Team Work

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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.

Leadership

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

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

1. Mentoring and Coaching Initiatives

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

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

2. Leadership Development Programs

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

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

3. Real-World, Real-Time Experiences

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

4. Regular Feedback

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

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

5. Cross-Departmental Learning

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

Below are some ideas for cross-departmental learning:

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

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

IanABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

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

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

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

EF authorABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

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Which Groups of Employees Will Benefit Most from Experiential Learning

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

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

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

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

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

Framing Experiential Learning to Meet a Group’s Perceived Needs

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

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

1. YOUNGER EMPLOYEES

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

2. MID-CAREER EMPLOYEES

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

3. VETERAN EMPLOYESS

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

4. EXECUTIVES

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

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

Dave_RootABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

 

 

Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight

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

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

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

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

Get People Talking

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

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

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

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

Break into Small Groups

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

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

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

Leverage Your Social Power

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

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

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

Provide Time to Recharge and Refuel

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

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

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

IanABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

 

Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight.

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Experiential Learning So Much More Than a Training Game

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many corporate retreats and annual meetings include “training games” intended to foster team-building. While the motives for incorporating these types of activities might be well-founded, the results often fall short of training objectives. A “training game” typically weighs heavily on the game element and less on the training, leaving participants with a few minutes or hours of fun and perhaps some good memories but not much that they can apply to their daily work.

In contrast, experiential learning is less about playing a game and more about creating an immersive experience that fully engages participants. The experience serves as a metaphor for the real world and includes fun and engaging tactics to promote involvement and build enthusiasm, all while teaching valuable skills and behaviors. While experiential learning is certainly fun and engaging, it is distinct from “training games” in that it provides the real results expected to come out of employee training.

It All Starts with the Experience

There is no doubt that experiential learning often employs problem-solving and game-like tactics, but the key differentiator is that it must mimic a challenge or situation that the participants commonly face at work. The experience itself allows participants to become immersed in a totally different scenario, like a murder mystery or the Wild West, while learning and practicing new skills that can be applied on the job. In many cases, trainees are not even aware that they are learning something new, because they are having so much fun trying to solve the presented challenge. Meanwhile, they are safely testing effective new behaviors that contribute to better communication, closer teamwork, and other factors that contribute to improved performance.

The Debrief Drives It Home

The other critical component of experiential learning that is typically overlooked with “training games” is a facilitated debrief. Of course, the quality of the debrief is dependent on the quality of the experience. There is only so much that can be said about the lessons learned when using spoons to pass an egg.

However, even the lessons delivered in the best experiential learning session can be lost on participants without a good debrief. The debrief is a guided discussion that gives individuals the opportunity to link their new knowledge to the challenges they face every day. It is the facilitator’s role to spur conversations that highlight the behaviors that led to success or failure in the experience and then tie them to similar situations in the workplace. To do this, they need to be intimately familiar with the business and the dynamics of the team participating in the training. Without linking the training concepts to the job, you won’t get the most from experiential learning.

For your next conference or annual meeting, think about the “training games” you are planning to incorporate and consider whether or not they will have a meaningful, lasting impact on both participants and the company as a whole. If you can’t clearly define how the game will improve performance on the job, it’s time to explore experiential learning.

EF authorABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

 

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

1. Activities require hands-on participation.

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

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

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

2. Trainees participate as themselves.

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

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

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

3. Activities are designed as a themed metaphor.

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

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

Experiential learning’s themed metaphors provide two big benefits.

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

4. Trainees end with a results-oriented debrief.

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

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

IanABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight.

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The 7 Cornerstones of Teamwork

What separates a good team from a dysfunctional one?

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

1. Leadership

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

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

2. Unanimous focus on a common goal

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

3. Clearly defined roles for subgroups

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

4. Shared resources

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

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

5. Effective and frequent communication

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

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

6. Consistent, united, and enthusiastic effort

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

7. Periodic and temporary suppression of the ego

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

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

IanABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight

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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 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 program that can help get your company on the right track:

Measuring Corporate Training Programs1. 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.

Reblogged from Eagles’s Flight.

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