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Time to move jobs?

February 25th, 2015 by Graham Scrivener
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The recent findings by the Institute of Leadership and Management survey revealed that over a third of workers in the UK will move jobs, which is a dramatic increase to 2014. This increase is certainly being driven by a more competitive jobs market but it’s equally being fueled by bad management, lack of training and development and poor career progression which is leaving staff de-motivated in their jobs.  As we know, people that are not engaged in their work are less productive and likely to move on. But often changing jobs is the last resort for a lot of people, forced upon them because there’s no other way to progress their career with their existing employer.
In today’s jobs market it’s ever more important for employers to spot when staff are stagnant and de-motivated. They need to know how to re-energise and retain them from the claws of the competition. It’s no good waiting for them to come to you, as by then they’re probably half way out the door. So what can you do to resolve any potential motivational issues before it becomes a problem?

1. Identification
When staff lacks enthusiasm there are certain signs to watch for – such as low levels of energy, missed deadlines, poor efficiency and feedback, and poor performance. But, by the time these signs are showing, staff may already be switching jobs.  Great managers understand what engages individual members and this knowledge allows them to spot any potential changes to climate that could affect motivation and resolve any possible issues before it threatens staff retention levels.

2. Engagementbusinessman over stretched
Being aware and responsive should also be followed up with regular engagement with members to learn about their drivers, goals and to clarify how the company will help them reach these. It goes beyond just telling people what to do or creating once-a-year performance plans. It requires ongoing communications to clarify expectations, to identify results for which the employee is responsible for, engage in joint expectation-setting discussions, and to keep the employee focused on the right outcomes. Clarify the link between the organisation’s strategy and the employee’s contribution and ensure that they know that they have the support they need to be successful. Do all this and the person will feel valued and will increase their sense of commitment and engagement in their work.

3. Action planning
There may be occasions when a manager realises that an employee is losing focus and they need to step in. On other occasions, an employee may come to them for help and clarification.  Regardless of who initiates a conversation, it’s important to identify the cause of the issue by sharing observations on what the issue could be or asking the employee to describe the specifics of what is going on. Typical examples of issues or challenges include work overload, conflicting priorities of stakeholders, and difficulty managing the requests of internal or external customers. Then work out ways to overcome the issue so enthusiasm for the job is restored. Some employees may be very clear about what needs to be done to refocus on the right outcomes; they simply need their manager`s concurrence and help. Whilst others need their manager to be fairly prescriptive about what they believe are the right outcomes and actions to focus on.

4. Sustainment
Regular performance reviews, informal conversations, coaching and mentoring are all key to sustaining a happy, motivated and productive workforce that wants to remain in the business.
It’s only natural that there will be times when staff are not as enthused about their job as normal but if you communicate and coach regularly, you will be able to rectify any underlying issue or challenge before it’s too late.

This is a summary of the Four steps to energising and retaining talent article originally published in Training Zone on 23rd February.

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Are Your Online Offerings Merely Engaging?

February 18th, 2015 by Nanette Miner, Ed.D
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In a course I teach on behalf of the Association for Talent Development (ATD) on adult learning theory, there is always a robust discussion regarding the difference between education, training, and learning – are they different? And if so – what is the difference?

Recently it occurred to me that the same type of precise definition is necessary when it comes to online learning, between the terms engagement, interaction, and collaboration.

Engagement might be considered the “level one” of online behavior.  Engagement includes things like highlighting phrases on the whiteboard, or having the bullets on your slides build one at a time.  Engagement captures people’s attention, keeps their interest, and keeps them from walking down the hall to fetch a cup of coffee. As a facilitator and it doesn’t matter if I have an audience of one or an audience of 100-my engagement techniques will probably not change.

Interaction would then be “level two” of online behavior.  Interaction requires a response of some type from the participants in the online event.  Perhaps they will raise their hand to offer a story, or give a green check to indicate that they have finished reading a case study and are ready to move on.  In the same course referenced in the introduction, there is a slide with the following statement:

7-10 days after training, we remember ______ of what was taught in a training class:

- 10 – 20%

- 20 – 30%

- 30 – 40%

Participants are asked to make a mark on the whiteboard to indicate what they believe the answer is, and then the correct answer appears via animation in the blank space of the statement.  In this case, again, the size of the audience really doesn’t matter as I’m simply asking for a response of some type.  It also doesn’t matter whether their answer is correct or not because the content is designed to “move on” regardless of how they answer, or how many people answer.

Collaboration is the pinnacle of online interaction (“level three”).  The size of the audience matters and the quality of their participation is crucial.  With collaboration you are expecting the participants to create the content in some way. For instance, you might provide five common objections that a salesperson encounters and ask the participants to work together to craft the five best responses to those objections.  Your five responses will certainly be better as a result of multiple people offering their input as opposed to asking each individual to craft their own response.  You might break your large group into smaller groups and, through the use of breakout rooms, task each group with brainstorming best practices for different aspects of the giving a presentation: opening a presentation, anticipating questions from the audience, using multimedia or technology in the presentation, and closing the presentation.

In addition to higher quality responses as a result of collaboration, the “next steps” are often dependent on the outcome of the collaborative work.  Until participants brainstorm best practices for giving a presentation they can’t go ahead and practice giving presentations.  Until the salespeople brainstorm the best responses to an objection they shouldn’t be making sales calls in which they might encounter an objection.

For online learning, it is crucial that the design and delivery of your offerings include collaboration. If a presentation is merely engaging or interactive, in all likelihood it simply could have been recorded and sent to the participants. Collaboration is the “realization” of the value of having participants come together simultaneously.

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How To Re-Energise Your Career

February 12th, 2015 by Graham Scrivener
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This article is a summary of Share Radio`s Career Clinic interview from 22nd January 2015.

Listen to the full interview here.

The beginning of the year is a time of reflection on our personal and professional life with many looking to change jobs. According to ILM research, a third of us will move on in our jobs this year mainly due to lack of development and poor management.

This is not necessarily a matter of being fundamentally unhappy with the organisation or career direction and it might simply come down to identifying what would make you more engaged and motivated to come to work. Some people will tend to look outside of  the organisation. UK government figures issued recently stated that there are 750 thousand job vacancies available – so there are opportunities. However our research tends to demonstrate that a lot of people want to stay where they are, look at developing that role and get more from it within their existing company. A lot of people are risk averse as well and not naïve to the fact that the grass isn’t always greener.

There is a number of diffGroup of Business People Working on an Office Deskerent tactics you can take. According to the context you are in and who you are as a person, the first thing is to recognise some of the signs around why are you dissatisfied about your job. There is a number of ways you can do it. The most obvious one is to go and talk to your manager and if they are a good leader, theywould be prepared to sit down and talk it through and give you feedback. Also, take time out to talk to some of your peers. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, there are also some great online self-assessment resources, such as MAPP, Mayers Briggs or Gallup where you can follow well-constructed surveys and the output of those will  show you what your real strengths are and what you really value in your work. These conversations and tools can really get you grounded and back to what it is that you really like about what you do.

Losing talented people and not being able to identify it quick enough is a key concern for organisations. Increasing pay is an easy fix; however looking at UK statistics pay isn’t the key driver why people change jobs. It’s about opportunities, development and the potential to grow. From an individual perspective, it’s all about fundamentally identifying what it is that drives and motivates you. You could be in an existing job thinking you are not getting very well paid, but research would show, and our experience at Forum would demonstrate, that if you just get a pay rise, the chances are that you will still leave in about 6 months’ time. If you are clear about what gets you out of bed in the morning, you will tend to find a career or even opportunities in your existing job that drive you.

From an organisation’s perspective, research shows that the most successful organisations are those where employees are motivated and engaged. So a lot of leading organisations are surveying their staff and talking to them to try to measure and figure out how happy their people are. This might sound soft and fluffy, but experience demonstrates that it’s a key indicator for the success of organisations. Good leaders are trying to look at their people and understand how they can get improved and developed opportunities and try to get ahead of the game.

It’s all about giving people opportunities.

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Down-under, East or West: Some Leadership Truths Transcend Culture

February 5th, 2015 by Colin Walter
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Whilst travelling in Australia a few years ago, I listened to a replay of an interview on ABC Radio with legendary and controversial ex-Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. Described as the “best Prime Minister Australia ever had” Whitlam was a remarkable character and leader who in many ways completely transformed Australia. A part of the interview which has stayed with me is where he describes some of the less popular “reform” paths he took Australia down.

Essentially Whitlam held that it was the responsibility of leaders to make tough, value-based decisions despite the opposition of their electorate, because it was the right thing to do. Further, and critically, that the understanding and support of the electorate would follow through the instructional/educational aspect of the outcomes of those decisions. Basically, training a nation through doing. Wow. Sounds a bit paternalistic depending on how you look at it, but it certainly is thought provoking.

Amongst Whitlam’s many quotable philosophies, this one really stands out for me as insightful commentary on leadership. Having worked across Asia for more than a decade now, first as a management consultant and then working with corporates from within a large NGO, the entities that I have found to be most successful, have been those with a similar approach to leadership.

What is this approach?02.04.15 - Lead By Example

  • Clear and visible commitment to values-based decision making
  • Clear and visible accountability for those decisions
  • Consistency – holding the line unwaveringly despite opposition
  • Commitment to doing the right thing over the desire to retain power

That these tenets of leadership are present across many geographies, both Asian and elsewhere, is significant. That cultures and the “way of doing business around here” varies dramatically from country to country is obvious and challenging. The significant part is that clear, visible and consistent leadership seems most often to transcend this national or local business culture.

Of the entities that I have worked with, the more successful and constructive corporate cultures, (regardless of country-specific cultural differences) have been those whose leaders create and maintain their internal corporate culture through steadfast example.

These leaders have:

  • A style of leadership  that is strong, visible and consistent
  • Systems and processes  that are unambiguous, supported by fair  performance and accountability frameworks
  • Created and maintain a culture that embodies these values through their leadership behaviour and  where the gap between actual and espoused is minimal or non-existent

All of which taps into an essential part of human nature — as a parent, I have found that my kids see beyond my careful rhetoric (the things I say) to my actual beliefs (the things I do). They download and imbed the latter. Fortunately, there are no damaging discrepancies so far, though I do have an unhealthy suspicion of rugby referees that I assiduously hide but suspect the kids are on to …

In the same, way leaders need to live their leadership or their people and cultures will download and imbed the real them. There are too many examples of purely rhetorical leadership breeding toxic corporate cultures.


For more insights into accountability in leadership, download Forum’s recent research article, “Creating a Culture of Engagement and Accountability.”

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The Future of Leadership and Learning: 2015 and beyond

January 26th, 2015 by admin
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These predictions have been collectively authored by Forum’s leadership team and subject matter experts:

Cindy Stuckey, Managing Director APAC; Graham Scrivener, Managing Director EMEA; Ellen Foley, Executive Consultant; David Robertson, Executive Consultant; Tom Rose, Executive Consultant, Viv Price, Executive Consultant; Nithya Ramaswamy, Design Consultant; Claudette Chagnon, Design Consultant; Ana Bedard, Design Consultant; Mark Edwards, ResNet  and Simon Fowler, Learning Technologist.

1. Widening of Key Skill Gaps

Based on economic growth, skill requirement gaps will create challenges for organisations globally.  Productivity pressures, higher growth and client retention/penetration, innovation of new product/services with more complexity and the expansion in new markets, as well as, increase of market share with many new competitors will be economic challenges companies will experience.  Thus, diverse sets of skills will be needed to respond to these fast changing market conditions.  Organisations and individuals will need to constantly modify and develop new skills in their leaders or the skill gap will widen.  This gap has been widening the past three years and we predict this will continue.

Effective businesses will devote time, energy and resources to develop their people and the organisations in which they perform. Optimising investments in people and organisational development means integrating the development of leadership skills along with the development of organisational practices that promote and reinforce the use of these skills in organisations.

2. Content Shifts from Classroom to Cubicle

Organisations that implement leadership development that tightly aligns with organisational development will get the greatest value for their investment—particularly as the traditional training composition of leadership development evolves. Face-to-face learning, while still vital, will be a premium and focus on delivering impactful experiences and only reference high level content or frameworks. Much content traditionally delivered in the classroom will be moved to the “Align” and ”Sustain” phases and be delivered virtually and on demand. Simulations will be integrated across the learning blend as they become more sophisticated and cost effective. Learning and development happens at work, which highlights the need to sustain and embed learning into everyday work life making learning quick bites, peer learning, online communities of practice, learning labs and other practical approaches even more important in leadership development going forward. Not only training, but ongoing coaching will be essential to maintain high engagement and intellectual stimulation of the workforce and provide leaders with the skills they need to succeed.

3. Employee Engagement Becoming a Business Imperative

Organisations have been attempting to address engagement at micro and macro level for years.  They invest in executing engagement surveys and monitor scores; however, overall little changes in engagement occurred in the past few years.   Organisations which find ways to executive strategies at a business unit level and develop their leaders to drive engagement are the ones who will experience the highest level of business performance. It will become a requirement to drive the organisation, business unit and leader level tactics to drive improved engagement.

Engagement will need to become a business imperative, driven at all levels of the organisation and integrated with all business plans.  Additionally, organisations must provide solid career paths for people, have the right rewards and recognition programs in place, solid feedback and performance systems along with measurement.

4. Shortage of Talent

The talent shortage that exists today will increase and become one of the most critical factors that will keep CEOs up at night.  To address the talent shortage, career paths that address the needs of the local market for excelled movement will need to be established, compensation will need to continue to evolve and become more complete – benefits like flexible time and working arrangements will need to be added, salaries will need to continue to rise even when productivity is not rising, development of internal talent with the required skills will need to occur and organisations will need to develop strong talent retention strategies to deal with the storage.

With new technologies, competitors, innovative products, changing customer needs/expectations, growth occurring in emerging and developing markets vs. mature markets and regulatory changes on a consistent basis having leaders at all levels will require global capabilities.  Predictive analytics will become the norm and organisations will be able reduce to turnover, improve talent forecasting needs, help inform competency requirements for the future, highlight who can be a high performer, reward ideas etc. This predictive data will inform talent strategies and help reduce the risk of talent shortages.

5. The Impact of Technologies

Leaders will access content and coaching through apps which will be regularly updated. Content will be multi-level and can be searched so the leader can work with frameworks, activities, videos, coaching guides and choose their level of detail etc. VILT and e-learning programmes will be the norm as platform bandwidth, capability and flexibility increases, costs reduce and more effective collaboration tools come on line. Every leadership toolkit will include the ability to capture videos of the learners experience and feedback and short ‘how to’ videos to demonstrate the right behaviours in action. Push and pull sustainment tools and virtual coaching will support individual practice and workplace application.

Organisations that develop creative ways to develop people in today’s time-compressed and global business environment will make big contributions to organisational success. While eLearning technology is a low cost way of deploying information, the challenge of translating knowledge into performance lies beyond the scope of current eLearning capabilities. Technology solutions that help people enhance their ability to apply new ideas to work will transform industry.

6. The Performance Management Revolution

Performance planning systems will evolve and the potential of no longer having employee’s evaluate themselves, eliminating the year-end review as we know it today and replacing it with quarterly assessments, and/or feedback submitted by peers at the conclusion of many projects or working assignments, along new rating systems using top box or other rating systems will be introduced and finally forced rankings will be replaced with a more strategic long and short term talent planning system.

The system will also change how development planning for individuals will occur and be managed.   In fact the revolution will take performance management and integrate it into the overall system that will include coaching, career development, feedback on regular basis that is focused on the development of individual, recognition and capability development.  While organisations have been attempting to integrate these various elements into a system, the next step is to optimise these management components into a system to get the most from your talent and to prepare your talent pro-actively.

7. The Rise of Self-Leadership

In the not so distant future everyone will be a specialist – guided by their own experience, preferences, expertise and passions. Self-leadership will be more important; leaders will create their own journey and be more self-directed and intentional in work choices.  Individuals will actively contract across different groups, teams and even organisations as required, finding meaningful work rather than waiting for work to come to them.  Leaders will need a strong virtual presence / profile and use it to promote themselves across their networks around what they are doing / have done and what they are looking for next. Individuals will own and manage their own ‘leadership profiles’ that showcase their experience, interests, availability and peer feedback. Leaders will use their profiles as a passport to attract and gain access to relevant project work. Then update their profiles to capture their experience.

8. Change of the Hierarchy

Project based organisational structures will start to replace hierarchies and project teams will select individual resources to join their teams as required based on their capability, availability and expertise.  Some project roles may be developmental and some may be operational or leadership focused based on the needs of the team. Organisations will need to support this fundamental change to the hierarchical structure and ensure that collaboration is supported, measured and incentivised as well as the outcomes. Everyone can be a leader depending on the needs of the project team and so everyone will need fundamental leadership skills.

Within project teams, leaders will be appointed by the team and be process focused rather than line focused.  Anyone could be a leader or a coach depending on the needs of the project team and it is expected that during the life of a project there could be a number of process leaders active at any one time. Roles will be dynamic, based on the need of the team. Individuals may work across a number of projects and in some they may have a leadership function and in others be a subject matter expert or process support, all depends on the needs for each team. Leaders will need to be agile and adaptable to allow them to flex their roles.

9. Growth through Collaboration

There will be a stronger focus on building leadership communities within organisations that are self-moderated and self-sustaining. Fundamental skill areas for all potential leaders would be collaboration, agility, adaptability, innovation, change, cross-cultural acumen and team-working. The business may also need to have a strong values system that has collaboration embedded at the core. Leaders will need to master these fundamentals and live the values, whether they are an individual contributor, a team member or a leader. More companies will use effective collaboration sites to organise their learning communities, showcase their curriculum and pathways and capture metrics and curate best practice.

Increased focus will be on organisational transformation at all levels. One of the main areas of focus will be language and credibility, empowering leaders to take the key transformational message and ‘make it their own’, adding context, meaning and ownership at their own team level. Working with middle and frontline managers to train and equip them to be the change agents of the future will see more transformation projects succeed.

Research and experience tell us that clarity and focus will accelerate strategic initiatives and promote their ultimate success.  Yet, navigating the complex inter-connectedness of today’s global business environment requires that we also live with the opposite of clarity, ambiguity.  Organisations that figure out how to balance clarity with ambiguity will have a winning formula that leaders can use to drive results.

10. The Evolution of Female Leadership

Women taking on leadership positions are becoming an emerging trend in many countries and organisations. Looking at the most extraordinary female leaders in the world, they are all authentic leaders in their own right and aren’t afraid to think innovatively or lead differently, yet female leaders continue to be pigeon-holed despite their leadership abilities and potential.  Female leaders, despite their capabilities and leadership strengths, are sometimes labelled with varying notions of polarity – weak vs. tough, emotional vs ruthless, masculine vs feminine, and the list goes on.

The future of female leadership holds the promotion of diversity and enablement in order to realise its potential by providing development scaffolds through their leadership journey, such as mentorship schemes and impactful leadership development programmes. The definition of leadership where leaders are not titles or roles waiting to be assumed but an ongoing journey of discovery where one is continuously learning by doing and reflecting, is the approach that will emerge  to increase the pipeline of female leaders in the years to come. Women in the workplace, aspiring to become leaders will need to take charge of their development, understand how to establish credibility, what the common stereotypes are and how to avoid falling into potential role traps by leading with confidence, adaptability and courage.



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The Catch-22 of Female Leadership

January 22nd, 2015 by Nithya Ramaswamy
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In the recent G20 Summit, the topic on female leadership caught my eye. Women taking on leadership positions are becoming a first or an emerging trend in many countries and organisations. Looking at the most extraordinary female leaders in the world, whether it is Angela Merkel, first female Chancellor of Germany, Dilma Vana Rousseff, first female President of Brazil, Sujan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube or Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo, they are all authentic leaders in their own right, and aren’t afraid to think innovatively or lead differently. As promising and encouraging as this sounds, the disturbing fact is that female leaders continue to be pigeon-holed despite their leadership abilities and potential.

A recent Gallup poll on leaders in the United States showed that if given a choice between a male and female leader when taking up a new role, Americans strongly lean towards male bosses. The stereotype of the female leader being the “Iron-fisted Ice Queen” who sets targets difficult for any human being to meet still persists. Such stereotype is not uncommon in Asia as well. Yet, the Catch 22 of this is that women who show concern or emotion at the workplace are seen as lacking courage and resilience to make tough decisions and lead change.

Another Catch 22 is where women are often perceived to be single and lonely, resulting in them being “married” to their jobs. Female leaders, despite their capabilities and leadership strengths are sometimes labelled with varying notions of polarity – weak vs. tough, emotional vs ruthless, masculine vs feminine, and the list goes on. When will we as female leaders be freed of these Catch 22 stereotypes and truly be perceived and enabled as leaders in action? Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s advice to women is to be resilient amidst these stereotypes, asserting, “Stop whinging, get on with it and prove them all wrong…it’s only a downward spiral once you’ve cast yourself as a victim.”

There is a long way to go for organisations world-wide in promoting diversity in leadership and enabling women to realise their leadership potential by providing development scaffolds through their leadership journey such as mentorship schemes and impactful leadership development programmes. Forum’s definition on leadership where leaders are not titles or roles waiting to be assumed but an ongoing journey of discovery where one is continuously learning by doing and reflecting, is the approach that I would recommend to increase the pipeline of female leaders in the years to come. Women in the workforce, aspiring to become leaders need to take charge of their development, understand how to establish credibility, what the common stereotypes are and how to avoid falling into potential role traps by leading with confidence, adaptability and courage.

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Why It’s Better to Hire a Trainer Who Knows NOTHING About Your Topic

January 14th, 2015 by Nanette Miner, Ed.D
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Subject matter experts are prized commodities. They are also a wealth of information and can be a wonderful resource for individuals in your company. Very often subject matter experts are turned in to trainers because they’re the ones that know the most about a topic. Contrary to what you might think: The best trainers are people who know nothing about your topic. Why? Because true learning comes from within. Asking learners what a concept means to them, how they might apply it on the job, or what difficulties they foresee in adopting a new practice are all ways that enable learners to process and internalize information; and thereby utilize it on the job. One of Malcolm Knowles basic Adult Learning tenets is that adults need time for observation and reflection. But too often a subject matter expert will simply give the answer. And why not? They ARE the smartest person on the topic.  A non-expert trainer, on the other hand, will be skilled in turning the question back to the audience. For instance, a question such as, “Why take the time to pre-qualify a sales lead?” will be answered by a subject matter expert with a number of reasons which will range from good business practice to not wasting a salesperson’s or a potential client’s time.

A non-expert facilitator will throw that question back to the questioner or the audience in general and ask: “Well why do YOU think that is the first step in our sales process?” By asking these types of questions, participants create reasoning or rationale for the topics and techniques they are being taught. When a learner fully engages him or herself in the learning process, it is more likely that the individual will not only remember, but will be able to implement that knowledge on the job. So while it is helpful to have a subject matter expert design the training – so that you know the content is correct and vetted – it is better to have a non-subject-matter-expert trainer be the one to deliver your course.

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Can a Classroom Trainer “Cut It” in the Virtual Learning Environment? 

November 18th, 2014 by Nanette Miner, Ed.D
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Lately I’ve been doing a lot of coaching of corporate classroom trainers, helping them to transition their skills to the virtual delivery environment. It’s been an “aha moment” for me to realize that some folks just aren’t “cut out” for virtual delivery. 
Purely from my experience, here are some of the techniques that work in the classroom but do not work in vILT (virtual instructor led training).

Asking Open Ended Questions
- In the classroom, open-ended questions encourage participation; online they encourage confusion. “Who has a manager who is a poor communicator?” Crickets, crickets versus “Who has a manager who is a poor communicator? Raise your hand.” Open-ended questions typically get no response in the online classroom – primarily because folks just don’t know how to respond.

An Example 
- While we often look to an expert to provide us “lessons I’ve learned, so you don’t have to,” in the online environment this leads to a lot of talking by one individual, which can become monotonous and tiresome and cause learners to tune out. Online facilitators must talk less and pull the lessons from the learners more – this not only keeps their attention because they never know when they might be asked to contribute, it also encourages them to “buy in” to the learning concepts because they think they’ve come up with them on their own.

Small Group Coaching – 
In the classroom we often send folks off to work in smaller groups and then circulate around in order to answer questions or ensure they are on track. Online we don’t always have the time to visit each small group (breakout) so it’s often wise to “do the first one as a group.”  If you want small groups to work, explain the process both technically and educationally (you’ll use your text tool, and brainstorm the answer to this question) and then do a practice round in the large group to ensure everyone “gets it” before you send them off to work on their own. You’ll find you get much better results and much faster group activities.

Ask for Volunteers 
- In the classroom we almost never directly single a person out to answer a question or contribute to a discussion – this is because we can read their body language and determine who is engaged and willing to participate. It would be just as easy for us to call on the person who does not look eager, but we rarely do. In the online environment we must “enforce” participation by randomly calling on people to contribute. This eliminates the long silences discussed earlier; keeps people engaged in the learning
and moves the class along by never pausing to wait for participation. It would be kind to allow one “pass” per person per class, however.

Don’t Follow the Leader Guide
 – (Remember, this is a list of things that work in the classroom but NOT in vILT).  A great classroom facilitator does not want to have his/her nose in the leader guide. He/She should master the course content well enough to be fully engaged with the audience. But in the online environment timing is everything. Many topics or activities are allotted 3 minutes or 5 minutes. Additionally, in the classroom it is easier to “regroup” if a discussion runs longer than planned, but it is much harder to redesign on the fly in the vILT environment when activities and discussion are much shorter and have to hit their “aha moment” much more quickly. While the facilitator most definitely should not sound like they are reading, they must carefully follow the script and timing in order to provide the best learning experience and end the class on time. Some seasoned classroom facilitators simply cannot adapt to this new way of conducting themselves and end up delivering classes that are more like webinars (one-way presentations) or leave their learners confused about the purpose of the class. If you are looking to facilitate in the “new world” of virtual learning, take these cautions to heart and practice, practice, practice.

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Women in the Workplace: Egg Freezing and Alternative Benefits

October 30th, 2014 by Janine Carlson
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Apple, Facebook and other tech companies have recently garnered headlines with their policy to offer company insurance coverage to women who wish to freeze their eggs. Apple’s spokeswoman said Apple wants to “empower women at Apple to do the best work of their lives as they care for loved ones and raise their families.” Yet many see it as going too far.

This debate is focusing on companies that already have the most comprehensive benefits packages available and misses an important point: at many companies here in Asia Pacific, the need for the “basics” for women is still not met.

Attracting and retaining female talent requires benefits that demonstrate an organisation is family friendly, shows they understand that some women don’t want to have to give up components of their personal lives to achieve or excel in leadership roles, and provides opportunities for leadership advancement. Some examples of how companies are addressing the desire for this include:

  • Work-life balance – flexible schedules (job share, telecommute, flexible work hours)
  • Family-friendly benefits – adoption assistance, health screenings, maternity leave extension, parent care leave, on-site child care
  • Talent development strategies for career advancement

Attracting and retaining women in all levels of leadership goes beyond a benefit package. Women seek organisations that provide solid talent development strategies for them. Strategies such as mentoring, providing opportunities for them to be engaged with executives, providing places for executive presence when they reach certain levels, visibility to major imperatives, skill development, etc. all make for a work environment conducive for both women and men to succeed.

Cynthia Stuckey, Forum Managing Director, Asia Pacific, was interviewed as an expert on attracting, retaining and developing women in the workplace on First Look on Channel NewsAsia. The discussion revolved around the new benefits tech companies are offering, such as covering the costs to freeze eggs, as well as starting to explore the broader perspective on women the workplace. You can view the interview here.

*This interview originally aired on Chanel NewsAsia on 20 October 2014.

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How to Make Gamification Meaningful in Learning

September 26th, 2014 by Ana Bedard
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Gamification is such a big phenomenon in today’s business world that this decade has been dubbed “The Decade of Gamification (O’Brien, 2012).”Companies use gamification to promote interaction with and ultimately loyalty to their brand.  Learning professionals are integrating game elements into learning solutions to motivate learners to engage in learning.

Sounds simple – incorporate game elements, motivate learners! What are some game elements? Think about your favorite games. They most likely have rules, challenges, and competition. They have leader boards and points. They have awards.

While it is relatively simple to identify these types of game elements, in order to use them correctly a designer must think beyond them and ask what about these elements makes them motivational, and who they are trying to motivate. A designer who does not engage in this level of inquiry risks winding up with awards that no one is vying for or challenges that no one cares about.

Gamification expert Sebastian Deterding argues that a key – and generally undistinguished – element of successful gamification efforts is meaning (2011). What is meaningful depends on the audience. In order to be meaningful, the experience must connect to the goals and passions of both individuals and a meaningful community of interest.  People are motivated to seek bragging rights, but only if they care about what they are achieving, and if their peers care about it, too.

As an example, we are finalizing two digital learning solutions to accompany to our Consultative Skills course. One of the learning solutions is an eLearning course in the form of nine 10-minute learning bursts – this course can be used both to provide training to an individual who is waiting for a scheduled class, and it can also be used for sustainment purposes post learning.

CLOSERWe had a series of discussions about offering awards to participants who pass the eLearning course. A generic award did not seem motivational. “Congratulations! You receive the Gold Cup Award for passing the course!” Who cares? Unwilling to give up the idea of awards, however, we searched for something more meaningful. The question that drove us forward was, “What kind of award or achievement would be meaningful to this audience of salespeople?” This question allowed us to develop an idea for an award that we believe will be motivational to the audience. The highest level of achievement a user can obtain is “Closer,” a designation that any salesperson would love to have in real life. By providing a designation that is meaningful to salespeople as individuals and a community, we have injected the kind of fun and games into our eLearning that will motivate learners to achieve learning accomplishments.

So next time you are injecting points and awards into your learning solution, think about the community of users and ask yourself, “What kind of award or achievement would be meaningful to this audience?” It will help you to connect with your users and will bring the kind of fun and play into their experience that they will want to engage in.



Deterding, S. (2011, January 24). Meaningful Play: Getting Gamification Right (Google Tech Talk). Retrieved from

O’Brien, C. (2010, October 24). O’Brien: Get Ready for the Decade of Gamification. San Jose Mercury News. October 24, 2010. Retrieved from

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