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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.

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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?


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 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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The primary goal of corporate training is typically to improve performance on an individual, team, or company-wide level. There are multiple ways to achieve this goal, including both a variety of standard training approaches and experiential learning. In many cases, a combination of training methods employed on an ongoing basis provides the most advantages, so it’s useful to understand the benefits of each.

Standard Training-Learning by Reading, Listening or Watching.

Traditional training approaches have been used for decades with varying degrees of success. One of the main advantages of standard training is that once the materials or curriculum has been developed, it is relatively affordable to implement. Some of the tools used for standard training are:

  • Slide-based presentations
  • Videos
  • Digital training platforms
  • Training manuals
  • Classroom lectures
  • Case studies
  • Role-play scenarios
  • Group discussions
  • Exercises and activities

Although all of these standard training methods can be useful, they also come with limitations. In many cases, it is easy for participants to tune out, especially if they have no reason to actively participate. Following up a training session with a quiz can help increase engagement, but the forgetting curve tells us that much of the information that participants learned is forgotten within days or weeks of the training.

Experiential Learning—Learning by Doing

In contrast to standard training, experiential learning requires participants to actively engage in an immersive challenge that mirrors problems they face in the real world. The themed activity creates a metaphor for these real-world challenges and allows participants to solve them in a safe space, often without realizing that they are learning something new. By working together to find the best solution, trainees can test, learn, and hone new skills that can then be applied in the workplace.

The key to a successful experiential learning event is a skillful debrief that connects the lessons learned in the activity to the real world. Therefore, it is crucial for a facilitator to highlight the metaphor, as it enables the participants to see the parallels between the experience and the real world and also how they can improve performance on the job.

Learning by doing is one of the most effective ways to combat learning decay and create lasting change in an organization. Participants leave the training not only with new skills that they can practice on the job, but with a strong desire to improve performance. Because they just experienced how successful they can be, they are eager to make a positive change in the workplace.

Combine Training Methods for Maximum Effect

Fortunately, you don’t have to decide between these two corporate training approaches. Combining standard training with experiential learning offers the best of both worlds. Starting the day with experiential learning will spark enthusiasm and encourage participants to continue to stay engaged. They will also be better able to connect with the training content after viscerally experiencing how their actions can have an impact, especially if other training sessions reference the skills obtained during the experiential learning event.
Organizations that take a multi-faceted training approach get the benefits of affordable training methods that are relatively easy to deploy, along with powerful experiential learning events that have the potential to create lasting performance improvement.


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 by 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.


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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I am certain you have experienced this conundrum before: You’ve led participants through a training program, and all the indications are that they seem to understand the material. Many of them even ace the retention quizzes you’ve designed, so you know the learning has taken root yet their behavior on the job hasn’t changed.

Capture the Heart & Mind in Your Organization's Training ProgramsIf you’ve found yourself in this scenario when implementing training programs, it’s because you haven’t truly captured the hearts and minds of your participants. Participants not only need to learn new skills during training, they need to understand “what’s in it for them.” Yes…WIIFT! That’s what leads to true behavior change. Below are the two elements every one of your training programs must embrace in order to capture hearts and minds.

Build Personal Conviction

In order to capture the hearts and minds of your participants so that they actually apply the skills and behaviors they’ve learned post-training, you must build conviction during your training programs. In everything we do as humans, we hold on tightly to our beliefs, and those beliefs become part of our identities. If you have participants who believe strongly in doing something a certain way, then having them engage in training programs that attempt to teach new behaviors may seem like a personal attack on their beliefs and convictions—and even themselves. Yes, training can be an emotional minefield!

The solution is simple: In order to change hearts and minds, you must build conviction. Okay, maybe not simple, but very, very doable. You can intentionally design your training programs to capture a person’s conviction from the start. Experiential learning—that’s it! You must create experiences that viscerally engage participants, making them feel personally affected by the need for and value of learning new skills and changing behaviors. When participants physically and emotionally engage in experiential training, they are in effect mirroring their current reality. Through an experience, you can demonstrate how new behaviors improve the current reality, allowing your participants to become far more open to changing their behaviors on the job. The result is that new skills are taught and that there is a conviction that those new skills have the power to change a person’s current realities for the better. It is widely accepted that the more senses you use in learning, the more of an impact there will be on you as a learner—learning by doing is the perfect example of this.

Model Behaviors Through Leadership

What happens if you design your training programs to teach new behaviors and build personal conviction, but the day after your training, participants see one of the leaders of the company engaging in behaviors that go directly against what your training just taught? Your participants wouldn’t feel the urgency to change their behaviors anymore, as they may be thinking, If he can do it, then so can I.

For better or for worse, employees look to their leaders to figure out what behaviors are acceptable in the workplace. That’s why it’s so important to not only get budget buy-in from company leaders but their ongoing support and engagement too. Your company leaders must understand that they are responsible for training outcomes, even if they have a team implementing them, and that not supporting training initiatives by refusing to change their own behaviors undermines the efficacy of training altogether. “Do as I say, not as I do” just doesn’t work when it comes to capturing the hearts and minds of your people.

Keep in mind that when we say a company’s leadership must model the behaviors it wants to see in employees, we mean all levels of leadership: executives, middle management, and front-line supervisors. Often, however, you lose the hearts and minds of lower-level leadership as you rope them into modeling and motivating new behaviors learned by their supervisors during training programs. They may not understand the importance of the training and remain uncommitted to it, or they might not have the same communication skills needed to motivate their employees that higher levels of leadership possess. Investing in leadership training for all levels of leadership will ensure your other training programs are more effective. Leadership training teaches new skills and instills conviction, arming all levels of leaders with the tools they need to support their colleagues in new training initiatives.

What other strategies have you used to capture the hearts and minds of participants—and leadership—for your training programs?


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.

Reblogged from Eagle’s Flight.

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In two recent Eagle’s Flight blog posts, we discussed the experiential learning spectrum and eight essential component that make experiential learning effective. The first post identifies experiential learning as a fun and engaging activity that teaches new skills or concepts that can be applied in the real world:

Linking Experiential Learning to Business RelevanceExperiential learning falls in the middle of the spectrum. It has the benefits of fun and engaging activities but also provides some of the value that simulations offer in their realism. The key to successful experiential learning is to create a scenario that mirrors a common workplace situation but does not mimic it exactly.

The second post breaks down the many factors that contribute to a successful experiential learning event. The last in this list-a results-based debrief-is a critical element:

All of the fun, immersive, engaging activities in an experiential learning event culminate in a debrief that links the experience to the real world. The behavior that caused a desirable effect and led to a successful result can be applied on the job. Without this link, participants might have had a fun day where they learned something new, but they don’t know what to do with that new knowledge. The debrief is the opportunity to tie it all together.

This article discusses the crux of experiential learning: linking the engaging learning activity to business relevance in order to produce lasting results in the workplace.


Linking experiential learning to business relevance allows employees to translate their new skills to the job, but you can’t expect participants to connect these dots on their own. An experienced facilitator who has become familiar with the business is responsible for making the learning experience relevant to the business.

The first step in an experiential learning event is for the facilitator to explain the activity and define the goals, expectations, and criteria for success. For example, the goal of the activity might be for the group to solve a series of crimes as quickly as possible. The facilitator explains that the team will be given a series of clues and that the team must work together to prioritize and organize the information in order to find the culprits before time runs out.

The group then completes the activity while the facilitator introduces new skills along the way. These helpful tips allow the teams to stay focused and make faster decisions, ultimately leading to the end goal: The crimes are solved!

After the experience is over, the facilitator describes all the steps and skills necessary to win the challenge. He or she highlights the tactics used by the most successful teams and provides feedback about the best possible solutions. Because everybody in the room just shared the same experience and faced the same challenges, they are eager to learn how they did in comparison to others and how they could have done better. The next step is to discuss how those same new concepts and skills can be applied to similar scenarios at work.

Of course, you don’t typically have to solve murder mysteries in the office, but an immersive experience for your team of detectives can help the entire team learn how to run meetings more effectively. By going through the experience of working together to quickly come to decisions in a high-pressure environment with tight deadlines, participants can see how the same skills can be applied on the job. The context might be different, but the core concepts and all of the skills that the group just practiced together can be successfully applied to make meetings more effective.

However, without a skillful facilitator to lead the debrief, this important linkage could be lost on the group. Because experiential learning is so immersive and engaging, participants can be caught up in the excitement of the game. In fact, that’s the whole point: to take them out of their usual mindset and teach new skills while having fun. The goal is to harness this excitement and get participants to apply it at work.


Connecting the experience to real life is an essential component of the learning event, and there are several reasons why this important step should not be skipped:

  • Translating theory to practice – As mentioned above, participants must be explicitly shown how what they learn can be applied on the job so that they can successfully apply their new skills in the real world.
  • Producing measurable results – The whole point of experiential learning is to produce results in the workplace. Whether you want to be more productive or create a culture of customer centricity it is important to define metrics and measure the results. If participants don’t know what the expectations are, you can’t assume that they will succeed.
  • Improving ROI – Experiential learning is fun, but at the end of the day, you need to know that it was worth the investment. Linking the event to business relevance and following up with measurement to track behavior change will allow you to maximize the return on the investment.

Because linking the learning event to business relevance is such an important piece of the puzzle, it’s critical to work with an experienced facilitator who takes the time to learn about your specific business challenges. Unless he or she can speak the same language as the participants, he or she will not be able to make the strong connections that are necessary for achieving long-term behavior change in the workplace.


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.

Reblogged from Eagle’s Flight.

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Most training managers agree that effective measurement is a major contributor to achieving improvement goals. However, is it possible that too much measurement can have a negative impact?. The answer is yes. Like chocolate or fine wine, you can have too much of a good thing when it comes to training measurement.


The first step to solving any problem is identifying it. If you see any of these signs, it’s time to consider re-evaluating your measurement strategy:

  • Training measurement gets in the way of doing the actual work
  • Employees complain that it takes too much time to track all the data points
  • Complaints that there are too many tracking systems in place
  • You can’t find the time to prioritize and analyze the data.

Employee Training MeasurementWhile it’s true that good measurement data is essential for tracking progress, if you’re drowning in it you won’t be able to make any meaningful changes.

You might also like: Training & Development Secrets for Changing Behavior & Driving Organizational Growth

How do you solve this problem?

  • Cull your data points – Take a hard look at what you are currently measuring and how much of it you actually use. Chances are you could stop tracking certain data and never notice that it’s missing.
  • Streamline your measurement system – If employees have to spend an onerous amount of time entering data into a range of spreadsheets, your measurement strategy could be getting in the way of the job. Consider a digital measurement system that automates data collection and allows you to use a single platform across all departments.
  • Select the right measurement tools – Ensuring that you use the right tools for the job is a key factor in streamlining a measurement strategy. Switching to a digital system is a good first step, but within that you must select the appropriate combination of tools such as feedback surveys, knowledge quizzes, multi-rater assessments, and more.
  • Make sure you are using the most appropriate metrics – Every organization has unique goals, and your training measurement approach should be consistent with your internal objectives.


One problem that goes hand in hand with too much measurement is focusing on the wrong metrics. For example, metrics such as job satisfaction levels and training completions are important and valuable, but they don’t really give you the type of information that allows you to make meaningful improvements in the business. However, metrics that illuminate how the training is impacting individual jobs and the workplace as a whole will allow you to make more informed business decisions and more effectively measure training results.

For example, say you have identified a problem that many people are cancelling a software subscription because the program does not meet the purchaser’s expectations. You have determined that this is a result of the support team not sufficiently educating customers and have decided that it is worth investing in a training initiative to reduce these types of cancellations. In this case, a targeted measurement strategy might include:

How do you solve this problem?

  • Clearly define your training goals – Identify the problems you want to solve or areas for improvement and be as specific as possible.
    Example: Reduce subscription cancellations due to dissatisfaction by 25%.
  • Determine the relevant key performance indicators – Define what exactly you need to measure to monitor progress.
    Example: Track the number of customers who call to cancel versus those who subsequently decide to keep their subscription.
  • Measure consistently and often – Ongoing measurement allows you make course corrections along the way and identify which areas need improvement.
    Example: Gather subscription cancellation data for each member of the support team on a weekly basis and analyze it once each month.

This approach allows you to see which representatives are using the information delivered at the employee training, and which ones have not changed their approach to cancellation calls. Ongoing measurement enables you to take action such as refresher trainings, rewarding individuals who excel, and identifying other areas that need work.

There is no simple answer to how much training measurement is appropriate for every organization, but if you determine which data matters the most, streamline your measurement process, and use the data to produce meaningful results, you are on the right track.


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.

Reblogged from Eagle’s Flight.

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If you’re looking to transform your training so that participants are fully engaged, motivated to apply new skills on the job, and able to remember and perform those skills long after training has ended–then experiential learning is your answer. As you explore your options for experiential training, though, keep in mind that true experiential learning must meet a rather specific set of criteria to be successful. We’ve developed four priorities that experiential learning must address each and every time for optimal results:

What Is Experiential Learning?

The 4 Priorities That Experiential Learning Must AddressBefore we dive into the four priorities, here’s an idea of what experiential learning in action looks like: An experiential learning session is an immersive, hands-on training experience that reflects the real-world work scenarios that participants often find themselves in. Crucially, however, these experiences don’t directly mirror real-world scenarios. Instead, they mask the similarities between the learning activity and a participant’s day-to-day reality by using a fun and engaging theme—like a journey through the jungle or an expedition through the Wild West. Having participants engage in an activity that parallels the real world without directly mirroring it creates a safe, supportive environment that encourages participants to take thought-out risks and try new strategies to solve problems.

Read an Exclusive Chapter From the Book Experiential Learning: Changing Behavior to Improve Performance

Experiential Learning’s Four Core Priorities

To make these priorities easy to understand and remember, we’ve branded them thusly: Heart, Head, Hands, and Harvest. Here’s what each priority means and why it’s crucial for success through experiential learning.

1. Heart: Building conviction to engage all participants

It’s hard to care about something that you don’t feel personally invested in. That’s the problem with many traditional training programs, particularly those of the “lecture” or role-play variety. When trainees aren’t fully participating, they’re not necessarily invested in the learning outcomes. In experiential learning activities, however, every trainee participates—and the outcome of the learning activity hinges on the participant’s behavior. There’s a direct correlation between what a participant does and the result of the activity, which builds real conviction and personal responsibility to want to explore new behaviors.

2. Head: Transmitting knowledge so that participants understand

At its heart, any kind of training program is essentially about transmitting knowledge. What sets experiential learning apart in this priority is much higher success rates when it comes to retaining that knowledge. Too many training programs—like those that rely on PowerPoint presentations, for example—attempt to transmit knowledge passively. With this approach, learning goes in one ear and out the other, so participants may never fully understand the material. Experiential learning is different because it allows participants to both learn and practice new skills all in one go. This way, participants “learn by doing,” which study after study has revealed leads to greater, longer-lasting learning outcomes.

3. Hands: Understanding what actions to take to put new knowledge to use and see real behavior change

In other words, the information learned during training must shift from theoretical to practical—and this is where a lot of traditional training programs fall short. Participants may learn about new skills during a training, but they’re often left to figure out how to apply those new skills to their actual jobs by themselves.

With experiential learning, a debrief session connects the dots between learning and action. After participants have completed their themed experiential learning activity, a training facilitator guides a debrief session, where they discuss and reveal how to “win” at the activity. For example, the facilitator engages the participants in a discussion about what behaviors, skills, and strategies the participants would have displayed to have achieved a better result in the activity. But here’s the truly crucial part: The facilitator then links the participant answers to business relevance. They show that the principles necessary to win in the activity are directly applicable to “winning” at work. Participants walk away from the experience knowing exactly how to change their behaviors at work in order to bring about new results, and they have some practice already under their belts, thanks to the immersive nature of experiential learning.

4. Harvest: Producing results

Every experiential learning activity should have clear, measurable, objective expectations about how the new behaviors should be applied back in the workplace and what results those new behaviors are expected to produce. When you invest in an experiential learning training program, it’s important to know what the learning outcome should be and what success looks like. For lasting results, experiential learning activities should be paired with retention programs that reinforce learning for participants with fun games, testing that measures the impact and retention of learning, and development programs that build in support from leadership and managers.

When taken together, experiential learning’s four priorities bridge the gap between knowledge and action. Participants not only learn new skills, but they reinforce those skills with real-time practice, link the skills to real work outcomes, and commit to changing their behavior by taking personal responsibility for results.

Does your current training method address the four core priorities above? If not, what’s missing—and how do you think that’s impacting your training?

About the Author

JohnSince 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.

Reblogged from Eagle’s Flight.

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Hacking the Innovation Process How to Encourage Teams to Think BigThe innovation process can be used in any business area to improve a product, service, or method, and like any other type of process, innovation can be structured and taught. Putting the brightest minds in a room together is a good first step, but without clear guidance about how to generate big ideas, their time together might not be as productive as it could be. Rather than waiting for a single light-bulb moment to occur, lay the groundwork that puts multiple great ideas on the table.

When trying to get the most from the innovation process, there are steps you can take to boost creativity and spark new ideas. On the other hand, negativity and fear can stifle the innovation process. Let’s look at both sides of the innovation coin and what you can do to invoke inspiration and shut out cynicism.


Enhance the Innovation Process

The innovation process can be improved by using methods like brainstorming, ideation, and reinforcement. A good team leader will also have skills that keep the group focused, move the conversation forward, and optimize the effectiveness of the team.


Everybody is familiar with brainstorming, but not everybody uses techniques to make it more effective. A typical brainstorming session starts with a single question and captures the responses. This process can certainly generate new ideas, but you can push innovation by using these types of prompts:

  • Let’s build on that idea
  • How can we reshape that concept?
  • What can we do to get other stakeholders to agree?
  • Let’s generate more great ideas like that one
  • How can we make that idea work?

They might seem like simple questions and comments, but sometimes all it takes is a gentle push in the right direction to get the team to open up and explore the idea further.

Read an Exclusive Chapter From the Book Experiential Learning: Changing Behavior to Improve Performance


Great ideas don’t always have to come out of thin air. Sometimes making improvements to existing products or processes can be just as effective as starting from scratch. Use some of the following words to spark a conversation about how to innovate with the resources you already have:

  • Combine
  • Substitute
  • Simplify
  • Stretch
  • Reduce
  • Exaggerate
  • Imitate

This process can also lead to other great ideas. When the wheels start to turn about how you can modify one thing, it’s not unusual for people to start thinking that way about other areas of improvement.

Watch out for Innovation Killers

Nothing kills the innovation process faster than fear. If participants are worried that their ideas will be considered stupid or impossible, they will be less likely to share their thoughts. Creating an environment of acceptance and support is critical to a successful culture of innovation. Of course, not every new concept will work, but unless the team feels free to think boldly, you could miss out on the next big idea.

Language that Causes Ideas to Languish

The early stages of the innovation process must be unfettered if you truly want your team members to think big. If they are constantly thinking about the practicality of implementation or the associated costs, the most innovative ideas will dwindle to safe suggestions. Avoid this type of language if you want to get the most from the innovation process:

  • We shouldn’t rock the boat too much
  • Just to play devil’s advocate…
  • It’s a good theory, but it’s not very practical
  • It’s too expensive
  • That never worked before

Whether or not they are true, these types of statements will stop innovation in its tracks. Sure, the original idea might be impossible, but by approaching it with a can-do attitude throughout the entire innovation process, the end result could be groundbreaking.

If you want to encourage teams to think big, give them the tools they need to succeed. Offer training to improve the innovation process and nip negativity in the bud to let new ideas flourish.


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.

Reblogged from Eagle’s Flight.

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In recent years, there seems to have been a widening gap in the corporate training world between expectations and reality. According to a Deloitte survey published in 2015, managers claimed that the area of learning and development was more important than ever and yet, at the same time, they admit that they’ve become even less prepared to meet learning and development needs.
Let’s make 2017 the year to turn things around. Here are four promising trends surrounding the measurement and assessment of corporate training programs that can help get your company on the right track:

1. Focus on Real Needs, First

Forget the bells and whistles of fancy corporate training programs for a moment, because it’s time to get back to basics which means deciding what your training needs really are. This seems like a crucial step in training development, but it’s one that’s often overlooked. Companies may chase after vendor-supplied corporate training programs that will claim to solve all of their problems (without understanding what those problems are), or they rely on the outdated in-house training they’ve always used—even if needs have shifted.

2017 will see a renewed effort to match up corporate training programs with real, demonstrated needs, rather than just going through the motions. This means taking stock of the company’s current realities by meeting with key leadership one on one and identifying what’s enabling your current level of success and what’s blocking you from going even higher.

2. Defining a Baseline for Measurement

In the same vein as the above, corporate training programs need to shift focus from what goes on during training to what happens before it begins. When it comes to measurement, that means clearly defining what you will measure as a result of the training. And, obviously, to measure improvement, you must first measure where you are.

In 2017, it’s time to get granular. Once you’ve established an understanding of your company’s “big picture” current reality, use measurement tools—like organizational surveys—to develop tangible numbers and specifics that speak to that reality. Developing a clear, specific baseline results in well-designed, responsive corporate training programs that make measuring ROI a whole lot easier.

3. Develop On-Demand Learning—and Measurement

The use of cutting-edge technology in corporate training programs has been on the rise for years. While nothing can replace immersive, experiential learning, there is most definitely a place for technology in training, especially as a learning retention tool.

Today’s workers—which is now composed of more than 53 million Millennials—crave on-demand learning at their fingertips. To meet this craving, companies should look into developing retention programs that take the form of apps, which can work on computers and mobile phones and are fun, short, and effective. With up to 70 percent of training being lost to learning decay within just one week, easy-to-use and addictively engaging retention activities should help stop up the learning leak.

Plus, it’s easier and faster to track learning gains through technology. While employees are engaging in learning and retention games on their phones, companies are able to collect real-time data on learning improvements to measure progress. This allows them to make quicker decisions about changes to their corporate training programs or retention strategies. Watch for more of a focus not just on tech and learning but also on tech and measurement in 2017.

4. Bringing Training and Business Strategy Together

Perhaps the biggest trend in 2017 will be a continuation of the recent push to marry HR direction and business strategy—and measurement will play a huge role. As competition for highly skilled employees remains high, training and retaining top talent become just as much a strategic initiative as an HR one. Thus, determining ROI becomes more important than ever, as it’s an indication of whether your training is working or not, yes, but it’s also an indication of whether or not a company is retaining its competitive edge.

2017 can also be the year that companies dig deeper with assessments. In addition to more traditional assessment and measurement tactics like surveys and tests, companies should also explore how assessments can help prime the leadership pipeline—which should be a major strategic initiative for any forward-thinking organization. Companies can use post-training assessments to discover those employees who have made the largest learning gains, which is an impressive feat which higher-ups should take notice of. Plus, assessments of high performers before training can be used to identify the common competencies that a company’s highest performers share. Then, training can be designed to deliver those competencies, thus ensuring a pipeline of top talent ready to step into leadership roles when they are needed.

A clear strategy for measuring results is crucial to any successful corporate training program. What trends in measurement do you think we’ll see—or need to see—in 2017?


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.

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