This article has been selected to be published by ASTD Press. As per their requirements, I am removing this from this site. Here is the direct link to the article on their site: http://www.astd.org/Publications/Blogs/Management-Blog/2014/09/How-to-Develop-An-Effective-Corporate-Learning-Strategy?mktcops=c.mgmt~c.learning-and-development~c.sr-leader&mktcois=c.org-career-dev-programs~c.integrated-talent-management~c.managing-learning-programs~c.measuring-and-evaluating
At its very core, a business cannot thrive unless it has excellent workers and excellent leadership. Very few “excellent” workers will remain excellent if they find their efforts go unnoticed or unrewarded by management, or if they see the business itself spiraling into the ground because of inept management decisions. Rather than stay in such an environment, these workers will find more pleasant employment elsewhere.
Some will even start up their own businesses. Those that want to start their own businesses possess that intangible “leadership” potential – they know how a business should be run and what needs to be done to keep it successful.
It is important, therefore, that these particular employees, the ones with leadership potential, be identified and promoted into management positions where their abilities and skills will bear fruit.
Not everyone wants to be a leader
Many “excellent” workers thrive because they have no responsibility beyond their own specific job – they like being given instructions on what to do, and then they do it – very well. They would be lost if they were moved up in the hierarchy to a position where they had to tell others what to do.
To promote such individuals out of their comfort zone is usually a recipe for disaster.
Not everyone can be a leader
There are a subset of employees who are good (or even not so good) at their jobs, and want to be promoted into a management level because they feel they’d be good at it, but for whatever reason they won’t be. Either they have no people skills and are too overbearing, or they just aren’t good enough at their job and so will not be able to earn the respect of those workers under them whom they are telling what to do.
How to identify good leaders
Depending on how many employees are in your company, you will doubtless have people divided into teams. In a team environment, potential leaders will usually come to the forefront. They will be outspoken in weekly meetings, giving their opinions and advice on the project under discussion.
It is the responsibility of supervisors to be aware of the potentialities of team leaders. Are these outspoken individuals contributing good work? How do their fellow team members respond to them – are they browbeaten or do they recognize this leader as the best person for the job?
Another way to discover employees with leadership potential is to foster open communication and programs where employees can suggest ways to improve the processes or procedures of their team, their division, or of the company in general. Anyone who comes forward with suggestions usually has the knowledge, the ambition and the drive to be a leader. If they have the people skills as well, that is usually a winning combination.
Many leaders are born with great people skills, and the ability to draw the best out of their employees. However, leadership can be taught.
Any business that is structured with team leaders, supervisors, and other upper management positions should also put in place a leadership training program. Many individuals who were excellent team leaders flounder when thrown into the larger role of a supervisor, but can find their feet with proper training.
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When you become a leader, whether it be that of a small team or a large company, the prospect is always daunting. Leadership is always a large responsibility and it can be a crushing burden if not handled properly. History is littered with leaders who weren't able to handle the pressure. Thankfully, we've learned a few things from history – which is where leadership development programs come in.
Being a good leader is not a trait that's spread out in the human population. It's kind of like being a good soccer player or a good player. Some people have the natural talent to be a leader. Some people need a little push in the right direction. The problem with being suddenly handed the big chair is that, unless you've had previous experience, you might not know which of the two are you.
Which is why most employers initiate leadership development programs for those who are in a management position. You might be confident enough in your leadership abilities but those higher-up have to make sure that you are doing the best that you can at the job. The following are two reasons why leadership development programs are good for you:
a) Better self-assessment – Most of the time we're often blind to our own faults. A cursory self-examination will always come up with the result that you may not be perfect but you're not that bad. That's a completely wrong way to do it. When evaluating yourself, you need to be your own worst critic. This is mostly because most other people are not as forgiving of your own faults.
Having a faulty high opinion of oneself is a recipe for disaster – everyone's heard of the arrogant boss or supervisor. You should identify your personal shortcomings before your subordinates do and do something about them. Leadership development programs have a strict self-assessment portion that helps you do this. Additionally, the professional counselors who run these programs can help open your eyes to any troublesome personality traits or habits that you may have.
b)A more aware learning experience – Most leaders learn on-the-job. It's not exactly optimal but sometimes the best way to learn something is to experience it. These learning experiences are often problems at work. The problem with experiencing crises it is sometimes we don't think of it as a learning experience and just pass it off as being part of the job. They do not care to examine deeper into the problem.
This is why they do the same mistakes that resulted in the situation in the first place. Leadership development programs usually give you a better handle on these incidents. A more positive outlook and an inquisitive mind are what these programs encourage and they often result in leaders who know how to identify roots of problems and eliminate them at that level.
There are, of course, several other reasons why you should join leadership development programs but these two are the primary ones. Enter one as soon as possible and prepare to learn to become a better leader.
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Well-trained employees ensure your business success, as such, it’s crucial that any gaps in potential and actual skill levels of the employees are identified and bridged quickly to maximize their potential. Once you identify the employee skills gap in light of business potential, you can decide what kind of training is needed or who should be trained in your organization. Ravinder Tulsiani, a Learning Consultant with Training EDGE, the Canadian based performance consulting firm explains the importance of evaluating any such training needs within the organization.
Effective staff training sets the pace of your business expansion and proves extremely beneficial to the organization. Any areas of your business, including customer service, current operations, morale, motivation and overall productivity of the employees can be improved through training that might otherwise hold or drag the growth of the entire organization. Analyzing the need for training and selecting the right type of training is the basic step in effective staff training.
The following suggestions can help you in accessing whether any developments have created gaps in the potential and actual skill levels of your employees that should be bridged by implementing appropriate training modules:
However, Ravinder cautions that training cannot be seen as one solution to all your problems. Training the employees doesn’t guarantee that recurring problems will be completely addressed. For example, unsatisfied employees may still decide to quit the organization after being trained, and you have to train your new employees again. Similarly, you may find that training doesn’t reduce the customer complaints against any front-line employee who needs to be shifted to another position or functional line. Accessing the training needs within your organization also requires your attention, and you have to prioritize your time for evaluating the training needs and overall benefits of such training. Developing and implementing right training modules also require planning to take care of the training needs of specific workers or functional divisions.
Once you analyze staff training in the right perspective, it allows you to reap the full potential of your employees by boosting their morale, motivation and efficiency through constant proactive support. The high morale, motivation and efficiency are the key factors that contribute to the growth and prosperity of your business. The assessment of training needs within your organization will provide great insight to improve your customer experience and create avenues of business expansion.
RETURN ON INVESTMENT: UNDERSTANDING WHAT ROI IS AND HOW IT’S USED TO HELP BUSINESSES IMPROVE THEMSELVES
Just how important is a return on investment (or ROI)? Well, it’s so important that many organizations are gradually more concerned in measuring the return on investment than the typically used training and organizational change programs, which can be quite costly.
Return On Investment: What Is It and Why Is It Considered So Important
According to Ravinder Tulsiani, an ROI is basically a calculation that looks at an organization’s gained benefits compared to the company’s expenditure. The four key trends that dictate the ROI (accountability needs and evaluation in-training and development) include:
What Is The Return On Investment Method
Ravinder said the basic idea behind the method is to figure out – in percentages – a development’s return by taking away the activity’s costs from its complete benefits. The key problem behind this is that not every benefit can be numerically measured – leadership, confidence level, etc. There are five steps to determine what the ROI process is:
1. Gather Supportive Program Information
Before anything else is done, it’s imperative to collect baseline and follow-up information about a company’s performance, said Ravinder. There are numerous data collection techniques available – examinations, tests, survey sheets, etc. Questionnaires are seen as the most common method of following up, as they provide a good deal of information about how much knowledge was put forth in what they learned and the successes they attained.
Now, the data should only be collected from folks who have been through the training experience because this ensures there is an unbiased process and there are little chances for mistakes.
Ravinder said timing is also an issue that must be dealt with in data collection. The trick with ROI calculations is they’re typically done at random. Still the training benefits are often felt way after an event. Some programs were created so there was a long-term impact. However, identifying certain kinds of improvements from the programs can be difficult if they’re evaluated years after the completion of a program.
Despite the existing connection between performance and training, it’s hard for employees to understand the connection between training and improvements happening months or years after training has commenced.
2. Division Of Training Effects
In all businesses, there are factors that affect the company’s output measures. It’s tricky to determine if training by itself was effective, as it’s just one of the multitudes of influences that drive a certain measure such as:
Some techniques that may be used in the assessment process of the training include:
Of course, at least one strategy (more, if you want) should be used to determine the training’s effect.
3. Calculate Your Costs
A very important step in getting the program costs to find out what the whole investment is. Every cost about the training programs needs to be taken into consideration:
4. Determine The ROI
The return on investment is figured out and shown as a percentage with net benefits divided by the whole investment in a training program. This ensures, Ravinder said, that the ROI formula is similar to ROI calculations for other kinds of investments, typically seen in the net earnings that is divided by the usual investment.
The formula below is what is used to determine the precise value:
Net Programme Benefits - Total Cost of Training Programme
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- x 100% = ROI
It can be difficult to find out what a training program’s ROI is. Therefore, the precise value is never known. Still, the above formula is widely used for gauging training programs.
5. Recognize The Incorporeal Remunerations
Incorporeal remunerations, which are benefits that have no monetary value attached to them or where there is a questionable assigned value, are extremely important; however, they’re not turned into monetary values for the company’s profits.
The ROI calculation does not use them; but, when it comes to the organization’s goal, they are extremely important and much more relevant than performance. Ravinder said some incorporeal remunerations include:
4 Useful Concepts To Attain A Better Return On Investment
According to Ravinder, there are four useful concepts business can apply to get a better ROI for their company. These concepts include:
You can have the best training material and delivery method, but if I don’t like the training environment or am not motivated to learn; chances are that I will walk out of that training room with very little new knowledge or skill.
“Creating a positive learning environment is the key to building strong connection with your learners and ensure learning takes place” says Ravinder Tulsiani, a Learning Consultant with Training EDGE.
Ravinder explains that “a learning environment conducive to learning is no accident, it must be planned”. He suggests a few simple things you can do before and during the training session to create a positive and stimulating environment.
Here are measures that should be taken before the session begins:
~ Decorate the learning room with flowers and plants.
~ Divert the phone calls.
~ Let the participants refresh when they need.
~ Use background music. Baroque music is considered very stimulating and favorable in promoting learning due to its easy and familiar rhythms.
Ravinder cautions that stimulating background themes or the perfect learning ambiance should not be taken as an end in itself. “No single technique can ensure learner transfer occurs”, creating a positive learning environment using the above techniques must be a part of the overall training strategy. Another key determinant is the skills and proficiency of the trainer; a good trainer can significantly accelerate the learning process. Ravinder suggests the following measures for sustaining the right learning environment during the session:
Here are measures that should be taken during the session:
The training should start smoothly with a pace that doesn't create discomfort to any learner.
~ The trainer should only use icebreakers to eliminate hesitation and not for bringing any perceptible change in learning results.
~ The trainer should foster confidence that the personal information of the participants will never be misused and remain personal. ~ The trainer shouldn't force any participant to engage in any activity regardless of the intention to eliminate hesitation.
~ The trainer should only use icebreakers to eliminate hesitation and not for bringing any perceptible change in learning results.
~ The trainer should foster confidence that the personal information of the participants will never be misused and remain personal.
Informal learning accounts for almost 80 percent of all the learning activities within the organization, then why do most companies focus all their efforts on formal training. “Most organizations don’t utilize the full potential of informal learning” says Ravinder Tulsiani, a Learning Consultant with Training EDGE. Ravinder advocates that “organizations should incorporate informal learning as an important approach to employee education and training”, and explains the factors that can enhance the effectiveness of the informal learning process within the organization.
Research has shown that informal group behavior within the organization exerts tremendous influence on the overall performance of the organization. These informal groups within the organizations also impart right skills to their group members and surprisingly account for as high as 80 percent of all the learning activities within the organization. The formal managers or education and training department of the organization have no role in this informal learning process and therefore, the informal learning may not serve as a very effective and desired training process from the manager’s perspective.
Management cannot control the informal learning process within the organization, but they can influence the quality and effectiveness of informal learning by considering it as an important approach to employee education and training. The managers should facilitate the informal learning process and ensure that their employees have access to the right information when they look for it. The training or human resource department should include the following guidelines for taking full advantage of informal channels of training within the organization:
1. Understand the informal learning process within the organization
It becomes highly imperative to understand the information learning process within the organization to effectively support and facilitate informal learning so that it actually aligns with the formal education and training within the organization. The managers should find out how their employees learn at the workplace in order to understand the informal learning process. The analysis of the worker's learning process at the workplace can be carried out by using any combinations of the following approaches:
Conducting a Survey:
The managers can conduct surveys by drafting a questionnaire to collect important information as to how the employees improved their skills. The surveys are better than focus groups or interviews in quickly and efficiently obtaining the information but may require further clarification or follow-up questions to get a more comprehensive understanding of the informal learning process.
The managers can suitably categorize the employees into focus groups and engage in personal conversation with them to find out the source of their information and how they perform their routine jobs. During the personal interactions, the managers can specifically ask how the employees improved their efficiency, what they do when face any work-related problems and what resources are more useful in solving their problems. This will allow the managers to understand the resources that are more important to the workers.
The observation during the actual work is the most important approach to understand the informal learning process because the informal group code may prevent the employees to share information with the managers as to how they work and coordinate with each other in solving problems. Although observation is the most revealing method of understanding informal learning process, it’s equally time-consuming process. The workers may coordinate with each other in the following manners to resolve their work-related issues:
The close observation and monitoring of such activities will reveal the true picture of the informal learning process taking place in any group or functional departments within the organization.
The analysis and understanding of the informal learning process will reveal the secrets of close informal groups as far the informal learning process is concerned, and the education and training department of the organization can have a clear picture as to what resources are utilized and which one are neglected by the employees. This understanding of the informal learning process will enable them to plan accordingly and improve the correct resource utilization for education and training.
2. Encourage and Support informal learning within the organization
The informal learning in the most natural process without any need of formal interference, but the informal learning process can be significantly improved. The managers can incorporate training modules on the following skills and activities in the formal training to encourage and support the informal learning process within the organization:
The role of education and training department of the organization lies in imparting formal learning opportunities to the employees for improving their working proficiency and thus increasing the overall organizational efficiency. The incorporation of these skills will provide additional advantages of smooth informal learning at the same time enhancing work efficiency of the employees through formal training. The encouragement and support to informal learning process by formal training certainly lead to dual advantages.
3. Provide access to authentic and quality resources for informal learning
The most important aspect of informal learning is that it provides support to the employee in the form of right information whenever they face problems. The informal learning can be improved by supporting the employee’s access to quality and authentic information sources. The organizations can use intranet to provide cost-effective and easily accessible authentic information to the employees. The easy access to quality information will naturally improve the informal learning once the usage and availability of information is promoted by using formal learning opportunities.
The organization should use the services of only those providers who can effectively deliver right knowledge base and meet the information requirements of the workforce.
4. Support employee’s access to subject matter experts
Generally, the senior colleagues with expertise on the concerned subject matters serve as informal advisors and provide a very instrumental role in the informal learning process. Virtually, the entire informal learning process within the organization revolves around their mentoring skills. The organizations can identify and develop the mentoring skills of these senior subject specific experts within the organization to encourage and facilitate the informal learning throughout the organization. The development of subject matter experts within the organization will encourage informal learning and improvements in their skills will ensure that they don’t act as the answering machine but actively encourage the employees to develop self-learning capabilities.
5. Develop Knowledge base and Information resources that can be easily updated
The employees within the organization persistently seek the right and updated information, and research has revealed that on an average 15-30 percent working hours of the employee is lost in seeking the most authentic information (IDC Information Worker Survey April 2003). This waste of time can be significantly reduced by incorporating an information management system where the information can be easily edited, stored and shared by the employees. The organization should incorporate the information management system but allow the employees to manage and develop the information resources. The extent of workforce ownership and sharing of the knowledge base will encourage informal learning by providing quick access to authentic and updated information. The monitoring and management of the knowledge base by the subject-specific experts will significantly enhance the potential advantages of using information management systems.
6. Encourage opportunities of informal learning
The cordial working environment conductive to informal group interactions enhances the effectiveness of informal learning as the employees can easily interact and share ideas and solutions. The organization should encourage and promote employee interaction through cordial working environment by incorporating the following aspects in the organizational culture:
7. Monitoring, Evaluation and corrective measures
The adaptation to the behavioral challenges of the organization is an ongoing process, and the avenues of informal learning have to be constantly explored. The evaluation of the supportive measures becomes very important for encouraging informal learning process. All the policy measures that don’t bring desired changes have to be refined. The technical advancements such as sophisticated software, monitoring systems, the Internet, etc. create additional opportunities that can be incorporated within the organizational culture to increase the effectiveness of informal learning. The workforce participation in finding the most appropriate technological improvements conductive to informal learning is another very crucial factor for promoting informal learning within the organization.
Why most training initiatives fail and what you can do to maximize return on your training investment?
Most companies want training programs that efficiently deliver the new knowledge in the least amount of time as possible to minimize disruption to their normal day-to-day operations.
Resulting from the need for efficiency, most trainers have focused almost exclusively on creating a training session or series of training sessions, in fact, trainers spend over 85% of their efforts on designing and developing the training event; this enables trainers to ensure that the material is delivered in the most compact way as possible and ensure the knowledge transfer occurs inside the classroom efficiently.
The problem with focusing on event almost exclusively is the long-term retention. Studies prove that less than half of the skills and information learned is transferred to the job immediately after the training session. Within 6 months, three-quarters of the information or skill is forgotten, and after one year employees retain as little as 10 to 15% of what they learned in the training session.
If you’re looking for better return from your training investment dollars, then consider breaking the event mindset and start thinking about the entire learning process.
he training event is only a part of the learning process. You should allocated no more than 60% of your efforts in the event itself; to increase the effectiveness and return on training investment, focus your remaining 40% of your time in developing post-training re-enforcement and follow up.
Post-training re-enforcement and follow up strategy can include providing resources to answer questions, additional reinforcement training sessions / stand ups, job aids, online resource, follow up on actions learners indicated they would take; any effort taken to reinforce the skill. You can also give employees who have successfully implemented new skill the opportunity to provide training.
Engage the immediate managers prior to training and encourage them to hold learners accountable for the new skills learned and recommend that they put in place rewards and incentives to encourage the new behavior. Encourage them to measure and monitor performance, because “what gets measured gets done.”
By having a solid post-training plan, you will exponentially increase the return on your training investment dollars. In fact, studies show that training combined with follow up and coaching increases effectiveness by over 80%.
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