bird as you pass an “idoit” driver? What if that other driver happens to be someone on your team? Those examples may seem extreme, but we’ve all seen people in these situations and there’s a good chance they lead other people.

Some leaders forget their people are always watching every little thing they do. From how they treat other employees to how they talk to the leader managing them. Here’s a clue: If you treat people differently based on their role, then you’re doing it wrong.

You should live every moment as if your team is watching you because they are. Set the best example of how you want them to live out your team’s values. If you’re holding them to a standard, be the first to overshoot the set expectation.

The next time you think no one is looking, think again. You are always being watched. Get used to it.

Building the Best Leadership Workshop Do you lead a team and want to go to elevate the way you lead? Don’t miss out on the opportunity to participate in the Building the Best Leadership Workshop on June 25th in Charlotte, NC. Learn more and sign up here.

5 Elements Required to Successfully Develop a Leader

Making real and lasting change is difficult. CEO’s, Learning and Development, and Human Resources invest time, money and energy to help managers make lasting change to the way they lead. More often than not, those efforts fall short and managers go back to old habits. The results are dismal including increased turnover, less than stellar performance, and low employee engagement.

We’ve learned a tremendous amount about what it takes to successfully develop a leader while implementing leadership development programs with organizations of all sizes and industries. Whether you work with us or not, these are the 5 critical elements that need to be a part of your leadership development program in order to successfully develop your leaders.

1. Self-Awareness. In order for anyone to make changes in their life, it starts with deciding themselves its time to change. A great way to get managers to open up to change is to create self-awareness of their leadership strengths and weaknesses. We create self-awareness with Elevating Others 360°  Reports that are completed by a manager and their direct reports. Regardless of whether you use LearnLoft’s assessment or someone else’s a few of the essential competencies you should measure are:

  • Vulnerability
  • Empathy
  • Trust
  • Accountability
  • Coaching

2. Proven, Implementable Content. You attend a class full of theory and the materials that look like they were from the 1970’s. If you were able to get past the hideous powerpoint (because of an engaging trainer), by the time you return to work, you’re scratching your head wondering how to actually implement what you just learned. Sound familiar?

The content you use to develop leaders has to be easy to recall and even easier to implement. LearnLoft has spent years researching and testing our content. It’s actionable, and it works! Our workshops not only use models, and very specific examples but also exercises that get people thinking about themselves and their teams. Whatever content you choose or build for your program make sure it works and it’s aligned to what’s happening in the workplace today.

3. Coaching. Coaching not only adds accountability it also drastically improves the success of leadership programs. The latest research shows leadership development programs that include coaching see as much as a 60% improvement over programs without coaching. Whether you use peer coaching, group coaching or one-on-one coaching, the point is to include it with your program. You will see a drastic shift in engagement and in results for your organization. Depending on your size, a great option is to certify a group of people within your organization to coach your content.  

4. Ongoing Education. Workshops or training events should be the beginning, not the only part of your program. We all know the statistics on information retention, so I won’t bore you. Whether you do online training or reinforcement webinars, you should be touching your learners with some type of reinforcement to keep their development top of mind. Let’s face it, they’re leading teams and attending learning events or logging into an online module is at the bottom of their priorities. Make reinforcement events worth their time by providing valuable content, and they will engage.

5. Elective Enrollment. Instead of forcing your leaders through training, offer them the opportunity to improve their leadership skills by enrolling in an incredible experience. Doesn’t that sound a lot more tempting? Registration into a leadership development program shouldn’t be something they have to do it should be viewed as an opportunity they’re given. If you include an application step or other requirements (ie: being nominated by peers or direct reports) to attend, you’ll see an increase application of your program and engagement.

If you include these 5 elements into your next leadership development program, it will have the best chance to be a success.

7 Best Practices to Develop Leaders In Your Organization Need some more ideas to help ensure the leadership program in your organization is up to par?  Download the the whitepaper here.

Don’t know where to start? We’d love to help! Talk to a leadership expert here.

Coming this Summer! Our book Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success with publishing partner McGraw Hill.

Get Enough Of These 2 Things To Avoid Making Bad Decisions

Arianna Huffington, co-founder of The Huffington Post and host of the Thrive Global podcast, claimed that every bad hire she made was due to being too tired. All of us know what sleep deprivation feels like, whether we’ve been stressed, had to work to reach a deadline, or have children who keep us up.

But sleep isn’t the only factor contributing to poor decisions at work. Hydration is critical for many reasons, and it’s arguably more easily controlled than sleep.

Dr. Don Colbert, best-selling author of The Seven Pillars of Health, begins his first chapter describing several examples of how chronic pain, migraines, and anxiety were significantly alleviated with hydration.

Consistently keeping our health a top priority, unfortunately, is something many of us fail at due to poor decisions. But, what specifically, can you do to ensure you get enough sleep and stay hydrated? Here are some ideas you can put into practice:

1. Use the ‘Do Not Disturb’ Feature on Your Phone

Getting enough sleep has become more challenging with electronic devices always within an arm’s reach. Apple Vice President Greg Joswiak reminded Huffington to double-check her Do-Not-Disturb option on her phone to ensure uninterrupted sleep.

2. Don’t Look at Your Phone When You First Wake Up

A recent study shows allowing at least one full minute to elapse when waking up before looking at your device, proves to minimize stress throughout the course of the entire day. When you do pick up your device, try reading a motivational quote or a devotion on your device before delving into work-mode.

3. Disconnect from Work and Social Media at Least 30 Minutes Before Bedtime

Numerous studies have shown that screen light from electronics can actually delay the release of melatonin, our sleep-inducing hormone. And drop the habit of double-checking your email and social media as your last task before you go to bed. Do this earlier. You need time to unwind from a potential email or post that could either causes stress or excitement.

4. Calculate Caffeine into Your Water Intake

Caffeine can significantly dehydrate you. Drink a full glass of water prior to your caffeine consumption in the morning. To maintain proper hydration, drink 2 glasses of water for every 1 caffeinated beverage. If you drink a lot of caffeine, this means reducing your caffeine consumption to avoid non-stop restroom visits.

5. Drink Small Amounts of Water Throughout the Day

It’s best to drink small amounts of water throughout the day, similar to the suggestion that numerous small meals throughout the day can speed up your metabolism. And drinking a glass of water 30 minutes prior to a meal can help with digestion.

Poor hydration can lead to health issues, leading to poor sleep, increasing chances of poor decisions. You know as well as Arianna Huffington, there is nothing more crippling in the workplace for you and your team than a bad hire.

No one likes making bad decisions, especially at work. Start using these 5 practices to make your health (and healthy decisions) a top priority and encourage your team to do the same. Share these tips with your team.

About the Author Gordon Shuford is the Director of Leadership Development at LearnLoft, a full-service organizational health company which exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. Gordon has a background in corporate wellness and coaching.

Enrollment is almost full for LearnLoft’s next Ultimate Leadership Academy that starts November 6th. Learn more here.

5 Ways Learning Professionals Can Motivate People to Learn

Most people who love to learn and grow, assume others do as well.  Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth.  The vast majority of people opt for various forms of entertainment instead of being committed to their personal and professional growth.

If only learning professionals had a way to embed Henry Ford’s quote into their people:

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”

Since this isn’t possible, it’s critical learning professionals look for alternative and interesting ways to motivate their teams to continuing to learn and grow.  Here are 5 that are important to remember.

Start With Expectations   

One of the biggest mistakes I see learning professionals make, is having completely unrealistic expectations around completion and engagement rates. For example, Elective training gets an 80% lower completion rate on average than directive training. If the learning content you are providing to your people is elective training start with a realistic and attainable goal for completion percentages.

Be a Sales Person  

The great Zig Ziglar said, “I have always said everyone is in sales.  Maybe you don’t hold the title of a salesperson, but if the business you are in requires you to deal with people, you, my friend, are in sales.” You have to put your sales hat on and look for creative ways to “sell” the team on the benefit of taking the training content that is being offered to them.  Leverage success stories of others who have used the content before and blast the benefits on an ongoing basis.

Focus On ONE Program 

The rage these days is offering libraries upon libraries of content.  While there is a time and place for this approach, people are most drawn to one particular program.  As an example, I don’t subscribe to Showtime because of all the content they offer.  I subscribe to Showtime because of one show, Billions.  It’s easily the best show on television. If you focus on one specific program to highlight, sell, and focus on it will draw people in and allow them to be interested in other programing you offer.  At the end of the day, telling people there is a library of content “go and get it” rarely works. Highlight one specific program or course that will help them do their job or be more effective.

Leverage Success Relentlessly

As your team finishes ONE Program begin leveraging the program feedback and positive energy to gain excitement for new learning content or programs. This can be done via email by sending quotes, success stories, or doing short video interviews with team members that enjoyed it.    

Use Competition to Your Advantage

While I have never been a fan of Gamification for professional learners something as simple as a leaderboard can be powerful. Even the most uncompetitive people in an organization like some form of scorekeeping and recognition.  Create leaderboards or prizes for completing certain aspects of a program.

At LearnLoft, we have built and deployed many learning programs and  know motivating learners is a tough nut to crack.  Feel free to reach out to schedule a time to talk or leverage our Effective Leadership Program as a learning opportunity for your team.

About the Author Christina Wilder is the VP of Learning Strategies at LearnLoft.  She is passionate about the development of modern professionals through short engaging content.  Her article “Dispelling the 5 Myths of Microlearning” was nominated for article of the year by Training Industry.com.

The Most Effective Methods to Align with the Modern Learner

The modern learner is misunderstood. Yes, they love technology, enjoy collaboration, and prefer shorter content. What’s interesting is despite all that, they don’t actually learn any differently than previous generations. Furthermore, as our society moves more towards connectivity, seasoned professionals are growing to expect these same things.

The availability and accessibility of quality learning content has increased dramatically since the invention of the Internet. Organizations are now expected to create and deploy meaningful content to their learners, while still simultaneously measuring its impact.

Of all the training methods organizations are using to align to the modern learner, which ones are most effective and can be best measured?


Asking the learner to do something in response to training content. Getting them actively involved in the learning to not only ensure knowledge is transferred to be to engage them beyond traditional training. This could be responding with a video, uploading a picture, etc.


Using the power of the collective intelligence and todays modern technology. Essentially leveraging other people beyond one learner to engage and educate. Things such as likes, views, comments, etc.


Allowing team members to curate and build their own training content. Whether that be a YouTube video or a first line manager recording their own video, curating content from the audience is powerful and effective. The best part is people are more than willing to participate.


Breaking down content into small digestible chunks can be an extremely effective way to align with the modern learner. We define microlearning as “short burst of content ensuring knowledge is transferred in a visible, tangible or measurable way.”

It’s time the modern learner isn’t treated differently and organizations begin effectively aligning with them.

If your organization is already using some of these methods you are ahead of the curve.   If you are still stuck in the dark ages using an LMS, hour long webinars, and multi-day instructor led training events, pick one of these methods out and give it a chance. You will be amazed at what happens.

Want to try an a new way to train an develop? Sign up for LearnLoft’s Learning Platform and leverage a free 14 day free trial. Here.

4 Simple Ways to Improve Online Training

Online training has been around for many years and by its very nature it’s constantly changing and evolving as technology is enhanced and improved.  Check out our infographic below to learn 4 Simple Ways to Improve Online Training Today.


LearnLoft uses all 4 of these keys, in their Getting Leadership Ready Program. It’s an out of the box training approach to helping organizations develop their young professionals to be better and more proactive leaders. Find out more here

3 Unconventional Ways to Retain Millennials

I’ve seen it more times than I can count; a talented millennial who has potential in spades, walking out on a perfectly good job, looking for greener pastures in other organizations. The company lets them loose in spite of their aptitude for success and misses out on someone who could help bring new life and energy into the business. The statistics are pretty well documented.   Millennials now make up the highest percentage of the work force and two-thirds of them expect to be in different jobs within 4 years of starting employment. The current turnover average in America is nearly 14% and it costs a company a year’s salary to replace a lower level employee, and 2-3 years salary to replace a senior employee.

The question is, who is to blame for these costly turnover rates? Some would argue it’s the entitled millennial; others task organizations with staying ahead of the times in order to hold onto young prodigies. Or should we all just live with the fact that turnover is going to be higher from this point forward?

I come from the camp that believes both millennials and organizations are at fault. Settling for a generation of job hoppers isn’t something we should be willing to do. While I can write for days about what young professionals should do to help solve this problem, I want to focus on organizations and the people who can control the turnover problem…their leaders.

“People leave their manager; they don’t leave their company”- John Stumpt

Sub manager for leader, and you get your answer. It’s a leader’s job to retain, engage, educate, and empower.

There is a theory that relates to human behavior that has been used for decades (long before millennials arrived on the scene) known as the 10%-80%-10% principle. It’s simple; 10 percent of workforces are elite performers who give it all they have, all the time. 80 percent of employees are the nucleus; great workers who don’t quite have the drive or determination to be an elite performer by themselves. And finally, the bottom 10%; a group that is uninterested or defiant, and they won’t have the drive regardless of what happens to them.

Every generation is made up of people who feel they are entitled to the best jobs and those on the other end of the spectrum that just don’t get it. Perhaps this millennial generation tilts toward 7%-83%-10%, but either way, they also have plenty of elite performers that will help organizations navigate this quickly-changing business market.

It’s a leader’s job to bring more millennials (or the 83%) into the world of elite performers. The organizations that do this will win, and they will win for a long time.

Here are 3 Unconventional ideas for organizations to try to retain millennials:

  1. Train: When I say train, I don’t mean equip them with company, product, or basic onboarding knowledge. That is table stakes. I am talking about developing them beyond company assigned training. Invest in them outside the normal company curriculum; such as online learning courses, conferences, local in person workshops, keynote speakers, etc. This probably is the easiest thing to do because most millennials are eager to improve their skills and they can probably tell you where they would like help or development. Regardless of the amount, what counts is millennials will remember and be loyal when they feel you have their best interests in mind.
  2. Empower: Take your micromanaging shoes off and put on a pair of empowerment shoes. Give the opportunity regardless of how big or small to be involved in decisions, projects or brainstorming sessions. This millennial generation is capable of a lot and by empowering them you will get less entitlement and more proactive work.
  3. Make them compete: Good old fashion competition brings out the best in people. Find ways to pit young professionals against each other for short periods of time with money, time off, gift cards, or other items going to the winner. It could be as simple as a one day contest or as complicated as year long content but the point is to get them competing. Not only will they respond they will love it, and look forward to the next challenge.

My hope is that more leaders in organizations will take ownership of their millennial turnover problem. Why, you ask? Because talent and new innovative ideas are what is going to carry businesses forward and I believe this Millennial generation has them they just need their leaders to help bring it out of them and get them into that top 10%.

Getting Leadership Ready. LearnLoft’s out of the box training approach to helping young professionals understand what leadership is all about and helping them get noticed as a potential company leader.  Find out more here.


Key Statistics of the Modern Learner

The availability and accessibility of quality learning content has increased dramatically since the invention of the internet. Organizations are now expected to create and deploy meaningful content to their learners, while still simultaneously measuring its impact. It’s critically important that we understand the modern learner, which in turn will enable organizations to better serve them.  

Using a recent study from Towards Maturity, we gathered the key statistics of the modern learner. 

Key Statistics of the Modern Learner.png

Get a Loft. Train Your Team. See Results. If you have team members and want to quickly and easily distribute online training to your team, sign up for your free trial of LearnLoft. It’s deftly simple to build or distribute courses, then track and measure how knowledge is transferred.

The Rise in Edu-Marketing and How to be Part of It

How we buy things has changed. Therefore many organizations have had to get creative in ways they provide content to support how buyers buy.  Many marketing and learning and development teams are turning to a new method of content distribution to get attention and ensure knowledge is transferred.  It’s called…

Edu-Marketing. Now, you won’t find this word in the dictionary, but Edu-Marketing is using video as an educational tool for prospective customers or partners. The thought is by providing educational content, your organization or team will also be seen as a leader and the preferred choice when choosing who to do business with.

Here are the top 3 ways to an organization can begin to Edu-Market :

  1. Paid Video-Based Courses. Organizations are more than willing to spend money and send their employees to conferences or instructor-led learning events, so why wouldn’t they pay to educate their employees via online courses? The current online learning market is estimated at $56.2 Billion and supposed to double over the next 2 years.  If your organization has deep expertise in the current changes in mortgage services, why not build a course partners or potential clients could take to get up to speed?
  2. Free content. If trying to monetize intellectual knowledge by selling courses to prospective customers isn’t appealing, how about giving it away? An example of a company that’s doing this exceptionally well is Wistia. Wistia is professional video hosting site with great analytics and video marketing tools. Since Wistia offers products around video hosting for businesses, they give away free educational content in four categories that they believe will help customers or prospective customers maximize their use of Wistia. The amount of time and energy they put into their Edumarketing approach is incredible and it’s paying off. Check out the “learn hub”  page on their website to see edu-marketing in action.
  3. Educational Advertising. Building videos that educate clients about trends, insights, or the future of a particular industry is currently the most popular of the 3 ways to edumarket. Companies go wrong when they build videos that talk about product features and functions rather than educating or adding value to potential buyers.

 ” Courage is being scared to death…. and saddling up anyways.”  – John Wayne.

Saddle up like the Big Duke, and commit to using “edu-marketing” as a new way to share knowledge and create opportunity for yourself or your organization.