5 Methods of Learning
When you think of corporate classroom training, what visual pops into your head? Lecture and Death by PowerPoint? We’ve all been victim to the long, boring training that is disengaging and leaves us secretly checking emails or cruising Facebook under the table. At the end of the training, you may remember a few nuggets of wisdom from the presentation, but because you didn’t actively participate in the learning you will most likely not retain much. The intent behind this style of training is good: teaching new skills. The method of delivery is what needs work. What it needs is multiple methods of engagement.
Traditional training methods that are more engaging are Video Demonstrations, Case Studies, Personal Reflection, and Group Discussion. These different methods are definitely a step above the Lecture and PowerPoint methods. At Personify Leadership we add in what we consider an exceptional teaching method, Experiential Learning. Our approach is a blend of all of the Traditional methods with the Exceptional. Today we are going to explore why a mix of these methods provide a healthy learning environment, that will engage the adult learner and drive new skills learned to application.
First, let’s break down each of the Traditional Methods.
Video Demonstration is a great way for learners to see new skills in action. This method gives the opportunity to see examples of leaders doing it right as well as examples of leaders doing it wrong. Video demonstrations help participants to connect concepts to application. As human beings we love stories. Videos provide a way for leadership skills to be brought to life.
In our Feet of a Leader module, we talk about Mirror Neurons and how humans will mimic the behaviors of others. Our brains are literally wired to experience emotions and behaviors of others through observation. Video Demonstrations provide opportunities to see exemplary examples of leadership in real life scenarios and allow us to see leaders at their best. Videos give opportunities to transfer knowledge into application.
Through group discussions, participants have the opportunity to share their expertise as well as learn from others. Processing thoughts out loud allows learners to develop insight skills and create purpose and meaning out of a newly learned concept. Group dialog can also help learners take advantage of teachable moments. Sharing these thoughts with others helps form connections to both the concepts and the other leaders.
We all process information at a different pace. Some of us like to process out loud, others need a quiet space and time to process through what was learned. In today’s fast-paced society, personal reflection is not common practice. The art of journaling is all but a lost art. We have more things today that pull at our attention than ever before, which makes carving out time for personal reflection all but impossible. In our course, we provide multiple opportunities for Personal Reflection. We believe this is a key element to personalize the new skills learned in each leader’s personal leadership journey. This allows the need-time-to-process people space to absorb what they are learning. This also allows the think-on-my-feet people the opportunity to slow down and reflect at the same time. This method also provides leaders the opportunity to apply what they have learned to their own situations for increased self-awareness and improvement.
Leaders want to know how competencies apply in the real world. Case studies give learners the opportunity to transfer knowledge into application. The best case studies come from actual events or scenarios in the workplace that learners can evaluate, dissect, and discuss. In doing this, learners can see themselves and others in the challenge and they can see the opportunity to make different decisions using new skills but it isn’t about them, and therefore it’s less personal. Sometimes learning through the experience of others feels safer and eases us into the learning experience.
Now that we’ve discussed the Traditional methods, let’s discuss the Exceptional.
Plato was once quoted as saying, ‘I can learn more about a person in an hour of play, than a lifetime of conversation.’ Usually how a person ‘plays’ in an activity will often predict how a person behaves or ‘plays’ in the real world. Experiential activities allow for individuals to experience a behavior in real-time and then immediately process the intent and outcomes of their behaviors. These activities allow the behaviors to surface naturally, which allows the learning to be that much more powerful when the behaviors are addressed. Even more when you can teach a new skill to replace a behavior that may not be seen as a positive behavior.
In some instances, we use Experientials before we teach new skills to surface behaviors. In other instances, we use Experientials after we teach new concepts to provide opportunities to practice new skills. Either way, the experiential process allows the participant to not just envision what it would be like, but to experience what it would look like in the real world. This process drives to application, which in reality, is the true purpose behind training. We want to motivate individuals to transfer their learning to application on the job.
Experiential Caveat: Integration is key. Experientials on their own can be lost opportunities for learning. For example, in the Eyes of a Leader module we talk about Vision. One of the learning outcomes of this module is skills around Goal Setting and identifying what could possibly get in the way of achieving your goals. To do this, we have the group start out with an experiential activity that sounds very easy to accomplish, but in reality it is a very difficult task to achieve. Most of the time the group will quickly move farther away from their goal rather than towards their goal. Frustration and poor communication are probable outcomes. The transition for success in the activity requires a great deal of attention and focus from the group. Once they achieve success, we debrief the experience and have the group identify the key behaviors it took to accomplish to goal. We do this intentionally to set the group up for a conversation around how easy it can sound to set goals and achieve them, but in reality there are many ‘drains’ or barriers that can get in the way. After the group has this experience, we then move into the classroom for skill development. We introduce a model that helps them identify what their goals are and what it takes to achieve them. We also have them identify what the potential barriers or ‘drains’ are that could prevent them from achieving their goals.
By integrating the experiential with the traditional, individuals walk away with a more powerful experience that translates to on the job application. If we would have just presented the model and talked about it, they may or may not have taken it too seriously. But by experiencing the drain model come to life in the experiential, there is a high probability that participants will better identify with their potential drains. As a result, participants will set themselves up for success when setting realistic goals.
Like any great recipe, it takes the right ingredients to make a masterpiece. At Personify Leadership, we firmly believe that a mix of all 5 of these methods make for an exceptional learning environment. Our differentiator is the experientials, however it’s the mix of all of these methods that translate to on the job application.
This article was written by my friend and Co-Founder of Personify Leadership, Michelle Cummings
Only 22% of professionals give their company a rating of excellent. Even fewer non-supervisory employees would describe their satisfaction as excellent at only 13%.
As an employer, it is essential to make sure your employees feel valued and appreciated. This not only boosts their morale but also increases their productivity and loyalty to the company. Here are five simple ways to make your employees feel appreciated at work:
1. Provide regular feedback: Regular feedback helps employees know how they are performing and what they need to improve on. This also shows that you care about their growth and development.
2. Express your gratitude: Take time to show gratitude to your employees for their hard work and contributions. This can be through personal messages, emails, or even small tokens of appreciation.
3. Listen and act on employee feedback: Encourage your employees to share their feedback and opinions on work-related matters. Show that you are actively listening and taking their feedback into consideration.
4. Recognize accomplishments publicly: Celebrate your employees’ accomplishments and successes publicly. This not only makes them feel appreciated but also motivates them to work harder and achieve more.
5. Ensure employees know how their efforts impact company goals: Help your employees understand how their efforts contribute to the company’s overall goals and objectives. This gives them a sense of purpose and helps them feel connected to the company’s mission. By implementing these simple steps, you can create a positive work environment where your employees feel valued, appreciated, and motivated to do their best work.
1. Communication can be hard
Technology has been the ace on our sleeve since March 2020, when we had to switch to a fully remote environment. However, it comes with some issues. The internet connection is not always reliable, set aside the video conferencing systems. It was a challenge even for the remote work environment.
Along the way, we found ways to tackle this problem in the remote environment, but what happens now in the hybrid model?
Some employees are at the office, while others are working from home, so how is it possible to host online meetings and virtual conferences that could fit everyone? Will employees at the office log in from one computer, or should they join from different devices? And what about impromptu meetings? In-office employees could simply stop by each other’s desk and have a quick sync. But their at-home colleagues could be unavailable at that moment.
2. Coordination can be imbalanced
Similarly to the communication issues, coordination can be daunting when dealing with a hybrid work environment. When it comes to collaborative tasks, sync is key. Now, working in hybrid teams causes more challenges in coordination than working face to face. Let’s get this straight with an example.
Lucas from the marketing team is working from home, but Stacey and Iris from the same team have decided to return to the office. They have an important meeting with the sales team coming up. They have completed their brainstorming, conducted their meetings, streamlined the processes, and whatever needed to be done. Now, Lucas is waiting at home for the upcoming meeting, getting ready on his own. Stacey and Iris, however, had a chat in the break room and discovered that they should mention a few more points. There’s no time to inform Lucas, so the result is that he got left out of the teamwork. Even a minor change can make employees feel like outsiders.
3. Proximity bias can cause significant issues
While the hybrid workplace can solve the problem of retaining employees, there’s a new challenge that needs to be addressed: proximity bias.
Proximity bias is the concept that the workforce with close physical proximity to other team members and company leaders will be considered more competent and will become more successful in the workplace than their remote coworkers.
For instance, Dolores from the client success team works from home while her coworker Tyler prefers to work at the office. Dolores thinks that Tyler is closer to their managers because of his physical presence, so she feels that it’s more likely that he will be promoted faster than her, even though she is a high-performing employee. Thus, she feels overwhelmed, and is willing to work longer hours to be perceived as hard-working.
This can cause a less inclusive workplace as both remote and hybrid employees feel like their efforts are not being fully acknowledged simply because they are less visible. Employees must have access to the same opportunities to flourish and grow. This is why proximity bias needs to be taken into consideration—and tackled—when planning a hybrid work environment for your company.
4. Creativity can be limited
Creativity was a main remote work challenge as well. This can be an issue in the hybrid workplace, too.
It’s true that creativity levels rise when there are in-person encounters. For instance, social interactions, spontaneous conversations, seeing artwork or a nicely designed workspace, the commute to and from work, can all be essential creativity triggers. Staying at home every day, in the same space, without any external influences can drop creativity levels.
How can experience-based team building help?
As hybrid work environments become the new norm, organizations are grappling with the impact on corporate culture. While remote work offers flexibility and autonomy, it also poses challenges such as feelings of isolation and lack of team cohesion. Studies have shown that employees who work in hybrid environments report feeling less connected to their colleagues and company culture.
To combat this, organizations are turning to in-person team building activities to foster a sense of community and build stronger relationships among team members. In-person team building activities provide a unique opportunity for employees to connect on a personal level, develop trust, and enhance communication skills. These activities can range from outdoor adventures to group volunteer projects to team dinners.
Investing in in-person team building not only helps to strengthen corporate culture but also has a positive impact on employee morale and productivity. By creating a sense of belonging and purpose, employees are more likely to be engaged and committed to the organization’s goals.
In conclusion, while hybrid work environments offer many benefits, it’s important to address the potential challenges to corporate culture. In-person team building activities can go a long way in fostering a sense of community and building stronger relationships among team members, ultimately leading to a more engaged and productive workforce.
Signature Teambuilding, Inc. holds the SWaM (Small, Women-owned, and Minority-owned Business) certification of Virginia. We embrace this classification as we continue to serve our clients with a wide variety of superior team building and leadership development programs.
How does working with a SWaM certified organization benefit you?
Companies committed to conducting business operations with SWaM certified companies acquire the benefits of federal and state tax incentives. These advantages may vary on the state level, but are offered to encourage commercial establishments to support the growth of diverse suppliers on a local and national level.
Working with SWaM organizations helps your business to achieve progressive concepts and practices. The contractors you choose directly affect your ability to promote diversity and remain forward-thinking in our economy. Maintaining a SWAM partnership helps your business to understand a wide variety of clientele with an assortment of social/cultural backgrounds and ideas.
Leading corporations in America are spending billions of dollars utilizing companies who hold SWaM and other diverse classifications, proving these companies are growing and remain sustained nationally. With this growth, SWaM organizations hold advancement opportunities and purchasing power, while playing a key role in the health of our developing economy.
Signature Teambuilding, Inc. is pleased to be a SWaM certified organization of Virginia and is eager to help your business reach its top potential. Want to learn more? Visit https://www.sbsd.virginia.gov
-Greg Huber, Signature Teambuilding President.
Are you looking for team building activities to entertain your workforce and promote team bonding or, are you looking for more?
Signature Teambuilding is a team building service provider. We don’t normally provide do-it-yourself activities but keep reading, we have included some great resources for them in this post!
DIY activities have their place in the team building world but be careful with what you think they will achieve. DIY activities that are found online or in a book are often best classified as team BONDING not team BUILDING (more to come on this). If you are trying to do more than have fun, break the ice, or take a break during a long meeting, BEWARE! You are likely going to meet resistance from some of the participants by reinforcing the negative stereotypes that many people already have of “team building”. Whenever people see an agenda that includes phrases like “fun team building activities” or “team building activities”, you are sure to raise a few eyebrows. This may have exactly the opposite outcome of what you want. Another consideration is to know whether the person conducting the activity is skilled enough to do so. Sure, anyone can read a description of an activity and provide the materials needed but delivery and facilitation is both an art and a science that when delivered well looks incredibly easy. Are you sure you have what it takes?
“Two of the biggest obstacles to ensuring a successful experience. The first is mistaking team BONDING for team BUILDING and the next is not fully committing to outcome-based change.”
Team Bonding can be described this way:
- It is about having a good time. (“fun team building activities”)
- The focus is generally on the activity not outcomes.
- The duration is usually short. (“5-minute team building activities”)
- It may be something you can do yourself.
- Typically, it does not involve any learning.
- It is usually costs less than $50 pp or is free.
Team Building can be described this way:
- Is delivered by trained facilitator or professional.
- Is designed to achieve a particular goal or outcome.
- Has an intentional curriculum rather than a bunch of random activities that have no connection.
- Reflection and group debriefs are mandatory so participants reflect on their experience and relate those experiences back to the real work environment.
Professionally delivered Team Building programs have several advantages over DIY activities. First, experienced providers know how to engage everyone in the process, even those with “bad attitudes.” Second, the experiential activities will be carefully designed the considered for the audience, location, abilities, and goals of the group. Third, using a professional provider will save you time, reduce the possibility of embarrassment and increase the value and credibility of the time spent. Finally, real team BUILDING doesn’t have to be a huge commitment of time or money.
“I didn’t even want to come to this, but I am really glad I did. This was different than other team building things I have done. I actually learned something!”
This is a quote we hear after almost every program we do. So many people have had their negative stereotypes reinforced about team building that even the words “team building” send some people into a downward spiral before they even show up.
So, what’s the lesson learned?
First, what are you trying to accomplish? Team BONDING or team BUILDING?
Second, what is the pulse of the group? How do they feel about participating in activities like this?
Third, are you up to the task? Are you a dynamic presenter with a proven track record?
Fourth, will it ad value?
If you are confident and ready to deliver your own activities, good for you! I am rooting for you and wish you the best of luck! Here are some terrific resources from some friends that offer a bunch of FREE activities.
If on the other hand you are not quite sure what you need or which direction to go in or if you have really never considered a professional team building provider, give us a call or send us an email. We will be happy to share our 30+ years of experience with you. We aren’t going to try to sell you anything! Either our programs make sense and are a good fit for your organization or they are not. We never take on work where we can’t be successful together.