Which will most suit your organisation – Internal or External coaches?
Whichever way you look at it, we all go to work for personal reasons. Most of us have the organisations best interest at heart, but often poor interpersonal dynamics can get in the way of good performance….and this can naturally have a negative impact on the bottom line.
We all now know that coaching can make a real difference in this area, but should an organisation that is looking to create a learning culture use internal or external coaches?
There is an argument which says that external coaches have no political agenda and therefore can approach each situation objectively. Of course, the counter argument is that internal coaches know the organisation intimately and know how to reconcile its needs more effectively.
At Thinking Performers we would argue that a balance is what is needed.
If the organisation has no coaches, the benefits of bringing in experienced outside eyes are obvious. However, if you already have trained and experienced coaches inside you organisation, it is time to take advantage of this valuable resource.
Thinking Performers has the experience and the ability to coach, mentor and train. We can help your people to become better coaches, so that you achieve more consistent results.
We believe that when your coaches understand the Thinking Performers model and begin to behave like partners in the development process, then the coaching process can generate genuine bottom-line results.
To create a truly effective internal coaching team takes time and effort, of that there is no doubt. We would argue that this is time well spent. We see the role of external coaches as ‘enablers’, helping to create your coaching environment and build a self-sustaining culture.
To ensure that your coaches are successful they need to be carefully selected, trained and given on-going support. Choose people because they are right for the role, not by their position in the company. Remember a coach has different skills to a mentor. Naturally a level of seniority will be expected, but what is most important is that the coaches are respected, have credibility and are trusted.
Most people want coaches who are either in their peer group, or more senior, in which case a range of coaches should be trained an appointed. Bringing on a team of coaches who can also work to coach and support each other will bring amazing insights and drive help in creating the right culture.
Having high level executives as coaches also sends a clear message out across the organisation that you embrace the idea of coaching – this is really ‘walking the talk’! Though, of course, care needs to be taken for those coachees who might feel intimidated by being coached by someone at the top of the organisation.
Matching coaches and coachees is vitally important, and care must be taken to ensure that there is a ‘fit’. Internal communications at this time is critical; it’s all about being open and honest about the company’s plans and the role of coaching in those plans. Don’t keep the people in the dark, and remember to celebrate successes!
Some organisations put a fee against the internal coach, so that departments can see the value. They often use the cost of an external coach as a benchmark. Sometimes, it is only when an organisation can see the cost/benefit that they will they start to see the ‘value’.
Back to the internal communications and the celebration of success
Recognise and reward your coaches and coachees for their achievements.
Coaches are not consultants. We often fall into that trap of offering solutions instead of listening and asking questions. Your coaches need to be skilled in listening and questioning, such that they can help their coachees explore their own ideas and find their own answers. When appropriate, this will lead to the coachee seeking specific help from others, perhaps subject experts or experienced specialists. Sometimes the coach may need to perform this role as well – the skill is to know ‘when’ to wear the coach’s hat and ‘when’ to temporarily wear the mentors hat.
Regular monitoring of your coaching provision, coaches and processes, is vitally important. This provides the objective measurement of your coaching programmes and helps identify potential ongoing improvements. This role is sometimes performed by a trusted external partner, but this can equally be handled by an objective internal body.
When you first build your relationship with your external coaching provider you should be looking for them to migrate eventually into a supportive role – providing occasional feedback on your coaching programmes or helping you take your programmes to the next level, as it is likely that they will have experience of best practice in many different sectors and organisations.
Learning Management Systems can save organisations valuable time and money by enabling them to easily manage the training of every employee, through a web-based environment with anytime, anywhere accessibility.
Consider how you like to learn? Is it the same as your colleagues?
Chances are you all learn, think and communicate in different ways. People also engage with technology in different ways and to different degrees. Social Media, Laptops, Tablets, Phablets and Smartphones are available to us all but we all have preferences and prejudices.
It is likely that we all want to continue learning, but not necessarily in the same way. This may or may not be possible, depending upon a host of things such as:
Learning Management Systems by their very nature are enablers of blended learning – they ‘manage complexity’ and allow you to deliver learning in line with the needs.
By being able to organise content in a flexible, organic fashion, you will help employees quickly find and easily consume the information and knowledge they need. This can be done by creating interesting learning programmes that users can navigate at their own pace, in whatever order they choose and when they want it.
A Learning Management System is much more than a learning portal or even an administrative hub for training courses.
When utilised to its maximum advantage it becomes a knowledge hub, where learning is not only consumed, but experience is fed back in.
When learning becomes embedded in your culture, you could train one person in an operation, skill, technique, methodology or process and then, by packaging video of best practice coupled with procedural documents, standards, ‘how to’ presentations, etc., have their learning and experience captured and turned into new learning for others to consume – when they need it.
Add in the social aspect and employees become knowledge workers, communicating and sharing best practice and experience because it becomes easy to do so!
Learning can be easily accessible and trackable.
Of course, it would be very glib of us to suggest that you could achieve this overnight. However, with our Learning Management System and your imagination, we can help you create a powerful learning culture that will help you develop an organisation of Thinking Performers capable of delivering increased productivity and profits.
Contact us to discuss how our LMS and other services can help you develop Thinking Performers. We can arrange on-line demonstrations at times to suit you, or meet with you to discuss your needs and the options available – firstname.lastname@example.org
Often, our working environments can make learning and ongoing personal development challenging. Especially where employees, by the nature of their jobs, are unable to get away from their work to attend workshops – either on-site or off-site.
Often, in these environments, ‘hands-on/in-situ’ training is typically the best way to teach someone new tasks and skills. This is not without its challenges as the learner may need to be shown many times before the new skills and knowledge are absorbed, and there are often constraints linked to getting the work done and delivering the goods or services to your customers on time. This is a prime example of where on-line learning, combined with hands-on training, is extremely powerful.
E-learning can provide background material and foundation knowledge for trainees and learners.
Shrewd organisation can video and document their processes, thus providing the additional benefit of being able to watch and review tasks being performed many times but at a time suitable and convenient for the learner. And, of course, as processes are improved so can the learning and knowledge bank available to all employees.
In regulatory and compliance areas, content rich and colourful video can be combined with quizzes, evaluation and interaction with experts. This can bring even the dullest subject alive and make it easier for the learner to retain the knowledge. It also provides a clear and documented audit trail for the organisation.
Where time is a constraint, learning can be consumed in convenient and flexible chunks, in line with learner needs. Five minute refreshers up to one hour blocks, via PC, laptop, tablets or mobiles, enabling learning to be deployed where and when the training is needed.
New content can be created in minutes, added in to your knowledge repository and shared within hours, which means any employee who needs to access learning can do so from anywhere and at any time.
Customers and suppliers can also provide training for your staff without ever having to leave their premises, thus providing valuable insights to how the end product or service may be utilised in the field.
Modern Learning Management Systems (LMS), combined with off the shelf learning content and your own bespoke training, is a very powerful enabler.
The LMS can become your knowledge portal, storing and distributing best practice processes and methodologies as well as giving access to traditional e-learning content.
With such a comprehensive tool, your organisation can engage the whole supply chain in collaborative learning and continuous performance development at any time and from any location.
For more information or demonstration of how e-learning and Learning Management Systems can help you, please visit our website or e-mail to email@example.com
Technology and IT systems make it easy to enable information to flow, getting us to a point where we become overwhelmed by information so that finding the time to share knowledge effectively gets overlooked.
Knowledge management in organisations is usually implemented and managed by IT or project management or business services, when it should really be a collaboration of HR and IT and other relevant stakeholders. If part of HR’s role is to change the culture, they need to find people who are willing to share knowledge, keen to build on others’ knowledge and that they are engaged. Now, surely there must be more fun ways to create a learning and knowledge environment.
Here’s just a few ideas you can implement to ignite your learning and knowledge sharing.
When people feel connected to the company, knowledge and sharing will flow.
I am sure you can think of more than 8 great ways to engage your teams.
Take a look at our introduction to Knowledge Management workshop, if you are considering how to design and implement an effective Knowledge Management or Learning Management System.
We all know that blended learning typically means a bit of e-learning and a bit of face-to-face workshops, chuck them in the pot and ‘hey presto’, you’ve created a blended programme for all to enjoy.
Actually, that isn’t what we believe blended learning is. In fact, it has come to mean different things to different people and is chosen for many differing reasons. Reasons such as:-
The fact is that all of the above are examples of blends, and finding the right tools, methods and approaches to give the best learning experience for your learners is absolutely vital. This can depend upon learning style, outcomes, accessibility, role requirements, career development path, the pace at which a learner learns, the support that an individual might need, their motivation to learn, available time and, of course, budget.
When we consult with clients on defining the best overall learning experience for them, we typically include the following questions:-
Blended learning may just seem like buzz words and a recent initiative. The truth is, however, t has always been here and has always been the way that Thinking Performers have created seamless, effective learning experiences for its customers.
Think of the perfect solution, blended just for you, because there are no longer any off-the-shelf learning and development programmes, there are only those that are uniquely created for you and your organisation.
The learning journey starts with the end in mind, and considers what the traveller may need in their knapsack to keep them nourished for the times ahead. Armed with a map of the route as their foundation, each learner can follow their individual path, so that it becomes a coherent, effective journey. This also makes sound financial sense – we look to eliminate wasted effort, time and resources.
The key, as always, is to work with our clients and consider all the requirements – learner needs, organisational needs and budgetary constraints. The aim is to add value and avoid waste – this is where experts like Thinking Performers can work with you to co-create, design and help implement the best solution and experience within any given set of parameters.
We believe that if there is conscious effort to be open minded in considering and evaluating the mix of options that can go into the blend, then we can offer enough flexibility to ensure everyone will have learning pathways available to them and, hence, opportunities to grow.
In the end, we are all measured on results, and the beauty of well managed blended learning is that it can be flexible, innovative and easily modified to adapt to individual learner needs – even as a programme progresses. We can do this because we can collate feedback from the learner, the client, our facilitators and our Learning Management System, and we can build a clear picture of progress – what is and isn’t working. This critical feedback ensures that the blend can modified and flexed in line with the demands and needs of the organisation and it’s most valuable assets – its people.
How you think you are delivering a service is one thing, how customers experience it is quite another.
We know that service delivery and quality need to be of the highest standard, and that this should be a ‘given’. In fact, most providers of a service will continually remind us that they do this consistently and it is what sets them apart from the competition.
But we also hear sayings like ‘under promise and over deliver’ – perhaps what we really should say is ‘deliver on your promises as a minimum!’ Surely this is a much more positive statement and doesn’t imply that we need to spend a lot of time managing expectations, in case we are not particularly good at what we do?
What about the customer is king. Are they always right? What if they are costing you money and are not a good fit with your culture? Then surely this is a potentially flawed relationship, which will do more damage than good.
When we set out to deliver a product or service to a customer, what do we monitor? Do we think about the end to end interaction that a customer or potential customer will have with our organisation? Or do we only think about the single element that we personally provide?
Do we consider the whole customer experience and what it might be like to be the recipient of said experience? Do we step into our customers’ shoes and ask “what would I like the experience to be, if I were to buy and use this product or service?”
Chris Daffy makes reference to this whole customer experience in his great book “How to Wow Your Customers”.
Imagine that for a moment, you wanted to learn something. Your role indicates that there are some gaps in your personal development and skills map. What might you consider as the best way to close the gap and gain a valuable experience that would make you a more effective employee?
For me I like interactivity and trying things out, so I might look for a programme that offered on-the-job experience, a mentor and a workshop that was off the wall and a little different. I am also rather addicted to the digital world, where I can tune in for an interactive webinar or Google hangout and try out ideas through an online portal. But nothing comes close to talking through my issues or ideas with a fellow human and that works for me – either face to face or online.
What would spoil my experience is if my internet went down, if there were people on my workshop who clearly did not want to be there and disrupted everything, poor quality materials, if I wasn’t listened to, if there wasn’t any water, if it was too cold or too hot, if I was not sent the right information, or given clear instructions, a phone call or email to make sure everything was ok and some kind of follow up. There are other things that might frustrate me, which wouldn’t annoy you and vice versa.
Am I unusual? Not particularly. The point I am making is that unless I ask and think hard about what would give me a good experience, it is difficult to design such an experience for others – one that is equally enjoyable and memorable.
Experiences are not rational, they are subjective, they are about emotions and feelings and they vary from person to person based on their personal map of the world. Like it or not, you and me….we… are emotional beings, and at our core ‘how’ we feel is paramount to us having a great experience.
The question to ask then is how can we factor this into the learning experience? What emotions might add the most value? What emotions should we focus on? Here are some of the things that we have been discussing at Thinking Performers HQ…..
By this I mean, there will be something about the way that we are as a business, the way our team feel about us, the way that we do business and the way that our brand is perceived. When we looked around, we saw happy people with high integrity and respect for others.
Generally workshop or coaching design looks at the running order, which models to use and techniques to introduce, and that makes sense, because without a plan how can we know where the programme is going or what the learning outcomes will be?
We now need to overlay the process map with an emotional map? Just the meeting and greeting of a delegate can set the experience for the day. How we address them, how we interact with them, how we respond to them and build synergy. This can’t be faked – you need congruence between the inner and outer self
I don’t mean that we turn up to a training day dressed in our favourite fancy dress outfit, I mean those little touches like ‘let me get you a coffee’.
Instead of following protocol, we try to imagine or feel what the other person is experiencing and help them out, possibly taking the time to talk over lunch or after a session. The key thing is that it needs to be ‘valued’ by the other person – this also implies that we need to get to know them, so that we can identify ‘value’ from their perspective.
This is about allowing the team to just do whatever needs to be done in that moment. There is a fantastic story that demonstrates this.
Read all about tiger bread being renamed to giraffe bread after three year old Lily wrote to ask Sainsbury’s about it. http://j-sainsbury.co.uk/giraffebread.
There is nothing in our job descriptions that says “this is what you do and that’s all”. If one of the team at Thinking Performers needs some help, it’s all about pulling together and making sure the job gets done.
We ask our coaches, mentors and facilitators to tell us what they love to deliver, what they are passionate about and how anything we deliver could be improved. In this way our customers get to work with some great people who really want to inspire their learners.
Learning is a journey and an adventure. We see ourselves as tour guides with a difference. We will challenge you, encourage you to try things and reward your efforts and the energy you put in. We give you space to learn your way and at your pace.
The bottom line is that the perfect learning environment will differ from learner to learner and our role as skilled designers, facilitators and coaches is to ensure that we are emotionally intelligent and intuitively connected to our learners needs. The keys are to accept that each learner is unique, that everyone’s map of the world is different, to consider how we would like to be treated, how we learn as individuals and to then go one step beyond and make it an emotionally fulfilling experience.
What would make the perfect learning experience for you?
In an ever changing and uncertain economic landscape, it is now more important than ever to consider how employee engagement can be achieved, such that it leads to increased business profitability, higher customer satisfaction, improved productivity, greater creativity and innovation.
One of the challenges is how you enable and empower your teams to learn to become better managers and leaders.
By providing blended solutions which allow them to learn in the best way for them is one, another is to take away or reduce complex systems, which simply cause frustration.
I wonder how often you have stopped to consider how you actually learn? Learning is something that we all take for granted. From the moment we were conceived we have been learning. Every step we have taken in our learning journey has been recorded and is stored in our memory banks, waiting to be called upon as the need arises. Once you have learnt something, you cannot unlearn it. Sure you may temporarily forget, but it is still coded and available for use.
There are many theories about how people learn and various types of learner. I put myself into the category of an activist, that is, I like to learn by doing. I don’t mind if I learn by myself or with others, however, I really enjoy learning (and do it more effectively) by participating and discussing with other people; so workshops always get a thumbs up from me. However, e-learning has also become a favourite of mine: the beauty of being able to pick something up ‘as and when’ is helpful and empowering. I adore books and so get lots of information in that way – I have piles of books all over the house, ready to dip into as the need arises.
In each of the examples above, my learning has been chunked in such a way, that I have found it digestible and actionable. That is I do, learn, try, reflect, get feedback and ‘do’ again. It works for me.
Take a moment to consider how you like to learn, what process you might go through? Think of it like a recipe. What are the key ingredients and the steps you take to bake that perfect cake?
Now look at your partner or colleagues. How do you think they learn? The same as you or differently?
I bet we are all different, we all want to consume our learning in different ways. Occasionally we may try something that pushes us out of our comfort zone, but mostly we are creatures of habit and we know what we like.
So blended learning is a set of ingredients which you can pick from to make your perfect cake. You don’t have to select all of the component parts, just the ones that work for you.
Both different ways to skin the same cat, but each potentially achieving the required objectives.
The implications of adopting blended learning are that:-
Technology is an enabler. In the context of e-learning, you undertake learning online, this gives you flexibility.
In addition, by using a Learning Management System (LMS) you are able to manage the qualifications process along side of the learning process. Which means that your learning organisation becomes more effective and efficient, driving improvements in the way that you work and deliver learning, resulting in:-
Blended learning integrates or blends, learning programmes in different formats to achieve a common goal. More often, blended learning programmes integrate classroom and online workshops but can also integrate materials in other formats.
How can you find a blended learning solution to suit your learners which also meets your organisational objectives?
Talk to Thinking Performers. Whatever the questions you have, we will have a solution or can help you find a solution from the many approaches we have at our disposal. Results come from both the tried and tested and from innovative new approaches.
Please contact Thinking Performers on firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 0844 800 2958 to request more information.
Organisations are full of people who are only using a fraction of their capabilities. How can we release more of their potential?
If you look in the dictionary, potential means:
Wow! Capable of being, but not yet in existence; the implication being that everything we need is already inside us. This means we have boundless opportunities!
This does of course challenge all of our self-limiting beliefs, e.g.
“Helpless, lacking, unpromising, shrinking, and powerless”…….
I wonder how many people inside your organisation feel helpless, powerless and unpromising. If there is just one, it’s one too many; if its lots, you have a big problem.
To enable you to reach your organisation’s full potential; you need to release the potential in all the people that you employ. Which begs another question: how many of your people are lurking in the background, too afraid to come forward and demonstrate that they have talent, that when expressed will make a huge difference to them, their teams and to your organisation? Too often organisations create an environment of fear, where the culture is one of blame and people are afraid to put their heads above the parapet and suggest better ways of working! People just keep their heads down and do only what they are asked to do, when they are asked to do it. Ralph Stayer expressed this ‘herd’ mentality brilliantly in his book – ‘Flight of the Buffalo’.
Releasing potential is about personal growth. It is about leadership, which embraces the idea of an environment where Thinking Performers can flourish. Most vitally, it is about action. Without the match to ignite the fire, there are no flames of potential and growth to fan.
It starts with: –
Remember that potential lies dormant and needs a spark to ignite it. Leaders need to embrace the idea that they have the key to opening up a potent mix of brand ambassadors, who will create opportunities not only for themselves but for their organisation and the wider community it serves, hence creating unrivalled stakeholder value.
Please contact Thinking Performers on email@example.com or call on 0844 800 2958 to request more information.
A Learning Management System (LMS) provides the platform for an organisation’s learning environment by providing a scalable and mobile solution for the management, delivery and tracking of blended learning for employees.