We work everyday with large companies with diverse groups of learners and talk a lot about what makes good adult learning. How do you build and facilitate really great learning experiences?
It’s common to have group of learners in our training who work on the frontline who are technically proficient and may have left formal schooling in their mid-teens. They know their jobs well and are considered functional experts, but when they come into a training environment, there are many reasons they may not want to take part.
Firstly, context. They don’t see the value of the training they’ve been asked to attend, especially if it’s not a required technical license. Organisations need to explain to learners why the organisation is undertaking the training, what the training seeks to achieve, why it’s important to have everyone in the organisation on the same page and most importantly give learners the WIIFM – What’s In It For Me – what will that leaner take away that will enrich them?
Coming into a learning environment with pre-conceived ideas of how the training is going to go is not something restricted to frontline workers – we see barriers to coming to the training room in many all levels.
Tertiary educated people often come to training with the idea that everything they needed to know for the work environment was covered in their formal education. Again, they may lack understanding of the context for the training. Alternatively, some are concerned that their shortfalls might be shown up in a certain way during the learning experience. The latter is termed ‘imposter syndrome’ – the fear of being exposed that ´maybe I’m not as brilliant as everyone thinks I am, and I’m going to be found out any second!
As adults we can carry any negative experiences of past education and learning into the training room –a good trainer will move through this with learners. Sitting for a day concerned about being “found out”, anxious that you should be doing something else, or feeling you’re in an environment where you can’t make mistakes because you’re supposed to be the ‘expert’ is not a positive place to learn from, and gets in the way of fully engaging.
As workers, we often work in areas we are comfortable and can exhibit competence and tend to avoid areas we feel exposed for what we don’t know. However the learning environment is different – it’s there to show where there are gaps in knowledge.
So how do good trainers address this?
When we start our training we undertake a learner comfort ‘piece’. A trainer or facilitator’s responsibility is not only about transferring learning but about building learning comfort for learners.
The learning environment should challenge us to take different perspectives and a great trainer is an expert at creating an environment where people feel safe going beyond their comfort zone. We try to make our training an open space for learners to be okay to talk about it, but often it takes a lot for the learner to do that until we build trust with each other, which is one of our team of trainers strengths.
All our trainers spend the first part of any program engaging all learners in different ways, identifying learner’s styles and addressing any concerns in the room. Our trainers have a lot of experience, great content and interesting ways of connecting with learners across different audiences.
Another aspect that can’t be underestimated is the sense of community that builds when training groups come together and barriers come down as the training progresses. This can be a powerful experience both when groups are cross functional or are teams that work together in the same role every day. The ability of trainers to present ideas, ask curious questions and create a space for learners to explore and question themselves and each other can create a deep understanding and connection between colleagues that can drive change in organisations.
When talking to prospective clients, we are always very clear on our strength in engaging the learners – how well we deliver on effective adult learning.
Great program content is nothing if it’s not delivered well – our trainers are experts at being able to make things very practical, relevant and put the learner front of mind, which also means our trainers have the skills to be able to adapt their approach to what’s happening in the moment.
Could your internal trainers use these skills?
Many organisations undertake internal training or transferring of information on a daily basis – whether it be group training or one on one transfer of job skill information from one employee to another. For your internal trainers, understanding adult learning and how to create the best environment for people to take in information is important.
We have programs that can assist your employees responsible for training or upskilling others in your organisation to achieve this successfully.
You can support your staff who train others with these programs:
Melissa Williams, CEO Learning Dimensions Network After a conversation with Leadership Dimensions Managing Partner Janet McCulloch, we have been reflecting on the topic of leadership. Let’s face it, being a leader today is a challenge. As we enter 2018 our world is more competitive, complex, globally connected (with speed and immediacy) and customers are more informed, and therefore demanding. Goal posts shift regularly and we work across-cultures, sometime with ambiguity and lack certainty. In the past, change was not as constant, and whilst the pressure to perform has always been there, but the speed at which this performance is now expected is unprecedented. This made me reflect on what’s changed in leadership and what the modern leader needs – distilled down to the top 8 skills that you’ll need to be a successful leader in 2018.
1. Change is the new normal
Change is now constant, and leaders are now expected to also be change managers. Gone are the days where a centralised HR team would manage all the ‘people stuff’. Now leaders are required to take on functions such as performance management, wellbeing, conflict management and mediation, training, and in many cases, recruitment of staff. Often leaders are promoted due to their ‘technical brilliance’, not their HR skills, yet this is now a core competency of today’s leader. In Australia, The Fair Work Act was designed to simplify and make transparent how we operate at work which helped with the decentralisation of HR departments. In turn, this created an environment where leaders at all levels are often made accountable for the intricacies in the Act and how this can or can’t be interpreted on a day to day level. This is a big ask if you are new to HR!
2. Smarter not harder
The old, ‘work smarter not harder’ has been replaced with ‘work leaner and more efficiently’. Enabled by better technology, leaders are now working with fewer resources coupled with higher expectations. We often hear leaders struggle with knowing how to do this. The reality is, it is a hard ask to adapt to this mindset, yet it is possible.
3. The ability to get lean
Organisational structures are flattening and doing away with more middle management. Therefore, a leader needs to know exactly where their authorities start and finish in terms of budget and finances, yet the expectations of their broader roles may be more ambiguous. Many organisations have moved to a matrix style operation where cross-functional project teams are formed. Effective leaders then need to focus less on authority and more about building cross-functional teams, sharing and collaboration.
4. The need for connection
With a significant increase in social media and overall virtual connectivity, the workplace has become a primary IRL (in real life) community for some people. A leader’s ability to create teams and increase participation and inclusion in diverse teams is directly attributable to people’s satisfaction at work, with a direct impact on people’s productivity and the organisational bottom line. Being able to foster, manage and grow cohesive connected communities, both online and in real life, is a vital skill for the modern leader.
5. Watch your words
With increased visibility on the impact of workplace bullying, leaders have tended to become far more aware and cautious about the nature of performance related conversations. In some cases, this awareness has led to a reluctance to have challenging conversations related to feedback and performance improvement. However leaders are expected to understand and implement the difference between managing performance and feedback vs discrimination, bullying and harassment and ensure they manage this balance effectively.
6. Safety starts from the top
Similar to HR,we find work, health and safety (WHS) is decentralising and is now a significant expectation of all leaders. Even if “Safety” isn’t part of your title, as a leader you’re responsible. In fact Queensland has just legislated to bring in Industrial Manslaughter laws ensuring negligent employers personally culpable in workplace deaths. Our sister brand, Safety Dimensions, who specialise in safety leadership, offers programs that focus on safety as being part of everyone’s role, not just those at the top. However just like the HR component of a modern leaders role, effective WHS requires an understanding and an ability to integrate this knowledge into day to day behaviours of your people and the organisations processes.
7. Human beings vs human resources
Emotional intelligence, mindfulness and compassion – these are words and skills that have made their way into part of the definition of leadership skills. A leader is expected to be self-aware and be able to effectively see and manage reactions in others and balance their EQ versus IQ to reach the optimal management mix.
8. Managing stress
With the changes outlined above, and the societal and family pressures our world places on us, there it’s no wonder that we have seen a significant increase in stress related illnesses in the workplace. A leader in today’s work environment is expected to notice symptoms of stress in ourselves and others, and know what steps to take. A leaders role is not to be a counselor, however they are expected to notice changes in behaviour in others (and themselves) and provide support in order to reduce the negative stress.Often the symptomology is not always ‘loud’ in terms of a persons behaviour. This means in the busyness of our day, taking the time to identify these symptoms and know what to do about it. Companies should have an expectation that staff will conduct themselves with professional maturity and emotional intelligence – even if someone doesn’t have the official directive of “Manager” or “Leader” in their title. We’ve noticed the trend in organisations to upskill ‘everyone’ to be leaders from the bottom up and this approach does make sense. However, from one leader to another, let’s face it, these expectations are exhausting. The demand to be a ‘people/change/organisational expert as well as being good at your ‘day job’ is relentless. However the simple reality is these 8 key challenges will only accelerate as the world gets smaller, technology increases and expectations for instant results intensifies. There is some good news. Whilst there is no miracle pill to developing a leader, there is an understanding that learning and development has adapted and changed to support the demands of being a modern leader. The rise in vocational training in Management and Leadership for those in professional jobs as well as trades is a testament to this change and I believe will continue to increase as the demands continue.
People are happier and more productive when their leaders show strong morals, a clear vision and commitment to stakeholders, a new study has found.
The growing importance of what is being described as ‘purposeful leadership’ for the modern workplace is outlined in a new report for the CIPD, a UK professional body for HR and people development.
When modern managers display ‘purposeful’ behaviours, employees are less likely to quit, more satisfied, willing to go the extra mile, better performers and less cynical, according to the researchers at the University of Sussex, the University of Greenwich, the IPA and CIPD.
Professor Catherine Bailey at the University of Sussex said: “Our study shows that the modern workplace is as much a battle for hearts and minds as it is one of rules and duties.
“People increasingly expect an organisational purpose that goes beyond a mere focus on the bottom line, beyond the kind of short-termist, financial imperatives that are blamed by many for causing the 2008 recession.
“In turn, they respond to leaders who care not just about themselves but wider society, who have strong morals and ethics, and who behave with purpose.”
Not much is known about what causes purposeful leadership or what impact it has — this new study is an attempt to fill this gap.
Laura Harrison, Director of Strategy and Transformation at the CIPD, said: “Building on a number of studies on trust, decision making, and corporate governance, this study begins an examination of an under considered facet of leadership, purposefulness.
“Much has been discussed about the critical nature of invoking and ‘living’ purpose in an organisation, but little around the alignment of this purpose to the internal, perhaps hidden, moral compass of an organisation’s leaders.
“The challenge now is how we enable and support the development of leaders that people actually want to follow.”
The research found that just one in five UK bosses describes themselves as a ‘purposeful leader’, highlighting a largely untapped opportunity for modern organisations to improve performance by reshaping the role of managers.
The researchers suggest that there is much that organisations can do to foster purposeful and ethical leadership, including the adoption of relevant policies, leader role-modelling, alignment around a core vision, training and development, and organisational culture.
Dr Amanda Shantz at the University of Greenwich says: “If organisations are serious about acting on the rhetoric of business purpose, and are to invest in achievement of their purpose, they have to reconsider the ways they select, develop and assess leaders.
“The traditional focus on leader behaviours only goes so far as to develop their ability to perform in a role. Instead, what is required is a development of the whole person, while accepting that it is impossible to mould all individuals into a uniform model of morals and ethics.
“The real challenge is not in trying to achieve perfect match between leaders’ and organisational values, but in ensuring that they complement each other in ways that best suit organisational circumstances at a given time.
“This includes supporting leaders to successfully recognise and negotiate the differences between what they stand for and what the business intends to achieve, without detriment to the individual leader or the company’s operations.”
Worker compensation claims have been decreasing over time but this masks all kinds of problems with our wellbeing at work.
Making our workplaces healthier and safer means we have to confront all those things causing us stress at work. And that’s not going to be solved by standing desks, complimentary massage or lunchtime yoga.
LISTEN NOW > to the ABC RadioNational podcast of ‘WorkLife: Why is work making us sick?”
Burnout is on the rise. It is a growing problem for the modern workplace, having an impact on organisational costs, as well as employee health and well-being. These include possible long-term health risks and, due to its contagious nature, a toxic working environment of low morale, scapegoating, and increased office politics.
Organisations have focused on burnout to protect their profits, placing blame for lowered performance on individual employees, rather than making adequate adjustments to safeguard against stress. This emphasis on the employee has led to psychometrically profiling those that may be at risk of burnout due to their psychological make-up, rather than organisations taking responsibility and making systematic changes to reduce stress caused by structural level problems.
This blame game is often unhelpful. Not just for the employees in question, but also because it risks a skills shortage in certain professions such as health and social care. Plus, it further contributes to the burnout cycle: with limited staff and resources, demands are placed on fewer employees.
Research into burnout has been linked to office politics, menial working tasks that interfere with work duties and high job demands that lead to exhaustion. Rising workloads and long hours are the main culprits; however, some employees are better able to cope or are more adaptable than others.
Perception of stress is also a contributing factor. If you perceive you do not have the right resources to cope with your workload, or perceive it to be more than you can cope with, you are much more likely to succumb to stress-related disorders.
Individual differences and personality types also play a role in the risk of burnout. Type A personalities, for example – who have a mix of behavioural traits that include hardiness, impatience, competitiveness and drive – and people who like to have large amounts of control, are also linked to higher rates of stress at work. Research shows that employees with these personalities tend to be more restless, hostile and time-conscious, which puts them at greater risk of workplace stress.
It is important, however, not to make banal assumptions when it comes to understanding how different people experience stress. This runs the risk of organisations screening out applicants for jobs on the basis of personality or attributing blame to employees, rather than taking responsibility as an organisation to make adequate changes to safeguard their employees from stress.
Many global organisations have intervention plans that place the onus on the employee to manage their health and well-being through training programmes such as building resilience and coping skills. But this often has the semblance of blaming employees, while abdicating responsibility and not making any real changes to policies. The reality is that organisations are stressful, often purporting an employee wellness agenda that isn’t really implemented in practice.
There are three main dimensions of burnout according to the Maslach Burnout Inventory, the most commonly used burnout scale: exhaustion, cynicism and a sense of personal accomplishment, with exhaustion being the most obviously displayed. Signs of burnout can vary between employees and manifest in multiple industries, from healthcare and education settings to legal and corporate finance firms.
Burnout causes a range of psychologicaland physical problems and can affect people long after they no longer face the stressful situation. These include fatigue, irritability, depression, withdrawal, mental and physical health problems, and self-medication with alcohol and drug use. Consequently, it is something that employees and organisations must manage carefully.
Employees come in all shapes and sizes. As a result, it is imperative that managers and organisations do not prescribe a one-size fits all model to managing employee well-being. Instead, they should work on an individual basis with each employee, finding flexible interventions and providing an adaptable and agile working environment along the way.
Many workplaces are built around teamwork, collaboration and endless meetings to harness creativity. This model does not bode well, however, for people whose creative juices and energy levels are depleted through constant collaboration. In fact, many individuals, especially those that are more introverted, feel exhausted and find it difficult to get their work done in this kind of environment.
As such, organisations can provide a space for these personalities to work alone, where their productivity increases and creative juices can flow. Similarly, organisations can work with employees, providing agile working conditions to help create a sustainable working culture and work-life balance, thus reducing the likelihood of burnout.
Of course, individuals have a role to play too. It is important that people manage their own personal expectations, harnessing their skills and reflecting on their own personal values. This is particularly the case if you’re working in a role that does not readily align with your own values or predisposition. It’s important to reflect on what matters to you, as living an inauthentic life can lead to burnout when your personal values are conflicted.