Team work in the Workplace

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6 Exercises to Improve Teamwork in the Workplace for Large and Small Groups

Promoting teamwork in the workplace creates opportunities to improve communication and collaboration skills, as well as forging stronger personal connections, which fosters a welcoming and supportive workplace culture. Plus, teamwork exercises allow your teammates to learn about one another’s strengths, which can be used to work better together as a team on the job.

Opportunities often exist between larger team-building initiatives so you can gather your team and run short, fun exercises to promote the continued development of the above skills. It will be important to clarify to your team why they’re doing the exercise, make it fun, and host a debrief session to wrap up the purpose of the exercise.

You can implement these six exercises for your team, and in the areas where you will see a benefit:

1. Company Concentration – Reinforces Company Culture

Use this classic memory game to teach team members more about your organization and each other. Create cards with facts and photos, like the company’s founding date, individuals’ names/faces, product specifications, etc. There should be two versions of each card. Face the cards down in a grid pattern on a table, and have players flip them up one at a time, flipping them back down after each turn. The goal is to match the duplicate cards by remembering their placement in the grid; in the process, players will also be memorizing the company and teammate facts.

2. Group Timeline – Strengthens Relationships

This interactive activity is a fantastic opportunity to explore the team and company culture by giving people a chance to learn more about the company and others, thus creating a shared sense of history. You will need to create a timeline (either physically or virtually) that extends back a period of history for your team or company. Pin important organizational dates to the timeline, like big product launches and mergers. Then ask everybody to pin up a few important moments in their own lives. Team members will learn more about each other, their generational differences, and their breadth of experience. This is both a fun, cultural exercise and one that promotes collaboration and understanding.

3. Progressive Brainstorming – Improves Communication

If quieter voices on your team are getting lost, progressive brainstorming will be a great opportunity to ensure that everyone on the team is heard, even the more introverted members. Progressive brainstorming means you bring forward a problem and brainstorm solutions for it. Instead of calling out ideas, have the first team member write down their idea for a solution. Pass the paper around the group so that each member adds his or her own new ideas or builds on the existing ones. Everyone gets the chance to participate, promotes different communication styles, and allows you to practically and uniquely solve a problem faced by your team. As a bonus, this can be done virtually with remote teams as well!

4. Shared Journal – Promotes Collaboration and Company Culture

While a shared journal may seem like an odd team-building activity, it’s actually a great, low-pressure opportunity for coworkers to learn more about each other; they can use it to contribute to a team and organizational culture of fun and collaboration. This is how it works. Put a journal and writing supplies in a communal area in your office (such as a lunch room) and open it up to coworkers. This exercise can be easily modified to work virtually for remote teams! The journal can act as a space to write inspirational quotes, paste in event mementos, impart office expertise, share office moments, and more. After a set amount of time, gather your team and debrief the experience: what were the benefits, did you learn anything new, how does this support our culture, and so on.

5. Find the Connections – Reinforce the Importance of Relationships

People who don’t often interact need opportunities for discussion as well as the chance to forge relationships that support better departmental communication and collaboration. This can be done in an easy-to-implement exercise. Divide your team or department into smaller groups; each group can submit at least one thing each member has in common. Finding points of commonality will help your team members to see each other as more than just coworkers, but as human beings not so different from themselves. That can go a long way toward creating a culture of psychological safety in your team. This exercise can also be taken to virtual meeting spaces!

6. Explore Possibilities – Fosters Innovation

For the team that lacks creative, out-of-the-box thinking, which is necessary in a culture of innovation, this exercise can be made truly fun! Take a lunch, buy pizza for the team, and gather random objects from around the office (stapler, chair, fork, and so on). Let your team members brainstorm alternate uses for each one. While the purpose of the exercise may not be explicit to some team members, when you debrief its purpose, your team members will more clearly see the connections to their life on the job.

When people get the chance to tackle challenges with their coworkers in interactive situations outside of their daily tasks, they get to know one another as individuals with their own sets of strengths, weaknesses, and passions. Promoting teamwork in the workplace through collaborative and fun exercises fosters personal connections and strengthens crucial teamwork skills, leading to higher-performing and culturally strong teams.
About the author
Ian_ProfileIan has been with Eagle’s Flight since 1997, and is Executive Vice President, Global Accounts. He holds an MBA in Finance and Marketing from the University of British Columbia. Ian spent 12 years at Nestlé Canada and brings a wide range of experience that includes practical business experience in management, sales, program design, development and mentoring. He works closely with the Global licensees to ensure their success as they represent Eagle’s Flight in the worldwide marketplace. He has developed outstanding communication skills and currently is the Executive in Charge of a large Fortune 500 client with a team of employees dedicated to this specific account. As a result, Ian has been instrumental in driving the company’s growth and strategic direction.

corporate event planning

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

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

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

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

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

PRODUCE A BLOCKBUSTER MOVIE

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

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

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

YOUR MISSION HAS BEEN ASSIGNED

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

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

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

 

 

Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight.

 

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Which Groups of Employees Will Benefit Most from Experiential Learning

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

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

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

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

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

Framing Experiential Learning to Meet a Group’s Perceived Needs

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

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

1. YOUNGER EMPLOYEES

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

2. MID-CAREER EMPLOYEES

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

3. VETERAN EMPLOYESS

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

4. EXECUTIVES

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

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

Dave_RootABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

 

 

Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight

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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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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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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?

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.

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.

HOW TO LINK EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING TO BUSINESS RELEVANCE.

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.

WHY LINK EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING TO BUSINESS RELEVANCE?

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_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.

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.

BRAINSTORM BETTER

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

START WITH WHAT YOU HAVE

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.

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.

Reblogged from Eagle’s Flight.

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mind-the-gap-whats-missing-from-most-team-building-training-programs

The scenario is all too familiar; your company’s executive leadership team understands the importance of team building training, and you spend plenty of time and money every year executing training initiatives, but you’re just not seeing the results you had anticipated.

While recognizing the importance of team building already puts you ahead of the pack, it sounds like the training you’re investing in right now is missing something. Consider these four elements that most team building training programs overlook to fill in the gap in your own training:

Training That’s Practical

It’s not enough to get a team in a room together and hope they bond over team building training activities you’ve you’ve pieced together from various sources. Training must be strategic and practical.

  • Is your training immediately applicable to the participants’ day-to-day job?
  • Are you providing solutions to real-world problems?
  • Do you have a way to measure the results of your team building training?

If you’ve answered “no” to these questions, then you will not be getting the most from your training budget.

Choosing an experiential learning method for your next team building initiative will help ensure your training is both strategic and practical. Experiential learning is discovery-based learning comprised of, immersive elements that mimic real-world scenarios in which participants find themselves daily. These activities involve learning by doing, which means your team will be practicing the new skills they’re learning during the training itself, rather than passively learning about them and having to practice on the job later.

A Theme That Excites and Aids Learning

Sometimes the problem with team building training isn’t that it’s not practical, it’s just plain boring. Using themes during training will add energy to your initiative! Theming will transport your participants to another “world,” where they can loosen up and have fun learning, instead of thinking about how they’re supposed to be acting. Which sounds like more fun, acting out a simulation of a team meeting or putting on your “engineer” hat to build a bridge to span an ecosystem?

Incorporating a theme into your team building training is about more than amping up the fun. When you theme your events, you’re taking participants out of their day-to-day realities, which means they’ll be more likely to take risks during the training. They may even “fail”, which is a great learning tool! When training looks too much like a real job scenario, participants are hesitant to stretch themselves, out of fear of failure.

Leadership Training for Teams

It’s true that there’s no “I” in team, but the most successful teams do have designated leaders. While many team building programs focus on improving communication skills and problem-solving together, leadership training is often reserved for colleagues at the management level. When training is designed this way, teams miss out. That’s because team leaders are often designated based on their expertise in a field—not their experience with leading—so team leaders may feel lost and unsupported in their new leadership roles. Investing in leadership training for team leaders will give these new leaders the skills needed to garner top results with their teams.

Team Building Training for Remote Employees

While more and more companies are allowing employees a level of freedom to work from home, when it comes to team building, these remote workers are often forgotten, and that’s a detriment to the company. These remote employees still work in teams! Consider ways to include these employees in training, like through live, web-based workshops. Sometimes, though, there’s just no substitute for an in-person t training event. If many of your employees are remote, it could pay off big-time to host an off-site training that brings employees together for some valuable face-to-face time. Let’s face it: It’s hard to connect over email, so an in-person event can strengthen relationships between colleagues while providing opportunities for practical, experiential learning-based team training.

What other key elements do you think your team building training initiative is missing?

About the Author

sue

Sue, an authority on training and development, has over 20 years of experience in the creation and delivery of programs and custom designed training solutions for Eagle’s Flight. As Chief Operating Officer, Sue’s vast senior leadership experience and facilitation has established her as a trusted partner and organizational development expert for numerous Fortune 500 companies.

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