Gold of The Desert Kings

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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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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.

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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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how-to-embed-corporate-training-into-employee-eventsOrganizing a corporate event requires a cohesive vision, careful planning, and attention to detail. Crafting a tight agenda, finding appropriate trainers, planning the format of the training and handling logistics are all important tasks that an event planner must manage. To do this successfully, they need to understand the expectations about the event day. Be prepared to answer the following four questions as you plan your next event.

1. What is the objective of the corporate event?

When working with an event planner, either external or internal, it is critical for them to understand the goals of the gathering. The following are examples of these goals.

  • Sharing important company updates
  • Getting information from participants
  • Providing training for individuals or teams
  • Fostering the company culture
  • Making decisions
  • Building connections between team members
  • Having fun and engaging employees

Whatever the reasons for your event, the planner must understand them so that they can make decisions that support your business goals.

2. Who is attending the event?

In order to be most effective, corporate events should be catered to the audience. An event planner will create an experience for a meeting of executives that is different from an experience that they would create for industry-specific safety training. Here is some information that they will need.

  • How many attendees to expect
  • The types of roles that participants have
  • The range of participants’ experience levels
  • Whether or not non-employees will be attending

Having this information at their fingertips will allow a planner to decide what types of training sessions, presentations, food, entertainment, and other activities to organize.

3. What is the schedule for the event?

A corporate event planner needs much more than an agenda for the day of the gathering. They need to know things like the following information.

  • When speakers are arriving
  • When presenters will have time to set up and practice
  • Where and when meals are happening
  • Who is responsible for every task
  • Any time constraints from the venue

The larger an event is, the more detail a planner needs so that they can prepare in advance as much as possible.

4. How does the event support business objectives?

There is a big difference between planning a company picnic and organizing an annual off-site meeting. While both might be considered corporate events and certainly require logistics and planning, only one is intended to impact performance in the workplace. In order to successfully choose the right type of training programs, your planner will need to know the following.

With this knowledge in hand, they can organize immersive, fun, and engaging experiential learning events that will be both memorable and effective.

An event planning template can ensure that all the key players are on the same page about what needs to happen and when. Event planning is a team effort; when done well, participants will have a seamless, memorable experience that adds value to their work.

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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4 Ways to Improve and Protect Your Credibility as a Training ManagerAs a training manager, you have to walk a fine line between, on one hand, meeting budget expectations and learning benchmarks set by company leadership and, on the other hand, delivering training that employees are actually excited to engage in. It can be a lot to balance, and you want to make a good impression on both sides of that line! Luckily, strengthening your credibility as a training manager goes hand in hand with strengthening your training offerings and how you present them to management and participants. Here are four ways to protect and improve your credibility while designing an exceptional training program in the process.

1. Focus on changing behavior for lasting results.

When you’re trying to get training buy-in from executives, you can improve your credibility by focusing on the end result: changed behavior. Training sessions are often framed as opportunities to learn new skills in a safe, supportive environment. Savvy training managers, however, understand that strategic training is not just about learning new skills—it’s about creating lasting behavior change. When it comes time to get budget buy-in from your company’s leaders for new training initiatives, frame your training not just as an opportunity for professional development but as a strategy for increasing employee productivity and effectiveness. Teaching participants how to improve behaviors, and supporting their behavior transformations after the training with retention programs, translates to on-the-job results. Higher productivity and effectiveness lead to higher ROI—an outcome that your leaders respect and expect.

2. Implement training that’s a proven success.

So, how do you change behavior through training? This is where experiential learning comes in. Through hands-on, discovery-based exercises, trainees “learn by doing” so that they’re able to learn new skills and practice them in one fell swoop. This approach to learning works: Studies have shown that with experience-based learning, people have a 70 percent recall of what they learned (compare that to just a five percent recall for passive learning methods). Plus, experiential learning not only is easier for trainees to remember, but it creates personal conviction—a necessary ingredient for true behavior change—by involving the trainees in the training itself.

3. Be clear that your training is more than “just a game.”

If your company hasn’t engaged in experience-based learning before, you may get some pushback—both from leadership and the trainees themselves. Sometimes, trainers may hear from trainees that they “don’t like games” or don’t see how a game relates to work. This viewpoint is understandable, because so many experience-based activities just feel like busywork with no deeper purpose.

Experiential learning, however, is different—because the skills and knowledge needed to change behavior are built into the experience itself. That usually becomes evident once the experience gets underway and trainees sink their teeth into the challenge. If you get pushback from someone who thinks a training “game” is just a time-waster, simply ask the participant to try the experience for a few minutes to really see if this is the kind of “game” that they dislike. They’ll soon become so engrossed in the real challenge at hand that they’ll forget their doubts.

4. Connect learning to real-world outcomes.

Improve your credibility as a training manager by ensuring that you’re focusing not just on the fun, immersive part of the training experience but also on what comes after: the debrief. In experiential learning, the debrief is when facilitators make the important connections between what participants just experienced in the learning activity and how that relates to their actual jobs. During the debrief, facilitators reveal that the same strategies that participants use to succeed during the training exercise can be used to succeed at work. For many participants, the debrief represents the “aha!” part of the training, where the value of the training clicks for them. While designing and implementing the fun themed part of an experiential learning session may be what gets many trainers excited, credible training managers know that the real magic for participants happens in the debrief. Keep your focus on creating a debrief that crystallizes learning for participants so that they can immediately apply that learning on the job. Your participants—and your executive team—will thank you.

JohnABOUT THE AUTHOR

Since 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.

 

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Meeting Halfway (Or More) in SalesThe Age of the Internet and evolving purchasing habits have made sales training more important than ever. With access to virtually anything online, the role of the salesperson has shifted. Customers have countless options, and they are no longer restricted to making a purchase at a single location or even at a physical store. They also have access to product information, reviews, and social recommendations that influence purchasing behavior. To be successful, salespeople must offer real, tangible benefits to customers, and that often requires shifting mindsets and taking a new approach.

Meeting the customer halfway is no longer enough. To build a loyal customer base, you must go above and beyond to serve their needs. This three-step process is the foundation of a modern sales approach that will contribute to better customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Prepare

Knowing the ins and outs of your products and services is not sufficient. You must also know what the customer needs, what problems they are trying to solve, and how your product addresses the challenges they are facing. Framing your product or service as the solution to their perceived problem is the first step in capturing their attention. To do this, you must understand your customer’s current reality and how your product can best serve their needs.

Sell

Once you understand the challenges your customers are facing, use the Five Gears of Selling to demonstrate that you meet their real and perceived needs effectively and authentically.

  • Executive presence – People with executive presence have the ability to draw others to them with excellent listening skills and the ability to read situations and react to them accordingly. Salespeople who foster this key trait will attract a larger audience, which ultimately leads to a larger customer base.
  • Real need – If you can’t demonstrate the real need for a product or service, customers are not likely to make a purchase. Articulating the customer’s current challenges and how your offering can help solve them will prompt a prospect to explore further.
  • Objections – As they dive deeper, customers will inevitably have objections to your product or service. Whether it is price, complexity, or fear of change, you must be prepared to overcome these objections in a way that eases their minds.
  • Close – A sale isn’t closed until the customer says yes. Learn the necessary sales skills to guide a conversation to a yes instead of another call or more time to think about it.
  • Next steps – Clearly articulate the next steps in the process so that the customer knows what to expect and when. Even a sale that has been closed can fall apart when communication breaks down or expectations are not met.

Remember that customers will only buy from people they trust and only if they understand the product and how it benefits them. Therefore, it is critical in the Age of the Internet to build that foundation with a potential client, before even attempting to close a sale.

Partner

Relationships with customers should not be adversarial; rather, they should be viewed as partnerships that can benefit both parties and continue to evolve over time. Identify where on the relationship spectrum you are with each customer and then optimize every opportunity to capitalize on that position. Change your mindset from closing individual deals or making single transactions to nurturing a long-term partnership. Customers will notice the difference and gravitate toward the company that makes them feel like they are participating in something greater, rather than being “sold to” when it’s time to make a purchase.

The evolution of the sales model cannot be ignored if you want to be successful in the modern world. If your sales team is not taking steps in this direction, the organization will eventually fall behind. Investing in sales training is the first step toward long-term behavior change that leads to meeting the customer more than halfway.

JohnABOUT THE AUTHOR

Since 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.

 

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The Power of a Common Language in Customer RelationshipsExperiential learning is a valuable tool for improving a team’s approach to customer relationships. Rather than just explaining the importance of putting the customers’ needs first, experiential learning allows participants to get a deeper understanding of the positive impact that customer centricity can have, by taking them through an immersive experience that clearly demonstrates cause and effect. An important component of this experience is that participants share a common language.

HOW TO CREATE A MEANINGFUL COMMON LANGUAGE.

Creating a common language around customer centricity does not mean using cliché phrases like “the customer is always first.” It means allowing the team to develop its own common language from a shared experience that evokes a visceral feeling and causes the team members to shift their behavior.

Let’s use Rattlesnake Canyon, an Eagle’s Flight program, as an example. In this experience, teams compete to make as much money as possible by selling goods to a railroad company. Settlers buy individual products like livestock, lanterns, and tools and sell them to merchants who assemble them into kits. The merchants then sell the kits to the railroad, the end customer.

During the course of the experience, participants quickly learn that they can make a lot of money by buying and reselling pigs, so a pig-purchasing frenzy quickly emerges. However, after the railroad buys a certain number of pigs, it doesn’t need any more, and it stops purchasing them. This leaves settlers and merchants with an abundance of pigs that they can’t sell, ultimately limiting their resources and hindering their ability to provide their railroad customer with the other supplies. When the teams figure this out, a common language emerges: “Stop buying pigs!”

What happens during this experience? The teams become so focused on making money by buying and selling pigs that they lose sight of their customers’ needs. This quickly becomes apparent during the debrief, and because the participants have a shared experience using a determined common language, it immediately loops them back to the lessons of the experience.

HOW A COMMON LANGUAGE BENEFITS THE CUSTOMER.

Unlike lecture-based training, an experiential learning event like this has the power to resonate with a team for a significant period of time. Sharing a common language makes it possible to make quick course corrections along the way. For example, when one team member recognizes that they might not be putting the needs of the customer first, and they announce, “Stop buying pigs!”, they can shift their focus back to the intended goal.

Everybody on the team knows what the phrase means because they also learned the same lesson on a visceral level. They experienced a failure once in the game, and they don’t want to repeat it in real life with actual customers. Having this common language also allows the team to convey the concept of customer centricity succinctly without having to use more time-consuming communication approaches.

Rattlesnake Canyon is just one example of how the power of a common language can impact customer relationships. Every experiential learning event brings teams together in a way that other types of training cannot. By sharing in the successes and failures of the game and, most important, linking the lessons learned to the workplace, participants leave with a common language they can draw from in the future. They also gain a renewed commitment to improving performance on the job and building customer centric relationships.

JohnABOUT THE AUTHOR

Since 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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4 Distinct Components of Experiential LearningLectures. Online videos. PowerPoint presentations. Role-playing games. Simulations. There are so many training methods out there that it’s hard to choose which one is the best fit for your organization. Another type of training that organizations can use is experiential learning, an engaging experience-based training method that consistently leads to higher learning retention rates and permanently changed behavior in participants. What really makes experiential training different from other kinds of skills training? Here are four distinct components that every experiential learning activity must have.

1. Activities require hands-on participation.

Lectures and PowerPoint presentations have long been popular training methods, because they allow trainers to fit a lot of information into a short amount of time. Experiential training, however, takes a radically different approach. One of the hallmarks of these events is their participatory nature. During an activity, every trainee takes part in a hands-on situation, where they will interact with other trainees to solve a challenge.

The participatory nature of experiential training helps build conviction in participants. With immersive exercises, learning becomes more visceral, immediate, and personal. Trainees experience first-hand how their behaviors during the exercise lead to certain outcomes—a lesson they can apply in the workplace. With training techniques like lectures, the conviction-building component is often missing.

Furthermore, requiring trainees to participate in experiential activities combines learning with practice. Instead of learning about a new skill during training and then having to wait to practice that new skill on the job, trainees get to learn about, practice, and refine the new skill during the participatory exercise. They leave the training session much more confident about using their new skills on the job and succeeding at doing so.

2. Trainees participate as themselves.

Of course, experiential learning isn’t the only type of training that calls for active participation. For example, role-playing scenarios—in which trainees are given certain predetermined roles, like a customer and a salesperson—are popular participatory training techniques. This further differentiates experiential training, as it requires and allows participants to be themselves during the event.

Again, this helps build conviction in participants. During a role-playing scenario, it’s all too easy for participants to dismiss the outcome, because it wasn’t really the participants who brought the outcome about—it was the “characters” they were playing.

When they participate as themselves, however, they can no longer excuse outcomes. Experiential training definitively demonstrates cause and effect for participants, as it shows them exactly how their behavior causes certain outcomes.

3. Activities are designed as a themed metaphor.

Perhaps the most distinctive component of experiential training is its immersive, story-like nature. Instead of simply having participants simulate a common workplace scenario, experiential training activities mask the similarities to workplace problems with a themed story. The story acts as a metaphor for the challenges that participants face on the job.

For example, instead of asking members of a dysfunctional team to mimic what happens in a team meeting, members are instead tasked with working together to find hidden treasure deep in the Amazon jungle.

Experiential learning’s themed metaphors provide two big benefits.

  1. Working through a themed activity is so much more fun than working through work-like situations. The themed nature of experiential training keeps participants excited and engaged throughout the entire experience.
  2. Masking common workplace scenarios with themed challenges creates a safe space for participants, which encourages them to take risks and try out-of-the-box problem-solving techniques. If the training situation directly mirrored their on-the-job reality, participants may be too concerned with possible failure to take risks. Designing the exercise as a fun, themed situation removes the pressure that participants may feel—leading to big breakthroughs that they would have been too cautious to achieve on the job or during a job-like training scenario.

4. Trainees end with a results-oriented debrief.

No experiential activity is complete without the debrief. The debrief allows a facilitator to make the connections between what participants worked on during the themed exercise and how the exercise relates to participants’ on-the-job experience. Facilitators “unmask” the metaphor, so to speak. Understanding and retention really hinge on a clear, in-depth debrief, which is why the debrief is so essential to experiential training. During the debrief, the facilitator reveals how the strategies that participants used to win the game are the same strategies they can use to succeed at work. When participants return to work to try out their new skills, they’ll remember the visceral experience of the themed exercise and the connection to winning at work.

Have you integrated any of these experiential learning components into your past training? What were the results?

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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Measuring a company’s culture can be a challenging undertaking. While some parameters are clearly definable, others are more difficult to pin down. However, when your objective is to shift a company’s culture, it’s important to measure progress to determine if your efforts are resulting in your desired outcomes.

7 Vital Tools You Can Use to Measure Your Company's CultureWhen you consider that a company culture is the sum of individual behaviors, it becomes easier to identify measurement techniques. Making the transition from one culture to another requires behavioral change on an individual level, which is more difficult than you might expect. Even after an inspiring training event, it’s easy to slip back into old habits, especially when employees are faced with the daily pressures of their jobs. However, when individuals collectively make changes over time, the cycle is repeated, new norms are created, and the result is a new culture.

Let’s take a look at the seven measurement techniques that can be used throughout a successful culture transformation.

1. PULSE CHECKS

Before even starting a culture transformation initiative, it’s important to know the current state of the organization. A pulse check is a short questionnaire used to first capture the baseline culture and then measure change over defined periods of time. For example, you might ask employees to do a pulse check once every quarter to measure changes in responses to questions about how well the leadership models behavior that embodies the company culture.

2. KEY MILESTONES

An important component of culture change is clearly articulating the expected standard and identifying what must be done to achieve it. Creating key milestones over a period of 18 to 36 months gives employees and managers benchmarks to work toward. These milestones also help sustain the momentum of culture change over time. Many culture shifts start with a big push but can fizzle after a few months as employees revert to their old habits. Keeping these key milestones at the forefront as a measurement tool can help sustain the energy as people work to incorporate new behaviors into their daily jobs.

3. KNOWLEDGE TESTING

In the early stages of a culture transformation, it’s important to know if the new information being delivered during training is understood by participants. If the training didn’t resonate, you can’t reasonably expect changes in behavior. Knowledge testing in the days and weeks after training will confirm that employees learned the desired skills or will provide evidence that further training is required.

4. MOBILE BOOST LEARNING

After confirmation that the training was effective, fight the effects of learning decay with a tool like mobile boost learning. Meant to reinforce (not reteach) knowledge already acquired, boost learning can help keep new concepts and behaviors top of mind. Mobile tools can deliver short messages to reinforce behaviors that lead to better quality, efficiency, productivity, or whatever your defined culture change goals are.

5. SELF-ASSESSMENTS

As time progresses during a culture change, employees reach a point where they understand what is expected of them, have the tools to make the desired changes, and are making a genuine effort to apply new skills and change their own behavior. During this stage, self-assessments are valuable tools that allow employees to test these new behaviors in a safe environment. Working with a manager who is able to set clear goals for specific tasks ensures that employees are able to try a new behavior, make corrections, and generate feedback that contributes to lasting change.

6. MULTI-RATER ASSESSMENTS

The next stage in a culture transformation is when employees are not just testing new behaviors, but fully deploying them. At this point, multi-rater assessments that gather feedback from managers, customers, and direct reports can help refine these behaviors even further and optimize the culture. This level of measurement is not necessarily appropriate for every organization going through a culture transformation, as it demands more resources and a level of rigor that not every company needs. However, for organizations that want to achieve a certain level of performance, multi-rater assessments can be a valuable tool.

7. CULTURE IMPACT SCORECARD

All of the results from the above assessment tools can be combined into a culture impact scorecard or digital dashboard that allows you to centrally manage and communicate the importance of the culture in the organization. Having all of the data in a single location enables you to correlate all of the phases in adopting a new company culture.

  • Training
  • Knowledge
  • Application
  • Behavior change
  • Culture transformation
  • Business impact

Can each of these tools be used independently? Of course, but if you want to get the most from your training investment and measure how much of an impact your culture transformation efforts have on organizational goals, it’s important to employ measurement tools during each phase and tie them all together into a snapshot view. Measuring a company culture is not as simple as taking an occasional survey, but with a smart strategy and the right tools, you can measure transformation in action.

MichaelABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael’s singular focus is rooted in staying connected to learners the moment they step out of the classroom and back into their busy jobs. As SVP of Learning Performance, Michael brings business savvy depth to ensuring learning is reinforced, applied and is optimally aligned to delivering on strategic objectives. His proven track record in creating measurement frameworks and reinforcement solutions that add value to the learner, leaders and executive sponsors is highly valued across the spectrum of our client engagements.

Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight.

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You know that your workplace learning needs to be effective, memorable, aligned with organizational goals, and within budget. But does it need to be fun?

The short answer? A big, resounding “YES!”

The longer answer? If your workplace learning isn’t fun, you’ll have a much harder time engaging employees, and your training retention rates may be in big trouble. Here’s why making learning fun is the smart path to training that truly changes workplace behaviors, and here’s what you need to do to make workplace learning both fun and effective.

Should Workplace Learning Be FunFun Learning Increases Engagement

Savvy training managers know that fun is strategic. When you make learning fun, the learning process feels practically effortless–which means your trainees won’t be watching the clock like a hawk or clocking out from the training altogether. Leveling up the fun increases participants’ interest levels and engagement. This accelerates the learning process because people tend to give their all to learning that interests and engages them. Think back to your favorite class in high school or college. Chances are, you were likelier to turn in your homework on time and study up for the test because learning about that subject was fun and exciting. The same thing applies to workplace learning!

Fun Learning Supports Learning Retention

Certain kinds of workplace learning activities are simply funner than others. For example, unless you booked a stand-up comedian to deliver it, a PowerPoint presentation or lecture just isn’t all that fun for trainees. The kind of workplace learning that gets participants excited and engaged is training that requires their full participation. This is when participants are encouraged to get up, move around, and interact with one another as they develop and practice new skills. Participatory learning activities banish boredom, leading to all of the benefits described previously.

Believe it or not, there’s more good news: “Fun” participatory training and effective, long-lasting training can also be one and the same. That’s because we remember what we do more than we remember what we hear. The learning decay curve is a big problem in corporate training; generally speaking, participants forget 70 percent of the new information they’ve just learned within one week. When participants “learn by doing,” retention rates dramatically improve—when you learn by doing, you’re likely to retain 75 percent of what you learned! For learning that lasts beyond the training session, you need to invest in fun, memorable experiences that immerse participants in the training at hand.

The Key to Making Learning Fun and Effective: Experiential Learning

Of course, not all participatory activities are inherently fun or effective. A poorly designed training exercise can leave participants scratching their heads instead of grinning. To ensure your workplace learning is both, consider adopting the practices of experiential learning. In experiential learning exercises, participants learn about and practice new skills that improve job performance. What makes experiential learning unique, however, is that the learning is masked by a theme, which serves as a metaphor for a participant’s job reality. For example, participants may be asked to work as teams to hunt down treasure in the jungle. During the debrief, the “metaphor” is revealed, and participants learn that the strategies that helped them win the themed game can help them win at work too.

Theming training experiences with experiential learning accomplishes two big training goals:

  1. It creates a safe space for participants to take risks and fail within the game so that they can learn from their failures. People will be less likely to take a risk in a training scenario if that scenario too closely resembles their job reality.
  2. It makes the participatory nature of the experience even funner! Not only do participants get to engage with each other, but they get to do so while embarking on an exciting quest that—at first glance—has nothing to do with work at all.

With experiential learning, you can design learning experiences that are fully immersive and full of excitement—and, by extension, increase the retention of the critical skills and behaviors you’re teaching trainees. So yes, fun can have a major effect on your organization’s bottom line!

How have you tried to make workplace learning and training funner for participants? What were the results?

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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