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7 Tips to Manage a Diverse Workforce

Diversity! It’s an important topic we’re talking about a lot lately. Here’s something to think about: We often talk about diversity and inclusion within the confines of training and programs. But what about the day-to-day challenges and best practices of managing a diverse workforce? Here are seven tips from HR experts to help you successfully manage a diverse workforce.

Stop Thinking of Diversity as a Buzzword

HR is full of buzzwords these days, but diversity isn’t one of them — nor should it be treated as one. Too many organizations fall prey to superficial efforts to increase diversity. Programs and initiatives can be great tools, but they’re ultimately temporary.

Instead, remember that building a diverse and inclusive organization is something you must work on every day, just as your sales team hustles for leads and your accounting team keeps the books in order.

Make Diversity Part of Your Hiring Process

Building a diverse organization from the ground up takes time. Try auditing your hiring process to ensure that you’re interviewing a diverse slate of candidates. “Mandate that before a requisition can be closed, you have to be shown that you had a diverse slate,” says Amy Cappellanti-Wolf, chief human resources officer at Symantec.

Taking this actionable step is small, but it ensures that hiring officers aren’t simply hiring people who remind them of themselves. “It starts at the hiring process,” Cappellanti-Wolf says. If you want to show that you’re serious about building a more diverse organization, you have to look critically at how you assess and hire candidates.

Build Connections to Create Talent Pipelines

It’s enormously important to build internal talent pipelines for your organization, and ensuring that you have standards in your hiring process for interviewing diverse candidates is an important step toward creating a more inclusive business and culture.

But in order to create a truly diverse pipelines, companies need to look outside their walls, says La’Wana Harris, diversity and inclusion consultant and author. Harris recommends that companies reach out externally to organizations devoted to promoting diversity in the workplace, as well as educational institutions such as historically black colleges and universities. You’ll find plenty of talented candidates, and also will expand your hiring base.

Make Sure Leadership Is Aligned with Your Goals

Managing a diverse culture can be challenging at times. But without buy-in from leadership from the very beginning, it may be a lost cause.

As you look to address issues of diversity in your organization, be sure that leadership is briefed and on board with your plans. “If you don’t have leadership support, these things fail,” Cappellanti-Wolf says. Additionally, leadership’s behavior and actions will serve as examples for all levels of the organization, and set the tone for what’s expected of employees.

Examine Your Policies to Fight Systemic Inequality

Creating a more inclusive organization takes effort. But no matter what actions an organization takes, it must also be aware that its policies may be promoting systemic inequality. “Workplace policies, systems and processes can disproportionately impact historically marginalized populations,” Harris says.

To counter this, audit your policies. Ensure that your family-leave policy is supportive of LGBTQ parents as well as traditional couples. “Remote-work policies are another point of consideration for building a truly inclusive work environment,” Harris says. “Remote work can open up opportunities for individuals with visible and invisible disabilities.”

Create a Culture of Empathy and Forgiveness

Just as with any process within your organization, there will be hiccups with diversity and inclusion. But both Cappellanti-Wolf and Harris say that’s OK — and it’s no big deal. “We’re all struggling with the same challenges,” Cappellanti-Wolf says.

Leaders need to admit to mistakes, and to encourage others to do the same. Harris says that one way leaders can do this is by adopting a servant leadership mindset. “How do you bring out the best in someone else?” she says. “I’m a proponent of leaders making it their No. 1 goals to mine their employees: mine for the genius, mine for their power, mine for their brilliance.”

Ultimately, it’s about unlocking the potential in your employees. By tailoring your leadership philosophies to meet their needs, you’ll be better able to empathize with them, and when hiccups occur, they’ll understand that an honest mistake was made.

Find Your Blind Spots

Leaders must have the self-awareness to know that they’ll have certain blind spots when it comes to their employees and their employees’ experience. For example, maybe a leader doesn’t know the pronouns an employee prefers.

But what’s most important in these situations is that leaders be aware of their blind spots — and that they work to solve them. “I like to look at it as mirrors, windows and doors,” Harris says. “You look in the mirror and that’s self-awareness. You look out the window and you get perspectives from others to try to get a clue about your blind spots.”

The final step is the door — “What actions do I need to take to build an inclusive environment?”

This article was originally published in 2016 and substantially reworked in July 2019.

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8 Reasons Why You Should Be Prioritizing L&D NOW!

There are many benefits of learning at work. But L&D professionals often struggle to get stakeholders on board when pushing for investment in learning programs.

Yes, rolling out an effective L&D strategy can be expensive. But, in the long run, it’s an investment that can pay for itself many times over!

So let’s jump straight in with the research that can back up that boast, and explore eight good reasons why your organization should make learning and development a priority.

1. Learning Is Important to Employees

It’s important to listen to what your employees want. And, according to a 2019 report by human capital management software providers Ceridian, an overwhelming 86 percent of employees said it is important for employers to provide learning opportunities.

So, if you’re not providing the training they want and need, and not allocating enough time for it, it’s something that you need to address.

2. Learning Opportunities Attract New Talent

Learning not only helps you to retain the talent you already have, it can attract new talent, too. Learning specialists Udemy surveyed Millennial workers for their 2018 Millennials at Work report. They discovered that 42 percent of Millennials placed learning and development as the second most important benefit when deciding where to work.

3. Learning Leads to a Happier Workforce

Organizations that provide learning are found to have happier employees. And when people are happier, they’re more productive. The same Ceridian report mentioned above found that 83 percent of employees who work for a company that provides learning opportunities feel happy in their jobs.

4. Learning Leads to Better Engagement

If your employees are engaged with their roles, they’re less likely to want to work elsewhere. According to U.K.-based recruitment specialists Robert Half, businesses with a strong learning culture enjoy employee engagement and retention rates around 30-50 percent higher than those without. 

5. Effective L&D Boosts Your Bottom Line! 

It’s easy for the “bean counters” to target L&D when they’re looking for ways to trim corporate budgets. But that could prove to be a false economy. Research suggests that 63 percent of companies who cited leadership and management development as their top priority had an increased year on year turnover.

6. Replacing Employees Is Expensive!

Replacing talent is not only a time-consuming task: it’s costly too. Figures from recruitment experts Maddison Approach show that that replacing a current employee can cost up to a third of their annual salary, so it seems that investing in ways to retain your talent is worth every penny.

7. You’ll Retain Young Talent

How often do you hear, “Millenials are job hoppers,” or, “They’re always on the hunt for their next role?” Well, it turns out that’s not exactly the case.

U.S.-based employee development gurus Bridge reported that offering career training and development would keep 86 percent of Millennials from leaving their current position.

8. Learning Reduces Staff Turnover

If you’re not going to provide the training that your employees desire, it’s likely that they’ll start searching for somewhere else that does.

And this 2018 survey found that 51 percent of employees would quit their job if training was not offered. So unless you want your people to start sending out their CVs, you better get an L&D strategy in place, quick!

Click on the image below to download your free infographic, and use it to help make your case for Learning and Development!

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#WorkTrends: Building Your Personal Platform

If you work in HR, you know the importance of branding, particularly your employment brand. But what about our own personal brand?

The concept of personal branding might sound a bit uncomfortable for some, but this week’s guest, Cynthia Johnson, says personal branding really is about transforming your resume for the online age. She’s the author of the book “Platform: The Art and Science of Personal Branding,” and she joined us to give her advice on building a powerful personal brand — and why it’s important for employers to encourage their employees to do so.

Listen to the full conversation or read the recap below. Subscribe so you never miss an episode.

What Exactly Is Personal Branding?

“Personal branding” sounds a bit like a buzzword, but it’s not. In fact, it’s something that’s enormously useful for all of us, particularly those navigating the corporate ladder. “It’s an evolution of your resume,” Johnson says. “It’s a communication credit.”

In other words, think of personal branding as an opportunity to put yourself out there online. After all, “brands want to be people” in order to try to seem more human, Johnson says. But “humans are already human, so the branding part is pretty much done.”

What Can Companies Do to Encourage Personal Branding?

If your company gets skittish about employees posting on work-related issues then listen up, because Johnson has a stat for you: “If your employee shares information about you online, there’s a nearly 600% increase in engagement over what an influencer would have.”

That’s valuable from a marketing standpoint, and it’s no surprise that Johnson recommends that organizations encourage their employees to take charge of their personal brands. Employees can be natural advocates for their employer, and posts from employees have an authenticity to them that an influencer’s never can.

So provide guidelines — not rules — on social media etiquette to your employees. Explain how to represent the brand and what are acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. Trust that your employees will have good judgment, but remember that you’ll have to accept that things could go awry. Odds are that they won’t if you provide the right help. “If you aren’t giving resources, tools or guidelines on how to [post on social media], that’s when you’re going to lose control,” Johnson says.

What Can You Do to Build a Personal Brand?

Of course, maybe you recognize the importance of building a personal brand but you’re not sure how to do it. You’re juggling kids, work, yoga and bunco nights — how on earth are you supposed to find the time to build a personal brand?

Well, turns out that you probably do have the time. “Look at how much screen time you spend on your phone,” Johnson says. It’s probably more than you’d like to admit, but that screen time is time you can apply to building your personal brand.

“Start small,” Johnson says. “Take down old photos that shouldn’t be there. Put a nice photo up, put your job title somewhere — just those small steps.” As you take those steps, focus on putting out information about yourself. Remember, all you’re doing is creating a new type of resume. As time goes on, you’ll begin to see the benefits. And make sure to check in periodically to ensure you’re putting your best foot forward.

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

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Discovering Berlin in Autumn: What to Do While You’re There

Germany’s capital, Berlin is one of those cities that just has a unique, cool vibe to it. With its mix of historic buildings, cutting edge art scene and world-renowned nightlife, it’s easy to see why visitors fall in love with this amazing city. I have visited a few times now and I can honestly say I haven’t tired of it yet.  The laid-back culture makes it one of those places that has me going back time and time again.  

When it comes to finding the best place to stay during your stay, as you can imagine, there is no shortage of choice in the city. For me, I like staying in apart hotels or serviced accommodation.  The great thing about these suites, is that they offer the luxury of a hotel but have all the convenience of staying at home.  So, if you are in the city for more than a few days, you don’t get that cramped feeling of being in a confined hotel room. 

Do you have a trip to Berlin coming up and are wandering what to get up to while you’re there? Whatever reason takes you to Berlin, be it business or pleasure, you should make the most of your trip and see as much of the city as you can. Read on my suggestions of things to see and do while you’re in Berlin in September.   


If you are going to be in the city between the 20th September and the 13th October, don’t miss out in Oktoberfest. Why not get into the spirit of things and dress up, believe me, you will not be alone. In fact, it is encouraged that you slip on your lederhosen or dirndl and join in on the Bavarian fun, you’ll be glad you did. However, if dressing up is not your thing, don’t worry, it’s not mandatory, you’ll have a blast regardless. Remember to pace yourself though, you don’t want to ruin the rest of your trip because you overdid it with the beer! 



Mauerpark is the social hart of the city. Here you’ll see locals taking it easy on their days off There are plenty of outdoor cafés to grab a drink or have a bite to eat.  But if the sun is shining, go prepared with a picnic and pop a squat on the grass, it’s a lovely way to spend an afternoon and watch the world go by.  

This beautiful park is also home to the biggest and best Sunday flea market. People flock here to pick up a bargain on everything from rare vinyl to vintage clothes.  It’s also the venue to the popular weekly outdoor singing session, Bearpit Karaoke Thousands of wannabe singers make their way to the park to have a go on the mic.  

Brandenburg Gate 

I can’t imagine you can think of Berlin without the image of Brandenburg Gate popping up. This iconic site was once used as one of the Berlin Wall crossings as well as a site of celebration when the wall fell. Nowadays, visitors from all over the world visit the stunning 18th century monument that now symbolises a reunited Berlin. 

Brandenburg Gate is also a great starting point if you are looking to discover sights in the surrounding area. Such as: 

  • the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe 
  • the Reichstag – the German Bundestag 
  • Unter den Linden boulevard 
  • the Victory Column (Siegessäule) 
  • Tiergarten Park 

East Side Gallery

The East Side Gallery is the longest single segment of the Berlin Wall that is still remaining. Now featuring striking artwork by over 100 artists from 21 countries. The eye-catching artworks show political commentary as well as messages of peace and love. As you can imagine, it can get extremely busy with lots of people stopping to take photos, so I would recommend planning out your day and going late afternoon. 

I hope you enjoy your trip! 

L&D Blog » 6 Things the Best Firms Are Doing to Give Learning Impact!

Developing and implementing a learning and development plan is only half the story – you also have to show that your learning is having a real impact within your organization.

And there’s more to that than just gathering some data, picking out a few metrics, and pointing to “success” on paper.

Over the past five months, talent management and learning specialists RedThread Research have surveyed more than 40 L&D leaders about their strategies for measuring and analyzing employee development.

And earlier this week, RedThread shared their findings with us during our webinar, “Having Learning Impact vs. Showing Learning Impact.”

RedThread co-founder and principal analyst, Dani Johnson, highlighted six practices that leading organizations follow to demonstrate what they do to encourage and deliver employee development, and the impact it has on their organizations.

1. Understand Your Business Goals

In order to carry out your L&D strategy successfully, it’s important that leaders are aware of, and understand, their organization’s overall aims.

There are three basic questions that more evolved organizations need to ask about setting clear business goals:

1. Business direction: how will L&D affect the business goals?

2. How success is measured: how does the organization measure business goals?

3. Collaboration is key: who do you need to collaborate with in order to ensure that this is successful?

2. Consider All the Levers of Learning Impact

RedThread found that there are six “levers” to learning, and in order to enable learning in the workplace, L&D leaders should be using them all.

  • Plan: how are we helping employees to plan their own development?
  • Discover: how do we help employees to find what they need?
  • Consume: what channels do we provide for delivering learning content and experiences?
  • Experiment: how do we enable experimentation with new knowledge and skills?
  • Connect: are we connecting employees with each other in the right ways? 
  • Perform: how do we help people to learn while doing their job? 

3. Make Your Metrics, Choose Data

Many organizations default to the metrics that their learning technology offers them. But RedThread found that more evolved organizations determined their own metrics and chose their own data sources. 

There is often confusion between data and metrics, and in order to choose the right measurements for your organization, you need to understand the differences between the two. 

There are four main characteristics that you can use to define metrics:

  • Contextual: metrics aren’t just numbers on a screen. There has to be context as to why they’re chosen.
  • Deliberate: they are chosen deliberately to tie into a particular measure of success.
  • Calculated: metrics can be analyzed to determine their value, and how or where they should be applied.
  • Directional: metrics are used to measure success, so understanding which way you want your metrics to move is really important.

Choosing your data sources is important too, so don’t just round up the usual suspects – look for data that will help you tell your story.

4. Choose Leading and Lagging Indicators

L&D leaders also highlighted the importance of using indicators to predict and explain trends in data. These kinds of indicators can be split into two types: leading indicators and lagging indicators.

Lagging indicators are used to confirm long-term trends, as significant changes in a company generally occur before trends in the market.

Leading indicators are often predictive in nature, and can offer valuable information to help organizations to adjust or change.

5. Be Consistent

When it comes to collecting data, consistency is key. The L&D leaders highlighted two factors to keep in mind to help keep your data consistent.

First, even if you’re collecting the right metrics, they aren’t always immediately useful. Make sure that you collect them consistently over time, so you can refer to them at the moment of need. 

Second, make sure that you’re standardizing your results. Collect and format data in the same way across your organization.

6. Illustrate Your Story

When you’re telling your data story, present it in the most engaging, compelling way. Here are three things that top L&D leaders consider when delivering their information.

Be graphic: a picture is worth a thousand words, so grab people’s attention with a great visual display. Use charts and diagrams and images, not just facts and figures.

Know your audience: think about who you’re presenting to, and make sure you’re talking about the data points that are important to them.

Focus: it can sometimes be tempting to include everything, but not all data is relevant to everyone. Make sure that you only use data that helps to make your point, or tells your story.

Want to learn more? Download the full webinar and slides here, or visit the RedThread Research to see the full report.

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Looking back, looking ahead: Customers are driving capabilities for their business and people

On stage at Microsoft Inspire 2019, Judson Althoff, Microsoft executive vice president, and Unilever’s Dave Penrith, chief engineer, demo a digital twin of Unilever’s Valinhos, Brazil, factory on a computer animation created by Microsoft Studios.

This week in Las Vegas, at Microsoft Inspire, our annual partner event, I had several conversations about  the year we’ve had and what is next for the industry, including opportunities to bring the latest innovations to our mutual customers. Together we are building incredible momentum, truly transforming industries and redefining the art of what is possible. As we move into this new fiscal year, I am particularly energized by the traction I see with open cloud engagements – and the collaborative nature of our partnerships with companies across the world.

This morning’s news of our extensive and multi-year strategic collaboration with AT&T is another example of partnering to deliver unique solutions for our mutual customers, leveraging the strength of AT&T’s network and our cloud expertise. We expect our customers to benefit across a range of scenarios where 5G can enable critical near-instantaneous communications across industries. For example, imagine a first responder using AI-powered live voice translation to quickly communicate with someone in need who speaks a different language. Microsoft will be AT&T’s preferred cloud provider for non-network applications on Microsoft Azure and support AT&T as it consolidates its data center infrastructure and operations. In addition, AT&T will provide most of its workforce with robust cloud-based productivity and collaboration tools with Microsoft 365.

Unilever, a company whose products touch 2.5 billion consumers every day, also made a big impression this week at Microsoft Inspire. Dave Penrith, chief engineer at Unilever, joined me onstage to showcase how digital is empowering the company’s nearly 155,000 employees globally to do their best work with Microsoft 365 (including Teams and Yammer). Unilever is also building custom apps that harness real-time insights from data with PowerApps and Power BI and using Azure IoT’s digital twin technology to represent the physical production lines in its Valinhos Dove factory to digitize its supply chain network.

Of course, Microsoft Inspire is just one moment in time. Over the past 12 months, we’ve made headway across a diverse set of customers and industries.

Earlier this year, in the health care industry, we announced a seven-year, strategic cloud partnership with Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA). WBA will harness the power of Microsoft Azure, Microsoft’s cloud and AI platform, Microsoft 365, health industry investments and new retail solutions with WBA’s customer reach, convenient locations, outpatient health care services and industry expertise to make health care delivery more personal, affordable and accessible for people around the world. Most recently, UCLA Health shared how they are moving to our cloud to help speed research and improve patient care, and our new multi-year strategic alliance with Providence St. Joseph Health will harness the power of Azure and AI to deploy next-generation solutions in health care and power their employees with Microsoft 365 and Teams.

These are just some of the recent examples that highlight Microsoft’s customer-first approach. In fact, the world’s leading companies choose Azure for their mission-critical workloads, including more than 95 percent of the Fortune 500. In addition, this year we shared stories with retail industry leaders like Walmart, Kroger, Gap, Inc., Albertsons Companies, Starbucks, Neiman Marcus and Coles, and in the automotive industry with Daimler, BMW, Volkswagen and Renault Nissan Mitsubishi. With manufacturing, Airbus demonstrated how HoloLens and mixed reality are helping double its life-to-date aircraft production while improving quality, safety and security.

We continue to invest in technology partnerships to ensure Microsoft’s cloud is the best platform for our customers not only to access all their data, but to understand, process and act on that data to innovate.  Microsoft’s open cloud approach has been demonstrated time and again. We continue to advance our Open Data Initiative with SAP and Adobe, including progress announced earlier this year empowers customers like Coke, Unilever, Walmart and HP to build data models that meet their enterprise needs. In the past quarter, we announced a strategic partnership with Dell Technologies to provide customers with a fully native, supported and certified VMware experience on Microsoft Azure and the ability to extend Microsoft 365 and Windows Virtual Desktop. We announced a cloud interoperability partnership with Oracle using Azure services like Analytics and AI, and are continuing our work with Red Hat to make its extensive portfolio of technologies available on Azure. Plus, we announced last week that Service Now, running on Microsoft Azure, will enable enterprise customers in certain highly regulated industries, such as government, to accelerate their digital transformation and drive new levels of insights and innovation.

It is humbling to see all the ways our customers and partners are embracing technology. Whether large or small, companies are driving new experiences and solutions across every industry, redefining innovation and creating impactful change for the future of their businesses and employees. Their journeys are powerful, and we are fortunate to have the opportunity to be their trusted partners along the way.

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#WorkTrends: Ask These Questions to Change the Employee Experience

It seems kind of crazy that “employee experience” has only now become a buzzword in our industry. I mean, don’t we all want to work in the best environment possible?

But even if it’s taken a while to make it into the lexicon, the concept of employee experience is here to stay. So how does HR build the best experience possible for employees? To find out, we spoke to longtime HR practitioner and problem-solver Mary Faulkner, senior adviser at consulting firm Inflexion Advisors. She walked us through a few questions we all need to ask ourselves to make sure that our organizations have the best employee experience possible.

Listen to the full conversation or read the recap below. Subscribe so you never miss an episode.

Are You Trying to Solve Employee Experience Just Using Tech?

As we have discussed many times on #WorkTrends, HR tech is in a boom era. It’s an era we’ll be telling our grandchildren about — though, in all fairness, they’ll probably wonder how exactly we got to talking about that.

But in all seriousness, there are numerous technological solutions out there that enhance employee experience, from platform-agnostic software suites to AI-powered continuing education tools. However, Faulkner cautions that HR shouldn’t see technological solutions as the be-all, end-all. “It is not a replacement for human touch,” she says.

Instead, focus on more tangible elements in the workplace — for example, make sure you have pay equality and that your employees are being paid fairly. Also, take stock of your physical environment. Make sure your office has good furniture and convenient parking. Check to make sure common areas such as restrooms are clean. It sounds basic, but these touches go a long way toward creating a better employee experience. “If you’re not thinking through those basic things then all the tech in the world is not going to improve your employees’ experience,” Faulkner says.

Do You Have Bright Shiny Object Syndrome?

Bright Shiny Object Syndrome: Odds are, you’ve seen it even if you haven’t come down with it yourself.

Business leaders and HR practitioners contract Bright Shiny Object Syndrome after attending a conference or reading an empowering book — or perhaps after listening to an amazing episode of #WorkTrends! Symptoms include irrational excitement and proposals of new “solutions,” without regard for need or practicality.

What can you do to counter it? First, slow down before you do any purchasing or implementation, even if the solution actually is something that will work for your organization. “Think about what your overall strategy is and what your overall approach is,” Faulkner says. Discuss your plans with the stakeholders involved, and implement a testing phase to correct and weed out mistakes and pain points. Doing so will ensure a smooth transition, and also lead to a better employee experience.

Are You on the Same Page with Everyone Who Works on Employee Experience?

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and employee experience isn’t either.

So make sure HR isn’t working in a silo when it comes to the topic of employee experience. Faulkner says every department needs to be working on employee experience, but that each needs to coordinate to ensure they’re committed to delivering on the same principles. “I think it’s something that needs to be thought about — thoughtfully,” she says. “And if we could all work together to be thoughtful about how we do this, it’s going to be great.”


Resources Mentioned in This Episode

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L&D Success Stories Shared at Networking Event

Flying the flag for L&D can be a lonely and thankless task in some organizations. So, it’s all the more inspiring to hear success stories from passionate advocates of corporate learning.

On July 3, Mind Tools hosted its second L&D networking event. More than 35 fellow L&D practitioners joined them on the top floor of London’s iconic Gherkin building to share and discuss their own success stories.

I’m pleased to bring you the event’s highlights, as well as some key takeaways and practical tips from each speaker.

The informative and interactive session was titled “Successful Learning Transformation: How to Meet the Needs of the On-Demand Consumer Learner Generation.” It was designed to showcase insights from the new, groundbreaking research conducted by Mind Tools and expert learning analysts, Towards Maturity.

Mind Tools CEO Ollie Craddock introduced the morning, and along with Towards Maturity’s Chief Insight Officer Jane Daly, explored L&D’s perceptions of their learners in 2019. They revealed the divide that exists between the perceptions of L&D staff and those of their learners. And they questioned whether or not L&D practitioners are meeting those learners’ needs.

After this session, two of Mind Tools’ most respected clients in the U.K. joined Ollie and Jane in a fireside chat to discuss the biggest issues that L&D practitioners face when their learners don’t have the time to learn.

The Lineup

Taking part in the event were:

  • Jyoti Ghai and Grace Francis L&D specialists at Heathrow Airport, the second busiest airport in the world, and the busiest airport in Europe. Heathrow handled a record 80.1 million passengers in 2018. 
  • Ciara Lennon-Smith HR Coordinator at Rothesay Life a leading life insurer, established in 2007.

The questions asked by moderators Ollie and Jane were:

Does Your Organization Encourage Self-Directed Learning?

In response to this question, Jyoti outlined the challenges that the airport faces: their complex, multi-operational workforce runs on shift hours, making it difficult to offer employees face-to-face learning opportunities. As a result, the need for self-directed and on-demand learning is a must.

As a company, they have started their journey to develop a self-driven learning culture through their internal campaign, “Inspire to Grow.” The objective is to encourage people to be more proactive, stay curious and take control of their own learning success.

Does Your Organization Encourage, and Provide Time For, Reflection?

Grace admitted that currently, Heathrow doesn’t plan in time for colleagues to reflect. However, the company’s face-to-face learning programs actively encourage learners to reflect in different ways, even if they don’t insist on it.

“As part of our campaign we are going to start encouraging people to build ‘time to grow’ into their diaries so that they can have recognized, protected and undisturbed time for self-directed learning or reflection.”

Can You Give Examples of How to Adapt Learning to the Needs of Your Organization?

Ciara kicked off this discussion by describing the success of launching Mind Tools within Rothesay.

“We looked at performance review time and goal setting, which was a huge driver for people accessing Mind Tools content.

We split the learning population into cohorts and targeted people specifically, rather than company-wide. This included launch emails, and offering shorter training courses over three sessions rather than full days. 

We now also offer increased lunchtime sessions so that they are more accessible, utilizing the feedback we have received to market our resources.”

As Jyoti explained, when Heathrow launched Mind Tools internally, they found that there were two issues they needed to address.

“The first was myth-busting about career development, and the second was giving line managers the tools and resources they need to do their job. 

There was lots of feedback about line managers not being adequately prepared to line manage people – with this in mind we created two custom pages and mapped resources that would help these objectives.” 

Grace has found the results from Mind Tools invaluable.

“We use the data that we get back from Mind Tools and our other platforms to help us to adapt our learning offering. It gives us an insight into what people are looking for, so we can adapt materials and resources according to those needs.” 

Can You Provide Examples on How You Engage Your Learners Through Marketing Campaigns?

Ciara outlined the importance of keeping Mind Tools content at the forefront of thinking for the learners at Rothesay.

“We ran a campaign during Learning at Work Week, in which we had a huge drive towards Mind Tools content, along with our other training providers. Our intranet is gaining increased views, so to that effect, we have built dedicated landing pages around learning.

In addition to this, we have added some promotional banners on the site to remind everyone about the importance of self-development.”

Ciara also discussed the importance of continually testing campaigns and gathering feedback for the future.

“We have been focusing our campaigns around specific seasonal internal events, such as performance reviews and goal setting. This has seen great results in comparison to blanket emails at all times of the year.”

Grace and Jyoti provided five top tips on keeping learning fresh at Heathrow:

  1. Set clear objectives and goals for the campaign. What are you trying to achieve?
  2. Ensure materials look professional and on brand. Become friends with your marketing and design team!
  3. Launch with a big bang. Use a “hook” if you can, such as Learning at Work Week, or a similar event.
  4. Continue the drum beats. Set up lunch-and-learn drop-ins to maintain momentum. 
  5. Don’t just rely on digital. Talk to the business! Create ambassadors and create some energy. Excitement is contagious!

Thank You

I’d like to personally thank all of our speakers for sharing their insightful stories with us.

No matter where in the world your business is based, you can benefit from Mind Tools Corporate solutions, too. Subscribe to our free email newsletter or visit the Mind Tools Corporate home page to find out more.

We will be looking to host more of these networking events, so keep an eye out for more information!

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Are Your Performance Metrics Doing Harm? Time to Take a Step Back

“Analytics”, “data mining”, “big data”, “key metrics” – one way or another, data is regularly lauded as the solution to every problem that a business faces.

However, as I wrote in my last blog post, not everything is always as it appears in the world of data. Sometimes it pays to take a step back and consider if your key performance metrics are actually a help or hindrance.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when analysing your data.

Management Information vs. Data Analysis

First of all, it’s important that you separate management information (or MI) and data analysis.

MI is a record of fixed data sets, allowing managers to see and track changes over time (for example, a weekly stats report). Whereas data analysis is about digging deeper into the figures, looking for patterns and anomalies to predict future change. Essentially, MI says, “This is where we are,” and data analysis says, “This is where we could be.”

Think of MI as looking directly through the windshield of your car at what’s in front of you, and data analysis as looking at various possible routes on your satnav app.

There is an important place for them both. However, automating MI will free up your analysts to start modeling ways your company can innovate for the future. (There are many automation services you can use, including Power BI, Oracle and Tableau.)

The Danger of Stand-Alone Metrics

Are there certain stats and figures in your company that are consistently highlighted, either for marketing purposes or as benchmarks?

If so, it’s worth regularly putting them under the microscope. You need to make sure they are accurate and are sending your company in the right direction.

Take the following example: “In five years time, we will have 500,000 customers.” Chasing this metric at the cost of all others could have potentially damaging consequences.

Have you considered other relevant metrics? What is the average transaction value? What are your retention rates? Customer satisfaction levels? And that’s not even mentioning wider considerations like the company’s contribution to society and the environment.

Again, an automated MI program can help here: they can provide an engaging and easy to understand data dashboard for all employees to use. Be sure to include a range of relevant data points that your colleagues can refer to. This can stop your company from focusing on just the traditional metrics.

Embrace the Inconsistent

There can be a certain comfort in the weekly stats report. Like clockwork, everyone gets the same report confirming that all is well with “that” sacred number (for example, total sales, page views, etc.) and things are progressing as predicted.

But should this be the case in a business that dares to innovate and search for new ways to gain a competitive advantage?

There’s always the temptation to say “we’ve had a great week” and leave it there. But being shackled to particular metrics, with the assumption that they’ll grow in a predictable fashion, is potentially dangerous.

However, if you take the time to really analyze the data, you may find a few surprises. It may show that there’s a new audience of customers you can market to, or that a bottleneck is hampering capacity. When you take time to dig deeper, you may find whole new areas of opportunity. “We’ve had a great week” could quite easily turn into “we’ve had a great month.”

Whenever you make new discoveries about your industry, my recommendation is to document and share this information around the team. This may form part of a toolkit of ways to boost performance at times when you really need it.

Traditional Metrics: a Ticking Time Bomb?

Without innovation, the continued growth of the sacred metric may not be guaranteed.

In fact, if you’re solely focused on sales metrics, for example, this may have a detrimental effect on your business and lower your return on investment.

As a business makes more sales, it might start to find that its current processes and “infrastructure” struggle to handle the demands of a growing customer base. Therefore, technically the cost of securing each sale grows as your company creaks under the pressure. This is commonly known as the “law of diminishing returns” – the economics equivalent of “too many cooks spoil the broth.”

The graph below shows how this might negatively affect a restaurant business.

If the restaurant keeps hiring more staff to serve more tables, over time this tactic can become increasingly inefficient. They may need a bigger restaurant space, or a bigger kitchen, or more serving stations.

Traditional metrics, like total sales figures (or tables served, as in the example above) can let the company down, hiding the real challenges that the business faces.

By taking a step back and assessing the bigger picture, you can focus on finding innovative solutions to the happy problems of increased demand.

Knowledge Is Power

Taking a step back myself, the key takeaways from this blog are the following:

  • Don’t work for your metrics, make your metrics work for you.
  • Make sure that the metrics ingrained in your company culture are suitable, sensible and wide-ranging.
  • Innovation is essential. So never be afraid to change those metrics: if you’ve made new discoveries in your data, they could take your company in a successful new direction!
  • In fact, sticking dogmatically to a narrow range of metrics could be dangerous for your company in the long run, as you miss opportunities and succumb to the law of diminishing returns.

With comprehensive MI and rigorous analysis of data, your team may well discover exciting new horizons for your company to explore.

James’ Recommended Resources

Public resources

Using Data and Analytics Wisely in an Age of Fake News (Blog)

Premium resources

Jain and Sharma’s BADIR™ Framework (Article)

Data and Information Management (Article)

Behind Every Good Decision: How Anyone Can Use Business Analytics to Turn Data Into Profitable Insight (Book Insight Podcast)

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