Why High-Impact Learning Organizations Have All the Luck

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Making workplace training a priority is one thing. Making it one of the centerpieces of a successful business strategy? That’s the practice of a High-Impact Learning Organization (HILO). A HILO is one that reaps benefits like increased globalization and better organizational alignment from creating learning and management opportunities for all employees.

High-impact learning organizations know that talent management, proper training, and continual learning are much more than just a mandatory 30-minute PowerPoint presentation; it’s an actual attitude or strategy within the company. The shift from typical training to a HILO brings with it some very specific benefits—could your organization’s current strategy be missing out? Read More

50 Shades of Gray Area: Why Traditional Training Doesn’t Work for Sensitive Topics

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In the world of workplace training, there’s nothing more maligned than the dreaded sexual harassment session. Traditionally, it’s completed with a made-in-the-80s movie, outdated cultural references, and a lot of awkwardness.

But it is possible to broach sensitive topics without embarrassment—or turning the training session into one big “That’s what she said” joke. Clarity is the name of the game, and for topics like sexual harassment, there’s no such thing as making expectations too clear. By getting rid of heritage programs that are both ineffective and awkward, you make way for simulations and scenarios that help employees feel both comfortable and confident in their understanding of the rules.

Typical Training Falls Short

One of the main reasons that typical sexual harassment training is ineffective is that it typically relies on a couple of B-list actors to expound what isn’t OK at work. But a 30-minute video can only convey so much and can’t possibly teach all of the nuances, body language, and situations a new employee may encounter at work. Learners either treat the material as throwaway information or worse, are even more confused than when they started.

Sexual harassment training (and other sensitive workplace topics) needs to be perfectly clear and without gray areas muddying the water of what is and isn’t acceptable. But, since a couple of scenes in a how-not-to video can’t demonstrate every scenario employees might face, it’s better to give the right information and let learners test their knowledge before heading into the cubicle jungle.

Simulations and Scenarios

Instead of showing employees what not to do, teach them instead to decode situations, body language, and communication and act accordingly. It’s less of a “don’t do this” approach and more of a “here’s how to navigate” approach to sexual harassment training.

Imagine if, instead of watching other people participate in scenarios, learners were given the opportunity to test their own knowledge in a simulation. Without the real-life pressure of being in an actual questionable situation, learners get to practice their newfound skills in a safe environment, while receiving instant feedback from an instructor.

It doesn’t make light of a serious topic; rather, it gives the topic the respect it deserves by ensuring learners understand just how seriously you’re taking its delivery. Scenarios and simulations put learners in applicable situations to remove any questions or gray area that might cloud their judgement. Instead of tip-toeing around serious and sensitive topics, skip the traditional training and choose something more straightforward. Clarity always wins out in a battle against a few awkward pauses.

4 Ways to Tailor Training for Creative Employees 

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Ah, the creative employee: Amazing when you need fresh ideas, but frustrating when it comes to compliance. That’s because creative employees aren’t built to deal with schedules, hard numbers, and facts; all of which can sometimes overtake even well-meaning talent management systems.

An employee with an eye for design might balk at the idea of a traditional training program, but might be more receptive if you tailor delivery systems and material to someone who’s more likely to spend a lunch break at the art museum than networking at a meet and greet. By looking at your training through creative-colored glasses, you can get the job done while still respecting the art. Here’s how.

Offer Options.

Creative types don’t always learn like those who think and analyze more methodically. While a typical learner might be fine with a PowerPoint presentation, it’s not going to appeal to someone who lives and breathes design. By offering the same material through a number of delivery options, you give creative types some room to roam. Maybe mobile learning is the best fit, or a creative employee would rather learn via microlessons sent to his or her inbox. Think beyond the traditional delivery methods to show flexibility and respect to creative types.

Keep Lessons Visual.

Creative thinkers will become bored by walls of text or monotonous audio and visual recordings, so try going for more visually appealing methods. Instead of a presentation, an animated video might capture the attention of a visual learner. Infographics can also be highly engaging and visually stimulating. By keeping material visually balanced, you’ll capture that notoriously short attention span attributed to creative employees.

Hype it Up.

The moment you present training and development as mandatory, you’ve conceded a battle to creatively-inclined employees. They thrive on unpredictable schedules and flexible attitudes, so “Do this or else” will definitely cause some kick back. Instead, hype learning and development in a completely different way: Show employees the personal growth benefits to be gained. Doing so can pique the interest of someone who can’t stand the idea of mandatory training.

Share and Share Alike.

Creative employees are usually the first to volunteer to work in teams and groups, since they often thrive on the ideas and inspiration of others. So why not work that into learning and development strategy? Offer a forum through which creative employees can discuss topics and share links and information together. It’s a way to crowdsource creative learning and development, resulting in better retention and workplace culture alignment.

Creative types are the catalysts for new ideas and solutions, so don’t do them a disservice by offering the same training by rote for everyone. By respecting those beautiful minds and offering plenty of options, you make the most of employees who are willing to think outside the L&D box.

Global Leadership: What Cultural and Generational Gaps Mean for Leaders

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In boardrooms across the globe, a silent struggle is taking place, spanning both culture and industry: The generation gap.

When you work in a field like eLearning, it’s hard to turn a blind eye to an issue that affects almost every aspect of your job. The generation gap dictates how we structure eLearning modules, user design, and even our delivery methods. When working with clients and corporations, we have to be extremely cognizant of the way our eLearning will be received, based on factors like age, location, and even culture.

But the global generation gap might not be as wide as some think, according the results of a study completed by Nelson Cohen Consulting. After surveying 1,312 individuals on the traits they most admire in a leader, the findings paint a clearer picture how each different generation (and culture) views leadership. Understanding how each culture and generation values leadership traits proves that we might not be so different after all.

Global Millennials Vs. Baby Boomers

I find that the media loves to pit millennials against the other generations. Baby boomers call them unpredictable, while Gen Xers might say millennials are too ambitious. But for their part, millennials share some fairly strong opinions about what it means to be a great leader. This can create common grounds upon which all generations can interact with each other at work.

All three generations–millennials, Gen Xers, and baby boomers–listed “inspiring” as one of the most admirable leadership traits, proving that while their technique might be different, the motivation among generations is pretty similar. All want their leaders to inspire and ignite them as motivation to be and do better.

But there’s a split between other traits. Millennials, for instance, put higher stock in ambition and determination, while Gen Xers prefer imagination. Baby boomers? They want a leader who is courageous. At the same time, both baby boomers and Gen Xers agreed that honesty and competency were admirable–two traits that were much lower on the millennials’ list.

Surprisingly, cultural differences hardly widened the gap at all. When asked which leadership traits would be the most important for the future, the answers were the same across North American, European, Asian Pacific, South American, Middle Eastern, and African cultures: Competence, forward-thinking, inspiration, and intelligence.

The Shrinking Gap

When battle lines are drawn between generations and cultures, it only hurts business. Instead of drawing out the benefit in generational differences, some prefer to use those differences as ammunition at work. But the numbers don’t lie: The generation gap is a lot smaller than you’d think. They might dress, act, and communication differently, but it doesn’t change the fact that there are crucial similarities across generations and cultures.

Business is becoming more–not less–inclusive over time, thanks to advancement in technology and communication. As leaders, it’s our responsibility to utilize the new boundaries to foster something that transcends age and location.


L&D Influencers Weigh in on Our Industry Questions

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When taking the pulse of the L&D industry, there’s no better indicator of health that the professionals who eat, sleep, and breath training every day. That’s why we turned to the top L&D influencers on LinkedIn to answer some of our questions about the past, present, and future of all things learning. Check out their answers and insight here.

Question #1: At what moment did you realize that L&D was your life calling?

Toby Harris, Creative Lead and LMS Product Manager at Saffron Interactive

The moment when I saw that the official education system often does more to impede learning than it does to encourage it (and that for many of us the true opportunities for personal growth and development only arrive when we enter the workplace) was when I realized just how important learning and development can be. But I also came to understand that the institution of “L&D” is, itself, deeply flawed and has a pronounced tendency to work against its stated aims. So, improving that experience for the next generation of workers–and in doing so helping organizations–was a key and fascinating challenge for me. Of course, the tasks of L&D are different now and more ambitious: now it is likely to become part of the overall digital and social enterprise agenda, which is where things get really exciting. Digitalisation and its impact on performance is what keeps me compelled by this industry.”

Question #2: Which person most helped to broaden your experience?

David Berz, Director, Global Learning Products at Melcrum (Previously Global Head of Learning Experience at Linkedin)

My first supervisor helped me get into a Master’s program and also helped me understand what L&D actually is. While he was not actually in L&D he helped me pursue what soon became a passion of mine.”

Question #3: Which companies are particularly ahead of the curve in L&D?

Toby Harris, Creative Lead and LMS Product Manager at Saffron Interactive

“Companies doing well, in my opinion, include those with mature strategies and an ability to plan results and measure results, such as the audit firms or leading firms in the oil and gas industry. But it’s fairly easy to get ahead of the curve when serving highly-paid knowledge workers: They demand a sophisticated blended approach as a matter of course and usually there’s the budget to pay for it.

More interesting are organizations like Telefonica that are serving a diverse array of learners in innovative ways within tight constraints. Of course it be unfair of me to omit that the company I work for, Saffron Interactive, which works with many organizations who are already ahead of the curve and helps others to get there.”

Eunjae Kim, Learning Architect at eLearning Mind

“The field of L&D is so broad that it’s hard to single out a company that is really ahead of the curve. In fact, the organizations that come out ahead are those that are constantly seeking out new methods, keep an open mind, and are always on their toes in terms of technique.”

Question #4: How did you develop your social media following?

Bob O’Keefe, L&D at LinkedIn

“Give/get: Always offering something beyond just “networking” and providing value to all of those to whom I’m connected.”

Susan Bainbridge, Author & Researcher at Higher Education, PossibilityPlace and Scoop.it

“I began with content curation through Scoop.it with the purpose of providing information of value to the public. As I collected interesting material, I would post to Twitter and LinkedIn. It grows exponentially as people began to appreciate the material and re-post or retweet.”

Question #5: What’s the biggest opportunity for future advancement in L&D?

Clive Shepherd, Founding Director at The More Than Blended Learning Company

“You have to think beyond the course. So many L&D functions are just organizers of courses when we know that learning occurs in a whole range of contexts, including on-the-job and on-demand. Technology is also bringing major opportunities – online video will be massive, mobile the device of choice.”

David Berz, Director, Global Learning Products at Melcrum

“Internal L&D teams often tend to be viewed as service organizations. The challenge is for teams to earn credibility with their organizations and create partnerships where they are seen more as strategic partners. This is important because otherwise, the tendency is for departments to dictate what they want which then leads to lousy learning experiences. L&D practitioners should be viewed as the expert and brought to the table to advise the best strategy. This will result in better learning design, better learning products and a better learner experience.”