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10 Ways to Lead a Culture of Innovation In Your Organization

There is one certainty you face as a leader…you will be required to lead transformational change. And if you can lead so that innovation happens on your team, than there is a higher likelihood of success through the change.

As leaders we are sometimes unclear about what innovation looks like and what we need to do to foster it. It doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Innovative leaders intentionally and skillfully do things that cause innovation to happen. Here’s our top 10 list to get you started.

  1. Articulate and share the BIG PICTURE – the purpose, the why, and why it all matters. If we share our big picture clearly and help people understand how they connect to that big picture and truly impact it, we are more likely to get them focused on ideas or opportunities to make that reality happen.
  2. Broaden your perspective and focus your actions. When we focus on one small element (one department, one product, one perspective) we are missing other key things that may impact our way forward. Get the blinders off. Look around. Then focus your actions specifically on what will impact your way forward. Remove the distractions that get in the way.
  3. Be curious – Be looking for the 2nd best answer or solution. Be open to different ways of doing things. When we have a genuine curios mindset, we just may learn something we hadn’t considered before.
  4. Ask great questions. As leaders we are sometimes 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 just don’t try any more. So rather than solve the issue, ask questions like “What would you do?”, “What’s the real challenge here?”, or “How can I help?” to get the team engaged in problem solving.
  5. Ask for feedback and surface people’s resistance. With change, comes resistance. So expect it. Roll with it. Manage it together. Actively seek feedback that may even contradict your intended plan or perspective. Get people thinking about the change in a way that involves them in the outcome.
  6. Collaborate with others. We don’t solve problems by ourselves. We have employees, partners, customers, stakeholders, and they all have a valuable perspective. What perspectives are we missing when we try to do it alone?
  7. Time for Reflection and Self-Assessment – We get busy. That’s not likely to change. And innovation isn’t an event you can schedule. We get ideas in strange places and when our mind is free enough to go in uncharted territory. So build down time in. Go for a walk, play music…whatever inspires your creative side. Don’t fill every second of your schedule.
  8. WTF CultureWilling To Fail. As a leader let’s accept failure as an important step on the way to a better solution. Give people permission to fail and have great conversations when we do fail. Learn from it, make it better, grow together. Go there.
  9. Develop Your Innovation System – When we have a system and know how to move an idea forward, how to get support, how to implement the idea, it makes it much more doable. So create a system that takes the guesswork out of it. Plan your steps, so the idea gets to take center stage in your mind, not the uncertainty around what to do with it.
  10. Join us at the next Women In Leadership and Business Conference. Start collaborating with other leaders that want to have a greater impact. Share in learning with great speakers, thought leaders, keynotes and interactive workshops. This year we have two great sessions on Innovation. Won’t you join us?

We all have ideas, we sometimes just have a hard time implementing them. For information about helping to build innovation on your team, or help you engage your team to deliver great results, contact Learn2.

Author: Tammy Sweeney, VP Program Development, Learn2 & CEO, Women in Leadership and Business (WILB) Conference

I’ve Graduated, Now What?

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Follow Alex Robichaud as he navigates entering the workforce as a new graduate.[/vc_column_text][ultimate_carousel slides_on_desk=”3″ speed=”500″ autoplay=”off” arrow_style=”circle-bg” arrow_color=”#ff6900″][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uu1BthM1Guk”][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ht2HOOdSc9c”][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TwqMEC7URw”][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJVWkaewQLM”][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llJB2clG0hw”][/ultimate_carousel][vc_cta h2=”Can you relate to Alex? ” h4=”We’ve all been there, learning as we go.” txt_align=”center” style=”3d” add_button=”bottom” btn_title=”Learn More” btn_style=”3d” btn_color=”orange” btn_align=”center” add_icon=”top” i_icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-bullhorn” i_color=”orange” i_size=”sm” i_on_border=”true” btn_link=”url:http%3A%2F%2Flearn2.com%2Flanding-page-3%2F||target:%20_blank”]Navigating something new doesn’t have to be big and intimidating, whether it is starting a new job with a confusing onboarding process to starting a new long-term strategic plan, we have a solution for you. Call us today at 416-410-6434, send an email to Mary@Learn2.com or click below to join our learning community to get free access to resources with high impact and even higher results.[/vc_cta][/vc_column][/vc_row]

“Yes, and…” Circles Engage Everyone

A “Yes, and…” circle engages everyone on your team in an any-idea-goes conversation that avoids criticizing or critiquing ideas. Everyone says “Yes, and…” to layer and build upon every idea to make a better and better thought.

Different types of “Yes, and…” circles include:

1. Idea generation. Teams identify 30 to 40 ideas in 10 to 12 minutes.
2. Ideas into action. Teams layer on an idea, to make the most effective action plan.
3. Exploring different perspectives. Everyone shares their perspective, layering on others’ perspectives. Soon everyone understands the challenges deeply enough to find the right solution.

Faster meetings are just one benefit. With each contribution, more people on the team feel ownership for the idea. The idea blossoms into an action that will quickly and most-easily produce the result. The best part is that everyone creates the idea and action plan so everyone is deeply committed to their idea’s successful implementation.

Teams using best practices include taking the ball outside for more stimulating thoughts. If there isn’t an easy outdoor space or it’s raining – ask everyone to stand up around the table, since this helps everyone stay engaged. Toss the office ‘stress ball’ to each participant to randomly share their ideas or so they can build on others’ ideas.

If the conversation starts to slow or even stall – ask a question. The human brain loves to answer questions. Think about how focused you become when you want to remember a movie title and you can’t. Often we can’t do anything until we think of the title. Those moments show us how important answering questions is to our brain.

If questions are so important to the brain – then let’s ask high quality questions. Use “What” and “How” questions to get meeting participants to engage in finding ideas, innovations and ways to implement. Pair what/how with could and you lots of amazing question combinations. How could we raise more funds? What could we do to get our message into schools? What would it take to raise another $20,000?

Avoid “can” and “do” questions since they often lead to pointless debate of participants’ opinions. Can we do something to raise more revenue this month? Do you think we could…? The response declines into a debate about whether or not we can. Instead focus on the result and ask, “What can we do that could raise revenue this month?” The difference of a few words can change the result of the conversation.

Avoid “why” questions. Only 17% of people can answer a why question. Most people just freeze or feel judged. Why did you do that? Why hasn’t the event raised more money? Sure the person asking wants to understand yet any “why” question can be asked with “what” or “how” and we don’t feel like we did something wrong.

‘Yes, and…” circles create staff and volunteer engagement by embracing ideas, thoughts, problems and resolutions for a group discussion – having all parties feel ‘listened to’, and at the same time building that single comment into a potential game changing phenomenon.

If you liked this one, check out the next one we have in the queue for you!

Take me there!

Top 6 Team Building Activities for Executives

When one thinks about team building exercises, they usually think of the office workers and lower management, but team building activities for executives are just as important to producing results for a business. Here are 5 exercises that the upper crust can use to better improve their company.

1. Creating Stories Together

Executives align when they create together. Have a small group (8 or less) come together with paper and pen. The leader starts out a story, usually with the phrase “Once upon a time”, and each member gets to add their own part of the story, one word or one phrase at a time. Pass around the paper as each executive adds a single word of their choice, in a story that can be funny or serious or a mix of the 2. Once finished, read each story aloud to other teams. Focus the stories on relevant topics where you want the executives aligned. The activity promotes mutual effort with creative thought. Go further in Connect and Collaborate and executives can learn to listen, collaborate and build on top of ideas so they quickly become aligned. You improve the executives’ effectiveness and relationships within their team. One exercise in Connect and Collaborate aligns executives through sharing the creation of powerful stories.

2. Best & Worst Bosses

Executives started at the bottom just like anyone else. They had their fair share of bad bosses like anyone else. A good quick exercise is to have everyone share their best and worst boss. Ask them to tease out what made them great or what they needed to do differently. You’ll get lots of humor and gets everyone talking about effective leadership skills. Great exercise from Coaching Performance to get leaders learning from each other about leadership and coaching. Take it a step further and learn from one of the best leaders ever – Sir Ernest Shackleton in this immersive leadership challenge to Antarctica. Lead the Endurance engages executives in an immersive team building activity they’ll never forget.

3. The Executive Alphabet

Arrange into groups of about 8 in a circle. Then they close their eyes and each share a letter at a time without a pattern. For round 2, make it a bit more challenging by asking them to restart at A when 2 speak at the same time. We love this exercise. It is a great tool for busy executives who want shorter meetings that achieve more. Executives learn how to avoid “piling on” and building quickly to achieve desired results through teamwork — a goal you may want individual-oriented executives to learn. New partners learn quickly using these exercises in Welcome to the Executive Office and in Meetings that Produce Results.

4. Draw as a Group

Choose a leader to create a picture with stick figures and stock images, while the rest of the group closes their eyes. The leader then describes what the picture looks like, while the group creates their own picture in their heads with eyes shut. This activity illustrates communication and helps executives see firsthand the importance of communicating generously with their teams. Take it a step further and your executives create visuals for the main goals and strategies for their leaders and teams. Another great exercise from Engagement 2.0 for leaders.

5. Build a Better Newspaper

With only a single sheet of newspaper and a roll of tape, groups of 5 or less compete against one another to create the largest free-standing structure. This structure can reach to the ceiling if the group is well-coordinated and plans. The point of the exercise is working to solve a problem as a group using minimal resources. One of several exercises used by clients to quickly engage their executives in living the leadership behaviors required for a successful session. The high performing leadership teams go a step further and build better companies. Those executives use Bridge the Gap, where executives literally create the actions required to exceed their desired goals by removing the barriers and building the future.

6. Executive Flight Simulators

Not for the faint of heart. These high-pressure simulators pit executive teams against each other in a zero sum game. Our designers configure the simulator to reflect your industry and business if you like. Then executive teams take over and compete for market share and profitability. In the cut-throat version, one team can perform a hostile take-over of other teams to change the market dynamics. In competitive strategies and tactics, the simulators are set to illustrate the strengths and constraints of your competitors and your executive team learns first-hand the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. While it takes some configuration, executives find these days to be the most insightful into competition. One medical supplies company attributes a $225 million contract to the process not to mention achieving the top status globally within their company. If you have a group of executives, you want to talk with Doug Bolger about this one!

If you liked this one, check out our Yes, And...activity for your whole team!

Yes, and...take me there now!

Fun Indoor Corporate Team Building Exercises

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Outdoor team building exercises are a lot of fun. Sometimes you need indoor team building activity ideas for when the weather outside is unbearable or unpredictable. Below are some indoor corporate team building exercises:

Active Listening Games Improve Team Communications

Active listening is very important to achieve results and eliminate confusion. That is why an active listening activities make great team building exercises. Everyone gets into groups of 2 or 3. One person tells a story for 3 minutes, and then the other person re-tells the story. Both people cannot interrupt the person who is telling the story. This listening activity illustrates that it is just as important to listen as it is to talk. One of many fun listening exercises in Questions are the Answer.

The Drawing Sheet

You need some pencils, pens and paper for this activity. Get everyone in groups of 3. One person in the group draws a line and then passes it to the next member. Each person gets 5 seconds to add their line. Stop after 20 to 30 rotations (watch the images develop). After the exercise is completed, ask your members a couple of questions. What got created that was recognizable? What did you learn? How did the limited amount of time affect you? One of many team building exercises in Get Connected, Get Collaborating.

Build a Shelter

This team building exercise works best in groups of 4 or 5. Pipe cleaners, toothpicks, paper, string and tape are given to the participants. You can scale the resources larger to make the shelter larger. Give teams 10 minutes to build their shelter so that it is strong enough to withstand 3 tennis balls. Allow other teams to throw the tennis balls. This is a great starting team building exercise that causes participants to get actively involved in a team building activity so they stop engaging like students who sit and listen. Check out award winning team exercises that run indoors.

Construct a Tale

Have participants stand in a circle with a ball. The first person begins telling the story. After that, he or she passes the ball or to the next person. Each person only gets to say 10 words. This activity helps improve teamwork, communication and listening skills. A modified version of this game is used in the popular Meetings that Produce Results.

The Little Known Fact Game

Even though your employees see each other every day, there are still a lot of things that they do not know about each other. You can help your employees learn more about each other by having them share one fact that people may not know about them. This is a simple, stress-free icebreaker. You can also ask them to stand with the person they know the least and have them interview each other. This game is similar to “What you said is important to me because…” which is an amazing learning game in Communicate Naturally.

Emergency Backup Team Program in case of Rain. Sleet or Snow

Many outdoor team programs demand a backup. Clients have found that Team Forward allows the team to balance fun with the One Team Simulation and practical, relevant improvements to the team’s way they produce results. You can even get Certified to facilitate this session on your own. Many clients engage their leaders and teams with this process every quarter to align and build an action plan for the quarter. A favorite of high performing leaders and teams because it focuses on the desired outcomes and removes the barriers that get in the way.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_cta h2=”Get more useful resources today!” h4=”You’re only a click away” txt_align=”center” style=”3d” add_button=”bottom” btn_title=”Subscribe Now” btn_style=”3d” btn_color=”orange” btn_align=”center” add_icon=”top” i_icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-weixin” i_color=”orange” i_background_style=”rounded” i_background_color=”white” i_size=”sm” btn_link=”url:http%3A%2F%2Flearn2.com%2Flanding-page-3|title:Subscribe%20Now|target:%20_blank” i_on_border=”true”]Now that you have some inspiration for ideas, continue the momentum by layering and building ideas - we are here to help you layer! Chat with us to keep the momentum going![/vc_cta][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Become a Master Communicator Using Emotional Intelligence

Are your teams burned out or are you? Are you feeling like you are always fighting fires or dealing with team or client conflict? Constant conflict drains our energy and sabotages our efforts. In any relationship there is a big difference between being assertive to establish respect and trust and successful collaboration and being aggressive, defensive or hostile because of perceived threats or differences.

Even if you are one of the lucky ones that has a cohesive team, learning to tap into Emotional intelligence can make a dramatic difference to our success and positively impact every area of our lives for better success, more income and better relationships including:

  • Your performance at work. Emotional Intelligence can help you navigate the social complexities of the workplace, lead and motivate others, and excel in your career. In fact, when it comes to gauging job candidates, many companies now view emotional intelligence as being as important as technical ability and require EI testing before hiring.
  • Your physical health. If you’re unable to manage your stress levels, it can lead to serious health problems. Uncontrolled stress can raise blood pressure, suppress the immune system, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, contribute to infertility, and speed up the aging process. The first step to improving emotional intelligence is to learn how to relieve stress.
  • Your mental health. Uncontrolled stress can also impact your mental health, making you vulnerable to anxiety and depression. If you are unable to understand and manage your emotions, you’ll also be open to mood swings, while an inability to form strong relationships can leave you feeling lonely and isolated.
  • Your relationships. By understanding your emotions and how to control them, you’re better able to express how you feel and understand how others are feeling. This allows you to communicate more effectively and forge stronger relationships, both at work and in your personal life.

But before I get ahead of myself, you might wonder:

what is Emotional Intelligence (EI) exactly?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict. Emotional intelligence impacts many different aspects of your daily life, such as the way you behave and the way you interact with others.

Unlike IQ which focuses on hard skills and technical abilities, EI focuses on the soft skills which can be improved with conscious effort and practice.

So how can you improve Emotional Intelligence for more success in your work and life?

Below are 5 tips to give you a start. Remember it is easy to practice in neutral situations but stress can hijack our best intention so give yourself time to make real lasting progress.

  1. Practice observing your emotions. Label your emotions and work to understand your triggers for “hot” emotions so you can teach yourself to better manage your emotions for better relationships.
  2. Practice recognizing subtle cues on others. Remember that body language, gestures and other forms on non-verbal communication account for more than 55% of communication between people and the actual words account for a mere 7% . This will help you to better understand others emotions and intentions.
  3. Work to reduce your stress so you can respond positively in tense situations instead of reacting negatively. When faced with adversity, optimistic people ask “what is good about this? Where is the lesson that is going to serve me well when I go after the next big opportunity?
  4. Improve your listening skills. If you are planning what you’re going to say next, daydreaming, or thinking about something else, you are almost certain to miss nonverbal cues and other subtleties in the conversation. Try to practice empathizing with others when you speak to them and work to understand where they are coming from in any conversation so you can aim for a win-win in discussions and negotiations.
  5. List the qualities you admire most in a mentor in your life. Notice how many are soft skills associated with EI. Now, work to improve these qualities in yourself. For example if you admire someone’s honesty, make a effort to be more honest both with yourself and others. Or if you admire someone’s sense of humor, practice being funnier and lighter with others!

Improving your Emotional Intelligence Skill is a powerful way to become a better leader, manager and build better relationships in all areas of your life. When you improve your EI, you improve your resilience, optimism and relationships in all areas of your life so it is worth the investment of time! Test it out for yourself!

“If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.” Dan Goleman

AODA Training – Get Ready Now

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

The AODA legislation impacts all organizations in Ontario with more than one employee.

That means you want AODA training to achieve compliance.

Has your organization met all of the requirements to date?

Has your organization filed your accessibility compliance reports (January 1, 2012 and January 1, 2014)?

 

The following are some of the AODA requirements with compliance dates between January 1, 2012 – January 1, 2016:

  • Establish policies, plans and procedures to help your organization achieve accessibility goals, and tell your employees and customers about them.
  • Create a multi-year plan to ensure your organization meets accessibility requirements.
  • Consider accessibility when purchasing or designing electronic kiosks.
  • Make your new or “significantly refreshed” websites more accessible.
  • Communicate and provide information in accessible formats, upon request.
  • Provide accessible workplace information to employees with disabilities, as necessary or upon request, including information about emergency workplace procedures.
  • Ensure your human resources practices explicitly consider accessibility in areas such as recruitment, accommodation, performance management, career development and return-to-work processes.
  • Develop individualized written accommodation plans for employees with disabilities.
  • Training of all staff as per the requirements outlined in the Customer Service and Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulations.

If you are not fully compliant and/or would like an AODA expert to review what has been put into place to ensure it meets the requirements, give us a call to learn how we can help.

Frequently Answered Questions

  • What if our company does not comply?
  • Will the government extend the deadline again?
  • When is it best to use live AODA Compliance Training versus online AODA Compliance Training?
  • What is required and how do we implement quickly and efficiently so we do not get distracted from our core talent development strategy?
  • How does AODA training fit inside our talent development and culture strategy?
  • How could we cut two carrots with the same knife?
  • We want to comply, yet we want a business benefit from implementing the AODA compliance training.
  • How do we achieve a business benefit at the same time while we implement?
  • What is the point of AODA and why should I care?
  • How much of my training budget should I allocate to AODA Training?
  • How do I best extend my budget to achieve more with less?
  • How do I tie our organization’s values to the AODA compliance so that we get another opportunity to reinforce our values and leadership behaviors?

Before you depart, here are some things you can do to get AODA compliant for your leaders and teams:

  1. If you want to achieve a business objective while becoming compliant. Book a 45 minute conversation with Doug Bolger, our Chief Learning Officer to talk about your desired business objectives and compliance outcomes .
  2. If you already know that Learn2 is a good choice for your AODA Training Programs and would like to book a 45 minute appointment with a strategist, send an email to via our contact page and we will coordinate a meeting with you.
  3. If you would like to know more about Learn2 and see a few of our solutions, click here now.
  4. If you would like to speak with someone right away, call our Learn2 Hotline at 877-4LEARN2 x 229.

Blog Fulllwidth

10 Ways to Lead a Culture of Innovation In Your Organization

There is one certainty you face as a leader…you will be required to lead transformational change. And if you can lead so that innovation happens on your team, than there is a higher likelihood of success through the change.

As leaders we are sometimes unclear about what innovation looks like and what we need to do to foster it. It doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Innovative leaders intentionally and skillfully do things that cause innovation to happen. Here’s our top 10 list to get you started.

  1. Articulate and share the BIG PICTURE – the purpose, the why, and why it all matters. If we share our big picture clearly and help people understand how they connect to that big picture and truly impact it, we are more likely to get them focused on ideas or opportunities to make that reality happen.
  2. Broaden your perspective and focus your actions. When we focus on one small element (one department, one product, one perspective) we are missing other key things that may impact our way forward. Get the blinders off. Look around. Then focus your actions specifically on what will impact your way forward. Remove the distractions that get in the way.
  3. Be curious – Be looking for the 2nd best answer or solution. Be open to different ways of doing things. When we have a genuine curios mindset, we just may learn something we hadn’t considered before.
  4. Ask great questions. As leaders we are sometimes 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 just don’t try any more. So rather than solve the issue, ask questions like “What would you do?”, “What’s the real challenge here?”, or “How can I help?” to get the team engaged in problem solving.
  5. Ask for feedback and surface people’s resistance. With change, comes resistance. So expect it. Roll with it. Manage it together. Actively seek feedback that may even contradict your intended plan or perspective. Get people thinking about the change in a way that involves them in the outcome.
  6. Collaborate with others. We don’t solve problems by ourselves. We have employees, partners, customers, stakeholders, and they all have a valuable perspective. What perspectives are we missing when we try to do it alone?
  7. Time for Reflection and Self-Assessment – We get busy. That’s not likely to change. And innovation isn’t an event you can schedule. We get ideas in strange places and when our mind is free enough to go in uncharted territory. So build down time in. Go for a walk, play music…whatever inspires your creative side. Don’t fill every second of your schedule.
  8. WTF CultureWilling To Fail. As a leader let’s accept failure as an important step on the way to a better solution. Give people permission to fail and have great conversations when we do fail. Learn from it, make it better, grow together. Go there.
  9. Develop Your Innovation System – When we have a system and know how to move an idea forward, how to get support, how to implement the idea, it makes it much more doable. So create a system that takes the guesswork out of it. Plan your steps, so the idea gets to take center stage in your mind, not the uncertainty around what to do with it.
  10. Join us at the next Women In Leadership and Business Conference. Start collaborating with other leaders that want to have a greater impact. Share in learning with great speakers, thought leaders, keynotes and interactive workshops. This year we have two great sessions on Innovation. Won’t you join us?

We all have ideas, we sometimes just have a hard time implementing them. For information about helping to build innovation on your team, or help you engage your team to deliver great results, contact Learn2.

Author: Tammy Sweeney, VP Program Development, Learn2 & CEO, Women in Leadership and Business (WILB) Conference

I’ve Graduated, Now What?

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Follow Alex Robichaud as he navigates entering the workforce as a new graduate.[/vc_column_text][ultimate_carousel slides_on_desk=”3″ speed=”500″ autoplay=”off” arrow_style=”circle-bg” arrow_color=”#ff6900″][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uu1BthM1Guk”][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ht2HOOdSc9c”][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TwqMEC7URw”][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJVWkaewQLM”][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llJB2clG0hw”][/ultimate_carousel][vc_cta h2=”Can you relate to Alex? ” h4=”We’ve all been there, learning as we go.” txt_align=”center” style=”3d” add_button=”bottom” btn_title=”Learn More” btn_style=”3d” btn_color=”orange” btn_align=”center” add_icon=”top” i_icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-bullhorn” i_color=”orange” i_size=”sm” i_on_border=”true” btn_link=”url:http%3A%2F%2Flearn2.com%2Flanding-page-3%2F||target:%20_blank”]Navigating something new doesn’t have to be big and intimidating, whether it is starting a new job with a confusing onboarding process to starting a new long-term strategic plan, we have a solution for you. Call us today at 416-410-6434, send an email to Mary@Learn2.com or click below to join our learning community to get free access to resources with high impact and even higher results.[/vc_cta][/vc_column][/vc_row]

“Yes, and…” Circles Engage Everyone

A “Yes, and…” circle engages everyone on your team in an any-idea-goes conversation that avoids criticizing or critiquing ideas. Everyone says “Yes, and…” to layer and build upon every idea to make a better and better thought.

Different types of “Yes, and…” circles include:

1. Idea generation. Teams identify 30 to 40 ideas in 10 to 12 minutes.
2. Ideas into action. Teams layer on an idea, to make the most effective action plan.
3. Exploring different perspectives. Everyone shares their perspective, layering on others’ perspectives. Soon everyone understands the challenges deeply enough to find the right solution.

Faster meetings are just one benefit. With each contribution, more people on the team feel ownership for the idea. The idea blossoms into an action that will quickly and most-easily produce the result. The best part is that everyone creates the idea and action plan so everyone is deeply committed to their idea’s successful implementation.

Teams using best practices include taking the ball outside for more stimulating thoughts. If there isn’t an easy outdoor space or it’s raining – ask everyone to stand up around the table, since this helps everyone stay engaged. Toss the office ‘stress ball’ to each participant to randomly share their ideas or so they can build on others’ ideas.

If the conversation starts to slow or even stall – ask a question. The human brain loves to answer questions. Think about how focused you become when you want to remember a movie title and you can’t. Often we can’t do anything until we think of the title. Those moments show us how important answering questions is to our brain.

If questions are so important to the brain – then let’s ask high quality questions. Use “What” and “How” questions to get meeting participants to engage in finding ideas, innovations and ways to implement. Pair what/how with could and you lots of amazing question combinations. How could we raise more funds? What could we do to get our message into schools? What would it take to raise another $20,000?

Avoid “can” and “do” questions since they often lead to pointless debate of participants’ opinions. Can we do something to raise more revenue this month? Do you think we could…? The response declines into a debate about whether or not we can. Instead focus on the result and ask, “What can we do that could raise revenue this month?” The difference of a few words can change the result of the conversation.

Avoid “why” questions. Only 17% of people can answer a why question. Most people just freeze or feel judged. Why did you do that? Why hasn’t the event raised more money? Sure the person asking wants to understand yet any “why” question can be asked with “what” or “how” and we don’t feel like we did something wrong.

‘Yes, and…” circles create staff and volunteer engagement by embracing ideas, thoughts, problems and resolutions for a group discussion – having all parties feel ‘listened to’, and at the same time building that single comment into a potential game changing phenomenon.

If you liked this one, check out the next one we have in the queue for you!

Take me there!

Top 6 Team Building Activities for Executives

When one thinks about team building exercises, they usually think of the office workers and lower management, but team building activities for executives are just as important to producing results for a business. Here are 5 exercises that the upper crust can use to better improve their company.

1. Creating Stories Together

Executives align when they create together. Have a small group (8 or less) come together with paper and pen. The leader starts out a story, usually with the phrase “Once upon a time”, and each member gets to add their own part of the story, one word or one phrase at a time. Pass around the paper as each executive adds a single word of their choice, in a story that can be funny or serious or a mix of the 2. Once finished, read each story aloud to other teams. Focus the stories on relevant topics where you want the executives aligned. The activity promotes mutual effort with creative thought. Go further in Connect and Collaborate and executives can learn to listen, collaborate and build on top of ideas so they quickly become aligned. You improve the executives’ effectiveness and relationships within their team. One exercise in Connect and Collaborate aligns executives through sharing the creation of powerful stories.

2. Best & Worst Bosses

Executives started at the bottom just like anyone else. They had their fair share of bad bosses like anyone else. A good quick exercise is to have everyone share their best and worst boss. Ask them to tease out what made them great or what they needed to do differently. You’ll get lots of humor and gets everyone talking about effective leadership skills. Great exercise from Coaching Performance to get leaders learning from each other about leadership and coaching. Take it a step further and learn from one of the best leaders ever – Sir Ernest Shackleton in this immersive leadership challenge to Antarctica. Lead the Endurance engages executives in an immersive team building activity they’ll never forget.

3. The Executive Alphabet

Arrange into groups of about 8 in a circle. Then they close their eyes and each share a letter at a time without a pattern. For round 2, make it a bit more challenging by asking them to restart at A when 2 speak at the same time. We love this exercise. It is a great tool for busy executives who want shorter meetings that achieve more. Executives learn how to avoid “piling on” and building quickly to achieve desired results through teamwork — a goal you may want individual-oriented executives to learn. New partners learn quickly using these exercises in Welcome to the Executive Office and in Meetings that Produce Results.

4. Draw as a Group

Choose a leader to create a picture with stick figures and stock images, while the rest of the group closes their eyes. The leader then describes what the picture looks like, while the group creates their own picture in their heads with eyes shut. This activity illustrates communication and helps executives see firsthand the importance of communicating generously with their teams. Take it a step further and your executives create visuals for the main goals and strategies for their leaders and teams. Another great exercise from Engagement 2.0 for leaders.

5. Build a Better Newspaper

With only a single sheet of newspaper and a roll of tape, groups of 5 or less compete against one another to create the largest free-standing structure. This structure can reach to the ceiling if the group is well-coordinated and plans. The point of the exercise is working to solve a problem as a group using minimal resources. One of several exercises used by clients to quickly engage their executives in living the leadership behaviors required for a successful session. The high performing leadership teams go a step further and build better companies. Those executives use Bridge the Gap, where executives literally create the actions required to exceed their desired goals by removing the barriers and building the future.

6. Executive Flight Simulators

Not for the faint of heart. These high-pressure simulators pit executive teams against each other in a zero sum game. Our designers configure the simulator to reflect your industry and business if you like. Then executive teams take over and compete for market share and profitability. In the cut-throat version, one team can perform a hostile take-over of other teams to change the market dynamics. In competitive strategies and tactics, the simulators are set to illustrate the strengths and constraints of your competitors and your executive team learns first-hand the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. While it takes some configuration, executives find these days to be the most insightful into competition. One medical supplies company attributes a $225 million contract to the process not to mention achieving the top status globally within their company. If you have a group of executives, you want to talk with Doug Bolger about this one!

If you liked this one, check out our Yes, And...activity for your whole team!

Yes, and...take me there now!

Fun Indoor Corporate Team Building Exercises

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Outdoor team building exercises are a lot of fun. Sometimes you need indoor team building activity ideas for when the weather outside is unbearable or unpredictable. Below are some indoor corporate team building exercises:

Active Listening Games Improve Team Communications

Active listening is very important to achieve results and eliminate confusion. That is why an active listening activities make great team building exercises. Everyone gets into groups of 2 or 3. One person tells a story for 3 minutes, and then the other person re-tells the story. Both people cannot interrupt the person who is telling the story. This listening activity illustrates that it is just as important to listen as it is to talk. One of many fun listening exercises in Questions are the Answer.

The Drawing Sheet

You need some pencils, pens and paper for this activity. Get everyone in groups of 3. One person in the group draws a line and then passes it to the next member. Each person gets 5 seconds to add their line. Stop after 20 to 30 rotations (watch the images develop). After the exercise is completed, ask your members a couple of questions. What got created that was recognizable? What did you learn? How did the limited amount of time affect you? One of many team building exercises in Get Connected, Get Collaborating.

Build a Shelter

This team building exercise works best in groups of 4 or 5. Pipe cleaners, toothpicks, paper, string and tape are given to the participants. You can scale the resources larger to make the shelter larger. Give teams 10 minutes to build their shelter so that it is strong enough to withstand 3 tennis balls. Allow other teams to throw the tennis balls. This is a great starting team building exercise that causes participants to get actively involved in a team building activity so they stop engaging like students who sit and listen. Check out award winning team exercises that run indoors.

Construct a Tale

Have participants stand in a circle with a ball. The first person begins telling the story. After that, he or she passes the ball or to the next person. Each person only gets to say 10 words. This activity helps improve teamwork, communication and listening skills. A modified version of this game is used in the popular Meetings that Produce Results.

The Little Known Fact Game

Even though your employees see each other every day, there are still a lot of things that they do not know about each other. You can help your employees learn more about each other by having them share one fact that people may not know about them. This is a simple, stress-free icebreaker. You can also ask them to stand with the person they know the least and have them interview each other. This game is similar to “What you said is important to me because…” which is an amazing learning game in Communicate Naturally.

Emergency Backup Team Program in case of Rain. Sleet or Snow

Many outdoor team programs demand a backup. Clients have found that Team Forward allows the team to balance fun with the One Team Simulation and practical, relevant improvements to the team’s way they produce results. You can even get Certified to facilitate this session on your own. Many clients engage their leaders and teams with this process every quarter to align and build an action plan for the quarter. A favorite of high performing leaders and teams because it focuses on the desired outcomes and removes the barriers that get in the way.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_cta h2=”Get more useful resources today!” h4=”You’re only a click away” txt_align=”center” style=”3d” add_button=”bottom” btn_title=”Subscribe Now” btn_style=”3d” btn_color=”orange” btn_align=”center” add_icon=”top” i_icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-weixin” i_color=”orange” i_background_style=”rounded” i_background_color=”white” i_size=”sm” btn_link=”url:http%3A%2F%2Flearn2.com%2Flanding-page-3|title:Subscribe%20Now|target:%20_blank” i_on_border=”true”]Now that you have some inspiration for ideas, continue the momentum by layering and building ideas - we are here to help you layer! Chat with us to keep the momentum going![/vc_cta][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Become a Master Communicator Using Emotional Intelligence

Are your teams burned out or are you? Are you feeling like you are always fighting fires or dealing with team or client conflict? Constant conflict drains our energy and sabotages our efforts. In any relationship there is a big difference between being assertive to establish respect and trust and successful collaboration and being aggressive, defensive or hostile because of perceived threats or differences.

Even if you are one of the lucky ones that has a cohesive team, learning to tap into Emotional intelligence can make a dramatic difference to our success and positively impact every area of our lives for better success, more income and better relationships including:

  • Your performance at work. Emotional Intelligence can help you navigate the social complexities of the workplace, lead and motivate others, and excel in your career. In fact, when it comes to gauging job candidates, many companies now view emotional intelligence as being as important as technical ability and require EI testing before hiring.
  • Your physical health. If you’re unable to manage your stress levels, it can lead to serious health problems. Uncontrolled stress can raise blood pressure, suppress the immune system, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, contribute to infertility, and speed up the aging process. The first step to improving emotional intelligence is to learn how to relieve stress.
  • Your mental health. Uncontrolled stress can also impact your mental health, making you vulnerable to anxiety and depression. If you are unable to understand and manage your emotions, you’ll also be open to mood swings, while an inability to form strong relationships can leave you feeling lonely and isolated.
  • Your relationships. By understanding your emotions and how to control them, you’re better able to express how you feel and understand how others are feeling. This allows you to communicate more effectively and forge stronger relationships, both at work and in your personal life.

But before I get ahead of myself, you might wonder:

what is Emotional Intelligence (EI) exactly?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict. Emotional intelligence impacts many different aspects of your daily life, such as the way you behave and the way you interact with others.

Unlike IQ which focuses on hard skills and technical abilities, EI focuses on the soft skills which can be improved with conscious effort and practice.

So how can you improve Emotional Intelligence for more success in your work and life?

Below are 5 tips to give you a start. Remember it is easy to practice in neutral situations but stress can hijack our best intention so give yourself time to make real lasting progress.

  1. Practice observing your emotions. Label your emotions and work to understand your triggers for “hot” emotions so you can teach yourself to better manage your emotions for better relationships.
  2. Practice recognizing subtle cues on others. Remember that body language, gestures and other forms on non-verbal communication account for more than 55% of communication between people and the actual words account for a mere 7% . This will help you to better understand others emotions and intentions.
  3. Work to reduce your stress so you can respond positively in tense situations instead of reacting negatively. When faced with adversity, optimistic people ask “what is good about this? Where is the lesson that is going to serve me well when I go after the next big opportunity?
  4. Improve your listening skills. If you are planning what you’re going to say next, daydreaming, or thinking about something else, you are almost certain to miss nonverbal cues and other subtleties in the conversation. Try to practice empathizing with others when you speak to them and work to understand where they are coming from in any conversation so you can aim for a win-win in discussions and negotiations.
  5. List the qualities you admire most in a mentor in your life. Notice how many are soft skills associated with EI. Now, work to improve these qualities in yourself. For example if you admire someone’s honesty, make a effort to be more honest both with yourself and others. Or if you admire someone’s sense of humor, practice being funnier and lighter with others!

Improving your Emotional Intelligence Skill is a powerful way to become a better leader, manager and build better relationships in all areas of your life. When you improve your EI, you improve your resilience, optimism and relationships in all areas of your life so it is worth the investment of time! Test it out for yourself!

“If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.” Dan Goleman

AODA Training – Get Ready Now

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

The AODA legislation impacts all organizations in Ontario with more than one employee.

That means you want AODA training to achieve compliance.

Has your organization met all of the requirements to date?

Has your organization filed your accessibility compliance reports (January 1, 2012 and January 1, 2014)?

 

The following are some of the AODA requirements with compliance dates between January 1, 2012 – January 1, 2016:

  • Establish policies, plans and procedures to help your organization achieve accessibility goals, and tell your employees and customers about them.
  • Create a multi-year plan to ensure your organization meets accessibility requirements.
  • Consider accessibility when purchasing or designing electronic kiosks.
  • Make your new or “significantly refreshed” websites more accessible.
  • Communicate and provide information in accessible formats, upon request.
  • Provide accessible workplace information to employees with disabilities, as necessary or upon request, including information about emergency workplace procedures.
  • Ensure your human resources practices explicitly consider accessibility in areas such as recruitment, accommodation, performance management, career development and return-to-work processes.
  • Develop individualized written accommodation plans for employees with disabilities.
  • Training of all staff as per the requirements outlined in the Customer Service and Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulations.

If you are not fully compliant and/or would like an AODA expert to review what has been put into place to ensure it meets the requirements, give us a call to learn how we can help.

Frequently Answered Questions

  • What if our company does not comply?
  • Will the government extend the deadline again?
  • When is it best to use live AODA Compliance Training versus online AODA Compliance Training?
  • What is required and how do we implement quickly and efficiently so we do not get distracted from our core talent development strategy?
  • How does AODA training fit inside our talent development and culture strategy?
  • How could we cut two carrots with the same knife?
  • We want to comply, yet we want a business benefit from implementing the AODA compliance training.
  • How do we achieve a business benefit at the same time while we implement?
  • What is the point of AODA and why should I care?
  • How much of my training budget should I allocate to AODA Training?
  • How do I best extend my budget to achieve more with less?
  • How do I tie our organization’s values to the AODA compliance so that we get another opportunity to reinforce our values and leadership behaviors?

Before you depart, here are some things you can do to get AODA compliant for your leaders and teams:

  1. If you want to achieve a business objective while becoming compliant. Book a 45 minute conversation with Doug Bolger, our Chief Learning Officer to talk about your desired business objectives and compliance outcomes .
  2. If you already know that Learn2 is a good choice for your AODA Training Programs and would like to book a 45 minute appointment with a strategist, send an email to via our contact page and we will coordinate a meeting with you.
  3. If you would like to know more about Learn2 and see a few of our solutions, click here now.
  4. If you would like to speak with someone right away, call our Learn2 Hotline at 877-4LEARN2 x 229.

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