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Four Drastic Executive Behavior Changes Required in the Time of COVID-19

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As a talent development professional, and self-declared talent trend geek, I have read countless books, white papers, articles, and research summaries on the art and science of leadership and employee engagement. But even my favorite podcast pearls and TedEx titans can’t keep up with what we are seeing in the world of work today.

In this era of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, what it means to live, work, lead and contribute as part of the business community has been fundamentally, perhaps permanently altered. Since March 2020, businesses, large and small, have been closed or limited in their operations, and even the remaining essential workers have had to radically adjust to new protocols.

“…what does returning to work [in this new environment] mean for executives, managers and their teams learning to function in a dramatically changed environment? If they are like many leaders …they are exploring and experimenting…blending creative imagination with technical know-how.”

 

Now, as each state cautiously rolls out a phased return to public life, businesses are spending countless hours figuring out how to implement what the U.S. Chamber of Commerce calls a National Return to Work Plan. They, along with local governments are exploring the major implications of returning to work in this environment. They are grappling with workplace safety, employee rights and wellbeing, liability concerns, and continued revenue disruptions, just to name a few.

What does this mean for executives, managers and their teams learning to function in a dramatically changed environment? If they are like the many leaders I have been speaking with, they are deeply entrenched in what Walt Disney called Imagineering. They are exploring and experimenting…blending creative imagination with technical know-how.

On the technical front, an abundance of resources is emerging to help business owners/stakeholders untangle the web of considerations. It’s a little like looking at a computer motherboard. Every decision affects another circuit in the system. I, for instance, read the CDC’s May 2020 Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to Coronavirus Disease. While it only took me 30 minutes to read the online page itself, it contained 77 hyperlinks and 1500 reference documents. All this before leading me to the CDC’s Resuming Business Toolkit – another 86-bulleted checklist.

Given the likelihood that leaders are referencing equivalent online guidelines from other national and industry sources, I think there is no doubt, the first drastic behavior change for leaders is: Redefining Control.

Just as the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health aims to control hazards to protect workers, leaders may need to redefine their own hierarchies of control from a management perspective.

I can imagine re-defining some of the CDC controls in these ways

  • Elimination: Remove everything but the priority focus areas.
  • Substitution: Replace old management habits that don’t work anymore.
  • Engineering: Reimagine systems for the new normal.
  • Administrative: Change people processes.
  • Personal: Learn to Influence in new and different ways.

With all the variables in play for leaders and employees, the whole idea of Resiliency will take on a new meaning. Clearly it is resiliency to manage the business framework, as Ernst & Young suggests. But it’s also resiliency with people. What are teams experiencing in this new era?

Just one of many examples is the impact current and future remote work has on employees. A recent Bloomberg study showed that U.S. remote workers have logged on for an additional three hours per day compared to patterns seen before March 11 — a 40% jump. Everyone reacts differently to this kind of workplace upheaval. We respond based on our work styles, available social support, financial situation, health, living environment, and many other factors. This is where Disney’s call for creative imagination comes into play. How managers model and build resiliency into the new cadences of work will determine their success in creating a viable, post Covid19 workplace.

Along those same lines is the manner in which leaders show up as crisis managers. New variables such as health checks, social distancing, confidentiality, or even stigma, are all driving leaders to revisit their principles in a world where, as Korn Ferry puts it, “perform” becomes “survive”. The way in which leaders address concerns around personal comfort, information and procedural implementation is not just a matter of preference. It is a choice that stands to drive what their business culture looks and feels like in a pandemic-changed world.

As with most calls for leader behavior change, once principles and processes are in place, it all comes back to communication. This time requires all leaders to take a radical look at their presence, language, transparency in thought and practice. Never has it been more important to show up “the right way, at the right time, with the right information”, as a Bain & Company article puts it. Reflecting on the book Leadership in Turbulent Times, by Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, the Bain brief suggests that communicating with a combination of deep-seated purpose and authenticity will give managers the ability to lead through times of fracture and fear.

In the frenzy of policies, procedures, toolkits and checklists, I’m rooting for every leader to find the space to develop the human outreachplan that will make all the difference for themselves and the teams they lead.

 

Sources:

  1. Image: How are organizations around the world responding to COVID-19?: People Matters: May 2020: https://www.peoplemattersglobal.com/article/c-suite/how-are-organizations-around-the-world-responding-to-covid-19-25072
  2. US Chamber of Commerce: Implementing a National Return to Work Plan; Memo from Suzanne Clark, President, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, April 13, 2020; https://www.uschamber.com/coronavirus/implementing-national-return-to-work-plan
  3. Quotetab: Walt Disney http://quotetab.com/quote/by-walt-disney/theres-really-no-secret-about-our-approach-we-keep-moving-forward-opening-up?source=opening-up
  4. CDC: Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), May 2020; https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html
  5. CDC: Resuming Business Toolkit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/resuming-business-toolkit.html
  6. NIOSH: Hierarchy of Control https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/hierarchy/default.html
  7. EY COVID-19 Enterprise Resilience Framework: https://www.ey.com/en_us/covid-19
  8. Bloomberg: Working From Home Means Working Longer Hours for Many https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-23/working-from-home-means-working-longer-hours-for-many-chart
  9. Korn Ferry: Leading in a Crisis: https://www.kornferry.com/content/dam/kornferry/docs/pdfs/covid_leading-in-a-crisis.pdf
  10. Bain & Company: Coronavirus: How to Be the Leader Your People Need Right Now https://www.bain.com/insights/coronavirus-how-to-be-the-leader-your-people-need-right-now
  11. The Stark Solution, Radical Behavior Change in the Era of Covid19., June 2020

Consulting Skills for the Workforce of the Future

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I have been recruiting for over 20 years in the F500 Learning and Development industry, and I have seen a great deal. From rapid skill shifts, to elevated client demands, to erratic market swings, consulting is not for the faint of heart. Working with the F500 has a very slim margin for error and expectations are high when a consultant walks through the physical or virtual door.

So, what does it take to be an exceptional CONSULTANT?

F500 Clients are demanding, so while you need to possess solid skills to perform and deliver results (hard skills), these are table stakes and not the only skills you need to bring to the proverbial table. You will need to quickly adapt into a client organization, communicate concisely and empathetically, make sound decisions, think outside the box, manage deadlines . . . You must also be chameleon-like and be able to adapt to change quickly, all while managing client expectations and delivering results!

“..attributes such as executive influence, strategic agility, political savvy, and the ability to coach/provide feedback will be expected. They are the differentiators or game changers and that is what a client requires.”

 

A wise man once told me that the best Consultants are curious and customer-focused… they listen, investigate, ask the right questions, and quickly absorb an understanding of the clients’ business. He also said …. “Consulting is a lot like dating” and while this analogy is a bit tongue in cheek, it has some validity. In consulting, connecting is so important and relationship building is critical.


There are times when consulting feels like being caught between a rock and a hard place – a delicate balance between knowing when to align/conform and when to push back. As projects become more complex, the stakes become much higher. Therefore, attributes such as executive influence, strategic agility, political savvy, and the ability to coach/provide feedback will be expected. They are the differentiators or game changers and that is what a client requires. Possessing these skills will allow you to solidify and expand relationships which, in turn, usually earns you the right to be involved with follow-on initiatives. After all, isn’t that really what it is about . . . becoming extraordinarily valued by the client that he/she continues to partner with you and provides more opportunity for CARA and you!

You may be asking yourself, “Is consulting right for me?”

As you may have gathered by now, consulting is far more than just building an excellent work product!

I know this career path is not “a walk in the park”! I have hired hundreds of consultants in my tenure and not every engagement is without error. Typically, the hard skills of the consultant have rarely been the reason for an unsuccessful engagement. It usually comes down to one or more of the softer skills I have been referencing. You will need these skills to build and further your consulting career – and in our current climate, they are absolutely critical!

While consulting will never be shy of challenges, pressure, and uncertainty; it will always be brimming with big rewards –working on multi-faceted engagements within a variety of industries, growth opportunities, and the opportunity to create so many meaningful relationships.

To all of CARA’s Consultant Team Members, I’d like to dedicate this blog to you. Thank you for your partnership and focus!

“Going Digital” A Framework for Corporate Learning

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For many organizations, the coronavirus pandemic has exposed some serious vulnerabilities. Businesses not equipped with a digital strategy have become highly reactive and struggled to swiftly pivot and support their workforce development under these unprecedented circumstances. Clearly, these uncertain times call for pioneer thinking. Organizations must learn, expand, and develop new ways to enable people to do better work through a continuously evolving digital strategy.

This lead paragraph might seem vague and grandiose; don’t get disillusioned by these opening lines. Let’s take a closer look at how organizations can leverage a digital mindset to successfully move both technology and people to the center of their response strategy and ongoing corporate narrative.

Digital Transformation

Where to start? Well, by defining a term that gets a lot of eye rolls – Digital Transformation.

Digital Transformation starts with the complete rethinking of how a business operates. Said best by McKinsey & Company, it is about empowering employees to embrace change and to challenge old ways of working. Digital Transformation must take place at all levels within an organization, i.e., the core business must fundamentally change. Countless business leaders have been reluctant to do the hard work – to transform their business operations to digital, but with the unexpected global crisis, they now have no choice. Becoming digital is the only way forward.

A Digital Transformation introduces boundless opportunities for innovation, operational efficiencies, and competitive advantage. Simply injecting technology into an existing process proves insufficient in realizing what it means to be digital. So, this is when the difference between Automation versus Digitalization becomes important.

Linking proven learning methods with advanced technology allows organizations to meet the immediate needs of their people while future proofing their workforce along the way.”

 

Automation vs. Digitalization

Both Gartner and Forbes have published excellent content on the difference between Automation and Digitalization. Two recommended articles are included in the footnotes. If you are interested, dive in! To simplify the jargon:

Automation

  • To install technology into an existing process
  • To make a process operate automatically by replacing human intervention

Digitalization

  • To provide new value, improve how something gets done
  • To leverage technology to make work and ultimately people’s lives better

Unfortunately, many organizations focus on implementing automation with an intention to simplify work by removing human intervention as opposed to creating resilient business models. The output of these expensive automation projects consistently fails to meet business needs/expectations. Meanwhile, businesses that embrace digitalization have the mindset to better manage change overall, making change management a core competency while the business becomes more agile and customer-centric.

Digital Transformation of Learning

In today’s corporate setting, a person’s success is often attributed to their ability to learn and adapt. Education is an enabler for people, particularly during times of substantial change. One would think this understanding would propel corporate learning to the top of the priority list.

McKinsey & Company’s research had previously forecasted that the skills needed in the workplace will be utterly different by 2030. The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated this prediction to 2020. It’s imperative for organizations to support and develop their people in this disruptive transformation of work. Such an immense workforce revolution must be met with appropriate learning and development strategies.

One of the main goals of any corporate learning strategy should be making information accessible across the entire organization. Learning should not be a struggle, yet in most of today’s corporate settings, learning has not been designed to be people-centric. The Godfather of Corporate Learning, Josh Bersin, talks about how external consumer platforms like Google, YouTube, and LinkedIn make it extremely easy to search and consume knowledge-based content. These new age consumer platforms have become the common place for learners to circumvent their company’s clunky learning offerings for a better learning experience. Ironically, these external tech giants end up knowing more about an employee’s learning needs and skill level than their actual employer. And they leverage this information to create personalized, timely and interconnected learning experiences. Businesses should take note, there is something to learn here, pun intended!

Fundamental gaps exist with how people consume content and retain knowledge inside and outside of work. Below are four things to consider when redesigning your corporate learning strategy to meet consumer expectations:

  • Personal – Today’s learners want learning geared towards their individual needs and interests. By leveraging innovations like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), businesses can scale personalization to create individual learning experiences based on unique employee data.
  • Mobile – Mandatory compliance training is often the #1 content accessed within a learning management system (LMS), but usage quickly drops off when it comes to everyday learning needs. A big reason for this is that corporate learning is often confined to a ridge destination (i.e. LMS) verses built into the flow of work. In response, learners pivot to internet searches, videos, podcasts, and other content that is immediately accessible via their mobile devices to fuel their curiosity and support their on-the-job learning needs
  • Social – From infants to adults, we, by nature, learn from each other. Sharing knowledge and expertise via sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube creates new opportunities for individuals and companies to share, promote, and give/accept feedback on learning content. These same social learning tactics can be brought into the workplace too. We’re all vying for the 5-star review!
  • Continuous – Developing ongoing learning experiences is the hook for creating a life-long learner, and, for the tech giants, creating a life-long consumer. Work, let alone life, is in a constant state of change. Continuous learning is a response to the turbulence of modern work (*gulp* life): new technology, new company direction, new process, new teammate, new…, new…., new…

A Digital Approach to Corporate Learning

This humanitarian crisis has changed business operating models forever. In turn, organizations are forced to rapidly evolve old learning programs and training models to support their newly fractionalized workforce. Every organization is impacted differently. Some have transitioned to working remotely. Others have evolved to shift patterns of small cohorts. All are creating new roles and transitioning people to support swiftly changing business demands. A digital learning strategy is required now, more than ever before, to support the disruption.

Not sure where to start with your digital learning transformation? Hit the ground running with these six recommendations for reimagining corporate learning activities into effective and immersive digital learning experiences.

  1. Understand when to be highly digital and when to be highly human – it’s the balance of both where truly the magic happens.
  2. Build an open source API Integrations strategy, integrate new technology solutions to enhance the learning experience – a friendly learning bot ready to assist will do the trick.
  3. Design for mobile first, create a new learning mode for consuming content anywhere at any time – work, life, and learning have no borders in today’s world.
  4. Set the standard for data always – use actionable metrics to connect learning with performance and business outcomes.
  5. Support various types of learning – including on-the-job learning, team-based learning, ILT, blended learning, gamification, and adaptive microlearning, to name a few.
  6. Go all in, become digital – do the upfront work… align your company mindset, understand and build empathy for your people, rethink and redesign your processes, and then use technology to bring it all together.

The Wrap

Remember, the Digital Transformation of Learning extends beyond the virtual delivery of instructional courses and training. It requires a mindset shift for how organizations fundamentally approach learning for the workforce. Linking proven learning methods with advanced technology allows organizations to meet the immediate needs of their people while future proofing their workforce along the way.

 

Sources/Footnotes:
Gartner: https://info.advsyscon.com/it-automation-blog/gartner-it-automation
Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonbloomberg/2018/04/29/digitization-digitalization-and-digital-transformation-confuse-them-at-your-peril/#2458c4162f2c
McKinsey: https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/unlocking-success-in-digital-transformations
Josh Bersin https://joshbersin.com/2019/03/learning-experience-platform-lxp-market-grows-up-now-too-big-to-ignore/

 

Leading Virtual Teams: 5 Must-Haves for Staying Connected

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Let’s face it, these are unprecedented times. And they require an unprecedented response from us all. We’ve been used to working within a global VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) business environment for some time—one that’s required us to demonstrate both adaptability and resilience. But these times are different. As we continue to do our part in combatting the global coronavirus we are sheltering in place, maintaining our social distance, and for many of us, finding ourselves in the unchartered territory of working 100% virtually for the first time. This need to work differently, along with the stressors of finding ourselves within a global pandemic, is likely bringing up some new reactions for us all. Common challenges include the need to balance work priorities and deliverables, while battling feelings of isolation and missing the kinds of everyday ‘hallway’ interactions we’ve relied on and enjoyed. We’re all battling these experiences for ourselves while we find our way. And if you’re a leader with direct reports, you’ve got a team of people relying on you to address their concerns and keep them connected as well.

This blog focuses on five ‘must-have’ techniques for doing just that. As you read, keep in mind how and when you can begin applying these for yourself and your team.

“We now find ourselves working in completely new ways where the need to engage virtually has never been greater. As a leader, your opportunity to bring your team together is at a critical phase.”

 

1. Plan Your Approach

Eleanor Roosevelt once said “It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” Comparing the two, experience tells us that we can have a much better ‘hit rate’ for success with a plan, so why not start there? Take the time to be intentional about what success will look like while leading a team that is completely virtual.

This starts by reflecting on your vision and hopes for your team. How do you want your team members to act and feel in this virtual environment? What will it mean to be productive, connected, and successful? How can you help team members tap into their individual core competencies and strengths? How do you see yourself continuing to build team cohesion remotely while making sure that everyone feels part of the team? Your answers to these questions will shape your interactions with your team members and will go a long way to foster the type of virtual team environment that your employees will have. Share your vision and what this means for your team.

Remember that you have a critical role to play in shaping your team’s virtual culture. Be a role model by demonstrating virtual team commitment and collaboration. What work style habits can you build that will benefit you and provide examples of what others can emulate (e.g., taking care of yourself and your energy levels, integrating work and family tasks, maintaining effective routines)? Keep in mind that regular routines go a long way to combat an unpredictable external environment. How can you authentically convey the importance of your team in supporting each other in a virtual setting? Aim to develop realistic, focused goals (both team and individual), and establish upfront expectations of each other. Also, be the kind of leader who has ongoing conversations with your employees on progress made.

2. Communicate Early and Often

In a virtual environment, it’s more important than ever to use a variety of vehicles and methods to set the stage for open communication. How can you develop a cadence and process for coming together—for both team and one-on-one touchpoints? What structure can you provide for your team to foster information sharing and connection? How can you augment this by seizing impromptu opportunities to check-in, share information, ask a question, or simply say “hello” and see how people are doing? Don’t assume that others know what you’re working on or who you’re interacting with. What questions do your team members have? Where should people go with specific questions? Consider your responses to these questions for establishing your team’s pattern of communication, and see where it may need to adapt over time.

On top of this, don’t forget to master the ‘basics’ of communication. Respond to others in a timely manner. Keep scheduled meetings. Listen actively. Remove distractions in your work setting. At the end of the day, set yourself up to be present, engaged, and in-the-moment when communicating with others. When face-to-face conversations aren’t practical, know what to listen for. In this case, you won’t have the benefit of seeing someone’s nonverbals—so you’ll want to pay extra attention to subtle nuances in individuals’ tone and pace of speech. This will clue you in to where you may need to check for understanding.

Communication is so important because it helps direct your team’s actions, accountabilities, and progress made. What methods and processes can you use to make sure everyone is on the same page? Share meeting agendas, outcomes, commitments, and next steps. Your team members will rely on the open communication you foster to build trust in a virtual environment. This will go a long way to your team members being open to giving and receiving feedback as your team continues to evolve.

3. Leverage Technology

We are fortunate to live in a time where we have wide access to technology and systems that give us the opportunity to work remotely. That said, you’ll want to make optimal use of available technology and resources. This means using the right tool(s) for the situation. We’ve probably all been part of remote interactions that didn’t go well simply because an overly complex tool for the situation was utilized. When a formal meeting is involved, this is when you’ll want to learn to make good use of your company’s online meeting software. However, in other cases, exchanging emails, sharing instant messages, sending texts, or holding phone calls will easily suffice to expedite making the right connection.

Another recommendation is to opt for face-to-face interaction to increase engagement (and decrease the tendency to multi-task), particularly when longer conversations are involved. Now is the time to practice getting technology savvy with using your computer’s camera feature! This will come in handy when holding virtual face-to-face meetings with your team. Think of it as a wonderful opportunity for the team to come together, share updates, ask questions, and foster a sense of camaraderie.

What about other important logistics? You’ll want to test your technology equipment and connections to ensure you’ll be in a position to connect easily and both begin and end on time. Do what you can to anticipate and mitigate any challenges that may arise. If you’re part of a global workforce, you’ll want to be sensitive to time zone differences when scheduling team meetings. Think about ways you can facilitate holding an effective and efficient meeting so you are focused and attentive to your role in the moment.

4. Don’t Neglect the Human Component

It’s been said that the most effective leaders show they care first, and give direction second. Focus on how you can continue to build your relationship with each of your team members so you’ll be in the best position to meet them where they are—uniquely and individually. It will be particularly important in a virtual setting to ask your individual team members how they are doing with the changes to their work environment. Listen to what they have to say and empathize with their reactions.

One resource that may be helpful with this is CARA’s recent article on Leading a Virtual Workforce Transformation: 10 Keys to Success (March 30, Andrew Barnitz). This article presents the change commitment curve—the process humans go through when adapting to a new reality. It gives additional insight into the internal psychological adaptation process that an individual goes through when moving through a change. Consider where you fall in adapting to virtual work, as well as where each of your team members are.

Change Commitment Curve Graph

Doing so will raise your awareness not only to what you’re personally experiencing but to what your team members are going through. By reflecting on this you’ll be in the best position to help your team move through the change curve. You may even help them think about how they can reframe initially perceived challenges into opportunities. This will help to foster an environment of team learning. When and how might you hold conversations on how individuals are adapting to virtual work? How could you provide a forum for team members to share ‘bright spots’ they’ve experienced along the way?

This is the time to show your appreciation for your team and how they are rising to the challenge of virtual work. Recognize and celebrate both individual and team success when you see it. Get to know your team members’ individual preferences for recognition, and customize your approach to this. This is also the time to incorporate F-U-N where you can into the workday! Get creative when thinking about how you can build virtual team camaraderie.

What are some good ideas you’d like to share on virtual team building (e.g., meeting themes, playing games, cooking together-but-separate, virtual happy hour)? Please share in the ‘Comments’ section, we’d love to hear your ideas!

5. Stay Flexible

A virtual work environment lends itself to continual adaptation and the opportunity to be flexible. You may find that expectations about how the work will flow and how people will come together will need to shift over time, and that’s okay. Know where your team may need to re-prioritize tasks, assignments, or ways of interacting along the way. Keeping flexible will help you and your team to not get bogged down in old ways of thinking or acting.

This will serve you well in being able to identify what changes may still be needed, both in the short- and long-term. It will also help you determine any immediate changes needed around the corner, along with their impact on the team in general and individual team members in particular. This is where open communication will be instrumental.

In the end, we now find ourselves working in completely new ways where the need to engage virtually has never been greater. As a leader, your opportunity to bring your team together is at a critical phase. We hope you’ve gathered some new insights that will be immediately helpful in directing your team to rise above and achieve more.

Please connect with us if you can use additional help with leading your team virtually, or simply want to talk about your experience in leading virtually. We’re here to help.

5 Best Practices for Rapidly Transforming Instructor Led Training to Virtual-Instructor Led Training

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In today’s COVID-19 environment, learning professionals are being asked to quickly transform Instructor Led Training (ILT) to Virtual-Instructor Led Training (V-ILT). The good news is that most Instructional Designers have the transformation skills needed, and companies have the technologies needed, to support V-ILT. The challenge is the volume of work and the speed at which it must be accomplished.

The CARA Group has identified Five Best Practices to help accelerate the transformation process.

1 – Align with Business Strategy

Start with defining a set of criteria to ensure that the work is aligned with the business strategy to separate the “wants” from the “needs”. Once the true needs are determined, create a prioritized Action Plan. Communicate the results back to the Program Sponsors to manage their expectations. If a program was not prioritized, perhaps the respective Program Sponsor can conduct a simple web-meeting or webinar as an alternative.

2 – Manage Scope

Using the prioritized Action Plan, review the program with the Program Sponsor and Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). Explain the difference between ILT, V-ILT and a Webinar (a webinar requires no activities). Determine whether this will be a simple transformation with no content or learning objective changes or a complex conversion with some content and/or learning objective changes, which will take more time and effort. Agree on a protocol for managing scope, as there is a strong tendency for SMEs to want to change or update content during the conversion process.

3 – Optimize the Learner Experience: Rich Interactive Training Anytime, Anywhere

Before jumping into the actual transformation work, it is important to educate the Program Sponsor and the SMEs on the power of V-ILT technologies and how they can be used to create effective learning experiences.

V-ILT, designed correctly, offers many of the same learner experiences as traditional ILT. Instructors can present mini-lectures, facilitate activities and discussions. Participants can work individually and in small groups, raise their hand to ask questions and use resource material.

Video projection of both the Instructor and Participants help keep the Participants engaged and accountable, creating “virtual eye contact,” allowing everyone to read facial expressions and body language. Video also brings a personal element to the program, as the members share and view each other’s virtual work environment.

Content and activity designs can leverage screen-sharing, whiteboards, polling, chat, small group breakouts, games and quizzes. Many V-ILT systems also allow the Instructor to gauge individual and overall group attentiveness at any point with a visual attention indicator.

Instructional Designers work with the SME’s create a design to ensure that the learners remain engaged during class and help them retain the knowledge and skills afterward.

4 – Deploying V-ILT: Practical Matters

Deploying V-ILT requires different types of logistical planning than traditional ILT. Instructor and Participant job-aids are very helpful in guiding them in the use of these unique tools.

Instructors need to be comfortable and proficient delivering the V-ILT version of the program. Train-the-Trainer programs should include the business reason for converting from ILT to V-ILT, an overview of the new program, a system test, how to use the system features, how to trouble-shoot and an opportunity to practice. On the day of the program, the Instructor should login to the system 15-30 minutes prior to ensure that everything is ready to go. Someone from the learning team should be assigned to support the Instructor during the V-ILT with classroom management, at least for the first few sessions. Participant login issues, late arrivals and technical issues can really distract and rattle a new V-ILT Instructor.

Participants should be required to do a system test a few days prior to the program. Engage the IT department to support this activity so that they will be ready to quickly answer participant questions. In addition, Participants should find a quiet, dedicated space and login 15 minutes prior to the start of the V-ILT to ensure they are ready for class.

When scheduling multi-hour programs, plan 30-60 minute breaks for both the Instructors and Participants to allow them to attend to both business and personal matters. Note that Instructors often have follow-up participant questions after the end of the formal session and then need to get ready for the next program.

5 – Include a Change Management Strategy and Plan

Managing leaders’, Instructors’ and learners’ expectations is essential for successful transformation to V-ILT. Resistance may show up in limited registrations, no-shows and other non-productive behaviors. A well-executed Change Management strategy can proactively avoid these types of issues. A key element is a robust communication plan for everyone involved, describing the business case for change, the new V-ILT programs, who is impacted, expectations, timelines and contact information. In addition, the strategy should include a plan to measure and report adoption on a routine basis.

 

Please connect with us if you could use help with transforming ILT to V-ILT or simply want to talk about your current situation as you ponder next steps. We’re here to help!

Microlearning: How to Create Exceptionally Productive Teams in a Virtual World

By | Change Management, Commitment to Community, Learning | No Comments

To help you implement or expand your remote working programs, The CARA Group has created this quick microlearning to help your virtual teams become exceptionally productive! These best practices come from our years of experience helping global companies transform their workforce. We hope you like it and share it with others who find it useful.

The Future is Here – Are You and Your Learners Ready?

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Predicting the future can be difficult. But one of two things is very likely:

  • your current job will look very different, or
  • your current job will not exist

The Korn-Ferry ‘Future of Work’ report suggests by 2030 there will be a talent deficit of 85.2 million workers. But here’s the challenge: According to another report authored by the Institute For The Future (IFTF) and a panel of 20 tech, business and academic experts from around the world, 85 per cent of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t even been invented yet.

There’s a term for the workforce talent challenge ahead of us – VUCA:

  • Volatile
  • Uncertain
  • Complex
  • Ambiguous

How do you prepare for a future that is VUCA? The human species has faced many disruptive periods before and, so far, we’ve managed to adapt, thanks to the neuroplasticity of our brains. So, a good place to begin is with the human brain and how it learns.

Looking at the future

While still in its infancy today, by 2030 we can expect the science of learning, founded on cognitive neuroscience and many other disciplines, to be more advanced and more targeted, giving us a new set of tools to inspire and inform the workforce of the future. Scientists are already working on new ways to maximize the power of the brain to change behavior, learn new skills, form new connections and envision new ideas. Some of the new tools you may be using in 2030 include:

  • Implants that form a direct brain-to-computer interface, allowing near real-time access to digital information just by thinking about it
  • Ingestible “knowledge pills” that alter brain chemistry to accelerate processing or deliver specific information, such as process steps or languages
  • Optogenetic devices that can turn neurons on or off by shining different frequencies of light onto the brain
  • Widespread practice of meditation and mindfulness that helps people handle stress, make decisions, and work together in harmony much better than today
  • “Coworkers” who are artificial intelligences (AIs) working side-by-side with humans

Learning to perform, again and again and again

Challenges for the future will include faster technology transformation, working with more people from diverse cultures and regular revolutions in ways of working. This means we’re going to have to learn more, faster and to repeat the process more often.

Fortunately, your brain is plastic and is a learning machine, but not everyone knows how to access that ability. Many learning activities are still firmly rooted in the days of medieval monks; forcing people to sit quietly in classrooms, or stare at screens until they eyes glaze over. This passive approach is simply not the most effective. It wastes valuable time and energy – commodities we simply don’t have if we’re going to survive our next period of disruption.

To make learning more aligned with how the brain works, there’s an increased focus on self-directed learning, like the way all of us use social media to find information we need outside of work. But how do you find “the good stuff?” And when you’ve got it what do you do with it? Building a personal playlist of funny cat videos doesn’t seem to translate well to the modern work environment.

Or does it?

The answer to this question is, “It depends.” Learning for the long-term requires a few key behaviors, such as:

  • Activity that involves the body as well as the mind
  • Mental effort to understand and apply the information
  • Repetition spaced out over a period of time (days, weeks, months)
  • Recall information in context
  • Reflection that links information to personal experience
  • Adequate sleep to allow the brain to rest

As Learning and Development leaders, we need to be aware of all the tools available through science, breaking out of our own patterns and moving into new practices that may make us uncomfortable.

If you want to help your learners prepare for the uncertain future ahead, you must first teach them the fundamentals of learning itself.

That is the one skill that will never go out of style.

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Follow Margie on Twitter: @margiemeacham

The Power of Interactive Videos

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Are you harnessing the real power of video in the right way?

 

Listen to Jackie Zahn, learning consultant for CARA, discuss how making your videos interactive will make your learning and customer engagement soar.

Transcript

If you were handed the option for more control over a situation, would you take it? Most people would. And that’s the power of interactive videos.

So what is interactive video? It’s about leaning forward and participating versus leaning back and watching. It’s about pausing a video and introducing learner interactions, or requiring learners to make decisions and witness the results of their decisions. Interactive video is about creating personalized learning experiences that keep learners engaged and connected to the content, all the way to the end, because with each choice they make, they are becoming more and more invested.

The forms interactive video can take are limitless. From clickable menus, periodic check-ins, hotspots, and choices and consequences, you’re capturing the learner’s attention, and getting them to care about the decisions they’re making! A common theme is that interactive video helps to create that “buy-in” user experience, where participation is a must or else the video won’t proceed.

Did you know, the marketing world is already using interactive video to tailor content for different audiences and they’re seeing higher engagement, longer dwell times and better returns on investment? It’s true. And, compared to non-interactive video that can suffer high viewing drop-off rates in the first few minutes, marketers are seeing completion rates of 90 percent and above. And they’re seeing multiple views per unique visitor and repeat views for the same video. Why? Because viewers often like to explore all the branches in an interactive video, just to see the results if they made a different choice. Imagine having learners engage with your content at that level! In the training world, a well-structured course can encourage learners to continue their learning experience (through downloads, follow-up activities, and targeted recommendations.)

Still not convinced? Let’s talk data. Imagine having insight into how learners respond to different types of interactions? A well-designed course can ensure every choice is tracked and logged back to an LMS and Training Managers can use this data to identify the areas which need improvement and where learners may be struggling to apply concepts.

In conclusion, passive is out, experiential and participatory are in. By adding choices and interactivity to your videos, you invite your learners to lean forward and participate. The act of participation deepens engagement, enhances learning, and accelerates behavior change. It also generates data. With every click of a button, you gain useful insights about your learners.

Lasting learning happens when people are engaged in experiences which shift mental and behavior models. Interactive video represents an exciting, evolving new format that can connect directly with learners on an emotional level, and engage them in their own growth and development.

If you were handed the option for more control over a situation, would you take it? Most training managers would.

Top 10 Elements of an Organizational Learning Strategy

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A well-crafted and rigorously executed organizational learning strategy can ensure that your learning and development organization supports the business in achieving the strategic goals set forth by senior leaders. Without a clear strategy, learning and development organizations tend to lose focus and effectiveness.

The top 10 elements of an organizational learning strategy provide a framework for creating and executing a strategy within an organization, a function or a department.

1 – Alignment to Business Strategy

How will the learning strategy support achieving the goals of the business? For example, how will it help grow sales by 10% in x market or reduce time to market for a product or service?

2 – Well-Defined Scope

What parts of the business does the learning strategy cover? How will out-of-scope requests be addressed? For example, if the North American Sales organization is included, but Asia is not, define how Asia will be covered.

3 – Governance Model

What process will be used to set priorities? For example, a governance team that represents major stakeholders will own the overall strategy, set decision criteria and meet on a set schedule to evaluate activities.

4 – KPIs

How will results be measured, reported and monitored? For example, speed to competency or the number of “ready now” managers. Make sure to have executive buy-in on your learning metrics!

5 – Funding Model

How will program development and delivery costs be funded? For example, program development and management are funded centrally, and program delivery is funded by the business through an internal tuition program.

6 – Alignment with other Talent Management Work Streams

What other talent work streams are in place or being planned? For example, how is learning connected with onboarding, performance management and succession planning?

7 – Learning Organization Capabilities

What are the roles required to support the learning strategy? For example, if the current staff has significant subject matter and teaching expertise, but very limited instructional design experience, you may need to change the makeup of the team to execute the strategy.

8 – Learning Systems

What learning system capabilities are needed to support the learning strategy? How will employees access learning, register for events, and track their progress? What reporting will you need? For example, can the current system provide reports that support your KPIs? Can it deliver micro-learning?

9 – Innovation, Methods and Tools

What innovative methods and tools will be used to create deliverables and manage processes? For example, defining when Artificial Intelligence is appropriate, standardizing on agile or design thinking methods, or even selecting a common development software such as Articulate.

10 – Marketing and Branding

How will the business know about programs? What branding standards will be applied? For example, will learning have its own brand that aligns with the business standards? What other methods (such as town hall and department meetings) can be used to “advertise” learning?

Finally, how will you align with business leadership on your strategy? Getting early buy in is so important for the learning leader. Even better is to be a part of the business strategy development so that you closely align your Learning Strategy from the start!