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L&D Blog » Mind Tools Is Now Available in 8 Languages


We’re delighted to announce that Mind Tools clients can now access our resources in eight European languages.

Why Multiple Languages?

If, like many organizations, your workforce is spread across the globe, then different members of staff likely speak different languages.

Even if you only use one language to do business, you can’t escape the fact that learning is a highly personal activity. And it’s most effective when you can tailor it to your learners’ individual needs.

When considering global teams, a top priority and concern for L&D managers is how to personalize on-demand learning for each and every employee. This is our latest step to help you to do that for your learners.

Which Languages Are Available?

Until now, our content has only been available in English. This has meant that non-English speakers have lacked that highly personalized learning experience.

The new translation feature means that learners can now access Mind Tools in Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, and Spanish.

But that’s just the start! More languages will be included in the future.

How Do I Translate the Content?

You can translate each resource with just the touch of a button.

Look out for the globe icon at the top of a resource (underneath “Print” and “Share”), then click the button and select your preferred language from the menu. This will instantly translate the resource into your chosen language.

languages change
Simply click on the icon to select your preferred language.

The translate function is only available for text-based resources. You can’t use the feature to change the language of videos, podcasts, infographics, or PDF downloads.

However, you can translate the transcripts of all podcasts and videos.

Get in Touch

Talk to one of the team for more information on the Translate tool and our subscription options.

Call us: +44 (0) 800 464 0702
Email us: corporate@mindtools.com
Book a demo: mindtools.com/corporate

Mind Tools serves more than 25 million learners, offering on-demand management, leadership and career skills training to individuals and organizations. With Mind Tools’ customized learning solutions, your organization will have access to all of our premium resources, including expert interview and book insight podcasts, interactive quizzes, and learning streams.



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Innovating to drive the future of intelligent retail


The last several years have brought massive change – and opportunity – for the retail industry. Gone are the days when retailers chose when, where and what to sell; now consumers are in the driver’s seat, and retailers are being challenged to figure how to best engage with them. Additionally, they’re juggling pressures driven by industry trends such as the drive for more sustainability in retail, the proliferation of data, increased energy around “anywhere commerce,” the need to better equip store associates with technology and much more. But change often accelerates innovation, and because of this I believe that there’s never been a more exciting time to be a retailer at the intersection of retail and technology.

Microsoft continues to innovate side by side with retailers to help them embrace their biggest opportunities and enable intelligent retail by empowering businesses to take control of their own digital evolution. Our solutions enable retailers to transform across all parts of their business – from how they better understand their customers and empower employees, to putting the right technology in place to deliver an intelligent supply chain and ultimately reimagine their businesses. In the last year and a half, we’ve established ourselves as a trusted partner to some of the world’s largest retailers such as Walmart, Kroger and Walgreens Boots Alliance, among others. And we’ve empowered their transformation by providing the platforms on which to build innovation for all parts of their businesses.

We’ve learned a lot along the way both through our retail customers as well as our own physical retail presence about how technology can help this industry both embrace its biggest opportunities as well as tackle its biggest challenges. And today we’re sharing how our first-party innovations are helping to drive the future of intelligent retail across all parts of a retailer’s business.

Gaining a better understanding of your customers

If customers are the heart of the retail industry, data is the oxygen. Data has the potential to profoundly impact every single aspect of retailers’ businesses, including – and perhaps most importantly – how they respond to customer demands with differentiated and unique experiences.

We’re helping retailers surface actionable customer insights with data solutions like Azure Synapse Analytics, which helps retailers not only analyze vast amounts of data, but also apply machine learning to quickly surface insights that can drive immediate impact for their businesses, and Dynamics 365 Customer Insights, which helps maximize customer lifetime value by surfacing a 360-degree view of the customer to drive personalized engagements at scale. This means that even the most complex retailers, with thousands of suppliers in their end-to-end supply chain and millions of item-store combinations, can quickly make the decisions needed to not only run their businesses most efficiently but also delight customers in the process.

And with Dynamics 365 Connected Store, retailers like Marks & Spencer – which is piloting the solution in a store in London – can generate data within its physical stores that produces the same kind of actionable business insights as it gets from its digital storefronts. M&S is achieving this by analyzing data from smart devices such as video cameras and IoT sensors to provide real-time and predictive insights on everything from the current length of the checkout line to the traffic around endcap product displays to help associates make better decisions. We’re welcoming new retail customers into our Connected Store preview very day, so sign up here to request access.

One of the customer demands becoming more and more evident as retailers reason over their data is the desire for a seamless shopping experience regardless of where, when and how they choose to buy. We’ve invested in helping retailers bridge embrace this concept of commerce anywhere (aCommerce) with Dynamics 365 Commerce, the evolution of Dynamics 365 Retail and a true multi-channel solution that transforms the customer experience by unifying retailers’ back-office, in-store, call center and e-commerce experiences. One experience across all channels – that’s what customers are demanding today. The result? More personalized engagement with customers, employees who are better equipped to provide the best customer experience possible and deep insights to empower advanced decision making across every piece of a retailer’s business. I’m excited to announce that Dynamics 365 Commerce, currently in preview, with become generally available to our retail customers on Feb. 3.

 Empowering employees with the tools they need to better serve customers

Despite the rise of e-commerce over the past couple of decades, we know that most shopping – across generations even – still happens in person. Research from Forbes Insights shows us that 60 percent of consumers still prefer to shop in physical retail environments, and this number stays fairly consistent across generations. This means that first-line workers are still one of a retailer’s most valuable assets – many times, they are the first impression a shopper gets of your brand and they play a significant role in customer acquisition and retention.

Retail associates need modern tools and experiences in order to remain productive and deliver the best customer service possible while on the store floor. With Microsoft 365, the world’s productivity cloud, and new first-line capabilities coming to Microsoft Teams later this year, we are in a unique position to help this often-overlooked part of the workforce get their jobs done. Today I’m thrilled to announce that we’re adding even more productivity and collaboration value into Teams, including task targeting, publishing and reporting, new workforce management integrations to streamline shift management and a new Walkie Talkie feature. By building push-to-talk functionality into Teams, we’re helping our retail customers turn company-owned smartphones and tablets into a secure walkie talkie, extending the range of traditional walkie-talkie communication and streamlining licensing and provisioning for retailers’ IT staff.

Finally, as we extend modern tools and experiences across the first-line workforce, we know that we need to make it easy for IT to manage and help enable a secure and compliant experience for all employees. I’m excited to disclose enhanced identity and access management capabilities – such as shared device sign-out for Android and inbound provisioning from leading workforce management providers such as SAP SuccessFactors and Workday – that will make onboarding retail associates and operating shared devices more secure and scalable, something our retail customers have been asking us to add for some time now. And, later this quarter, retailers will be able to enable SMS sign-in to Microsoft 365 and custom applications for retail workers and empower their store managers with delegated user management capabilities, making it easier to reset passwords and manage workers’ identities without additional demand on IT staff.

Infusing more intelligence into the supply chain

A retailer’s supply chain can play a major role in customer satisfaction – outdated supply chain processes can mean delays, unfulfilled orders and more. By connecting devices and collecting data, retailers can analyze that information to create new insights and ultimately a truly intelligent supply chain that enables them to provide the best service possible to customers. This is the Internet of Things (IoT), and as IoT becomes more mainstream it continues to be a huge driver of data for retailers today. In fact, our IoT Signals for Retail study found that 92 percent of retailers have adopted IoT and are using it in various stages of trials and deployments, with the most common IoT scenarios being driving store analytics (57 percent), supply chain optimization (48 percent) and security and loss prevention (46 percent and 45 percent, respectively).

We’re making building and deploying IoT applications in retail environments easier than ever with new Azure IoT Central solution templates that help retailers simplify IoT deployments to start driving immediate impact. Today, the Azure IoT Central Micro Fulfilment Center template joins five existing retail-focused templates – including for scenarios across connected logistics, digital distribution centers, in-store analytics and smart inventory management – to help retailers more easily optimize their fulfilment processes through a managed service that includes everything a retailer needs to get started today.

Reimagining retail business models and customer experiences

The success of today’s retailers’ physical store environments rests on their ability to disrupt themselves and their own status quo by pushing into new business models and providing new experiences and formats that engage customers and keep them coming back for more.

We understand this better than most technology vendors, because we’re continuing to move through this same transformation journey with our own Microsoft retail stores. Over the past several years, we’ve digitally transformed and extended our physical retail store strategy from an exclusively consumer storefront to a commerce engine that connects with all customers – from commercial enterprises to small businesses and consumers. Partnering with enterprise sales, we’re offering new experiences in and through our stores targeted toward our enterprise customers such as J. Crew, Office Depot and Marks & Spencer. Our stores are also at the forefront of adopting new Microsoft technology across cloud, predictive analytics, machine learning, cognitive services and more to solve our most complex challenges – and we’re learning from those experiences to ultimately pass those lessons along to our customers. And of course, that’s a two-way street – we’re also learning from our retail customers to inform how we manage and operate our stores too, which is indicative of the true partnerships we strive to establish with every retailer we work with.

While reimagining retail can lead to the kind of business transformation we’ve seen in our own store, it can take different forms as well, such as how retailers are tapping into new revenue streams and digitizing their own physical stores to drive new customer and employee experiences.

Microsoft PromoteIQ is an end-to-end commerce marketing platform enabling retailers to create a new critical growth engine for their businesses through at-scale vendor marketing programs. With Microsoft PromoteIQ, retailers can empower their brand partners with powerful marketing technology to natively promote products to in-market shoppers, reaching them at the right time to increase digital sales – all supported by a deep analytics suite to deliver impactful audience insights. And now, thanks to the integration with Microsoft Advertising, we can offer our retailer partners a powerful new source of incremental demand for their programs. Take Home Depot, for example. While you may expect the world’s largest home improvement retailer to do most of its business in person, HomeDepot.com is the fifth largest e-commerce site in the U.S. Consequently, the company needed a solution to help it maximize the nearly 170 million visitors per month its site was seeing by integrating an end-to-end commerce marketing platform with capabilities to manage and scale its vendor-funded digital marketing. Since deploying PromoteIQ, Home Depot has seen very positive results, including double-digit sales growth for promoted products through this program.

Of course, reaching customers at the right time is only half the equation; a retailer must also be able to deliver on what that customer is looking for. In fact, 80 percent of shoppers will abandon a site that produces poor search results. And that’s why we’re investing in this critical piece of digital commerce – product search. Microsoft Bing for Commerce is an intelligent artificial intelligence-driven solution for product search, personalization and product recommendations that gives retailers the power to meet today’s shopper expectations and grow revenue through more relevant and customized results that drive conversion. We’re also enabling our retailers to meet customers where and how they want to shop through visual search innovation included in Bing for Commerce, to help capture sales from new, emerging shopping behaviors.

Connect with us at NRF

Microsoft will have a significant presence at NRF once again this year, headlined by our own CEO Satya Nadella’s keynote session to open the show. You won’t want to miss hearing his perspective on business and cultural transformation, and how our retail customers are putting our technology into action to reimagine their businesses. And if you’re attending the show, make sure you stop by our Microsoft booth (#4501) to see how we’re bringing intelligent retail to life across all parts of a retailer’s business and how you can achieve the same – we’re offering complementary envisioning workshops, where retailers will have an opportunity to work directly with us to create a shared vision and digital road map to unlock a future of endless possibilities.

You’re also invited to attend one of our sessions on the show floor – I’m leading a Big Ideas session where I’ll share my thoughts on the increasing importance of sustainability to the industry and how technology can help accelerate retailers’ sustainability visions. In addition, my colleagues Alysa Taylor, corporate vice president for Microsoft Business Applications and Global Industry, and Emma Williams, corporate vice president of Microsoft Office Vertical Solutions, and I will participate in the FQ Lounge at NRF along with many other “women rocking retail” for panel discussions about diversity and inclusion in the retail industry (we’re proud to be a sponsor of this space as well). And of course, visit Microsoft’s NRF page to keep up to date on the latest developments.

 

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Trending in 2020: The (Somewhat) New Workplace


What does your workplace look like in 2020?

The workplace starting off this new decade is a whole different animal than the workplace was in 2010. The entire definition of the workplace and the nature of work has changed.  So have the expectations of employees.

Here’s what you and your team need to know about what 2020 means for your office: 

The Death of the Office… Kind Of

It’s official: the office is dead. The office your parents knew, that is.

2020 will build on a trend that’s been on the rise in 2018 and 2019. More employees rely on technology to do their jobs and keep up with their teams. This means that more employees know they can do their jobs from anywhere–and they’re not afraid to ask the boss for that benefit.

According to the Society for Human Resources Management, 69% of organizations allow their employees to work from home at least some of the time, and 27% of organizations allowed full-time remote work arrangements.

Technology is not the only driver behind this shift. Millennials, who have more debt than any generation in history, are increasingly leaving prohibitively expensive cities in favor of the suburbs where they can get more space for less (and the ability to work remotely is a major commuting benefit).

Plus, the highest-paying, most advanced jobs are concentrated in a small handful of expensive cities where the cost of living can chase out much of the talent pool. Remote work allows companies to stay competitive by broadening their talent base and attracting talent that would otherwise be inaccessible.

Somebody’s Watching You

Technology is behind the workplace monitoring trend. But this isn’t 1984, and Big Brother isn’t the one watching you — that would be your boss.

A survey by Gartner found that 22% of organizations worldwide are using employee movement data, 17% are monitoring workplace computer usage data, and 16% are using Microsoft Outlook or calendar-related data. An additional Gartner survey of 239 organizations found that 50% are now using non-traditional monitoring methods, such as analyzing employee emails and social media posts, gathering biometric data, examining who’s meeting with whom, and scrutinizing how employees use the workplace.

Based on this survey, Gartner predicts that 80% of companies will be using non-traditional methods in 2020.

That data is being used to make decisions about running the workplace. More than a quarter of employers have fired employees for misusing email, and nearly a third of employers have fired employees for misusing the Internet at work. On the other hand, workplace surveillance can benefit customers — take, for instance, hospital sensors that detect nurse hand-washing practices.

Employee Activism

But workplace surveillance isn’t holding employees back from pursuing what matters to them, even if it means speaking up against their own employer.

Half of all millennial employees have spoken out about employer actions about a controversial societal issue. The same Bloomberg study found that younger employees are more likely to be activists, though millennials are the biggest activist generation.

The past year has seen countless examples of employee activism, instigated by a sensational (and divisive) political climate. Hundreds of Wayfair employees walked out after learning that the company sold furniture to a Texas detention center for migrant children.

A Workplace That Stands for Something

This feeds into the millennial need to work for a purpose, not just money or a career.

A CNBC survey found that 69% of employees want to work for a company with clearly-stated values, and 35% stated that the most critical factor in their workplace happiness was the feeling that their work is meaningful. And these days, employees are willing to trade money for a purpose, with 9 in 10 employees stating that they would take a pay cut if it meant they could do meaningful work.

In fact, when employees were asked to rank what matters most to them in their work, money was a distant second to workplace purpose.

The Changing Definition of Benefits

That said, employees (especially millennials) won’t turn their nose up at decent benefits.

Millennials are the job-hopping generation, with half of all millennials (compared to 60% of all non-millennials), stating that they plan to be working at a different company than their current one by next year. In short, millennials don’t see a long-term future with their companies, and the jobs they take don’t tend to last more than a few years.

But for the few years that you do have your employees, they want that time to be worth their while. Younger workers are pushing back against the idea of work as a constant obsession. More of them demand increasing flexibility and benefits that reflect it, such as more paid leave after having a baby, the ability to work remotely, or allowances for breaks during the day.

The End of the Corporate Ladder

In addition, younger workers no longer think of the corporate ladder the same way their parents do. If anything, the corporate ladder doesn’t exist.

After all, why take the corporate ladder when you could take the elevator?

Younger workers are highly motivated and eager to make an impact, and they don’t want to wait for their turn. They want to move at their own pace. This means that more young workers are starting their own companies or working on their own projects rather than viewing the corporate ladder as an aspiration.

They also don’t see the value in trying to scale the wrong wall. Millennials are willing to be workaholics, but they’ve learned their lesson from the Baby Boomers–they won’t be workaholics unless success is guaranteed.

Also, young workers who grew up in the Great Recession aren’t afraid to scrap and start over, as they’re all too aware that a stable income and a good job are more fragile than they seem. Instead of putting all their eggs in one basket, they’re willing to keep trying until they find the right fit, and they’re more willing to work parallel jobs at the same time.

Take Charge of Workplace Trends for 2020

The workplace trends of 2020 will change the way your office operates —and that can be to your office’s benefit if you’re prepared to take advantage of it. Keep these trends in mind to ensure that your workplace can attract (and keep) the best talent on the market.

Photo by Proxyclick Visitor Management System on Unsplash



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The next decade for financial services – benefitting from tech intensity


Bill Borden and Connie Leung meet with customer
Bill Borden and Connie Leung, Microsoft Financial Services Asia Business Lead, meet with a customer.

If you worked on Wall Street like I did in the fall of 2008, you most likely can recall exactly where you were and what you were doing when the market crashed, leading to the financial crisis that shook the world.

Looking back over the last decade, its impact on the financial services industry has been profound. 2010 launched new legislation, international standards, regulatory requirements and provisions that financial organizations are addressing today. In the last 10 years, financial services have also been one of the industries most impacted by digital disruption.

Financial institutions gradually shifted their views of technology from a way to improve operational efficiencies – automating manual and paper processes – to enhancing customer service through mobile solutions, and now as a transformative tool to enable everything from new business models, to compliance, to combating financial crime.

As we prepare to enter the 2020s, what will the financial services industry need to succeed in the next decade? Below, I share a few predictions, learnings and tips to help financial organizations thrive.

The next decade of financial services

Looking ahead, financial services organizations will need to be at the forefront of both technological disruption and geopolitical shifts. Together, these influences will continue to bring new competitive pressures, change the nature of work, impact people’s major life purchases, evolve customer expectations, and create the need to adapt business models and products to reflect societal and economic norms. Banks will also need to foster trust with a new generation of customers and employees who have different preferences and expectations.

As technology enables business models to shift and products and services to evolve, competition will be fierce, and relationships will change. Who in the industry is now a friend or foe? The single biggest tension will be between the traditional financial services organizations – particularly banks – and new, non-financial services entrants into the market who are carving away large portions of business and customers. Among these disruptors, “digital natives” pose the largest threat. Their business models are enabling them to quickly build and adapt new, intelligent products and acquire dedicated customers at an incredible pace.

That said, innovations that are helping digital natives thrive will also provide industry incumbents with the ability and agility to enable cultural and digital transformation and keep pace with the changing world. As I meet with our global customers, a common focus is on moving faster with higher impact. So, is there a formula for future success?

Leading with tech intensity

At Microsoft, we believe what will determine an organization’s future success is an approach called “tech intensity.” We see tech intensity as an equation: Tech Intensity = (Tech Adoption X Tech Capability) ^ Trust, and as a company, we are focused on providing the inputs to help our customers solve it.

  • Speed technology adoption: First, every leader will need to tune their organization to become a fast adopter of best-in-class technology. The use of cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), advanced analytics, open APIs and blockchain are all key technology tools that can help financial services address ongoing challenges and modernize and transform the way they do business now and in the future. At the core of their success is the ability to tap into the volumes of available data —from both inside and outside their organizations — and use it in meaningful ways to unlock new value, insights, opportunities and revenue streams.

As an example, LV= General Insurance (LV= GI) is one of the U.K.’s largest personal lines insurers with more than $2.23 billion annual premium income and serving more than 4 million customers. Data scientists within LV= GI looked for opportunities to supplement their existing claims processing expertise with machine learning to increase certainty in claim resolution. The result was a pioneering AI solution that LV= GI believes is – not only U.K.-leading – but industry leading worldwide. The results of integrating the new AI-driven system exceeded LV=GI’s expectations by reducing the 20% of complex, unclear claims to an astonishing 3.9%. It’s a massive swing that delivers customers real value and a net benefit to LV= GI in excess of seven figures.

  • Build unique capabilities: Second and equally important, organizations will need to build their own unique digital capabilities, essentially becoming technology companies themselves. There’s a very important human factor here that starts with workers who are deeply knowledgeable about the latest technology, backed by a culture that encourages capability-building and collaboration to generate new, breakthrough concepts.

New York-based Mastercard, processing about $20 billion in transactions a day across more than 210 countries or territories, and Microsoft, one of the top e-commerce merchants in the world, both felt an urgency in shifting toward online payments – especially with the increasing popularity of mobile apps and devices, which has made security more difficult even as consumers expect greater ease of use. Bringing together teams of engineers, the two companies spent three days hacking together and came up with a new service to make shopping online easier and more secure around the world, not only for shoppers, but also retailers and banks. This tech-intensity collaboration kicked off a new way of thinking about innovation that promises to lead to even more developments to help e-commerce thrive.

  • Ensure trust is your priority: Third, leadership in the digital economy will be exponentially amplified by the level of trust created with customers, partners and stakeholders — for their organization and the underlying technology.

With the goal of creating legendary experiences for more than 26 million customers, TD Bank Group, one of North America’s largest banks, knows that keeping up with changes in customer expectations and anticipating their needs is critical. They also know just how important each step of the customer’s journey is to their feeling about the experience. They are using the benefits of the cloud and complex information processing capabilities to receive detailed results from their data about the factors influencing customer satisfaction — including the feeling of trust the customer has — to improve the overall experience and deepen relationships with its customers.

Today, we announced results of a new Microsoft study, which found broad agreement across industries that tech intensity is essential for their survival: 75 percent of those surveyed said it’s the most effective way to build a competitive advantage today, and 83 percent agreed it’s critical for future success.

Building the future together

Tech intensity is the motivation behind our mission at Microsoft to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. As the new decade brings new challenges and opportunities, we are committed to helping our financial services customers unlock the power of data and empower their tech intensity journeys, by providing them with the choice of a more secure and compliant platform embedded with pervasive intelligence.

Here are a few tips to help harness the benefits of tech intensity.

  1. Adopt an entrepreneurial outlook that encourages risk-taking.
  2. Be willing to look outside your organization – and even industry – to gain a broader perspective of what technology can make possible.
  3. Stay up to date on the latest trends in software and applications so your IT team has access to the latest commercial platforms, tools and training. This way, they can avoid recreating technology that has already been commoditized.
  4. Seek resources on building trust in your technology. A good place to start is our AI Business School and new white papers — providing Microsoft’s perspective on ethical AI principles in financial services and exploring how to implement governance and risk management to foster the responsible use of AI.

While the new decade will bring many challenges for the financial services industry, I believe it will bring even more opportunities. We’re already seeing many of our customers leading in the industry with a tech-intensity approach, and I’m excited to see how it will help our customers grow their businesses even more.

Visit the Microsoft Financial Services Blog for more information on our work in the industry.

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The Top 10 Mind Tools L&D Blogs of 2019! – What You’ve Been Reading


Every week, we’ve been busy adding new posts to our L&D blog – and thousands of L&D and HR professionals have stopped by to have a read. So, as we turn the page to 2020, we thought it would be a good time to take a look back at the 10 most-visited blogs from our 2019 collection.

I hope you enjoy discovering which posts have earned a place at the top table, and catch up on any you may have missed this year. And, judging by some of the entries that made the cut, our readers certainly do enjoy a top 10!

1: Confident or Arrogant? How to Tell the Difference and Why It Matters

Confidently – but without a hint of arrogance – sitting at the top of our chart is a thought-provoking post from expert coach, Bruna Martinuzzi.

Teams are cauldrons of emotion. And Bruna (who makes a few appearances in this top 10!) says, whatever you do, don’t allow one or two arrogant individuals to contaminate the mood of others.

She advises L&D or HR professionals to pay attention to emotional contagion, and to create an environment where team members can thrive. Read her full blog here.

2: 10 Things Managers Should Never Say… and What to Say Instead

For managers, off-the-cuff comments to their people can cause irreparable damage. From demotivation to resentment, guilt to open conflict, one ill-thought-out remark could even damage your entire organization.

And coming in a close second in our top 10 is this blog from contributor Faye Bradshaw, who highlights 10 communication faux pas, and how to rephrase them professionally.

This list of horror stories clearly hit a chord with our readers. Have you heard any of them around your workplace? Read Faye’s post here.

3: Recommended Reading – 10 Books to Boost Your L&D This Fall

Taking bronze was our peek at the world of Mind Tools’ Book Insights, with excerpts from resources normally available only to corporate clients and Premium Club members.

The list includes books ranging from “8 Keys to Eliminating Passive-Aggressiveness,” to “Driving Digital Strategy: A Guide to Reimagining Your Business.” They’re all designed to invigorate your career and help you to navigate the modern work environment. You can read the full post here.

4: 10 Good Reasons to Keep Learning

At number four is (you guessed it!) another top 10, this time based on reasons to keep learning. Here we provide 10 good answers you can give to people who question the value of investing in continual learning.

For a start, it boosts happiness, improves productivity, and reduces costs. Who wouldn’t want to sign up for that?

This post also includes a handy infographic, which you can download and use to convince the skeptics within your organization! The full post is here.

5: How to Build Your People’s Resilience

At Mind Tools, you’ll find many resources on stress management. And posts on that subject also made it into our top 10 list.

Stress reduces resilience. Organizations need to ensure that their people are not forced to cope with unnecessary strain, be it from excessive workloads or poor management styles

Here, Bruna Martinuzzi looks at the causes and impact of workplace stress, and explores how it can undermine attempts to boost people’s resilience. Read her post here.

6: Favoritism: The Hidden Cause of Underperformance

In at number six is Bruna’s exploration of favoritism and nepotism – and the damage they both do to workplace culture.

And it’s not just anecdotal, either. A 2011 Georgetown University study found that a whopping 92 percent of senior business executives had witnessed favoritism in employee promotions.

Bruna advocates a workplace culture where fairness is valued, regardless of whether a superior has taken a liking to someone. You can read her blog here.

7: The Top 6 Learning Methods to Try This Month

October was National Learning and Development Month. We treated our readers to the lowdown on six powerful learning methods.

From classroom training to online learning, Mind Tools’ Natalie Benfell walked through a variety of approaches, considering the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Her conclusion? If you want to appeal to a range of learner types, use a combination of methods to deliver a perfect, blended approach. Read Natalie’s post here.

8: Progress Not Perfection

At number eight, Bruna Martinuzzi warns us against pursuing perfection. As an approach, she says, it’s unrealistic and unattainable. Instead, it’s a fast track to failure and unhappiness.

Bruna explains how having high expectations can prevent you from getting things done. And there’s guidance on what to do if you, or someone in your team, is a perfectionist.

It turns out that cutting yourself some slack can actually help you to achieve more! Read the post here.

9: 6 Things the Best Firms Are Doing to Give Learning Impact!

Back in July, we hosted one of our most popular webinars this year with Dani Johnson from RedThread Research.

Dani talked attendees through the company’s latest research, which highlighted practices that leading organizations are using to deliver the greatest learning impact for their people.

This blog gives readers a rundown of the highlights from that webinar, and a chance to listen back. You’ll find it here.

10: Actionable Insights: Is Your Data Giving You Insight or Just Information?

The last entry on our list is from resident Mind Tools data guru, James Wilson. He posted a number of data-related blogs throughout the year – and, now that the numbers are in, this turned out to be the most popular.

With so much information available, James spells out the kind of data you should be looking for: numbers that deliver “actionable insights.”

Other top tips include, “Don’t get lost in the data,” “Measure your project against the original desired outcomes,” and, “Stay commercially aware.” After all, who needs an analysis of old news? You can read his post here.

So, there you have it folks, the most popular Mind Tools L&D blog posts from 2019. If you’d like to be one of the first to hear when we publish new posts, join our mailing list and get the latest from Mind Tools straight to your inbox.

Happy holidays!



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#WorkTrends: Solving a 7 Trillion Dollar Problem


Our guest on #WorkTrends today is Calvin Hsu, the VP of Product Marketing at Citrix. A self-described right-brain technologist, he’s passionate about aligning people, technology and business to deliver an amazing employee experience. The key is a digital work environment that’s streamlined, engaging and — behind the scenes — secure. 

Listen to the full conversation or read the recap below. And don’t forget to subscribe, so you never miss an episode. 

[04:15] We don’t need to fix the individual application’s relationship to the person, we need to fix the person’s relationship to all of their applications.

[07:38] There’s definitely this gap in the industry between the people who make the technology and the people who tell other people what it does and why they want it. 

[15:39] You need to be able to have a broad system that’s collecting accurate information about your behavior and that really does understand you.

[20:55] The person is still the center of creativity and innovation and how the work gets done, but they could be leveraging technology in a more personal way.

Today, we’re talking to Calvin Hsu from Citrix about bringing together technology, people and business to fix a very expensive problem: $7 trillion in lost output. Hsu is the VP of Product Marketing at Citrix, and is part of an exciting new kind of digital workspace and a transformed employee experience. The company just announced they’ve added new features within the Citrix® Workspace™ — such as the intelligent feed and personalized workflows. So it’s a great time to have this conversation. 

If you happened to catch Hsu’s presentation at the recent Citrix Synergy event, you know he’s deeply involved — you might even say obsessed — with providing organizations with a digital workspace that does away with the hyper-siloed, apps-by-the-dozen experience in favor of one that’s seamless, aligned with business objectives and more secure. Hsu is a technologist with a difference: he started out as an English major, of all things, and has never lost his love of story. And if there’s a story to his work at Citrix, it’s a through-line of creativity, but with a clear belief that if you’re not aligned with business objectives, the innovation isn’t doing what it should.  

Application Overload

Hsu pointed out that spending $7 trillion on applications that actually thwart engagement experience and output is nobody’s fault. “When we drop a number like that, everyone covers their mouth and says, ‘Oh geez, did I do that?’’ But it’s more the natural outcome of how we’ve built technology for decades — application by application, upgrade by upgrade. This siloed thinking has resulted in employees using some 30 or 40 different applications and digital tools on any given day, and without question, that can be exhausting. On any given day, the average employee spends nearly 65% of their time on busy work and in meetings, 20% searching for information and just 15% doing what they want and are paid to do.

People Are the Center of Experience

Hsu discussed the need to shift from a jigsaw puzzle of applications to a cohesive workspace — and how a discussion with a customer made him think about how we use technology.  “He was one of the earlier customers … deploying enterprise applications and really actively measuring people’s satisfaction and how much they would recommend it to their coworkers,” Hsu recalled. When the subject of metrics came up, the customer said he wouldn’t use them, as he knew his employees would hate it. Putting people and focusing on experience is vital — but it also changes the game in terms of tech.

Getting Security Right

Of course with countless users on a digital platform, security is tantamount. But security needs to smarten up, Hsu said. He brought up credit card fraud protection — in which the credit card company collects data about your habits and behaviors, and then mistakenly decides that if you’re in a new country or buying something different, something must be wrong. The company puts a hold on the card based on this false positive, and the customer is furious. It’s critical that security measures applied to digital workspaces be based on broader and smarter criteria. And that’s just as important in terms of delivering a seamless experience as the rest of the platform.

In my conversation with Hsu we covered so much ground, including his take on the future of work. The future of work needs less digital noise and no more meaningless tasks —and that’s what’s happening now, as he pointed out. This is an intelligent digital workspace that really provides employees with the personalized experience they need to be their most productive and do the work that matters. That’s what we all want, I’d say. I think you’ll find Hsu’s perspective just as interesting as I did.

Resources Mentioned in this Episode:

Calvin Hsu on Linkedin and Twitter

This episode is sponsored by Citrix.

Photo by Florian Krumm on Unsplash



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L&D Blog » Introduction to Instructional Design


Among the L&D professional’s core skills is the ability to design learning materials. But doing so for a diverse, online audience can be tricky.

It’s vital to account for different learning preferences, but according to leading instructional designer Jan Seabrook, this requires time. Jan says, “The pay-off is that online learning materials offer advantages such as consistency of content and reduced learning time.”

Why Is Instructional Design Important?

Over the years, the importance of instructional design (ID) has been emphasized to varying degrees. But it’s now in danger of being ignored in the face of template-driven, rapid-authoring of learning objects, simulations, unstructured learning, peer groups, and so on.

There’s also a greater focus on logging and measuring learning – on top of the usual pressures of time and costs. Yet ID provides a structure, discipline and core framework for learning solutions. In addition, it’s based on principles that can help to keep any project on track.

Psychologist Robert Gagné argues that there are different kinds of knowledge and skills, and that each of them requires unique conditions for learning. ID’s job is to identify these conditions. Its architecture can comprise media-, message-, strategy-, and model-driven designs for learning programs.

Overcoming Obstacles

However, in the world of corporate learning, ID has to overcome a range of practical problems. For example:

  • Often, instructional designers don’t lead the L&D team and therefore don’t call the shots.
  • Projects have a habit of changing. Instructional designers will likely be asked to alter the entire design in order to cater for extra learner categories.
  • The rest of the project group, and the client, probably won’t understand the particular nuances, skills and rationale of the design.
  • Program design has shifted from the instructional designer to subject matter experts. These experts aren’t necessarily skilled in, or sympathetic to, ID techniques. Nor are they adept at remembering what it’s like to know very little about the subject in which they now specialize.

To be effective, ID needs to be based on identified learning needs, relate to organizational needs, and have clearly defined objectives.

It should also structure and sequence the content effectively, use the appropriate delivery media, and offer assessment and feedback.

How to Create Effective Learning Programs

Of course, learning should take priority over technology. Merely having the technology to develop learning materials doesn’t guarantee their effectiveness. The content of an effective learning program should match the user’s immediate learning needs. But, according to Jan Seabrook, “this implies a proper user analysis yet, often, that’s taken for granted, with the manager/client describing who needs the learning.

“By reducing time to [just] the delivery of online learning, working with smaller budgets, and a possible assumption that ‘anyone can put learning online,’ the role of ID may be seen as unnecessary. However, its role is to allow learners to become proficient performers, in the most efficient and effective way, at whatever the project set out to achieve. An effective instructional designer can also provide useful reference materials, improve work processes, and provide other helpful [pieces of] advice for the business that become apparent during the ID process for the project.”

The Frank Troha Instructional Design Model

New York-based ID specialist Frank Troha says, “In life-or-death situations, there are proven processes – or protocols. They’re followed because they tend to produce the desired result. I wish I could say the same for corporate training.

“Doctors agree on the process to be followed to remove an appendix. But do workers in the L&D field agree on the process to be followed to design effective instruction? In my 30-plus years of designing corporate training, I’ve met many L&D colleagues who’ve been far more enamored with the latest technologies than with mastering an effective protocol or process for the design of instructional experiences. Yet it’s the mastery of an ID model that provides the basis or framework which informs the proper selection and utilization of the most appropriate technologies.”

Creating a Blueprint for Success

Frank’s ID model comprises a series of major questions, asked in sequence. They are:

  • What’s the purpose of the training?
  • What’s indicated the need for it?
  • Who’s the audience?
  • What do they need to come away with as a result of completing the training?
  • Given that we want them to come away with those things, what exactly do we need to address in the training?
  • What’s the best way to get those elements of course content across to the audience? (This is where the selection of appropriate learning technologies comes in.)
  • How can we help make sure that the learning “sticks” – what can we do before, during and after the training to ensure that it’s kept alive?
  • How will we evaluate the effectiveness of the training, both while it’s being developed (or drafted) and after it’s been finalized and delivered to the audience?

The answers to these questions form a blueprint to guide the development of learning programs.

“These eight steps are an ID model,” says Frank. “By contrast, consider what happens when a subject matter expert dives in and populates templates with learning content – compared with an instructional designer who uses an approach like the eight questions. Which individual is likely to produce the more effective training experience? I know the answer to that question – and it’s why I believe ID will never die.”

How do you make your L&D materials, who else is involved, and what have you learned from the process? Share your ideas in our comments section below.



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Lessons From the CHA Symposium


In October, Mind Tools was proud to sponsor the Catholic Health Australia (CHA) Symposium in Melbourne.

CHA represents the largest non-government provider of health and community care services in Australia.

The inaugural symposium was CHA’s premier event in learning and development, bringing together people from across the CHA community, including nursing, midwifery, allied health, clinical and education staff.

The purpose of the event was to give members the opportunity to network, learn and exchange ideas. There were also presentations from industry experts, such as associate professor Dr Judy Dunchscher, who specialises in nursing graduate education and transition into the work environment.

From Classroom Learning to Just-in-Time Learning 

Mind Tools was introduced to the gathering by former CEO Ollie Craddock, who co-presented an informative session, “L&D Success Story: Moving From Classroom Learning to Just-in-Time Learning,” with one of our corporate clients, St John of God Health Care.

Mind Tools’ Ollie Craddock addresses the Catholic Health Australia Symposium

During the session, Rita Maguire and Deb Wild, St John of God Health Care’s group director workforce and group learning design manager respectively, outlined the challenges that the organization faced before joining forces with Mind Tools.

For example, their caregivers didn’t have equal access to learning opportunities in the workplace and were looking to enhance their skill sets. They also found it challenging to engage the organization’s dispersed workforce – as a high number of caregivers are based in remote locations.

Implementing a Just-in-Time Learning Platform 

Rita described the journey of implementing Mind Tools, and how the organization was able to shift its cultural mindset from push learning to pull learning, while also accelerating the performance of all of the organization’s caregivers.  

Since partnering, Mind Tools content has been built into the organization’s wider programs, including onboarding, objective mapping and management training. 

Ollie then highlighted some of the key successes that St John of God Health Care’s new learning initiative with Mind Tools has achieved so far. For example, staff amassed 30,382 page views in 11 months, and more than 2,500 learners are using Mind Tools’ resources every month.  

Rita said, “Our people need mentors and coaches, not managers. Mind Tools on-demand learning gives them what they need, when they need it.

“It manages to take face-to-face programs completely online, and delivers to our caregivers much more quickly.”

Driving Success Through Marketing

The presenters then went on to explain how this has all be achieved through a range of marketing techniques and channels.

Ollie spoke about how Mind Tools worked closely with St John of God Health Care to understand its diverse learner audience, and then send relevant and timely messages to nudge them to the vast range of content available.

To prove the ROI of its L&D, the organization is measuring success using several channels, including internal surveys and close monitoring of usage.

So far, the results have been very encouraging, and Mind Tools is working to develop this strong partnership even further and explore new initiatives for engaging all 14,000 team members at St John of God Health Care.

Rita closed the presentation out by saying, “Mind Tools will become every caregiver’s “Google”, using it to direct their own learning, available at their fingertips.”

If you would like to hear more about our partnership with St John of God Health Care, you can listen to the webinar we recorded shortly before the symposium.

If you’d like to find out more about our corporate subscription, request a demo today and discover how Mind Tools can help you and your organization.



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Tallying the momentous growth and continued expansion of Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform


We’ve seen incredible growth of Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform just in the past year. This momentum is driving a massive investment in people and breakthrough technologies that will empower organizations to transform in the next decade.

We have allocated hundreds of millions of dollars in our business cloud that power business transformation across markets and industries and help organizations solve difficult problems.

This fiscal year we are also heavily investing in the people that bring Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform to life — a rapidly growing global network of experts, from engineers and researchers to sales and marketing professionals. Side-by-side with our incredible partner community, the people that power innovation at Microsoft will fuel transformational experiences for our customers into the next decade.

Accelerating innovation across industries

In every industry, I hear about the struggle to transform from a reactive to proactive organization that can respond to changes in the market, customer needs, and even within their own business. When I talk to customers who have rolled out Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform, the conversation shifts to the breakthrough outcomes they’ve achieved, often in very short time frames.

Customers talk about our unique ability to connect data holistically across departments and teams — with AI-powered insights to drive better outcomes. Let me share a few examples.

This year we’ve focused on a new vision for retail that unifies back office, in-store and digital experiences. One of Washington state’s founding wineries — Ste. Michelle Wine Estates — is onboarding Dynamics 365 Commerce to bridge physical and digital channels, streamline operations with cloud intelligence and continue building brand loyalty with hyper-personalized customer experiences.

When I talk to manufacturers, we often zero in on ways to bring more efficiency to the factory floor and supply chain. Again, it’s our ability to harness data from physical and digital worlds, reason over it with AI-infused insights, that opens doors to new possibilities. For example, Majans, the Australian-based snackfood company, is creating the factory of the future with the help of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management, Power BI and Azure IoT Hub — bringing Internet of Things (IoT) intelligence to every step in the supply chain, from quality control on the production floor to key performance indicators to track future investments. When everyone relies on a single source of truth about production, inventory and sales performance, decisions employees make drive the same outcome — all made possible on our connected business cloud.

These connected experiences extend to emerging technologies that bridge digital and physical worlds, such as our investment in mixed reality. We’re working with companies like PACCAR — manufacturer of premium trucks — to improve manufacturing productivity and employee training using Dynamics 365 Guides and HoloLens 2, as well as Siemens to enable technicians to service its eHighway — an electrified freight transport system — by completing service steps with hands-free efficiency using HoloLens and two-way communication and documentation in Dynamics 365 Field Service.

For many of our customers, the journey to Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform started with a need for more personalized customer experiences. Our customer data platform (CDP) featuring Dynamics 365 Customer Insights, is helping Tivoli Gardens — one of the world’s longest-running amusement parks — personalize guest experiences across every touchpoint — on the website, at the hotel and in the park.  Marston’s has onboarded Dynamics 365 Sales and Customer Insights to unify guest data and infuse personalized experiences across its 1,500-plus pubs across the U.K.

The value of Dynamics 365 is compounded when coupled with the Power Platform. In late 2019, there are over 3 million monthly active developers on the Power Platform, from non-technical “citizen developers” to Microsoft partners developing world-class, customized apps. In the last year, we’ve seen a 700% growth in Power Apps production apps and a 300% growth in monthly active users. All of those users generate a ton of data, with more than 25 billion Power Automate steps run each day and 25 million data models hosted in the Power BI service.

The impact of the Power Platform is shared in the stories our customers share with us. TruGreen, one of the largest lawn care companies in the U.S., onboarded Dynamics 365 Customer Insights and the Microsoft Power Platform to provide more proactive and predictive services to customers, freeing employees to spend more time on higher value tasks and complex customer issue resolution. And the American Red Cross is leveraging Power Platform integration with Teams to improve disaster response times.

From the Fortune 500 companies below to the thousands of small and medium sized businesses, city and state governments, schools and colleges and nonprofit organizations — Dynamics 365 and the Microsoft Cloud are driving transformative success delivering on business outcomes.

24 business logos of Microsoft partners

Partnering to drive customer success

We can’t talk about growth and momentum of Dynamics 365 and Power Platform without spotlighting our partner community — from ISVs to System Integrators that are the lifeblood of driving scale for our business. We launched new programs, such as the new ISV Connect Program, to help partners get Dynamics 365 and Power Apps solutions to market faster.

Want to empower the next generation of connected cloud business? Join our team!

The incredible momentum of Dynamics 365 and Power Platform means our team is growing, too. In markets around the globe, we’re looking for people who want to make a difference and take their career to the next level by helping global organizations digitally transform on Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform. If you’re interested in joining our rapidly growing team, we’re hiring across a wealth of disciplines, from engineering to technical sales, in markets across the globe. Visit careers.microsoft.com to explore business applications specialist career opportunities.

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The Microsoft Diversity and Inclusion Report reveals momentum and learnings for the future


Today, I’m sharing the progress we’re making toward our goal to increase diversity at Microsoft globally. Our 2019 Diversity and Inclusion Report is our most comprehensive to date, and reflects our data, our journey, our learnings, and our employees’ stories. With this year’s report, we renew our commitment to our mission to consciously and intentionally include everyone.

In 2019, we made progress on our diversity and inclusion objectives, as reflected in the numbers. But there is another part of our journey that year-over-year data can’t convey: the depth of our commitment and the range of programs in place to keep diversity and inclusion at the heart of the work we do. And although we’re gratified to see the movement, we know we cannot take our focus off the work that needs to continue.

In addition to the numbers, the report reflects day-to-day learnings, and how we’re applying this knowledge to build trust and adapt as we go. For example, this year we enhanced some of the ways we measure and analyze our data to give us a more detailed look at specific areas where we’re hoping to improve.

Here are some of the new additions to this year’s reporting:

  • The Inclusion Index, shared publicly for the first time in this report, is an internal sentiment measure that helps us understand the effectiveness of company efforts by measuring employee perceptions about their experiences at Microsoft.
  • Equal pay data is being expanded to reflect the global representation of men and women in the U.S. plus the five largest markets outside the U.S. based on employee population. This data represents almost 80% of our workforce, giving us a more nuanced understanding of our pay practices globally.
  • We’ve distinguished directors and executives from each other in the category we previously labeled as “Leadership,” and called out metrics for women and racial and ethnic minorities among managers and individual contributors, to better examine representation throughout the workforce.

I do want to note that the data listed below does not include our broader Microsoft family of companies — LinkedIn, GitHub, Compulsion, Playground Games, Ninja Theory, InXile, Obsidian Entertainment and Undead Labs. The full report shows snapshots of data with and without these companies as well as a look at LinkedIn’s and GitHub’s reports that were also released today.

From June 2018 to June 2019 we saw encouraging gains in the representation of our employees. In terms of race and ethnicity, we saw modest year-over-year growth in total representation in all categories, including in tech and in leadership roles at both the director and executive level. Overall, racial and ethnic minorities represent 46.7% of the U.S. workforce, up 2.2 percentage points from 2018.

This year, continuing a positive trend dating back to 2016, there were steady increases in the representation of women globally at the company in all the aspects we measured, including tech and leadership roles. Overall representation of women increased 1.1 percentage points to 27.6%. At leadership levels, women currently represent 37% of our company’s executives responsible for leading a geographic market, with women currently leading three of our largest global markets.

We aspire to a workforce and culture that truly reflects the societies where we work, around the world, and there is clearly more we need to do.

Equal pay
In the U.S. women earn $1.001 for every $1.000 earned by their counterparts who are men, and racial and ethnic minorities earn $1.006 for every $1.000 earned by their white counterparts. As we expanded our equal pay data to include data on women and men from the U.S. plus the five largest markets outside the U.S. — collectively representing about 80% of our workforce — we see that women in those combined geographies earn $0.999 for every $1.000 by their counterparts who are men.  At Microsoft, we are committed to the principle of equal pay for equal work for our employees and strive to pay employees equally for substantially similar work.

Inclusion Index
Our Microsoft Inclusion Index, shared publicly for the first time, reflects that 88% of employees agree that they experience positive aspects of inclusion at Microsoft. With our scale and global reach, this is a positive indicator, but we know we have a responsibility to engage those who are not part of that 88%.

Our broad responsibility
With our corporate mission, our scale, and our global reach, we have a responsibility to do far more than just raise awareness about inclusion. We are uniquely positioned to drive the conversation, to have a meaningful, tangible impact on how people experience Microsoft products and services, and how they engage within our workplace and with the company in general. Our responsibility is not just to those who work with us, but to the larger technology industry, the industries we serve and the communities where we live.

I encourage you all to read the full report to explore much more detailed data, insights, employee stories, and initiatives, as well as our learnings to see how we’re applying this knowledge.

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