Tag Archives: employee training

The Role of Coaching in your Learning and Development Program

Coaching in your Learning and Development Program

The Role of Coaching in your Learning and Development Program

The Role of Coaching in your Learning and Development Program

As summer winds down, and the intense heat we have been experiencing here in Virginia starts to subside, it can only mean one thing. For those of you who do not know where I am going with this, it is finally here! The full gauntlet of college football officially kicks off this weekend! As Learning and Development professionals it is time to ask ourselves… What does this mean to our industry? Or perhaps something more pertinent, such as, what lessons can we learn from these competitions and the pomp and circumstance that surround them? To our industry, the collegiate hierarchy means a lot, as it is the backbone of many corporate learning programs, and since a majority of these large schools devote contributions directly into their athletic programs (mostly football). It must be exceedingly important.

So, let’s lay the groundwork with some comparisons. College athletes have a lot in common with the younger members of your personnel. They possess similar mentalities, motivations, educational backgrounds, and drive for success. The comparisons do not just end there. They are both incredibly talented, attempting to improve themselves, and they just need help realizing their full potential; in order to develop the necessary skills to climb up all the way to the next level. That is where coaching comes in. In College Football more than anywhere else, a coach can be the difference between five wins a season and obtaining an undefeated record. The best coaches achieve success with great game-plans, proper attention and research into proven methodologies, and an appreciation to their competitors and what their efforts for improvement may be.

Your great learning program could be even greater with just a little coaching

Instructional designers have been trying for years to come up with the perfect teachings for organizational entities, with learnings ranging from electronic, social, micro, mobile, instructor-led, and blended. But all the content in the world can only get you so far when not paired with real life circumstances and the experiences of someone who has undergone the difficult processes in their infancy. Someone who has been there, experienced that, and advised you how to use the methods you have learned in your learnings, and encourage you to succeed within this environment. Coaching is not just a byproduct of good social learning, in fact, the best learning programs find ways to implement coaching into their offerings in a highly regimented manner.

How can my organization utilize coaching?

In learning concepts and methods for improvement within an organization, it is best if relayed in a manner consistent with the environment your staff is encountering. This approach can best be implemented departmentally. Set completion deadlines for learnings, then offer subsequent meetings learners who have freshly completed said learnings. Let the students interact with each other on what they have learned. In these meetings present the employees with real-life practice problems or perhaps current departmental issues that best reflect the teachings of the lessons. Listen closely to their input and coach them towards the proper methodology to accomplish an adequate resolution. Seeing processes first hand can be the connection point required to finalize the learning with individuals, as this can be the way they best learn.

Turn this into a weekly tradition

These meetings will be very productive for your organization. Like college football, they are best served in a repeatable fashion. When you become a fan of college football, you do not just watch one game. Instead, challenge your workforce weekly or bi-weekly in these endeavors. Eventually strong members of your organization will take on the Quarterback roles and become the on-field coaches your organization has always desired, yet did not know they needed.

Reinforcement

Be sure not to stop there, coaching involves so much more than instruction towards a positive outcome. It can also consist of reinforcement of techniques and procedures. When in a coaching environment, do not be afraid to figuratively pat your students on the back. Things like, “Hey, Awesome Marketing Person, your most recent blog changed the way in which I view our product. Utilizing those freshly established brand guidelines you have learned, you have really gone above and beyond the cause on this one.” All the way to, “That was a really great sales meeting Bill, the way in which you incorporated our sales training techniques in the front end of that call was completely legendary.” These will go a long way into extending the reach of your learnings, as well as motivating your workers to achieve even greater things.

In summary, coaching is a unique value added concept to a learning and development program. It allows the program itself to systematically convert the learnings experienced within a learning management system to real-life applications that they present. Consider making these quick and easy additions to your program today, in order to get the most out of your program. We hope you have enjoyed this reading and are ready for the beginning of the season now. Please continue to join us week to week, in order to see what we will be up to next.

ow to Train and Develop Millennials

How to Train and Develop Millennials

ow to Train and Develop Millennials

How to Train and Develop Millennials

Everywhere you look there are posts about millennials, mainly focusing on their abilities in comparison to their predecessors. There are some really fun ones out there, about how millennials are weaker than their parents, and how their neurological wiring explains their short attention spans. Most importantly these articles are mostly drawn up in the marketing world, and with good reason. Since millennial buyer behavior is so vastly different than what traditional advertising channels can influence, understanding the demographic completely, is vital. Without going too far into a tangent, this generation is simply very different from what organizations are used to. Because of this, the fact that members of this unique age bracket are finally starting to mature and fill important roles within organizations across the world leads to a solid amount of conjecture. With this new landscape and their bright-eyed and bushy-tailed outlook. It is important that we try to understand exactly the training and development challenges that they may represent. As a millennial myself with a fair amount of work experience, I offer a unique perspective on how learning works differently for myself than people that have filled my roles before me.

But before we begin, let’s make sure we’re on the same page. The dictionary accepted definition of what we are talking about: “a person who was born in the 1980s or 1990s” (Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary) is relatively broad. Each generation has its quirks and identifying characteristics, both positive and negative. However, it is important we do not harp on those. In order to develop an effective learning plan to account for this particular generation, it is best to play to their strengths.

What Are Millennials Strengths?

Technology

We have grown up in an inclement technological landscape, seemingly with the devices themselves. Each moment from the time we first picked up a keyboard, to now, is encapsulated in a trend of growth. The computers became quicker by month, they changed size, formats, shapes, in storage capacity, and are continuing to adapt in large part to this generation’s inclusion on forward tech designing teams. The culture around the youth of this generation was forged on the idea that we would be glued to computers throughout our aging and we were. As such, we are comfortable in most environments, are quick to adapt at the introduction of a foreign software and interface, and willing to take on complicated items they may seem daunting to the world before us.  

Multi-tasking

Perhaps our greatest perceived weakness is our greatest strength. There never seems to be enough screens to quench the thirst of a millennial. We move to our smartphones, to our laptops, to the attached screens on our desk, and at any time we could have hundreds of active tabs open and ready for our immediate use. To many, this is construed as a distraction. However, when properly nurtured this can be a great strength for any personnel within your workforce. The ability to keep eyes on multiple functions at once allows for more processes to be done, and quicker. In the age of lean operations, this is a dynamic characteristic to possess.

Group Work

Millennials grew up in a world demanding popularity and are a huge part of why people with obscure talents can now easily find their quick fifteen minutes of fame on the internet. Their entire lives have been placed on display for your viewing pleasure via social media, and strangely, have managed to benefit from the situation entirely. Social media, in theory, should be a detriment to an individual’s development. Instead, it allows for collaboration the likes organizations have never before encountered. Your customers are a tweet away, and millennials understand this, as well as how to get to them. They also know how to partner up to accomplish a task because of these reasons, as well as who they need to approach in order to do this in the most effective manner.

Self-sufficiency

“I don’t know how to do that. Can you help me?” Are words not often said by millennials. Instead, it is more something along the lines of, “I vaguely recollect that situation in comparison to something else, let me google it in order to figure out how to complete the task.” Millennials are rarely stumped in their work environments because they understand that the answer is merely a search away, they also know how to find the answer if it is buried deeply in a minefield of clutter.

Putting It All Together

Due to our inclination to excel on the technological front, millennials need access to learning on a variety of platforms. Or as many as they’re currently being distracted on. By catering your learnings to adhere to these platforms, you are taking the first step in the right direction to cater to your millennials’ needs. Because of our inclination to multi-task, mix the delivery method within the learnings themselves, we are highly responsive to mixed media and in general a good rule of thumb is not to pigeonhole the learnings into a solely text-based output in the first place. Thirdly, use social learning. I cannot stress the importance of this element enough. To get the most out of your millennials you need to allow them to work on their level of comfort, socialize, and develop working relations with each other through the seemingly unconventional method of electronic means. You’ll be surprised at how quick they bond together and begin developing strategies to enhance the organization in general. Fourthly, and finally; challenge them. Millennials are most responsive to situations in which they are forced to think, though most would not admit to it. We are a thinking generation, there is a reason our head is often in the clouds. If you keep these suggestions in mind while developing a learning program, you will surely develop an atmosphere that caters to the new demographic that it seems the world just do not understand. I hope you enjoyed this post, please to continue to join us here at the Gyrus Systems Blog for relevant topics in the field, current events, and attempts at forecasting the future of our industry.

 

Reference

"Millennial Definition." Merriam Webster. Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary, n.d. Web. 24 Aug. 2016.

The Importance of Training and Development for Start-ups and Small Businesses

The Importance of Training and Development for Start-ups

The Importance of Training and Development for Start-ups and Small Businesses

The Importance of Training and Development for Start-ups and Small Businesses

With the hectic nature of start-up organizations today, one can easily make a claim that it is never too early to evaluate the effectiveness of a structured Learning, Training, and Development program. When starting out with a blank slate or attempting to move an organization into a direction in which they have never been. It is best to establish clear methods and processes in which the business as a whole can easily achieve their lofty goals. Without a Training and Development program, the following scenarios tend to present themselves in various manners across and organization:

Process Creation

A lot of times in bustling start-ups and small business environments, there is an underlying sentiment, along the lines of “I don’t care how you do it, just get it done.” This can create a strange occurrence in which a uniform process for achieving a goal is not feasible. Instead, members of the organization scramble to create their own individual processes for accomplishing their tasks. Originally, as it may be the first time an organization is encountering these challenges; it may seem as if this Wild West gunslinger policy of creating on the go is advantageous or even agile. However, as time goes by, the team grows, turnover is experienced… the process can become exceedingly difficult to the team at hand, and the manner in which it is accomplished can be as varied as the members of the team themselves. As an emerging business, it is best to get a hold of these processes early on in their development stages and define learnings that will not only benefit your team as a whole but will instill a knowledgebase on how to approach these particular tasks for years to come.  

Skill-Gaps

Certain department members are running circles around others, making them look bad. How are you going to alleviate this? When people take positions they often come in with an assortment of prior experiences. Though just being around successful people on the job can permeate positive skill building. It does not create a clear delineated pathway to ensure the enrichment of the entire department. When one person is doing well, the business does alright but is capable of much more. When everyone is doing well, the business is truly capitalizing on its resources. Installing a Training and Development program with social components can go a long way in capitalizing on this diverse collection of experiences. Allowing for the organization itself to develop a roadmap on how to train people in the future, as well as identifying important areas in which employees need to focus for the betterment of the business.

Onboarding

In your organization, do you feel that you give your employees enough time to dip their toes in the rippling waters of their position? Or, do you just start them immediately on tasks without any familiarity with where available resources reside, positional strategies, or established communication channels both within and external to the organization itself? You would probably not be surprised to know that many upstart companies subscribe to the policy of immediately holding their new employee’s feet, directly to the flame. Instead, imagine a world where when you bring somebody on, they will undergo their required certifications and training, and know exactly how the role is comprised on the organizational level. Something they can only estimate in their own perception and often without the entirety of scope. In a training environment, these valuable assets will be more prepared for their roles, quickly, and they can go about implementing serious and long-lasting change with much fewer barriers to entry. A training and development program not only makes onboarding clients easier, but it alleviates the pressure of turnover experienced along the way, as the next person in will quickly be able to obtain working knowledge of the position and the tasks it includes.

Engaging Users

One of the biggest adversaries to augmenting employee skills is the drive for personal improvement. This can be seen in employees who already believe they have a grip on their role and are unwilling to accept positive criticism to become even greater within their position. The benefit of establishing a training and development program is that calculated measures can be placed that will allow you to address some of these concerns. Not only can you guarantee that these users are exposed to appropriate methodologies, but you can also ensure how they are absorbing the information. This can be achieved through establishing a learning environment that is specifically designed to meet their needs. By utilizing all the tools at the disposal of the organization; various methods of communicating information can be presented, tested, and measured to promote an atmosphere of continuous learning.

Certifications

The role of Human Resources is exceedingly difficult in these small environments. As there are few established guidelines for safeguarding the brand, and many programs are not nearly as mature as they need to be. By seeking out practices to best benefit the organization, it is also vital that auditable delivery methods are established. By developing a learning and development program with the output of certifications, you can not only confirm that someone has undergone their required training, but you can also adhere to human resource procedures and quickly mature the department.

Productivity

A trained employee is a productive asset for your organization. When processes are documented and the entirety of the representatives are trained, odds are the speed in which their tasks are accomplished will rapidly increase. In small business and start-up cultures, these changes in speed can equate to the lifeline required to continue as a profitable business and thinking up newer more creative methods to stay afloat. A training and development program also signifies to employees that their company is willing to invest in them as well as the business itself. This can go a long way in establishing a learning culture, and incentivizing employees to continue down the path with the organization.   

Though it may seem like an obvious solution, a successful training, and development program requires a certain level of commitment regarding time and resources that small organizations and startups do not always feel that they have. However, establishing the processes of an organization, finding more effective means to onboard, train, and implement these effective processes can immediately lead to a higher growth rate of an organization. Taking the guess work out of how an up-and-coming business goes about procuring more business and interacting with potential clients is exactly what the Doctor ordered. Join me as I continue to explore the Learning and Development landscape, addressing how it impacts businesses, organizations, and learning institutions of all varieties here at the Gyrus Blog.

The Olympics and Learning – A Fierce Combination

The Olympics and Learning – A Fierce Combination

The Olympics and Learning – A Fierce Combination

The Olympics and Learning – A Fierce Combination

With the games already under way and the Opening Ceremony beginning tonight. It seems appropriate that we compare the games to our industry. In the Learning and Development market, as in most, there are incredible similarities and strange happenstance where the lines seemingly cross without much of a thought. Though in one realm people are representing their countries and battling in beloved sports, and the other, we’re just trying to learn better and convince people along the way that they can too.

So how is the Learning and Development landscape like the Olympics? In the LMS market, we’re no strangers to competition, with projections marking as many as 700 providers in the marketplace, it sort of feels like we are participating in our own Olympics every day. However, that is not the direction I plan on taking this blog post. The secret of these large events is to embrace them for what they are. People are fascinated by these events for good reason, and if understood by the organization, could be used as a means to bring your departments, stakeholders, and personnel even closer together, and here’s how:

Gamification

Admit it, you were waiting for me to get to this point. The Olympic Games as they are known are a tremendous time to capitalize on action-oriented content. People are fixated with medal counts and want to know how their country is doing at all times, including intrigue in sports that they have never once given consideration to. To be clear, I’m not suggesting that you conduct an office-wide gymnastics, volleyball or wrestling competition. Merely, that at this particular time in history, people are highly motivated to think introspectively. Thoughts like, “If I would have kept with that sport in high school… Would I have gotten to this point?” or “What am I going to do with this new found knowledge of the complexities of Table tennis?” are running rampant in your workplace. This leads us to an intriguing opportunity for the content creators out there. Topical games are an underutilized facet of the educational mix, though their longevity is questionable, their existence could easily generate motivation the likes of which your organization has yet to experience. If a big swimming event is occurring next week and it is going to be in the hearts and minds of your employees, why not place a game in front of them that allows them to expand on their learnings while advancing their avatars across a cartoony swimming pool?

Badging

Speaking of medal counts, Bronze, Silver, and Gold medals are quite literally the badging standard. Why not create badges that match your gamification efforts? By giving a time window reflecting the duration of the games themselves, you could ward off office distractions, and obtain a level of focus an organization typically does not experience at this time of a 4-year cycle. Instead of hearing about who won Judo, Equestrian, team handball, and rowing; we could be motivating our learners to participate in their own way. Statements like, “Did you see John in Human Resources has 35 Gold Medals?” could very well be an interesting change of pace that not only brings your smart and topical learning environment into the limelight, but also provides an increase in productivity for your program.

Social

With so much focus on National pride and reaching collective success as a team, another manner you could reach your team is by using this time to becoming more team focused. It is only natural for people to chatter about the events that are transpiring on the World’s stage in Rio; at the same time, they’re talking, and while they’re talking they are presenting a strong ability to collaborate on tasks. Embrace the Olympic culture, and suggest collaborative work groups up and down your organization. Take advantage of inter-company social media representation and allow people to use this time in order to further build their connections. 

Pride in your work

People, in general, are already invested in their work, but if you take a look around the office, you will be surprised to find that some of your hardest workers are giving their work just a little bit more during these events. Above all, people are very proud of their Countries and when that particular emotion is presenting itself, it tends to permeate into other facets of work. Embrace the Summer Olympics as they are a truly unique commodity that only present themselves every 4 years, and to use a dated expression, “Strike while the iron is hot!” That Trampoline event may not make sense to you, but there are undoubtedly people in your organization who perceive what is going on in that sport as a dream come true and its representation as a victory in and of itself.  Do not be afraid to nurture these thought processes. Get out ahead of it and consider sending a quick company-wide synopsis of events from the previous day; this will promote positive communication channels within your organization and allow for the Learning environment mentioned above.

When coupling all of these methodologies together keep in mind that we do not want to go overboard. Instead, we are finding a unique way to cultivate the motivation of our staff, by presenting them with items that are coinciding directly with how they are thinking t this current moment in time. Though your entire office may not be interested in all of the events, and some people may be disinterested altogether, the sheer anticipated volume of eyes set to watch the events themselves should be an indication of what a colossal opportunity this could be.   Thank you for joining me for this fun venture into a current event that will unquestionably affect our work week in one way or another and please continue looking towards the bright side and the potential of what these cool current events could mean to yourself and your organization.

 

 

Creating a Culture of Continuous Learning

Creating a Culture of Continuous Learning

Creating a Culture of Continuous Learning

In the ever-changing climate of business, it is vital that organizational members are able to adapt to their surroundings. At the end of the day, it is the experience of ourselves and our colleagues that make the difference between industry acceptance and being just another small fish in the industry pond. The best way to ready ourselves for this shifting environment is Continuous Learning. Continuous learning is an established persistent learning process, designed for bolstering the knowledge and skills of your workforce over time, and presents itself in many forms. There are various obstacles to keeping your staff above the knowledge threshold, including the likes of organizational busyness, lack of individual drive, and lack of an industry focus to cause a true change in the way we may think. Yet there are a few simple things that your organization can implement immediately to overcome these obstacles.

Establishing a formal policy of Continuous Learning

This is the most important step in promoting a continuous learning environment. Sit down with department heads and obtain the commitment to developing your workforce. This simple step will go a long way to realizing the potential of your organization. Knowing that your staff is going to continue to improve throughout their tenure at an organization will positively impact employee morale, as well as reduce the amount of turnover your organization may experience. Then when it comes down to writing up a formal policy, take the following practical continuous learning foundations into consideration:

An Open Environment – Establish to your employees early on that it is ok to ask questions when something is not understood. Senior level people often have the required information on the tip of their tongue and are more than willing to demonstrate what they know. Use this as an opportunity for knowledge transfer. Also, do not be afraid to give your employees some supervised free-reign; let them try new ways to approach reoccurring problems with alternative methods and comprehension. This may lead to developing processes that can inevitably improve departments and organizations as a whole.   

Mentorship – When onboarding new employees, be sure to pair them with employees who have been in their role, department heads, or are simply in their department. This can establish a line of communication and lead to increased knowledge transfer. This will also allow the new employee to evaluate past ventures with a new eye and establish any possible shortcomings, shaping an environment where the organization can actually learn from their previous mistakes.

Learning Management Systems (LMS) – it would be a total let down if I did not at least throw in a reference to digital learning. There are structured eLearnings and mLearnings beyond the typical certification requirements which allow for the continuing and necessary education of your people. This can include advanced sales techniques, introductions to hidden product features, and techniques to hone their craft dependent on their job title and responsibilities.

External Education Incentives – Some organizations are big on continuing education. This can be as rigid as convincing employees to go to collegiate courses to as lean as instructing an employee to schedule 30 minutes a quarter of self-guided learning via YouTube videos. With the availability of online seminars, actual seminars rolling through your town, and even trade shows consisting of industry leaders, it is hard to ignore this method for continuing education. If their availability was not enough, these types of learning structures can be incentivized which in general can lead to the largest absorption of external knowledge for your employee base.

Soft-Skill Development meetings and discussion of current happenings – Some organizations require this type of training, especially in the consultancy field; where everyone needs to be able to continuously improve their intrapersonal skills. Theses training initiatives are unique in that they allow for employees to relay their outward communications and how they handled certain crisis scenarios to their colleagues, ask the best method of approaching difficult discussions and problems, and get another frame of reference from an outsider with differing experiences than themselves. These types of meetings go a long way towards establishing protocols for how to deal with these sorts of impediments over time, as well as provide a sense of unity to the participants by further establishing a new channel of communications.    

Organizational Book Clubs – Many start-ups have instituted book clubs to aid in their organization’s knowledge development. This is best instituted when leadership determines topics that they feel are imperative for their staff to undertake, per quarter and selecting a few highly rated books from an internet search, which may further those initiatives.

Social Learning – Encourage your employees to develop professional social media accounts and link with colleagues and various industry professionals, with instruction to follow a few very active members in their selected fields. This will provide for a couple of things, the first a stream of information from industry leaders on industry best practices, the ability to share said best practices with their colleagues, and a means to bolster the organization’s reach as a whole.

In short, continuous learning is one of the most important commitments your organization can make, and there are many methods to implement a quality program. Take the time to evaluate this list and see if any of it could be applicable to your organization. You may find hidden knowledge contained in your employees that you were unaware of, as well as an improved sense of self throughout your organization. Also, please join me as I continue to delve into components of the learning industry.

How We Learn - Capitalize On Knowing

How We Learn – Capitalize On Knowing

How We Learn - Capitalize On Knowing

How We Learn – Capitalize On Knowing

Before I start, it is best to issue a few disclaimers:

  1. I am not a neuroscientist; this blog post is not written with appropriate scientific method.
  2. This post is written based on my personal understanding and could reflect deficiencies experienced in my own personal learning process.


To begin we should evaluate what a younger version of myself experienced in the learning process. As a child, picking up certain ideas and applying them just sort of came naturally to me. Whereas other ideas were best suited for the minds of my friends. But why? I used to think it was based on my ability to learn. Teachers used my IQ to recommend me for advanced courses, and such avenues awarded me the ability to attempt learning more difficult topics. But even then, I often felt my mind drifting off in class, doodled on notes, or encountered moments where I was not motivated enough to attempt to process the course content. Our learning instruction we receive from youth into early adulthood is fairly regimented; teachers are taught how to convey information to students, and for the most part, they engage in the same methodology across their efforts. Do the one-size fits all approach not work? The answer is:  it’s complicated. People learn at different paces and best with very different methodologies. Some people are able to see something once, and commit that piece of knowledge into their memory for the rest of their lives. While, others must spend days scrutinizing a tidbit of information to determine its worth, write the virtual book, and shelf it in the library stacks in their mind. The best instructors and course developers are able to evaluate how their student’s learn and cater their offerings to get the best out of the situation.

Scientists have embarked on the challenge of truly determining how we learn. This research may one day, reshape the conceptualization of the Learning Management System. The whole process is fascinating, and worthy of a quick Google search if you’re so inclined. However, for this post, my purpose is to let you know different ways in which people can learn and currently do. If you fall asleep on your book or learning materials, it turns out a magnet doesn’t fall out of your head and absorb the metallic printed material on the page. Also, the practice may aid in the process, but memorizing definitions for a quiz is most likely not going to yield long-term results. So, what are good practices we can instill in our corporate learning environments that will ensure the highest level of safety, the greatest output, and best compliance to corporate guidelines?

There are five major types of learning styles. People are said to either be an auditory (learn through hearing, can recollect a majority of information presented to them in lecture), visual (learn through seeing or reading, can recollect a majority of information presented to them in written/ presented form), tactile or kinesthetic (learn through hand’s on training, this is how a process is done from start to finish), global (big picture first – attribute detail when needed) or Analytic learners (Detailed oriented, like hearing or seeing as much information as possible in reference to processes or content). I personally am a bit of a hybrid, I start as a global learner and apply an analytical style of learning when I find topics that interest me. But I’m also very adept to visual learning. If I read or see something, then there is a good chance I will be able to recall important factors of what was presented. Knowing this has aided me immensely in my quest for knowledge. Knowing what style your employees are can yield unexpected positive outcomes in your business process. So how do we cater to these five major types of learning styles?

Know they exist

  • Be open to the idea that even in the corporate world, people are not going to be completely onboard with your style of learning.
  • Do not be afraid to survey your department: People know how they like to learn. If John in Marketing learns best via Instructor-Lead training, and Suzy in Document Control works best in an impersonal self-instructed pathway. It is best to accommodate their needs.
  • Work with individuals who need more personal attention. As the sum of knowledge in your department can one day be the difference in universal sales across channels, to observing breaks in the chain.

Use various forms of media

  • YouTube videos are easy, and often times, there is a great video available in relation to what you would like to instruct about.
  • E-Learnings can quickly instruct and measure user issues with content, and let you know what further actions may be necessary.
  • Images are a great way to reinforce verbalized and written processes.
  • Consider Instructor lead training to add the human effect of seeing learning styles first hand.

Convey teachings in a manner that doesn’t sound like a dictionary definition

  • Use language that relates to the user. Why do I care about 55 oranges and 16 coconuts?
  • Be able to write what you want the user to learn in a plain language. Testing on the definition of a compliance article does not ensure that the user understands that article of compliance.
  • Use gamification to incentivize users. Learning differences in some ways can be overcome via a great deal of effort. If users obtain results from appeasing their competitive streak, then, by all means, this should be incorporated in your learning designs.

Join me as I continue to tackle the realm of learning and best relate these processes and suggestions to the industry. Knowing how we learn, can only support our abilities to better serve our employees, clients, and stakeholders.

Gamification, Badges, Levels, or Leaderboards

Gamification – Badges, Levels, or Leaderboards?

Gamification, Badges, Levels, or Leaderboards

Gamification – Badges, Levels, or Leaderboards?

Gamification is a buzzword you have undoubtedly encountered. The novel concept of taking something that is intrinsically fun and forming it around a learning exercise is an incredible notion that really invigorates the field of corporate learning and development. But anything new tends to lead to a lot of questions and with those develop a few barriers of entry that the industry must overcome. Over the coming weeks, I’ll investigate the answers to questions such as: does it really work? How does it work? What method should my organization choose? Should my organization even use it? And most importantly, will it actually yield better results in my talent pool?

 

In order to truly approach these questions, we must first understand what gamification really is and how it motivates us to complete learnings. To qualify, I will address what makes me uniquely qualified to approach this topic. When I was a child, I had difficulty with a math class, and an obsession with baseball cards; my father, saw this as an opportunity. As a capable programmer, he dusted off an old Apple II and created a game. If I managed to answer all of my multiplication and division tables correctly, I could be incentivized by the reward of a pack of baseball cards. Back then I was truly amazed that accomplishing a task could lead to such a prize, but I was also intensely fixated on being precise and accomplishing the task at the speed of the computer, that the process truly left a lasting impression on me.

 

To me, a self-proclaimed, “modern chic geek”, I think of the hours I have wasted playing games at home and what I was really accomplishing. What motivated me to keep playing when I was stuck in a level? What pushed me to do the same thing over and over again to obtain a silly achievement next to my username? Why did I need to have the highest score possible in the multiplayer game when I was just hanging out with my closest friends? Thinking of traditional video games and their value proposition is the best method for truly understanding the value of gamification. What motivated me was my inner drive for accomplishments and my competitive nature. Good gamification addresses that inner drive in 3 ways:

 

Badging

Gyrus is quite a fan of this approach, as we’ve opted to include Mozilla OpenBadges integration in our GyrusAim product. Badging is an online representation of an earned skill, allowing you to share your skills and interests with the world in a visual manner. This is most likened in the video game world with achievements, which are rewarded for doing something very difficult in a game, playing the game for so many hours, or repeating a process enough that the designers have previously designated as significant. In the video game world, these emblems are proudly emblazoned in players’ online user profiles, and to the hardcore gamers are prideful reminders of time spent in the digital world and accomplishments their friends and cohorts were unable to achieve. Badges motivate users by defining a clearly obtainable goal, one that if achieved can boost an internal resume, as well as show smooth progression within an organization.

 

Leveling

In the gamified world, there are games just like World of Warcraft and Diablo. Games in which character levels are clearly defined and are the motivation for continued use. Skills are preset by the instructor within a level, and once the student obtains said skills or enough experience, they can level-up their character and move on to the next; often more difficult level ahead. In modern games, levels are often disguised within storylines. Once you accomplish something, you must talk with someone else within the digital land to obtain more experience and designate your next course of action in the environment. This allows for the opportunity of sub-tasks and additional skill-building exercises to prepare you for the next big event your character will be faced with. This particular environment best motivates people who are enamored with structure and offers a quality foundational learning approach when compared to the training industry.

 

Leaderboards

Leaderboards are my personal favorite. As a kid, I remember going to a local arcade and dropping some serious quarters in games just because the 3 initials on the screen before the scrolling demo were not my own. To this day, if I wander into a place and Galaga is present, there’s a good chance I’m not only going to play it, I’m going to send out a social media blast and call for challengers. In training, some skills can be quantified into scoring with a repeatable process. Imagine the bragging rights you would have if you were the official king of the office! However, this often manifests in the training environment as a social routine and is paired with badges. “Did you see so and so on the third floor? He has 300 Badges!!!” and, “I thought I was doing well with just my 49.”

Regardless of method, people are motivated by different means. The goal of gamification is to present an environment conducive to learning unlike any previously experienced. If learning is fun, the odds of retention are most likely higher than a dry instruction or eLearning piece designed specifically for term learning and processes. Think back on your best classes in school or in business; what stands out the most? Thank you for reading and I hope you’ll continue to join me as I further address the field of gamification.         

The Difference between Training and Development.

The words training and development are mostly used together in the corporate world and are seen as activities focused on improving the knowledge, performance and productivity of the employees.  However, there is a distinct difference between their meanings and implications, which are often overlooked by a majority of professionals.

Training programs are organized by the organization to develop employees' knowledge and skills as per their job requirements. On the other side, development is not directly related to job requirement, rather it aims at the generic development of the individual employees for the long run. Think of this way- training is mostly provided to teach new skills while development focuses on improving existing skills.

Let us look at the image below to understand the difference between training and development.

Training vs development.jpg

With the ever-changing business environment, it is crucial that organizations pay equal attention to both training and development to stay ahead of the competition.

Both training and development are required to work hand in hand for providing the right skills and knowledge to employees and help them get the most of it for both organizations benefit as well as their own progression. When an organization looks at employees' overall growth, apart from the job-related training, it also helps in building a more efficient, motivated and productive workforce.  

 

 

 

 

Different Training Media for Better Learning

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     I love working on cars.  There’s nothing quite like the feeling of accomplishment after changing my own brake pads and rotors, or the satisfaction of putting new oil in my car.  Or it could just be the fact that I no longer pay north of $60 for a synthetic oil change at the local mechanic’s.

     But before I got into working on my own car, I was somewhat naïve on the inner workings of those magnificent mechanical horseless carriages.  As a youngster, I asked my dad how they worked, and he verbally described in exact detail the process of an Otto cycle internal combustion engine. My head was swimming: you could have beckoned me over and whispered in my ear in total confidence that my car was powered by a small, little gnome named Gerald in an oversized hamster cage that was coupled to the driveshaft.  And my eyes would have opened wide in understanding as I exclaimed, “this explains everything!”  And I would have happily caromed down Lombardy Street in San Francisco, a la Steve McQueen in Bullitt, hollering, “GIVE IT ALL YOU GOT, GERALD!”

     But instead of continuing on my path of blissful ignorance and taking my car to the mechanic with the complaint of “Gerald’s tired all the time!” I decided to read about my car’s make and model and increase my knowledge so that I make minor repairs myself.

     Reading wasn’t enough, so I would seek out videos on the internet, pictures of parts, and examine my own car so that I wouldn’t make a fatal error and require a new Gerald. Engine. I meant require a new engine.

     The point is that I sought out different types of materials in different mediums: print, discussion forums, tech manuals, pictures, and videos. And I was certainly better for it.  How many of us have had to sit through PowerPoint presentations, and thought a picture would work better, or watched a training video and wanted the steps and instructions written down?

     Learning occurs a lot of different ways. Most companies realize this, and are moving towards providing their employees with different training methods and different training media to increase the amount of learning.  If you’re not satisfied with overall training outcomes, try examining your delivery method and see if you can’t present it in a different way, or couple it with a visual or collaborative portion.

     Besides, the last thing you want to see is one of your employees go up to your VP when they finish parking their Corvette in the morning and ask, “So how many Geralds does this baby have?”

Do you have control over your own career path?

When advancing in your career and participating in workforce learning programs, it’s important to take a step back and ask yourself: Am I in control?

Today’s workplace environments call for workers to take a more active role in their career path. Having control over your own learning and development allows you to set personal goals and see what needs to be done to get where you want to be. I repeat: it is up to you to get involved and define your career path, not your HR department or boss. Surely you’ll need some help along the way, such as what courses to take to prepare for future positions or what certifications are necessary to remain compliant, but in the end your future in the organization is in your hands.

A worker’s active role in their own T&D can benefit the organization too—less time and effort is spent on the process if these programs are designed to be self-directed. Employees today are becoming more dedicated and future-driven, with a strong desire to excel in their organizations (one of the only positive things resulting from today’s constantly changing job market). The employee’s active role also allows company management to measure the ROI of their training tools, such as their learning management system. Many of these platforms offer reporting to help measure efforts.

That’s why it’s important for your company to choose the right software. A learning management system such as GyrusAim not only allows users to track accomplishments, run reports, and manage expired licenses, but it also provides a very useful tool for users: the Individual Development Plan (IDP). This provides a ‘roadmap’ for the user’s career path so that they can clearly see what courses, skills, certifications, and so on have been completed (or still need to be obtained). GyrusAim is also flexible, scalable, and can be accessed at the user’s convenience. There is a direct connection between a company’s LMS platform and the performance of the employees, so the software vendor that you choose is extremely important for your organization.

In today’s time, employees are driven. They are self-motivated and have a desire to excel. If we combine this desire to excel with the desire to learn, we can make use of tools, such as GyrusAim, for the training and development of employees. The burning question still remains: Who has control of your career path? The answer should be you.