Training & Development For Dummies book cover

Training & Development For Dummies

By: Elaine Biech Published: 05-26-2015

Develop and deliver a robust employee training and development program

Training and Development For Dummies gives you the tools you need to develop a strong and effective training and development program. Covering the latest in talent development, this informative guide addresses classroom, virtual, and blended learning to open up your options and help you design the program that's right for your company. You'll explore the different modes of formal learning, including social learning, m-learning, and MOOCs, and delve into the benefits and implementation of self-directed and informal learning. The discussion covers mentoring and coaching, rotational and stretch assignments, and how to align talent development with the company's needs. You'll learn how to assess employee skills, design and deliver training, and evaluate each step of the process to achieve the goals of both the employee and the organization.

Most employees have some weaknesses in their skill sets. A robust training program allows you to strengthen those skills, and a development program brings all employees up to the highest possible level of productivity and success. This book helps you create consistency in your company by developing and delivering the exact training and development program your people need.

  • Develop a strong training and development program
  • Foster a supportive and innovative work environment
  • Learn about social learning, m-learning, and MOOCs
  • Assess and evaluate your staff more effectively

A great training and development program boosts performance, productivity, job satisfaction, and quality of services, while reducing costs and supervision. Investing in your employees gives an excellent ROI, as talent development is a primary driver behind both motivation and loyalty. Training and Development For Dummies shows you how to reap these benefits, with step by step guidance and essential expert insight.

Articles From Training & Development For Dummies

page 1
page 2
page 3
page 4
page 5
page 6
55 results
55 results
Training and Development For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 03-15-2022

Training and development can be incredibly rewarding, but it is also filled with challenges. This Cheat Sheet aims to cut to the chase in several key areas that trainers deal with all the time. You'll find succinct tips on avoiding pitfalls, designing great visuals, and loads of quick ideas to improve your sessions.

View Cheat Sheet
A Dozen Training Do’s

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Have you ever wondered why you spent the time to train your employees, but they still don’t seem to do what you trained them to? Include this 12-pack of good ideas in your training, and you can guarantee success. Be prepared. State the objectives. Be organized. Use visuals. Answer questions. Be enthusiastic. Provide feedback. Be flexible. Prepare for emergencies. Encourage participation. Establish rapport. Be yourself.

View Article
Tips for Better Training Design

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Developing a more effective training session is definitely in your best interest. When designing a training session, ensure that you maximize the learning that occurs by doing the following things: Build in practical, relevant examples. Make it interactive; learning is not passive. Enrich with content; don’t underestimate your learners’ potential. Enhance content with visuals. Provide opportunities for practice, review, and summary.

View Article
Training & Development: What You Can’t Glean from a Book

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

You want your training session to be specific to your goals and provide information that can’t be found in generic training resources. To set your training apart from materials your participants can get online or from a book, be sure to do the following in your training: Create a supportive learning environment. Let participants know how they will benefit from the training. Find out what participants need and expect and fulfill that need/expectation. Involve participants in the training from start to finish. Show a high degree of respect for each participant. Assure that the training mirrors the actual job situation. Reinforce positive participant behavior with recognition and encouragement. Put your heart into the training session. If you’re giving it your all, your trainees will, too. Take a personal interest in each participant. Allow participants to get to know each other. Know and polish your communication and training style.

View Article
Characteristics of Effective Visuals When Training Your Employees

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

If you really want your training to take hold and be retained, you need to have effective visuals. Visuals must enhance — not detract from — your training delivery. Be sure that you follow the VISUAL laws. Visible: Words on visuals are large enough, and you don’t block the view. Interesting: Oriented to the learner, visuals make use of pictures, graphs, color, and bullets. Simple: Information is concise, and key concepts are highlighted. Useful: Visuals help the trainer and the learner stay on track. Accurate: Information on the visuals matches the participants’ materials. Long-lasting: Visuals facilitate retention and help the learner transfer and apply concepts.

View Article
Finding Ways to Ensure Participation in Training and Development

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

You have many ways to ensure participation in training and development. Mostly it comes down to your reaction to the learners and their learning situation. How do you react to ensure an environment that encourages the best opportunities for participation? How do you react to create the best learning experience? The REACT mnemonic helps you remember the basics for encouraging participation: Relax and establish an informal atmosphere. Encourage participants to take control of their own learning. Accept participants where they are. Communicate openly and honestly. Tap participants for their ideas.

View Article
7 Sins of Trainers

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Everyone makes mistakes, but some are bigger than others. When you are training your employees, your mistakes can make the difference between business success and failure. Steer clear of committing these sins: Starting late and wasting time Being poorly prepared and lacking content knowledge Displaying distracting habits Ignoring participants’ needs and interrupting their questions Lacking enthusiasm Reading from a script Neglecting to tell participants WIIFM (“what’s in it for me?”)

View Article
10 Tips for Adding Humor to Training

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Thomas Edison once said that he had never worked a day in his life. It was all fun! Adding humor to your training is one way you can add fun to your participants’ days (and have fun yourself). People should love their jobs so much that they get up and go to play each day. Learning should be like that, and people seem to learn more when they are having a good time. This article offers some ideas on adding humor and fun to your training session, and how to feel like everyone has come to play for the day. Laugh and learn When humor and playfulness are suppressed in traditional education and training, other traits are lost as well. Creativity, imagination, and inventiveness have a hard time surviving in a mirthless environment. Use humor that matches your style. What works for your favorite stand-up comedian or even another facilitator may not work for you. Relate humor to something that participants know. It is difficult to find humor in something that must be explained. Focus on funny stories as opposed to jokes. Stories usually fit into the flow of events and have a purpose in training because they are generally used to make a point. So even if your participants do not find the story funny, you have still made a point and not wasted participants’ time. Unless the facilitator is very skilled, jokes, on the other hand, tend to break the flow of the training. On top of that, if the joke bombs, you may have wasted participants’ valuable time. Relate humor to the training. Forget adding extraneous humor, such as an irrelevant joke at the beginning. The best humor happens as a result of what occurs naturally in the classroom. Facilitators can have ready-to-go funny comments that work when a certain situation pops up in a classroom. Facilitators can also relate humor to content in the session or to the processes used to deliver the training. Be ready to laugh at yourself. Follow the lead of good comedians and paint a picture for participants using concrete, real-world descriptions helps them see and hear the humor. Keep it simple. Shakespeare said, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” Whatever humor you use, be sure to practice. Be sure to practice your punch line with a pause just before it. Start off on a funny foot Establish the atmosphere right from the start. Every session should start off on a high note to set the stage for the rest of the session. Be positive. You want to send the message that this will be fun. Your opening comments can have some planted humor — perhaps about the topic. Grab a red marker and write the word FUN, stating, “Above all, have fun.” This drives home the message of encouraging humor and the idea that learning should be fun. Adding humor to the opening of a training session accomplishes the following: Relieves any nervousness participants may feel Establishes the environment for the rest of the session Gets participants’ attention Models that although the session is serious, the facilitator does not necessarily believe in being glum I’m lost! Use humor to defuse unexpected situations. Here are some examples you may want to try. If you lose your place or pause too long, you can say, “I just wanted to wait a moment in case any of you have lost your place.” Steve Martin’s favorite for this situation, “Where was I? Oh yes! I was here!” (Take a step to the side.) Or, “I’m just going through a mental pause!” When you garble a sentence, you can say, “Later on I’ll pass out a printed translation of that sentence.” If you tell a joke and it bombs you could say, “Okay, I’ll just go back to my desk (Wisconsin, home office, or wherever you call “home”) now!” If you are using a microphone and it goes dead, you can say, “Evidently someone has heard this presentation before.” If people are talking during your presentation, you can say, “Feel free to talk among yourselves.” Or, “I see you’re starting to break up into small discussion groups ahead of me.” If someone points out a misspelled word, you could say, “Mark Twain once said he never respected anyone who couldn’t spell a word more than one way!” Another response when informed you have misspelled a word is to look around the flipchart as if you are missing something and then say, “Does anyone know where the spell check is on one of these?” If you need to write a word on a flipchart that you can’t spell, write 10 to12 arbitrary letters in an empty corner of the flipchart, for example, Q, B, R, J, Z, D, N, A, and say, “I’m not the best speller in the world, so if you notice that I have missed a letter someplace, just take it from this group of letters and place it wherever it belongs in the word.” If you give incorrect instructions, say, “Does everyone understand? Good. Now forget it. That was just a test to see if you can follow instructions. Now I will give you the actual instructions.” If a participant answers a question incorrectly, you could say, “Right answer, wrong question!” (Be careful with this one.) If the lights go out, you can say, “Why do I have the feeling that when the lights come back on, I’ll be alone?” or “You thought you were in the dark before this session!” Humor can turn an awkward situation into an enjoyable experience. The participants laugh. The laughter makes them feel good and eases the tension of a difficult situation for the facilitator. Get participants in on the act Don’t feel as if you need to be the one responsible for all the laughs. Get participants in the act so all enjoy themselves. Many games and energizers exist where everyone is laughing at the end. Relay races can have that effect on participants. “All Tied Up” is an energizer in which participants stand in close proximity to one another. Everyone grasps everyone else’s hand in no particular order. Next participants begin to untangle themselves. One game that results in everyone laughing is called “Did You Shower Today?” Place one chair for each participant in a circle. Have all participants sit in the chairs. Begin giving directions for participants to change chairs. This activity helps participants get to know each other better and leaves them laughing because at times four of five people may be trying to sit on the same chair. If you showered today, move 3 chairs to the left. If you read a newspaper regularly, move 2 chairs to the right. If you traveled abroad within the past year, move 1 chair to the right. If you like chocolate, move 2 chairs to the left. If you have a pet, move 3 chairs to the right. If you like snow and winter weather, move 1 chair to the right. If you are a gourmet cook, move 2 chairs to the left. If you like to paint, move 3 chairs to the left. If you play a sport, move 1 chair to the right. If you are involved in a sport that does not require a ball, move 1 chair to the left. If you like Mexican food, move 5 chairs to the left. . . . add your own ideas. When participants say something funny, be sure that the entire group has heard it so everyone feels a part of the humor. Practical humor Sometimes facilitators conduct energizers that are unrelated to the content or the process. You can do this, but with time often short, think of ways to energize the participants yet make it useful. Humor can be practical, such as when you are forming small groups or designating a leader for a small group. Here are two suggestions for designating a leader. Both get laughs. The first is to ask for someone to volunteer from each group. Tell them that you cannot say what they are volunteering for until after they volunteer. This always gets a laugh. After you get a volunteer from each group, tell them that they can select the leader for the group. That usually brings on lots of groans. The second method is to have each small group stand in a circle. Ask all participants to point their index fingers to the ceiling and to think of whom they can select as their group’s leader. Then tell them that on the count of three they should all point to the person for whom they are voting. Each group counts the number of “votes” each person received. The person with the most votes is the leader. Add humor when you are forming small groups. One way to do this is to place table tents around the room that have funny activities printed on them. Participants are asked to stand next to the card that describes something that they do. Items can include these or others you identify: Has eaten an entire batch of cookies Has gone skinny-dipping Squeezes toothpaste from the middle Don’t be original All of your humor does not need to be original. In fact, it may be better if someone else has tested it for you. Many books are available for finding anecdotes or stories to make your point, such as Braude’s Treasury of Wit and Humor for All Occasions (Prentice Hall, 1991). And of course, be on the lookout for cartoons (remember to obtain permission if you intend to print them in your materials) and jokes that will fit in your content. The Sunday comic strips are often closer to real life than you may imagine. If it is a simple concept, you may be able to describe the cartoon without the image. Tear jokes, cartoons, and advertising out of magazines and start a file of content. Join a daily joke list on the Internet. You can get ideas by reading or listening to current and classic comedians. Several of the classic comedians include Mae West, Groucho Marx, Henny Youngman, Jack Benny, and W.C. Fields, who said, “Comedy is a serious business. A serious business with only one purpose — to make people laugh.” Referencing something that most participants will remember can add humor. For example, sometimes television ads will make a point that you can use. You may not need to say anything much more than refer to the ad, such as, “Remember the X Company ad where they were herding cats?” You can also reference lines in movies that make a point and add humor. You can state the movie, the actor’s name, and the punch line to get a laugh. Remember who is in your audience. Don’t reference a movie that over 30 years old if most of the participants is in their late 20s and early 30s. Phunny props and puns Sometimes a prop can represent a concept within your training session. For example, you can use a flashlight to teach creativity skills in a variety of ways to add fun to the session. Refer to the fact that their “creativity may be in the dark” but there are ways to “ignite their spark.” Challenge them to “harness their creative energy” and state that there is a “ray of hope.” Tell them that the session will “illuminate” their natural creativity. You get the idea. Notice the use of puns. You can’t just add props without making a point. If you use a rubber chicken to point to content on the flipchart, there is no purpose except to make people laugh. And you may be successful. Some people may laugh. But many won’t. There are many other ways you can make people laugh that relates to the training content. Props may be used to review content material and increase energy. Many facilitators have participants get in a circle and toss a tennis ball or a koosh ball as they review material. In addition to relating to content, you can use props as prizes during the session after games or activities or as rewards when someone volunteers to be a leader or observer or to play another role that goes above and beyond expectations. Other props that will make people smile may be related to an upcoming holiday. Sparklers for the Fourth of July or candy hearts for Valentine’s Day will make people smile without your saying anything. You can go beyond the traditional holidays by using props related to Mardi Gras, the Super Bowl, Groundhog Day, May Day, the first day of spring, and so on. Another logical prop is anything that has a yellow smiley face on it. Smiley faces are common, so items displaying them are easy to locate. And they often do make people smile. Whatever you use, try to tie it to the topic, the area, or your audience. Use puns to stretch the meaning a bit. Tips to make a joke bomb How many facilitators does it take to make a joke bomb? Just one. But once is enough. Telling a joke is easy. Making people laugh is hard work. Professional comedians make it look oh so simple. But the truth is that few have ever ad-libbed a line in their life. They practice and prepare — just like great facilitators do. If you are going to tell a joke, heed the following ten things that can go wrong. If you want your participants to laugh, don’t do them! Announce that you are going to tell a joke. Don’t practice; rely on your natural skills and your ability to ad-lib. Ensure that the joke has nothing to do with the content. Insult someone, or better yet, everyone. Use a sexist, ethnic, political, racist, or religious joke. Extend the joke, making it drag out. Garble the punch line. Don’t research your audience. Laugh your way through the joke. If your joke bombs, be sure to try to explain the punch line. Here’s to having only good belly laughs following all your jokes. But I’m not funny! Don’t take yourself too seriously. You need to be able to laugh at yourself to be seen as someone who has a sense of humor. Mess up in front of the class? Make a joke and write it off as an opportunity to add humor to the session. Focus on the participants. When you care more about the participants and the experience you are creating for them than you care about yourself, it frees you of a huge responsibility. You do not need to be perfect. Things will go wrong in your training session. Participants will not behave the way you want them to; the room will not be set up as you wanted it to be. There’s not much you can do about anything that goes wrong, but you can have fun with it while you are fixing the problem. Find humor in the unpredictable. Identify the humor that is natural to you. If you can’t spell worth a darn, make a joke about it. If you’re short, make a joke about it. If you’re at an advanced age, make a joke about it. If you’re no computer whiz, make a joke about it. What's funny about you? Learners are desperate for humor, but it is virtually absent in the learning environment. Most learners are very forgiving and will appreciate any attempt at humor. Participants often walk into a training session expecting a boring experience. If you can surprise them by removing most of the boredom, you will be a star. Remember, you do not have to be really funny — just have fun. Austere attitudes Everyone who walks into your training session will not be interested in being humored. Some will bring attitudes that are barriers to having a good time: Training is serious business — just like work. Humor is a waste of time. Employees who have fun at work are not productive. We can’t possibly accomplish our goals with all this raucous laughter. What can you do to try to turn these attitudes around? Well, nothing new: Build trust, encourage participation, respect others’ opinions, and ensure that participants take responsibility for their own learning. When using humor, it should flow naturally from the content. Humor should support, not replace, the learning objectives. Always have alternatives to humorous activities available if the humor isn’t right for a particular group of participant.

View Article
Preparing for a Remote Training Session

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Preparation is the key for success in all you do as a trainer. Whether you deliver classroom training or virtual training, develop learners individually or in groups, or are coaching a group or providing feedback to a team, if you are prepared you will deliver a fabulous training. In the case of remote training, preparation becomes even more crucial because all (or most) of your learners are in one location and you are facilitating from a distance. In some cases, you may facilitate from your workplace conference room, your office, or even your home. Preparation is more critical because you need to keep things moving — constantly. Your participants will be together without a leader in the room. When bored or uninterested, people search for something to hold their attention. A room full of participants can create a boatload of ideas that may cause your learning event to quickly unravel if you do not keep things interesting, active, and focused. So, in addition to all the things you might do to prepare for a virtual online or in-person classroom setting, here are additional steps to prepare to conduct a smooth remote learning session. Pictures are worth a thousand words In remote training, an exchange of pictures is a good idea. Pictures personalize in a way that words never can. You can share a picture of yourself as you prepare and design the training. Impress your group by customizing your pictures for them. You can easily do this by taking a picture of you with documents or training materials that clearly identify the organization or group to whom you will deliver training. Send the picture of you in action to the participants. If you meet any of the participants prior to the session and have photos, send those too. Ask someone to send pictures of the group to you. Pictures of the individuals help you visualize participants and begin to learn their names. Ask someone to take several pictures of the room where the learners will be located. This will help to visualize the physical setting as you plan for activities that require your learners to form pairs or small groups. It also provides you with a picture of the room’s limitations. Is it filled with excess chairs? Are the tables movable or stationary? Is the room large enough for small group activities? Visualize the room to help you choose activities that will work best for the layout. You could also ask everyone to post all pictures to a special section on a shared website. You could ask them to share a few comments about their backgrounds, expectation, or other information that would be helpful to you and the other participants. If appropriate, ask them to include personal information such as their interests outside of work. Learn the lingo You will of course practice your delivery, but delivery is especially critical in a remote training session. The least little lapse in time and activities can be cause for your group to take matters into their own hands and find ways to have some unrelated fun. You will need to be organized and be ready to keep the learning moving. Conduct an assessment, asking distinctive questions about the group and their organization. Know what the concerns are, how this content will help the learners be better on the job, what problems these skills and knowledge will solve, where your participants need your support, and how this will make a difference in your learners’ lives. A few well-placed phone calls or emails will result in a design that includes real-life examples and practical situations. It will make it easier to maintain the group’s interest. If you are not internal, learn the department names and the names of key leaders in the organization. Understand and use the industry language. Before the session learn participants’ names so that you can use those names throughout the session. Pictures help with initial connection, but plan for how you will maintain focus by using participants’ names. Learn their names, roles, and positions. When you present examples, integrate them into the story lines. For example, you could say, “Since Fenny is a supervisor, she probably needs to know . . .” or, “Mason is in the welding division, so he will want to . . .” Select a co-facilitator Prior to the event, select someone to serve as your proxy facilitator on site. This person acts as an extension of you, providing information and coordinating events on site. Your co-facilitator is invaluable to help you assign and time activities or for group debriefings. The co-facilitator can be one of the participants. Select the person carefully. Your co-facilitator will need to be able to attend to both the group and your needs. Sometimes individuals want to be facilitators like you, and these are always the best choices. However, any reliable person will be helpful to you. How can you prepare with your co-facilitator? Begin by talking with your co-facilitator about how the two of you will operate as a team. Emails are okay, but a phone call is better. Let your co-facilitator know what to expect, what you will need, and an overview of the entire session. Discuss how you will get each other’s attention. Create a special agenda for your co-facilitator that includes time allotments for each module or activity. Suggest other ways that the two of you can work together. For example, as time expires on activities, you could use your annotation tools to write “Please Stop” in large letters across the activity slide. Ask your co-facilitator if this would be helpful. Help your co-facilitator feel like a real partner. Ask for suggestions. Run ideas past the co-facilitator. Obtain “insider” information such as the participants’ level of enthusiasm about the session or how management is supporting it. You could even pre-test activities with the co-facilitator, such as your planned icebreaker. Plan your icebreaker You need to plan for how you will introduce yourself and what comments are required to explain how the session will unfold. Use the information you learned during your pre-session assessment to determine what you need to include in the first five minutes of your session. Consider the following questions: Is this the first remote session for some or all of these participants? If yes, you may need to include a more in-depth explanation initially than you might normally. Will you need to explain that the session will be interactive, find out what you will do to gain their attention after activities, gather any requests you have regarding participation, or deal with any other session guidelines? Will you need to ask for their questions and provide clarification about the topic or the reason for the session? How will you establish a tone for a successful, interactive session? Do participants know each other? Or will you need to allow for introductions? Will you need to assess the temperature of the group? What will you need to accomplish with an icebreaker? Introductions to participants? Introduction to the content? Reassurance about the content or need? If possible, use a single question that helps participants focus on the content quickly, such as one of these: What skill or knowledge do you hope to gain today? Which part of today’s content are you looking forward to the most? What problem do you hope to solve with today’s content? What’s your expectation for today? What’s your hope (or fear) for this session? Your icebreaker doesn’t have to be charming or even creative. It does need to set the tone. If everyone knows each other, you could do something just a bit different. You could congratulate individuals at the beginning who have done something that deserves recognition within the last month or so. Deliver donuts or another treat to the training room just prior to the session and invite everyone to indulge. (If this is impossible, show a picture of a donut and invite them to enjoy a “virtual donut.” This is harmless and will add some humor.) If you want to start informally and not necessarily relate to the content, open your Skype or other virtual screen at least 15 minutes before the session begins. As each person enters the room, ask them the same question, such as, “What achievement are you proudest of this week?” “How is your day going so far?” or “What’s the funniest thing that happened to you this week?” Stop when it is time to begin the session. This will encourage everyone to show up earlier next time. Before your session, think about how you will introduce your co-facilitator to the group. An appropriate introduction will help to provide the required respect and support the co-facilitator needs to help you stay on track. Finally, script your session. This will help you to start your session quickly and on time. If there is one problem with most remote training, it is that they start too slowly. Be ready. Be timely. Start with confidence. Plan for milestones and know when each should occur. Plan what you will do to ensure that your session will be exciting,

View Article
Using Social Tools to Ensure Transfer of Learning in Your Training Sessions

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Social media is all the rage. You can use this to your advantage in your training sessions. Web 2.0 technologies have created fast growth in the use of social media tools and social networking activities. For trainers, social media provides information to learners who need it, when they need it, and where they need it. It is efficient when learners ask their colleagues or tap into their networking resources to find answers. From your perspective as a trainer, social networking enables you to extend learning between formal training events. Using blogs, wikis, community spaces, Facebook, Instagram, Google Wave, Skype, YouTube, Twitter, and other social media tools for learning multiplies your opportunities to increase learning for your participants. It is a good investment in learning for your organization. A huge advantage is that social media helps ensure that learning is transferred from a learning experience to implementation on the job. Humans have an inherent drive to learn together. In fact, collaboration is something humans do their entire lives, so social media provides a natural foundation for learning. Social media also allows you to embrace the needs of the changing workplace demographics. You can provide ways for everyone to learn in ways that are most comfortable and convenient for each individual. Even though Millennials are more likely to rate social media tools as helpful in the workplace, social media is used by every generation. Today’s global environment requires people to work across time and space to make informed decisions and solve complex problems. Social media ensures that learning is transferred to support decision-making and problem solving. When employees have transferred learning to the workplace through social media, they are better able to solve problems more efficiently, find resources more easily, improve communications, and boost their collaboration. Initiating and implementing social learning Social learning makes up a large part of your newly defined role as a trainer and learning professional. Within this scope you have probably been developing your own skills and competencies. Some of the skills required are those you’ve used before: knowledge about team dynamics and team building, reward and recognition, and networking skills. You may still be polishing other skills: knowledge about social media tools, key concepts of social psychology, promoting employee participation in social learning, and community management strategies. Wherever you are personally, you also need to learn about any obstacles in your organization. Even if your organization does not restrict access to tools and does not have issues with firewalls, you may still need to address employees who have privacy concerns. These are real concerns and you should be aware of options and other anonymous tools that are available, such as Padlet. You may also have individuals who may not want to invest effort in social media-based learning. If this is the case, start small and ferret out the early adopters in your organization who are excited about trying new tools and approaches. You may find that you need to solidify the social learning foundation in your organization. You may need to develop employees’ confidence in the usefulness of social learning as well as build their trust in how to use the platform. In some cases, you may still need to promote participation by developing cultural awareness. Support those individuals who are reluctant to jump on the social learning bandwagon. Clarify and publish the “ground rules” to ensure that everyone understands the expected behavior and norms. Publishing guidelines help learners know how and when to contribute and what positive behaviors are expected. You should also ask yourself whether you need to develop employees’ technical knowledge and aptitude. You may need to provide basic skills to those new to social media, but even those who have been involved for a long period may not know everything. For example, does everyone know how to use RSS feeds or tagging? Is everyone familiar with polling and curation tools? How about online file sharing and all the community spaces that are now available? It is better to assume limited knowledge and provide support than to assume that everyone knows how to use Twitter. Social learning ideas you can implement The following ideas are divided into three categories that will help you introduce and use social learning tools to support the transfer of learning into the workplace. The ideas are separated into what you can do before, during, and after your formal learning event. Suggestions are short and generic so that you can plug them into any topic or formal learning event you might conduct. Before your training session Introduce social learning before your training session. Get your learners to think about what they really need to learn prior to the session. This leads to an increased chance that they will be more focused on what skills they need to implement and what problems they need to solve on the job. The result is that they will be ready to learn what’s most important to them and to implement it when they return to the workplace. Needs assessment tweet: Connect with your participants via their Twitter usernames prior to the session. If you learn that they do not have accounts, provide them with a tutorial. Ask three to four questions that will help you tailor your content. For example, “What is your biggest challenge related to this topic?” Tweet each question separately by inserting a link that takes them to a tool such as SurveyMonkey. Compile and share the results at the start of your session. Insta intros: Send instructions for how to set up an Instagram account and how to use hashtags. Tell learners to use a photo from their phone to introduce themselves. The photo can be of an activity that they enjoy, someplace they've visited, or anything else. If they don't have a smartphone, they can use a photo from the Internet. Have them upload the photos to Instagram and add a brief statement that connects them to the photo. Encourage them to use a hashtag to catalog the introductions. Look who’s coming: Provide learners with an opportunity to get to know the other learners. Ask learners to create a short presentation using the multimedia presentation tool Prezi. Learners will create a presentation and post it on your LMS to introduce themselves. Make suggestions for what to include, such as their backgrounds, interests, favorite part of their job, why they are interested in the topic, or others. Read ahead: Start the learning before the session. Select a short article that you’ve written or found on line. Share the link with your learners or post it on your discussion board. Tell learners that discussion questions will be posted a week prior to the session. Create badges to encourage participation — for example, a badge for the most practical, most verbose, most perplexing question, and more. Agenda video: Create a short video as you discuss the agenda. Don’t script it. Keep it informal and fun. Upload the video to YouTube or SharePoint, or anyplace that your learners can read it and provide feedback. Tweet and follow: Share the hashtag you will use for the learning event. Encourage learners to follow each other, not just the session’s feed. Create short questions within the hashtag for participants to answer. Encourage them to ask questions. Send quotes: Curate quotes that are related to the training session topic. For example, if the content is about leadership, you could Google “leadership quotes” and select a few of the best. If everyone has a Twitter account, tweet a quote every day. If you do not know the status of Twitter accounts, post on SharePoint, or a group LinkedIn site, Yammer, or other available locations. Link ’em up: Send links to recent online articles or videos that are related to the topic. Refer to these resources during your session. During your training session Use social learning tools during your training session to locate additional resources, practice using the social media tools, and prepare to apply the knowledge and skills in the workplace. Show me: Provide a short introduction to the content. Have participants form small groups of three to four learners. Ensure that at least one person in the group has a mobile device that can take pictures. Tell participants to walk through the organization for 20 minutes and take pictures that demonstrate how well or not well the organization demonstrates the content. For example, if the topic is teams, a team might take a picture of a team meeting or a manager helping someone solve a problem. Post the pictures to the group’s community space. Easy web addresses: Provide participants with links directly to content, such as a video, website, or article that you reference during the session. Post these links to the group’s Yammer, LinkedIn, or other space. Take me home: Sometimes participants take part in a team report, demonstration, or practice session, as they might in a speaking class or an action learning skills class. When that happens, have others in the larger group use the presenters’ mobile device to take a video of the practice session. That way all learners can take their videos with them when they leave. Encourage participants to take the recording home and share it with their children or friends for fun. Also encourage them to share with their social network to obtain feedback. On the spot data: Use a mobile survey tool such as Survey Anyplace, SurveyGizmo, or FluidSurveys. Ask small groups of participants to examine the content you just completed in your session and create a five-question quiz that they will upload to your computer and assign a QR code. Each group downloads the quizzes from the other groups onto their mobile devices and completes them. Post the questions and answers for later reference. Make it stick: Post a flipchart with the title “What Actions Will You Take Starting Tomorrow?” Ask learners to record actions on sticky notes during the learning session and have them place the sticky notes on the flipchart. If you want, you can organize the actions by themes. Debrief the actions near the end of the session. Invite participants to record additional actions and “stick” them to the chart. Take a picture of the flipchart page and post it to the group’s community space. My own job aid: Ask each participant to create a job aid and personalize it so that it will be meaningful upon return to the workplace. It could be just a simple to-do list or a list of do’s and don’ts. Take a picture of each job aid and curate them on a curation site such as Gingko or Padlet. Starring you: Ask participants to film each other during the summary part of your session stating what they have learned and how they will implement the concepts. Create a YouTube account where you can upload and organize the videos. After your training session If you have introduced social learning tools before and during your training session, your learners are more likely to continue to use them after the session has ended. Although the actual implementation of each of these ideas occurs after the training session, many require you to set them up during the session. Create a LinkedIn group (WeChat in China): Following a learning event, create a group using the course title and post discussion thread questions. You could require learners to read and comment on an article or website. To encourage participation, you could gamify it with the highest score or rating winning something. Provide a leaderboard. Twitter review: Wrap up the session by informing the group of a designated Twitter hashtag. Ask them to log into their Twitter accounts and, in 140 characters or less, share one key point they learned from the session by posting a tweet that includes the designated hashtag. Ask them to review others’ key points. Re-tweet or “favorite” some of your learners’ posts as encouragement and to prompt them to follow each other. Provide follow up: Share follow-up materials and enrichment exercises by tweeting links or locations. Introduce experts: Invite learners to follow specific people who are thought leaders on the subject. Meet me: Schedule time for learners to meet after your session so you can clarify material, answer questions, and provide extra individual support. Use tools such as Google Video Hangouts, Skype, Hipchat, or FaceTime. Decide what days and times you are available and announce your schedule. Mobile just-in-time: M-learning allows you to pair a tiny but critical data point with a skill check, producing a quick connection with your learners. This accomplishes several things. It provides the learner with content, allows the learner to provide you with an update, and maintains the relationship between you and the learner. After a learning session, use a text to provide follow-up reminders or data just in time. This means you also need to learn when each person may use the content. For example, following a “how to conduct a performance review class,” you could provide a list of tips the week before performance reviews are scheduled. Create just-in-time support: Ideally m-learning offers performance support or knowledge required just-in-time, like an updated policy, a job aid, or a short communication skill. Follow up: Support learners once they return on the job by using Twitter to ask what they need, or provide a recommended reading list. Help learners manage the 140-character limit by offering a sentence stem so they can just complete the thought. For example, “One thing that concerns me about performance reviews is . . .” Send well wishes: Tweeting “good luck” before a big meeting or presentation will be appreciated. Flip your charts: Participants frequently compile ideas on flipcharts in small groups. Take pictures of each chart and upload the pictures to a file storage service such as Google Drive or simply post on your group’s LinkedIn page. Send the link to the learners after the session. Check out a book: A book recommendation is good. A list is better. Create a virtual library with all your recommended titles and reviews. This is easier than you think by creating a Shelfari account linked to Amazon. Send the link to participants so they can check out the resources after the session. This list will get you started on your way to using social tools to ensure transfer of learning. There are hundreds of social tools out there available to use. Be sure to experiment with each tool and network with your colleagues to learn about others. Set clear goals and expectations Your job as a manager is to get big things done in your organization by leveraging the talents, abilities, and brain and muscle power of your employees. In short, to get much of your work done as a manager, you must delegate a lot of work, and you have to be able to rely on the people to whom you delegate it. When you delegate work to an employee, though, it’s not enough to simply make an assignment and hope for the best. You must also set clear goals and expectations for your employees. When employees aren’t sure what exactly they’re supposed to do and when they’re supposed to do it, they can’t meet your expectations — whatever they may be. However, when you’re crystal clear about what you want your employees to do and when you want it done, your employees can prioritize their own work to ensure that they meet your deadlines. This approach provides a great learning opportunity for them to take on new or different projects, too. Work with your employees in setting goals and expectations. Goals must be realistic, and you must ensure that your employees have bought into them and committed to achieving them. By making your employees a part of the goal-setting process, you not only get their vital input on the goals (for example, you may not be aware of a conflict that interferes with a deadline), but you also increase employee engagement. Don’t play favorites Think back to your school years. Was someone in your class the teacher’s pet? If you were the teacher’s pet, you probably enjoyed the position. However, if you didn’t hold that coveted position, you probably weren’t happy that your teacher played favorites with one or more of your classmates. The same is true in the workplace. No one likes a manager who plays favorites with certain employees. Of course, people naturally like some people better than others — interpersonal chemistry simply favors some relationships over others. However, as a manager, your job is to be as impartial and fair as you possibly can in how you treat your employees. You can’t punish an employee you don’t like and then excuse the same behavior in an employee you do like. And you can’t give favored employees raises, time off, bonuses, and other rewards when employees you don’t favor exhibit the same performance or achieve the same goals or milestones. Employees know when a manager is playing favorites — they can sense it a mile away. Treat all your employees the same as the ones you like best. Set a good example Research shows that the most important relationship at work is between employees (at any level) and their direct supervisors or managers. As a manager, you set the example for all the employees who work for you, and you influence the behavior of your peers and colleagues. The example you set sends a clear message about the kinds of behavior you personally find acceptable in the workplace. If you’re chronically late to work, your employees will assume that being late for work is okay, and they’ll be late, too. If you aren’t ethical in your business dealings with customers, clients, and vendors, your employees will assume that they also don’t have to behave ethically. Model the behavior you want from your employees, and they’ll reflect that behavior right back to you. Remember that you get what you reward Managers are often surprised when an employee exhibits a particular behavior or achieves a particular goal that’s completely different from what they intended. When that’s the case, you need to take a close look at exactly what behavior you are rewarding. For example, you may tell your employees that you want them to submit suggestions for cutting costs. However, when an employee submits an idea, you either ignore it completely or chew him out in front of his peers for having such a “stupid idea.” In this case, instead of rewarding employees for submitting ideas, you’re punishing them for it. You can bet that employees will think twice before ever again submitting an idea to you for consideration. Catch your employees doing something right. This approach works particularly well for managers who like to focus on getting things done. Just add the names of the people who report to you to your weekly to-do list. Then cross them off when you’re able to praise those employees — because you catch them “doing something right” in accordance with their performance goals. Although money is important to employees, what tends to motivate them to perform — and to perform at higher levels — is the thoughtful, personal kind of recognition that signifies true appreciation for a job well done. This recognition also builds trust and a collaborative relationship, which leads to higher levels of employee engagement. Get to know your people You may have been told not to get too close to the people you supervise because it undermines your authority and makes it harder for you to make your employees do what you want them to do. This old-style management philosophy is now officially obsolete. Using raw authority to make employees do what you want them to do is out. Instead, you should involve employees in decision-making and get them engaged in their jobs. When you do that, they want to achieve the goals that you set together. You may not be inviting your employees to your house for the holidays, but there’s nothing wrong with getting to know them as people. In fact, you stand to gain a lot by having normal relationships with your employees. These benefits may include increased levels of trust and loyalty, better communication, and higher performance. Learn how to delegate Delegation is the most powerful tool at the disposal of any manager — it’s the way managers get work done. Delegation is a win-win activity. When you delegate, others do much of the day-to-day work of the organization, freeing you up to manage, plan, and take on more complex work, with the potential for earning a higher salary. As your employees develop a broader range of skills, they’ll be ready to move up with you. This partnership builds trust, enhances your career potential, and improves the health of your organization. Effective delegating involves more than asking someone to do something. It includes mutual consultation and agreement between the manager and team members. Solicit team members’ reactions and ideas, thereby bringing trust, support, and open communication to the process. Encourage teamwork Smart managers realize that they can get far more out of their organizations when employees cooperate with one another than if they compete against one another. Many tasks now get done through teamwork, and organizations are changing the way they do business. Organizations no longer measure employees only by their individual contributions; they also take into account how effective employees are as contributing members of their work teams. As a manager, you want to encourage teamwork in your organization. Carefully assess work assignments and decide whether it makes more sense to assign them to individuals or to teams of employees. Reward your employees when they exhibit good teamwork skills — every business needs more of these skills. Communicate, communicate, communicate Good managers are skilled at communicating with their employees, and they do it often and through every means at their disposal. As a new manager, set aside some time each day to communicate with your employees. Walk through the work area to casually meet with employees and discuss current projects or customers. Keep in touch with employees through email messages or telephone calls. Have regular staff meetings to discuss current opportunities and issues and to keep employees updated on the latest company happenings. Create a department blog or Facebook fan page to enable discussions within your organization. Overcommunicating is definitely better than undercommunicating. Be a coach A good coach helps employees perform at a higher level, in the same way that a baseball, football, or soccer coach helps athletes perform at a higher level. Coaches in business do this by offering advice on how to perform better, giving valuable feedback, and supporting the people they coach. They help employees gain confidence, and they applaud their efforts when employees make progress toward completing a goal. As a manager, you’re in the perfect position to coach the people in your department or other organizational unit. Let them see that you’re a human being; if you’re approachable (and not perceived as perfect), your employees will find you more genuine, resulting in a better working relationship.

View Article
page 1
page 2
page 3
page 4
page 5
page 6