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Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

Manager Misconduct

June 19th, 2014 by Abby Smith
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Last fall, Forum conducted a survey of over 1000 business professionals from around the globe to see how managers gain and lose employee trust and and how that impacts employee engagement. In an open ended question, we asked employees to tell us what mistakes managers make that erode trust in the workplace, and seven clear trends emerged. In fact, these seven types of mistakes accounted for 80% of all the responses from employees.

In this article for T+D Magazine, Forum CEO, Andrew Graham, outlines the seven mistakes managers most often make that erode trust. For more on the data from this survey, check out Driving Business Results by Leading Trust.

Do you think this lists covers the main mistakes managers make? What would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments or join the conversation in our LinkedIn group.

How Do Great Leaders Drive Employee Engagement? [Infographic]

May 20th, 2014 by Abby Smith
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The benefits of an engaged workforce go beyond just happy employees. A team that is engaged is more productive, produces higher quality work and directly impacts the bottom-line. However, globally, only about 20% of workers are highly engaged at work. What can you, as a leader, do to improve and maintain employee engagement at your office? Forum’s latest infograpic based on our recent webinars and whitepaper, outlines the steps leaders can take to make sure that they are driving engagement and impacting revenue.

Forum Infographic employee_engagement_design

7 Simple Rules for Virtual Learning Success

April 30th, 2014 by Nanette Miner, Ed.D
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As we’ve talked about many times on this blog, when done correctly, virtual learning can have a huge impact. However, to make an impact, a lot of work needs to go into making sure that the learning environment is the best it can be.

Here are my seven rules, based on years of experience designing virtual programs.


Rule Number 1: Engage people immediately and on purpose

Typically we ask people to join our virtual classes ten or fifteen minutes early to ensure that we can start on time and also to overcome any technological obstacles that might arise.  You don’t want to punish the punctual student by then having them sit around doing nothing for those few minutes before the class officially starts; so give them something purposeful to do.  For example:

  • Ask them to answer a discussion question based on their pre-work
  •  Give them a fun interaction, such as a word jumble or a video or pictorial montage and ask them to guess what the warm up has to do with today’s class.
  • Ask people to declare one surprising thing about themselves that their work colleagues would not know about them.

Rule Number 2: There is no such thing as a five minute break-out. 

Break-out rooms are fabulously well received in the online classroom; they allow individuals to get together in smaller groups and really make personal connections with one another as well as the content.  If you choose to use the break-out technology in your virtual learning platform, use it to its best advantage.  In other words, don’t have people go to a break-out room for an activity that can be done in a large group with the exact same success rate.

Rule Number 3: Have a script.

Very often a script is avoided because companies are afraid that the facilitator will then sound as though they are simply reading and if they are simply reading – why didn’t they just send the text of the class in an email so that the individual could read it themselves?  The purpose of a script is to ensure that the class is tightly timed; so that the same content is taught from delivery to delivery and so that any facilitator can teach the same quality class.  However it is imperative that the facilitator is so familiar with the script that they are not reading from it; they are instead using it as a point of reference, and are interacting more with their screen and their learners than they are with their scripted facilitator guide.

Rule Number 4: Use a producer.

A producer ensures that anything that might go wrong during the delivery of a live, online class is handled by an individual solely dedicated to trouble shooting.  Technology is not perfect.  Connections will be lost, individuals will drop off of the audio, break-out rooms may not initiate, and slides may suddenly seize up.  If a facilitator has to take their attention away from the delivery of a class and engaging participants in purposeful discussion in order to find the conference-call number and issue it again to one individual who has somehow lost their audio, it turns the entire attention of the class away from the learning.

Rule Number 5: Use a variety of tools, but use them purposefully.

Virtual classroom technologies allow for many interactive devices: polls, chat, whiteboard annotation, break-out rooms, etc.  But having a variety of tools does not mean you should use all of them.  Use only the tools that are necessary to “move the class forward.” You wouldn’t want to conduct an activity in a break-out room that could be done more simply by using the chat feature..  Ensure you understand how your tools work and how they can be used to further the progress of the class.  Don’t use a tool simply because you can.

Rule Number 6: Talk less.

Hearing the same voice, the same intonation, the same pace, contributes to auditory overload and participants eventually stop paying attention.  A better strategy is to use a variety of voices, perhaps by calling on participants to read or share their stories, or ask the producer to give the instructions for the next activity. The facilitator’s role is to ask questions that get the learners to contribute – not to lecture or provide his or her own perspectives and stories.  Rather than saying, “Let me tell you about a story I had with customer service on my recent flight,” you would want to say, “Who has a story they can share about a recent customer service disappointment they’ve experienced?”  The more the facilitator lectures, the more the learners will question why they bothered to show up to a live class.

Rule Number 7: Use less slides.

One of the ways to ensure that the facilitator speaks less and the participants contribute more is to have fewer slides in the presentation.  Typically a good online class will only include 10 to 15 slides.  This limited number of slides ensures that there is engagement and interaction at each slide rather than simply a lecture.  For instance, a slide with five bullet points means that a facilitator can spend 5 or 10 or 15 minutes lecturing and expounding on each of those bullet points; but a slide with a two column grid – pros and cons, before and after, features and benefits, ensure that the participants are contributing that content – there is no content until the learners add it to the slide.  Therefore, there is physical engagement via the learner’s using their keyboards to write on the screen, there’s verbal interaction through the facilitator summarizing the learner’s contributions or asking for further explanation of those contributions, and there is auditory engagement by hearing a variety of different voices, not just the facilitator.

By following these 7 Simple Rules for Virtual Learning Success your virtual, instructor-led training will develop a reputation as effective and engaging.  What rules would you add to this list? Share in the comments or in our LinkedIn Group.

10 Ways to Maximise your Return on Learning

April 16th, 2014 by David Robertson
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Return on learning (ROL) is a key measure for organisations and illustrates the impact and effectiveness of learning initiatives in making a real contribution to business success. A robust and proactive measurement strategy is important to capture the data you can use to calculate ROL, however up front you need to design a programme that drives value for the individual and the organisation and impacts the key business metrics. Having designed solutions for our clients for the past ten years I am often asked for tips for maximising return on learning investment (ROL) and so thought I might share my own top ten:

  1. ROL takes time. Recognise that individual learning and resultant behaviour change is often a slow process. You need to create context, ignite the learning, provide opportunities to; act, explore, reflect and then evaluate, socialise and integrate – this does not happen in a single event or session and requires an engaged learner.
  2. Clarify Business Impact: Know and understand the business issue(s) you want to impact; use it as an ‘anchor’ and create a measurement and communication strategy around it. Then actually execute that strategy!
  3. Know your Audience: Review any generational, regional and cultural differences with regard to learning; preferences, support and application and take account of these in your learning design.
  4. Align around Value: Find opportunities to build and sustain alignment with all stakeholders (Learners, Line, Sponsors, SME’s etc.) around the business and learning context and clarify the value of the learning experience for stakeholders and the business. This keeps the focus firmly on ROL for the individual and the organisation.
  5. Engage Early: Engage learners and stakeholders early through sharing stories and providing opportunities for dialogue and feedback—use this to create positive momentum for the ROL.
  6. Engage the Line: Encourage line coaching prior to any event to help focus learning on real priorities and personalise the learning experience. Engage line in the development and ownership of the measurement strategy.
  7. Blend the Journey: Build capability through creating an appropriate blend of experience over time in a way that stretches and challenges the learners – create a learning journey that engages all stakeholders and respects their needs and realities.
  8. Think outside the Event: Provide opportunities and support for learners to collaborate outside of the event to socialise, share and get feedback on their learning experience.
  9. Build a community: Encourage development of a learning community to curate and share best practice, e.g. an internal collaboration site or a regular reconnect webinars. This dynamic social database can really help to sustain the ROL
  10. Structure informal learning: Sustain the learning experience through intentionally structuring application of learning in the workplace. This is where you activate your ROL

What might you add or change in this list? Do you have your own top ten? Share with us in the comments or join the conversation in our LinkedIn Group.

Building the Business Case for Learning & Development

March 26th, 2014 by Janine Carlson
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“Prove it.” Every learning and development professional has heard this from their management team. What used to be a request has now become a mandate — and while it is not always easy, it is a shift we thoroughly embrace.

In a recent Australian Training & Development magazine article*, Forum Asia Pacific managing director, Cynthia Stuckey, discusses the ways for L&D to win over management through measurable results.

“Senior management buy-in remains one of the biggest challenges when it comes to learning and development initiatives. The tough economic climate is making it even harder to justify budgets for learning and development, as cost reduction strategies take precedence in today’s boardrooms.

To gain management’s commitment to learning and development, professionals have to strongly demonstrate the impact of learning investments on the bottom line. The problem is, while the majority of companies investing heavily in learning and development recognise the benefits of measuring results, many of them have yet to formalise their measurement process.”

The article goes on to highlight recent research findings, best practices for aligning learning to the business, and suggestions for what you measure with examples of metrics and accountabilities. You can read the full article here.

For more information on measurement best practices and building a business case for L&D, check out our Asia Pacific on-demand webinar, Using Measurement to Drive Impact & Effectiveness of Your Leadership Development Programmes. To discuss learning and development measurement strategies in Australia with Forum, email, call +61.2.9080.4160 or visit


*This article originally appeared in Training & Development magazine February 2014 Vol 41 No 1, published by the Australian Institute of Training and Development.

All Your Questions about Employee Engagement Answered – Part 1

March 11th, 2014 by Janine Carlson
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We recently hosted a series of webinars on the topic of employee engagement across the globe. You can watch a replay of the APAC webinar entitled “Keys to Employee Engagement in Asia Pacific” here. The US and EMEA versions entitled “How Great Leaders Drive Results through Employee Engagement” can be found here and here, respectively . Participants were highly active in all regions and filled the chat boxes with questions; while we answered as many as we could in the allotted time, we just could not get to all of them. In this blog post, Ellen Foley and I address many of the outstanding questions from across the globe.

1. How can you coach your managers/leaders to develop good climate and trust?

Helping leaders develop good climate and trust is a development process that takes place over time.  We recommend the following steps:

  1. Provide practical leadership development, including best practices, to help the leader understand what “good” looks like.
  2. Use an assessment instrument to focus the leader on his or her gaps.
  3. Have the leader identify the specific opportunities they have to use best practices to build good climate and trust in the day-to-day rhythm of their work.
  4. Provide coaching, positive reinforcement and recognition to the leader as they try out the best practices and have success improving on their specific gaps.

2. Employees say they want training, team building, social activities, etc. and we organise all that and then people don’t want to come. How should we deal with this? How do we make employees appreciate what we’ve done?

It is not uncommon for HR professionals to be frustrated by employees who do not seem to appreciate or participate in the organisation’s engagement efforts — particularly when activities take a lot of energy and resources to plan and execute.  This challenge highlights the difference between company-wide engagement effort and individually-focused engagement efforts.  Corporate engagement efforts, while having some impact on employees, are blunt instruments.  That is, they have to be so broad that it is nearly impossible that they will appeal to the majority of employees.  In contrast, individual efforts, managed by leaders at the work team and employee level, are much more targeted and effective instruments for driving employee engagement.  One way we have seen organisations successfully balance these two types of activities is to minimise the corporate-wide activities and share some of the budget for these types of activities out to managers to use for targeted activities with their teams.

3. In a conservative working environment where open communication is not the standard, how do you encourage employee engagement?

This can certainly be a challenge, particularly in some Asian companies, as communication is a key component in employee engagement.  How you define “open” is important to this discussion.  Open communication does not mean sharing every bit of information with employees.  In fact, in many situations it is not appropriate to do so.  However, in situations where confidential information cannot be shared with employees, managers who communicate with empathy and authenticity are still able to build trust and engagement with their employees.  In addition, we recommend managers focus on understanding the specific engagement needs of their teams by looking at the Climate Dimensions – clarity, commitment, standards, responsibility, recognition, teamwork – and also by recognising and attending to the various engagement needs of individual employees. Read the rest of this entry »

What are Your Top People Development Priorities of 2014?

February 27th, 2014 by Holly Gage
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In January we asked Learning and Development Leaders across Europe and the Middle East to tell us what their Top People Development Priorities are for 2014.  Does it surprise you to hear that:

  • 53% of respondents said that improving employee engagement is a top priority for 2014?
  • Developing mid-level and first-line leaders is being prioritised above senior leadership development?
  • Strategic speed is still an important issue with one in three respondents saying they need to accelerate strategic business initiatives?

Here are the full results.  Do these priorities match your own for 2014?  Please share your views in the comments below.

2014 Top Priorities-EMEA - cropped


Forum Named Top 20 Leadership Training Company for the Fifth Year in a Row

January 30th, 2014 by Abby Smith
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2014 leadership

We are thrilled to announce that for the fifth straight year, Forum has been named a Top 20 Leadership Training Company.  As with any award, this honor would not be possible without the continued collaboration with our clients and the hard work of all Forum employees, facilitators and partners. compiles this annual list to monitor the training marketplace for the best providers of training services and technologies. Selection of the Top 20 Leadership Training Companies was based on the following criteria:

  • Thought leadership and influence within the leadership training industry
  • Industry recognition and innovation
  • Breadth of programs and range of audiences served
  • Delivery methods offered
  • Company size and growth potential
  • Strength of clients
  • Geographic reach
  • Experience serving the market

In addition to our clients, partners and employees, we would also like to thank for this award.

Design Learning Processes Not Just Content

December 18th, 2013 by Nanette Miner, Ed.D
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It’s no secret that designing training programs can be an arduous process if you take on the responsibility for designing all the content yourself. You can lighten your load and also achieve a better learning outcome by designing learning processes rather than learning content. In my work, I’ve discovered 3 ways to design learning processes.

1. Use real work. Learners prefer to accomplish real work while they are in the learning process. So rather than create a contrived situation or a case study scenario that is “representative” of real life, instead have the learners work on real work tasks.

For instance, a financial services firm wanted to teach its sales people to read financial statements in order to find cross-selling opportunities in their current client-base. Rather than teach the sales people how to read “generic” financial statements and then leave them to transfer that knowledge and skill to their own client’s financial statements, the learning session required them to bring the annual report from two of their current clients. Thus, the learners were working and reviewing the actual financial statements of their own clients while learning to read financial . This not only resulted in a better understanding of the learning but it also resulted in the learners being able to have actionable findings by the end of the training.

2. Create the learning in real time. Rather than teach your learners a new concept or skill in a large block of time, instead break the training up into smaller, actionable learning objectives and on-the-job tasks. That will allow them to implement their new knowledge and skills in smaller chunks and result in more successful implementation on the job.

For example, a sales organization was training their sales people to listen for cues from prospects to better gauge if they could ask for an appointment or not. After a period of time in the classroom, in which the sales people/learners learned the 5 types of responses which would either open a door for them or not, they were then given an hour to return to their desks and make up to 10 phone calls from their personal prospect list; making notes about types of conversations they had and whether they were able to secure an appointment or not. This approach allowed the salespeople to accomplish some real work during the training process, and created a rich discussion upon returning to the training room.

3. Have the learners contribute the content. A third sales organization wanted to teach overcoming objections in relation to a very complex product that their sales people sold. Rather than try to anticipate all the objections and give the sales people pat answers in reply, the training was designed to first solicit the “5 toughest objection you’ve encountered when attempting to sell xyz” and then a game was created, dividing the larger group into 3 teams and giving each team the opportunity to craft an appropriate rebuttal to the objection. The learning process went like this:

  • Team A stated an objection to Team B
  • Team B had a period of time to craft an appropriate response
  • Team C had the opportunity to challenge Team B’s response
  • Team A chose what they thought to be the best response and awarded a point to either Team B or Team C accordingly.

This learning process continued in a round-robin style, , until all of the 15 toughest objections in regard to selling that product had been addressed.

This process allowed the learners to share their real world problems and to get the best and the brightest to assist them with being better prepared the next time they heard that objection.

The next time you are attempting to design learning content take a step back and see if instead you are able to design a learning process that better assists the learners in working with and assimilating that content. Learning processes can often lead to greater learning outcomes because the learners are more engaged with the content, identify with it more clearly, and have less trouble transferring what they learned in the classroom to what they do on the job. Plus, from a logistical standpoint, is that designing a learning process requires much less updating in the future should the content itself change.

Your boss did WHAT?

December 9th, 2013 by Abby Smith
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In our recent leadership pulse survey, we asked people what their bosses did that had eroded their trust in the past. Of the 200 responses we got to this question, inconsistency accounted for over 30 percent of all responses, while another 50 percent fell under these 6 mistakes:

  • Lying/lack of transparency
  • Lacking leadership skills
  • Taking undue credit/passing blame
  • Talking behind employees backs
  • Not “walking the talk”
  • Poor communication

However, some answers were unique, rather entertaining and downright shocking. Here are just a few that caught our attention as we looked over the responses.

“Paying his wife a salary and she did not work for the company”
This one was the most unique response we received. Nothing like a little payroll fraud to make you lose faith in your leader. Good rule to live by, if they don’t work for your company, don’t give them a salary.

“Spend a late night out, arrive late to a meeting as a result, and blame someone else for the delay.”
There is nothing wrong with a boss having some fun; after all they are people, too. However just like the rest of us, letting it interfere with your job is a big no-no. Blaming someone else for it is even worse.

“Delivering services that are less than promised, without acknowledging the disservice to the customer, hiding or making excuses for ineffective or poor services”
While we got many responses about dishonesty with employees, surprisingly, this is the only response we got about dishonesty towards customers.

“Became irate with us about not having any coffee, tea or food on our desks but ate in her office.”
Having different sets of rules for yourself and your employees doesn’t exactly inspire trust.

So how do these employees recommend that their boss regain their trust? Well, not surprisingly since 30 percent said their biggest problem with their boss was inconsistency, consistency came in at number one. Transparency and walk the talk were also pretty common responses. Some recommendations were short, sweet and to the point:

“a simple ‘thank you’”
“Be human”
“Keep promises. ALWAYS.”

Others had quite a few ideas:
“Be open, be authentic, speak in language everyone understands, treat all staff equally and with respect, know people’s names and a little about them, praise them, give the responsibility and new challenges, good coaching.”

“Develop a set of values (with the team) for the way that the team ( including the leader ) work together.. Consult with the team whenever possible in things that involve the team.”

“Love them really. Try to understand every thought whether it is good or bad for the company. Keep the private conversations.”

“Collaborations, less emails and more personal contact. More root cause analysis, real problem solving rather than dealing with how things appear. Ability to see through the smokescreens. Be prepared for challenge. Don’t just appoint ‘yes people’.”

However, we think this gal or guy said it best, “Take a few leadership classes.”

Sorry, couldn’t let the opportunity for a shameless plug slip by.

For a full report of the results of the leadership pulse survey, download Driving Business Results by Building Trust. What are some examples of bad boss behavior you’ve experienced? Share in the comments below.