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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.

 

Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight

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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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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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Everyone processes information with both the rational and emotional parts of the brain. For example, while the rational part of your brain might know that certain things are bad for your health (doughnuts, smoking, etc.), the emotional part of your brain can sometimes overcome this knowledge and rationalize these addictive behaviors. Whether it is operating out of habit, personal comfort, or simply satisfying a craving, the emotional part of the brain is a powerful force.

Engaging the Rational and Emotional Part of the Brain in TrainingHow does this reality apply to corporate training? The rational and emotional approaches are employed all the time in the workplace. Undesirable habits like cutting corners, procrastinating, and lack of communication are all products of the emotional brain. Employees know what they should do (their rational side tells them all the time), but they don’t always act on that knowledge. Fortunately, experiential learning can help employees bridge the gap between knowing what should be done and having the emotional conviction to do it.

Skill Set Versus Mindset

From an organizational training perspective, the rational and emotional sides can be viewed as skill set versus mindset. Skills can be taught through training, coaching, and modeling. Many employees don’t have a problem with acquiring new knowledge during a training session; however, the challenge comes when that knowledge must be applied in the workplace. Unless they have the right mindset during their daily work, they are less likely to apply their new skill set.

Experiential learning is designed to tackle both issues: acquiring the skill set and instilling conviction so that employees return to work with the right mindset.

How Experiential Learning Engages the Rational and Emotional Mind

Conviction is built on understanding and appreciating the consequences of one’s behavior. In life, a health scare might trigger a new commitment to quit smoking. In the workplace, failure to deliver expected results can impact the performance of a team or even an entire organization. Of course, the ideal scenario is to change the undesirable behavior before experiencing failure. This is why organizational training is such an important investment.

Experiential learning enables employees to experience the consequences of their behavior (both positive and negative) in a safe environment by paralleling real-life scenarios. At Eagle’s Flight, we refer to this as Heart, Head, Hands, Harvest. Here’s how it works in a nutshell:

HEART : BUILD CONVICTION

There must be conviction on the part of the learner that changing their behavior will benefit them and is worth pursuing. Without this desire to change, any training provided will be in vain.

HEAD : PROVIDE KNOWLEDGE

At this step, participants develop an intellectual understanding of the new behaviors and how they differ from their current behaviors.

HAND: TEACH SKILLS

Participants need to understand what actions to take to put new knowledge to use and the steps to follow in order to thoroughly apply the training. This is where the facilitator will connect the experience and the debrief questions to business relevance.

HARVEST: SEE RESULTS

This is where retention and reinforcement come into play. Post-training retention and reinforcement are vital to seeing long-lasting, sustained behavior change. This will help your organization curb the learning decay curve and ensure that your training dollars are well-spent.

After going through this shared experience, participants return to the job with a newfound appreciation of the power they have to make a difference and, most important, the conviction to change their behavior.

Start with Mindset, Finish with Skill Set

One reason experiential learning is so successful is that it first engages the emotional part of the brain. When you start by instilling conviction, participants are eager to learn, so transferring knowledge becomes even easier. People want to win the game. They want to know exactly what they need to do to be successful. This motivation helps overcome the hurdle of learning decay, because participants readily absorb new information and start to apply it almost immediately. They start with open minds and are more eager to learn, because they know that changing their behavior can contribute to better performance.

Employees must believe that their actions can make a meaningful impact on the success of the organization. The emotional part of the brain must be convinced that behavior change is necessary in order for the rational side of the brain to overcome habits and daily employee pressures. Experiential learning addresses both the mindset and the skill set to create lasting change that improves organizational performance.

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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The 7 Cornerstones of Teamwork

What separates a good team from a dysfunctional one?

Often, when we talk about teams, we speak in generalities. We know a team must be cohesive and that team members must communicate well together, for example. But what specifically differentiates a high-performing team from the rest of the pack? At Eagle’s Flight, we’ve identified seven key differentiators. We call them the seven cornerstones of teamwork because if even just one cornerstone is missing, the entire team dynamic can crumble. Following are the seven components you need to cultivate and encourage teamwork within your teams.

1. Leadership

Why is leadership the first cornerstone of teamwork? When many people think of teams, they envision a group working together without centralized authority, sharing all responsibilities and decisions equally. In reality, that’s not how a team works best. If you don’t appoint a leader, you’ll face power struggles and clashes between individuals.

Designating a team leader isn’t just about avoiding team infighting about who should be in charge. A team leader takes full accountability for the team’s final results—which inspires the entire team to collectively complete the project.

2. Unanimous focus on a common goal

It’s easy to become sidetracked when working in a team, especially if it’s a larger group of people, and when a team is assembled with colleagues from different departments and specializations, members may also have different ideas about what the team should prioritize. That’s why it’s so vital to determine the overall goal as soon as the team is formed—so if members’ focuses start to wander, a leader can use this goal to refocus the team.

3. Clearly defined roles for subgroups

When teams are tackling large, unwieldy challenges, it’s often a good idea to break a larger team into smaller subgroups. The key when doing so, however, is clearly defining subgoals for these groups, with the understanding that each subgoal is in service to the overall team goal. Subgroups aren’t opportunities for members to explore tangents—they should be laser-focused on fulfilling their roles, in order to help every other subgroup succeed.

4. Shared resources

Have you ever been on a team where members hoarded resources for themselves? Maybe one of the subgroups used up most of the project budget, or a key member of the team neglected to share some important information that could’ve moved the project forward faster. Hoarding resources—regarding material goods and tools and “intangible” resources like ideas and information—is a hallmark of a dysfunctional team.

That’s why sharing resources is one of the cornerstones of teamwork. Some team members may have a tendency to hoard resources as if they were in competition with the other members. They want to make sure their specific task or subgroup goal can be deemed a success. Team members must realize that when they share with others, the team has a greater chance of succeeding together—which links back to the importance of establishing a unanimous, common goal.

5. Effective and frequent communication

A team can’t succeed without strong communication skills (that’s why so many team-building trainings focus on communication), but what does “strong” communication include? According to the seven cornerstones of teamwork, communication should be both effective and frequent. “Effective” means not just elegantly delivered but easily understood by all members of the team. If a team member can’t repeat back to you what you just said in their own words, then your communication wasn’t effective.

“Frequent” communication ensures a team leader consistently checks in with team members and their progress and reinforces the vision of the project or a common goal, which can all be easily lost in day-to-day activity. For example, frequent communication may mean starting every team meeting by having team members share the biggest wins or progress they’ve made toward the overall goal.

6. Consistent, united, and enthusiastic effort

Once teams get into the thick of things, the initial enthusiasm surrounding the team project often starts to wear off. Members might start arriving late to meetings, take longer to respond to emails, or even try to get some of their other work done while in a team meeting! Having each member pledge to stay consistent, united, and enthusiastic in their effort can help keep the momentum going when the going gets tough. It’s important to stress that team members rely on each other, so if one person starts to slack off—either mentally or physically—that affects how well and how efficiently other members can complete their tasks. And keeping the enthusiasm going isn’t just the job of a team leader; part of the responsibility of being on a team is a promise to give your all, all of the time.

7. Periodic and temporary suppression of the ego

This cornerstone of teamwork may sound like a mouthful, but it’s a pretty simple concept. High-performing teams tend to be made up of high-performing individual players. The only problem? High performers may have more trouble than most realizing they’re not always the smartest person in the room. Inevitably, a team member or two will disagree with the direction that the team, as a whole, decides to go in. When that happens, the team member has an obligation to keep his or her ego in check in service to the greater goal of the team. While sharing ideas and resources is vital to teamwork, knowing when to hold your tongue—if it only serves your individual agenda or ego—is just as important.

When each member of a team vows to uphold all seven cornerstones of teamwork, the team becomes so much stronger, creative, and effective. What cornerstone (or cornerstones) do you think is currently missing in your teams?

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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How to Master Debriefs in Organizational Training

The success of organizational training depends on two things: an engaging training experience that is relevant to the work that people do and a meaningful debrief led by a skilled facilitator. If either of these components is missing, the training will fall flat. Without a powerful and memorable training experience, the facilitator will have nothing to draw from to tie it back to the workplace, and they will essentially be presenting information like any other lecture. On the other hand, without a solid debrief, even the best training experience will have limited results, because participants are less likely to link the lessons they learned to their real experiences on the job.

Let’s focus on what it takes to master a debrief in organizational training using a three-step approach.

1. Provide an Engaging Experience That Mimics a Real-Life Problem

Remember-you can’t have a meaningful debrief without the participants first going through a shared experience that requires them to solve the types of problems they face in the workplace. Think of it as a game that parallels real-life activities. The participants are immersed in a different world (the desert, the Wild West, etc.) and are wholly focused on overcoming a challenge, like surviving harsh conditions or mining for gold. Although they might not realize it at the time, the skills they must use to win the game can be applied in the workplace to improve performance. So, the first step to mastering the debrief is providing a memorable experiential learning activity.

2. Share How to Win the Game

After a successful experiential learning session, participants want to know how they did. Everybody wants to win, and after immersing themselves fully in the experience, they want to know what they could have done to achieve the greatest success. This is the facilitator’s chance to share with the group the various skills and behaviors that the teams could have used to perform better.

The specific components will depend on the experience, but it’s critical for the facilitator to clearly outline each component, explain why it is critical for success in the game, and describe how optimal performance leads to success. Defining the essential elements for winning the game leads to the next step: connecting the game to the workplace.

 

3. Translate Winning the Game to Winning in the Real World

After the participants understand what they could have done better to win the game, it’s time for the final (and most important) step in the debrief. At this point, it’s not necessarily clear to the group members that the new skills they learned in the game have any connection to the real world. After all, what does trekking through the desert have to do with managing a project in the office? As it turns out, quite a lot. The planning, preparation, and execution required to make it to the end are all skills that can be applied in the workplace, just in a different context.

The facilitator’s role is to ask how the challenges and successes experienced in the training can be connected to the workplace. The group members will ultimately reach the conclusion that they can make specific behavior changes on the job to achieve better performance. By applying the principles they used to win the game, they can also win at work. In order to do this successfully, the facilitator must do the following things.

BE PREPARED

The facilitator must be able to directly link the experience to the reality that participants face every day. This means being well-versed in the common language used at the organization, the relationships between people and teams, and any other internal nuances that impact behavior.

BE FLEXIBLE

Many activities elicit multiple principles. The facilitator should be prepared to focus on the ones that resonate the most with the group and allow enough time for a deeper discussion. For the concepts that the group members did not grasp as clearly, the facilitator can ask leading questions to allow them to come to the realization that there is more to take away from the experience than meets the eye.

Organizational training is a worthwhile investment, but in order to get the most from an experiential learning activity, an expert debrief is critical. A skilled facilitator who understands the organization and its objectives has the power to make experiential learning not just a game but a powerful event that creates lasting change.

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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Customer Centricity Influences Business Decisions

“Customer centricity” has become a buzzword in certain corporate circles-and lots of businesses like to claim that they subscribe to a customer centric culture. But customer centricity is more than just a marketing tactic. To become a truly customer centric company, the entire company culture must align with putting the customer first-whether customer-facing or non-customer-facing. The customer must be at the center of all decisions made, all day long.

So what does customer centricity, when done right, really look like? Draw inspiration from these three real-world examples from leading organizations that put the customer front and center.

1. Taking a Stand for Both Employees and Customers

In the last few years, there have been a number of retailers making a pretty bold move on the most important retail shopping day of the year: keeping their doors shut on Thanksgiving Day and even Black Friday. At first glance, this move seems to benefit these organizations’ employees most, but when it comes to customer centricity, the way you treat your customers and the way you treat your employees are closely connected. Treating front-line employees well is definitely a customer centric move, because creating a culture of high employee engagement will lead to greater customer satisfaction.

Closing doors on a holiday may not work for every retail business, but for the right organization, one that focuses on delivering quality experiences and sending a message of corporate responsibility, it’s an incredibly smart move. These companies know that customers would expect them to treat employees with dignity and respect, even if it costs the company some revenue. By aligning with their customers’ values, closing on these busy shopping days is a win-win and generates positive social reactions.

Learn how to create the best possible customer experience.

2. Creating Memories for Customers

For many organizations, selling a product isn’t necessarily the core mission or vision for the company; it’s the experience that the company brings to its customers. They are in the business of creating memories, and they do this through a complete dedication to providing a customer centric experience.

What does this look like in a real organization? At all times, every single employee is tasked with making visitors or customers feel welcome and comfortable, whether these tasks are in their job description or not. In fact, all employees should be proactive, not reactive, about customer service. For example, employees are encouraged to approach customers who look confused in order to offer assistance, instead of waiting for them to ask for help. Companies that consistently deliver wow-worthy experiences recognize that executing on the “little” details and creating memorable micro-moments contribute to the overall customer experience. You may never know the impact that keeping every single company surface sparkling clean can have on a customer or visitor—but they will.

To enhance the experience you deliver to customers, you must consider everything your organization does from the customer’s perspective. From tiny decisions (changing from staples to paper clips on billing statements) to large ones (changing your billing structure entirely), you can bet that consumers have an opinion—and you should know their opinion.

3. Using the Customer to Fuel Product Decisions

If you take a look at companies that are updating their products, particularly in the software space, you’ll see a shift away from “features for the sake of features” to something far more inspirational: the customer. Companies can gather more feedback more easily than ever before—and smart ones put it to good use. These organizations pull out actionable themes and questions in customer feedback, such as:

  • Is a product easy to use and intuitive?
  • Does bad design stand in the way of otherwise stellar performance?
  • Is the product top-notch quality?

Instead of chasing the competition, these organizations are chasing their customers’ wish lists—which results in better results for everyone. To accomplish this, the smartest of organizations take the customer centric mission organization-wide. They don’t just ask product development managers to think about product features—they ask finance teams how they too can incorporate user feedback, they ask sales reps for more front-line input, and they focus executives’ initiatives on the same theme. This united approach builds a truly customer centric product and proactive organizational culture.

PaulABOUT THE AUTHOR

As Executive Vice President Global Performance, Paul has extensive experience in consultation, design, and delivery of programs over his 20 year career with Eagle’s Flight. Through his genuine personable approach, Paul is not only a trusted advisor but also a valued partner to his clients; he works seamlessly to ensure that Eagle’s Flight solutions are aligned to their needs and desired outcomes. As a result, Paul is the account executive for Eagle’s Flight largest account. Many of his clients are multi-year accounts from multinational, Fortune 500 companies.

Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight.

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4 Tips for Developing Organizational Training for Large Groups

Bigger may not always be better unless logistics concerns (costs, timing, sense of urgency, etc.) call for large group organizational training. How can you ensure that your large group training is just as effective as a more intimate training event? Here are four things to keep in mind as you develop your company’s organizational training for large groups:

Choose the Right Method

When it comes to organizational training, one size most certainly doesn’t fit all. That’s why developing effective training for large groups starts with choosing the right training method. To ensure you choose the right method for your needs, some questions to consider include:

What kind of ROI do you expect to get out of this training?

  • Whether it’s process improvements, culture transformation, or an actual dollar amount, knowing this will help you determine how much to invest in your large group training.

How many facilitators will you have on hand to assist with training?

  • Having more facilitators means you may be able to break your large group into smaller groups, giving each attendee more individualized attention and chances to participate.

How much time can you commit to your large group training event?

  • Aside from the size of your group, the time you have to devote to your training event may be the largest determining factor in regards to what shape your training takes.

In the past, have your participants “burned out” after a few hours, or have your previous large group training events presented other challenges?

Seek out training that can be tailored to your company’s specific needs, which includes factoring in what might work best for a large group size — and what has (or hasn’t) worked for you in the past. Choosing a tailored solution may require more investment up front, but it’ll pay off in more effective training that serves your company’s unique skill and group needs.

Fuel your organizational development strategy with real-world data. Download the Ultimate Guide to Organizational Development

Make Training Scalable

Trainers face an uphill battle in most training scenarios, as they try to wrangle participants and keep their attention for hours. The battle is intensified when trainers work with large groups! The opportunities for getting distracted are multiplied, and it’s simply a lot harder to facilitate meaningful conversation in a packed room.

Developing training that’s scalable to the size of the group, however, should help mitigate these training challenges. Design (or invest in) training that uses fun, interactive experiences to teach new skills, which often requires breaking larger groups into small teams for the ease of play. This way, participants get a small group, intimate feel, even if your actual training event numbers in the hundreds. Plus, breaking a larger group down into smaller teams also bypasses most of the hassle associated with sharing traditional training through a lecture or PowerPoint format — you don’t have to constantly check in to make sure your audience can hear and see you!

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

When working with large groups, it’s imperative that trained facilitators are thoroughly prepared. The chances that a training session gets derailed increases with more trainees, so having facilitators who know the material inside and out allows them to focus on creating an exceptional training experience, rather than how to simply “manage” the large group if things veer off track. Also, ensure you have enough facilitators to lead your entire group through the training since placing the training burden entirely on one or two individuals will lead to more stress and less learning. Trainees will naturally have questions throughout the training, so having enough facilitators on hand to answer questions without interrupting the entire training experience will ensure smooth sailing.

Invest in Experiential Learning

No matter the group size, effective organizational training sessions all have one thing in common: they incorporate experiential learning. Experiential learning involves designing immersive training activities that mimic the real-world, on-the-job scenarios that trainees encounter on a regular basis. The key, though, is that while experiential learning activities mimic these real-world scenarios, they don’t exactly mirror them. Experiential learning is not reenactment — experiential learning masks the similarities to the real world through fun themes, like a gold digging expedition through the jungle or a journey through the Wild West. Designing training scenarios this way gives trainees a safe space to take risks and learn from failure, which they might not feel comfortable doing in a training activity that looks exactly like a common on-the-job situation. Not to mention, theming your training events makes excitement more palpable, which is especially important when trying to rouse a large group!

Essentially, experiential training allows trainees to learn by doing since they practice the skills they just learned about during the training itself — rather than getting in practice after the training event (when learning decay has already started to impact their training recall). Plus, experiential learning necessitates that you break your large group into smaller teams, making large group training scalable. Through scalable experiential learning activities, each trainee will feel like his or her voice is heard, rather than just another number in the crowd.

If you’ve hosted large group training events in the past, what other strategies did you use to ensure your training was a success?

PaulABOUT THE AUTHOR

As Executive Vice President Global Performance, Paul has extensive experience in consultation, design, and delivery of programs over his 20 year career with Eagle’s Flight. Through his genuine personable approach, Paul is not only a trusted advisor but also a valued partner to his clients; he works seamlessly to ensure that Eagle’s Flight solutions are aligned to their needs and desired outcomes. As a result, Paul is the account executive for Eagle’s Flight largest account. Many of his clients are multi-year accounts from multinational, Fortune 500 companies.

Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight.

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No matter how small or large your organization is, you want employees to approach company events with enthusiasm, not with groans and complaints. Whether the purpose of the gathering is to share information, celebrate a recent success, or plan for the next big thing, it doesn’t have to be a boring day. Plan ahead in order to find an innovative way to make your event exciting, inspiring, and engaging. Of course, whatever you do must be appropriate for the content being delivered, so tailor the event accordingly.

If you need some concepts to get the wheels turning, consider these three company event ideas as you prepare for the next year:

1. Sssh…Can You Keep a Secret?

The buildup to an event can be just as important as the function itself. If you are planning a big reveal (or even a small but exciting one), use a secret-society theme and drop clues in the weeks and months leading up to the event. You can use a range of tactics to pique curiosity and get employees genuinely interested in attending the event. These include:

  • Start a company-wide “secret society” that makes everybody feel part of something special.
  • Send customized invitations to the event.
  • Create associated symbols and language unique to the group.
  • Keep the location a secret until shortly before the event.
  • Use clues in your email communications to share just enough information to pique interest.
  • Use elements of ceremony at the event to keep the theme going.

By cloaking the event in mystery while sharing key pieces of information, attendees will show up ready to participate and eager to learn what all the buzz is about. There are countless other conference theme ideas you can employ if this one isn’t appropriate for your event. No matter what you decide, a fully immersive event will always be more memorable than a conventional conference.

2. Think Outside the Presentation Box

Be bold. Ban slide-based presentations. It may seem like a simple rule, but by forcing presenters to deliver their content in a different way, everybody benefits. Attendees get to see different presentation styles that stave off information fatigue, and presenters get to be creative with their delivery. Some ideas to consider are:

  • Interviews
  • TED-style talks
  • Demonstrations
  • Interactive games
  • Experiential learning
  • Hands-on sessions
  • Panel discussions

You can give presenters these types of alternative ideas or, for a truly surprising event, allow them to use their own creativity to make their presentations captivating. This approach is great for leaders in development to try new communication methods and engage their employees in new ways.

3. Reverse the Roles in an “Unconference”

Sometimes a complete role reversal will bring new topics to light. At least that’s what Silicon Valley entrepreneurs believe when they organize an “unconference.” Based on the theory that the audience collectively has as much or more expertise than a group of presenters, the roles of attendee and conference planner are reversed. In an unconference, you can expect:

  • A loosely structured meeting that evolves based on participant feedback
  • An agenda that is created by participants at the start of the meeting
  • Participant-generated topics
  • Freedom to start a new discussion group at any time
  • More open discussions and fewer (or no) single presenters

An unconference has the potential to spark discussions that might not ever occur in a traditionally structured conference. If you are striving to achieve a culture of innovation, this approach might be right for your organization.

These are just a few company event ideas that can make your next gathering unforgettable. What other company event ideas are you considering for 2017?

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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Providing organizational training that stays with participants long after they’ve consumed the learning material is a tough challenge. When you’re implementing traditional training methods-like lectures or presentations-how can you guarantee that your trainees are even listening? That’s the beauty of experience-based organizational training-it fully immerses participants for learning and behavior change that stays with them long after the training ends. Here are the three big reasons why experiences-and, in particular, experiential learning-are the best organizational training tools for learning that sticks.

Want Organizational Training to Stick Make It an Experience1. Participants Practice While They Learn

At its heart, experiential learning is “learning by doing.” Instead of being taught skills through traditional organizational training methods like passive presentations and then leaving participants to practice those skills on their own time, experiential learning combines skills learning and skills practice in one powerful training session. When we learn by doing, we retain up to 75% of the information we learn. Compare that to retention rates as low as 5% when we learn through lecture-based presentations.

Part of the reason that experience-based experiential learning is so effective is that it allows participants to immediately see the direct correlations between actions and results. Experiential learning takes the guesswork out of the action–consequence equation, leaving participants feeling confident that their newly acquired skills and behaviors will have a direct impact on their work. This also helps build personal conviction about the value of changing behaviors, because participants have seen and experienced firsthand the impact of certain behavior change.

2. Experience-Based Organizational Training Gets Participants Excited and Fully Immersed

One of the reasons why traditional organizational training methods don’t really stick is that they are not engaging or exciting. Lectures or PowerPoint presentations simply require passive participation, which means those lessons can go in one ear and out the other. Experience-based learning, however, requires full, active participation on the part of all trainees. Participants are up and moving, engaged in the experience at hand, instead of falling asleep in their seats!

Experiential learning takes it a step further by theming the learning experiences. The benefit of theming the training experience is twofold. First, themed experiences are simply more exciting than straight simulations or reenactments of workplace scenarios: amping up the fun of your organizational training event and keeping the energy high. Second, theming the training experience provides a safe environment for participants to take risks and learn from failure, which they would be less inclined to do in a training session that obviously mimics a real-world work scenario. Nobody wants to risk failure at work!

3. The Debrief Connects the Dots

For experiential learning to really stick, your organizational training must include a debrief, wherein the skills learned and consequences affected all come together. During the debrief, a facilitator reveals the themed training’s metaphor and how it relates to participants’ daily job responsibilities. The facilitator ensures that participants truly understand the outcomes and connections of the experience so that they can effectively apply their new skills and learning on the job. Conviction crystallizes during the debrief; it provides an “a-ha” moment for the participants, as it clearly links the experience with how to improve on-the-job performance.

Organizational training isn’t just about learning new information; it’s about instilling lasting behavior change. Immersive training experiences increase the chances that your training will actually be retained, making a lasting impact on your employees’ performance.

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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