Monthly Archives: July 2016

In TRAINING : MAINTAINING A POSITIVE ATMOSPHERE

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When instructors project a positive image about themselves and the training program, the probability of a successful event increases. To make a positive first impression, Lucas recommends dressing professionally, preparing mentally for success, acting as an expert, preparing a biography, anticipating ways to re-engage participants’ attention, expecting the unexpected, being ready when participants arrive, and projecting confidence.

Instructors who have a positive attitude display seven behaviors: (1) they assume responsibility for successful outcomes, (2) they are willing to help, (3) they ask thought-provoking questions, (4) they display humor appropriately, (5) they have an approachable style, (6) they share stories with participants, and (7) they use positive communication skills.

Trainers should have a positive attitude, but just as importantly, they should develop a positive atmosphere in the classroom by keeping training materials organized and using an organized approach to the session. In addition, good instructors appeal to learners’ senses and multiple intelligences. They use only that content that adds value. They strive to make the learning environment fun and colorful.

To end a course on a positive note, Lucas suggests the following:

  • Encouraging learners to engage in continued peer support.
  • Using music to create a festive conclusion.
  • Using puppets to recap and review.
  • Throwing a party.
  • Rewarding learners with prizes for the most creative, most helpful, or most knowledgeable.
  • Incorporating a humorous video.
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TRAINING : ENERGIZING PARTICIPANTS

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When participants feel engaged in a training course, they are more motivated to transfer their learning to the workplace. One way to energize learners is to get them involved in activities. Lucas suggests using an icebreaker with a “Clever Catch Ball,” giving a pop-up survey to the class, giving attendees noisemakers to use at different times, incorporating exercises that use the right and left sides of the brain, randomly pairing learners, including dancing, and playing verbal volleyball.

One of the keys to good training activities is keeping them short and focused on the session topic. Instructors can employ 12 methods to use energizers more effectively: (1) connect energizers to the learning objectives, (2) address the three different learning modalities, (3) keep learners engaged, (4) teach content through energizers, (5) keep energizers brief, (6) make activities fun and relaxing, (7) use music, (8) provide adequate space for energizers, (9) allow sufficient time, (10) have a variety of energizers to draw from, (11) encourage risk taking, and (12) use teams.

Props are a proven way to add interest to a training session. Examples include animal hand-puppets to lighten the mood, play-money, prize-wheel spinners, game-show games, clay for kinesthetic learners, party hats, noisemakers, animated co-facilitators like battery powered animals, glittery doorway curtains, balloons, rubber chickens, smiley-face toys and props, and humorous animal masks.

TYPES OF LEARNERS

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During training courses, instructors encounter a wide variety of learners of different ages, from different cultures, and perhaps with special needs. Trainers need skills for dealing with all of these groups.

Younger learners seek an active learning experience as well as one that applies to the real world. Young adults like to take creative approaches to solving problems, and they like activities that are fun and encourage risk taking. In contrast, mature learners often possess knowledge that others do not have. To work with older learners, instructors should seek their ideas, be patient, recognize generational differences in values, be respectful of time, and display confidence and focus.

When working with cross-cultural participants, Lucas provides nine strategies. Instructors should (1) plan for communication challenges, (2) honor learners’ name preferences, (3) speak slowly and clearly, (4) use a normal volume and tone when speaking, (5) listen actively and patiently, (6) paraphrase and ask questions for clarity, (7) use open-ended questions, (8) give clear and concise instructions, and (9) be careful when offering constructive feedback.

Trainers have a legal and professional responsibility to make learning accessible to all people. The best ways to do this include identifying needs early, creating a safe environment, accommodating physical needs, not assuming what is needed, and allowing flexibility in seating.

Different personality styles can also affect the classroom environment. Participants might be quiet, class clowns, talkative, know-it-alls, inconsiderate, or domineering.

  • Quiet learners. Lucas recommends modeling social behavior, building comfort through the use of small tasks, involving quiet participants gradually, incorporating small group activities into the course, providing positive reinforcement, and making journaling a recurring exercise.
  • Class clowns. The author suggests ignoring the behavior, appealing to the clown’s serious side, switching activities frequently, using nonverbal cues to manage behavior, and allowing the clown to play a leadership role occasionally.
  • Talkative learners. Lucas has been successful with talkative learners by setting ground rules against conflicting conversations, controlling participant behavior with nonverbal communication, actively engaging the talkers, setting a tone of acceptance, using direct questions, and appealing to the talker privately.
  • Experts and know-it-alls. The author advises instructors to identify learners’ knowledge, acknowledging their expertise, listening professionally, engaging peer pressure to control the expert, avoiding embarrassing the experts with questions they cannot answer, using experts as coaches for others, and speaking to the expert privately.
  • Inconsiderate participants. Lucas recommends addressing inconsiderate behaviors in the ground rules, posting a “no cell phones” sign, announcing break times at the start of the session, using humor where appropriate, and encouraging rescheduling.
  • Domineering learners. The author suggests bonding early with learners, reducing the domineering learner’s sphere of control, rotating leadership roles, monitoring participant behavior, being fair and firm, using dominant body language, and focusing on other participants.

MANAGING CONFLICT ACROSS GENERATIONS

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According to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, “40 percent of human resource professionals have observed conflict among employees as a direct result of generational differences.” Managers need to learn to recognize the different sources of conflict among generations. Because of the different perspectives on work ethic and on work-life balance, there are many opportunities for “miscommunications, low morale, or poor productivity”.

The biggest workplace conflict across generations is the work ethic debate. The definition of work ethic is “a belief in work as a moral good” and “moral” means “right or wrong behavior.” Each generation has a different idea of “right or wrong behavior” so the definition of work ethic does indeed differ across generations, and it may be impossible to reconcile those differences.

Older generations “paid their dues” and are not receptive to rules as “open for suggestion,” whereas younger generations want to change work hours, rules and methods. Work quality should not be sacrificed for any reason, and managers should consider results rather than process.

The second biggest work conflict is the work-life balance. Employers need to consider all employees’ needs when trying to strike a work-life balance. Whether they think so or not, all employees benefit from a work-life balance.

Each generation has a unique response to conflict. Radio Babies respect authority and will avoid confrontation. Boomers expect a team meeting to determine some kind of resolution. Gen Xers have the most straightforward conflict approach–they will tell it like it is. Gen Yers tend to be casual and laid back. They need coaching on how to confront issues and people in a positive and assertive way.

In all cases, and across all generations, managers should practice providing constructive feedback. In terms of delivering constructive criticism, managers should:

  • focus on the issue,
  • emphasize key points,
  • be specific about thoughts and desired outcomes,
  • acknowledge others’ points of view, and
  • avoid hot button language.

When delivering constructive criticism to Radio Babies, managers should acknowledge effort and tell them how their behavioral changes will increase their value. With Boomers, managers should express how much their input is valued and create an action plan to change their behavior. Managers can be straightforward and honest with Gen Xers, and focus on desired results. With Gen Yers, managers should emphasize the business reason for the behavior change, and how this impacts the company.

Organizations that successfully resolve miscommunications, misunderstandings, and unproductive conflict focus on results.

MINDSET OF GENERATION Y

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Employers need to encourage and foster a mindset in their youngest employees that is receptive to constructive criticism. Gen Yers need to understand that not all assignments will be high-level and that salary is commensurate with experience. Managers need to understand that this generation wants to, and can, make a difference to keep the country competitive and service driven.

Gen Yers feel entitled to cutting-edge technology. These young workers feel that companies that do not invest in technology “think little of their employees and customers.” Technology helps employees work faster and better. If a company does not have a budget for upgrades, Gen Yers can be asked to experiment with what technology the company does have to try and make the best use of it.

Gen Yers feel entitled to a conflict-free workplace. This is simply unrealistic and managers need to prepare this generation to deal with conflict in a productive and positive way.

This generation feels entitled to daily feedback. While managers do not have the time to provide the same level of feedback as Gen Yers’ “helicopter parents,” all feedback should be built around positive and negative critical incidents, and it should be delivered close to the time of the incident. Feedback should be clear, specific, and concrete, and can be formal or informal, like a pat on the back, or an IM. This regular dose of feedback is good for all generations.

To older generations, the most outrageous demand of Generation Y is a high salary. Employers who undercut the wages of the young workers fuel this mindset. These employees, like all employees, should be paid what they are worth. Pay does not always have to mean cash. Other enticements, such as job flexibility, can sweeten the deal.

Managers should consider what Gen Yers need, rather than what they want.