Saturday, 28 February 2009

Training as a Change Lever Part 3......moving to adoption

In my previous post on using training as a change lever we looked at how you start to move people up the commitment curve. This is all about raising people's awareness about a change and then starting to develop an understanding. As people start to become more aware then this is a critical time - it is an opportunity for people to become worried "now I understand how this is going to impact me......and I don't like it"

So how can learning and development interventions help people understand why the change is good for them (even if it may be painful) and then how can it move people into adopting the change themselves.......?
Whereas awareness and understanding are about providing a consistent and general view, the next step is about building on this but being more specific about your role.

Whilst it is of course important that people at all levels in the organisation are aware of and understand the change, it is the more senior managers that will initially have significant influence. Once people start thinking about the impact on them and their role they will need to be reassured and given the opportunity to discuss.

If your senior managers aren't equipped with adequate coaching and change management skills then this can really cause more problems and even create further resistence to the change.

What kind of change skills are useful to focus on developing - here are a couple?
      • Give them an understanding of why people resist change. A bit of theory can be useful and help managers spot certain types of behaviour. Point them towards books and papers by John Kotter and you won't go far wrong. My favourite is Leading dust.

      • Teach people how to identify and manage stakeholders. Not only is this a great skill to have it is vital to manage change.

      • Help them understand how to move people to take action. Whilst worthy of it's own post (book...library) it is at the heart of any change. If your manager can do this......keep hold of him!
      As well as equiping your managers for the change it is important to provide more role specific training for people. This will really help to equip them with the skills for their specific role. A great technique to help people consider new ways of working and thinking is the use of dilemmas.

      A dilemma is a scenario that people are given to consider, discuss and debate. Typically it will be related to the change and will stimulate lots of discussion. For example if you are trying to introduce a culture of ethical behaviour in an organisation you might create real life scenarios that highlight a number of ethical dilemmas eg. dealing with a conflict of interest, dealing with dishonesty etc. If used well these can be a very powerful development tool and can really help people deal with change. Action Learning Groups, role plays and case studies are all training methods that fit very well with the use of dilemmas. Consider delivering some elearning first and then following up with classroom based discussion and exploration in more detail.

      A final item to consider and one that will help you sustain the change, moving you right up the commitment curve. Look at the existing competencies that exist in the organisation. Do they reflect the required behaviour needed to drive through and sustain the's unlikely of course. Undertaking an exercise that really examines what is needed and how these need to be layered into the competency model is critical to embed change. Again this is worthy of it's own maybe that's one for the future.

      Making Change Stick in an organisation is tough and it is something that I covered on this blog in other posts. So if you want to know more then check out these:

      In the modern corporate world and particularly in the current climate it is important for training professional to really be able to show their worth. Having a set of skills and tecnhiques that can help your organisation deal with change will guarantee you a seat at the top table...good luck!

      Saturday, 21 February 2009

      Twitter progress report.......shows potential but yet to deliver..

      I have been using Twitter for 10 months now so it's time for a review of how we have been performing together......

      It has been amazing to watch how the tool has grown from a niche toy into a huge social networking tool used by such a wide variety of people. I notice now that even Andy Murray, Stephen Fry and Jonathan Ross are using it. With respect to learning and development there are clearly many professionals using it too. This article highlighted 100 learning professionals to follow but I suspect there are many more now.

      When I first started to use Twitter I could think of lots of ways it could be used for real business value - I even posted my thoughts about it. I started to play with it, Tweeting about whatever was on my mind, linking to my blog and also to my nokia sports tracker site. It was interesting and strangely addictive especially as more people started to follow me.

      But how is it being used as a business tool, particularly with respect to Learning and Development? I can see the potential, I really can. Training Time posted some interesting thoughts on this recently and I fully agree with their ideas. It clearly has bags of potential.

      However here are some of the areas that have held our partnership back so far:

      • In the low risk corporate world people are often very reluctant to use a tool such as Twitter. Apart from the name being perceived as 'unprofessional' by some camps there has been some concern in using a tool that might not be there tomorrow (yes I know they should just try it etc but the corporate world doesn't always think like that)
      • Quite often the computers, blackberries and phones that companys provide their people with are 'locked down'. This means people can't add on neat little applications to either their pc or their mobile device. Whilst you can access Twitter via the web it is these little applications such as Twirl that make using it so much more easy and effective - especially to interact with other Tweeters. (My organisation is currently experimenting with a tool called Yammer which is a bit like Twitter but for use within a closed community).
      • Many people just aren't ready for this stuff. If you live in the world of blogging, facebook etc then it is a natural extension of what you already do. Many people don't live in this world and would feel very uncomfortable utilising a tool such as Twitter.

      If you have examples of it being used in earnest in a learning and development context then I would really be interested to know more. In the meantime I will keep tweeting........follow me here

      Saturday, 14 February 2009

      Put yourself in their shoes

      I have written a number of times on this blog about how to design high quality learning interventions. For me it always starts with investing time and effort in defining what outcomes you want for the learners. These are outcomes can be divided into:
      • Attitude: what mind set do you want people to have
      • Knowledge: what do you want people to know
      • Skills: what do you want people to be able to do
      A simpler way of remember this could be 'think, know, do'.

      Getting this piece right will drive the whole design and delivery of the learning intervention. It will also make it much easier for you to evaluate whether you have been successful because you have been very specific about the outcomes you want to achieve.

      However, whilst defining clear outcomes will help you on the route to success, there is one other factor that you must consider..........know your audience. The way that you can achieve these outcomes will be very different depending upon the audience. Can you imagine wanting to achieve the same set of outcomes with a group of pensioners compared to a group of school kids - you would approach things very differently.

      A colleague of mine, Emily recently attended a training course and kept a learning log through the week. It actually provides quite an insight into the world of the learner - something that all learning professional need to be able to do. Here are some extracts:

      "The day started with a long journey to Swindon in the rain. This reminded me how important location is for events, as despite my enthusiasm and excitement about finally being on the course, I felt slow to engage. I can only assume that other shared this feeling, as the day got off to a slow start with low energy in the room".

      That's already a fantastic insight into the world of the learner. As learning professionals it is so important to consider factors such as location etc. The first hours on a course will set the tone for the week and you can be easily get this wrong.

      "Day 4 - highlight of the week by a clear mile. Thursday was a full day of simulation involving actors. What an experience - this was a real life case study involving actors who are playing out your worst nightmares. The real insight this gave me was how powerful nerves can be in affecting your most behaviours around building rapport and engaging with people"

      Another valuable insight into how the learning intervention had an impact on what the learner was thinking (remember those attitude outcomes..).

      "The trainers on this day acted as mentors for each of the teams - in the true sense of the word, rather than just supporting the administration of the process. This added even further depth to the practical experience..."

      Again, a great insight into how the trainer can act in different ways to help coach the learner through the experience - helping them achieve those outcomes.

      Thanks so much Emily!

      So if you are currently embarking on the design of a new training course, or even a presentation remember:
      • Think about the outcomes
      • Know your audience
      If you remember these things then I am sure you will achieve great results!