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Date: Wednesday, October 20, 2021, 3:06 PM

Table of contents

Adapting to Pandemic-Induced Shifts in Employee Perspectives

Seventeen months after the start of the global pandemic, organizations continue to encounter new challenges with employee satisfaction. After Covid-19 forced many companies to quickly pivot to flexible work environments, employee perspectives experienced rapid changes as well.

According to Microsoft’s Work Trend Index published in March 2021, one year after the pandemic began, as much as 41 percent of the global workforce are considering resignation. For Generation Z employees, that figure is even higher, at 54 percent.

Demand for flexibility among younger generations is not necessarily a new trend. In 2019, an article by Forbes reported that as much as 92 percent of the millennial workforce considers flexibility to be a top priority in searching for a job.

However, the rising number of employees quitting their jobs to pursue that flexibility is a disruptive new trend that has been coined “The Great Resignation” and is particularly concerning for corporations in the United States. With unemployment rates on a downward trend, employers are already finding themselves competing for the available talent.

Now that employees have had the taste of remote work environments, companies may need to reconsider their work patterns to avoid turnover and increase their employee value proposition.

Considerations for Tackling Flexibility at Your Company

There is no doubt remote work will play a role in determining where employees choose to invest their time and energy in the future. During this unprecedented wave of resignations, the most obvious opportunity for companies to reduce risk of turnover is to consider offering remote or hybrid work options.

Doing so requires appropriate planning and execution to avoid productivity losses, but recent research from PwC shows that 83 percent of employers found their shift to remote work to be successful for their company. Furthermore, attitudes towards remote work have increased since June 2020 as both employers and employees have uncovered ways to make work-from-home more effective.

In cases where flexible work is not elected, transparency and empathy from managers may help increase a company’s employee value proposition without modifying work patterns and offering career development options. By maintaining an open communication line and seeking input from employees, managers can make those employees feel more valued and engaged and ultimately more productive, thus enhancing employee buy-in.

To learn more, contact the Ascendis Leadership Academy to take the Organizational Leadership Skills Profile. Please contact Sue Drake at sdrake@drakerg.com for an overview of the Profile and ways in which it may be used in your organization.

Skill Development for Organizational Learning in 2021

The start of a new year does not begin without a reflection on the past year. We’ve moved a lot of our training to online delivery over the past 10 years, especially technical and compliance training and some of the soft skills training important for managers. 


However, much of our real leadership training is done face-to-face and through outsourced events. Additionally, we’ve spent about the same amount of time per person for training for the past several years (on average about 35 hours per year, but “leaders in training” get twice to three times that average). 


What is a "leader in training?"

According to ALA expert, Bill Welter, leaders in training are high-potentials, identified in the company’s succession planning process, being groomed to likely take top middle-manager roles. However, their presence in the workplace is in danger due to the current pandemic. As of March 2020, just about all companies cancelled in-person training, refrained from sending leaders off to training events and cut their training budgets. 


Yet, there is still a need to develop leaders, even though the future is unsure. Zoom meetings have become commonplace and exhaustive, and, we aren’t sure what development efforts look like to be on target and effective. Many leaders are wanting these leaders in training to self-develop, as there is a lot of free information available on the Internet. This option is also not effective, as the free information is disjointed, of inconsistent quality and there is no learning path for individuals to complete. 


To support transfer of learning, applicable practice should be embedded into cohort assignments and discussions. The best way to do this is to engage trainees in solving our new challenges and keep them engaged in creating our new future while working from home. Also, we should use hybrid sessions to blend self-learning with the momentum of keeping together as a cohort on a focused, relevant, practical topic. The leadership development process must become an organizational learning program, with future implications beyond a set of training content goals.


Today, you can inspire a culture of learning in your organization by subscribing to the Ascendis Leadership Academy. With our multimedia online training content, you and your team members can enhance their skills in three competencies: Leading Self, Leading Others, and Leading Organizations to define a successful future for your leaders in training.

Managing Pandemic Fatigue on Employees in a Virtual Setting

As we progress into 2021, we are approaching a full year into an international pandemic. In addition to considering the effects of the pandemic on our businesses, we also should consider the effects of fatigue on our employees who have been working remotely during this pandemic.

According to the National Safety Council, workplace fatigue costs employers approximately $136 billion every year in lost productivity. Fatigued worker productivity costs employers $1,200 to $3,100 per employee annually. For employees, 30% report averaging less than six hours of sleep per night, yet the needed average is seven to nine hours.


The National Safety Council identifies two kinds of workloads that play into these fatigue levels. 


  1. Physical load—including factors such as repetitive motions, forceful exertions, and activities requiring an awkward posture. These factors can be physically draining, and an extended amount of time repeating these factors can be exhausting. Employees on rotating shifts are particularly vulnerable because they cannot adapt their body clocks to an alternative sleep pattern.

  2. Mental load—irregular or excessive work hours, stress level demands of the work, and difficult coworker relationships. For global virtual teams whose members span across large geographic distances and time zones, it’s not uncommon for some team members to be awake in the middle of their night to participate in conference calls or perform tasks during other team members’ normal work hours.


These factors can lead to employees feeling stressed, overworked, or downright exhausted. Over time, employee fatigue can lead to lower productivity, mistakes and injuries. This has a substantial effect on the production levels of the organization as a whole, especially in (virtual) teams with high reliance, where the performance of one employee impacts the performance of other employees within the same team.


Here's a Tip:

Does your virtual workforce show signs of fatigue or low engagement? How is your level of fatigue when working virtually? Here are some techniques you can use to develop more engagement and collaboration.


  • Rotate team meeting times.
    Meetings should not always be scheduled at the convenience of one individual or group. Not only does this lower engagement, it leads to resentment among other team members who must always stay up late or awaken early.

  • Adjust schedules or tasks when possible.
    Apply realistic planning practices so that work products can be delivered on time without having to put undue pressure to meet deadlines. Allow for contingencies in the event things don’t go as planned. 

  • Communicate with team members about fatigue.
    Reinforce the importance of getting adequate rest. According to the National Safety Council chronic sleep-deprivation causes depression, obesity, cardiovascular disease and other illnesses. More than 70 million suffer from a sleep disorder. Educate team members on how to avoid fatigue-related safety incidents.

  • Practice work flexibility.
    Look for ways you can leverage technologies that enable team members to work remotely more often. This enables members to engage and participate from a variety of locations and eases the transition from workplace to homeplace. An added benefit is that it provides opportunities to engage contract, younger and older members of the workforce who prefer to work part-time.


To learn more, contact the Ascendis Leadership Academy to take the Organizational Leadership Skills Profile. Please contact Sue Drake at sdrake@drakerg.com for an overview of the Profile and ways in which it may be used in your organization.

Six Areas to Drive Leadership From Your Talent Management Framework

A talent management framework provides leaders with a structured approach to developing staff potential and retaining talent. Talent management is about developing staff to meet both organizational and individual needs. And, leaders are the catalysts of your successful talent management strategy. Thriving organizations have strong development cultures – one where leaders lead the way as positive role models. Leaders who seek to improve their own performance motivate and require employees to do the same.

Here are the six factors that are shifting the way companies now manage employee development:

1. Better talent equals better business performance. A recent Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) study shows companies that excel in Talent Management have 15 percent higher earnings than their competition.

2. Financial value. The financial value of a company is often dependent upon the quality of talent it offers. What is the value of your team based on their talents today? 

3. First-mover advantages. The speed at which business changes requires us to pay closer attention to the talent we hire and the effectiveness of their performance. And, being first gives you the advantage of being the originator, and not a duplicator. 

4. Board buy-in. The quality of talent has to be exceptional to meet the standards of your organization’s boards and investors. 

5. Employee values. Employee expectations of their workplace are also changing, requiring CEOs to understand and address employee engagement.

6. Generational divides. Demographics in the workforce are shifting. As employees in top positions defer retirement, they leave younger, entry-level employees applying for a multitude of positions, instead of finding a perfect match for their talent.

With that in mind, it is essential to keep human resources informed on the business plans of the organization, as it will directly impact the selection and hiring process. It is far easier, more efficient and less expensive, to place higher priority on selection over development, simply because not all skills can be developed. Judgment, learning ability and adaptability are all skills near impossible to train. Instead, hiring based on the needs of the business, with knowledge of the skills demanded by the position, is a much more suitable way to manage talent.

Factors for executing a high performance talent management approach include communication, accountability, skill, alignment and measurement.

So, how do you get started? Register for a subscription with the Ascendis Leadership Academy, your source for eLearning and self-paced online leadership courses for all levels of your organization. If you’re ready to inspire a culture of learning in your organization, look no further than the Ascendis Leadership Academy for multimedia online training content. You and your team can enhance your skills in more than nine competencies under the categories of Leading Self, Leading Others and Leading Organizations.

Four Tips to Building Trust Over Large Distances

When virtual team members are separated by distance, research suggests that trust between these members declines by 83 percent. 

 


Trust may be the most significant drawback of working in a virtual team, particularly in a global virtual team. Teams require cohesion to obtain positive results and meet goals, but a lack of trust can damage a team’s ability to do so.


Of course, global virtual teams tend to outperform co-located teams when they are well-managed. This indicates that trust over large distances is attainable but requires the right leadership and team member skills.


Global virtual teams can see other advantages as well. Access to a global talent pool leads to greater innovation and a workforce that is more representative of the global consumer. Global teams can also be more flexible and responsive to their work environment.


By human nature, establishing trust between team members is easier in face-to-face situations. This is why experts suggest that if you could have only one face-to-face interaction with your team, it should be the first time you meet. Fostering trust from the start creates a backbone for a high-performing virtual team. During your first team meeting, invest time building relationships and creating specific agreements for how team members will work together.


In situations where team members are separated by large distances, how can you make sure your team members trust you, and how can you build trust in them? 

Here's a Tip

There are two types of trust—cognitive and emotional. Cognitive trust is based on logic. It develops from assessments we make about one another’s perceived integrity and ability. To build cognitive trust, follow the Four Cs:

  • Credibility – demonstrate your expertise to build confidence in your judgment and abilities with your team members.

  • Consistency – do what you say you will do; this allows team members to see you as predictable and reliable.

  • Communication – let team members know what you expect, and be flexible and willing to negotiate, if necessary.

  • Consideration – show respect for others’ needs and follow team-based agreements.


To learn more, contact the Ascendis Leadership Academy to take the Organizational Leadership Skills Profile. Please contact Sue Drake at sdrake@drakerg.com for an overview of the Profile and ways in which it may be used in your organization. 

How to Create a Virtual Leadership Culture That Inspires Others

Today's leaders must understand that when stress is high, productivity decreases. Employees and team managers have been finding it difficult to focus because they have so much on their minds: their health and safety, the health and safety of loved ones, whether or not they can pay their bills, what the world will look like when this period of social distancing subsides, and more.


Virtual leadership may be all we have right now, and leaders should also ensure they are also providing inspirational leadership to the teams at this time. Inspirational leadership is multifaceted. The direction is about the way your leaders communicate and interact with employees and about their vision for the future. Leadership is also what is celebrated and recognized, and what the expectations of the employee are and the extent to which they are trusted. With trust comes great responsibility, and the best way to build confidence is to showcase your abilities and to be a continuous learner.

Korn Ferry provides three areas where virtual leaders can learn to become inspirational leaders for their teams:

Remain Agile, Yet Maintain Humility: Leaders must lead from the front, exhibiting the values and behaviors they expect from the team.  Leading from the front doesn’t mean being isolated, however. To be sure, for many leaders, one of the hardest things to do is to rely on the opinions and decisions of other people. By seeking out the perspectives of others to make critical decisions, you can inspire them to stay focused on behaviors necessary to meet their professional goals.

Provide Explicit and Transparent Communication: By now, leaders should know that they need to communicate with stakeholders during a crisis. And with a viral outbreak such as the current pandemic, different organizations will need to communicate differently. Richard Marshall, global managing director of Korn Ferry’s Corporate Affairs practice, says communications should be tailored to each stakeholder constituency based on their unique concerns. Communicating with employees about what protocols the organization is putting in place to keep them safe should always come first, Marshall says.

With partners and vendors, he suggests establishing a project team to monitor the situation and relay updates. Investor relations, corporate communications, and management teams should work in unison to navigate the response from investors and consumers and address any concerns proactively. Experts say leaders need to be authentic and transparent.

“People are obviously nervous about the implications of the virus, and it is essential to keep them engaged, informed, and safe,” says Peter McDermott, a senior client partner in Korn Ferry’s Global Corporate Affairs practice.

This is indeed a time for human resources and management to show a supportive and steady hand. “We don’t want to be proactively alarmist, but managers should be prepared to support employees’ concerns individually, as individual needs may vary widely,” says Jennifer Beery, senior director of talent for North America at Korn Ferry.

Keep Engagement High: Surveys have shown that fewer than half of employees worldwide say they are “highly engaged” at work. That task is even tougher now as the coronavirus has employees not working in their usual spots or, worse, temporarily not working. Soliciting feedback through a pulse survey can give leaders information about what employee concerns are and what actions would be most helpful to resolve those concerns, says Jennifer Streitwieser, an associate client partner at Korn Ferry and head of the firm’s US engagement and culture business. Just as critically, she says, it’s important to ensure that employees are energized once the crisis has passed.

Gathering employee feedback about what would be most helpful to them as life returns to normal will ensure that leaders and managers focus on the actions that will have the greatest impact. There are three keys to effective surveys, Streitwieser says: listen to employees, act on the feedback they provide, and, most importantly, communicate: “We hear you, and here’s what we’ve done based on your feedback.”

Keep in mind, the skills needed by managers of their team members will change and evolve. Making company-wide leadership training a priority will allow leaders to create environments and organizational cultures that are stimulating and exciting to work within. 


Virtual leadership training will inspire employees to engage in frequent, honest conversations about how they can improve processes. These conversations are likely to generate higher quality solutions to problems, and everyone will benefit from new opportunities to collaborate with all of these individual perspectives. When leaders can show an interest in investment by giving their staff the tools they need to succeed, leaders can look forward to inspiring a leadership culture that is sustainable across all business units, no matter where employees are located. 

Building Cohesion on Your Virtual Team

Forty percent of virtual team members define leaders as anyone who fosters an influence over a group, regardless of direct reporting relationships.


To virtual team members in the global marketplace, team cohesion is not a measure of who leads a team the best. Rather, it is the full group cohesion that fosters progress and success. In the end, successful teams see fewer issues of engagement and other common flaws in virtual team performance. Virtual teams are different from collocated/onsite teams in many ways. One of the important differences is the stages virtual teams undergo as members learn to work and lead together effectively to become a high performing virtual team. 

Team Cohesion

For virtual teams, the Norming stage is critical. During that time, team members not only get acquainted and begin establishing relationships, they also discuss how to work together. A Team Operating Agreement (TOA) serves as an essential tool to facilitate such discussions. During this time, team members agree on, among other things, clarity of goals and roles, communication and collaboration tools they will use, response times to requests for information, which decisions will be made by whom, and how disagreements will be resolved.

A written TOA is especially important for global virtual teams whose members are separated by large differences in geography, time, and culture. The TOA also serves as a reference point for progress checks as the team moves to the high performing stage. This empowers team members and grows team cohesion quickly. Partners in Development offers a customizable TOA template to help you maximize the performance of your team. We are experts in virtual teams and the mobile workforce.

To learn more, contact the Ascendis Leadership Academy to take the Organizational Leadership Skills Profile. Please contact Sue Drake at sdrake@drakerg.com for an overview of the Profile and ways in which it may be used in your organization.




8 Rules to Involve Stakeholders In Critical Decisions



Your stakeholders are key to the decisions you make every day in your organization. When stakeholders feel informed and included in the decision-making process, the result is often positive engagement in initiatives and support for future ideas. The first step to engaging stakeholders is to determine the best method of communication to boost engagement.  Whether the communication takes place via email, phone call, Twitter, video or a face-to-face conversation, there are eight basic rules to keep in mind:

  1. The audience rule: Tickle their ears. What the audience wants to hear is more important than what you want to tell them. Always.

  2. The sales rule: Good communication has a goal. Know it before you open your mouth. 

  3. The language rule: Keep it simple. If your language is heavy on jargon or acronyms, it is less likely your message will be received. 

  4. The repetition rule: Once is not enough. Verbal messages are especially hard to recall, and the listener can’t go back and listen to them again. To make sure they stick, they must be repeated so that the listener knows how important they are. 

  5. The challenge rule: You know more of the questions that can be asked of you and your story than anyone else. Ask them, and answer them, in advance. 

  6. The truth rule: You might as well tell it. Credibility is the most important thing you have to sell. It is more important than facts. 

  7. The bad news rule: Bad news has market value. Bad news always comes out. 

  8. The good news rule: Good news doesn’t last long. Good news is only exciting to those people who have a vested interest in it. 

Communication is skill and skills only improve with practice. A helpful exercise is to determine which is your least favorite communication channel and work  on improving it. If you can’t communicate you can’t lead.

How well do you communicate with your stakeholders? If this is an area where you and your employees need to improve, contact the Ascendis Leadership Academy to take the Organizational Leadership Skills Profile. Please contact Sue Drake at sdrake@drakerg.com for an overview of the Profile and ways in which it may be used in your organization. 




The 30-Minute Problem-Solving Checklist for Organizational Leaders


Photo on VisualHunt.com


Leaders often do not have a large span of time to solve problems and develop strategies. The best way to define problems is to consider defining the situation first. 

All situations in business can be viewed from the perspective of a problem to be solved. It may be a good situation such as “we have an opportunity for tremendous growth,” or it may be a serious problem like “we’re about to lose our biggest client.” Either situation is a problem needing definition before resolution. 

As you go about defining your situation, consider the seven components in the following checklist. The challenge will be to spend no more than 30 minutes listing your answers in the checklist. Are you up for the challenge? Here it is:


  1. What are the “givens?” 

  • Symptoms

  • Economic conditions

  • Industry conditions

  • Assumptions you are making

  1. Stakeholders

  • Problem stakeholders

  • Solution stakeholders

  • Risk stakeholders

  1. Goals

  • Business

  • Stakeholder wants and needs

  • Tradeoffs to be considered

  1. Boundaries – What is in and out of scope?

  2. Barriers

    • Business

    • People

    • Technology

  1. Diagnosis

    • Root cause(s)

    • Causal relationships

    • Questions that need answers

  1. Triage

    • Urgency of the situation

    • Importance of the situation to the business


Now comes the hard part. Prepare a short description of the situation from this checklist and share it with stakeholders. Once you can establish you’re on the same page, you are more likely to move forward with confidence and a full understanding of the problem. 

What are other best practices to organizational problem solving? To find out, contact the Ascendis Leadership Academy to take the Organizational Leadership Skills Profile. Please contact Sue Drake at sdrake@drakerg.com for an overview of the Profile and ways in which it may be used in your organization. 




How to Anticipate Future Needs



Have you ever been asked to “think out of the box?” We may have all heard this phrase, but we are not clear on what it means to think outside of the box when it comes to our leadership style. When it comes to the everyday responsibilities of an emerging leader, you need to shift to a mindset of “bigger boxes.” 



Here are a series of boxes that reflect a variety of environments. While you may not have control over the contextual and the transactional environments, you have a say in how you lead yourself, lead others, and lead your organization. You and your employees will react to the changes from the external environments based on your leadership abilities. For example, as the economy changes, your company must assess the impact of this change to remain relevant. 

Whether your company decides to continue on its original path or change to adapt to customer needs is driven by the quality of thought leadership in your organization. 

You can also anticipate the future for your unit and your company if you think bigger. Consider some of the following questions as you work from the outside in:

  • What’s going on in your contextual environment that will affect your industry? For example, will a growing economy drive industry expansion? 

  • What’s going on in your transaction environment that will affect your company? For example, in 2020 many companies realized that their dependence on Chinese manufacturing caused massive supply chain problems when the coronavirus epidemic hit. 

  • What’s going on in your company that will affect your unit and how well you translate strategy into action? For example, the turn-of-the-century emphasis on shareholder value brought increased cost reduction pressure to many departments.

As a leader, you must anticipate future needs and observe changes that occur in the bigger boxes to fully understand the impact on your organization. How prepared are you as a leader to tackle the future? To find out, contact the Ascendis Leadership Academy to take the Organizational Leadership Skills Profile. Please contact Sue Drake at sdrake@drakerg.com for an overview of the Profile and ways in which it may be used in your organization. 


How Leaders Can Manage Emotions and Avoid the Drama Triangle

Is there a lot of conflict and complaining where you work? If there is, it is possible that employees are trapped in what is called the Drama Triangle. This state of being comes to fruition when communication is low and emotions are high in a given area. This can happen among colleagues working on a project, departments battling for resources or customers pushing back on the overall organization. 


In the Drama Triangle, there are three roles, the victim, perpetrator and rescuer:


  • Victim: The individual(s) who feel wronged by the perpetrator, may also feel powerless in the situation.

  • Perpetrator: The individual(s) making the action, may also be seen as having the power in the situation.

  • Rescuer: The individual(s) who are tasked with resolving the issue between the victim and perpetrator, may become so burdensome that rescuers end up feeling like victims (or the individuals placing them in the rescuer role are their persecutors).


How do you get out of the Drama Triangle? An alternative framework is called the Empowerment Dynamic, and is written about by David Emerald. In this framework, the victim is redefined as a creator, the rescuer redefined as coach, and the perpetrator redefined as challenger:


  • Creator: What outcome do you want to achieve? Shift the mindset to: I can do it!

  • Challenger: How can I encourage learning and growth in the creator? Shift the mindset to: You can do it!

  • Coach:  How can I support and assist the creator in achieving the desired outcome?  Shift the mindset to: How will you do it?


This framework shows that leaders can easily get out of the Drama Triangle by shifting their mindsets. Remember, our mindset can define our character and decide how we react in various situations. As leaders, it is important to ask: What are the mindsets that we need to develop in order to embrace and implement organizational change?


How would you answer this question for your organization? To learn more, contact the Ascendis Leadership Academy to take the Organizational Leadership Skills Profile. Please contact Sue Drake at sdrake@drakerg.com for an overview of the profile and ways in which it may be used in your organization. 




Making the Cultural Shift for Virtual Team Leadership Part 2

In July, we sat down for an interview with Lee Johnsen, Principal of Partners in Development, to understand how leaders can shift their perspectives to lead virtual teams. This month, we continue the discussion and pivot to making the cultural shift for organizations to continue working virtually. 


  1. Any tips for shifting communications away from emailing the masses to some other, more personal, more effective methods of communication?


Start with your team by asking people what’s working and what’s not working about their communications. This could be a good topic to start with for your Team Operating Agreement. Decide on protocols for response times to emails, e.g. Reply vs. Reply All, and email length (shorter is better). Put in the Subject Line if you are asking people to take action, quick reply, or make a decision. Provide people simple, clear direction as to what you are asking for.


  1. How can we create a transformation model to transition the manager to leader?

Organizations need both management and leadership skills to thrive. We must honor both roles. Some jobs are structured to be more management oriented. Others are focused more on those skills of leadership. That said, people often have a preference and a mindset for one role more than the other.


  1. How would you suggest we monitor our transitional progress?

An organization’s culture highly influences the roles and skills that are valued, nurtured, and rewarded. Changing an organization’s culture starts at the top and it takes concerted effort over time. HR should lead a process to align talent development strategy with business strategy including, competency modeling, talent development, succession planning and culture development.


For more education on virtual team leadership and to understand how your team members can build their virtual leadership abilities, contact the Ascendis Leadership Academy to take the Organizational Leadership Skills Profile. Please contact Sue Drake at sdrake@drakerg.comfor an overview of the Profile and ways in which it may be used in your organization.

Making a Perspective Shift to Virtual Team Leadership

What can you do if you’re responsible for a team, organization, or company with employees who are now working virtually? Lee Johnsen, Principal of Partners in Development, sat down for an interview with Sue Drake, President of Drake Resources Group and the Ascendis Leadership Academy, to talk about how to shift your perspective and keep your high-performing team engaged during this time. 


  1. What is the difference between a remote worker and a virtual team member?


The difference is the level of collaboration and interdependence among others to complete goals/tasks. The greater the level of interdependence among individuals, the greater the need to work effectively as a cohesive virtual team. The tasks of remote workers, such as external consultants, insurance adjustors, graphics designers, etc., rely on far less collaboration from others, making the work much less interdependent.


  1. What is a Team Operating Agreement, and why is it so important?


For newly organized teams or for teams that have shifted to working remotely, it’s critical to discuss and reach a common understanding of the team’s mission, goals, and to agree on protocols for working together, s,uch as meeting participation, response times to information requests, and decision making authority. This proactive step reduces confusion, misunderstandings, and frustration, which all lead to disengagement. Conversely, it improves efficiency, clarifies procedures, and boosts performance.  A Team Operating Agreement summarizes the common understanding on how team members will work together.


  1. What is one of the best pieces of advice you’ve received about leading from a distance (remotely)?


Make the implicit explicit. In the absence of face-to-face interactions, you have to be ultra-clear in your language and make sure your tone of voice and any visible body language are aligned. We can’t assume that the other person received is the same message we (implied) sent. Verify what others heard. If there are differences, clarify so that everyone has the same understanding.


For Part 2 of this interview, please join us in September 2020!

Four Critical Needs for Effective Virtual Learning

In a time when COVID-19 has caused many of us to work remotely, virtual learning has become a necessary format to disseminate new information and/or build new skills in the workplace. Virtual learning can provide some excellent advantages, including a quick way to introduce new concepts, consistent and flexible training, an increased retention, and more. Incorporating relevant and real-life scenarios in your virtual training is the best way to ensure the trainee is retaining information taught, as well as making sure the new skills can be applied immediately in the workforce.
 
Here are some great ways to make sure employees are provided with an appropriate amount of real-life experiences in their virtual journey:

Make the experience as interactive as possible: Depending on the type of training, learners should be asked a lot of critical thinking questions which can help with decision-based situations. Be sure the “how” in a situation is accompanied with the “why.”

Introduce a timed aspect to training: This can be valuable for any industry, but it is particularly helpful for fast-paced environments. Trainees should know how a real-life situation should be handled in a timely fashion, since workplace situations deserve immediate attention. Create challenges to help them adapt in high-pressure situations, and help them learn how their successes or failures in the virtual scenario could impact a real-life situation. Reflect on what could have been done differently, and acknowledge when appropriate actions are taken to encourage thoughtful and sound decisions.

Have learners create their own scenario: Making sure employees can apply their learned knowledge by allowing them to “choose their own adventure” can be extremely telling of their understanding of concepts. Depending on the complexity of their newly created scenario, a virtual facilitator can reinforce necessary concepts which may need more attention and, at the same time, gauge the learner’s retention and how their organization’s culture may impact the way they handle certain situations.

Use cases to lead simulations: This can help a virtual facilitator provide students with a solid framework for interaction and practice newly learned skills. Case study simulations can also be used to identify and apply solutions in a real-life situation and can help to increase the learner’s fact-based, decision-making skills. Giving the learner opportunities to think strategically can be extremely valuable.
 
The last tip is to create a meaningful experience throughout the training. Finding meaning in new information helps learners not only connect more easily, but also grasp knowledge in an effortless way. To create a meaningful learning experience, build follow-up opportunities with your learners’ personal experiences, and evoke their emotions by offering thoughtful surveys and asking for feedback. Resonating with your audience’s experiences means offering them relevant content to explore real-life situations, a proven technique to help your learners see how the new learning experience is applicable to them.


How to Build a Learning Strategy for Virtual Employees

As most corporations prepare their budgets for next year, virtual tools for employee learning may be a necessary expenditure, given the changes in how we work due to COVID-19. Our new normal reminds us to invest in human capital first; however, the next step is to formalize a strategy to ensure your employees can quickly apply learnings and meet business objectives.

Regardless of the program content, the focus of this learning strategy should be to enhance critical thinking of employees. According to Inc. Magazine, a team’s ability to come up with solutions, ideas and responses will propel organizations to the top of their industries. And, in business, various obstacles may come your way at a moment’s notice – what matters is how your staff adjusts to these barriers. The most successful individuals (or teams) have developed ways to approach these potential threats and turn them into opportunities to overcome, innovate and, eventually, thrive.

How Does Critical Thinking Impact a Learning Strategy?

1) Critical thinking skills involve decision making and problem solving - The ability to make decisions is also an asset to any organization. Decision making and reasoning include gathering information and evaluating a variety of solutions before selecting the best option. Your employees can save time and money by demonstrating these skills, which makes these areas a must for any learning strategy or program.

2) Critical thinking adds tangible value to organizations: Critical thinkers come up with new ways of doing things that add value to the work environment and serve customers more efficiently. They offer new perspectives about the job and the company. Also, a lifelong learner is always a valued employee. Leaders know to stay ahead of the competition; they must employ teams that understand new and better ways of doing things. The individual who is open to learning new things is going to be more successful than the individual who is afraid of learning new things. 

3) Critical thinkers also tend to be great listeners and communicators: Finally, growing employees’ communication skills involves helping them build rapport with others, practice listening strategies, use effective verbal and non-verbal communication, give and receive feedback, orally present information to others and write clearly. Critical thinking, paired with communication, are skills that will be necessary for your workforce both now and in the future. Make sure that you continually train and develop these skills throughout your workforce to maintain your competitive advantage.


Once you consider all three of these areas, remember this corporate learning strategy is not meant to be static. Your business needs change quickly, so it will be important to reassess your learning strategy on a regular basis. And, do not forget to request input from your employees about where they would like to improve their skills. Finally, the strategy must reflect and address the company’s training needs and development goals, both in the short and long-term, and must be created with the involvement and support of all relevant stakeholders. In the end, it all comes down to taking into account all your pressing needs and constraints while still keeping an eye on the big picture – growth and profitability for years to come.  




How Leaders Can Actively Communicate a Vision for their Organization

Just because an organization has a mission and vision statement, it does not mean there is a shared understanding of what the goals of the day to day work are across the organization. A research study found that 40% of the workforce knew about their company’s goals, strategies, and tactics. This means that 60% of the workforce did not know about their company’s goals, strategies, and tactics.  


It is incredibly powerful to have a clear understanding of the company’s goals and connect the tasks in day to day work with the larger organizational vision. While most companies have a formal mission and vision, the difficult task is to make the mission and vision come alive every day.  


If your organization or team doesn’t have a vision statement you can explore what success looks like with staff.  Are you ready to generate excitement? Have your team answer the following questions:


  • What does it look like when you are at your best at work?

  • What does it look like when your team and organization are at their best? 

  • What does it look like when people feel alive, excited, and engaged at work?  


Think about what it would be like to imagine your best day ever, at the beginning of each day. 


  • Imagine that you had your best day ever today, what do you see happening? What are you doing? How are you feeling?  

  • What would success look like for your organization? 

  • What is your role in this success?  

  • What are you doing to contribute to this success?

Asking these questions on a regular basis is critical to help identify and inspire success. Often, employees at lower levels of organization did not develop the mission or vision, so it is important they can connect to their role in achieving the mission and/or vision. Finally, be sure to clear any obstacles you may have in communicating this vision. All of the enthusiasm and conviction you may have as a leader cannot overcome communication issues within the organization. 


How else can you Involve others to create and communicate a vision for your organization? To learn more, contact the Ascendis Leadership Academy to take the Organizational Leadership Skills Profile. Please contact Sue Drake at sdrake@drakerg.com for an overview of the Profile and ways in which it may be used in your organization. 




How to Implement Strategy and Lead

Often, leaders are tasked with the responsibility of building a strategy, choosing the best means to implement the strategy and assessing the outcomes of the strategy. The challenge is, how do you make this strategy real for the people who will be involved? Gaining buy-in for a strategy at the top levels of the organization can be just as difficult as gaining buy-in for those who will help you implement the strategy. 

Most leaders are accustomed to strategy being set at the executive level, then passed down through the organization to be translated and implemented. However, to help strategy stick, your frontline employees need to feel accountable for how to implement strategy and lead within their circles of influence. Harvard Business Review offers three approaches to help frontline employees take ownership and feel accountable for the company’s future:

1. Communicate and Clarify the Strategy
When employees are involved in creating the strategy, they are already bought into it, making execution both easier and smoother. When that’s not possible, however, the strategy needs to be communicated across the organization. Managers need to relay it to their employees so that it feels real to their part of the company, and valuable to the customer.

Additionally, strategy communications should always be accompanied by metrics, which help frontline employees take ownership over their roles in the execution. The message should be two-fold: this is what we are trying to achieve and this is how we will measure if we are achieving it. It’s the job of managers to explain this to employees and help them integrate it into the work they do, regardless of how direct their relationship is to the customer.

2. Don’t Dictate the Strategy

Leaders and managers can set the vision and targets, but they should not prescribe how employees achieve them. If leaders are too prescriptive about strategy, they may make frontline employees’ jobs easier, but it eliminates their need to think and diminishes their sense of ownership. Often the best strategies don’t come from the top of the organization, and the frontline managers can be a source for a wealth of ideas, as they are often closest to customers.  

3. Use Values to Guide Strategy Execution Decisions

When you don’t dictate to your frontline employees exactly what to do in your strategy, you can begin to rely on your company’s values to help drive their decisions and actions. Thousands of execution decisions are made every day in an organization: a sales rep decides whether to give a large customer a deal on their next order; your researcher decides whether to explore a new feature for your product. It’s impossible for any executive to create a strategy that dictates all of these decisions. And this is where values come in. They help guide actions but also help employees make tough choices, especially when the choice pits employee, customer and stakeholder interests against each other.

What other ways can you enable your frontline employees to take ownership in your organizational strategy? To find out, contact the Ascendis Leadership Academy to take the Organizational Leadership Skills Profile. Please contact Sue Drake at sdrake@drakerg.com for an overview of the Profile and ways in which it may be used in your organization. 




How to Seamlessly Integrate New Learning into Your Organization

Change in the workplace could be the result of quite a few factors: updated company goals & strategies, the onboarding of new colleagues/leaders, or the need for more training. Most employees understand that in the modern workplace, technological change happens continually. But implementing new learning still can cause problems for workers, who must balance emerging new technology in the workplace with still getting tasks and projects accomplished.


If you’re implementing new learning in your organization, you want the rollout to go as smoothly as possible — which means getting buy-in from all employees. 


Making an effort to ease the transitions of any kind of change is crucial to getting an organization back on track and get its team players working productively and confidently. To get your team on board, consider these tips for taking workers’ needs into account:

 

Preparation and Communication

Executives implementing any kind of divergence from a regular process (or a nonexistent process) should be able to communicate why there was a need for a change and also how it could potentially affect members of the company. Clear and honest discussions are encouraged so expectations are understood at the beginning of the process. 

 

Input and Autonomy 

A worker with autonomy during a difficult change is the most effective and open. To increase employee engagement, morale and motivation, giving your staff more discretion over how they can complete new learnings can be a useful tactic. They feel free to communicate their ideas and offer their own innovative solutions, which will benefit an organization in the long run. An employee who bears more responsibility and ownership of his or her work will work harder and smarter; investing more energy and interest in their responsibilities. This helps to solidify loyalty to an organization when the employee feels their contributions are heard, acknowledged and making a positive impact.

 

Acknowledgement of Effort

Rewards and accolades can help seal the deal! As new learnings come into effect, positive feedback and reassurance that the change is relevant and helpful can serve as a reminder the new goals are attainable and also being implemented correctly. 

 

Finally, don’t forget to check in with your employees on their development from new learnings. Providing sufficient, ongoing training is critical for keeping your employees engaged — and for getting buy-in for future rollouts. Employees want to know that their leaders are interested in their progress, so be sure to provide opportunities for them to implement new solutions into their existing workflows and responsibilities.


A thriving learning culture cannot be created overnight. It takes hard work to create a culture where employees are empowered to take time to learn skills that will help them succeed in the roles of today and tomorrow. With steady cultivation, strategic learner engagement initiatives, and a learning platform that is available when employees need it, every employee can be turned into a learner.




Red Brain/Green Brain: How Neuroscience Affects Decision Making for Leaders

Our brains are very complex, and we are learning more each day about them. Rick Hanson, author of Hardwiring Happiness, talks about the reactive and responsive systems in our brains. 


  • The reactive system is what he calls the red brain. When we are in this state, we feel anxious, and we react to things as potential threats.

  • The responsive system is what he calls the green brain. When we are in this state, we feel calm.  


The great thing about knowing this is that we can become more aware of which state we are in, and we can help ourselves and others shift out of a red brain state and into a green brain state with ease.  


We all have what is called the negativity bias, which means our systems are constantly looking for potential threats. When there is a perceived threat, our red brains kick in and do the equivalent of screaming for help. Our nervous system perceives potential threats faster than positive emotions. This is something that has allowed us to survive as a species.  While we can’t change this and, in fact, don’t want to, we can override the negativity bias. Our systems can’t tell the difference between a potential threat of someone criticizing us with a potential threat that would require us to run for our lives. 

The good news is, we can become aware of when this is happening, and then focus our attention on switching to our responsive system, our green brain. Our green brain state gives us access to our full brain including the prefrontal cortex.  Our red brain state gives us access to only part of our brain, the limbic system which is what is active during the fight or flight response.  


What else can leaders do to focus on solutions contributing to positive outcomes? To find out, contact the Ascendis Leadership Academy to take the Organizational Leadership Skills Profile. Please contact Sue Drake at sdrake@drakerg.com for an overview of the Profile and ways in which it may be used in your organization. 

3 Ways to Explore Problems from Multiple Perspectives


Image by pixabay.com/ Hans Braxmeier


The best method to minimize organizational problems is to consider the perspectives of your stakeholders. Stakeholders are people and organizations that can affect or will be affected by your actions. And although most leaders are aware of who their stakeholders are, it is seldom that each of these stakeholders are permitted to offer their perspective on a given initiative. 


Take the example of a consultant who was implementing a new scheduling system in a factory. He considered the perspectives of the Head of IT and the plant manager. One morning a frontline supervisor pulled the consultant aside and angrily said,  “You’re talking about screen layouts and data. Don’t you know that you’re changing the job I’ve had for years. Talk to me about my job!” The consultant had not considered the perspectives of the individuals who would be directly impacted by the scheduling system, and as a result, the consultant had to step back and modify his approach.


Luckily, the frontline supervisor was able to stop the actions of the consultant before implementation. However, all stakeholders may not have this opportunity, let alone be privy to information about change before it happens. Here are three ways leaders can explore problems from multiple perspectives before making a decision to implement change:


  1. Ensure you have stakeholders from different “residences”

This is another way to explore differing perspectives. A stakeholder from Finance will, most likely, be concerned with money issues. A stakeholder from HR will, again, most likely, be concerned with workforce issues.

The challenge here is to find the stakeholders from all the functional areas of your company and the role they might play in the success (or failure) of the initiatives you are concerned with. 


  1. Ensure you have variation in stakeholder power

Gaining buy-in from the top is helpful to secure capital and a timeline for an initiative, however, the success of a project is ultimately determined by adoption. The levels of adoption necessary for a project will come from stakeholders at various levels of the organization (and some may come from outside of the organization).

  1. Ensure you have variation in stakeholder agreement

Some stakeholders will agree with you; others will disagree. Some stakeholders are powerful; others are (seemingly) powerless. Want a tool? Draw a two-by-two matrix. On one axis you have high agreement and low agreement. The other axis shows high power and low power. Finally, consider the actions you need to take to deal with those who are against you and how you might enlist the help of those who agree. 


What else can you do to engage each of your stakeholders while solving organizational problems? To find out, contact the Ascendis Leadership Academy to take the Organizational Leadership Skills Profile. Please contact Sue Drake at sdrake@drakerg.com for an overview of the Profile and ways in which it may be used in your organization. 

3 Steps to Involve Others in Effective Decision Making

Leaders are important to help organizations make better decisions. This requires planning and clear communication. Sometimes people in leadership positions have meetings and ask people what their opinions are about an issue because a decision is being made. Often when this happens, the people asking for the opinions do not clearly communicate what the decision is, who will be making the decision, when the decision will be made, and what will happen after the meeting. This can be frustrating for the people who are giving their input.  


How can leaders avoid this frustration in the decision making process?


First, be clear about what the decision that is being made is, who is making it, how it will be made, who will be involved, and how they will be involved. The clearer the process the better.   


Next, think about a decision that is going to be made by your team or organization in the future.  Then answer the following questions:


  • What is the decision that is being made?

  • Who is going to make the decision? When?

  • Who has important information that could assist in the decision?

  • Is there anyone who will approve or veto the decision? If so, who?

  • Who will be involved in implementing the decision?

  • What needs to be done to communicate to others when the decision is made?


Finally,  clarify the role(s) of each person (or group of people) involved in the decision making process by using the following categories: 


  • Responsible – person(s) who makes the decision

  • Approve or Veto – person(s) who has the right to approve or veto

  • Consult – Person(s) who should be consulted when gathering the information and making decision

  • Informed- person(s) who needs to know what the decision is after it has been made

  • Supports- person(s) supporting implementation


When you think about your organization, are the people in the roles above each different or the same? If these individuals are all the same, change the status quo by going out and talking to the people within all levels of your organization. By asking a few people for their thoughts on a decision you are making, they are likely to feel flattered by your consideration and they may offer an innovative solution. 


How else can you involve others in effective decision making? To learn more, contact the Ascendis Leadership Academy to take the Organizational Leadership Skills Profile. Please contact Sue Drake at sdrake@drakerg.com for an overview of the Profile and ways in which it may be used in your organization. 

Assessing Leadership Skills for Middle Managers

Managers are critical members of any organizations. Middle managers, or frontline managers, maintain the day-to-day operations of the organization. Therefore, their ability to demonstrate leadership over self, teams and the business as a whole has a direct impact on performance toward goals. Therefore, awareness of leadership capabilities and opportunities to develop these skills need to be provided in order for middle managers to be able to perform as effectively as possible.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, middle managers need to be able to deliver on the following: 

  1. ​​The ability to hire well. “If a manager is not interviewing and selecting people well, he may be stuck with employees who don’t last or aren’t a good fit,” says Russ Elliot, founder of the Conscious Culture Group.
  2. Excellent communication skills. “The best managers consistently engage every direct report in ongoing one-on-one dialogue about the work that needs to be done by that person,” says Bruce Tulgan, author of The 27 Challenges Managers Face.
  3. The ability to delegate. It is ineffective and exhausting for a manager to try to do the work of every person who reports to him. “Sometimes it is difficult for managers to relinquish control,” says Barbara Moy, SHRM-CP, manager of people and culture at CaseWare International Inc.
  4. Performance management proficiency. “Middle managers must have the ability to hold people accountable and also provide them with encouragement and incentives,” says organizational consultant Melinda Stallings, SHRM-SCP.
  5. Collaboration skills. To be seen as team players, managers must be able to both lead people and work well with them, Stallings says.
  6. Solid decision-making skills. “Teach individuals how to problem-solve and weigh the probabilities and outcomes of pursuing a decision strategy with regard to the overall organizational strategy,” Stallings says.

What’s the best way to understanding the strengths (and development needs) of your middle managers? Introducing the Ascendis Leadership Academy’s Organization Skills Profile - here's what you need to know:

  • Allows your organization to determine its current needs for leadership
  • Helps leaders build a custom learning journey for their employees
  • Gain access to self-paced, online learning modules - Leading Self, Leading Other, Leading Organizations
  • Practice leadership challenges and provide solutions that can be applied instantly

Are you ready to offer the Organizational Leadership Skills Profile for your middle managers? Start by requesting more information from our founder, Sue Drake, at sdrake@drakerg.com.


Incorporate the Organizational Leadership Skills Profile into Your Organization

Change in the workplace could be the result of quite a few factors: updated company goals & strategies, the onboarding of new colleagues/leaders, or the need for more training. Most employees understand that in the modern workplace, change happens continually. 

Our Organizational Leadership Skills Profile can determine whether the right people are in the right jobs, whether further training is required, and which employees have the potential to take on leadership roles in the future.

By starting your next generation leaders with the Organizational Leadership Skills Profile, you can help them chart a career path and recognize the following benefits in your organization:

  • increased employee satisfaction, resulting in greater productivity and higher retention rates;
  • cost savings by being able to provide targeted training that aligns with company objectives, without leaving the workplace; and
  • become a valuable resource of potential candidates for dynamic succession planning.

However, It is important to ease the transition of any kind of change into an organization. To get your young professionals engaged and ready to take the Organizational Leadership Skills Profile, consider these tips:

Preparation and Communication

Executives implementing any kind of divergence from a regular process (or a nonexistent process) should be able to communicate why there was a need for a change and also how it could potentially affect members of the company. Clear and honest discussions are encouraged so expectations are understood at the beginning of the process.  

Input and Autonomy 

An employee with autonomy during a difficult change is the most effective and open. To increase employee engagement, morale and motivation, give your staff insight as to why you are considering the addition of this learning tool. Ask them to communicate their ideas and offer their feedback to benefit the organization in the long run. An employee who bears more responsibility and ownership of their work will work harder and smarter; investing more energy and interest in their responsibilities. This helps to solidify loyalty to an organization when the employee feels his or her contributions are heard, acknowledged and making a positive impact. 

Acknowledgement of Effort 

As the Skills Profile comes into effect, positive feedback and reassurance that the change is relevant and helpful can serve as a reminder that the new goals are attainable and are also being implemented correctly. Also, it is important for learners to know where their strengths and development areas lie. From resiliency to adaptability to recognizing biases and handling risks responsibly, this self-assessment is the first step to gain clarity and build the path to hone their leadership capabilities. 

Providing sufficient, ongoing training is critical for keeping your employees engaged — and for getting buy-in for future rollouts. Workers do not want to have to re-learn their jobs each time you introduce something new, so provide customized training which allows them to implement the new solution into existing workflow with as little inconvenience as possible.

Ready to test out the Organizational Leadership Skills Profile for your leaders? Start by registering for an account here!

Enhancing Role Clarity and Collaboration in Virtual Teams

When virtual team members are separated by time and space, the clarity of team members’ roles and expectations may decline by as much as

. Given the decrease in role clarity, it is clear why virtual team leaders must be intentional and specific when assigning roles to team members. Co-located teams that transition to virtual teams must also shift their way of communicating.


Collaboration and role clarity are particularly crucial for teams with high reliance. Reliance describes the level of interdependence among team members for completing work tasks, products or services. Teams with higher reliance require higher levels of role clarity, collaboration, trust and communication. The more that team members must rely on one another to achieve results, the greater the need for alignment behind the team’s purpose. 



Partners in Development recommends a virtual team operating agreement (TOA), which addresses critical issues concerning how virtual team members collaborate and interact to achieve optimal performance and cohesion. The TOA highlights the roles of each virtual team member, states how the team will make decisions and communicate, sets time frames for completion of activities, and strengthens trust among virtual team members.


The agreement can be formal or informal, and it should account for geographical, cultural, and time zone differences between team members. These protocols lay the foundation for the development of trust among members of the virtual team.

Here's a Tip

The TOA serves as a means to discuss and agree on how team members define and demonstrate the Four Cs— Credibility, Consistency, Communication, and Consideration. TOAs typically contain team member agreements such as the following examples.


  • Team members will keep each other informed through progress updates, sharing relevant information, and genuine concern for other team members.

  • We check emails at least twice a day. E-mail will be used primarily for one-on-one or small group communication. Respond to email within 24 hours.

  • Meeting schedule—we will rotate times for meetings and web conferences to accommodate time zone differences whenever possible.

  • During each meeting, a “parking lot” will be used to record topics that require discussion at a later date.

  • Respond to requests for information within 24 hours of receiving.

  • Honor each other’s backgrounds and experiences; seek to understand the other person’s perspective before offering your own. When a conflict occurs, team members will first attempt to resolve the issue directly.


When team members share their perspectives and agree on how they will work together, collaboration and trust grow, and the team prospers.

To learn more, contact the Ascendis Leadership Academy to take the Organizational Leadership Skills Profile. Please contact Sue Drake at sdrake@drakerg.com for an overview of the Profile and ways in which it may be used in your organization. 




How Leaders Build Resilience While Focusing on Results into the Unknown

It has been a challenging year for all of us, as much of what we have experienced could not have been predicted. However, it can be more effective not to expect certainty. 

As we have evolved, we have also created habits that lend to predictability in our lives. This helps reduce the number of difficult decisions we must make each day. In business, we can never really know what the future will bring. And in improbable situations like the pandemic, which has disrupted our routines and changed our plans, we now learn how to focus on resilience as we learn to live with ambiguity. 

Here are some tips to build better resilience as a leader while working toward achieving positive outcomes:

  1. Narrow Your Focus. COVID-19 has forced the world to slow down and spend more time at home, with fewer or different distractions. Now is the perfect opportunity to use some of this time to reflect on your priorities and adjust your long- and short-term goals. Also, make targeted decisions regarding what is most important to work towards, Setting and tackling smaller goals along the way will help you stay motivated to reach the bigger, long-term goals. Otherwise, lack of motivation could make your goals seem unattainable and increase the chances of veering off course.
     
  2. Take Time to Detail Your Goals. A good way to remain motivated is to write down your goals with as much detail as possible. Avoid writing general, blanket statements, which provide little direction. The more specifics you include, the more likely you are to implement and review them later. Often, writing down your thoughts will help determine whether they are practical and achievable, which is important given the drastic changes that have swept through the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.
     
  3. Stick to Specific and Attainable Tasks. Don't forget to ensure that your goals are attainable. Annual goals cannot be reached without working towards them every day, week, month, and quarter, so track your progress by identifying smaller, attainable action items that will result in reaching your overall goal. A good recommendation is to do this step with your team, so that you can assign responsibilities and align approaches at the same time. This can promote efficiency and success between a variety of individuals, which is especially important when working in a virtual environment. 
     
  4. Invest in Yourself. The best resource that you have right now for making a contribution to the world is YOU. When that resource is depleted, your most valuable asset is damaged. In other words: When we underinvest in our bodies, minds, or spirits, we destroy our most essential tools for leading our best lives.


What are other ways leaders can maintain resilience while maintaining a focus on results? To find out, contact the Ascendis Leadership Academy to take the Organizational Leadership Skills Profile. Please contact Sue Drake at sdrake@drakerg.com for an overview of the Profile and ways in which it may be used in your organization. 

How to Manage Risk



Risk is a necessary element of managing an organization. From hiring new employees to deciding on which ventures to pursue, each leader faces varying levels of risk each day. The question is, how can you determine how well you manage this risk? Here are a few ways to assess your understanding of and you tolerance of risk:

  1. Start by understanding the four components of risk

Here’s a working definition of risk:

Risk is the probability that exposure to a hazard will lead to a negative consequence.

Note the four components in a non-technical explanation: 

  • Hazard – something bad that might happen

  • Exposure – you or someone made a decision that makes the hazard a possibility

  • Probability – you can calculate the chance of the bad thing happening

  • Consequence – the severity of the bad thing

Imagine it is cloudy outside and the weather forecast shows a 30% probability for rain today. You have to leave for work soon, so you want to consider the risk of getting wet if you go without an umbrella or rain jacket. 

  • Hazard – there is a chance you may get rained on if you go outside

  • Exposure – you do not have an umbrella or a rain jacket

  • Probability – you are not likely to stay indoors due to a 30% chance for rain showers 

  • Consequence – if it rains on you, you will not look presentable for your meeting

  1. Next, understand the difference between risk and uncertainty 

These two terms have been used interchangeably, however, they are not the same:

Risk deals with probabilities that are known, either precisely or to some degree. 

With uncertainty, there are either no good probabilities or they are too hard to calculate. 

Here are a few examples to make the difference clearer. 

  • Risk is seen in casinos, slot machines and the lottery all have calculable probabilities. Should you expose your life savings to the lottery? You can calculate the probable outcome before you lose all of your money. 

  • Uncertainty is seen in romance and earthquakes. You can make an educated guess as to whether you should get married or move to California, but you can’t calculate the probability of a long marriage or falling into a crevasse.  

  1. Numbers count! 

The numbers involved in assessing risk matter when making a decision. Imagine you are seeking a new talent acquisition vendor to hire for a specialized role in your organization. As you are doing research, one of the vendors you considered received 2 out of 5 stars for customer satisfaction. Do you decide to avoid this vendor? 

Don’t forget to look at the numbers! What if this vendor has only received one review, and there are no details or notes as to why the review was given? In this case, it is better to look for absolute risks instead of relative risks. 

As a leader, how well do you manage risk? What about your employees? To find out, contact the Ascendis Leadership Academy to take the Organizational Leadership Skills Profile. Please contact Sue Drake at sdrake@drakerg.com for an overview of the Profile and ways in which it may be used in your organization. 




The Impact of Organizational Skills on Leadership Development

According to a recent Society of Human Resources Management human resources leadership survey, as Baby Boomers retire from the workforce, many organizations are poised to lose 30 to 50 percent of their key leaders over the next five years. In addition, organizations that have not been actively working to develop new leaders to replace retirees will suffer as hundreds of years of experience walk out of the door. Finally, the expectations of leaders and their expertise continues to increase as technology evolves, and the pace of business becomes faster.

Senior leadership positions have become more challenging, requiring a broader range of job experience and a surprisingly long list of competencies. In fact, fewer than half of 1,000 C-suite executives recently surveyed ranked their organization’s overall leadership quality as “excellent” or “very good,” according to the 2018 DDI Global Leadership Forecast. Asked to name their biggest challenges, the executives’ top choice was “developing next-gen leaders.” 

Learning and development teams understand that traditional classroom-based lectures, long the foundation of many development programs, is not conducive to today’s adult learner, as most information is forgotten soon after participants return to their jobs.  

The Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) states effective leadership development programs should:

  • Offer personalized learning. Tailor development opportunities to a leader’s needs.
  • Focus on the business context. Identify the strategic and cultural priorities of the organization. What global and economic market challenges will the company and the industry face in the future? Ensure that development opportunities are tied to those.
  • Provide relevant learning. Ensure that what participants are learning can be used immediately to address the situations and challenges that they’re facing. One way to add relevance is to spend less time telling potential leaders what to do and more time immersing them in situations where they can get needed experience.

An effective leadership development program can help an organization achieve its business goals and financial success. Companies in the top third in terms of financial performance are twice as likely to have high-quality leaders as those in the bottom third, according to recent DDI research. Therefore, the goals for the leadership development efforts should support the organization's strategy and produce results. An organization's leadership must establish, track, measure, and evaluate clear goals for their organization's leadership development efforts.  

We recommend that leaders:

  • Determine how they will measure and evaluate their leadership development efforts
  • Design a measurement process that ties leadership development efforts to the bottom line
  • Hold each other accountable for developmental results

Start with our Organizational Skills Profile! Although organizational skills are closely associated with senior leaders, individuals at all levels of an organization must demonstrate competency within their respective departments while navigating the organization. Maintaining strong organizational skills can reduce the likelihood of miscommunication, inefficiency and slow decision-making.

Prepare your team to leverage their capabilities and achieve their professional goals with the Organizational Skills Profile today by contacting Sue Drake at sdrake@drakerg.com. Go to the Ascendis Leadership Academy and create your account today to get started on your path to define a successful future of leadership.

Communicating Your EVP with an LMS

Most leaders understand the definition of a customer value proposition. It is a distinct and compelling reason why customers should do business with a given organization. However, most leaders are not able to articulate why talented employees should join and stay with them. In the current competitive landscape, companies need to offer the same level of consideration to recruiting and retention as they do to customer management.


According to Gartner, one of the best ways to facilitate recruiting and increase employee retention is with a strong employee value proposition (EVP). 


The EVP portrays how the labor market and employees perceive the value employees gain by working in an organization across five attributes: 

  • Opportunity includes career and development opportunities and organization growth rate
  • People includes manager quality, coworker quality, senior leadership reputation and camaraderie
  • Organization includes market position, product/service quality and social responsibility
  • Work includes job-interest alignment and work-life balance
  • Rewards include compensation, health and retirement benefits and vacation time


Additionally, there are two elements each EVP should include:

  • Values/skills/experience an employee can offer an employer
  • Benefits/culture/opportunities an employer can offer employees


The ROI many companies will gain by creating an EVP is longer-tenured employees and less turnover with employees that care and want to be there. By reducing the cost of hiring new talent and onboarding them to the organization, employers can also reduce major shocks to their bottom line.  


Incorporating an LMS into an organization is a great way to activate your EVP and provide employees the opportunity to master various skills in their roles. By investing the appropriate training in an employee, they will develop a greater sense of self-worth as they become more valuable to the company. The company, too, will gain specific benefits from training and developing its workers, including increased productivity, reduced employee turnover and a decreased need for constant supervision.


How do you get started? Register for a subscription with the Ascendis Leadership Academy, your source for eLearning and self-paced online leadership courses for all levels of your organization. If you’re ready to inspire a culture of learning in your organization, look no further than the Ascendis Leadership Academy for multimedia online training content. You and your team can enhance your skills in more than nine competencies under the categories of Leading Self, Leading Others and Leading Organizations. 


Go to the Ascendis Leadership Academy and create your account today to get started on your path to define a successful future of leadership.


Closing the Skills Gap with an LMS

The skills needed for leadership change at a rapid pace, and leaders have to be more agile now than ever before. However, many of the methods devoted to developing leaders remain static. While the majority of managers ‘learn on the fly’ in their roles, the new business landscape does not permit this format to be effective any longer. 


According to Brent Gleeson, author of TakingPoint, many managers have become experts on the "what" of leadership, but they remain novices in the "how" of their own development and the development of their teams. As a result, traditional leadership programs and general leadership books fall short. 


What is lacking in leadership training? The new era of leadership training needs to evolve the way a leader thinks and views the environment around them. Glesson believes, in combat or in business, leaders with a higher level of cognitive development perform better in complex situations. They become adaptive and analyze data in a more sophisticated manner and, therefore, have the ability to make better decisions faster. 


How does one develop the adaptive leader's mindset? Try this three-step process: 


1. Awaken: The leader becomes aware there is a different way of making sense of the world around them, and that approaching challenges in new ways is possible. 


2. Unlearn: Old assumptions are analyzed and challenged. New assumptions are tested and experimented with as new possibilities for one's day-to-day work and life. 


3. Advance: After practice and effort, previous habits and ways of thinking diminish while new leadership logic starts to take hold. 


Cognitive development can be measured and elevated not only at the individual level, but also across teams. Organizations seeking to create lasting change must create a leadership culture while also developing their individual leaders. This requires several phases starting with elevating the senior leadership culture before targeting middle management. Personal vertical development impacts individuals, while vertical culture development impacts entire organizations. 


How do you get started? Register for a subscription with the Ascendis Leadership Academy, your source for eLearning and self-paced online leadership courses for all levels of your organization. If you’re ready to inspire a culture of learning in your organization, look no further than the Ascendis Leadership Academy for multimedia online training content. You and your team can enhance your skills in more than nine competencies under the categories of Leading Self, Leading Others and Leading Organizations. 


Go to the Ascendis Leadership Academy and create your account today to get started on your path to define a successful future of leadership.

Stay Ahead of the Automation Curve with an LMS

Change in the workplace could be the result of quite a few factors: updated company goals & strategies, the onboarding of new colleagues/leaders, or the need for more training. Most employees understand that in the modern workplace, technological change happens continually. But the rise of automation is a phenomenon that we should be paying attention to today.

Here are some recent stats about automation, courtesy of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM): 

  • Business leaders expect that 17 percent of work will be automated by 2020, according to the 2017 Global Future of Work Survey report from Willis Towers Watson. That’s up from about 9 percent of work that was being done using robotic and artificial intelligence last year and 5 percent three years ago.
  • About half the company leaders surveyed said they will require fewer employees by 2020 because of automation, compared with just over a quarter who said that was the case in 2017.
  • One of the more dire long-term forecasts says that over the next two decades, 47 percent of U.S. jobs could be lost to automation. The 2013 study by Oxford University researchers Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne concluded that China and India are expected to lose 77 percent and 69 percent of their jobs, respectively.

Making an effort to ease the transitions employees are likely to witness due to automation is crucial to getting an organization back on track and get its team players working productively and confidently. If you are considering an LMS to get your team on board, consider these tips for taking workers’ needs into account:

Preparation and Communication

Executives implementing any kind of divergence from a regular process (or a nonexistent process) should be able to communicate why there was a need for a change and also how it could potentially affect members of the company. Clear and honest discussions are encouraged so expectations are understood at the beginning of the process. 

Input and Autonomy 

A worker with autonomy during a difficult change is the most effective and open. To increase employee engagement, morale and motivation, giving your staff more discretion over how they can complete learnings within the LMS can be a useful tactic. They feel free to communicate their ideas and offer their own innovative solutions, which will benefit an organization in the long run. An employee who bears more responsibility and ownership of his or her work will work harder and smarter, investing more energy and interest in the responsibilities. This helps to solidify loyalty to an organization when the employee feels his or her contributions are heard, acknowledged and making a positive impact.

Acknowledgement of Effort

Rewards and accolades can help seal the deal! LMS usage, paired with positive feedback and reassurance that the change is relevant and helpful, can make new goals attainable for learners. 

Finally, don’t forget to train your employees on the use of the LMS. Providing sufficient, ongoing training is critical for keeping your employees engaged — and for getting buy-in for future rollouts. Workers do not want to have to relearn their jobs each time you introduce a new technology, so provide customized training which allows them to implement the new solution into existing workflow with as little inconvenience as possible.

Ready to test out the Ascendis Leadership Academy for your organization? Start by registering for an account here!


How to Revamp Your Talent Management Approach

The ability to hire, develop and retain talented employees has become a critical skill for organizations looking to grow and remain competitive in our ever-changing economy. Because talent takes time to curate, few companies have the qualified staff they require, and suffer with gaps at all levels and pressure to run organizations with a smaller staff and reduced budget. However, leaders are seeing the importance of developing strong talent in a highly competitive job economy. Effective talent management may be your strongest advantage over your competitors. 


Defining Talent Management

  • Effective talent management includes leaderships' ability to articulate:  
  • Current and future business strategies
  • Gaps between current talent and the talent needed to succeed
  • The plan in place to close talent gaps, as well as how those connect to overall business strategies
  • Hiring and promotion decisions
  • Goals for both the individual and the business
  • Ways to develop talent and enhance performance


What Drives Talent Management? 

Here are the six factors that can shift the way companies now manage employee development:

  1. Better talent equals better business performance. It was apparent before, but when CEOs are looking for return on investment now, one quick way is in talent. According to the Hackett Group, companies that excel in talent post earnings 15 percent higher than peers, which could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars for your business. 
  2. Financial value. The financial value of a company is often dependent upon the quality of talent it offers. 
  3. First-mover advantages. The speed at which business changes requires us to pay closer attention to the talent we hire and the effectiveness of their performance.
  4. Board buy-in. The quality of talent has to be exceptional to meet the standards of your organization’s board and investors, who will constantly be measuring value. 
  5. Employee values. Employee expectations of their workplace are also changing, requiring CEOs to understand and address employee engagement.
  6. Generational divides. Demographics in the workforce are shifting. As employees in top positions defer retirement, they leave Millennials and Gen Z to apply for a multitude of positions, instead of finding a perfect match for their talent. 


When we recognize the importance of talent management to an organization, it is critical for leadership to remain actively engaged in talent management opportunities. Additionally, leaders should work directly with managers to develop business plans. They should offer insight to the talent required and what needs to be achieved to meet business goals. As a trusted advisor to the business, talent managers will become leaders in the execution of business goals.

An example of this would include creating a special learning program for employees in pivotal roles, such as those managing multiple positions, or mid-level leaders with the likelihood of advancing within the business. By providing supplementary training for high potentials in the organization, companies are likely to receive the highest return on investment and growth within the organization. 

With this in mind, it is essential for leaders to keep HR informed on the business plans of the organization, as it will directly impact the selection and hiring process. It is far easier, more efficient and less expensive to place higher priority on selection over development, simply because not all skills can be developed. Judgment, learning ability and adaptability are all skills near impossible to train. Instead, hiring based on the needs of the business, with knowledge of the skills demanded by the position, is a much more suitable way to manage talents. Factors for executing a high-performance talent management approach include communication, accountability, skill, alignment and measurement. 

 


3 Steps to Improve Employee Retention with an LMS

Retaining employees and creating ideal working environments is a year-round job. Managers should constantly provide solutions to best meet the needs of their employees to maintain the integrity of the business while keeping a high level of productivity. Diagnosing problems, as well as offering opportunities for improvement, can be beneficial for the morale, engagement, retention, and satisfaction for an employee and the team in general.

There are 3 steps to improve performance and retain valuable employees:

1) Get in touch with needs of the team.

Leaders who are more in touch with the circumstances and problems of their individual employees have a better chance of providing longer lasting job satisfaction. Be open to handling real-life issues such as the need for childcare services, employee discount programs, or any other problem the employee may encounter, is helpful to create a positive solution for your employee. You want to maintain a level of appreciation and loyalty to your business by dealing with problems which make employees anything less than successful. Understanding pitfalls and getting them out of the way offers a better chance for your team to flourish.

2) Incentivize your team for a job well done.

Financial incentives are great but can also be counterproductive. Year-end bonuses are great in concept, but only drive employees to pull together at the end of the year. Instead, focus on what you can do to create lasting motivation for your team. Since employees do their best when their skills and good work are validated, opt for monthly luncheons instead. Do performance reviews frequently to help keep them passionate about the work they are doing. Keep the job interesting, encourage healthy competition within the team, and show your employees how much you really appreciate them!

3) Don't forget to challenge their minds.

Often, companies do not tap into the creative minds of their employees. They are content to give them a task, tell them when it is due, and then repeat this process. It is beneficial to the team, and the company, to start using the ideas and suggestions of employees, as they might have ideas or see something management does not. Why not tap into their personal creativity? If nothing else, you will develop some ideas you may not have had before and give your employees an opportunity to be heard outside of their regular work. Coming up with a unique idea helps solidify their sense of purpose at your company.

You should always be evaluating progress and making improvements. Just because it seems like your methods are working does not make it so. Anything that could possibly lower productivity and retention should be addressed immediately. Success is so much more than financial profit. When teams work well together, they can deliver results to help profitability in the long run. Measure employee morale and motivation, as well as financial profits. Pay attention to what works for your team and most importantly, plan to always create improvements and keep track of your successes.


Why High Reliance Teams Need Role Clarity


When virtual team members are separated by time and space, the clarity of team members’ roles and expectations may decline by as much as 62 percent. Given the decrease in role clarity, it is clear why virtual team leaders must be intentional and specific when assigning roles to team members. Co-located teams that transition to virtual teams must also shift their way of communicating.

Role clarity is particularly crucial for teams with high reliance. Reliance describes the level of interdependence among team members for completing work tasks, products or services. Teams with higher reliance require higher levels of role clarity, trust and communication. The more that team members must rely on one another to achieve results, the greater the need for alignment behind the team’s purpose.

Partners in Development recommends a virtual team operating agreement (TOA), which addresses critical issues concerning how virtual team members collaborate and interact to achieve optimal performance and cohesion. The TOA highlights the roles of each virtual team member, states how the team will make decisions and communicate, sets time frames for completion of activities, and strengthens trust among virtual team members.

The agreement can be formal or informal, and it should account for geographical, cultural, and time zone differences between team members. These protocols lay the foundation for the development of trust among members of the virtual team.

Here’s a Tip:

There are two types of trust—cognitive and emotional. Cognitive trust is based on logic. It develops from assessments we make about one another’s perceived integrity and ability. Cognitive trust is based on what we call the Four Cs—Credibility, Consistency, Communication, and Consideration. The TOA serves as a means to discuss and agree on how team members define and demonstrate the Four Cs. TOAs typically contain team member agreements such as the following examples.

  • Team members will keep each other informed through progress updates, sharing relevant information, and genuine concern for other team members.
  • We check e-mails at least twice a day. E-mail will be used primarily for one-on-one or small group communication. Respond to e-mail within 24 hours.
  • Meeting schedule—we will rotate times for meetings and webconferences to accommodate time zone differences whenever possible.
  • During each meeting, a “parking lot” will be used to record topics that require discussion at a later date.
  • Respond to requests for information within 24 hours of receiving.
  • Honor each other’s backgrounds and experiences; seek to understand the other person’s perspective before offering your own. When a conflict occurs, team members will first attempt to resolve the issue directly.

When team members share their perspectives and agree on how they will work together, cognitive trust grows and the team prospers.

In our next Tip of the Month, I’ll share ways to build emotional trust among global team members.

For more information about ways to boost the performance of your diverse teams, read, Literally Virtually: Making Virtual Teams Work.


What is Lacking in Leadership Training?

The skills needed for leadership change at a rapid pace, and leaders have to be more agile now than ever before. However, many of the methods devoted to developing leaders remain static. While the majority of managers ‘learn on the fly’ in their roles, the new business landscape does not permit this format to be effective any longer.  

According to Brent Gleeson, author of TakingPointmany managers have become experts on the "what" of leadership, but they remain novices in the "how" of their own development and the development of their teams. As a result, traditional leadership programs and general leadership books fall short. 

So, what is lacking in leadership training? The new era of leadership training needs to evolve the way a leader thinks and views the environment around them. Glesson believes, in combat or in business, leaders with a higher level of cognitive development perform better in complex situations. They become adaptive and analyze data in a more sophisticated manner and, therefore, have the ability to make better decisions faster.

So how does one develop the adaptive leader's mindset? Try Glesson’s three-step process:

1. Awaken: The leader becomes aware that there is a different way of making sense of the world around them and that approaching challenges in new ways is possible.

2. Unlearn: Old assumptions are analyzed and challenged. New assumptions are tested and experimented with as new possibilities for one's day-to-day work and life.

3. Advance: After practice and effort, previous habits and ways of thinking diminish while new leadership logic starts to take hold.

Organizations seeking to create lasting change must create a leadership culture while also developing their individual leaders. You can start by having your staff learn more about Leading Self, Leading Others and Leading Organizations via the Ascendis Leadership Academy. Start by subscribing today at ascendisacademy.com.

Source: Inc.


Three Steps to Creating an Ethical Workplace with LMS Training

Gone are the days when training and development were once considered an optional benefit or a “nice to have,” and only the most forward-looking employers provided it to the most promising employees. Over the past two decades, learning management has proved to be necessary to a company’s success. However, when company restructuring is looming, and budget cuts are necessary, employee training is often the first to go and is not viewed as an investment, but as an expense.

One category within corporate training has proved to be recession-proof: ethics and compliance training. This is because most companies would prefer to spend money proactively to avoid paying out huge sums to settle safety, harassment or discrimination cases. When it comes to compliance training, there is a direct link to an intelligent, well-trained staff and productivity.

Here are three simple ways to ensure employee compliance and boost morale:

1. Consider Your Audience
When faced with a challenge, your employees should be able to guide themselves down an established path to solve the issue. For that reason, training should be geared to the level of the employee. For example, individual contributors will not face the same responsibilities as the executive team managers.

The following elements should be included in your compliance training:

  • Information on the policies and procedures of the program
  • Documents of the organization’s code of ethics and code of conduct
  • The creation of an overall awareness and understanding of compliance in all employees
  • A review of the applicable laws related to compliance
  • A discussion of actual compliance dilemmas that employees have faced in their jobs
  • A series of hypothetical compliance dilemmas used to create an interactive training environment with a discussion of possible solutions
  • An outline and discussion of specific risk areas common in the company or industry

2. Walk Through the Process

Employees already involved in operating processes – or newly assigned processes – must be trained in the operating procedures, with emphasis on specific hazards, emergency operations (including shutdown), or safe work practices applicable to the employee’s job tasks.

Refresher training should be provided at least every three years (and more often if necessary) to each employee involved in operating a process to ensure that the employee adheres to, and understands the current operating procedures, of processes.

3. Record Keeping

It is important for employers to document all compliance training events. This record keeping can also supply an answer to one of the first questions a compliance representative will ask: “Was the employee properly trained how to do the job?” Be sure you can answer, “Yes!”

Utilize the Ascendis Leadership Academy for Ethics Training

There are many advantages when it comes to ethical training and compliance solutions, and with the help of the Ascendis Leadership Academy, not only can employees learn at their own pace, they are also able to ask questions, learn with peers, join communities, access job aids, connect with subject matter experts and create personal learning paths. Inspire a culture of learning in your organization by subscribing to the Ascendis Leadership Academy. With our multimedia online training content, you and your team members can enhance your skills in three competency groups: Leading Self, Leading Others, and Leading Organizations to define a successful future of leadership.

Why eLearning is Different from Subscription Learning

As a rising professional, increasing one’s skills and having the ability to learn new information are necessary to succeed in the world of business. Luckily, there are a number of training methods that can be beneficial to learners on every level, whether they are seasoned professionals or newbies in their field. Two methods in particular, subscription-based learning and eLearning, can be used successfully to help learners retain new information when presented the correct way for the learner’s needs.

There are a few differences between eLearning and subscription learning that should be known to ensure that the learning experience for the student is as engaging and successful as possible.

  1. The length of a session varies. eLearning programs are similar to traditional classroom courses. Because of this, a trainee who is interested in an eLearning course has to be disciplined and prepared to handle a structured learning experience that can possibly run an hour or two at a time. Subscription-based experiences are different in that they provide little educational nuggets that last only a few minutes, but make a huge impact through prompts for discussions and scenario-based information. These subscription-based nuggets are often scheduled in advance, and because they only last a few minutes, they are extremely attractive to a learner who doesn’t have time to devote to a longer course.
  2. The possibilities for retention aren’t quite the same. Subscription-based learning is presented in such a way that the small bits of information given can stay fresh in the mind of a learner. This can be especially helpful for a learner who is picking up a new skill as they are already on the job. They’ll be more equipped to apply that newfound skill immediately. Because of the length and information given in a traditional eLearning course, the level of retention is different from a subscription-based course. A lengthy session in conjunction with being overloaded with information has the ability to be counterproductive to the engagement level of a learner. This isn’t true for every eLearning experience, but these courses (and any course) have to be crafted thoughtfully to ensure that content is fresh and appealing to the learner.
  3. Training curriculum is structured differently. eLearning courses offer valuable opportunities to fit in a learning experience when possible, but the structure of the process and information remain the same. This can be helpful to learners who are furthering their training for a very specific reason, but it can also be problematic for those who need a more well-rounded experience. Subscription-based learning may be better for someone who needs an immediate and well-rounded experience since it is easier to modify content in response to organizational changes or learning dynamics. This makes it a fantastic method to meet individual learning needs and provide timely and relevant information.

It’s important to know the difference between the various training methods that are available. Picking the right method for a learner could give him or her the best chance to pick up new skills easily, effectively and relevant to his or her immediate or long-term goals. Subscription-based learning and eLearning are just two methods that can be beneficial and flexible enough for the learners in your organization. Start your subscription learning journey here in the Ascendis Leadership Academy today!


Three Steps to Build Purposeful Training Curriculum

What are your organization’s needs in terms of training? Have you ever considered preparing a training needs assessment? According to the University of Minnesota’s Department for Human Resource Management, there are three ways to conduct a training needs assessment: organizational assessment, occupational (task) assessment, and individual assessment:

Organizational assessment: In this type of assessment, we can determine the skills, knowledge, and abilities a company needs to meet its strategic objectives. This type of assessment considers things such as changing demographics and technological trends. Overall, this type of assessment looks at how the organization as a whole can handle its weaknesses while promoting strengths.

Occupational (task) assessment: This type of assessment looks at the unique tasks, skills, knowledge, and abilities required to do specific jobs within the organization.

Individual assessment: An individual assessment looks at the performance of an individual employee and determines what training should be accomplished for individuals.

Once you complete your preferred style of training needs assessment, you are ready to take the three steps to build a purposeful training curriculum:

1.    Review Your Existing Training Plan: If you already have an existing corporate online training program, you should investigate how your training strategy plan was designed, implemented and run, and whether its goals were met.

Ask your instructors and your learners to evaluate its success (or lack thereof) from any aspect to help you improve upon it for your new online training strategy (e.g. course quality, user engagement, instructor performance, LMS suitability, skills enhancement, etc.).

2.    Implement New Training Initiatives: The implementation phase is where the training program comes to life. Organizations need to decide whether training will be delivered in-house or externally coordinated. To measure whether the system is working and the firm is realizing maximum organizational results and business impact, we recommend implementing predictive evaluation (PE).

Here, training and development professionals — and the management team — predict results before training delivery. PE evaluates intention, adoption and impact against the forecast and implements corrective actions as needed when results fall below success gates. PE moves the measurement of training and development from a set of activity-based measures to value-driven continuous improvement efforts to ensure training investments create their predicted value.

3.    Create a Training Action Plan: The final step is to create a comprehensive action plan, including learning theories, instructional design, content, materials and any other training elements. Resources and training delivery methods should also be detailed. While developing the program, the level of training and participants’ learning styles need to also be considered. Many companies pilot their initiatives and gather feedback to make adjustments before launching the program company-wide.

Ready to incorporate the Ascendis Leadership Academy LMS into your training curriculum? Create your login account to begin the process!

 


Two Heads Are Better Than One: Putting Team-Based Learning to the Test

When it comes to tackling a major initiative in the workplace, most leaders assign a team to handle the project. So, why is most training done in the workplace independently? If employers want to ensure their teams are cohesive, it may be worth looking at putting a team-based learning approach to work.

What is Team-Based Learning (TBL)?

According to researchers at Brigham Young University, there are two major steps to implementing team-based learning. During TBL, employees are strategically organized into permanent groups (for the entire length of the training) and the content is organized into major units (typically an odd number, not more than seven). Before any training begins, team members must study assigned materials because each unit begins. This study period ends with a short test (over the key ideas from the readings) which employees first complete as individuals, then they take the same test again as a team, coming to a consensus on team answers. 

Next, employees receive immediate feedback on the team test, and they then have the opportunity to write evidence-based appeals if they feel they can make valid arguments for their answer to questions, which they got wrong. The final step is to allow the facilitator to clarify any misperceptions during the team test and the appeals. Once the RAP(what is this?) is completed, the remainder of the time is spent on activities and assignments requiring employees to practice using the course content. 

Benefits of TBL

  • Employees are accountable for individual and group work – TBL allows employees to feel comfortable working independently and in a group, which should make them adaptable in future projects.
  • Training tasks promote learning and team development – new teams are constantly developing in organizations, which can cause disruption. However, TBL allows employees to learn and develop together, thereby forging a level of trust between each other.

Drawbacks of TBL

  • Teams must receive frequent and immediate feedback – If there is a facilitator who is not fully committed to the training and cannot provide the feedback required, TBL can result in employee confusion or apathy. It is important during the testing phase that all questions are answered and the facilitator is available to help all parties to come to a consensus on these answers.
  • Teams need to be diverse – each group should contain a mix of employee characteristics to bring previous work and practical experience to the training, as well as demographic characteristics like gender, ethnicity, and so on. Without diversity, groups may not be fully equipped to succeed without members who will bring different perspectives to the training.

What will your first step be to evaluate team-based learning for your organization? Learn more about how team-based learning can be achieved on a virtual platform with the Ascendis LMS!