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4 Ways to Improve and Protect Your Credibility as a Training ManagerAs a training manager, you have to walk a fine line between, on one hand, meeting budget expectations and learning benchmarks set by company leadership and, on the other hand, delivering training that employees are actually excited to engage in. It can be a lot to balance, and you want to make a good impression on both sides of that line! Luckily, strengthening your credibility as a training manager goes hand in hand with strengthening your training offerings and how you present them to management and participants. Here are four ways to protect and improve your credibility while designing an exceptional training program in the process.

1. Focus on changing behavior for lasting results.

When you’re trying to get training buy-in from executives, you can improve your credibility by focusing on the end result: changed behavior. Training sessions are often framed as opportunities to learn new skills in a safe, supportive environment. Savvy training managers, however, understand that strategic training is not just about learning new skills—it’s about creating lasting behavior change. When it comes time to get budget buy-in from your company’s leaders for new training initiatives, frame your training not just as an opportunity for professional development but as a strategy for increasing employee productivity and effectiveness. Teaching participants how to improve behaviors, and supporting their behavior transformations after the training with retention programs, translates to on-the-job results. Higher productivity and effectiveness lead to higher ROI—an outcome that your leaders respect and expect.

2. Implement training that’s a proven success.

So, how do you change behavior through training? This is where experiential learning comes in. Through hands-on, discovery-based exercises, trainees “learn by doing” so that they’re able to learn new skills and practice them in one fell swoop. This approach to learning works: Studies have shown that with experience-based learning, people have a 70 percent recall of what they learned (compare that to just a five percent recall for passive learning methods). Plus, experiential learning not only is easier for trainees to remember, but it creates personal conviction—a necessary ingredient for true behavior change—by involving the trainees in the training itself.

3. Be clear that your training is more than “just a game.”

If your company hasn’t engaged in experience-based learning before, you may get some pushback—both from leadership and the trainees themselves. Sometimes, trainers may hear from trainees that they “don’t like games” or don’t see how a game relates to work. This viewpoint is understandable, because so many experience-based activities just feel like busywork with no deeper purpose.

Experiential learning, however, is different—because the skills and knowledge needed to change behavior are built into the experience itself. That usually becomes evident once the experience gets underway and trainees sink their teeth into the challenge. If you get pushback from someone who thinks a training “game” is just a time-waster, simply ask the participant to try the experience for a few minutes to really see if this is the kind of “game” that they dislike. They’ll soon become so engrossed in the real challenge at hand that they’ll forget their doubts.

4. Connect learning to real-world outcomes.

Improve your credibility as a training manager by ensuring that you’re focusing not just on the fun, immersive part of the training experience but also on what comes after: the debrief. In experiential learning, the debrief is when facilitators make the important connections between what participants just experienced in the learning activity and how that relates to their actual jobs. During the debrief, facilitators reveal that the same strategies that participants use to succeed during the training exercise can be used to succeed at work. For many participants, the debrief represents the “aha!” part of the training, where the value of the training clicks for them. While designing and implementing the fun themed part of an experiential learning session may be what gets many trainers excited, credible training managers know that the real magic for participants happens in the debrief. Keep your focus on creating a debrief that crystallizes learning for participants so that they can immediately apply that learning on the job. Your participants—and your executive team—will thank you.

JohnABOUT THE AUTHOR

Since 1991, John has acquired extensive experience in the design and delivery of a diverse portfolio of programs. In addition to his executive responsibilities as President of Leadership and Learning Events, John is considered a valued partner to many executive teams. His insight and experience enable him to effectively diagnose, design, and implement complex culture change initiatives in a collaborative and engaging manner. Moreover, John’s experience in global implementations allows him to draw from a deep well of history to create unique and customized solutions. John’s passion for developing people makes him a sought after speaker, partner and coach and is evident in the high praise he receives from clients.

 

Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight

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Meeting Halfway (Or More) in SalesThe Age of the Internet and evolving purchasing habits have made sales training more important than ever. With access to virtually anything online, the role of the salesperson has shifted. Customers have countless options, and they are no longer restricted to making a purchase at a single location or even at a physical store. They also have access to product information, reviews, and social recommendations that influence purchasing behavior. To be successful, salespeople must offer real, tangible benefits to customers, and that often requires shifting mindsets and taking a new approach.

Meeting the customer halfway is no longer enough. To build a loyal customer base, you must go above and beyond to serve their needs. This three-step process is the foundation of a modern sales approach that will contribute to better customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Prepare

Knowing the ins and outs of your products and services is not sufficient. You must also know what the customer needs, what problems they are trying to solve, and how your product addresses the challenges they are facing. Framing your product or service as the solution to their perceived problem is the first step in capturing their attention. To do this, you must understand your customer’s current reality and how your product can best serve their needs.

Sell

Once you understand the challenges your customers are facing, use the Five Gears of Selling to demonstrate that you meet their real and perceived needs effectively and authentically.

  • Executive presence – People with executive presence have the ability to draw others to them with excellent listening skills and the ability to read situations and react to them accordingly. Salespeople who foster this key trait will attract a larger audience, which ultimately leads to a larger customer base.
  • Real need – If you can’t demonstrate the real need for a product or service, customers are not likely to make a purchase. Articulating the customer’s current challenges and how your offering can help solve them will prompt a prospect to explore further.
  • Objections – As they dive deeper, customers will inevitably have objections to your product or service. Whether it is price, complexity, or fear of change, you must be prepared to overcome these objections in a way that eases their minds.
  • Close – A sale isn’t closed until the customer says yes. Learn the necessary sales skills to guide a conversation to a yes instead of another call or more time to think about it.
  • Next steps – Clearly articulate the next steps in the process so that the customer knows what to expect and when. Even a sale that has been closed can fall apart when communication breaks down or expectations are not met.

Remember that customers will only buy from people they trust and only if they understand the product and how it benefits them. Therefore, it is critical in the Age of the Internet to build that foundation with a potential client, before even attempting to close a sale.

Partner

Relationships with customers should not be adversarial; rather, they should be viewed as partnerships that can benefit both parties and continue to evolve over time. Identify where on the relationship spectrum you are with each customer and then optimize every opportunity to capitalize on that position. Change your mindset from closing individual deals or making single transactions to nurturing a long-term partnership. Customers will notice the difference and gravitate toward the company that makes them feel like they are participating in something greater, rather than being “sold to” when it’s time to make a purchase.

The evolution of the sales model cannot be ignored if you want to be successful in the modern world. If your sales team is not taking steps in this direction, the organization will eventually fall behind. Investing in sales training is the first step toward long-term behavior change that leads to meeting the customer more than halfway.

JohnABOUT THE AUTHOR

Since 1991, John has acquired extensive experience in the design and delivery of a diverse portfolio of programs. In addition to his executive responsibilities as President of Leadership and Learning Events, John is considered a valued partner to many executive teams. His insight and experience enable him to effectively diagnose, design, and implement complex culture change initiatives in a collaborative and engaging manner. Moreover, John’s experience in global implementations allows him to draw from a deep well of history to create unique and customized solutions. John’s passion for developing people makes him a sought after speaker, partner and coach and is evident in the high praise he receives from clients.

 

Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight

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

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

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

Should Workplace Learning Be FunFun Learning Increases Engagement

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

Fun Learning Supports Learning Retention

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

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

The Key to Making Learning Fun and Effective: Experiential Learning

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

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

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

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

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

Dave_RootABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight.

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According to the Deloitte Millennial Survey 2017, two-thirds of the workers in this generation plan to leave their work organizations by the year 2020. With Millennials expected to make up approximately 75 percent of the workforce by 2025, businesses cannot ignore the potential impact of this influential group. While 66 percent of Millennials are ready to change jobs, a similar percentage believe that their leadership skills are not being developed. Tackling this specific issue within your organization can help increase loyalty and build a robust leadership pipeline, especially as the Baby Boomer generation reaches retirement age.

Leadership Development for MillennialsLeadership Development for Millennials

In order to be successful in the long term, employers must evolve with the changing needs of the generations that flow through the organization. A company’s largest asset is its workforce. Ignoring leadership development for Millennials could result in a dearth of talent down the road. Consider the following tips as you create your leadership development strategy.

PRESENT A CLEAR GOAL PATH

Having the opportunity to advance in their careers is important to Millennials when making decisions about where to work. Presenting a clear path to leadership with milestones along the way will demonstrate that your organization offers career advancement. A structured training program that culminates in leadership development demonstrates a commitment to young up-and-coming employees and has the potential to increase loyalty among Millennials as they plan for their future career.

Practical tip: Present the path to leadership in the recruitment stage to attract top talent. Use milestones to benchmark stages of career growth and set clear goals for attaining the next level.

INCORPORATE TECHNOLOGY INTO TRAINING AND RETENTION

As the first whole generation to grow up with computers, Millennials have a strong connection with technology. Incorporating technology into your leadership development program will help keep these individuals more engaged and increase the likelihood of participation.

Practical tip: Use digital measurement and reinforcement tools to keep training concepts top of mind and promote ongoing engagement.

EMBRACE THEIR SOCIAL SIDE

In the age of social media and constant connectedness, Millennials expect to interact with others frequently and in short bursts, even in the workplace. Open communication is also important for this group, and internal social media platforms can be used to quickly disseminate information and solicit real-time feedback.

Practical tip: Tap into this desire to be social and collaborative by creating online forums, discussion groups, and social platforms to support leadership training initiatives.

GIVE POTENTIAL LEADER PERSONAL ATTENTION

Investing the time and resources into one-on-one coaching and mentoring will go a long way with the Millennial generation. Monthly meetings with mentors provide continual reinforcement that employees are not being overlooked for leadership positions. Millennials also tend to have strong positive reactions to praise and personal attention, especially from senior leaders.

Practical tip: Implement a coaching program to develop skills in potential leaders. Two-way mentorship programs among younger employees will also support the social and collaborative tendencies of Millennials.

Although every generation might have different goals and ideals, people of all ages can benefit from experiential learning for leaders. Having the ability to test new leadership skills in a safe environment allows participants to try new behaviors without the risk of failure. Following up experiential learning with digital reinforcement tools and one-on-one coaching will support Millennial preferences for using technology and gaining personal connections at the same time.

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

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

1. Sssh…Can You Keep a Secret?

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

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

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

2. Think Outside the Presentation Box

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

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

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

3. Reverse the Roles in an “Unconference”

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

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

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

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

Dave_RootABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight.

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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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From encouraging creative problem-solving to eliminating company blind spots, cross-functional teams have been heralded as the workplace’s secret weapon.

The only problem? If you think managing typical teams is hard, creating a high-performing cross-functional team will challenge you even more. But when companies get cross-functional teams right, they’re rewarded in infinte ways. To ensure you’re getting the most bang for your team-building buck, use these three strategies to kickstart collaboration in your cross-functional teams.

1. Designate a Leader

Every team needs a leader, someone who is willing to take ownershipfor the team’s results, keep everything on track, and provide a final say on decisions. Cross-functional teams especially need strong leadership, because they’re generally more cumbersome (in size and/or scope) than regular teams.

how-to-kickstart-collaboration-in-cross-functional-teamsAppoint a leader who is able to inspire the team and pull out each member’s brilliance—but who also isn’t afraid to do what it takes to keep team members accountable. Especially important for cross-functional team leaders is the ability to listen and consider new ideas; because the leader will be heading up a diverse group with different perspectives and knowledge bases, the leader needs to be comfortable admitting that they don’t have all the answers. Again, because leading cross-functional teams can present more of a challenge than most teams, consider putting your team’s leaders through leadership training that instills these qualities through practical, hands-on exercises.

2. Encourage “Idle” Chitchat

Cross-functional teams can be harder to manage than interdepartmental teams, simply because members of cross-functional teams aren’t used to working with one another. They don’t know each other’s “tics” yet or how to best communicate.
The solution to this problem may seem too obvious—or even counterproductive—to some. Provide opportunities for your cross-functional team to engage in some good, old-fashioned chitchat. It may seem like a classic meeting time-waster, but sharing a few laughs and stories with one another during meetings builds a sense of camaraderie and helps team members get to know one another as people. As a result, they become more comfortable sharing ideas in a group, both work-related and not.

In fact, Carnegie Mellon researchers found that many teams that seemed to engage in time-wasting behavior—like talking over one another, interrupting during meetings, and going off on tangents—were actually top performers. What they were really exhibiting was a level of comfort and familiarity with one another, which bred an atmosphere where nobody was afraid to share ideas and everyone had a chance to speak. A few minutes of straying from the agenda each meeting can pay off big-time when it comes to fostering strong communication, creativity, and cohesion in cross-functional teams.

3. Incorporate Team-Building Activities That Actually Work

Creating a high-performing cross-functional team is a bit like cooking up a killer recipe. You can’t just throw all the ingredients together and expect it to taste good. You have to coax out the flavor, or in the case of teams, the brilliance that you know can result from bringing colleagues with different backgrounds and skill sets together. For cross-functional teams, that’s done through strategic team-building exercises that have a proven record of increasing team cohesion, decision-making, and communication.

From major off-site team development events that incorporate experiential learning to daily exercises that encourage collaboration and cooperation, focusing on effective team-building activities is crucial to the health of cross-functional teams, especially those that are going to be working together for a while. And don’t waste valuable time by only implementing team-building activities after your team starts to exhibit troubling behavior or results. Make team-building a priority from the get-go to get the most out of your cross-functional teams.

And finally, it’s important to remind your cross-functional team members that even though it feels like their loyalties lie with different departments, they’re all really working toward the same mission; improving the company as a whole. Working with members from other parts of the company is an incredible opportunity to see how you fit into the whole and how your seemingly small part makes the company tick. Reminding all members that they play for the same team is a major camaraderie-builder.

Have you successfully implemented cross-functional teams? If so, what strategies did you use to ensure all members worked well together?

About the Author

john_profile_webSince 1991, John has acquired extensive experience in the design and delivery of a diverse portfolio of programs. In addition to his executive responsibilities as President of Leadership and Learning Events, John is considered a valued partner to many executive teams. His insight and experience enable him to effectively diagnose, design, and implement complex culture change initiatives in a collaborative and engaging manner. Moreover, John’s experience in global implementations allows him to draw from a deep well of history to create unique and customized solutions. John’s passion for developing people makes him a sought after speaker, partner and coach and is evident in the high praise he receives from clients.

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Corporate training events come with a certain set of expectations from employees. Whether those expectations are positive or negative is up to the organizer. Employee events like staff retreats, conferences, monthly or quarterly meetings, and even office social gatherings can be opportunities for corporate training, even if participants don’t realize that they are learning at the time. how-to-embed-corporate-training-into-employee-events Subtly integrating learning into employee events can help prevent preconceived notions about corporate training from getting in the way of education. This is especially true for organizations that don’t have a great track record with training. Employees who feel that corporate training is a waste of time or boring will be pleasantly surprised with a well-executed and unexpected learning event.

You can come up with different creative ways to integrate corporate training into employee events. These are just a few examples:

Make It Immersive

The more engaging a training event is, the more likely an individual is to retain information. Immersive training events capture attention and enable participants to learn and practice new skills in a safe environment.  When you tie those lessons back to the real corporate world, you have a room full of people who learned a new skill without even realizing they were participating in a corporate training event.

 

Download A Guide To Creating Interactive & Engaging Company Events

 

Here are some simple things you can do to create an immersive training event:

  • Don’t leave out any details so your participants feel like they are really in the experience
  • Make it energizing; the more exciting and energized the room, the more buy-in you’ll get from your participants
  • Incorporate an experience where participants are mixing and mingling with people they don’t normally work with. This will allow participants to try new things while learning new skills and understand how things are across your organization

Make It Subtle

Nothing says “corporate training” like a personality test or a slide deck chock-full of bullet points. Many individuals automatically shut down when the projector turns on. On the other hand, when participants walk into a room and suddenly feel like they have been transported to an alternate reality, they can’t help but have their curiosity piqued. Before they know it, they are learning how to forge effective partnershipswhile completing a mission. After a few hours of wheeling and dealing, their ability to identify and capitalize on strategic partnerships has skyrocketed. Do the participants feel like they were at a corporate training event? No. They were too busy boosting profits by connecting with the right partners.

Mix It Up

Add a little variety to the day to keep participants engaged and on their toes. When employees don’t know what’s going to happen next, they can’t become complacent. You can keep minds and bodies more attentive by:

  • Using multiple formats like video, lecture, games, and contests
  • Scheduling part of the event outdoors when possible
  • Using different areas of the space you are in
  • Changing the layout of the room or doing some activities while standing or moving around

Merge with Management

It’s a lot easier for employees to feel that corporate training is valuable if leadership is doing it with them. When leaders are present at employee events and participating in the learning activities, it demonstrates a commitment to organizational development and helps individuals connect better with managers. Employee events are an excellent opportunity to build company culture by creating a common language and enabling individuals at every level in the organization to have a shared experience.

Make It Fun

Many employee events have a single activity that participants find fun and engaging. However, these are often surrounded by more typical activities like presentations, brainstorms, and breakout groups. This inconsistency causes participants to tune out in between the fun sessions, and the result is a loss of momentum throughout the day. If your corporate training event is immersive from start to finish, participants don’t have the opportunity to disengage. Maintaining a consistent theme for the entire event, even during meals and breaks, will keep minds on the task at hand. When done well, an immersive corporate training event will keep participants puzzling over problems and solutions after the event.

When planning your event, don’t forget to theme:

  • Food
  • Prizes and gifts
  • Decorations
  • Music
  • Conference materials
  • Newsletters or announcements leading up to and after the event

If the term “corporate training” triggers yawns and skepticism in your workplace, it’s time to consider a different method. The goal of a corporate training event is to produce long-term skill sets that participants are excited to use in the real world. By integrating immersive educational experiences into employee events, you have the opportunity to impart new knowledge and create an enjoyable experience at the same time. After one successful event, next time you say “corporate training,” you’ll be greeted with a completely different attitude.

What other methods have you used for embedding corporate training events into employee events?

 

johnAbout the author

Since 1991, John has acquired extensive experience in the design and delivery of a diverse portfolio of programs. In addition to his executive responsibilities as President of Leadership and Learning Events, John is considered a valued partner to many executive teams. His insight and experience enable him to effectively diagnose, design, and implement complex culture change initiatives in a collaborative and engaging manner. Moreover, John’s experience in global implementations allows him to draw from a deep well of history to create unique and customized solutions. John’s passion for developing people makes him a sought after speaker, partner and coach and is evident in the high praise he receives from clients.

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Introducing new concepts, systems, or processes in a work environment is rarely as simple as sending an email and immediately getting the desired results. Successfully convincing individuals to change their behavior in the workplace requires:

  • Clear communication about expectations
  • An organizational training program that provides the necessary skills
  • Consistent reinforcement and measurement 5-change-management-activities-to-add-to-your-meeting-agenda

This might seem like a tall order, and indeed it does require a comprehensive overall strategy, but there are some simple change management activities you can do on a daily basis.

Meetings are the most logical place for change management activities because you have the attention of the entire group at the same time. You can ensure that people be hear the message and create a greater likelihood of understanding what you say. Consider adding these change management activities to your next meeting agenda:

1. Status Updates

Have an agenda item for status updates about  initiatives occurring in your organization. For example, if your organization is shifting to a customer-centric culture, a sales staff meeting might include an update about the new sales process that is under development. This is also a great opportunity to gather input from the sales team about how to be more customer centric and get the team to start thinking in that mindset.

Status updates should include:

  • What initiatives are currently happening
  • The status of each initiative
  • The next steps for each initiative

The individuals providing the updates will have to stay on top of their assigned tasks, and others will feel more involved in the process, especially if they have the opportunity to provide feedback during status updates.

2. Reinforcement Exercises

If your strategy includes organizational training, one of the most important change management activities you can do is reinforcement exercises. The human brain will only retain so much information (10-30%) after a training session, unless you actively recall the lessons learned. Adding a quick reinforcement exercise such as a quiz, game, or discussion about how to apply the new knowledge in the workplace will keep the information fresh in the minds of participants and encourage them to apply and use their new skills.

3. Introduce the Next Initiative

Make time to discuss the next change that is on the horizon, even if you don’t plan to roll it out for several months. Communicating early about changes to come will allow individuals to mentally prepare in advance. Providing regular updates about the plans in the pipeline will reduce the inevitable anxiety that people feel about change. Giving individuals an opportunity to provide feedback will make them feel more invested in the process and increase the likelihood that they will embrace the new systems. Clear communication about upcoming initiatives also demonstrates that leadership has a strategy in place and a plan for executing it.

4. Recognize Successes

Create an agenda item that prompts you to identify all of the successful milestones or accomplishments since the previous meeting. These could be as simple as an individual who exhibited one of the desirable behaviors identified in a recent training, or as significant as a team who measurably improved their sales numbers. When individuals know that leadership is paying attention and that they will be rewarded for their efforts, they are more likely to adopt the changes you are introducing. and more likely to perform at their peak. Many leaders don’t realize how impactful recognition can be, especially in a public form like a team meeting.

5. Action Items

Every productive meeting should include action items that are assigned to individuals and have clear deadlines. Action items go hand-in-hand with status updates on your agenda. Everybody knows that they will be expected to report back to the group, increasing the likelihood that they will complete their assigned tasks. Action items also provide the benefit of keeping a project moving forward.

It’s unrealistic to expect individuals to change their behavior without some motivation. Including these change management activities in your meetings helps maintain momentum, gives leadership a forum for introducing new changes to come, and increases accountability. What agenda items did you include in your last meeting?

 

sueAbout the author

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

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the-secret-power-of-cross-functional-teamsIf you are looking for your colleagues to innovate, engage, and eliminate inefficiencies then look no further than the concept of cross-functional teams. Cross-functional teams bring a fresh perspective to solving an organization’s problems. Here are four reasons why cross-functional teams can be a company’s secret weapon:

1. They Break Down Silos

Sales, marketing, IT, finance, legal, manufacturing, data analytics, etc. All potential parts of your organization – How well do they know about and work with each other… really?  If your company has been operating in silos, cross-functional teams can be the answer. Simply put, cross-functional teams open up lines of communication across the company, leading to greater efficiency.

Be careful though, as cross-functional teams can easily devolve into disarray, if you’re not careful. A researcher writing in Harvard Business Review claims that 75 percent of cross-functional teams fail. Why? Because employees from different areas in a business don’t like working with one another, or more accurately, they don’t know how. This pitfall of cross-functional teams can be avoided with strong team leadership. An appointed team leader is essential to keeping professionals with different backgrounds and skills on task and to keeping the focus on the team’s end goal.

2. They Eliminate Blind Spots

Have you ever had your marketing department develop a brilliant campaign for customer outreach…only to find out later that the customer service department has actually been fielding customer complaints about the very features that the marketing team’s campaign planned to highlight? That’s time, money, and employee morale down the toilet. But imagine if someone from customer service had been on the campaign development team—they could have headed off this unintended consequence much sooner. Gathering the appropriate input from all of the functions that specifically and tangentially touch a company initiative can create efficiencies and save on embarrassing, time consuming errors.

3. They Cultivate Creative Problem-Solving

Cross-functional teams by definition create organizational creativity – simply by putting different employees from different functions together. People from different backgrounds and expertise bring fresh eyes to old problems. When professionals become too close to a problem, they fail to see the workarounds right in front of them. Enter cross-functional teams…When functional innovation is needed to create growth, efficiencies or product diversity… enter cross-functional teams. When corporate performance has flattened or begun a decline… enter cross-functional teams. Organizational problems are solved by employees all pulling in the same direction.

4. They Illustrate a Company’s Larger Mission

When colleagues feel connected to an organization’s larger mission, it leads to higher levels of engagement and, ultimately, a culture of high performance. The culture of a company is how the organization brings that mission to life; this cannot be accomplished without people and their buy-in and dedication. Cross-functional teams allow their members to see how their role and purpose fit into the larger organization to continue to drive the culture and the mission in the right direction. IT allows team members to clearly see how their role directly impacts everyone else in the company (how marketing impacts the sales team; how sales then impacts productions, how the customer service team impacts sales, etc). The examples are endless. Intentionally creating opportunities for employees to influence employees, should require the same amount of time and effort as is taken to craft and cascade the mission everyone is focused on.

Forming cross-functional teams can be a rocky process if your company hasn’t leveraged them well in the past; although the benefits will make it worthwhile. This is where smart team development comes into play. Team development activities can help ensure that colleagues from different areas of the company work better together. Remember to make team development an ongoing priority—not just a one-time or once-a-year activity.

Have you delved into forming cross-functional teams at your own organization? What has been the outcome so far?

paul

About 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.

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