Classroom Training for Companies is NOT Dead! And, here is the business case.

10 reasons why classrooms beat screens – An opinion piece by Matthew Hill

At the moment I am battling with a large client to “save” classroom face-to-face training against the passionate arguments from a few of their senior directors who wish to take ALL content on-line and deliver educational content via virtual E learning packages.

Their logic for this centres on time, money and travel.

Time Management Course

The way they state it, in the long run, if the company builds, say, 100 units of virtual training, the job is done – There will be relatively little further expense. In their utopian vision of the future for education, the company will not have to move people around, book flights and hotels, repeat live training or pay for group suppers and trips to the local town amusements etc. From a purely financial perspective this is both understandable and correct.

But, What is missing here, and what is going to be lost?

Save the Classroom – 10 Things to Consider…

  1. Realism

The classroom affords a much more realistic representation of a corporate meeting, a heated discussion or a simple live pair dialogue. It is this realism that will adds educational value later when the participants are locked in conflict and combat for real.

Studies in learning impact mostly conclude that the closer a learning simulation is to reality, the greater the transfer is, making the new competence ready for use in an actual live and important work scenario.

So, the 3D simulation of realistic soft skills, leadership and change exercises found in classroom encounters is going to almost always be more fresh, alive and more nuance that its virtual equivalent.

You don’t learn to ride a bicycle by reading a book.

  1. Stimulation

A half decent facilitator will bring the room to life, the group to life and the material to life. They will add energy, manage the group dynamic, warm up the participants and use humour, drama and stories to illustrate many key points and, at just the right moment. This makes a difference in driving home the learning and makes any training session, special and memorable. Let us contrast this with many conversations I have had with corporate executives bored and frustrated with long, repetitive and “averaged out” on-line training materials. Just the delivery channel alone represents an unwelcome addition time tying the stressed executive to their laptop.

We are suffering from a plague of screen fatigue.

Change management course

  1. Tailored

A live training does not have to average out the talent in the room and cater for the median delegate. There will be the strugglers, the walkers and the sprinters too. They have different needs, separate learning style preferences and each has an ideal individual tempo. In a live encounter these subtleties can be serviced in many ways to help everybody to get to progress, satisfaction and a fuller understanding of the learning on offer.

One size does not fit all.

  1. Concentration

A great trainer will sense the corporate commercial context they are walking into and feel the energy in the room. Have some awful financial figures just been released? A round of redundancies announced? Has a product or service just failed? Or, is there a tension due to an on-going external threat such as Brexit or US trade protectionism?

The trainer is there on the ground and can shape the day and absorb concerns whilst leading the group to the commercial and educational objective via adapted strategies and behaviours that respect the bigger picture and the current perceived reality.

And, they can respond to the energy levels in the room by scheduling a break or putting in an extra exercise to manage the concentration or mood of the group live, as opposed to guessing the concentration span of the average participant months in advance and having to ignore any real time distractions.

Live energy management adds to great transfer outcomes.

Diverse group of people at a community center. Meet and greet.Group exercises

  1. Exercises

Spending live time with people gives more possibilities – Role play, team building initiatives, group discussion, feedback – giving and receiving, physical breakout groups and the live reconciliation of differing opinions, learning styles and behavioural preferences as experienced when any two or more people get down to business.

Dynamic simulation exercises leads to excitement leads to retention.

  1. Questions

The effectiveness of the classroom is realised when dealing with magic learning moments that are thrown up by a group interacting around critical topics in the intimate and personal space of the classroom.

With on-line delivery, exceptional cases beyond the obvious ones cannot be catered for, as the learning piece must, by definition target a lowest common denominator of material and methods.

When an average person gets stuck, they represent more than themselves. Live, the teaching can be paused as the facilitator illuminates the troubling topic from a new perspective to ensure understanding. It can be in these simple moments that the “aha” breakthrough occurs for many. Or, when the genius delegate spots something that even the experienced facilitator has not come across before. These incidents can be special and make the live event stand out in the memory of the participants and lead to the company attaining a level of awareness or breakthrough.

More,

Those break-time chats or questions can save lives and careers, starting when a quieter member seeks out help. They can do this because the facilitator has established a safe space with sufficient levels of trust and confidentiality for the confession or enquiry to occur. Early intervention can make a significant difference to outcome.

Cater for the exceptional, the quiet and the cautious to help the whole corporation.

  1. Networking

The opportunity in the classroom to meet new people, experience the philosophy of other departments and gain knowledge of alternative points of view from a variety of counterparts can be a major contributor in gluing together a disparate multi-site organisation of virtual workers so creating an esprit de corp that will produce a lasting benefit experienced in elevated levels of cooperation and exchange during a project or around the creation of a new product in the future.

Inspiration can be all around us.

  1. Retention

When pre-reading is assigned, this can be tested for comprehension in the room. During the session, simple memory techniques can be applied to help the learning stick. When a trainer asks what have you learnt to each participant, something powerful and effective occurs. There is a richer processing of the materials, a personal commitment to owning content and a chance to challenge any part of the material just covered.

Profound and intense exercises are the way to max the stickiness of material, and, a post training conf. call can further aid retention with 3 questions; What do you remember from the day? What have you applied and it is working? And, what have you attempted to apply and it is not working?

Deeper interaction leads to greater retention and better application.

  1. Collective Mistake

The best argument for the live classroom comes in the training moment when a collective company-wide misapprehension is revealed. If everybody at Company X believes something to be true and the trainer can show that an alternative explanation or method is valid, there can be a step evolution in outcome. The magic of modern time management or leaving the comfort zone during change are two excellent examples of this, where the majority view does not always represent the “truth” of the matter.

Live training can challenge group-think in a unique and powerful way.

  1. Cost

The number one reason for the shift to on-line learning platforms is cost. But, classrooms do not have to be so expensive and a more dynamic version, blended in with any pure on-line can really make a difference.

When training days are attached to regular conferences or regional meetings, the travel costs have already been apportioned. When the benefit of constructive networking, trust building in reducing escalations or the forming of profitable collaborative partnerships is added back in, the cost per head becomes more than attractive again.

And, in the spirit of constructive compromise, when a summary film is made, pre-reading materials are edited to boost charisma and energy, and, follow up training is delivered by live webinar, the live and virtual costs can be averaged out. When we otimize the cost of classroom and virtual live exchanges and create better non-live materials, we help the finance department to approve investment in training. This then helps generate exceptional knowledge retention to please the L&D department and stimulates and helps create competent and connected workers who now enjoy training sessions put on by the company.

A networked, trusting and collaborative team will beat a siloed one, every time.

Action

Please like and share if you agree with the arguments we have put forward, if you enjoy classroom training, or if, you feel that the classroom is a relevant space for learning, development and business improvement. Thanks.

Have I missed anything?

Can you add to the business case?

Please add any constructive comments that will add value to this piece. Thanks.

About the Author – Matthew Hill is a soft skills trainer working in Europe delivering dynamic group training live in the classroom.

 

Why You Should Write a Book in 2019

Scribble yourself credible with Matthew Hill

When I look at the regular readers of the Intercultural Training Channel blog and newsletter, I recognise it least 40 authors. These heroes have made the decision to write a book and to get it published. They are people who stand out from the crowd. They tend to have a higher social media presence, are more involved with credible organisations and, probably, they charge a premium for their time and work.

Vintage red typewriter with blank paper

Making the decision to start – That is the tricky bit.

So what is stopping you?

When I speak to coaches and trainers at conferences and congresses and ask them why they aren’t more involved in writing to promote their message, I hear a narrow and repeating collection of responses.

“I am not a good writer”,” I haven’t got the time”,” I’ve got nothing original to say”, ”everything’s been said on my subject already” or, ” I lack the discipline to complete a book.”

The problem with self-limiting beliefs is they turn into self-fulfilling prophecies.

In this piece I want to give you a nudge by pointing out some of the benefits of being a published author.

The Benefits of Authorship

  1. The credibility of authorship despite social media, video cameras, and the ever-increasing number of opportunities to present in public, having your own book still carries more weight than just about anything else. When it comes to leveraging your brand, accessing opportunities and being taken seriously as an expert in your field, a book is critical. Many TV shows, and radio stations, will ONLY interview people who have published a book. When you tell people you have written a book, they hesitate and then treat you in a completely different way. It is one of the few things, that creates almost instant credibility and differentiation.
  2. Opening doors whilst you sleep a book, once released and roaming free in the world, tirelessly works for you – converting strangers into acquaintances and admirers into screaming, raving fans who are happy to advocate your genius. Think of your book as an advertising billboards or hoardings, shining out like a beacon in all parts of the world, and hailing you as a key person of influence. James Joyce describes a stranger as being a friend that you have yet to meet. This is the magic of a book. It is a stranger converter.
  3. Your calling card successful author and informational product creator, Peter Thomson, says that going into a meeting and bringing a published book out of your bag, is a reliable method for testing the temperature and anticipating the intentions of the people sitting around the meeting table. If they treat your tome with respect, deference and interests, your business relationship will be a constructive one. If they put their cup of coffee on it, you may as well pack up and leave early – They are not going to fully appreciate your value.
  4. Credo there are millions of people out there, many of whom will never work with you. Likewise there are a few hundred people who would really benefit from collaborating and accessing your expertise. A book filters out the wrong people and warms up the right ones, generating a healthy interest and qualifying them in by helping them to understand what you stand for before they become motivated to get in contact with you. Think of a book as an elaborate filtering system saving you many unsuccessful blind dates, pointless meetings and expensive journeys.
  5. Intellectual property the discipline of writing a book centres on finding a structure to hang and place all of your thoughts and feelings. One of the best ways to do this is to construct a model – the 4P’s of marketing by Philip Kotler is a great example of a structure that resonates well with a wide audience. The discipline of forming a model will play to your advantage as a communicator. It makes your message accessible to a specific target audience and becomes a vital pillar helping to establish your professional brand.
  6. Your book is management consultancy Following on from 5. A good book takes the reader on a journey. Questions are asked, thoughts are experienced and, at the end, the reader may understand their lack, gap, space and pain with a new clarity. It is the uncovering and clarifying of the reader’s need that will propel them to get in contact with you and to engage at a deeper level.
  7. Your book is a publicity generator linked to 1. A book can generate keynote speech invitations, magazine interviews and qualified warm business meetings. Here you will be provided with a platform to convert the book’s message into a critical speech, a pitch or interactive audience session that will generate income, interest and progress.

A final thought

In this post, I have attempted to briefly outline the extraordinary benefits of completing your writing and publishing process. For many people it is about making a decision to start. It is about owning your expert area and it is about putting a structure in place to shape your many thoughts. After writing your book, there follows a complex procedure of publishing and promoting that makes the writing of the book seem like one of the smaller parts of the project.

If you commit to this process, I know you will enjoy yourself, benefit from the discipline and reflection involved, and reap the rewards of being seen as an expert. The bonus comes from the instant and increased credibility of simply being an author.

Book.

Done it! – There is no better feeling in the world.

Your move – If you have enjoyed this post and find it of value, please forward it to other budding authors. Please like and, do share in on Social Media.

About the Author – Matthew Hill has written 5 books and helps independent trainers, coaches and mediators to find their voice and start scribbling. Do feel free to get in touch if this post has moved you strongly to pick up a pen – matthew.hill@hillnetworks.com

Make your Training STICK!

15 Suggestions to aid retention in the corporate classroom

I teach a number of short courses around Europe for a large organisation and like to ask my delegates which other courses they have attended and what they learnt in them. More often than not, not only do the executives not remember much or any content – they fail to recall the main course subject, especially if they took it is more than 6 months ago! Not very encouraging at the start of a fresh half-day programme.

Here are a number of insights that will help you, as trainer / coach, to assist your participants / coachees in remembering more of your words of wisdom. There may be a test later…

Young teacher working in school classroom

“Pay attention class!”

  1. Pay it forward – If the participants are asked to learn and interact in the classroom knowing that they will be asked to teach someone the key models, theories and findings, they will learn in a different way and invest in the course with a higher level of attention. When you learn to teach you learn more deeply. And when you teach you learn a second time.
  1. Learning buddies – When I train in a company building I ask, “Do you guys know each other?” If the answer is yes, I pair up the participants and give them a challenge to undertake after the training has finished. “When you meet again in the canteen of the corridor, help your learning by asking the question – what was the most important point you have taken from the training?”

When we strive to recall we recall. When we know we must recall we, again, process more deeply.

  1. Follow-up call – Add a follow-up telephone conference call one or two weeks after the face-to-face training has happened. Ask 3 simple questions in a call that lasts between 15 and 40 minutes. The questions are; A, What do you remember?, B, What have you tried from the course and it is working well? And, C, What have you tried from the course and its NOT working well? This gives the trainer a chance to find out if the messages have landed and landed correctly.
  1. If you measure before, you can measure after – You can only see improvement if you know where you started. Simple ways include either a pre-training intake form or administering a knowledge-based quiz at the beginning of the training. If an identical or similar quiz is administered again at the end, this can create a reasonable measure of the increase in learning that has occurred.
  1. Write your own summary – There are various versions of this. One I currently use quite a lot is to ask the students to collate an Excellence Charter of desirable behaviours and undesirable behaviours. I then asked them to present this back to me in a novel way. A recent triumph was a tech group who hijacked my computer and installed some software that animated the Star Wars credits and combined this with some dramatic content to prove their understanding of the material. I was impressed and we will all remember what was said.
  1. I do declare – Writing strong personal actions on post it notes and shouting them out to other people both aids memory and reinforces commitment to take the promised action. The participants are then asked to fold up the paper and put it next to money in their purse or wallet. When they are out in a bar or shop and move to pay for something they will be reminded of the training.
  1. Interrogation – By bombarding the participants with W questions, the trainer can create a modestly tense training environment where the students actively attempts to avoid stress by preparing the answers in their heads in case they are called upon. There is a limit to this method. It is not advisable to annoy a class to the point where they rebel!
  1. Mind map – It still surprises me that in 2018 many executives in Europe have not heard of this diagrammatic learning method. With a quick lesson in how to do them, it is fun to see how quickly bright executives pick up the technique and use it to reformulate their notes. This can be very effective especially when icons and colours are employed to create more complex schema.
  1. WIIFM? – The teacher and coach may boost the percentage of retention by tailoring the material to the known and specific needs and wants of the assembled learners. By honing the material and using more appropriate language and stories, the teacher’s efforts will hit the mark more frequently.
  1. Practice practice practice – With soft skills courses especially, repetition and dynamic exercises of increasing complexity can have an extraordinary beneficial effect. This is why it is good, if you’re proposing training and have some control, to ask for a second day. On the first day you apply the polish. And on the second day you bring out the shine.
  1. Sell the benefits – Related to 9. If you emphasise the positive outcomes for the individuals in the room, they are more likely to volunteer more of their attention. One fact I like to share is that, with specific courses, the diligent application of the key learning points and plenty of practice, a single delegate will experience an extra lifetime income boost of €5000,000. It is true. This fact has a powerful effect on class attitude.
  1. Review review reviewIf the student assigns space to review the key schematics and theories after one day, one week and one month, it is amazing how much more they retain permanently. Most people are not aware of learning decay and need to have the review time specifically scheduled and monitored by the teacher.
  1. Mnemonics and metaphors – The brain seems better able to remember when aided by dramatic tricks. At school we remembered the colour order of a rainbow by “Rowntrees of York give best individual value.” Another way is to create similes, metaphors and stories. If you can connect things to be remembered with brilliant and wild coloured associated images in motion and make them into a funny film with a jokey sound track, the facts themselves will be hard to forget.
  1. Question Time – A wonderful way of retaining learnt material is to question it in more detail after the training has finished. Searching for the topic on the TED website may throw up a keynote speaker who gives you a different perspective in just 17 minutes. This can reframe the your perspective and help you to keep more of the content in mind.
  1. Doublespeak – 15. may be a stretch too far, but I have tried it and it works. Peter Thomson in one of his three-day training sessions asked all participants to repeat every word he said silently in their head simultaneously. It feels very strange for a couple of minutes and then it seems fairly normal. Obviously your brain processes the 2 streams of words in a special way that seems to aid memory.

FUN – TEST TIME. Turn away from the screen, pick up a pen and paper and write down as many of the 15 ideas as you can remember!

Good luck.

About the Author – Matthew Hill is a class room trainer in the areas of culture, conflict, communication and leadership and has worked with 1000’s of executives having delivered live classroom training in more than 30 countries. Do feel free to contact him at matthew.hill@hillnetworks.com

 

In Favour of A Cultural Compromise? – an opinion piece by Matthew Hill

The word COMPROMISE seems to produce a range of emotions, reactions and comments depending on who is listening.

“No one ever remembers a great compromise.”

Not quite win / Not quite win

Not quite win / Not quite win

My starting point for understanding compromise occurred in the white heat of alpha capitalism where it was legitimate for the winner to take all. This casino like attitude of winning and losing deflated the winner’s sensitivity for the consequences suffered by the loser. Freed, the protagonist treated the episode as a mere transaction and quickly moved on.

Within an intercultural setting we move from isolated transactions to societies and a timeline of connected events. Repetition may lead to escalating pain and negative beliefs for the loser. Over time, this produces a reaction – passive aggression, non-cooperation, resistance and accumulated feelings of resentment.

From a cultural perspective compromise can foster pragmatism, diplomacy and an emphasis on fostering long-term relationships. This creates a different social dynamic and energy. Here the outcome of “not quite to win / not quite win” may have the benefit of preserving a bond that will undoubtedly yield greater value over subsequent weeks, months and years.

In the Cartesian exchange of logic and rational questioning, the outcome of a compromise can be seen as an optimal solution that achieves the least worst outcome for both parties. In such a way we can ascribe a positive quality to this sometimes dirty word.

Mediator Paul Rathbone talks of the “amygdala hijack” a triggering of our primitive brain that produces the fight, flight or freeze response. This explains your neighbour’s angry outburst over a 10 cm boundary infringement in the garden or when you play Black Sabbath songs too late and too loud in the evening.

Here the starting position is a war cry – “revenge.”

Often it is the job of the mediator to bring competing parties to the table and with hard work, illustrate the costs of their competitive strategy in order to lay the groundwork for a mediated solution. The mediator’s magic works when the parties are ready to consider a deal that is “good enough” or accept something that both parties can “live with.”

It is when empathic listening skills encompass the consequence for the other party’s of one’s actions that the shift occurs.

The benefits of compromise

It preserves “face” and honour. It can save time, reduce the risk of retribution and it can preserve one of our most important and undervalued commodities – a give and take alliance.

It is the reputation – saving quality of a decent compromise that is frequently missed. Many cultures and communities value the status of their figureheads and require them to fight and win against foreign bodies.

It is in this spirit that the Golden Bridge of a dignified retreat is critical to reaching a longer-term mutually agreed settlement that yields the positive result of peace and prosperity.

It is a good General who knows when to fight. It is a great one who knows when to beat a hasty or even an undignified retreat.

So, what is the lesson here?

Can we build our self-awareness to a level where we know when our primitive brain is running the show? Can we interrupt our full pursuit of primitive revenge? Can we intervene and shout “STOP”, sidestep the caveman within us and re-engage our intellect to pursue a better path? Can we learn the reasonable allocation of assets through the pursuit of a dignified dialogue?

Will we now seek out optimum benefit for all parties with minimum damage to the status quo?

Homework – Test yourself tomorrow…

When you next receive a slight, challenge or provocation what will you do? Will your first thought be to avenge a wrong? And will your second be to calm your inner caveman? Hopefully your third thought will focus on creating mechanisms to preserve your relationship and to not inflict quite so much damage as you initially wished? Good luck with the struggle…

Matthew Hill is a culture and diversity facilitator working with international corporate executives.