experiential strategical training

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

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

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

Should Workplace Learning Be FunFun Learning Increases Engagement

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

Fun Learning Supports Learning Retention

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

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

The Key to Making Learning Fun and Effective: Experiential Learning

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

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

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

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

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

Dave_RootABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight.

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

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

Skill Set Versus Mindset

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

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

How Experiential Learning Engages the Rational and Emotional Mind

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

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

HEART : BUILD CONVICTION

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

HEAD : PROVIDE KNOWLEDGE

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

HAND: TEACH SKILLS

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

HARVEST: SEE RESULTS

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

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

Start with Mindset, Finish with Skill Set

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

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

MichaelABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight.

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The 7 Cornerstones of Teamwork

What separates a good team from a dysfunctional one?

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

1. Leadership

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

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

2. Unanimous focus on a common goal

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

3. Clearly defined roles for subgroups

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

4. Shared resources

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

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

5. Effective and frequent communication

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

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

6. Consistent, united, and enthusiastic effort

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

7. Periodic and temporary suppression of the ego

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

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

IanABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight

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How to Master Debriefs in Organizational Training

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

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

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

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

2. Share How to Win the Game

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

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

 

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

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

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

BE PREPARED

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

BE FLEXIBLE

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

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

EF authorABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight.

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Customer Centricity Influences Business Decisions

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

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

1. Taking a Stand for Both Employees and Customers

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

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

Learn how to create the best possible customer experience.

2. Creating Memories for Customers

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

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

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

3. Using the Customer to Fuel Product Decisions

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

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

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

PaulABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight.

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4 Tips for Developing Organizational Training for Large Groups

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

Choose the Right Method

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Make Training Scalable

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

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

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

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

Invest in Experiential Learning

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

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

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

PaulABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight.

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Experiential-Learning-vs-Standard-Training-Whats-the-Difference-e1488260735469

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

Standard Training-Learning by Reading, Listening or Watching.

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

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

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

Experiential Learning—Learning by Doing

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

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

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

Combine Training Methods for Maximum Effect

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

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 by Eagle’s Flight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. The Debrief Connects the Dots

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

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

EF authorABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight.

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

1. Focus on Real Needs, First

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

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

2. Defining a Baseline for Measurement

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

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

3. Develop On-Demand Learning—and Measurement

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

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

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

4. Bringing Training and Business Strategy Together

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

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

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

 

MichaelAbout the author

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

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