Monday, 7 May 2018

Who Are You?

Self Reflection is an important competency, and a common term used in Learning & Development. Just a quick google search on the term 'self reflection' leads to more than 357.000.000 results!

Apparently there is a lot of self reflection to be done...
And it is not without reason... You can learn and improve a lot from self-reflection. It increases your self-knowledge, makes you (more) aware of emotions that play a role in different situations and it gives you insight into how you can act more effectively. But how does one do that? How do you self-reflect? Recently I ran a Personal Effectiveness training using the Logical Levels of Change, Learning & Communication, based on Bateson & Dilts.

This theory states that people can think, learn and communicate on different levels:

The effect of each level is to organize and direct the information on the level below it. Changing something on a higher level would necessarily change things on the lower levels. Changing something on a lower level however, could but would not necessarily affect the upper levels.

For example: Many people have the behavioral skills to get up on a stage, grab the microphone and tell an audience of 200 people something about themselves. Yet many do not think that's a very pleasant task. There is something on a higher level that is blocking them... Perhaps a belief? (ie. "I do not have anything interesting to say.") Only changing that belief can lead to true changed behavior. Just changing the behavior does not necessarily change the belief. When you want to learn how to self reflect, these levels can be a very helpful tool.

For example, try this 3 Step Self Reflection Exercise:
Step 1.
Think of a situation that you recently experienced that you want to reflect upon. An argument? A conflict of interest? Or perhaps a difficult conversation?
Step 2.
Then write down the answers to following questions based on the different levels of the model. Starting with the lower, bottom level: 1. Environment: Where are you? What do you respond to, when and with whom? 2. Behavior: What do you do, see, hear, how do you act? 3. Capabilities / Skills: What can you do, how do you handle the situation? 4. Beliefs: Why do you handle it that way? What do you believe? 5. Identity: Who are you? What is your goal in life? 6. Purpose: What else is this happening for? What is the purpose? Step 3.
See if you can formulate a conclusion at the end and don't forget: Be kind to yourself! This willingness to examine yourself, to make corrections and to do better in the future, is essential to your personal growth.

Happy self reflecting!

Monday, 9 April 2018

6 Ways to make Role Plays Real

Role-plays are a great way of practicing new skills. But often workshop participants complain that they don't enjoy the role-play simulations because they don't feel real, making  them ultimately learn less. 

Fortunately, as a trainer/facilitator there is a lot you can do to make role-playing real. Starting with these 6 ways to make Role Plays REAL: 

1. Work with real situations
Role play becomes more real when participants can use their own experiences. I love to work with situations that the participants come up with themselves. Reason being that if someone suffers from the miscommunication with a colleague at work, role-playing that exact situation will feel a lot more real than a standardized case scenario.

2. Have the Participant choose his opponent
Let the participant always choose an 'opponent' himself. I promise you he will automatically choose someone who looks like the person he finds it difficult to deal with in real life. By doing that chances are also that the role play will become more realistic. I often see facilitators choose the opponent themselves or ask the group who want to play the opposite role. Don’t do it! It will take away from the learning experience from the participant.

3. Set the situation as it is
When the participant and the opponent are known, you set the situation as it really is. Are they standing, are they sitting? Is there normally a table, then put it there. If they talk to each other over the telephone, let them sit with their backs together and get some phones. These little things will add to the reality of the role play.

4. Name the opponent by his 'game name'
Call the participant by his own name, but name the opponent by the name of the person he plays. Use that name in the time-out. For example: "What do you see the effect was on Trudy?" This makes the situation more realistic.

5. Correct smiling observants
Sometimes observers laugh. That is OK if something happens that is really funny. But sometimes they also start laughing, because the participant in the role play tries something new that might look out-of-character. It can take the participant out of their learning experience so stay serious and say something like "Everyone, please keep the focus." Or to the participant: “You are doing great. Keep trying”

6. Recognize that it is not real
After all of this the participant might still say that the role play exercise did not feel real. In such a case just acknowledge their feelings. "No, of course it is not real." Afterwards, you ask whether the participant is curious about the feedback:" Do you want to hear what the group thought?" Or,"Shall we see how the opponent has experienced it?“ Acknowledging that it is not real will increase the chance that the participant wants to hear the feedback anyway.

Would you like to bring in a Role Play Professional? Than check out our website to learn more about our Role Play Services.

Friday, 2 March 2018

Why content is not training

I love yoga. 
So much so that I take weekly classes. 

Because I live close to one of the best Yoga studio's in WA, the classes I attend are delivered by top-tier teachers. This means that I often find myself side-by-side with amazing yogis from all over the world. This is a little like finding yourself singing with Celine Dion or acting alongside Julia Roberts.
Here’s the thing that I’ve noticed, though. 

We (myself and these yoga stars) are doing the exact same steps to the exact same music in the exact same place at the exact same time, yet it sure doesn’t look that way. 

Why, why, why? 

The answer is a single word: skill.
What we are doing is the same. How we are doing it is not. And, this is why content isn’t training. Content provides the what. Training provides the how.
It concerns me when I hear content being discussed more and more frequently as being synonymous with training. Taking a course on can provide you with the what, but it won’t teach you the how. 

Ditto with providing content in bite-size chunks à la microlearning, taking an e-learning course, watching a YouTube video, listening to a presentation or searching the Internet. Lots of what, but not much (if any) how.

At InterACT we believe that training can and should include content—but it shouldn’t end at content. Training needs to include group discussions, challenging activities and personal advice as well as effective feedback and opportunities to practice the new skills in a safe and risk-free environment.
So, before you decide to provide content instead of training, ask yourself:

“Is skill important?” 

If the answer is “yes,” then think about how you can add some element of training to support skill development instead of just providing content. 

Your learners will thank you, I promise.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

The Secret to Memorizing Anything

Working in the field of Training and Development I meet A LOT of workshop participants. Meeting all these new people is one of the best parts of my job, but when I just started out running training workshops I had serious trouble remembering the participants names...   

I believe calling someone by their name is a simple way to make them feel recognized so I quickly resolved the problem. 

By using name tents. 

It didn't take long before I knew this was a big mistake. It just didn't fee right. I felt like a fraud calling out someones name right after I secretly peeked at their name tent.   

Dale Carnegie once said, “A person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” so I knew I had to find a way to remember people’s names if I wanted to truly connect with them.
I started using the same formula that I use in my workshop design to help people retain more from their training course.

It's called Spaced Repetition.

It is a learning technique that is highly effective because it deliberately hacks the way our brain works. It produces long-term, durable retention of knowledge and in my experience, once people start using it, they swear by it.
Spaced repetition states that in order to keep the new information in your head for a longer time, you need to try and put it into your long-term memory instead of in your short-term memory.
You can do this by extending and spreading out the memorization period.

How did this help me memorize people's names?
Here are the seven Spaced Repetition Techniques I nowadays use to improve my ability to connect with my adult learners and remember their names:

1. Meet & Greet. When someone first introduces themselves to me, I greet them by name, and repeat it immediately: “Welcome, Jeff!”

2. Use it. Next, I use their name in a sentence as soon as I can: “Jeff, there’s coffee at the back table. Feel free to help yourself.”

3. Repeat it. I take a moment and introduce the new person to someone else in the training room: “Jeff, I’d like you to meet Susan. She works in Finance too”

4. Picture it. Starting a conversation and learning about a new participant allows me to associate their name with one of the tidbits I’ve learned about them. I typically ask what they like to get out of the workshop, information about their family, etc. This way I can associate them with that information (e.g. Jeff wants to learn how to communicate more assertively and has two young kids).

5. Make it Stick. I like to rewrite their first name on my class list when I review it, rather than just check it off. I also write down tips for pronunciation that might help me recall their name correctly.

6. Associate it. On the first day of training, I like to take a 'mental picture' of everyone. At the end of the day, I’ll have more information about everyone, so remembering what they look like allows me to make associations with their image. This also helps me to remember more about them for upcoming training days.

7. Visualize it. If I have a group of learners that don’t know each other, I like to use a quick and simple name game that can break the ice and help me remember. 

I challenge you to use these 7 steps next time you wish to remember something and experience how it can benefit your memory. 
Just think of memorizing something as being kind of like building a brick wall; if you stack the bricks up too quickly without letting the mortar between each layer solidify, you're not going to end up with a very good wall. 
Spacing your learning however allows that 'mental mortar' to dry
Would you like to learn more about how we 'build' our spaced learning training programs? Have a look at our website 

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Training Managers for Mental Health Conversations

Last week I visited a new coffee place in the city. As I walked in, there was nobody behind the till. A young man in his twenties was making coffees for two business men and told me he'd be with me as soon as possible. 

Then suddenly another employee appeared from the kitchen. 

Her eyes red from crying. 
Desperately biting her lip in an attempt to keep a straight face.

She jumped behind the till and asked me for my coffee order without making eye-contact.   

I asked her if she was OK. 
She said she was fine. 

I said I had trouble believing her. 
She said she was just trying to keep it together.

I asked her if there was anything I could do for her. 
She said she just wanted to get some air.

So after her young male colleague agreed to take over, we stepped outside together. She told me she didn't want anybody to find out she was suffering from anxiety. This job was very important to her. When I asked her why she didn't talk to her manager, she reassured me that that was absolutely no option. She didn't want to be labeled as 'crazy'... 

When I later walked back to my car with a cold coffee and a heavy heart, I couldn't help but feeling how terribly unfortunate it is that so little time and resources are dedicated to assist managers to work more effectively with people with mental illnesses. 

Research shows that up to 50% (!) of employees with a mental health problem will not disclose it to their manager. Yet, to manage efficiently, managers need to know what is going on their teams. They also need to know how to handle a mental health conversation without making things worse. 
Surprisingly very few managers have the knowledge and skills to know how to deal with mental health issues. In fact, fewer than 20% of Managers in Western Australia have had mental health training. 
I believe all Managers require training (and practice experience) to work effectively with mentally ill people. And such training must cover three main areas: 

- Understanding mental illness;
- Identifying those with mental illness who may be in crisis and;
- Communicating and interacting with them in a non-violent way to reduce their distress and de-escalate them.
But most importantly, the training needs to involve opportunities to develop and practice communication and de-escalation skills.
Ultimately employers and business owners need to communicate and educate constantly on mental health and well being and look for ways to open up the discussion and normalize such conversations. It is only by doing this they will see measurable improvements in health and happiness at work. 

I can only hope this culture of wellness is just a few coffees away for the girl in the coffee shop...