Posts Tagged ‘All Things Workplace’

Four Ways You Can Impact Learning

Posted on: October 1st, 2015 by All Things Workplace presented by How To Mentor Toolkit No Comments

More and more, job candidates are asking the question, "What will I learn here?"

If they don't like the answer they may keep looking.

For leaders, managers, and heads of projects, helping people learn is a critical contribution to individual and organizational success.

So, here are Four Ways to Impact Learning that will serve you well.

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Impact on Curiosity: For every action there's a reaction. When we say or do something, people want time to react to it, talk about it, and understand what it means to them.

Practical Application: Allow  time for questions and answers. The give-and-take after you speak is where people actually learn and where they begin to develop an affinity for, and commitment to, the topic. Even if you're an expert, the learning takes place as a result of people wrestling with the information or idea rather than being the recipients of a data dump–no matter how eloquent you may be.

Impact on self confidence: How you deliver and discuss the information impacts how people feel about learning it. People with position power–managers, supervisors, team leaders–all have the ability to build confidence in the learners or create a defensive atmosphere.

Practical Application: Tell the group at the outset that you value their questions and that you hope they'll jump in when they experience an "Aha!" or a "Help me, I don't get it." When someone asks a question, throw it back out to the group to give someone else a chance to form an answer that may be framed in a way different than your own. Thank people whenever they ask a question or offer an answer.

Impact on motivation: Even as youngsters, we knew who the teachers were who made learning exciting, interesting, and engaging. Why not be the "managerial version" of your best teacher. And remember this: Managers Are The Mediators of Motivation.

Practical Application: Take some time to develop questions and break people into groups to address them; if you're talking about a new marketing approach, give people a block of time to do a concept and present it to the group. You know the content. The time you spend designing the right approach will pay off in engaged learners and, ultimately, effective learning.

Impact on Creativity: Unless you're involved in safety procedures, accounting rules, or a regulatory issue, people want to be able to offer their own "variation on a theme." One of the reasons to bring people together is to capitalize on the collective creativity and varying viewpoints in the room.

Practical Application: Give people latitude to take the discussion in directions that you never thought of. Remember, you're in charge–but to try to be in control will shut down the kind of learning that the group–and you–have an opportunity to experience.

Bonus: When the noise level goes up and people start debating, discussing, and delving into the topic, you've been successful. Let it go until the energy begins to die down. Then, capture the points that they were making with their co-workers and discuss next steps. When learners sit passively, you may feel more relaxed because you feel in control not having to respond to questions or manage the group. What it may really mean is that they aren't engaged, aren't learning, and are waiting "until the bell rings" so they can go back to their workspace.

What are your unique methods for impacting learning?

Your Next Aha!; Is the Beginning, Not the End

Posted on: July 1st, 2015 by All Things Workplace presented by How To Mentor Toolkit No Comments

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How many times have you studied, thought, worked, conversed, or meditated in order to reach an "Aha!" moment?

It seems to me that we have a tendency to treat "Ahas!" as if they are a result.  Yet when you look at them carefully, they signal a beginning; a sign that there may be a new path to pursue, something new to learn, or a situation to re-visit in a different way.

In fact, I received that "Aha!" in a conversation with no less than the Conversation Agent herself, Valeria Maltoni. Some time ago we were discussing just about everything from marketing to book writing to organization effectiveness when she wove her "Aha!"into the conversation. It was a beginning that led to today's post.

Some Aha! Questions to Ponder

1. When was your last "Aha!"?

2. Did it lead somewhere?

3. If  so, where?

4. If not, why not?

5. Is it time to re-visit it to see what you might have missed?

(Almost) Everything I Know About "Ahas" I Learned From Fourth-Graders

When I got out of the Army, I went back to college to complete the last few requirements for my degree.  I also went back to being a working–and paid–musician.  Life was good. Except for the next "Aha!."

You see, at that time in the history of the universe, there was a strange, quaint phenomenon known as dating.("Dating" was a very common ancient ritual that involved asking a young woman to go out with you alone to a movie, or a restaurant, or an event. The idea was that if you could get to know each other better, you might want to continue and develop an even deeper relationship. If this sounds strange and you want to learn more about it, go to a garage sale, buy a 45 RPM  record (they look like oversized CD's with a big hole in the center), and listen to the lyrics. Hint: you will notice that the lyrics rhyme. Oh, and you'll need to buy a 45 RPM record player,too.)

Sorry.

Back to the related "Aha!" which was known as:

"Come in and meet my father"

Me with mandatory strong handshake: "Hello, Mr. ____, nice to meet you. "

Father: "Hello, young man (fathers do not utter the actual name of the perceived weasel-disguised-as-a person. Now that I am the father of a daughter, I understand the dynamic. But I can't reveal it, otherwise I would betray the other fathers-of-daughters-about-to-be-dated-by-the-weasel).

"Tell me, young man, what do you do for a living?" (This is a man-question to determine the extent of your slackerness).

Me: (proudly): Mr. _____, I'm a professional musician and I play at ______and ________.

Father: (Silence)

Father again: (Continued silence, furrowed brow, followed by look of disdain).

Father, turning to wife while walking out of the room: "Ethel, tell him to have her home by midnight."

Aha!

I learned that:

a. "I am a musician" was not a good thing to say, no matter how much money I made.

b. I would have to do something that appeared to erase my perceived weaselness and make me respectable.

Aha!

I will be a teacher.

So I did a little stint at a Junior High School.

Aha! Working with 13 and 14 year-olds clearly wasn't going to do it for me. I concluded, rather hastily, that every existing 13 and 14 year-old should be universally housed in their own country or state–say, North Dakota–until they are 15.

Obviously, High School would work out better for me.

Aha! I apparently had a very short memory and forgot that, between the ages of 15-18, Homer and Hemingway were completely overshadowed by Heaving Hormones. That leaves:

Elementary School. Yes, but what grade?

Third graders still had "accidents."

Fifth graders were reaching puberty. And if I were to be somehow elected President, they would soon be sent to North Dakota anyway.

Aha! Fourth grade.

. . .and Here Are The 5 Things I Learned About Business from Fourth Graders

The kids–and all of us at work– show up each day hoping that we'll have an Aha! experience. And that it will lead to something new, engaging, and satisfying. As a teacher, it was my responsibility to attempt to create the conditions for that in the context of what was to be learned. So I had to do five things:

1. Be crystal clear about the learning goal.

If I wasn't clear, the day didn't go well. Minds and bodies gravitated toward something that did seem clear. The world–even the world of fourth graders–abhors a vacuum.

2. Show them the connection between what they would learn and how it works in life.

If they couldn't see how "it" was real, eyes glazed over.

3. Understand each of the kids and how they learn.

Hands-on doers, Readers, Questioners, 10-year-old Cynics. They were all represented.

4. Create an experience that would allow #3 to be satisfied.

I always thought that this was the toughest part. How do you achieve the learning goal in the designated amount of time with so many different kinds of learners?

5. Manage the experience and follow up with each of the kids.

Once I put the activity in motion, I had to touch base with each of the students, check out how they were doing, tell them how they were doing, and then formally evaluate how they did.

Do Any of These Related Management Applications Give You an "Aha!"?

1. Managing starts with clarity. The time a manager spends getting clear about what needs to be done will pay off in focused effort from increased understanding.

2. The Manager is the Mediator of Meaning. Clarity is the first part of  the issue. The other part is taking the time to show exactly how "what" you are proposing to do is directly connected to the success of over-arching goals.

3. Managers Understand How People Learn and Work. Intellectually, we all acknowledge that people learn differently and work differently. Really successful managers take time to pinpoint what those styles are and genuinely acknowledge their inherent value.

4. Managing Means Knowing How to Orchestrate the Experience. When to have a meeting or not have a meeting; who needs one-on-one attention? What isn't negotiable and what will work best with a full discussion? Is the objective really achievable–at the level of quality desired–in the originally designated timetable? Managers, go ahead and add your favorites to this list.

5. Managers Lead from Every Proximity. You'll spot a good manager out in front of the group; alongside of a direct report who is struggling; or standing in the back of the room listening to a discussion and only joining in when re-direction or a fact is needed. And everyone knows how they're doing in relation to what's expected.

I hope that something has sparked a thought or idea that will create the beginning of something new for you.

And I hope you'll take a moment to subscribe using the Big Orange Button, email, or one of your favorite feeds. It will be good to see you back again.

Graphic Source: A Perfect World www.aperfectworld.org

Why Should You Want to Work There?

Posted on: April 1st, 2015 by All Things Workplace presented by How To Mentor Toolkit No Comments

An international survey of more than 500 HR executives by global talent management firm Bernard Hodes (now part of Findly) has found that the quality or reputation of products and services, the corporate culture and the work environment are a business's most important attributes when it comes to bringing talent on board.

Ethical reputation also scored highly. But benefits and compensation were, perhaps surprisingly, toward the bottom of the list.

What does it tell us? That job seekers have a keen idea about the kind of atmosphere in which they want to spend their work life and are savvy and discerning in their search. Discerning to the point that companies are getting professional help to create a "brand" for recruiting. I think that's a worthwhile endeavor. But consultants and their client companies have to pay more attention to what's actually happening: "The War for Talent" is really "the system-to-make-it-as-difficult-as-possible-to-ever-get-in-the-door."

Is Anyone Else Experiencing This?

Our daughter graduated from a well-known university. High GPA, Dean's list, two semesters of study abroad in two different countries, fluent in a second language and quite conversational in a third; leadership experiences during college, worked at a real job for a government agency in her junior and senior years and had additional work experience with a professional firm. Most of all she was motivated to work and clear about where she wanted to be.Jobpal_interface

 


Here's how the job search actually went:

1. All resumes had to be submitted online (not unusual or surprising). She understood the whole "keyword" deal in order to get through internal search machines.

    a. More often than not, there was no response indicating that the document was actually received.

    b. Many websites seemed to be designed by IT people for IT people. They were difficult for even the web-savvy to navigate.

    c. Frequently–very frequently–three quarters of the way through the process all of the information would disappear. On numerous occasions she had to enter the information multiple times before the site remained "up" long enough to complete the application.

2. Seldom did she ever receive any acknowledgment from a real human-being that the resume had been received. I understand that huge corporations receive many applications. If there is a "war for talent" and "company culture and reputation" are really important, then spending dollars on public relations is wasted capital if no one is actually talking to the talent.

3. Career Fairs. My favorite. She figured that if the online application system wasn't yielding results,   then some face-to-face contact could move things along. So she registered for the Career Fair and  showed up with the requested twenty resumes. Please feel free to use the following dialog if you are a stand-up comedian and need some job-related material:

    Daughter: HI, I'm interested in talking with you about___________.

    Recruiter: HI, my name is_____________________.

    (Casual conversation, brochure distributed by Recruiter)

    Daughter: I think this (points to brochure) might be an area where I'd like to contribute. Here is a copy of my resume.

    Recruiter: Go on our website and fill out an application.

    Daughter: Uh, I thought this was a place to talk about jobs and exchange information.

    Recruiter: We don't take resumes. Go on our website and fill in an application.

    Daughter's evil thought: (What are they paying you for if you don't handle resumes. I already knew there was a website. Maybe I should get a Recruiting job with your company so I wouldn't actually have to do Recruiting and could travel and turn in expense reports for meals and hotels.)

    Her target companies were well-known and in the Fortune 500 with some in the Fortune 50. Many tout their Talent Management initiatives. Experience tells me that the internal presentations about Talent Management may be more impressive than the actual execution.

    Happy Ending: She started working at a global firm on a temporary assignment. She liked the company a lot. They liked her work a lot and hire her as a full-time professional there.

Question: If companies are waging a "War for Talent," then wouldn't it be useful to remember that wars are won by the people on the front lines doing their jobs–not in the staff headquarters or the branding office?

Who Do You Want to Become? vs. What Do You Want To Be?

Posted on: January 28th, 2015 by All Things Workplace presented by How To Mentor Toolkit No Comments

Which question are you asking yourself?

Your choice will help determine the depth of your life as well as the comfort-level of your career. Treegrowingtall0

I've been watching a new CEO client begin his tenure at a global company. He is very comfortable listening, talking, giving direction, and saying "I don't know. That sounds good to me. Go ahead and do it." (Whatever the "it" is).

What I'm really seeing is a man who has, over a lifetime, decided to "become" the kind of person he wanted to be. I know for a fact that he didn't set out to be a CEO. In fact, he was invited into the role. The reason he received the invitation, I believe, rests in great part on who he is to the people around him.

Yet "who he is" was shaped by not ambitiously jumping into a position that was too far ahead of "who he was" at the moment. His career path shows a progression that was slow and steady, building solid relationships and new knowledge along the way.  And each step on the ladder reflected genuine accomplishment.

Now he has become a CEO; he doesn't have to play the role of CEO.

And that's the distinction between where the two questions above will lead you.

Who do you want to become?

Or do you want to play a role?

Think about the how the difference will affect your life.