The Exciting Conclusion: What happens when new employee orientation becomes a game?

A week ago, I wrote about a new and improved orientation program for incoming employees at my organization. The response to that post was unexpected, and amazing. Thank you to everyone who commented on the post or sent me an email or a LinkedIn message to wish me luck with the program and to hear more about how it turned out.

I’m happy to share our experience from our first session in two parts.   Continue reading

A New Spin on Peer Feedback Forms

feedback

Greetings from sunny Uganda! I’m on assignment this week in Kampala, where it’s Day 2 of a 3-day train-the-trainer program.

There will be a lot of practice facilitation and peer feedback today. Days like this can grow long and monotonous, with presentation after presentation, and the peer feedback process can grow stale and feel drawn-out after the first 5 or 6 presentations.

Recently, a colleague suggested I alter our peer feedback form. For this suggestion, I think he’s a genius.   Continue reading

Cool Study Tool: A Brief Review of Quizlet

I was working with a team last week to push forward a sales training program that I was helping them develop. At one point, a sales team member asked: Have you ever used Quizlet?

No, I hadn’t.

She pulled out her phone and showed me how she quickly created a series of flashcards to help her study terminology she’d need in order to sound intelligent and informed during her sales calls.

quizlet-3

The flashcards were basic – nothing flashy – but they could be used by someone sitting in front of a computer (via the desktop version) or someone who was on the road (via the free app). I was intrigued.   Continue reading

One Way to Keep an Audience Engaged when Presenting Data

Eye Popping 2

I find data and numbers and charts and graphs interesting. To an extent. But I can’t sit through 30 minutes of data being presented in a dry format. I heard similar comments from a number of co-workers after walking out of our monthly staff meetings.

One person suggested projecting slides so that we could see the data being discussed. We tried that, but the slides were often crammed too full with information and were hard to follow.

Yesterday, I reached deep down into my bag of tricks to see if we could come up with a way to keep people engaged with the statistical review during our monthly all-staff meetings. It seemed to work.  Continue reading

Case Study: Covering 18 Topics in 45 Minutes

The Challenge: SightLife, the eye bank for which I work, is dedicated to eliminating corneal blindness within our lifetime. In order to do this in India, there will need to be 100,000 corneas available for transplant every year (last year there were approximately 25,000 corneas available for transplant). It’s a big goal, and in theory, the eye banks of India are aligned with this goal.

But what does rapidly growing in order to help support 100,000 transplants actually mean? What will it take to actually get there? What policies, procedures and practices need to be in place? There’s a lot that will need to happen in order to move this from a big idea to a concrete reality.

Each year, we hold a meeting with eye banks in India to discuss these challenges. There are so many areas to focus on that we normally only pick one or two. The problem with this is that some eye banks aren’t ready for the topics we pick, some eye banks are in the midst of dealing with the topics we pick, and some eye banks have already found some solutions and ways to address the areas we focus on.

The other challenge is that this meeting is only one day long, and there are many other items we need to accomplish in addition to educational and professional development sessions.

This year we were left grappling with a question: how could we address everyone’s learning needs, bring all of the issues and challenges we’ll face in order to reach 100,000 transplants per year (we identified up to 18 key challenges, although there are probably more) and do all of this within a 45 minute block of time?

The Solution: Taking inspiration from The Game of Life, Monopoly and a few other family board games, our L&D team set out to create a game Continue reading

A Lesson in Gamification from Car2Go

I was in a hurry to get home the other day and the bus wasn’t going to get me there in time, so I hopped in a Car2Go (if you’re not familiar with Car2Go, it’s a pretty ingenious way to get around town without having to own your own car; check it out here).

As I sped home in the little Smart Car, I noticed what seemed like a warning light. I pressed on the touch screen display and up popped a message, something along these lines: “you need to drive better.” Apparently I wasn’t driving in a very fuel efficient manner. Then, on the touch screen display, this image popped up:

Gamification 1

My initial thought was: What the hell? I’m just trying to get home. It’s rush hour. I’m driving in city traffic. Seattle is full of hills. And drivers who don’t go when a light turns green (nor do they honk). How am I supposed to drive in a more fuel efficient manner?

And then I took a closer look. Those trees did look pretty sad. And who wants a monitor displaying grey rain clouds? And what were those numbers? What was the highest score? 50? 100? Guess there’s only one way to find out. So I started pressing a little lighter on the gas pedal when I accelerated. When I was cruising I stopped pressing the gas pedal when I was going down a hill. I eased into traffic stoppages and stop lights a little more gently.

I noticed that the forest started looking a bit healthier. A cloud even went away. And those clouds that remained had turned white. Who doesn’t like a few white, puffy clouds in the sky?

Gamification 2

What lessons can learning & development professionals take from this?

As I drove, there were no detailed instructions. There was no carrot nor was there a stick. Nobody at Car2Go would ever yell at me (nor would they ever reward me) for my driving habits. There was barely any message given to me at all, yet my fuel efficient driving apparently improved. It tapped into my curiosity (hmmmm, how do I get these numbers to go up? How do I make the trees get bigger? Wait, the clouds turn different colors? And if my score gets high enough, the clouds go away? Well then, what happens if I ease off the gas pedal a little more? What happens if I ease into slowing down and stopping a bit more?). It tapped into my competitive nature (just how high can I get those numbers?). It tapped into my playful nature (all right, there are some electronic images of trees… how can I get them bigger and healthier?).

Whether elearning or in-person, do we need detailed instructions? Is there a way to tap into our learners’ inner curiosity? Their innate sense of play and competitiveness? Is there a more fun and simple way to motivate our learners?

If the car sharing service Car2Go can do it, why can’t instructional designers and learning and development professionals?

3 Ways (and 1 Tool) to Engage Your Staff in Your Next Team Meeting

Last week a colleague asked for help organizing her thoughts for an upcoming team meeting. She had prepared a set of PowerPoint slides and was preparing to distribute a hard copy of some job duties that she wanted to review with her team… for the third time.

As we honed in on the specific problem she wanted to address, I asked how comfortable she’d be in changing her presentation tactic. Instead of talking at her team (for the third time), what if she laid out the problem and then asked for their input in solving it?

She gave it a whirl. Afterward, she said her team was engaged for the entire meeting and they offered more suggestions and solutions than she could shake a stick at.

Shortly after this experience I came across this image, lifted from a highly entertaining article on the importance of presentations as a performance vs. a conversation.

HugSpeak - Some speeches

It got me wondering: why do we, as managers, so often feel that we need to come up with all the answers for our teams?

Following are three suggestions (and a tool) to engage meeting attendees more effectively:

When appropriate, send information in advance and insist attendees come prepared.

I recognize that there are times when news needs to be broken to everyone at the same time, in person. In my experience, that’s generally the exception, not the rule. If there’s something new to be shared with the team – a new development or a new policy, for example – then send it out in advance. And request that everyone come to the meeting prepared to discuss how the new development or policy will impact them.

Make them do the work.

In the example I shared (above), my colleague decided to abandon her lecture-style review of an existing policy. She admitted it would have put her team to sleep. Instead, she chose to challenge the team to list as many responsibilities as they could think of that they needed to fulfill in accordance with this policy. It kept her team awake, on their toes, and it allowed her to see what they remembered and where possible gaps existed between the policy and their day-to-day practices.

Let them come up with solutions.

Too many managers (myself included) feel that they need to come up with solutions to every problem – big or small. In the example I shared, my colleague abandoned her plan to tell her team how the problem was going to be solved. Instead she solicited solutions from her team. My colleague no longer had to stress over whether a solution she came up with would meet the needs of her staff, and because her staff came up with the solutions, they had a stake in owning and carrying out these solutions.

A word of caution: engaging people takes time, effort and preparation

Taking a risk by creating a more engaging team meeting can yield fantastic results that include:

  • More energy during team meetings,
  • Better use of everyone’s time,
  • More ideas from more people,
  • More innovative solutions, and
  • Shared ownership of problems and solutions.

You won’t find success, however, by merely wanting to engage people. Engaging your team or audience in a meeting requires advanced planning and meticulous preparation.

You need to map out exactly how much time you’d like to spend introducing a topic, facilitating a discussion, and discussing next steps. You need to make sure you’ve defined exactly what results you want to see. Without planning, you could suddenly find that you spent too much time setting up a problem and you’ve run out of time for discussion. Or perhaps you’ll find you’ve spent too much time brainstorming and not enough time refining ideas or clearly articulating next steps.

If you’re looking to plan a meeting that engages your audience, here is a link to a presentation planning template that could help you keep your next meeting organized.

Have you found a strategy to better engage people in your meetings? Please share in the comments section.

Know someone who could use some help engaging people in their meetings? Pass this link along.