Effective learning

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What Great Leaders Do to Make Culture Transformations Effective

Culture transformations have the power to make a company more efficient, effective, and profitable in incredible ways. If a company’s leaders do not take an active role in the transformation, any attempt at permanently changing culture will fall flat. So, what role should leaders play? Here are three things all great leaders do to lead their organizations through a successful culture transformation.

1. Great Leaders Start Now

Leaders at the top of an organization usually know if their company needs to undergo a culture change. Whether it’s departments operating in silos, a lack of innovation, or another culture issue, it’s often clear that change in the culture has been needed for some time. Unfortunately, even if leaders acknowledge this need, it rarely makes the top of the to-do list. There are always more pressing matters to attend to—matters that seem to have much more of an immediate effect on the company’s bottom line than amorphous culture changes would.

Great leaders, however, know that the time for a culture transformation is as soon as you identify the need for one. As it would equip your colleagues with the new skills and behaviors they need to optimally approach their jobs, putting one off just makes achieving every other company goal harder. Plus, great leaders recognize you can concretely analyze culture transformations. They know that strategic changes drastically improve employees’ well-being and the company’s bottom line. For example, an organization can measure the success of an innovation culture transformation in part by how many more products the company brings to market or how many new system processes are developed or improved. Great leaders use hard data tied to concrete outcomes to light a fire throughout an organization and underscore the need for immediate culture change.

2. Great Leaders Take Responsibility for the Final Outcome

While leaders don’t necessarily need to be involved in the tactical, day-to-day implementation of culture transformations, their robust involvement is imperative to success. They need to be culture change advocates who are vocal about the need for a transformation and the expected outcome. When a company’s leaders take culture transformation seriously, so will its employees.

What’s more, a great leader never tries to pass the buck when it comes to the result—success or failure —of a culture transformation. While a great leader smartly relies on HR to help implement one, they take responsibility for the final outcome. When leaders and employees throughout an organization see how authentically executive leadership cares about a culture transformation, it sends the message that the latter is a top priority.

3. Great Leaders Walk the Walk

Great leaders not only talk the talk about the importance of culture transformations, they walk the walk. In other words, they change their behaviors right alongside their employees during a culture transformation. They don’t believe they’re “above” doing the hard work that culture change demands. That’s because great leaders understand the importance of modeling appropriate behaviors. Leaders have an outsized influence on establishing cultural norms in the workplace. Therefore, when a leader’s actions and words are out of alignment, that muddles the message for employees who then may wonder: If our CEO doesn’t do things the right way, why should we? Culture transformations start at the top with leaders who embrace change with their words and embody it in their actions.

That’s why it’s also so important for leaders to adopt new behaviors early. The sooner they transform their own behaviors, the sooner employees will follow suit, which cuts down on confusion and swiftly ushers in a new culture that fosters high performance. Great leaders take the “leading” part of their jobs seriously during a culture transformation in blazing the changed behavior trail for the rest of the organization.

Have you tried to implement a culture transformation at your organization before? How (or how didn’t) your organization’s leaders contribute to the change?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

john_profile_webSince 1991, John has acquired extensive experience in the design and delivery of a diverse portfolio of programs. In addition to his executive responsibilities as President of Leadership and Learning Events, John is considered a valued partner to many executive teams. His insight and experience enable him to effectively diagnose, design, and implement complex culture change initiatives in a collaborative and engaging manner. Moreover, John’s experience in global implementations allows him to draw from a deep well of history to create unique and customized solutions. John’s passion for developing people makes him a sought after speaker, partner and coach and is evident in the high praise he receives from clients.

 

Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight.

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corporate event planning

From SXSW to TED Talks, there are a few national and international events that stand out among all event planners. Not only are these noteworthy events massively popular, but they are wildly successful. From engaging participants from diverse backgrounds to inspiring attendees to take a specific action, these special events capture interest and make an impact on attendees, for days, months, and even years after.

Experiential learning is a training method that engages participants through immersive, themed training events. By transporting participants to another world, themed scenarios such as a jungle expedition or a treasure hunt make learning more intuitive, memorable, and enjoyable. Creating an exciting environment masks work scenarios and real-world situations and creates a hands-on experience that encourages participants to take risks.

Studies show that when participants learn by doing, they retain 75 percent of the new information and skills learned. In this regard, it’s important to pay attention to the details and transform a dull meeting room into a verdant jungle or tropical island, complete with sensory, auditory, and visual props. If it is appropriately themed, then the participants are likelier to accept the challenge, activity, or mandate posed by the experience as “intriguing” and to engage fully.

Hands-on learning encourages participants to work through problems together by actively engaging, rather than the passive listening that’s required by traditional, presentation-based training.

Here are two inspiring themes for your next corporate event that easily incorporate experiential learning.

PRODUCE A BLOCKBUSTER MOVIE

Calling all movie buffs! Give your audience the chance to serve as producers during the Golden Age of Hollywood at your next corporate event. By emphasizing creative expression and group collaboration, this theme encourages team members to think outside of the box to create a final product.

Designate individuals to serve as producers and agents who are tasked with the overarching goal of making as much money as possible. Team members must work together to assemble the necessary resources to create the most effective, engaging movie idea possible within a specific category. They must negotiate contracts to secure the talent, the screenplay, the score, the location, and the special effects.

Finally, teams work to create movie posters designed to illustrate the talent they have acquired and to market their movie to the public. By tasking team members with the goal of creating a final product, this theme encourages team members to pull together resources and interact with nearly everyone in the room.

YOUR MISSION HAS BEEN ASSIGNED

Who doesn’t love a thrilling mission? Channel your inner James Bond and create a spy-themed corporate event. Because many people get their news from social media, you can bet that these platforms are an easy way to connect with your team members. Start dropping clues about your meeting before it happens. Whether you choose to designate a Twitter feed to send out cryptic messages or Facebook to send out visual clues, building excitement before the event can build engagement.

On the day of your event, in addition to serving martini-glass appetizers and delivering registration packets stamped “CONFIDENTIAL,” be sure to continue the social media efforts. Research shows that 70 percent of top companies and brands consider it “extremely important” or “very important” to extend and amplify event programs using social media. In the context of a spy theme, you can send your team members on a mission that involves cracking a cyber crime and requires attendees to tweet information on Twitter to crack the code.

”Missions” can help team members diagnose, learn, self-correct, and respond with improved outcomes. After the event, be sure to debrief participants—while still retaining the spy theme—to reveal the connections between the training exercises and their professional realities. By equipping teams with the tools to engage in proactive problem-solving, you can illustrate how these newly acquired skills are relevant to the real world.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ian_ProfileIan has been with Eagle’s Flight since 1997, and is Executive Vice President, Global Accounts. He holds an MBA in Finance and Marketing from the University of British Columbia. Ian spent 12 years at Nestlé Canada and brings a wide range of experience that includes practical business experience in management, sales, program design, development and mentoring. He works closely with the Global licensees to ensure their success as they represent Eagle’s Flight in the worldwide marketplace. He has developed outstanding communication skills and currently is the Executive in Charge of a large Fortune 500 client with a team of employees dedicated to this specific account. As a result, Ian has been instrumental in driving the company’s growth and strategic direction.

 

 

Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight.

 

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Leadership

If a key executive member—including you—left your organization tomorrow, would your company crumble? The long-term success of a business depends on the sustainability of leadership. If your company is currently successful, it can be assumed that your leadership program is effective. However, many companies do not invest in the resources to prepare future leaders for future roles.

Developing a strong leadership pipeline can help your organization not only achieve immediate success, but also ensure that success over a longer period of time. To help grow your leadership strategy, consider these five techniques.

1. Mentoring and Coaching Initiatives

Coaching and mentoring are crucial components of an effective leadership pipeline. That’s why it’s important for your strategy to engage existing senior leaders so that they devote time to nurturing potential leaders across your team. Establish a mentoring program and make it a responsibility for leaders to coach employees through both formal and informal mentoring sessions.

An effective coaching program emphasizes the connection between the coach and the student. Your leadership team must first take the time to connect, to understand, and to build trust and respect with their team members. Once this is established, it’s far easier to share industry insight and expertise, instruct on important organizational operations, and share role-specific hard skills.

2. Leadership Development Programs

Implementing a leadership development program allows you to cultivate leaders from within your organization so that you have a stable of prepared, talented individuals who can step up when need be. While many organizations have programs that either cater toward senior-level employees or require team members to apply for consideration, think about offering leadership training to your entire organization. When you keep the program open, you create a pool of candidates to fill open positions.

For front-line professionals with no direct reports, leadership training can help develop individual potential and overall leadership strength for the future. These programs drive focus, improve efficiency, and maximize individual contributions to the organization. For mid-level leaders, or those who display focus and confidence in their assessment and coaching techniques, leadership programs help develop their own capabilities in order to tap into the potential of those they lead.

3. Real-World, Real-Time Experiences

On-the-job training programs should be supportive and challenging. To truly groom leaders, offer them more and more responsibilities over time and challenge them with new situations and assignments. Much of what individuals learn happens in real time, so encourage them to work through situational problems to experience real-life workplace situations. Ultimately, it’s your executive team’s responsibility to offer team members the necessary training and resources to be successful.

4. Regular Feedback

According to a Gallup study that measured how Millennials want to work, regular meetings and consistent feedback improve engagement and performance. The survey found that 44 percent of Millennials are more likely to be engaged when their manager does meet with them on a regular basis. Despite these benefits, only 21 percent of Millennial workers meet with their managers on a weekly basis. Your team members want feedback; it’s up to you to provide it.

Relevant, on-the-job training can mirror real-life situations. Without feedback, however, employees are left to assume that their behavior is acceptable. It’s clear that feedback is an essential motivator in developing leaders. Be aware that this applies to both negative and positive feedback. On one hand, a leadership team that does not correct poor employee performance can’t expect change. Conversely, without positive feedback, employees are not provided with the opportunity to flourish and grow.

5. Cross-Departmental Learning

Silos and turf wars impact even the strongest organizations. That’s why it’s up to your current management team to create opportunities in your leadership pipeline for different departments to work together. After all, executive leaders must actively engage with all employees. When departments collaborate and communicate with each other, they gain a greater understanding of the role of other team members and how they function, as well as a more comprehensive overview of how the entire organization functions.

Below are some ideas for cross-departmental learning:

  • Team building events
  • Peer mentorship
  • Cross-departmental project teams
  • Job shadowing assignments

Not only can cross-departmental exposure help future leaders understand your company as a whole, but it can inspire ideas for their own roles. This type of learning can improve productivity and ensure that individuals have the right amount of diverse work experience to step into leadership roles.

IanABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ian has been with Eagle’s Flight since 1997, and is Executive Vice President, Global Accounts. He holds an MBA in Finance and Marketing from the University of British Columbia. Ian spent 12 years at Nestlé Canada and brings a wide range of experience that includes practical business experience in management, sales, program design, development and mentoring. He works closely with the Global licensees to ensure their success as they represent Eagle’s Flight in the worldwide marketplace. He has developed outstanding communication skills and currently is the Executive in Charge of a large Fortune 500 client with a team of employees dedicated to this specific account. As a result, Ian has been instrumental in driving the company’s growth and strategic direction.

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Crafting the Perfect Playlist for Your Next Company Event or Conference

You never know how much a playlist matters until you attend an oddly silent conference. Something just feels off, as if the room was zapped of energy. Luckily, crafting the perfect playlist for your company event is an easy and low-cost way to amp up the energy in the room—and the right playlist can set the tone and support the core message of your whole event! Here are four things to keep in mind as you put your conference playlist together.

1. Include high-energy hits.

You know those songs that come on the radio that cause you to immediately turn up the dial? Those are songs you need to include in your conference playlist! Pepper your playlist with high-energy contemporary hits that have a broad appeal. These infectious hits are an easy way to keep your participants enthused during breaks and between sessions. Keep in mind, of course, that you don’t want to play anything too risque or suggestive—remember to purchase the clean version of each song!

Some high-energy hits that’ll pump up participants are:

  • “Uptown Funk,” Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars
  • “Happy,” Pharrell Williams
  • “Can’t Stop the Feeling!,” Justin Timberlake
  • “Shake It Off,” Taylor Swift
  • “Roar,” Katy Perry

2. Sprinkle in some oldies but goodies.

It’s a good idea to include some hits with timeless appeal, especially if your conference will be attended by a mix of ages. There’s nothing worse than attending a conference and not recognizing any of the music! Just like with your contemporary hits, however, you’ll want to make sure the classics you choose are upbeat and on message.

A few energetic hits that have stood the test of time are:

  • “Don’t Stop Believin’,” Journey
  • “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” Diana Ross
  • “ABC,” The Jackson Five
  • “Build Me Up Buttercup,” The Foundations
  • “Walking on Sunshine,” Katrina and the Waves

3. Tie songs into your theme.

Theming your company event or conference is a great way to boost enthusiasm and tie all your sessions and activities together with a common thread. Theming your conference, however, only works to build enthusiasm if you fully commit to bringing the theme to life for your participants. That means paying attention to the details—decor, dining, and beyond.

One way to add to the themed ambiance (without dipping much into your conference budget)? Find music that fits your theme. It may take a little more research and creativity, but the right music can help you set the right tone for your theme. For example, are you turning your conference space into an outpost in the Wild West? Then add Glen Campbell’s “Rhinestone Cowboy,” the Steve Miller Band’s “Space Cowboy,” and Will Smith’s “Wild Wild West” to your playlist pronto. Yes, these songs are a bit silly—but that’s exactly what will help your participants loosen up and immerse themselves!

4. Use a “welcome to the stage” jam for speakers.

Cue up the music to alert your participants that it’s time to pay attention to the stage again. Use one of two strategies to welcome speakers to the stage.

  • You can pick one song and use it for each speaker throughout your conference. This is a smart approach because as soon as participants hear the song start to play, they know what’s going to happen next and can find their seats accordingly. If you go this route, make sure you pick a song that supports the message or theme of your event, because it will be the song your participants hear most often.
  • Or let your speakers pick their own “welcome to the stage” songs—similar to how each player on a baseball team walks up to home plate to a song of their liking. This approach may take more logistical planning to pull off, but it adds a big dose of personality to your event and can make speakers feel more involved.

What other songs always make their way onto your conference playlists to ensure your event is engaging?

EF authorABOUT THE AUTHOR

As Chief Operating Officer, Sue’s extensive senior leadership experience and facilitation skills have established her as a trusted partner and organizational development expert. She has a proven track record of successfully leading culture transformation in Fortune 500 companies and has established herself as an authority on training and development. Sue has over 20 years of experience in the creation and delivery of programs and custom designed solutions for Eagle’s Flight.

 

Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight.

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The Essential Corporate Event Planning To-Do ListPlanning a corporate event of any size can quickly make you go crazy. We get it—there are so many moving parts to keep track of! That’s why to-do lists and templates are an event planner’s best friend. Start with this high-level to-do list when you begin brainstorming your next conference or training. These are the big pieces to keep in mind as you develop your event plan. Check them off as you go along—or use this list to create subtasks under each to-do item that relates directly to your event.

  • Align your event with your organization’s overall goals. Want to make sure you get executive and employee buy-in for your event? Clearly outline how your event supports stated business goals. The C-suite will appreciate that you’ve tied the event to the company’s bottom line. Your employees, meanwhile, will appreciate that your event has a concrete purpose (beyond the typical, vague “professional development” reasons)—they won’t view your event’s training as just busywork!
  • Determine benchmarks for the success of your event. Before you start planning your event’s logistics, it’s important to define what success looks like. What will be your event’s key takeaways—and how will you measure success? What’s your expected ROI? Almost every component of your event should be designed with these benchmarks in mind.
  • Develop a fun, thorough theme. Theming your corporate event is an excellent way to amp up excitement for your participants. You can also strategically use your theme to tie all of the day’s sessions and activities together, weaving a common thread throughout. Theming your event is only worth it, however, if you put in the effort to ensure the theme is cohesive and creative. From themed dining options to getting company leaders to dress up according to the theme, success lies in the details. Your participants will pick up on a perfunctory effort, and then your excitement-inducing theme may do the opposite!
  • Find ways to engage employees. Even if your corporate event involves more keynote speakers than hands-on activities, it’s still crucial to keep your employees engaged and involved throughout the entire event. Social media can be a big help here—encourage your employees to post pictures and key insights on their own social media channels, using a designated event hashtag. To avoid the dreaded dead-eyed stare from the crowd, get your participants up and moving frequently.
  • Measure your event’s ROI. After you wrap up your event, it’s time to determine how you performed against your benchmarks. Collect feedback from participants through surveys or small group discussions to see how your event was received by employees. If your event focused on teaching participants new skills to change behaviors, you could use skills assessments and reports from their managers to determine how well they’ve retained information and if they’ve actually applied their new skills on the job.
  • Design a retention program. The learning doesn’t stop after your event ends! To ensure your participants put their new skills and knowledge to good use, develop a post-event retention program that reinforces what participants learned during your corporate event. Combine online tools—like web-based quizzes, review videos, and online forums—with in-person strategies like one-on-one check-ins with managers or group review sessions with colleagues.

The right tools, checklists, and a clear goal in mind can help make your next event a rousing success. If you’ve planned well-received corporate events in the past, how have you kept track of all the important planning components?

EF authorABOUT THE AUTHOR

As Chief Operating Officer, Sue’s extensive senior leadership experience and facilitation skills have established her as a trusted partner and organizational development expert. She has a proven track record of successfully leading culture transformation in Fortune 500 companies and has established herself as an authority on training and development. Sue has over 20 years of experience in the creation and delivery of programs and custom designed solutions for Eagle’s Flight.

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Which Groups of Employees Will Benefit Most from Experiential Learning

Very few organizations are made up of a homogenous group of employees. More often than not, a company’s diverse workforce is composed of everybody from Millennials to Baby Boomers—this includes the experienced and those just learning the ropes. You need training that will resonate with all employees, no matter their differences. Can experiential learning rise to the occasion?

In our experience, yes; experiential learning works well for all types of employees, regardless of age, tenure, or background. That’s because the “learn by doing” approach is effective—and exciting—for all participants. Instead of passively consuming training lessons, participants “live” the lesson during a hands-on, discovery-based activity that mirrors the challenges that participants face on the job. Experiential learning puts the trainee in the middle of the training, making it even more visceral and immediate—and therefore easier for trainees to learn and digest.

In fact, experience-based learning has retention rates of up to 90 percent. Compare that to the retention rates of more traditional types of learning (like lectures, for example), which are as low as five percent.

Experiential learning also works well for all types of employees because learners get immediate feedback while they learn. As they work through an experience, they discover what behaviors lead to breakthroughs and what behaviors lead to dead ends, and so they’re able to change their behaviors during the exercise to achieve certain results. Seasoned facilitators are also on hand to guide learners through the exercise and provide feedback on winning strategies during the session’s debrief.

This is important because cognitive researchers have actually identified actionable feedback as one of four crucial aspects that make learning effective. Feedback that simply grades learners—like earning a “pass” or “fail” on a training quiz, for example—isn’t really helpful. To be effective, feedback must allow learners to revise their thinking and their understanding of material—which is exactly what experiential learning provides.

Framing Experiential Learning to Meet a Group’s Perceived Needs

Experiential learning is a good match for all kinds of employees. Different groups of employees may think they need a certain kind of training to match their backgrounds and skill levels. You can frame experiential learning in ways that address their concerns.

For example, here’s how you can frame experiential learning for four specific employee groups.

1. YOUNGER EMPLOYEES

Experiential learning is a perfect match for the Millennial generation, with its engaging approach to learning. Plus, the focus on learning through personal experience appeals to younger employees, who strongly value opportunities for personal growth.

2. MID-CAREER EMPLOYEES

Employees who’ve been with your company for a few years are looking for ways to gain new skills so that they can move their careers forward. These employees are looking to take more ownership of their projects and work responsibilities. Experiential learning builds personal conviction and stresses the importance of taking ownership of outcomes, which means it will appeal to mid-career employees ready to take on more responsibility.

3. VETERAN EMPLOYESS

Veteran employees have been through countless trainings and have probably seen their fair share of standard training lectures and PowerPoint presentations. You can reinvigorate and re-engage these employees with experiential learning, a new approach to training that features fun, immersive learning activities.

4. EXECUTIVES

Your company’s leadership wants to hear what its highly skilled peers have to say during training, bouncing ideas off one another during fascinating discussions. The collaborative nature of experiential learning will appeal to the C-suite—and these skilled employees will appreciate the chance to dig into a real challenge during training!

When you’ve used traditional training approaches in the past, how have different groups of employees responded to the material? Did some groups succeed? Did some struggle more than others?

Dave_RootABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dave joined Eagle’s Flight in 1991 after having spent a number of years with a Toronto-based accounting firm. Since that time, he has held a number of posts within the company, primarily in the areas of Operations, Finance, Legal, and IT. In his current role as both Chief Financial Officer and President, Global Business, Dave is focused on ensuring the company’s ongoing financial health as well as growing its global market share. In pursuing the latter, Dave’s wealth of experience and extensive business knowledge has made him a valued partner and trusted advisor to both our global licensees and multinational clientele.

 

 

Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight

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Corporate Event Ideas for Introverted TeamsEvents generally involve activities centered on networking, communication, and interpersonal conversation. They’re a time for strangers to meet and coworkers to connect. In other words, corporate events are the ideal environment for outgoing, extroverted individuals.

However, despite the notion that events cater toward extroverts, a considerable amount of event-goers are actually introverts. According to author Susan Cain, introverts make up anywhere from a third to one half of the American population. This might seem at odds with the truth, especially when you consider the concept of the “extrovert ideal”: the bold, brazen personality type that seems to thrive at these events.

Sure, overstimulating, high-energy company training events may be the corporate norm. However, it’s entirely possible to rethink events and tailor them to suit introverts—all while encouraging productive meetings and events across your entire organization.

Whether you’re hosting a staff retreat, conference, or social gathering, here are some ideas on creating a corporate event that caters to introverted team members.

Get People Talking

It’s a myth that introverts don’t like to talk. As blogger Carl King points out, once you get an introvert to talk about something they’re interested in, they could talk for days. What does this indicate? That sometimes it’s up to you to get your event participants talking.

Experiential learning sessions are immersive, hands-on training experiences that reflect real-world work scenarios. Crucially, however, these experiences don’t directly mirror real-world scenarios. Instead, they mask similarities between learning activities and a participant’s day-to-day reality by incorporating fun, engaging activities.

These learning activities help get people out of their comfort zone by creating a safe, supportive environment that naturally encourages participants to try new strategies to solve problems. By making people feel comfortable about trusting the experience, participants are drawn into the experience and, therefore, into relationships with their group.

Because they are part of an immersive experience, they are less likely to feel self-conscious. Ultimately, experiential learning activities draw people out of their comfort zone at a relaxed pace.

Break into Small Groups

Introverts often prefer friendly, one-on-one conversations. In this regard, big groups can be overwhelming—especially when strangers are thrown into the mix.

Events are an ideal time to divide large groups into smaller teams. Break your attendees into pairs or trios and instill passion, not just competition, in the form of group activities. Focus on internal competition, where individuals are invested in both the process and the outcome of the activity.

Another technique that inspires similar results in medium-sized groups is the implementation of round-table discussions. Gather eight to 10 people per group and challenge them to answer questions or work through certain situations. Appoint a group leader to ensure that everyone has a chance to voice their opinion.

Leverage Your Social Power

Many introverts like to think before they speak. As Cain claims in her book Quiet, introverts often feel like they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. To allow introverted attendees time to collect their thoughts—and write them down—consider implementing social media and social networking into your corporate event.

Send out a company-wide question or situation via Twitter or Facebook several weeks before the event and encourage event participants to comment. Let them know that you will be selecting several responses and reassure them that no further action—such as speaking in front of the group—is necessary.

Sending messages via social media allows team members to think on their own time. Plus, it also encourages audience participation days or weeks before the event even begins.

Provide Time to Recharge and Refuel

Another myth surrounding introverts is that they don’t like to go out in public, according to King. The truth is that introverts absorb data and experiences quickly and look forward to processing their experiences. In other words, introverts appreciate time to recharge.

It’s important to positively engage introverted individuals during your event. However, it’s equally important to offer them some sort of refuge. Designate dedicated quiet spots or an on-site café or conference room as a refuel station for coffee and tea. While it’s tempting to jam-pack your day with activities, make sure you provide time for team members to process what’s happening around them.

Ultimately, it’s important to add a little variety throughout your corporate event to keep all participants engaged. Schedule events outdoors, take breaks in different areas of the space, and keep your participants moving when possible. The more you make your introverted team members feel comfortable, the more willing they are to participate and engage with the training.

IanABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ian has been with Eagle’s Flight since 1997, and is Executive Vice President, Global Accounts. He holds an MBA in Finance and Marketing from the University of British Columbia. Ian spent 12 years at Nestlé Canada and brings a wide range of experience that includes practical business experience in management, sales, program design, development and mentoring. He works closely with the Global licensees to ensure their success as they represent Eagle’s Flight in the worldwide marketplace. He has developed outstanding communication skills and currently is the Executive in Charge of a large Fortune 500 client with a team of employees dedicated to this specific account. As a result, Ian has been instrumental in driving the company’s growth and strategic direction.

 

Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight.

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Outside the Box Corporate Event Ideas

Incorporating creative ideas into your next event can help turn an unremarkable afternoon into a memorable one. You may even make a lasting impression on a handful of members on the team. Over the past several years, creating memorable experiences has become a primary focus for a younger generation of working professionals.

Labeled as the “experience economy,” this mentality represents how the Millennial generation defines happiness. According to recent research, the Millennial generation is less interested in possessions or career status than they are in living a life defined by creating, sharing, and capturing memories through experiences. In fact, 77 percent of Millennials say some of their best memories are from an event or live experience they attended, whereas 69 percent believe that live events and experiences connect them to other people, the community, and the world.

As Millennials account for more than one-fourth of the total U.S. population, this emphasis on experiences can manifest itself across corporate events as well. While we aren’t suggesting that you must host a high-energy festival to pique the interest of your Millennial employees, it’s still entirely possible to incorporate creative concepts into your current event strategy. The following are some ways to do that.

Pecha Kucha

Japanese for “chitchat” or “chatter,” Pecha Kucha is an alternative presentation format where hosts show 20 images for 20 seconds each. Devised by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein Dytham architecture in 2003, the format was intended to serve as an alternative, simple way to engage audience members.

Rather than rely on PowerPoint presentations and long-winded speeches, Pecha Kucha forces speakers to present only their strongest points and refine their speeches to focus on material that is immediately relevant to their audience. Speakers are able to supplement their presentations with pictures and images, with the only rule being that they must not pass the six-minute mark.

Granted, not all presentations should be confined to six minutes. However, if it fits your subject matter, it’s worth a try.

World Café

The World Café—sometimes referred to as Knowledge Café—is a structured conversational process designed to spark discussion across small groups that are then linked to larger groups. First organized in 1995, these events emphasize not only speaking and listening, but also alternative forms of learning such as visual.

Generally, the event kicks off with a keynote address in which a facilitator provides a series of open-ended questions based on a predetermined topic. Next, groups gather around small, round tables, where participants discuss and digest the problems at hand. Finally, the smaller groups come together as one large group and, through collective intelligence, discuss options and solutions.

Above all, the World Café method emphasizes the importance of creating a comfortable environment for participants. The goal of this style of corporate events is to create an inviting environment that mimics friendly conversations with friends. Much like experiential learning, this corporate-event technique requires participants to actively engage in an immersive challenge that mirrors problems they face in the real world.

Unconferencing

Championed by the technology industry, an unconference—also known as an Open Space conference—is a participant-driven corporate event style that’s based on the idea that team members have as much collective knowledge as the group of presenters. The format creates space that fosters peer-to-peer learning and collaboration by encouraging audience participation.

Sessions will run the gamut from informal to formal topics. Generally, all of your conference participants will gather to be guided through creating an agenda together. It is not necessary to prepare sessions; nor is there a prescribed “right way” to lead a session. Instead, unconferencing is designed to provide an open format that encourages organic interaction and discussion. If you need help getting things off the ground, below are a few ideas for sessions:

  • Longer presentations: Generally reserved for big ideas.
  • Short presentations: Five to 15 minutes of prepared material and comments, followed by interactive discussions.
  • Group discussions: Have team members introduce a topic they are interested in, while others join the conversation.
  • Big (or little) questions: Encourage team members to openly ask questions and then discuss potential answers.
  • Show and tell: Have team members provide quick presentations on projects, demos, or anything else they’re involved with.

Again, it is not necessary for those attending to understand the exact process in advance; the format will become clear as the conference unfolds. What’s more important is that those gathered have the opportunity to put their own ideas and sessions on the agenda.

Experiential Learning

Experiential learning sessions are truly creative ways to inspire interactions among your participants while naturally building a wide range of skills and abilities. These events mask critical training as immersive challenges and can be centered on a theme. What’s more, experiential learning programs can be designed to address specific business topics such as improving communication, collaboration, accountability, and decision-making.

By appealing to their senses, experiential learning fully engages individuals and inspires them to reflect on their decisions. This ensures that event content is relevant to your team members’ responsibilities and goals.

IanABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ian has been with Eagle’s Flight since 1997, and is Executive Vice President, Global Accounts. He holds an MBA in Finance and Marketing from the University of British Columbia. Ian spent 12 years at Nestlé Canada and brings a wide range of experience that includes practical business experience in management, sales, program design, development and mentoring. He works closely with the Global licensees to ensure their success as they represent Eagle’s Flight in the worldwide marketplace. He has developed outstanding communication skills and currently is the Executive in Charge of a large Fortune 500 client with a team of employees dedicated to this specific account. As a result, Ian has been instrumental in driving the company’s growth and strategic direction.

 

Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight

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4 Essential Keys to Understanding Your Company's Culture

You’ve heard about the importance of company culture and how it can both attract new employees while keeping current ones engaged. However, you might still be wondering what exactly makes up company culture, why is it important, and does my own company even have a defined culture? Company culture may seem like a vague and elusive concept, yet there are several ways to define it. Here are four keys to understanding your organization’s culture and the necessary criteria to determine whether yours may need to evolve.

Key 1: Recognize That You Do Have Company Culture

Every organization has company culture, whether intentionally cultivated or not. In short, it refers to the combination of values, goals, ethics, and expectations that govern and influence employee behaviors. If negative behaviors have been left to develop unchecked, with no guidance or direction, then yes, a company culture that supports bad habits may have taken root. Simply put: There’s no blank slate when it comes to company culture. If you’re envisioning a specific kind—for instance, a customer-centric one—it’s not enough to simply announce that vision. You must first figure out what (and how) current behaviors need to shift in order to develop a roadmap to achieve those changes. That’s why it’s so important to define your current company culture before you try to steer it in a new direction.

Key 2: Analyze Your Company’s Priorities

If you want to better understand your culture, look at your company’s priorities. These goals and initiatives reveal what your organization values and what it does not (both explicitly and implicitly). Questions to ask yourself about company priorities may include:

  • Do your employees hear more about increasing the bottom line or increasing customer satisfaction?
  • Does your company give employees the freedom to experiment and innovate when it comes to solving problems, or is following protocol more important?
  • Is taking calculated risks seen as a distraction or opportunity?
  • How much (or how little) does your company invest in ongoing training efforts, both in terms of money and time?
  • When your company considers adopting certain efforts or changes, are the thoughts and feelings of both leadership and employees considered?

Exploring questions like this can give you clues as to what kind of culture your company has cultivated. Is it one with a workforce that’s empowered, engaged, and encouraged to innovate and improve? Or a culture where the bottom line is often prioritized? If your company’s priorities give you pause, it may be time to explore a culture transformation.

Key 3: Inquire About Company Culture

Your company culture is made up of behaviors, those that are encouraged, permitted, and hindered. To understand what kind makes up your organization, it’s best to go directly to the source: your employees. Consider ways to get feedback on which behaviors currently serve the company well and which need to be discouraged or changed to elevate your organization. Gather feedback from all levels of employees, from executives to front-line managers. Surveys, company-wide assessments, and focus groups can all help create a clearer picture of the behaviors that define your current company culture. Again, the key is to engage every employee as you ask for feedback because the sum total of all employee contributions and behaviors are what make up your culture.

Key 4: Look to Your Leaders

While every employee contributes to company culture, leaders have more impact and influence. Examine the messages your leadership team puts forth, and whether action follows those words. Leadership may espouse values and a mission that excites employees, but if leadership itself doesn’t “walk the walk,” their behavior can contribute to a culture of distrust and disengagement. Culture starts from the top down, and your leadership sets the tone for what’s permissible and encouraged in your company and what’s not. After examining your culture using the four keys listed, where do you think your company culture needs a tune-up—or is a complete culture transformation in order?

Dave_RootABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dave joined Eagle’s Flight in 1991 after having spent a number of years with a Toronto-based accounting firm. Since that time, he has held a number of posts within the company, primarily in the areas of Operations, Finance, Legal, and IT. In his current role as both Chief Financial Officer and President, Global Business, Dave is focused on ensuring the company’s ongoing financial health as well as growing its global market share. In pursuing the latter, Dave’s wealth of experience and extensive business knowledge has made him a valued partner and trusted advisor to both our global licensees and multinational clientele.

Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight

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eLearning vs. Experiential Learning A Complete Comparison

eLearning has been gaining momentum for years in the corporate training realm—it can no longer be called a “trend.” As technology continues to evolve, so will the impressive tools and training methods coming out of the eLearning space. However, how does the relative “new kid on the block” compare to experiential learning? Let’s explore the merits of these two popular approaches and if there’s space for both in your corporate training initiatives:

eLearning in the Workplace

eLearning, or electronic learning, encompasses a wide range of training tools and methods, which has helped make it a $100 billion-plus industry. Here, though, are several common ways that eLearning takes shape in corporate training today:

  • Video instruction
  • Interactive tutorials with quiz components
  • Gamified learning, where users learn new concepts by working through online games
  • Podcasts and other prerecorded materials

The specific benefits of eLearning vary according to its implementation, but this training type as a whole has several advantages. For one, eLearning is easily scalable. eLearning can easily grow with your company, because the only things you need for implementation are computer access and the training program itself. Relatedly, eLearning may be a good fit for companies whose offices are scattered across the country or for companies that employ a lot of remote workers.

Another big benefit? More recent gains in the eLearning industry have ushered in on-the-go, on-demand corporate learning. Today, eLearning platforms are being built so that they can be easily accessed on mobile phones—many eLearning training programs even come with their own downloadable apps. This gives users more choice and flexibility in their learning, so they can fit training into busy schedules.

One big drawback of eLearning, however, is that the industry is constantly changing. Unfortunately, that means that electronic training software can become obsolete in a matter of years, as more effective eLearning platforms come along. That leaves companies with a tough choice: upgrade their entire training platforms every few years or keep using the same eLearning platforms with the knowledge that other companies—including competitors—are investing in newer, more effective eLearning approaches.

The Experiential Learning Competitive Edge

On the other end of the training spectrum, you have experiential learning. Experiential learning takes a completely different approach from that of eLearning: Trainees learn how to change their behavior through participation in hands-on, discovery-based learning sessions. During these immersive training exercises, participants work together to solve a themed challenge, like traversing a dangerous desert to mine gold. During the experience, it may feel like a fun game for participants, but it’s actually a metaphor for the issues that trainees struggle with on the job. After the participatory training exercise, a facilitator leads a debrief session. During the debrief, the facilitator reveals the metaphor and explains how the strategies that trainees used to win the game are the same strategies they can use to “win” at work.

Experiential training differs from eLearning in a couple of big ways, most obviously with its live, participatory nature. This puts experiential learning at a huge advantage in terms of retention. Learners retain up to 90 percent of experience-based learning, while passive learning (which encompasses many eLearning approaches, like online videos) has retention rates as low as five percent. At first blush, eLearning may seem like the more cost-effective training method, thanks to its scalability—but experiential training actually provides a much higher ROI. It doesn’t matter how affordable a training method may seem; paying any amount for information that likely goes in one ear and out the other is just too much.

Some eLearning approaches, however, involve more than just passive reception, like interactive quizzes and gamification. Still, experiential training has a leg up even on these eLearning approaches, thanks to one crucial aspect often overlooked in training: conviction. By participating in live and real challenges as themselves (instead of as a character in an online game, for example), trainees are able to build personal conviction. The structure of the themed challenge allows trainees to immediately see the consequences of their own actions, which means they cannot skirt personal responsibility for their behaviors. Participating in such a visceral experience with immediate consequences also illustrates the power of behavior—behaviors, and not just circumstances, can determine success or failure. Participants leave the training session with the conviction that changing their behaviors at work can have an equally powerful effect on their job outcomes.

Experiential training’s edge in retention and building conviction means it’s one method of learning that’s here to stay for the long haul. For the most effective learning outcomes for your colleagues, however, combining eLearning and experiential learning may be the best approach. eLearning can be used to support the new skills and behavior changes taught during experiential training as part of a retention program. Using online lectures to recap material and quizzes to test retention, for example, helps colleagues keep their training top of mind long after the experiential training session ends. eLearning exercises can also be used to help measure retention rates, giving managers a better idea of how impactful their training was—and what tweaks may need to be made in the future.

Do you use a combination of eLearning and another training method for your current training initiatives? What have your results been?

EF authorABOUT THE AUTHOR

As Chief Operating Officer, Sue’s extensive senior leadership experience and facilitation skills have established her as a trusted partner and organizational development expert. She has a proven track record of successfully leading culture transformation in Fortune 500 companies and has established herself as an authority on training and development. Sue has over 20 years of experience in the creation and delivery of programs and custom designed solutions for Eagle’s Flight.

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