Thursday, 24 October 2013

Predictions for Learning & Development in 2014

With the recovery of the recession in full swing, training is on the rise again.  With that said, we have a prediction for Learning & Development moving into 2014 which might just surprise you.

Before we press on with today’s article, here are a few questions you may wish to consider for your business heading into next year:

“How could Learning & Development help your staff members both individually and as a team in 2014?”

“What specific skills would help your business deliver an even greater service to your customers?

“What are the 3 main areas you would like to see up skilled within your team by the end of next year?”

“Combining all of the above, how could Learning & Development help your business rise to the next level?”

Training Predictions for 2014
Training Predictions for 2014

You do not need to answer these questions in detail right now, however once you have read today’s predictions for Learning & Development you may wish to revisit these questions and see how closely they link to your business and aims for next year and beyond.

The prediction relates to an area which even just 10 years ago didn’t really exist in the Learning & Development world but in contrast, over the last 12 months has been bubbling up and by next year will be ready to explode. This area is called Intrapersonal Skills (relationship with yourself), this includes courses like Emotional Intelligence Training Course, Presenting Skills Training Course, Building Personal Resilience Training Course and Leadership Training Courses.

Presenting skills and leadership courses also relate to Interpersonal Skills (your relationship with others), which no doubt these courses are about that, yet we are realising more and more now that in order to influence others and communicate effectively, we must first own a confident and good relationship with ourselves, especially in the business world. 

Emotional Intelligence takes this one step further and delves into the depths of the subconscious mind, being present and understanding that we can control our emotions or at least manage them, something that is essential when working in a busy and high demanding office environment.

Why are these types of courses becoming so popular in the business world?
  • Intrapersonal Skills courses are no longer considered fluffy or non measurable.  This is greatly due to training companies ensuring they are delivering to a higher standard but also because of the growth of the personal development industry over the last 5 years and the direct impact it is continually having on people’s lives for the better.  How many people do you know who have read at least one personal development book at your office?  Perhaps you have read one or more yourself?
  • Stress costs the UK economy up to 12 billion per year - a recent study done by mental health charity MIND revealed that work is the most stressful factor in peoples’ lives, with one in three people (34 percent,) saying their work life was either very or quite stressful.  Therefore, companies are now being very proactive by investing in their staff members’ health and wellbeing.  Businesses are achieving this by offering staff courses such as some already mentioned in this articleAfter all  ‘Prevention is always better than cure.’
  • With technology making such dramatic advances over the last decade, the focus and emphasis has now been put back on ensuring team members are up to date on these technological advances.  This ‘change’ within a business can also come with a lot of resistance so once again this is where Intrapersonal skills play a vital role in staff members being able to be adaptable and open minded to change.
  • The above point also relates to companies being fully aware of the uncertainty felt by many working Britons about their job security so by offering staff a variety of training courses team members can feel the company is investing in them and more so than this, the staff member can keep their skills sharp and even be up for promotion internally when the opportunity arises.

Overall, Learning & Development has the ability to bring staff members together in a fun but professional environment, it allows people to speak their mind about their views and vision with their current company. It can also work as a great motivator even if each staff member takes 2 or 3 skills or tips back to the office with them after a training day and finally, the one thing that is constant is change, training will always work as a facilitator to assist with that change.

Now could be a good time to return back to the questions at the beginning of this article.  However, this time when asking each question, have a pen & note pad ready and consider how Learning & Development could impact the mindset, skills and emotions of staff members within your business and even yourself.

‘All change starts on the inside.’ 

To train your team, have a look at what courses Capita Learning & Development offers in 2014. If you need any tailored courses please call 0800 022 3410.
Written by Pete Scott, a learning consultant at Capita Learning & Development.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

How can managers step up to the challenge of managing remotely?

In days when going to work meant commuting to the office and sitting at one’s own desk, managers were encouraged to be present – to keep their eyes open and their hands off and promise the metaphorical open door.

Working from home
But what about in days when being present means occupying virtual space and the door has been replaced with a portal? How do managers maintain the correct level of contact with their teams whilst ensuring effective performance and appropriate behaviours?

To understand what to do it’s worth understanding what has created the need to manage remotely:

  • Virtual teams created by the availability of technology
  • Matrix management created by the need to be leaner, more effective and more responsive to client demands 
  • Flexible working environments (e.g. working patterns, working space configuration)  created by the reaction to customer/user demands and the social needs of workforce

The challenges presented by these newly created environments, means that the manager must be aware of, and support, the shifting needs and feelings of many:

  • Those taking the step into remote working for the first time
  • Those experienced members of the team who need to retain a sense of belonging whilst maintaining the motivation to achieve
  • Those working in virtual teams who may been spread throughout the country or the globe  
  • Those on the team who do not have the opportunity to operate remotely and often openly deride their colleagues for (cue fingers indicating inverted commas) “working at home” 
  • The manager who must tussle with the potential feeling of  loss of control

When developing his “Action Centred Leadership” model in the 1960s and 1970s, John Adair could not have anticipated the increased significance it would have taken on but never have the underpinning needs of its component elements  –  to manage and develop the individual, grow the team and achieve the task – been more relevant.

Of course in there are some very simple management actions like keeping electronic diaries free of unnecessary meetings and placeholders but it goes way beyond that. This is about setting conditions and environments for matters like communication, performance objectives and expectations from all. So what good practices can managers adopt?

Get the team emotion right

  • Consider the effect of motivation of those working at the office versus the perceived (and often real) benefit for those working at home
  • Remember that new working arrangements cause a shift in behaviour with the team (they are reverting to storming) so is it time to reconsider the ideology of the team – how do we work together, what is expected of each other, how do we communicate, what does respect look like, how do we deal with issues and problem, what does “belonging” mean and so on)
  • Consider the practical (e.g. time) and cultural elements of global virtual teams  
  • Develop the collective maturity and capability of the group so that you can progressively increase group freedom and authority 

Get the individual expectations right

  • One size does not fit all – what feels right and gets the best out of one relationship doesn’t work for another. Start with the default position of asking the individual what they need to make remote working effective and come to agreeable solutions
  • Develop individual freedom and authority - avoid overcompensating for not having sight of individuals. In remote situations “management by exception” has to be the de facto approach – agreeing standard communication up front and agreeing what constitutes exception situations when additional communication is required
  • Remember that recognition and praise is not as immediate or ad hoc so take the time to provide this – it means even more when working alone for periods of time to have effort and good work acknowledged
  • Remember that working in isolation is not necessarily always felt to be a reward (or indeed a preferred way of working) – what motivation does the individual require and how can you provide this? (NB – motivation itself is a huge topic and is covered in other blog articles)   

Get the performance management of the task right

  • Manage by outputs and outcomes not inputs or process 
  • Be accurate in your expectations surrounding deliverables (measures, timescales, strategy and tactics responsibilities), objectives (accountabilities and measures) and task (standards, quality, time and reporting parameters)
  • Consider what resources (physical and emotional) the individual requires
  • Do they have a support network provided? 

In achieving the right balance in all these, the manager has the chance of nurturing a successful remote working environment and step up to effectively perform the sole responsibility of managing remotely.

Written by David Mathieson, a learning consultant at Capita Learning & Development.