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9 Strategies to Increase Learner Engagement

9 Strategies to Increase Learner Engagement

It takes an inspired leader to inspire a team. While incentives and time off reward and reinforce extrinsic reasons to engage, intrinsic motivations have a more significant impact.

Imagine the competitive advantage of two companies that—in essence—deliver the same product. One company’s employees are engaged and inspired to innovate and transform their tasks. The other company’s employees complete the tasks without being personally invested. The two companies would produce wildly different results.

Your approach to learning & leading is key to engagement

The way employees learn either disconnects or creates meaningful connections that spur engagement. The engagement level in your learning environment determines how much of that learning gets applied in the actual work environment. The following principles guide you to cause engagement, which transforms culture:

MAKE THE LEARNER RESPONSIBLE.

As a facilitator, consider the fact that if you are responsible, then your learners are not accountable. Start finding ways to cause active participation and start holding participants responsible for their learning and the application of that learning.

STOP SPEAKING; START HEARING.

When participants speak, learning is more likely to happen. Participants forget more than 90 percent of what you say within days, yet connect emotionally to their peers’ comments. Start HEARing them: Hint at connections; ask for Elaboration or Examples; offer Affirmation by agreeing, encouraging, or praising; and Reflect to connect to how they could apply what they learned.

USE NARRATIVE IMMERSION:

Narrative Immersion is the process of allowing participants to be part of the story. Stories on their own increase retention and are a primal part of how humans create community. When you make the participants a character in the story, engagement skyrockets along with retention and application. Being told, sold, or lectured to decreases learner esteem and increases passiveness. Start liberating learning by offering real problems to solve; allow all answers to be valid; time their ability to produce results; and leverage competition to generate the best application back to work. You can do that with a program centered around Narrative Immersion.

START WITH PARTICIPANTS SPEAKING.

Start every learning experience with the participants finding their voice through sharing their best practices, challenges, or conditions in which they apply the skills to be learned.

STOP COACHING.

Move the focus from your ability to coach to developing the participants’ ability to coach each other. Start asking participants to identify and give feedback to their peers. Identification and feedback skills become necessary abilities to implement the learning insights back at work. Start building the skills and tools required for application to shift engagement from the learning environment to the workplace.

SAY GOOD-BYE TO POWERPOINT.

Relying on PowerPoint illustrates a lack of preparation and understanding of your content — which causes disengagement. Start designing learning to give the participants the content and let them discover and invent links to their workplace.

STOP USING BINDERS.

Binders illustrate your commitment to content rather than learning. Content is not value. Learning is value, so focus on fewer concepts and more application to increase engagement inside and outside the learning environment. Start focusing on application during the learning, so participants learn to apply the content rather than just remember the material. Application trumps all other learning. Choose the conditions, environments, and tasks where the learning will be used and build application challenges.

TEACH MULTIPLE SKILLS AT A TIME.

Skills no longer get applied one at a time. Participants operate in complex situations with multiple skills, so stop teaching one skill at a time. Start integrating various skills into activities, so participants are better prepared for real-life situations.

FIND VALUE IN LEARNING.

Start following the participants’ desire to find value in the learning. When participants connect, then follow the connection and encourage application. Your willingness to ensure relevance to the participants will be rewarded with engagement.

Engagement comes before application. And the application of learning is where your participants and your organization receive a return on investment. Follow the above principles to increase the engagement and discover a new level of application of learning. High engagement and application environments increase participants’ ability to adapt to their changing situation and increases the ability to innovate. The result—engagement cascades throughout the organization.

What are the best programs to engage a team?

– 100% Participation and application = Save the Titanic Immersive Experience
– Strategic Planning and Big Picture = Lead the Endurance Immersive Experience
– Communication and Leadership Skills = Communicate Naturally

 

 

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.

To Know, Or Not To Know – That Is The Question

To Know, Or Not To Know – That Is The Question

Knowing and Doing

Think back to the last conversation you had with someone when they said “I know” in response to a comment you made. You know darn well the other person thinks he/she ‘knows’ what you just shared, and it could not be farther from the truth. Why is that? Because as Destin Sandlin once said, “Knowledge does not equal understanding.”  Knowledge is far off from understanding, and even farther away from “doing” and applying what you know.   So how do you move from knowing something (a process, a concept, an idea) through to applying it skillfully? That is the ‘million dollar’ question. A question educators, facilitators and leaders have struggled with through the ages. We often hear in the halls of learning, “well I told them, so they should know how to do it.” It’s that kind of response that sets me ablaze, and we will address here.   In order to move from “knowing” to “doing”, we need to look at the brain, not the rational part of the brain that holds the facts but the emotional part of the brain that manages feelings, the amygdala. To get to “doing” we need to recognize three main concepts; first, you decide to move from “knowing” to “doing”, then you need to make the “doing” achievable and finally recognize that honey catches more flies. 

Decide To Move 

Often on inner dialogue sounds something like this “what if I fail, what if I get this wrong, what if I do it differently, what if I can’t remember?” and so on and so on. We have not even decided to move, and our inner saboteurs are shooting us down. First thing first, recognize that these are just that, saboteurs that are trying to protect us.   Actually, the saboteurs are rooted in our amygdala, our lizard brain. This part of the brain is hardwired to keep us alive, and it often does that by keeping us in the same patterns we are used to. The amygdala creates a flight, fight or freeze reaction in our body when we are under stress. And in life and death situations, this reaction is very helpful. It helps us jump out of the way of an accident or run away from a lion without needing to think “this is dangerous”.  When it comes to taking “knowing” to “doing”, this amygdala gets in the way. This new way does not feel safe and easy, so the amygdala sends out fear signals. The first step is to recognize them for what they are, signals, as you are experiencing something new.   Also, if you find yourself doubting this movement from “knowing” to “doing”, gut-check it with your values and beliefs. Does this new learning align with your values and beliefs, then move forward into the unknown of developing a new skill by “doing”. 

Make “Doing” Achievable 

How do you eat an elephant? Well, one bite at a time, of course. (No elephants were hurt in the creation of his blog.)  This elephant principle also applies to learning how to “do”. If possible, break the new “doing” down to smaller bites. Perhaps the process can be accomplished in stages, or the new skills can be practiced in small bites. Give yourself room to stumble, fail and even fall on your face. As Denzel Washington once said, “I want to fall… forward. At least I figure that way I’ll see what I’m about to hit.”  As you practice these new skills and rewire your brain into thinking new ways, celebrate the steps and little wins along the way.  

Honey Catches More Flies

Here is where the amygdala comes back in again. Our brain is wired to move away from pain and toward gain, hence fight, flight or freeze. The SCARF model best describes the five domains that influence our behaviour:  

  1. Status – our relative importance to others. 
  2. Certainty – our ability to predict the future. 
  3. Autonomy – our sense of control over events. 
  4. Relatedness – how safe we feel with others. 
  5. Fairness – how fair we perceive the exchanges between people to be. 

Which one do you relate most with? Once you know which one triggers you, you can then use that to create a reward system to motivate you. If you are triggered by status and don’t want others to see you stumble at something new, then hire a coach and work on those new skills ‘off-line’ to maintain your perceived status. If certainty is important to you then ask to get involved in this new change so you are in control rather than reacting. If autonomy is valuable to you then choose the time when you use this new skill. If relatedness is important, then find a peer group or “Brain Trust” and work on it together. If fairness is a driving factor, then create a support group for others feeling “off” as a result of learning new things.  In order to stay ahead of the game in this ever-changing world, we all need to take what we know and put in into action to turn “knowing” into “doing”. You do that by deciding to move, making it doable and using honey to catch the flies.   Want to learn more about SCARF and other leadership principles, reach out to Learn2 at info@learn2.com and follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook.  

Why Do Immersive Experiences Create Better Leaders?

Why Do Immersive Experiences Create Better Leaders?

Leadership Development

Why Leadership Develop?

Leadership Development is the ultimate grey zone. The black and white, done or not done thinkers nemesis. It is one of the longest-lasting verbs in one’s professional career. The goal, of course, is to be a great leader – so great in fact that fully competent replaces “developing” as soon as possible with a gold star and the search for some other achievement. Sadly, that is not how it works, ask any non-gold star carrying leader.

Leadership development is the ultimate challenge for any organization’s Senior Leadership staff and Human Resources teams. That’s because we know something that many of you do not. It’s not a secret exactly, its just a frequently overlooked or entirely ignored fact. All roads lead to leadership. That’s right, business going well over a period of time? It’s the Leader (s). Business having challenges? It’s the Leaders. So what to do? There are basically 3 levels of leadership development, general knowledge, specific programs and lived experiences. Knowing that you are never done, there is only one direction to proceed – Forward. Here’s how they break down.

There is no shortage of information on leadership principles and behaviours…several authors and speakers have survived the test of time, including Jim Collins, Brene Brown and Simon Synek. The format doesn’t matter much…book, tedTalk, podcast, they all do the trick. They all offer an insight into something that you probably already knew and had forgotten. Occasionally there are some new insights. They sharpen our focus and get us excited about leading again. Many of us will even take some of these “new” ideas and test them out. This is good leadership knowledge, and well worth the read, watch or listen. It’s not exactly leadership development. However, it does inform, inspire and educate. The influence is impactful in the moment, and largely short-lived as there is little consideration given to how to apply the learning to your current situation.

Next is the myriad of leadership programs available, ranging from 4 hours to 4 years. Most of these are module centred and focus on leadership competencies, including performance management, communication, delegation, etc. These are typically available in medium and large-sized organizations, and they are intended to go deeper than information only as they often have peer accountability, role-playing and project/ homework components built-in. Leadership programs vary widely in there use of adult learning principles and design, content and follow-though. Typically, leadership development programs work well in the moment and often have a modest level of “application” built-in. There is little evidence to support longer programs having longer or more impactful results.

The one variable is the extent to which Senior Leaders participate and practice the same leadership program as the full leadership/management team. When the FULL leadership team participates and adopts the language, behaviours and supports, the impact of the program is greatly enhanced. I often wonder if this would be the case without a “program”. In other words, I wonder if leadership skills and behaviours would increase organically if all leaders used a common, consistent and intentional language and set of behaviours that were supported and required. Would this give us a similar result? In other words, do we need more knowledge or do we need more consistent and intentional behaviour? Is leadership development simply the reinforcement of good leadership habits over time? Perhaps. It doesn’t explain why some leaders fail in certain circumstances – specifically tough circumstances or long tenures.

The final area of leadership development is the lived experience. Simply put, with knowledge, awareness, commitment and practice, many leaders learn the skills they need on the job through any combination of trial and error, observation, desperation, circumstances, aspiration and opportunity. Many of the best leaders have never taken a leadership course or finished a book (podcasts and TedTalks are 20-minute investments often combined with commuting or the treadmill). So how can organizations fast track the lived experience approach? We know it works; however, it takes too long – we can’t wait for the living to produce good leaders.

The answer is the immersive leadership experience.

The immersive experience is a controlled, well designed, intense lived experience that happens over a few hours. It creates an environment that is focused, uncomfortable, challenging, stressful and entirely memorable. The combination lays down information in the brain that results in a combination of fast-tracked learning, a vivid experience and lasting results. The immediate debrief, and connection to the Leader’s real-world fuses the learning, the experience and the application immediately with lasting results. The impact of decisions, communication, behaviour, and direction is immediate and real – even when you know you are in a simulated environment, the brain responds and remembers as if the situation is real because the experience is real.

Leadership Development is a critical and continuous process. A great leader is never fully developed, and they know it even when others do not. Every organization knows that leadership skills are essential, and most invest as they are able. My experience is this. Keep working at it. Learn all you can. Invest in good programs that your senior teams participate in. Practice and learn as you go. If you want to fast track all of that, invest in immersive experiences that put people in unimaginable leadership roles. They will remember, learn and change for the good.

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.

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.

5 Stages of Learning for Developing Leadership Skills

5 Stages of Learning for Developing Leadership Skills

 

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.

 

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.

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.

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.

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.

Blog Fulllwidth

9 Strategies to Increase Learner Engagement

9 Strategies to Increase Learner Engagement

It takes an inspired leader to inspire a team. While incentives and time off reward and reinforce extrinsic reasons to engage, intrinsic motivations have a more significant impact.

Imagine the competitive advantage of two companies that—in essence—deliver the same product. One company’s employees are engaged and inspired to innovate and transform their tasks. The other company’s employees complete the tasks without being personally invested. The two companies would produce wildly different results.

Your approach to learning & leading is key to engagement

The way employees learn either disconnects or creates meaningful connections that spur engagement. The engagement level in your learning environment determines how much of that learning gets applied in the actual work environment. The following principles guide you to cause engagement, which transforms culture:

MAKE THE LEARNER RESPONSIBLE.

As a facilitator, consider the fact that if you are responsible, then your learners are not accountable. Start finding ways to cause active participation and start holding participants responsible for their learning and the application of that learning.

STOP SPEAKING; START HEARING.

When participants speak, learning is more likely to happen. Participants forget more than 90 percent of what you say within days, yet connect emotionally to their peers’ comments. Start HEARing them: Hint at connections; ask for Elaboration or Examples; offer Affirmation by agreeing, encouraging, or praising; and Reflect to connect to how they could apply what they learned.

USE NARRATIVE IMMERSION:

Narrative Immersion is the process of allowing participants to be part of the story. Stories on their own increase retention and are a primal part of how humans create community. When you make the participants a character in the story, engagement skyrockets along with retention and application. Being told, sold, or lectured to decreases learner esteem and increases passiveness. Start liberating learning by offering real problems to solve; allow all answers to be valid; time their ability to produce results; and leverage competition to generate the best application back to work. You can do that with a program centered around Narrative Immersion.

START WITH PARTICIPANTS SPEAKING.

Start every learning experience with the participants finding their voice through sharing their best practices, challenges, or conditions in which they apply the skills to be learned.

STOP COACHING.

Move the focus from your ability to coach to developing the participants’ ability to coach each other. Start asking participants to identify and give feedback to their peers. Identification and feedback skills become necessary abilities to implement the learning insights back at work. Start building the skills and tools required for application to shift engagement from the learning environment to the workplace.

SAY GOOD-BYE TO POWERPOINT.

Relying on PowerPoint illustrates a lack of preparation and understanding of your content — which causes disengagement. Start designing learning to give the participants the content and let them discover and invent links to their workplace.

STOP USING BINDERS.

Binders illustrate your commitment to content rather than learning. Content is not value. Learning is value, so focus on fewer concepts and more application to increase engagement inside and outside the learning environment. Start focusing on application during the learning, so participants learn to apply the content rather than just remember the material. Application trumps all other learning. Choose the conditions, environments, and tasks where the learning will be used and build application challenges.

TEACH MULTIPLE SKILLS AT A TIME.

Skills no longer get applied one at a time. Participants operate in complex situations with multiple skills, so stop teaching one skill at a time. Start integrating various skills into activities, so participants are better prepared for real-life situations.

FIND VALUE IN LEARNING.

Start following the participants’ desire to find value in the learning. When participants connect, then follow the connection and encourage application. Your willingness to ensure relevance to the participants will be rewarded with engagement.

Engagement comes before application. And the application of learning is where your participants and your organization receive a return on investment. Follow the above principles to increase the engagement and discover a new level of application of learning. High engagement and application environments increase participants’ ability to adapt to their changing situation and increases the ability to innovate. The result—engagement cascades throughout the organization.

What are the best programs to engage a team?

– 100% Participation and application = Save the Titanic Immersive Experience
– Strategic Planning and Big Picture = Lead the Endurance Immersive Experience
– Communication and Leadership Skills = Communicate Naturally

 

 

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.

To Know, Or Not To Know – That Is The Question

To Know, Or Not To Know – That Is The Question

Knowing and Doing

Think back to the last conversation you had with someone when they said “I know” in response to a comment you made. You know darn well the other person thinks he/she ‘knows’ what you just shared, and it could not be farther from the truth. Why is that? Because as Destin Sandlin once said, “Knowledge does not equal understanding.”  Knowledge is far off from understanding, and even farther away from “doing” and applying what you know.   So how do you move from knowing something (a process, a concept, an idea) through to applying it skillfully? That is the ‘million dollar’ question. A question educators, facilitators and leaders have struggled with through the ages. We often hear in the halls of learning, “well I told them, so they should know how to do it.” It’s that kind of response that sets me ablaze, and we will address here.   In order to move from “knowing” to “doing”, we need to look at the brain, not the rational part of the brain that holds the facts but the emotional part of the brain that manages feelings, the amygdala. To get to “doing” we need to recognize three main concepts; first, you decide to move from “knowing” to “doing”, then you need to make the “doing” achievable and finally recognize that honey catches more flies. 

Decide To Move 

Often on inner dialogue sounds something like this “what if I fail, what if I get this wrong, what if I do it differently, what if I can’t remember?” and so on and so on. We have not even decided to move, and our inner saboteurs are shooting us down. First thing first, recognize that these are just that, saboteurs that are trying to protect us.   Actually, the saboteurs are rooted in our amygdala, our lizard brain. This part of the brain is hardwired to keep us alive, and it often does that by keeping us in the same patterns we are used to. The amygdala creates a flight, fight or freeze reaction in our body when we are under stress. And in life and death situations, this reaction is very helpful. It helps us jump out of the way of an accident or run away from a lion without needing to think “this is dangerous”.  When it comes to taking “knowing” to “doing”, this amygdala gets in the way. This new way does not feel safe and easy, so the amygdala sends out fear signals. The first step is to recognize them for what they are, signals, as you are experiencing something new.   Also, if you find yourself doubting this movement from “knowing” to “doing”, gut-check it with your values and beliefs. Does this new learning align with your values and beliefs, then move forward into the unknown of developing a new skill by “doing”. 

Make “Doing” Achievable 

How do you eat an elephant? Well, one bite at a time, of course. (No elephants were hurt in the creation of his blog.)  This elephant principle also applies to learning how to “do”. If possible, break the new “doing” down to smaller bites. Perhaps the process can be accomplished in stages, or the new skills can be practiced in small bites. Give yourself room to stumble, fail and even fall on your face. As Denzel Washington once said, “I want to fall… forward. At least I figure that way I’ll see what I’m about to hit.”  As you practice these new skills and rewire your brain into thinking new ways, celebrate the steps and little wins along the way.  

Honey Catches More Flies

Here is where the amygdala comes back in again. Our brain is wired to move away from pain and toward gain, hence fight, flight or freeze. The SCARF model best describes the five domains that influence our behaviour:  

  1. Status – our relative importance to others. 
  2. Certainty – our ability to predict the future. 
  3. Autonomy – our sense of control over events. 
  4. Relatedness – how safe we feel with others. 
  5. Fairness – how fair we perceive the exchanges between people to be. 

Which one do you relate most with? Once you know which one triggers you, you can then use that to create a reward system to motivate you. If you are triggered by status and don’t want others to see you stumble at something new, then hire a coach and work on those new skills ‘off-line’ to maintain your perceived status. If certainty is important to you then ask to get involved in this new change so you are in control rather than reacting. If autonomy is valuable to you then choose the time when you use this new skill. If relatedness is important, then find a peer group or “Brain Trust” and work on it together. If fairness is a driving factor, then create a support group for others feeling “off” as a result of learning new things.  In order to stay ahead of the game in this ever-changing world, we all need to take what we know and put in into action to turn “knowing” into “doing”. You do that by deciding to move, making it doable and using honey to catch the flies.   Want to learn more about SCARF and other leadership principles, reach out to Learn2 at info@learn2.com and follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook.  

Why Do Immersive Experiences Create Better Leaders?

Why Do Immersive Experiences Create Better Leaders?

Leadership Development

Why Leadership Develop?

Leadership Development is the ultimate grey zone. The black and white, done or not done thinkers nemesis. It is one of the longest-lasting verbs in one’s professional career. The goal, of course, is to be a great leader – so great in fact that fully competent replaces “developing” as soon as possible with a gold star and the search for some other achievement. Sadly, that is not how it works, ask any non-gold star carrying leader.

Leadership development is the ultimate challenge for any organization’s Senior Leadership staff and Human Resources teams. That’s because we know something that many of you do not. It’s not a secret exactly, its just a frequently overlooked or entirely ignored fact. All roads lead to leadership. That’s right, business going well over a period of time? It’s the Leader (s). Business having challenges? It’s the Leaders. So what to do? There are basically 3 levels of leadership development, general knowledge, specific programs and lived experiences. Knowing that you are never done, there is only one direction to proceed – Forward. Here’s how they break down.

There is no shortage of information on leadership principles and behaviours…several authors and speakers have survived the test of time, including Jim Collins, Brene Brown and Simon Synek. The format doesn’t matter much…book, tedTalk, podcast, they all do the trick. They all offer an insight into something that you probably already knew and had forgotten. Occasionally there are some new insights. They sharpen our focus and get us excited about leading again. Many of us will even take some of these “new” ideas and test them out. This is good leadership knowledge, and well worth the read, watch or listen. It’s not exactly leadership development. However, it does inform, inspire and educate. The influence is impactful in the moment, and largely short-lived as there is little consideration given to how to apply the learning to your current situation.

Next is the myriad of leadership programs available, ranging from 4 hours to 4 years. Most of these are module centred and focus on leadership competencies, including performance management, communication, delegation, etc. These are typically available in medium and large-sized organizations, and they are intended to go deeper than information only as they often have peer accountability, role-playing and project/ homework components built-in. Leadership programs vary widely in there use of adult learning principles and design, content and follow-though. Typically, leadership development programs work well in the moment and often have a modest level of “application” built-in. There is little evidence to support longer programs having longer or more impactful results.

The one variable is the extent to which Senior Leaders participate and practice the same leadership program as the full leadership/management team. When the FULL leadership team participates and adopts the language, behaviours and supports, the impact of the program is greatly enhanced. I often wonder if this would be the case without a “program”. In other words, I wonder if leadership skills and behaviours would increase organically if all leaders used a common, consistent and intentional language and set of behaviours that were supported and required. Would this give us a similar result? In other words, do we need more knowledge or do we need more consistent and intentional behaviour? Is leadership development simply the reinforcement of good leadership habits over time? Perhaps. It doesn’t explain why some leaders fail in certain circumstances – specifically tough circumstances or long tenures.

The final area of leadership development is the lived experience. Simply put, with knowledge, awareness, commitment and practice, many leaders learn the skills they need on the job through any combination of trial and error, observation, desperation, circumstances, aspiration and opportunity. Many of the best leaders have never taken a leadership course or finished a book (podcasts and TedTalks are 20-minute investments often combined with commuting or the treadmill). So how can organizations fast track the lived experience approach? We know it works; however, it takes too long – we can’t wait for the living to produce good leaders.

The answer is the immersive leadership experience.

The immersive experience is a controlled, well designed, intense lived experience that happens over a few hours. It creates an environment that is focused, uncomfortable, challenging, stressful and entirely memorable. The combination lays down information in the brain that results in a combination of fast-tracked learning, a vivid experience and lasting results. The immediate debrief, and connection to the Leader’s real-world fuses the learning, the experience and the application immediately with lasting results. The impact of decisions, communication, behaviour, and direction is immediate and real – even when you know you are in a simulated environment, the brain responds and remembers as if the situation is real because the experience is real.

Leadership Development is a critical and continuous process. A great leader is never fully developed, and they know it even when others do not. Every organization knows that leadership skills are essential, and most invest as they are able. My experience is this. Keep working at it. Learn all you can. Invest in good programs that your senior teams participate in. Practice and learn as you go. If you want to fast track all of that, invest in immersive experiences that put people in unimaginable leadership roles. They will remember, learn and change for the good.

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.

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.

5 Stages of Learning for Developing Leadership Skills

5 Stages of Learning for Developing Leadership Skills

 

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.

 

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.

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.

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.

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.

Save the Titanic Team Building

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