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REM Canoeing Team Building Event

At REM team building is very important to us. Our Team Building Events are fun, challenging, productive and stimulating. Not only do the events build stronger accord between us by improving our teamwork and leadership skills, they also highlight aspects of our talents and personalities that are normally not seen in day-to-day work. I certainly saw some great teamwork skills exemplified in our canoeing team building event last October.

 

On a chilly and damp October afternoon, we rented some canoes from Canoeing the Grand for a fun and challenging excursion down the Grand River. How does paddling down a river make it a team building event you ask? First, we were split into teams of two: Todd and I, Jill and Rob, Sean S. and Shauna, and Sean M. and Ryan. Each pair had to strategically and physically coordinate a path down the river; the path set before us was laden with shallow parts, large rocks and (somewhat) rough waters. Second as if that’s not hard enough as it is, we had to multi-task: as we paddled down the river, Rob gave us a trivia on general facts about REM and each other. He quizzed us with questions such as “What are the 7 Guiding Principles of REM?”

 

As I’ve previously stated, it was cold and damp; we were all very wary of falling into the murky water. We thought to ourselves “Woo, we’re all dry!” as we were about to reach the end of the trip. Alas! Not all of us were so lucky. Poor Sean. S. fell into the water; just as he was stepping out of the canoe the boat accidentally moved under his feet and he fell (what looked like head-first) into the water. It was a sight to see! We were all both laughing our butts off and sorry that he was wet and freezing.

 

Below are a couple of photo montages I took of our team during the trip. The river and its surroundings was very beautiful, all in all it was a beautiful day for a trip down the river.

 

REM Canoeing Pics 1

REM Canoeing Pics 2

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My Approach to Training

I have been training REM clients since I started almost 5 years ago.  In the height of my training days, I used to train clients 2-3 times a week.  When I was promoted to Account Manager/Project Manager the number of training sessions that I led became less frequent.  Now my training is limited to new REM employees and our clients if our primary support staff are on holidays or unavailable.

 

I enjoy teaching our different tools and I have become an effective trainer during my time at REM.

 

Here are some general rules that I follow in my approach to training.

 

I Come Prepared

I make sure that I understand the tools that I am teaching.  If I were to second guess myself or fumble over my explanations, I could very easily confuse the person that I am training.  I could also make myself, and the company, look foolish if I were underprepared.  I take the time to learn the tools that I am teaching inside and out.  Being prepared allows me to speak confidently and answer any questions that I am asked.

 

I Keep on Track

Quite often our clients will begin to ask questions that start to lead the training down a different path.  Although I encourage our clients to ask questions, I recognize that answering their questions right away isn’t always the best approach.  In many cases the questions that are asked will be discussed at a later time, so in the interest of keeping the training organized, I will acknowledge the clients question and let them know that it will be answered at a later point. This allows everyone to stay focused and on schedule.

 

I Listen

This may seem like a no-brainer but it is imperative that I actively listen to the individuals that I am training.  I listen to what they are saying so that I can correctly address their questions and concerns.

 

I Am Patient

Yes, training sessions need to keep moving but I also need to give our clients a reasonable amount of time to jot down notes, look at the examples that I am providing and allow them to see what buttons I am clicking as I navigate through the system that I am showing them.  When I train a client, it is typically the first time that they have ever seen the tools that I am showing them, so I slow down a bit so that they can absorb what I am teaching them.

 

I Provide Training Documentation

The documentation that we provide at REM for training is limited.  We provide a small synopsis of what will be covered but we do not provide step by step instructions.  We do this for a few reasons but the biggest reason is that we want our clients to be paying attention to us, the trainers, not reading along to a lengthy “how to” document.  The documentation that I hand out allows our clients to add their own notes on the points that are important to them and forces them to become a more engaged listener.

 

I Am Ready to Explain a Process Multiple Times and in Different Ways

A set of instructions that I give to one client may not resonate with the next.  I must be prepared to explain and show processes more than once and in many cases, in different ways.  Sometimes this means that I simply walk through the process again and sometimes I am required to explain the process in an alternative way, such as using different terminology.

 

I strive to lead training sessions that are relaxed and informative.  I want our clients to leave my training sessions feeling comfortable with what I have shown them and empowered that they can use our tools with minimal, to no assistance.  I believe that I am able to accomplish this by following my self-imposed rules listed above.

 

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Active Listening

Active Listening makes you a better communicator

 

The best sales people in the world listen 80% of the time and only speak 20%. So what is that telling the rest of us? We really need to become better communicators and here are some things you need to know in order to become an active listener and thus a better communicator.

 

First thing is to pay attention to the speaker. Look them in the eye and let them know they have your undivided attention. Avoid being distracted by things going on around you. Treat them the way you would expect to be treated, their thoughts are just as important as yours. Pay attention to body language, that can sometimes speak louder than words.

 

Secondly, show them that you are paying attention. Make small verbal comments such as “yes” or “uh huh” to let them know that you are actively listening. Use your body language and gestures to express your interest, by nodding occasionally or by using facial expressions.

 

Now you will need to provide feedback to the speaker. Our conjectures, convictions, and attitudes can distort what we hear. As the listener, your role is to process and understand what is being said. This may require you to take time to reflect on what is being said and then ask questions. Paraphrasing is a great way to let the speaker know you have been listening by saying things like, "What I'm hearing is," and "Sounds like you are saying,". Recap the speaker's comments from time to time.

 

Always allow the speaker to finish each point before asking a question or making a statement. Interruptions usually frustrate the speaker and you will not understand the message the speaker is tying to convey.

 

Active listening is about respect and understanding for the speaker. You are gaining information and perspective. You improve nothing by confronting the speaker or otherwise putting the person down. You should be open and honest with the speaker. You can assert your opinions, but do it respectfully.

 

Old habits are hard to break, but with time, determination and attentiveness, you can become a great active listener.

 

Be conscious of your listening by reminding yourself that you are truly wanting to understand what is being said to you. Set aside all other opinions and focus on the message. Ask questions, mull over, and summarize to ensure you fully understand the message being presented to you.

 

Remember we have two ears and one mouth for a reason, we were made to listen twice as much as we speak. Start using active listening techniques today to become the best communicator you can be. Improve every aspect of your life by concentrating on what others are really saying to you. You will develop deeper and better relationships through proper communication. 

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WebWiz@rd Training With Todd

Almost two weeks ago now REM hired another team member: Todd Hannigan!  

 

Todd is REM's new Customer Success Manager and I have the pleasure of introducing him to the WebWiz@rd tools over the past few days.  Each day we have jumped into a new module (or two) and I have shown him the basic and more advanced features of our tools.  We still have a number of modules to cover, but I think that we have made great progress so far.

 

Todd is an active, engaged learner and I am confident that our clients are going to be very pleased with Todd's attention to detail, his eagerness to help and his personality!

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Todd Hannigan
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April 24, 2017
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Christine Alon
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Sean McParland
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December 21, 2016
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Ryan Covert
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