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Stories, Your Vision And The Impact On Behavior.

Stories, Your Vision And The Impact On Behavior.

How do you communicate a vision strong enough to create leaders throughout your organization? A strong vision allows team leaders to make decisions that align with company goals. A strong vision will enable teams to feel purpose in the work they contribute. If you want to create a strong enough vision that inspires your teams to take action, think about using stories.

As technology and communication methods progress, it’s becoming more important to talk succinctly through all channels effectively. However, this isn’t always so easy. With so much new technology, you might think communication has become easier. Instead, we see the need to perfect the classic communication methods like storytelling becoming more vital to success.

So why storytelling?

There are dozens of great reasons to use storytelling to communicate your vision. Culture, respect, relatability are some of the most obvious. However, at its core, implementing a storytelling technique to communicate can ensure transparency within the company. It is also the most likely method to have your teams adopt and absorb what your vision is.

For thousands of years, stories have been used to convey messages. Stories as old as time still get passed on, stories of Greek heroes and gods are still retold today. Parables such as the Tortoise and the Hair are still used to teach our children. No other form of communication has had such a lasting impact. Television, Movies, Radio, Books, all media forms utilize stories because they engage us, touch our emotions and can drive us to action.

Stories reach all learners. They engage our imagination, making learning both auditory and visual, even when no visual aids are used. Listen to a good audiobook, and you’ll see the story in your mind.

In 2012, Emory University did research involving metaphors. When subjects read a metaphor involving texture, the sensory cortex, responsible for perceiving texture through touch, became active. Metaphors like “The sunlight was like a warm bath” activated the sensory cortex, while statements like “The sun was nice” did not.

By engaging in stories, you activate your team’s brains in areas they would use if they had experienced the situation. That’s powerful when trying to impact behaviour or develop empathy in future leaders.

Stories Stick with you.

Stories make facts more memorable. Psychologist Jerome Bruner’s research suggests that facts are 20 times more likely to be remembered if they’re part of a story. If you’re looking to pass along best practices or help teams avoid problems, stories will allow them to remember the cause and effect needed for sound decision making. Keith Oatley, an emeritus professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto, proposed, “that reading produces a vivid simulation of reality, one that runs on minds of readers just as computer simulations run on computers.”

You literally get to download new knowledge into your team’s brains!

Your teams are more likely to apply the new knowledge to new situations because they already experienced how the facts relate to the world in a story. Stories allow that connection to happen naturally.

Your vision and goals become tangible. Your team can emotionally buy-in to a story, and they can see themselves as part of the journey, they can be part of the story, be one of the heroes. Everyone wants to be a hero.

So how do you use stories?

1. Define your problem or critical point.

You can use past experience to define the problem. Maybe it’s a product launch, explain how your team was stuck in a past launch. Describe the emotion, not just the facts of the situation.

2. Create a journey, real or fictitious, both are powerful.

Explain how you worked through the problem, talk about the obstacles, talk about how the team struggled or came together.

3. Explain the solution.

Explain the win or the loss. If its a win, why, how, and what created the win. If it’s a loss, explain what you would do differently in reference to a time in the story.

Follow that simple outline, and you’ll impact your team at a deeper level. You’ll communicate your vision in a stronger more relatable way.

WHO’S LEARN2?

We’re Learn2, and it’s our mission to change the way the world works. We would love for you to join us in that mission. Here’s what to do, see this link?  It’s for a quick 10 question assessment that will give you deep insight into your natural communication style. You’re going to love it. You need to do it, click the link and take the assessment, trust me. After that I really hope you’ll consider working with us, we create amazing results for our clients and would love the opportunity to do the same for you.

What Does Will Ferrell and Learn2 Have In Common

What Does Will Ferrell and Learn2 Have In Common

What does Will Ferrell, one of the great Improv actors of modern times and Learn2, one of the most awarded leadership development companies in Canada, have in common? “Yes and…”!

“Yes and…” is a tool used by improv actors to continue a improve a scene by stacking ideas on top of each creating a more ridiculous story as the improv proceeds. At some point, one actor falters, and the game ends. End scene!

At Learn2, we also use a tool called, “Yes and…”. It’s designed to keep ideas flowing and reduce the chance of shutting down an idea before it can gain traction.

What makes “Yes and…” so powerful?

Most managers, leaders and colleagues, when asked a question or presented with an idea, will look for why an idea might not work. It’s an honest attempt to help, and there is a better way. Let’s look at a few examples.

Great idea, but we tried that before.

Great idea, but the cost seems out of our budget.

Each sentence starts with a positive tone. The “but” shuts down the idea immediately. It’s like saying, “I love you but…”. Not all that romantic is it.

Using “Yes and..” allows the idea to built upon.

Yes and, we could look at how we could make it work this time.
Yes and, we could pool resources to reduce the cost.

If a manager or leader starts using “Yes and…”, they open themselves to more possibilities and more ideas. Something that may not have seemed like it could work at first can quickly become a great idea or transform into something completely different that has incredible benefits to the organization.

How to run a “Yes and…” circle.

So how do you use this tool at your job, home and the world in general?

We have a specific use in the workplace, mainly for meetings and especially brainstorming sessions.

1. What you need.
A ball. Yes, a ball. You can reach out to us at Learn2.com, start a chat up and explain you would like to run a “Yes and…” circle. We’ll send you a ball if you can’t find one.
People in the meeting.
An open mind.
A timer, on your phone, a stopwatch, a clock on the wall. Anything to track 5 minutes.

2. What to do.
Explain to everyone in the meeting that you’re about to present a problem. Then you’re going to toss the ball to someone, and they simply start a sentence with “Yes and…[thier idea to help].”. Then they throw the ball to someone…gently, who in turn starts a statement with, “Yes and…”, building on the last idea or adding their own idea. It’s straightforward, a lot of fun, and frankly could help solve most of the world’s problems.

3. How to finish.
Watch the clock. At the 5 minute mark, call stop. It’ll be hard because ideas will be flowing. You can do it. Once time is up, you can move to the next stage of looking at the ideas, finding the best ones and assign action items to move them forward.

You can use “Yes and…” anywhere. The more you use those two words when presented with an idea or negotiating or trying to find a good place to eat, start your sentence with “Yes and…”. You’ll find people will be more open to your suggestions, you’ll experience less conflict, and you’ll get more ideas and possibilities in your life.

Who’s Learn2?

We’re Learn2, and it’s our mission to change the way the world works. We would love for you to join us in that mission. Here’s what to do, see this link?  It’s for a quick 10 question assessment that will give you deep insight into your natural communication style. You’re going to love it. You need to do it, click the link and take the assessment, trust me. After that I really hope you’ll consider working with us, we create amazing results for our clients and would love the opportunity to do the same for you.

Learn2 Disco Christmas 2019

Learn2 Disco Christmas 2019

 

It is the holidays at Learn2 and the team just can’t hold it in any longer!  They gotta dance!  So here they are, the 2019 Learn2 team and Disco Christmas.

Narrative Immersion and the  Impact on the Forgetting Curve

Narrative Immersion and the Impact on the Forgetting Curve

Narrative Immersion

Think back to a favorite childhood memory. What do you remember? What senses are triggered; smells, sounds, sight, taste, touch? Memories consist of a time, place and feeling. It’s called memory because it has stuck with you for a variety of sensational reasons. Learning works like memories - some teachings stick with you, and some don’t.

One hundred fifty years ago, Hermann Ebbinghaus discovered that people forget learning at an alarming rate. Within a month after traditional learning, 90% of the knowledge is lost. This is called the forgetting curve.

Forgetting Curve

In today’s world, this is rarely talked about as a business issue. Its root cause is the fact that traditional learning is just that - traditional. In this situation, the trainer owns the learning, the knowledge typically comes from a workbook or slide, and the learner is passive. When the trainer owns the learning, it takes all responsibility off the learner. When learning is contained in slides and workbooks, it is not relevant to the learner. The two previous elements contribute to the passive learn who is “along for the ride, with no responsibility. The forgetting curve heavily impacts the business as most training investments do not think to provide a planned ROI for the forgetting curve. The forgetting curve becomes the cost of doing business. We must provide training, and we know they won’t remember, yet there is no other way.

Traditional Learning

What if there was another possibility? What if you could ensure that your learning investment pays for itself? And what if you could change the view of training in your organization?

The most impactful way to combat the forgetting curve is to create immersive learning experiences. Inside this method, the participant is focused on the experience, and they “reach out” to take the learning themselves. They feel what it’s like to use the new skills and are actively involved in the experience.

When the learner takes the learning, the facilitator meets them at where they are. Concepts and models are introduced, and learners choose to “grab” the learning that is most relevant to their situation. Skills are practiced, and commitments are made to use these new concepts back in the office. At Learn2, we create Graffiti walls and provide each learner with a marker. They are instructed to answer the questions on the walls. This gives ownership to the learner and creates an inclusive learning experience.

Implementation idea: Rather than spending time “teaching” concepts, participants are given concise information, and they work together to make it relevant to their group, and ultimately the class.

Due to the learning’s immersive nature, the participants become emotionally impacted by it. The experience elicits an emotional response to what they’re being taught, which in turn increases retention as well as motivating action and behavior. Connecting learning to emotion links with our neuropathways and helps the process of retrieving information become effortless. We have been known to drop learners on the bridge of the Titanic or on an iceberg in Antarctica.

Implementation idea: Start learning off with your statements to enter the learner’s world. Use this to transport the learners to the context you want the learning to take place.

When multiple senses are triggered, the impact that learning has turns into a memory - which keeps the knowledge retained for a longer period of time. During immersive experiences, the learner is made to be a part of the experience. It becomes tangible, and the learner personally experiences the lessons to enhance their skills. Tactile experiences can be as simple as contributing to a Graffiti Wall all the way through to holding blueprints and feeling the cold Antarctic breeze brush against you.

Implementation idea: Use props to connect the learner to the problem they face. How could you offer them pipe cleaners, play-do, craft paper to create a tool needed in the learning? What tastes or scents could you offer to transport your learner?

To ensure your investment in training provides you with a strong ROI, address the forgetting curve at the source by providing immersive learning experiences. This ensures that your learners are fully into experience and feeling it’s impact – making it the ultimate learning method. This type of training drives results and impacts the business greatly. As Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

If you’re looking for help developing an entire development journey through all stages, talk to us at Learn2, we’re changing the way the world works by changing the way the world learns.

Understanding your natural approach starts with an assessment. Want to learn your natural approach? Take the assessment, and we’ll continue down this journey together.

Gen Z and Leadership Development

Gen Z and Leadership Development

Gen Z and Leadership Development

Our clients often come to us with questions like, “How to do we engage our newest employees?” or “Our current leadership development program seems to miss with our younger team members, what can we do?”.

Gen Z and the younger portion of Millenials have a different expectation of how people should work together and how learning should happen. It’s essential to understand what makes this group different from older members of your teams and leadership.

Let’s dig in.

First, Gen Z is the first fully digital generation. They are the first digital natives, and arguably reality is broken for this generation. For Boomers, reality had no or little digital aspect. Want information? Go to the library. Augmenting reality meant putting up a sign in the street. Gen X was introduced to computers at an age where finding information was mainly physical, and as they entered late high school and college, digital information became available. Again augmenting reality did not exist, and reality remained intact.

Enter Gen Z. All information is available at any time given a suitable internet connection via WIFI or cellular service. That ability to get information at any time has existed for them since they were born. As they have aged, it’s become easier to access, first via phone browser, then voice and now just augmented reality.

Think about that.

Let’s compare a Gen X experience with a cellular phone to a Gen Z.

Gen X: Non-touch screen, no internet access, expensive, poor coverage.
Gen Z: Touch screen, internet, cheap(comparatively), excellent coverage.

Hand a Gen X first device to a Gen Z and that device in perfect condition appears broken. Why won’t the screen work when I touch it? Why can’t I find the browser? Where are the apps? It’s a broken device.

Translate that to reality.

Gen X Early Reality: All analogue, slow introduction of digital billboards, information is not constantly available, no GPS on Phone or Car. No overlay of digital on top of reality. (Pokemon Go, GPS direction through a phone camera)

Gen Z Early Reality: Digital and analogue mixed, digital billboards, kiosks, phone, voice assistant, etc. Digital integration and overlay on top of reality, improving it and adding context to it. Games become part of the world; directions are not just on a map but viewed as part of the reality you see through your phone camera. The list goes on.

Ordinary analogue reality appears broken, for Gen Z reality becomes useless like a Gen X cell phone.

Why does this matter?

First, think of the level of instant collaboration this generation is used to. In a recent study, 94% of Gen Z say they frequently use collaboration tools, including Google Docs, GroupMe, and Facebook Messenger when at college to complete assignments. They instantly reach friends, immediately plan what to do, instantly see schedules and share it. This generation can organize hive minds naturally and quickly. Imagine the frustration a meeting holds for them. The time it takes to get everyone in a room is the same time they can communicate and solve the problem, and you have not even started talking about it yet in your old analogue style meeting. Your meeting reality is broken.

That does this mean the elimination of face to face work, no. It means technology is expected to speed the collaboration process and that meetings are more one on one or for small groups. The majority (90%) of Gen Zers want their weekly one-on-ones to occur in person, the report found.

Second, consider the impact of having any type of information available but not the context to make it useful. That’s where mentorship comes into play. You can forward a meaningful article to your team and then discuss the impact of the concept or idea. This allows you to add context and experience to the information for them. Use your time not for information dumps, but for interaction and discussion. 75% fo Gen Z expect to learn from peers on the job, not online programs. Online programs need to augment learning, not replace peers and group learning. This generation is collaborative, which means they want to be together, not alone.

Third rethink your Leadership Development program, understanding that it might move slow for them. When information can be accessed in any fashion, at any time, do you need to spend hours in the class? Or can some of it be digitally accessed ahead and then group time used for collaboration, discussion or experiences that help them use the new information and embody it. (Full Disclosure: We’d like to you help with this piece).

Forth give them tools that are accessible at the moment of truth. The moment they need it most. What do you do in [blank] situation? I’m about to do a peer review; how is it done? You need to have those answers readily and easily available.

If you’re looking for help developing an entire development journey through all stages, talk to us at Learn2, we’re changing the way the world works by changing the way the world learns.

Understanding your natural approach starts with an assessment. Want to learn your natural approach? Take the assessment, and we’ll continue down this journey together.

5 Learning Stages To Create Successful Leaders

5 Learning Stages To Create Successful Leaders

 

Learning is a journey.

Every new skill, concept and idea needs to be considered and then take root. Even if when we accept the idea of the skill, we are still not competent. Competence comes with repeated correct practice, or trial and error, learning from each new experience. As a Learning and Development leader in your organization, you want to help new and developing leaders avoid trial and error. You want to provide the correct tools and information to guide them past the mistakes and make the right competent decisions in the many unique situations they will be tested against. With that goal in mind, let’s look at five learning stages for developing competence and replacing a skill.

Stage 1: Learning A New Skill
Stage 2: Learning A New Skill More Deeply
Stage 3: Applying A Newly Learned Skill
Stage 4: Adapting A Newly Learned Skill To Unique Situations
Stage 5: Replacing Old Comfortable Skills With A New One

Stage 1 - Learning A New Skill

This stage is the introduction of a skill. The skill could be how to conduct a performance review or how to use a “Yes and…” circle. The new skill will feel foreign and uncomfortable. New skills are mostly taught in a development session or classroom. We use “Narrative Immersion” to help ideas sink in faster and with more impact. You may use more traditional methods. The path is the same; skills are introduced and learned at a surface level. It’s like learning the scales on the piano, it’s not music, but technically you’re playing the instrument.

Stage 2 - Learning A Skill More Deeply

Here is where competence starts to develop. Think of tennis, Stage 1, you are introduced to the racquet, the ball, the court and the net. Stage 2, you would be shown the rules, how to swing the racquet, how to deliver a serve. You might even practice a little rally with your coach, to get a feel for how the ball hits the racquet.

Back to our performance review example, we might learn about “Sandwiching Criticism”, using “Feel, Felt, Found” or “WYSIITMB” as more in-depth tools than just the performance form we need to fill out after meeting with a team member. In the development session, we might even role play with each other to get a feel for how the performance conversation might go. All of this is not actual application, and yet some competence is starting to build.

Stage 3 - Applying A Newly Learned Skill.

This is where the new skill feels most uncomfortable.

This is the first or second time the new skill has been used without a safety net. It feels foreign, we might report back that using the new skill felt robotic and insincere. We are at a critical point in the development of the skill. It would be easy to move to old habits and old ways of doing things. The new skill feels less effective because we still have low competence, and as a result, we might abandon it.

You can avoid this by providing support right when your leaders need it. Create “Brain Trust” mentoring circles so that peers can reinforce and support each other in the new skill. Use timely coaching to help them prepare for stage 4 and get more comfortable applying the new skill regularly. The team will only become competent with practice and review. Explain the uncomfortable feelings are expect during stage 1 and stage 2 so that it’s not a surprise in stage 3. Just like a tennis pro trying a small change in their swing, it feels uncomfortable until enough repetition creates muscle memory, and it becomes natural.

Stage 4: Adapting A Newly Learned Skill to Unique Situations

Life and work don’t as always play out as expected. We may run into unique situations that become learning opportunities. As a result, we need to apply our new skills to new situations where it does not fit comfortably. Round peg into a square hole!

As practice, coaching and peer mentorship take hold, and the new skill begins to feel more natural, we apply it to new situations and create new solutions. This is a sign of stronger competence, as we can start to diagnose a situation and use the new skill to solve the problem.

Stage 5 - Stage 5: Replacing Old Comfortable Skills With A New One

This is when true competence takes hold, the old skills no longer seems the right choice. The new skill has become the best tool and replaces old patterns.

It is an ongoing learning challenge to replace old entrenched skills with new ways of tackling a problem. Traditional learning environments are not equipped to handle the final three stages needed to have a skill adopted and impact the organization. Tools like “Brain Trust” peer mentoring, coaching, “Practice-Review” sessions and situational aids are all needed to ensure stage 3 to stage 5 occur, or you’ll miss the chance to create stronger, more capable leaders. Support after the learning is critical and must be part of the journey for your team.

If you’re looking for help developing an entire development journey through all stages, talk to us at Learn2, we’re changing the way the world works by changing the way the world learns.

Understanding your natural approach starts with an assessment. Want to learn your natural approach? Take the assessment, and we’ll continue down this journey together.

Evolving Leadership Development with Natural Abilities

Evolving Leadership Development with Natural Abilities

You want to evolve yourself actively - dare I say intentionally.
You have some sense of what you want out of life and what gets in the way of you having what you want.

What if you could see yourself and your natural strengths?
What if, by seeing your natural strengths and abilities, you could leverage them more effectively?
And what if by understanding your natural strengths, you could also see your blind spots?

Let me introduce you to the Natural Approach.

Your natural strengths allow you to perform effectively - even beyond what others can do. Some of us can organize the hell out of a closet in record time, while others can engage friends and co-workers to get up and achieve something monumental together. Both are valuable. And both tap into the power of human potential.

What if our parents, teachers, sports, hobbies, jobs and partners all cause us to develop individual abilities that become natural for us more than others(Natural Abilities). In some respects, our circumstances empower some natural abilities more than others.

Consider a child growing up on a farm with horses and their natural abilities. Then consider a child of a single working mom in a city. Each would have very different natural abilities.

The reality is that we likely have over-developed and under-developed natural abilities. Meaning that some of our natural approaches are so deeply ingrained we’ll overuse our natural ability. Consider the person with an only hammer for a tool. The whole world starts to look like a nail. Typically screws work more effectively with a screwdriver than a hammer - personal experience on that one. If we don’t have a screwdriver to work with, we still use the hammer, even if we know it is not effective. Developing more tools allows for more effective solutions. Knowing more natural approaches provides for more effective communication and solutions.

Your natural abilities are a massive source of performance and achievement in your life. What if you could actively evolve your natural abilities to create more value?

So if this is true, then we also have natural abilities that are less developed. Those under-developed abilities could be the source of great effectiveness when you decide to develop them.

This is what our Natural Series programs help you and your team achieve.

Generation Z was surveyed and reported that 42% of them interact with their phones more than people. 37% percent of Gen Zs have gone as far as admitting that technology has weakened their ability to maintain strong interpersonal relationships and develop people skills, according to insights in Gen Z @ Work.

Generation Z

If we look at natural abilities, we might conclude that social and communication skills might be less than desired. Developing an internal program for your team to foster social and communication skills based on the natural approach of themselves and others could have a lasting impact on the entire organization.

Understanding your natural approach starts with an assessment. Want to learn your natural approach? Take the assessment, and we’ll continue down this journey together.

5 Great Questions Great Leader Asks Their Team

5 Great Questions Great Leader Asks Their Team

What makes one company more successful than another? Better products, services, strategies, or technologies? While all of these contribute to superior performance, all of them can also be copied over time. The one thing that creates sustainable competitive advantage – and therefore ROI, company value and long-term strength – is the people who are the company. And when it comes to people, research has shown, time and again, that employees who are engaged significantly outperform workgroups that are not engaged. 

Where companies that enjoy a 60% to 70% employee engagement, the average total shareholder’s return stood at 24.2%; in companies with 49% to 60% of their employees engaged, TSR fell to 9.1 percent; companies with engagement below 25 percent suffered negative TSR. (Source: Employee engagement at double-digit growth companies, Hewitt Research Brief)

In the fight for competitive advantage where employees are the differentiator, engaged employees are the ultimate goal.

As leaders, we can be tempted to share our wisdom and solve things for people – too often and too quickly. When we do, we don’t allow others to grow, to develop, to come up with a brilliant idea…so pretty soon, they don’t try anymore. So rather than solve the issue for them, ask questions to get the team engaged in problem-solving. The answers become conversations about things that are important or meaningful. Conversations are more likely to turn to action. Action turns into results, and that’s the ultimate goal, engaged teams that take action and produce results.

Here are some of the questions that can help you get started.

1. What do you think?

Instead of offering our answer first, get them thinking, talking and sharing. Hold back, no matter how tempting to share your solution. And when they start talking, make sure you listen and maybe ask a probing question, like “What else?” No judgment, no qualifying, and no hi-jacking. Let them explore with your help. No one has every answer, by engaging your team to think about solutions they add to the answer pool. Your team also starts self-solving as the start to realize they often have the answer to their problems.

2. What would you do?

Asking this question encourages leadership thinking and ownership – at all levels of the company. Again, follow up with probing questions to keep listening. This question also builds confidence and contributes to the answer pool. People feel more engaged and fulfilled when they contribute and when they have an impact. Asking “What would you do?” allows them to help and have an impact on decisions. They now have skin in the game.

3. What’s the real challenge here for you?

The key here is the word “real”. When you ask about challenges, you may open the flood gates. Help them focus on the real problem so that they can begin to find their way out. Focus on the correct challenge is the fastest way to reach a solution. Focusing on the most significant piece of a problem allows the proper resources to be gathered to solve it. Too often, we focus on the small, most comfortable part of the project. As a result, we look like we are making progress when, in reality, the biggest struggle is still to come.

4. Where are you stuck?

Sometimes we need a push…we may need to admit that we are stuck so that we open ourselves to ideas and new perspectives. Asking this question permits your team to accept they are stuck so that they can move forward. It also helps identify the “real” challenge. Being able to point to the obstacles and give it name is an incredibly powerful tool. Often just putting a name to the what’s holding a team member back is enough for them to create their own solution and quickly move past it without you solving it for them

5. How can I help?

When your employee gets stuck, they may become frustrated and disengaged. Asking, “How can I help?” gives hope that they are not alone, and can be the relief they need to move forward. Go through the other questions first; there is a reason this one is last. Recognize that if the previous questions did not produce a solution or move the team forward, they may also not know what help they need. That’s when your experience comes in most valueable. It’s time to roll up the sleeves and dig into this challenge with the team and solve it together. The result is a stronger bonded team, with high trust and respect for each other. Groups that work in this fashion have higher levels of engagement and results.

Learn2 works with leaders to help them develop and implement strategies to engage their teams to get great results. Work with one of our team members to help you achieve lasting change in your organization. Want to know more about your management style? Take our Natural Approach Assessment.

3 Ways To Identify A Disengaged Gen Z Team And What To Do About It

3 Ways To Identify A Disengaged Gen Z Team And What To Do About It

In a 2017 study by Full Potential Group found that 20 year olds(Gen Z) were the least likely to be motivated at work with a full 33% saying that Work/Life balance was a key demotivator. Since we have yet to define what work/life balance looks like from person to person, I’m going to hazard that work is demotivating and that they would prefer to living their life.  Balance has little to do with it.

What’s truly interesting is that 51 years olds(Gen X), scored the workplace as 7.7 out of 10. They found they were motivated by flexible hours, challenging work and freedom to make decisions. They might describe work as an exciting part of life, and they have the flexibility to balance the two.

We could conclude from the study that those starting their careers do not have the luxuries and freedoms of those much later in their career and, as a result, can not balance work and life to the same degree.

What does it mean for a leader looking to improve morale?

Do you give these freedoms to team members just starting on the career journey? As a leader, what can you do to improve motivation and job satisfaction?  Let’s dig a little deeper.

Let’s start with three ways to recognize when your team or individual is not engaged and not motivated.

1. Listen

You’re looking for negative language.  What words are being used to describe the product, the business, the team, the leadership?  Does the language swing to the negative side of the scale?  Listen for feelings that imply they are along for the ride. Do they feel they do not have input, and that ideas and trends just come and go? The language will reflect a lack of control and purpose.

2. Watch

Low morale is demonstrated with low engagement. You’ll notice little to no initiative.  If your team waits for you to tell it what to do, you have low morale and reduced job satisfaction.  You also notice low productivity and poor performance.  Your team will show up less often to work, and they will have more “sick” days. 

3. Measure

Performance is an excellent measurement of morale and engagement. As a leader, what gets measured improves. If you notice the team is missing targets, missing deadlines, and not meeting quality expectations, you should start looking at job satisfaction. Missing project deadlines and making more mistakes by the team or an individual implies engagement is declining.

What do you do?

We now have some easy ways to identify a potential problem. What do you do? Throw a pizza party? Give out an employee of the month award?

Start with taking the time to find out what’s important to each team member. What does balance look like for them or what career goals do they have? When work becomes part of life instead and not an interruption, it becomes easier to balance. When a team member feels they are moving towards a bigger goal, one they have control of, they stay more engaged.

Setting correct expectations is vital. We feel unhappy when our reality falls short of our expectations. If I expect $1,000,000 and I receive $100,000, I am unhappy. If I expect $10,000 and receive $100,000, I am happy. The same amount was received, and the expectation was different. Explain to your team that the current entry-level job they are in is a grind; you once had a similar position. As a leader, you are committed to helping them build the skills, experience and knowledge needed move to the next stage of their career, with the agreement they stay committed and engaged in doing their best in this position. 

When you are 20 years old, 5 years to move ahead is 25% of your current life span.  It seems like forever.  When you are 50, 5 years seems a whole lot shorter.  It took them 4 years for high school, another 4 years to become a college graduate, can you blame them for thinking they can be CEO in another 4 years.  A new expectation needs to be set.

Reward the team and individuals.

Reward your team, as both a team and as individuals, when they show engagement and initiative. That which is rewarded will be repeated. 

Public recognition is a motivating reward. A powerful way to show a person is valued is to take the time to call them out for doing a great job, holding to company values or sharing a great idea.

Use positive language.

Use positive words and be deliberate about your language. Positive language is especially crucial at the individual level. Langauge that focuses on them is best.

Find a common enemy

The last tip is to create a common enemy. It sounds counterproductive, and it’s not. A disengaged team has nothing to rally around. They don’t feel like they have a purpose or a direction. They don’t feel like they are in control, and they feel leadership is to blame for that. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. If you create a new common enemy, you are now on the same side. That common enemy can be a competitor. It can even be another department if framed around healthy competition and respect. The point is to give your team common ground and goals that they have control over.

Final thoughts

Morale and engagement is a big problem in today’s workforce, especially with Generation Z and Millenials. These two generations are looking to contribute and expect levels of co-operation and inclusion that can often be at odds with the current status quo of how business has been done in the past. As mentioned earlier, happiness is the GAP between expectation and reality. Close the gap, and you’ll have an engaged and motivated team.

Google’s 5 Rules for Great Teams

Google’s 5 Rules for Great Teams

Google has 5 rules for great teams.

1. Psychological Safety

2. Dependability

3. Structure and Clarity

4. Meaning

5. Impact

Let’s take a closer look at each element.

1. Psychological Safety

Great leaders know that team members need to feel safe. Members are more likely to contribute, bring forward ideas, take a risk and be vulnerable if they feel emotionally safe.

Protect your team members when they take risks. Try to have open conversations. Praise in public. Give personal and performance feedback in private. Don’t let conflicts go unresolved.

Be a great leader that creates a psychologically safe environment and watch your team thrive.

2. Dependability

Team members and the team as a whole need to hold themselves to a high level of accountability. The team finishes on time. They can count on each other to do what they said they would when they said they would do it. They don’t chase each for answers and support.

As a leader be dependable and hold your team to the standard you keep. Discuss the importance of dependability. Create deadlines with the team. Let them decide the time frame and hold the team to it.

3. Structure and Clarity

Your team needs clear roles, plans and goals. Think of a baseball team. The coach does not pitch. The pitcher does not run into the field to catch the ball. Each member has a role and it’s clear. It adds to the effectiveness of the team.

The team needs a goal and a plan to be executed. Want lunch, you need a plan. Are you going out or bringing it in a bag? Are you going to get it or is someone else? When are you eating? Without a plan, you may or may not get lunch. You’ll also sway to other people’s plans, abandoning your own.

Your team needs to know the end goal and then work backwards on how to achieve it, creating the plan along the way.

Back to lunch.

Goal: I want to eat cobb salad at noon.

Plan: Block off lunch on my calendar. Make my salad the night before. Pack it in a carrying container. Place it in the fridge.

Success: I ate my salad at noon.

This simple example demonstrates how even a plan and goal for lunch can transform your life. You’ll eat better, save money and get what you want to eat. The same is true for your team. The team’s success is based on how well they set goals, break down the goal into an actionable plan and then correctly execute the plan.

4. Meaning

Your team becomes more effective when they feel the work they do is personally important to them. You can physically see the difference of someone who feels they are making a difference, and that they feel important to the other team members, the company and clients.

Spend time understanding your team. What goals do they have within the company? What do they need to grow in their roles? Do they have ideas that could be worked on as a side project? Set time aside for them to work on that project. Allow them to create meaning. As a leader be sure to demonstrate they matter and they are valuable to you, the team and the company.

5. Impact

Everyone needs to know that what they do matters. Showing your team the impact they have on the company, on clients, and on other teams will drive them to new levels.

Create physical representations of goals, targets, and results. Money saved, money made, client testimonials and the number of products shipped are all examples.

The more your team can see the impact they have the stronger they feel about increasing that impact.

Final Thought

Work towards developing each of these 5 rules within your team and you’ll see tremendous growth with your team, personally and professionally.

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Stories, Your Vision And The Impact On Behavior.

Stories, Your Vision And The Impact On Behavior.

How do you communicate a vision strong enough to create leaders throughout your organization? A strong vision allows team leaders to make decisions that align with company goals. A strong vision will enable teams to feel purpose in the work they contribute. If you want to create a strong enough vision that inspires your teams to take action, think about using stories.

As technology and communication methods progress, it’s becoming more important to talk succinctly through all channels effectively. However, this isn’t always so easy. With so much new technology, you might think communication has become easier. Instead, we see the need to perfect the classic communication methods like storytelling becoming more vital to success.

So why storytelling?

There are dozens of great reasons to use storytelling to communicate your vision. Culture, respect, relatability are some of the most obvious. However, at its core, implementing a storytelling technique to communicate can ensure transparency within the company. It is also the most likely method to have your teams adopt and absorb what your vision is.

For thousands of years, stories have been used to convey messages. Stories as old as time still get passed on, stories of Greek heroes and gods are still retold today. Parables such as the Tortoise and the Hair are still used to teach our children. No other form of communication has had such a lasting impact. Television, Movies, Radio, Books, all media forms utilize stories because they engage us, touch our emotions and can drive us to action.

Stories reach all learners. They engage our imagination, making learning both auditory and visual, even when no visual aids are used. Listen to a good audiobook, and you’ll see the story in your mind.

In 2012, Emory University did research involving metaphors. When subjects read a metaphor involving texture, the sensory cortex, responsible for perceiving texture through touch, became active. Metaphors like “The sunlight was like a warm bath” activated the sensory cortex, while statements like “The sun was nice” did not.

By engaging in stories, you activate your team’s brains in areas they would use if they had experienced the situation. That’s powerful when trying to impact behaviour or develop empathy in future leaders.

Stories Stick with you.

Stories make facts more memorable. Psychologist Jerome Bruner’s research suggests that facts are 20 times more likely to be remembered if they’re part of a story. If you’re looking to pass along best practices or help teams avoid problems, stories will allow them to remember the cause and effect needed for sound decision making. Keith Oatley, an emeritus professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto, proposed, “that reading produces a vivid simulation of reality, one that runs on minds of readers just as computer simulations run on computers.”

You literally get to download new knowledge into your team’s brains!

Your teams are more likely to apply the new knowledge to new situations because they already experienced how the facts relate to the world in a story. Stories allow that connection to happen naturally.

Your vision and goals become tangible. Your team can emotionally buy-in to a story, and they can see themselves as part of the journey, they can be part of the story, be one of the heroes. Everyone wants to be a hero.

So how do you use stories?

1. Define your problem or critical point.

You can use past experience to define the problem. Maybe it’s a product launch, explain how your team was stuck in a past launch. Describe the emotion, not just the facts of the situation.

2. Create a journey, real or fictitious, both are powerful.

Explain how you worked through the problem, talk about the obstacles, talk about how the team struggled or came together.

3. Explain the solution.

Explain the win or the loss. If its a win, why, how, and what created the win. If it’s a loss, explain what you would do differently in reference to a time in the story.

Follow that simple outline, and you’ll impact your team at a deeper level. You’ll communicate your vision in a stronger more relatable way.

WHO’S LEARN2?

We’re Learn2, and it’s our mission to change the way the world works. We would love for you to join us in that mission. Here’s what to do, see this link?  It’s for a quick 10 question assessment that will give you deep insight into your natural communication style. You’re going to love it. You need to do it, click the link and take the assessment, trust me. After that I really hope you’ll consider working with us, we create amazing results for our clients and would love the opportunity to do the same for you.

What Does Will Ferrell and Learn2 Have In Common

What Does Will Ferrell and Learn2 Have In Common

What does Will Ferrell, one of the great Improv actors of modern times and Learn2, one of the most awarded leadership development companies in Canada, have in common? “Yes and…”!

“Yes and…” is a tool used by improv actors to continue a improve a scene by stacking ideas on top of each creating a more ridiculous story as the improv proceeds. At some point, one actor falters, and the game ends. End scene!

At Learn2, we also use a tool called, “Yes and…”. It’s designed to keep ideas flowing and reduce the chance of shutting down an idea before it can gain traction.

What makes “Yes and…” so powerful?

Most managers, leaders and colleagues, when asked a question or presented with an idea, will look for why an idea might not work. It’s an honest attempt to help, and there is a better way. Let’s look at a few examples.

Great idea, but we tried that before.

Great idea, but the cost seems out of our budget.

Each sentence starts with a positive tone. The “but” shuts down the idea immediately. It’s like saying, “I love you but…”. Not all that romantic is it.

Using “Yes and..” allows the idea to built upon.

Yes and, we could look at how we could make it work this time.
Yes and, we could pool resources to reduce the cost.

If a manager or leader starts using “Yes and…”, they open themselves to more possibilities and more ideas. Something that may not have seemed like it could work at first can quickly become a great idea or transform into something completely different that has incredible benefits to the organization.

How to run a “Yes and…” circle.

So how do you use this tool at your job, home and the world in general?

We have a specific use in the workplace, mainly for meetings and especially brainstorming sessions.

1. What you need.
A ball. Yes, a ball. You can reach out to us at Learn2.com, start a chat up and explain you would like to run a “Yes and…” circle. We’ll send you a ball if you can’t find one.
People in the meeting.
An open mind.
A timer, on your phone, a stopwatch, a clock on the wall. Anything to track 5 minutes.

2. What to do.
Explain to everyone in the meeting that you’re about to present a problem. Then you’re going to toss the ball to someone, and they simply start a sentence with “Yes and…[thier idea to help].”. Then they throw the ball to someone…gently, who in turn starts a statement with, “Yes and…”, building on the last idea or adding their own idea. It’s straightforward, a lot of fun, and frankly could help solve most of the world’s problems.

3. How to finish.
Watch the clock. At the 5 minute mark, call stop. It’ll be hard because ideas will be flowing. You can do it. Once time is up, you can move to the next stage of looking at the ideas, finding the best ones and assign action items to move them forward.

You can use “Yes and…” anywhere. The more you use those two words when presented with an idea or negotiating or trying to find a good place to eat, start your sentence with “Yes and…”. You’ll find people will be more open to your suggestions, you’ll experience less conflict, and you’ll get more ideas and possibilities in your life.

Who’s Learn2?

We’re Learn2, and it’s our mission to change the way the world works. We would love for you to join us in that mission. Here’s what to do, see this link?  It’s for a quick 10 question assessment that will give you deep insight into your natural communication style. You’re going to love it. You need to do it, click the link and take the assessment, trust me. After that I really hope you’ll consider working with us, we create amazing results for our clients and would love the opportunity to do the same for you.

Learn2 Disco Christmas 2019

Learn2 Disco Christmas 2019

 

It is the holidays at Learn2 and the team just can’t hold it in any longer!  They gotta dance!  So here they are, the 2019 Learn2 team and Disco Christmas.

Narrative Immersion and the  Impact on the Forgetting Curve

Narrative Immersion and the Impact on the Forgetting Curve

Narrative Immersion

Think back to a favorite childhood memory. What do you remember? What senses are triggered; smells, sounds, sight, taste, touch? Memories consist of a time, place and feeling. It’s called memory because it has stuck with you for a variety of sensational reasons. Learning works like memories - some teachings stick with you, and some don’t.

One hundred fifty years ago, Hermann Ebbinghaus discovered that people forget learning at an alarming rate. Within a month after traditional learning, 90% of the knowledge is lost. This is called the forgetting curve.

Forgetting Curve

In today’s world, this is rarely talked about as a business issue. Its root cause is the fact that traditional learning is just that - traditional. In this situation, the trainer owns the learning, the knowledge typically comes from a workbook or slide, and the learner is passive. When the trainer owns the learning, it takes all responsibility off the learner. When learning is contained in slides and workbooks, it is not relevant to the learner. The two previous elements contribute to the passive learn who is “along for the ride, with no responsibility. The forgetting curve heavily impacts the business as most training investments do not think to provide a planned ROI for the forgetting curve. The forgetting curve becomes the cost of doing business. We must provide training, and we know they won’t remember, yet there is no other way.

Traditional Learning

What if there was another possibility? What if you could ensure that your learning investment pays for itself? And what if you could change the view of training in your organization?

The most impactful way to combat the forgetting curve is to create immersive learning experiences. Inside this method, the participant is focused on the experience, and they “reach out” to take the learning themselves. They feel what it’s like to use the new skills and are actively involved in the experience.

When the learner takes the learning, the facilitator meets them at where they are. Concepts and models are introduced, and learners choose to “grab” the learning that is most relevant to their situation. Skills are practiced, and commitments are made to use these new concepts back in the office. At Learn2, we create Graffiti walls and provide each learner with a marker. They are instructed to answer the questions on the walls. This gives ownership to the learner and creates an inclusive learning experience.

Implementation idea: Rather than spending time “teaching” concepts, participants are given concise information, and they work together to make it relevant to their group, and ultimately the class.

Due to the learning’s immersive nature, the participants become emotionally impacted by it. The experience elicits an emotional response to what they’re being taught, which in turn increases retention as well as motivating action and behavior. Connecting learning to emotion links with our neuropathways and helps the process of retrieving information become effortless. We have been known to drop learners on the bridge of the Titanic or on an iceberg in Antarctica.

Implementation idea: Start learning off with your statements to enter the learner’s world. Use this to transport the learners to the context you want the learning to take place.

When multiple senses are triggered, the impact that learning has turns into a memory - which keeps the knowledge retained for a longer period of time. During immersive experiences, the learner is made to be a part of the experience. It becomes tangible, and the learner personally experiences the lessons to enhance their skills. Tactile experiences can be as simple as contributing to a Graffiti Wall all the way through to holding blueprints and feeling the cold Antarctic breeze brush against you.

Implementation idea: Use props to connect the learner to the problem they face. How could you offer them pipe cleaners, play-do, craft paper to create a tool needed in the learning? What tastes or scents could you offer to transport your learner?

To ensure your investment in training provides you with a strong ROI, address the forgetting curve at the source by providing immersive learning experiences. This ensures that your learners are fully into experience and feeling it’s impact – making it the ultimate learning method. This type of training drives results and impacts the business greatly. As Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

If you’re looking for help developing an entire development journey through all stages, talk to us at Learn2, we’re changing the way the world works by changing the way the world learns.

Understanding your natural approach starts with an assessment. Want to learn your natural approach? Take the assessment, and we’ll continue down this journey together.

Gen Z and Leadership Development

Gen Z and Leadership Development

Gen Z and Leadership Development

Our clients often come to us with questions like, “How to do we engage our newest employees?” or “Our current leadership development program seems to miss with our younger team members, what can we do?”.

Gen Z and the younger portion of Millenials have a different expectation of how people should work together and how learning should happen. It’s essential to understand what makes this group different from older members of your teams and leadership.

Let’s dig in.

First, Gen Z is the first fully digital generation. They are the first digital natives, and arguably reality is broken for this generation. For Boomers, reality had no or little digital aspect. Want information? Go to the library. Augmenting reality meant putting up a sign in the street. Gen X was introduced to computers at an age where finding information was mainly physical, and as they entered late high school and college, digital information became available. Again augmenting reality did not exist, and reality remained intact.

Enter Gen Z. All information is available at any time given a suitable internet connection via WIFI or cellular service. That ability to get information at any time has existed for them since they were born. As they have aged, it’s become easier to access, first via phone browser, then voice and now just augmented reality.

Think about that.

Let’s compare a Gen X experience with a cellular phone to a Gen Z.

Gen X: Non-touch screen, no internet access, expensive, poor coverage.
Gen Z: Touch screen, internet, cheap(comparatively), excellent coverage.

Hand a Gen X first device to a Gen Z and that device in perfect condition appears broken. Why won’t the screen work when I touch it? Why can’t I find the browser? Where are the apps? It’s a broken device.

Translate that to reality.

Gen X Early Reality: All analogue, slow introduction of digital billboards, information is not constantly available, no GPS on Phone or Car. No overlay of digital on top of reality. (Pokemon Go, GPS direction through a phone camera)

Gen Z Early Reality: Digital and analogue mixed, digital billboards, kiosks, phone, voice assistant, etc. Digital integration and overlay on top of reality, improving it and adding context to it. Games become part of the world; directions are not just on a map but viewed as part of the reality you see through your phone camera. The list goes on.

Ordinary analogue reality appears broken, for Gen Z reality becomes useless like a Gen X cell phone.

Why does this matter?

First, think of the level of instant collaboration this generation is used to. In a recent study, 94% of Gen Z say they frequently use collaboration tools, including Google Docs, GroupMe, and Facebook Messenger when at college to complete assignments. They instantly reach friends, immediately plan what to do, instantly see schedules and share it. This generation can organize hive minds naturally and quickly. Imagine the frustration a meeting holds for them. The time it takes to get everyone in a room is the same time they can communicate and solve the problem, and you have not even started talking about it yet in your old analogue style meeting. Your meeting reality is broken.

That does this mean the elimination of face to face work, no. It means technology is expected to speed the collaboration process and that meetings are more one on one or for small groups. The majority (90%) of Gen Zers want their weekly one-on-ones to occur in person, the report found.

Second, consider the impact of having any type of information available but not the context to make it useful. That’s where mentorship comes into play. You can forward a meaningful article to your team and then discuss the impact of the concept or idea. This allows you to add context and experience to the information for them. Use your time not for information dumps, but for interaction and discussion. 75% fo Gen Z expect to learn from peers on the job, not online programs. Online programs need to augment learning, not replace peers and group learning. This generation is collaborative, which means they want to be together, not alone.

Third rethink your Leadership Development program, understanding that it might move slow for them. When information can be accessed in any fashion, at any time, do you need to spend hours in the class? Or can some of it be digitally accessed ahead and then group time used for collaboration, discussion or experiences that help them use the new information and embody it. (Full Disclosure: We’d like to you help with this piece).

Forth give them tools that are accessible at the moment of truth. The moment they need it most. What do you do in [blank] situation? I’m about to do a peer review; how is it done? You need to have those answers readily and easily available.

If you’re looking for help developing an entire development journey through all stages, talk to us at Learn2, we’re changing the way the world works by changing the way the world learns.

Understanding your natural approach starts with an assessment. Want to learn your natural approach? Take the assessment, and we’ll continue down this journey together.

5 Learning Stages To Create Successful Leaders

5 Learning Stages To Create Successful Leaders

 

Learning is a journey.

Every new skill, concept and idea needs to be considered and then take root. Even if when we accept the idea of the skill, we are still not competent. Competence comes with repeated correct practice, or trial and error, learning from each new experience. As a Learning and Development leader in your organization, you want to help new and developing leaders avoid trial and error. You want to provide the correct tools and information to guide them past the mistakes and make the right competent decisions in the many unique situations they will be tested against. With that goal in mind, let’s look at five learning stages for developing competence and replacing a skill.

Stage 1: Learning A New Skill
Stage 2: Learning A New Skill More Deeply
Stage 3: Applying A Newly Learned Skill
Stage 4: Adapting A Newly Learned Skill To Unique Situations
Stage 5: Replacing Old Comfortable Skills With A New One

Stage 1 - Learning A New Skill

This stage is the introduction of a skill. The skill could be how to conduct a performance review or how to use a “Yes and…” circle. The new skill will feel foreign and uncomfortable. New skills are mostly taught in a development session or classroom. We use “Narrative Immersion” to help ideas sink in faster and with more impact. You may use more traditional methods. The path is the same; skills are introduced and learned at a surface level. It’s like learning the scales on the piano, it’s not music, but technically you’re playing the instrument.

Stage 2 - Learning A Skill More Deeply

Here is where competence starts to develop. Think of tennis, Stage 1, you are introduced to the racquet, the ball, the court and the net. Stage 2, you would be shown the rules, how to swing the racquet, how to deliver a serve. You might even practice a little rally with your coach, to get a feel for how the ball hits the racquet.

Back to our performance review example, we might learn about “Sandwiching Criticism”, using “Feel, Felt, Found” or “WYSIITMB” as more in-depth tools than just the performance form we need to fill out after meeting with a team member. In the development session, we might even role play with each other to get a feel for how the performance conversation might go. All of this is not actual application, and yet some competence is starting to build.

Stage 3 - Applying A Newly Learned Skill.

This is where the new skill feels most uncomfortable.

This is the first or second time the new skill has been used without a safety net. It feels foreign, we might report back that using the new skill felt robotic and insincere. We are at a critical point in the development of the skill. It would be easy to move to old habits and old ways of doing things. The new skill feels less effective because we still have low competence, and as a result, we might abandon it.

You can avoid this by providing support right when your leaders need it. Create “Brain Trust” mentoring circles so that peers can reinforce and support each other in the new skill. Use timely coaching to help them prepare for stage 4 and get more comfortable applying the new skill regularly. The team will only become competent with practice and review. Explain the uncomfortable feelings are expect during stage 1 and stage 2 so that it’s not a surprise in stage 3. Just like a tennis pro trying a small change in their swing, it feels uncomfortable until enough repetition creates muscle memory, and it becomes natural.

Stage 4: Adapting A Newly Learned Skill to Unique Situations

Life and work don’t as always play out as expected. We may run into unique situations that become learning opportunities. As a result, we need to apply our new skills to new situations where it does not fit comfortably. Round peg into a square hole!

As practice, coaching and peer mentorship take hold, and the new skill begins to feel more natural, we apply it to new situations and create new solutions. This is a sign of stronger competence, as we can start to diagnose a situation and use the new skill to solve the problem.

Stage 5 - Stage 5: Replacing Old Comfortable Skills With A New One

This is when true competence takes hold, the old skills no longer seems the right choice. The new skill has become the best tool and replaces old patterns.

It is an ongoing learning challenge to replace old entrenched skills with new ways of tackling a problem. Traditional learning environments are not equipped to handle the final three stages needed to have a skill adopted and impact the organization. Tools like “Brain Trust” peer mentoring, coaching, “Practice-Review” sessions and situational aids are all needed to ensure stage 3 to stage 5 occur, or you’ll miss the chance to create stronger, more capable leaders. Support after the learning is critical and must be part of the journey for your team.

If you’re looking for help developing an entire development journey through all stages, talk to us at Learn2, we’re changing the way the world works by changing the way the world learns.

Understanding your natural approach starts with an assessment. Want to learn your natural approach? Take the assessment, and we’ll continue down this journey together.

Evolving Leadership Development with Natural Abilities

Evolving Leadership Development with Natural Abilities

You want to evolve yourself actively - dare I say intentionally.
You have some sense of what you want out of life and what gets in the way of you having what you want.

What if you could see yourself and your natural strengths?
What if, by seeing your natural strengths and abilities, you could leverage them more effectively?
And what if by understanding your natural strengths, you could also see your blind spots?

Let me introduce you to the Natural Approach.

Your natural strengths allow you to perform effectively - even beyond what others can do. Some of us can organize the hell out of a closet in record time, while others can engage friends and co-workers to get up and achieve something monumental together. Both are valuable. And both tap into the power of human potential.

What if our parents, teachers, sports, hobbies, jobs and partners all cause us to develop individual abilities that become natural for us more than others(Natural Abilities). In some respects, our circumstances empower some natural abilities more than others.

Consider a child growing up on a farm with horses and their natural abilities. Then consider a child of a single working mom in a city. Each would have very different natural abilities.

The reality is that we likely have over-developed and under-developed natural abilities. Meaning that some of our natural approaches are so deeply ingrained we’ll overuse our natural ability. Consider the person with an only hammer for a tool. The whole world starts to look like a nail. Typically screws work more effectively with a screwdriver than a hammer - personal experience on that one. If we don’t have a screwdriver to work with, we still use the hammer, even if we know it is not effective. Developing more tools allows for more effective solutions. Knowing more natural approaches provides for more effective communication and solutions.

Your natural abilities are a massive source of performance and achievement in your life. What if you could actively evolve your natural abilities to create more value?

So if this is true, then we also have natural abilities that are less developed. Those under-developed abilities could be the source of great effectiveness when you decide to develop them.

This is what our Natural Series programs help you and your team achieve.

Generation Z was surveyed and reported that 42% of them interact with their phones more than people. 37% percent of Gen Zs have gone as far as admitting that technology has weakened their ability to maintain strong interpersonal relationships and develop people skills, according to insights in Gen Z @ Work.

Generation Z

If we look at natural abilities, we might conclude that social and communication skills might be less than desired. Developing an internal program for your team to foster social and communication skills based on the natural approach of themselves and others could have a lasting impact on the entire organization.

Understanding your natural approach starts with an assessment. Want to learn your natural approach? Take the assessment, and we’ll continue down this journey together.

5 Great Questions Great Leader Asks Their Team

5 Great Questions Great Leader Asks Their Team

What makes one company more successful than another? Better products, services, strategies, or technologies? While all of these contribute to superior performance, all of them can also be copied over time. The one thing that creates sustainable competitive advantage – and therefore ROI, company value and long-term strength – is the people who are the company. And when it comes to people, research has shown, time and again, that employees who are engaged significantly outperform workgroups that are not engaged. 

Where companies that enjoy a 60% to 70% employee engagement, the average total shareholder’s return stood at 24.2%; in companies with 49% to 60% of their employees engaged, TSR fell to 9.1 percent; companies with engagement below 25 percent suffered negative TSR. (Source: Employee engagement at double-digit growth companies, Hewitt Research Brief)

In the fight for competitive advantage where employees are the differentiator, engaged employees are the ultimate goal.

As leaders, we can be tempted to share our wisdom and solve things for people – too often and too quickly. When we do, we don’t allow others to grow, to develop, to come up with a brilliant idea…so pretty soon, they don’t try anymore. So rather than solve the issue for them, ask questions to get the team engaged in problem-solving. The answers become conversations about things that are important or meaningful. Conversations are more likely to turn to action. Action turns into results, and that’s the ultimate goal, engaged teams that take action and produce results.

Here are some of the questions that can help you get started.

1. What do you think?

Instead of offering our answer first, get them thinking, talking and sharing. Hold back, no matter how tempting to share your solution. And when they start talking, make sure you listen and maybe ask a probing question, like “What else?” No judgment, no qualifying, and no hi-jacking. Let them explore with your help. No one has every answer, by engaging your team to think about solutions they add to the answer pool. Your team also starts self-solving as the start to realize they often have the answer to their problems.

2. What would you do?

Asking this question encourages leadership thinking and ownership – at all levels of the company. Again, follow up with probing questions to keep listening. This question also builds confidence and contributes to the answer pool. People feel more engaged and fulfilled when they contribute and when they have an impact. Asking “What would you do?” allows them to help and have an impact on decisions. They now have skin in the game.

3. What’s the real challenge here for you?

The key here is the word “real”. When you ask about challenges, you may open the flood gates. Help them focus on the real problem so that they can begin to find their way out. Focus on the correct challenge is the fastest way to reach a solution. Focusing on the most significant piece of a problem allows the proper resources to be gathered to solve it. Too often, we focus on the small, most comfortable part of the project. As a result, we look like we are making progress when, in reality, the biggest struggle is still to come.

4. Where are you stuck?

Sometimes we need a push…we may need to admit that we are stuck so that we open ourselves to ideas and new perspectives. Asking this question permits your team to accept they are stuck so that they can move forward. It also helps identify the “real” challenge. Being able to point to the obstacles and give it name is an incredibly powerful tool. Often just putting a name to the what’s holding a team member back is enough for them to create their own solution and quickly move past it without you solving it for them

5. How can I help?

When your employee gets stuck, they may become frustrated and disengaged. Asking, “How can I help?” gives hope that they are not alone, and can be the relief they need to move forward. Go through the other questions first; there is a reason this one is last. Recognize that if the previous questions did not produce a solution or move the team forward, they may also not know what help they need. That’s when your experience comes in most valueable. It’s time to roll up the sleeves and dig into this challenge with the team and solve it together. The result is a stronger bonded team, with high trust and respect for each other. Groups that work in this fashion have higher levels of engagement and results.

Learn2 works with leaders to help them develop and implement strategies to engage their teams to get great results. Work with one of our team members to help you achieve lasting change in your organization. Want to know more about your management style? Take our Natural Approach Assessment.

3 Ways To Identify A Disengaged Gen Z Team And What To Do About It

3 Ways To Identify A Disengaged Gen Z Team And What To Do About It

In a 2017 study by Full Potential Group found that 20 year olds(Gen Z) were the least likely to be motivated at work with a full 33% saying that Work/Life balance was a key demotivator. Since we have yet to define what work/life balance looks like from person to person, I’m going to hazard that work is demotivating and that they would prefer to living their life.  Balance has little to do with it.

What’s truly interesting is that 51 years olds(Gen X), scored the workplace as 7.7 out of 10. They found they were motivated by flexible hours, challenging work and freedom to make decisions. They might describe work as an exciting part of life, and they have the flexibility to balance the two.

We could conclude from the study that those starting their careers do not have the luxuries and freedoms of those much later in their career and, as a result, can not balance work and life to the same degree.

What does it mean for a leader looking to improve morale?

Do you give these freedoms to team members just starting on the career journey? As a leader, what can you do to improve motivation and job satisfaction?  Let’s dig a little deeper.

Let’s start with three ways to recognize when your team or individual is not engaged and not motivated.

1. Listen

You’re looking for negative language.  What words are being used to describe the product, the business, the team, the leadership?  Does the language swing to the negative side of the scale?  Listen for feelings that imply they are along for the ride. Do they feel they do not have input, and that ideas and trends just come and go? The language will reflect a lack of control and purpose.

2. Watch

Low morale is demonstrated with low engagement. You’ll notice little to no initiative.  If your team waits for you to tell it what to do, you have low morale and reduced job satisfaction.  You also notice low productivity and poor performance.  Your team will show up less often to work, and they will have more “sick” days. 

3. Measure

Performance is an excellent measurement of morale and engagement. As a leader, what gets measured improves. If you notice the team is missing targets, missing deadlines, and not meeting quality expectations, you should start looking at job satisfaction. Missing project deadlines and making more mistakes by the team or an individual implies engagement is declining.

What do you do?

We now have some easy ways to identify a potential problem. What do you do? Throw a pizza party? Give out an employee of the month award?

Start with taking the time to find out what’s important to each team member. What does balance look like for them or what career goals do they have? When work becomes part of life instead and not an interruption, it becomes easier to balance. When a team member feels they are moving towards a bigger goal, one they have control of, they stay more engaged.

Setting correct expectations is vital. We feel unhappy when our reality falls short of our expectations. If I expect $1,000,000 and I receive $100,000, I am unhappy. If I expect $10,000 and receive $100,000, I am happy. The same amount was received, and the expectation was different. Explain to your team that the current entry-level job they are in is a grind; you once had a similar position. As a leader, you are committed to helping them build the skills, experience and knowledge needed move to the next stage of their career, with the agreement they stay committed and engaged in doing their best in this position. 

When you are 20 years old, 5 years to move ahead is 25% of your current life span.  It seems like forever.  When you are 50, 5 years seems a whole lot shorter.  It took them 4 years for high school, another 4 years to become a college graduate, can you blame them for thinking they can be CEO in another 4 years.  A new expectation needs to be set.

Reward the team and individuals.

Reward your team, as both a team and as individuals, when they show engagement and initiative. That which is rewarded will be repeated. 

Public recognition is a motivating reward. A powerful way to show a person is valued is to take the time to call them out for doing a great job, holding to company values or sharing a great idea.

Use positive language.

Use positive words and be deliberate about your language. Positive language is especially crucial at the individual level. Langauge that focuses on them is best.

Find a common enemy

The last tip is to create a common enemy. It sounds counterproductive, and it’s not. A disengaged team has nothing to rally around. They don’t feel like they have a purpose or a direction. They don’t feel like they are in control, and they feel leadership is to blame for that. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. If you create a new common enemy, you are now on the same side. That common enemy can be a competitor. It can even be another department if framed around healthy competition and respect. The point is to give your team common ground and goals that they have control over.

Final thoughts

Morale and engagement is a big problem in today’s workforce, especially with Generation Z and Millenials. These two generations are looking to contribute and expect levels of co-operation and inclusion that can often be at odds with the current status quo of how business has been done in the past. As mentioned earlier, happiness is the GAP between expectation and reality. Close the gap, and you’ll have an engaged and motivated team.

Google’s 5 Rules for Great Teams

Google’s 5 Rules for Great Teams

Google has 5 rules for great teams.

1. Psychological Safety

2. Dependability

3. Structure and Clarity

4. Meaning

5. Impact

Let’s take a closer look at each element.

1. Psychological Safety

Great leaders know that team members need to feel safe. Members are more likely to contribute, bring forward ideas, take a risk and be vulnerable if they feel emotionally safe.

Protect your team members when they take risks. Try to have open conversations. Praise in public. Give personal and performance feedback in private. Don’t let conflicts go unresolved.

Be a great leader that creates a psychologically safe environment and watch your team thrive.

2. Dependability

Team members and the team as a whole need to hold themselves to a high level of accountability. The team finishes on time. They can count on each other to do what they said they would when they said they would do it. They don’t chase each for answers and support.

As a leader be dependable and hold your team to the standard you keep. Discuss the importance of dependability. Create deadlines with the team. Let them decide the time frame and hold the team to it.

3. Structure and Clarity

Your team needs clear roles, plans and goals. Think of a baseball team. The coach does not pitch. The pitcher does not run into the field to catch the ball. Each member has a role and it’s clear. It adds to the effectiveness of the team.

The team needs a goal and a plan to be executed. Want lunch, you need a plan. Are you going out or bringing it in a bag? Are you going to get it or is someone else? When are you eating? Without a plan, you may or may not get lunch. You’ll also sway to other people’s plans, abandoning your own.

Your team needs to know the end goal and then work backwards on how to achieve it, creating the plan along the way.

Back to lunch.

Goal: I want to eat cobb salad at noon.

Plan: Block off lunch on my calendar. Make my salad the night before. Pack it in a carrying container. Place it in the fridge.

Success: I ate my salad at noon.

This simple example demonstrates how even a plan and goal for lunch can transform your life. You’ll eat better, save money and get what you want to eat. The same is true for your team. The team’s success is based on how well they set goals, break down the goal into an actionable plan and then correctly execute the plan.

4. Meaning

Your team becomes more effective when they feel the work they do is personally important to them. You can physically see the difference of someone who feels they are making a difference, and that they feel important to the other team members, the company and clients.

Spend time understanding your team. What goals do they have within the company? What do they need to grow in their roles? Do they have ideas that could be worked on as a side project? Set time aside for them to work on that project. Allow them to create meaning. As a leader be sure to demonstrate they matter and they are valuable to you, the team and the company.

5. Impact

Everyone needs to know that what they do matters. Showing your team the impact they have on the company, on clients, and on other teams will drive them to new levels.

Create physical representations of goals, targets, and results. Money saved, money made, client testimonials and the number of products shipped are all examples.

The more your team can see the impact they have the stronger they feel about increasing that impact.

Final Thought

Work towards developing each of these 5 rules within your team and you’ll see tremendous growth with your team, personally and professionally.

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