Back in 2005, one of our clients, American Express, wanted to measure the impact of Situational Leadership II training that they had rolled out in their organization. The program was delivered via three venues—traditional classroom with people attending in person; completely virtual with people working through self-paced modules; and a third ‘blended approach’ that combined aspects of both.
After the training was completed, Dr. Paul Leone, an OD expert within the American Express organization, measured the impact of the three delivery methods. He found that the self-paced virtual model produced a 5% boost in productivity which was good, the traditional classroom produced a 10% boost in productivity which was better, and the blended approach produced a 12% boost in productivity which was best.
The one difference that made all the difference
In looking at why the blended approach produced the greatest impact, Leone discovered that it was because the blended approach built the training into the student’s work life by including the immediate manager in the process, tying the learning to real work, and providing a way for feedback along the way. Leone’s conclusion was that it was these design factors that made all the difference.
Want greater ROI from your leadership training?
For years, instructional designers have known that adults learn best when they see how the learning impacts their work priorities and is in alignment with their work goals. Without this, it can be difficult to find the time for training. Learning—especially in the context of a work setting—has to be relevant, impactful, and produce results. If you don’t have that, people won’t find time in their schedules, and senior leaders won’t push for people to attend. People have multiple priorities these days. They have to focus on the things that help them get their work done.
Here are three ways to make sure that any new training you’re considering generates the bottom-line results you’re looking for.
Alignment—use impact maps to connect training to a student’s existing work goals. Have the manager and student identify the student’s key areas and then map how the training will help the learner meet those goals.
Modularize content delivery—deliver the content in small, bite-sized chunks over time. This allows students to receive the information in manageable segments that are much more conducive to learning. It also provides an opportunity for ongoing feedback.
Follow-up—involve immediate managers to check in on progress. Make sure immediate managers are on-board with the new behaviors and that they schedule time to interact and have discussions with learners as they begin to use their new skills. Nothing demonstrates the importance of a new skill learned in class than a manager checking up on its adoption.
People learn best when the information they are learning is relevant to what they are working on, when they see how it will help them improve, and when someone is checking on their progress and encouraging them to adopt new behaviors. Make sure that you are following these three steps to get the most out of your next training initiative!
There was never a question of “if” it would happen. The only was question was “when?” Any NFL football fan knew that sooner or later a “replacement” referee would make an incorrect call that decided the outcome of a game. That time was this past Monday night when the Seattle Seahawks came away with an improbable victory over the Green Bay Packers due to the referees not calling a clear penalty on the last play of the game and making an error in judgment in the call they did make.
The way NFL leadership has handled the referee lockout and the use of replacement referees offers several interesting lessons for leaders in any industry or organization.
Talent trumps – The NFL underestimated the gap in skill levels between their regular referees and the replacement referees, most of whom have only worked low-level college games or even just high school games. The replacement referees have had excellent attitudes and a willingness to work hard, learn, and improve. Those are critical traits for any successful employee. However, the simple fact is that they are literally out of their league when it comes to having the skills and knowledge to work in the NFL.
In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins emphasizes the importance of “getting the right people on the bus” and then leveraging their strengths to “drive the bus” (your organization) to its destination. Because of the way the NFL managed the lockout, the most qualified college referees were already locked into their conference schedules, so the NFL had to utilize people who weren’t qualified for the job, and as a result, their performance has been sub par. The number one rule for a leader is to hire the right people for the job and the NFL clearly deserves a penalty flag for this violation.
Training is necessary, but it shouldn’t be used to “fix” people – The NFL invested a tremendous amount of time, energy, and money in training the replacement refs on how to work in the NFL. They conducted rules clinics, refereed pre-season games, and have had weekly conference calls to evaluate their performance and work on improving their weaknesses. People can learn new skills and sharpen their existing abilities, but the purpose of training isn’t to “fix” people. Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller share a wonderful saying in their book The Secret – What Great Leaders Know and Do: “No matter how long the runway, that pig ain’t gonna fly.” Many leaders invest an incredible amount of time and resources into giving flying lessons to people who are never going to fly. Leaders have to be willing to accept the fact that there are some things that certain individuals will never learn to do well.
Your people are your brand – NFL leadership prides itself on managing its brand image. They are fond of talking about their efforts to “protect the shield” (the NFL logo) through efforts such as controlling illegal drug usage, player health and safety, and encouraging upstanding player conduct off the field. Yet they’ve willingly compromised their brand integrity by using under-qualified referees which has put player safety at risk and resulted in a sub-par product on the field. The individuals that operate your organizations and interact with your customers are the living embodiment of your company’s brand image. The focus must always be on serving the customer and delivering on your brand promise.
When people don’t perform, leaders need to look in the mirror – Whenever you have an employee who is failing in their job, you need to examine what you did or didn’t do to contribute to the situation. Referencing back to the previous points, did you hire the right person? Have you provided the correct amount and type of training? Have you clearly established the goals and performance standards and provided the specific direction and support needed? Too often we rely on our ability to make the right hiring choice and then just turn the person loose to do the job. People may have very relevant transferable skills, but there are always new things to learn or new ways of doing familiar tasks that have to be mastered. NFL leadership has no one to blame but themselves for the performance of the replacement referees.
The Monday night debacle ended up being the tipping point that drove the NFL and referees to reach a tentative agreement late last night that will end the lockout. The NFL may have succeeded in exerting their power and proving to the referee’s union who is really in charge, but in the process the league fumbled this leadership opportunity and damaged their brand integrity.
Randy Conley is the Trust Practice Leader at The Ken Blanchard Companies and his LeaderChat posts appear the last Thursday of every month. For more insights on trust and leadership, visit Randy at his Leading with Trust blog or follow him on Twitter @RandyConley.
“One of the big challenges for new managers is learning to recognize and appreciate that not everyone approaches work the same way that they do. Some of the most dangerous words for a leader to use are, ‘Well, if it were me, this is what I would do.’ When we do that, it keeps us from understanding, embracing, and working successfully with other people’s behavior,” says Ann Phillips, a senior consulting partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies.
In a recent article entitled Top Challenges for New Managers, Phillips explains that many people are promoted into managerial positions because they were great individual contributors. Because they had so much success with a certain way of working—be it strong planning or attention to detail or great execution skills—they may have a difficult time understanding that other people don’t necessarily work that way.
For these managers (and others who may be new to leading others) Phillips identifies three additional challenges:
Doing the work yourself. It’s not easy for new managers to let go and trust that the work will get done without their direct intervention. When things don’t work out as planned—or are taking longer than expected, new managers tend to step in and do the work themselves rather than work through the process and learn how to let others run with the ball.
Not setting clear roles and goals. This is especially challenging for new managers who have been promoted from a group of their peers.
“Managers need to walk a fine line,” explains Phillips. “You want to maintain the relationship, but you have to separate yourself so people see you no longer as a peer, but instead in your new role as a manager.
“All good performance begins with clear goals and all good relationships begin with clear roles. If a manager is promoted out of their peer group, they need to sit down with their former coworkers and talk about how their roles have changed. ‘Here is how I am going to behave differently and here is what I expect in return.’ Otherwise there are always misunderstandings and surprises.”
Balancing accountability and caring. Sometimes new managers think you have to choose between people and performance. Phillips recommends that new managers balance high expectations with equally high levels of support and caring.
“People need to know that you have their best interests in mind, that you are setting them up to win, and that you mean them no harm. Things are always going to come up. When people know that you truly care, that can cover a lot of situations and people will forgive your mistakes and continue to follow you.”
To learn more about Phillips’ advice for new managers, read Top Challenges for New Managers here. Also, check out a free webinar that Phillips is conducting on September 22, A Primer for New Managers: Respect, Trust, and Accountability. It’s a free event courtesy of Cisco WebEx and The Ken Blanchard Companies.
A lot of leaders are disappointed these days. Even though they work hard to provide clear direction to their people, when they check in on progress at the end of the month, they often find that little has changed.
The problem, according to Dr. Vicki Halsey of The Ken Blanchard Companies is that leaders confuse telling with teaching. In a recent article for the Blanchard Companies’ Ignite! newsletter, Halsey explains that, “If leaders want people to develop new behaviors, they have to become better teachers of what to do and how to do it.”
For leaders looking to get started, Halsey recommends three strategies:
1. Break Learning Down into Manageable Chunks
Leaders need to give people an opportunity to learn the new skills over time, using a variety of different modalities that go beyond a one-time exposure to the content.
2. Create Meaning to Embed Learning
Executives need to generate meaning for the new learning. They need to answer the question “Why is this important for me to learn?” Generating this meaning and connecting it to learning the new skill helps people retain the skill over the long term because now they can see the importance of the task.
3. Remember the 70/30 Rule
According to Halsey, “When people are getting ready for a presentation they focus 70 percent of their time on what they are going to say.” Halsey believes this time would be better spent thinking about how to create a learner-centered environment that helps people learn. As she explains, “Leaders need to shift their focus and spend only 30 percent of their time worrying about what they need to say and 70 percent on how to create the greatest transfer of learning to their participants.
According to Halsey, “The biggest thing is to teach, not tell. Very often leaders think that because they are telling people what they want them to do, people are turning around and doing it. We need to realize that teaching, not telling, is a discipline at which all leaders need to become effective—because the more you teach, the more people will learn and the more successful they will be.”
You can read more of Halsey’s advice to leaders at Leaders Need to Be Teachers. Also check out Halsey’s free July 20 webinar on 6 Keys to Creating Learning Experiences that Inspire and Engage courtesy of Cisco WebEx and The Ken Blanchard Companies.
There’s a good reason why more people don’t run and jog to improve their cardiovascular health. It hurts—especially when you’re just starting out. For me it occurs at about the 3:00 minute mark. That’s when the early burst of excitement (and caffeine) burns off and now my heart and lungs are laboring to catch-up with the demands my legs are putting on my body.
It’s a time each morning when I really want to quit—and in a lot of cases I did, because it seems like it was getting worse and worse with no improvement in sight. But an interesting thing happens if I just stay with it a little while longer. At about the 6:00 minute mark, my heart and lungs do catch up, my breathing is heavy but measured, and I realize that the worst is over. I can do this!
The same thing happens at work when people face a new difficult task or role. There is a moment, after the excitement of trying something new wears off, when we realize that this is going to be more difficult than we thought.
Seth Godin writes about this phenomenon is his book, “The Dip” and it has important insight for any manager looking to improve growth and retention in their organization. That’s because “the dip” is a prime time when many employees quit a task or a role because it seems too hard with no improvement in sight.
Do you have any employees who are at or near their “dipping point” on a task or role? What are you, as a manager, doing to help them get through it? Here are three tips that can help.
- Identify where each employee is at with a specific task or role. Are they an enthusiastic beginner, or has disillusionment set in?
- If they are an enthusiastic beginner, channel that excitement by having them work on the right tasks, in the right order, to get the job done.
- If disillusionment has set in, add a strong coaching component into the mix. In addition to clear direction, you are going to have to provide them with a lot of support while they work through “the dip.” Encourage them on progress (even when they can’t see it), remind them of the goal, and make time to be there with training and other resources.
Don’t let “the dip” scuttle your plans. With a little bit of help, people can power through to success.
Close your eyes for a moment. Place yourself in a traditional learning situation. What’s happening? The teacher is at the front of the room, right? Who is doing the talking? The teacher, right? Who is standing, moving around the room? Who is engaged with the ideas and the information? Whose voice do you hear most of the time? Who’s excited? The teacher, the teacher, and the teacher.
In her new book, Brilliance by Design, Vicki Halsey explains that if organizations want participants to be as knowledgeable and excited about the content as the teacher, they need to shift the focus from the teacher to the participants.
In any good design 70 percent of the total learning event time needs to be the learners practicing new skills, working with them, and teaching others. Only 30 percent of the time should be devoted to the teacher teaching the skills to them.
That means that instructors need to focus less on what they are going to say and instead devote a full 70 percent of their time and energy on creating activities that embed learning.
As Halsey explains, “Active involvement with concepts—versus passive listening—enhances learning and application. The more active, rigorous practice the learner does with your content, the more automatic and natural it will be to use that content.”
To help presenters make the shift, Halsey suggests a six-step ENGAGE Model to replace the old “sit ’n’ get” model with “woo ’n’ do” so learners are actively drawn in and perform activities that reinforce the learning.
Energize learners by challenging thought patterns with pre-reading before session
Navigate content by presenting it in small chunks with interactive experiences
Generate meaning by helping learners determine the significance of the content in their lives
Apply to the real world by helping learners put into practice what they’ve learned
Gauge and celebrate by creating ways to assess and celebrate what has been accomplished
Extend learning to action by following up and helping learners create action plans
Where is your training focused? Is it on the material and your role, or is it on giving students a majority of the time to practice and engage the new skills? Shift the focus for greater success and application.
To learn more about Halsey’s new book, visit her book page at Amazon. To see Vicki in action with engaging content check out her recorded webinar on Managing and Developing People to Be Their Best: The three keys to becoming a smart, flexible, and successful leader
With the cutbacks in travel budgets, more companies are looking to technology as a medium for training their employees. Each day, people are writing about effective methods for keeping learners engaged inside of the virtual classroom. Most of us are becoming familiar with these techniques, but there’s still a piece of the puzzle that’s missing…
Where is your sidekick?!
I’m talking about someone who is there with you to ensure that the technology won’t get in the way of learning. I’ve seen too many virtual classroom sessions where learners can’t join the teleconference, are unable to view presentation slides, they can’t annotate, etc… Some of these sessions were even cancelled because the trainer could not get the technology to cooperate!
Even if the technical problems aren’t that bad, the trainer is usually too busy teaching to help the learner resolve some of the smaller issues, so the learner gets left behind in the wonderful world of multitasking because they cannot resolve the problem.
As someone who has been in this sidekick role, here’s why I recommend using a virtual classroom “Producer”:
- You can spend your time actually training, instead of troubleshooting. I can help learners with their technical challenges without being a distraction to the rest of the group.
- It adds a second voice to the training. Most people can stand one voice over a phone line for a limited period of time. I act as the technology “liaison” and tell your learners how to use the functions of the virtual classroom to add some variety.
- I handle some of the more complicated features of the virtual classroom behind the scenes. This eliminates some of the lag time between speaking and sending documents to the learners through the virtual classroom, as an example. This also helps to provide smoother transitions between activities.
These are all reasons I label my role as a sidekick, “Producer.” I handle “producing” the training while you can concentrate on the most import part…the material.
What about you? What’s your worst virtual training horror story in regards to a technical glitch and how did you go about resolving the problem? Click Here To Leave A Comment
Dr. Margie Blanchard, past President of The Ken Blanchard Companies who currently heads up the company’s Office of the Future, loves real work problems. That’s because when you work on real issues instead of hypothetical ones, it really sharpens the process.
You also solve a problem along the way.
That’s why we have included real work action learning projects into the leadership development programs we have been building for our clients looking to develop their high potential executives. By incorporating a real work issue into the process, we’ve found that it increases learning, promotes camaraderie and collaboration, and yields cost-effective results.
You can get a feel for how this might work in your organization by checking out a recent article in Chief Learning Officer magazine. The article describes how Dr. Bea Carson led three action learning teams and the results they achieved.
You can learn more about Blanchard’s approach to leadership development and how we build real work scenarios into the curriculum by checking out the work being done at Skanska, where action learning helped a group of high potential executives grow together while simultaneously solving real work issues that saved their company money and increased revenue along the way.
Join Dr. Vicki Halsey, VP of Applied Learning for The Ken Blanchard Companies, right here on LeaderChat beginning at 10:05 a.m. Pacific Time for a 50-minute Q&A session.
Dr. Vicki will be stopping by right after she finishes a webinar being hosted by our friends at WebEx on Best Practice Blended Training Designs. Over 300 human resource and training professionals are expected to participate in the webinar and many will be gathering here to ask follow-up questions.
If you have a question that you would like to ask Vicki, just enter this thread or click on the COMMENTS hyperlink near the title of this post. Type in your question in the space provided and hit SUBMIT COMMENT. Vicki will answer as many questions as possible until she has to leave at 11:00 a.m. Pacific.
And if you can’t stay, be sure to stop by later and see all the questions that were asked. Or better yet, hit the RSS FEED button on the right-hand column and receive updates on a daily basis!
How do you quickly retool your existing classroom training for virtual delivery? That’s a question many training directors are facing as cost cutting travel restrictions have put a large number of classroom-based training programs on hold.
I think that’s why we’ve seen such a large registration for tomorrow’s webinar on Best Practice Blended Training Designs featuring Blanchard’s VP of Applied Learning Vicki Halsey. Originally we had anticipated about 200 people registering for this event, but at last count we were nearing 500 people.
In a 50-minute online WebEx presentation Vicki will be sharing some of the virtual training designs she has created for large Fortune 500 companies. Participants will get a chance to see how other companies have successfully converted classroom designs into virtual programs.
Vicki will also be joining us here at LeaderChat immediately after her presentation to continue the conversation and answer questions. If you’d like to participate in either event, they are both free.