How to teach employees skills they don’t know they lack

By: Ulrick Juul Christensen September 29, 2017

Source: https://www.hbr.org

After spending billions of dollars a year on corporate learning, U.S. companies probably assume that their employees have the knowledge and skills they need to carry out their jobs. The employees themselves probably think they’re prepared, too, having gone through these exercises. But according to data from industries including academia, health care, technology, manufacturing, retail, sports, and business services, people are actually “unconsciously incompetent” in a typical 20% to 40% of areas critical to their performance.  One global technology company my team works with, for example, discovered that, on average, its sales employees didn’t understand or know about 22% of its product features, even though they believed they did.

Unconscious incompetence can be found at every function, discipline, and level in organizations. In fact, it’s often more prominent among experienced staff, which is particularly problematic because, as the go-to people in their circles, they often pass incorrect or incomplete information and skills on to others via to peer-to-peer learning and training. This can lead to significant mistakes, dissatisfied customers and even damaged corporate reputations.

But how does a company, manager or individual employee correct a competency gap about which no one is aware?  As a physician who studies brain function, biological variation  and how people learn, I have some suggestions. The first step is to get “unconscious incompetence” on the learning agenda.

Corporate training programs need to be redesigned to better engage learners and empower them to admit what they don’t know. Too many online training modules miss the mark here because they rely on static content, which most people try to click through as quickly as possible, especially if they think they already know it. These programs also make assumptions about what students understand and where they need reinforcement, offering a “one-size-fits-all” approach that’s highly ineffective since every learner is different, with variations in knowledge, experiences, background and the ability to take in new information, even from moment to moment.

Better learning models are instead adaptive—that is, molded to each person’s needs by probing what they know and don’t know, then offering tailored content as the learner performs well or struggles. When e-learning is individualized in this way, learners can still speed through material, but only that which they’ve already mastered. And when they reach anything that challenges them, they get more support.  Education technology companies and publishers are working hard to build these kinds of systems, as are industry groups, particularly in the healthcare arena. The American Medical Association recently announced a partnership initiative to encourage innovation and flexibility in continuing education, using blended or new approaches. And our work with the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM Group) to create courses that allow physicians to maintain certification and keep up to date in a constantly evolving field is similar.

When being tested, learners should also be pushed to rate the confidence of their answers.   Consider, for example, a trainee who scores 40 out of 50 on a proficiency test. Her trainer should make sure she focuses not just on the 10 misses, but also any correct answers that she can admit were lucky guesses. I’ve actually started to use this approach when helping my two daughters practice their spelling words. With every answer, they have to put three fingers up if they are sure, two fingers up if they’re only partly sure, and a thumbs-down if they’re just giving it a shot. Now, they’re much more conscious about when they’re guessing, and more apt to review all the words on which they felt at all unsure. When corporate learning programs prompt employees to admit to that they’re guessing in the same way, they, too, begin to see the previously hidden gaps in their skills and knowledge.

Another strategy is to promote a culture of continuous improvement.  A great example comes from the aviation industry. Pilots are trained in the latest aircraft and procedures using simulators, which test their skills and abilities, and uncover unconscious incompetence. In addition, airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) use information from “near-miss” data (incidents or errors that nearly cause an accident) to inform training. The result is “predictive safety” that relies heavily on the reporting of these mistakes. The objective is not to punish (in fact, a lack of near-miss data is seen as questionable), but to improve safety and performance.  More companies should keep formal or informal records of—and openly discuss—errors, whether in production, customer service, or other areas because they can yield invaluable insights about employees’ knowledge gaps and make everyone more aware of what they don’t know.  The goal is to make people more comfortable about acknowledging previous mistakes and any doubts they may have going forward about trying to do their job. Emphasize that saying “I don’t know” is always better than pretending to know something.

Unconscious incompetence is a pervasive and escalating problem, especially in fast-paced industries where knowledge and skills need constant updating.  Organizations can only address it with more adaptive, individualized corporate learning programs and by promoting a culture of continues improvement.  With a mindful approach that allows learners to probe their knowledge, uncover what they don’t know, and admit when they are unclear, incompetence is uncovered and, thus, no longer unconscious: Employees know what they don’t know and their employers can do something about it.

Seven tips to clinch that promotion at work

By: Avery Blank June 09, 2017

Source: https://www.weforum.org

 

Are you up for a promotion, and it’s a crowded field? In situations where there are many people vying for that one opportunity, the human instinct is to see it as a competition, the survival of the fittest. It’s not. It is not about competition. Don’t try to act like bosses you have encountered who rule with an iron fist and knock others out of the way for the role. Stop focusing on getting the title, and start thinking about making an impact. Focus on being a leader who makes an impact. Here are seven ways to make a leadership impact and get your promotion:

  1. Be physically present at work.

Flexible and remote work is great, but it is difficult to find a substitute as equally impactful as face time in the office. You do not have to be in the office all the time. When you are able, be in the office a few days a week or at least a few hours each day. Use video conferencing when you can. Know the familiar saying, “Out of sight, out of mind?” Don’t let that be you. Use your presence to make an impact.

  1. Listen.

Ask questions, and listen. Ask your colleagues how things are going and where they need help. Gather feedback. When you establish yourself as a listener, you will become known for making inclusive, educated decisions. When your colleagues see that you listen to them, they will recognize they are a valuable piece of the equation. When you make people feel valued, they will want you to be in a position to lead.

  1. Have lunch with your colleagues.

Don’t underestimate downtime. With downtime, there is more freedom and opportunity to connect with people. Don’t eat at your desk. Don’t eat by yourself in the cafeteria. Ask teammates to go to lunch with you, or pull up a chair at a table once you have gotten your lunch. This is not the time to put a wedge between you and others. Social opportunities are times to bridge the divide, connect with people on a human level and make an impact.

  1. Teach teammates.

Leaders empower others with the tools to accomplish goals. Share your knowledge, whether that is in a workshop setting or teaching a colleague one-on-one at their desk. Be a giver. The knowledge you impart helps the organization succeed and everyone there to succeed.

  1. Inspire people.
    It is a great feeling when someone tells you, “Thanks. I’m going to try that.” Or “I’m going to look into that after speaking with you.” Great leaders have the ability to inspire. If your teammate is discouraged about the mistake he made, help him to look at the bigger picture. Encourage your colleagues to try something new. Some people feel that providing emotional support in competitive environments is risky business. Too often, people try to be a “boss” by exerting dominance and using scare tactics. Emotional support in the workplace is critical to the cohesiveness and success of the organization. Leaders have the ability to provide the support necessary to run a successful organization. Leaders light a fire in you, not under you.
  1. Give credit to others.

Life and work is not a zero sum game. A successful teammate does not make you look unsuccessful, so don’t be afraid to highlight other’s achievements. Tell your manager that your partner helped the team meet the grant application deadline. Let your manager know that the intern did great background research that helped you to woo a new client. Shining the light on others is part of being a leader. Leaders want others to look good. When others look good, it makes you look good. Everyone wins.

  1. Take a smart risk.

Playing it safe is not always the answer. Great companies want their employees to think innovatively. When you are up when they see an opportunity that will benefit the organization. “Bosses” are temporary. Leaders are forever. With a focus on impact, leaders transcend titles and positions. When you focus on a greater goal, others will recognize you are ready to advance.

Seven tips to clinch that promotion at work

By: Avery Blank June 09, 2017

Source: https://www.weforum.org

Are you up for a promotion, and it’s a crowded field? In situations where there are many people vying for that one opportunity, the human instinct is to see it as a competition, the survival of the fittest. It’s not. It is not about competition. Don’t try to act like bosses you have encountered who rule with an iron fist and knock others out of the way for the role. Stop focusing on getting the title, and start thinking about making an impact. Focus on being a leader who makes an impact. Here are seven ways to make a leadership impact and get your promotion:

  1. Be physically present at work. Flexible and remote work is great, but it is difficult to find a substitute as equally impactful as face time in the office. You do not have to be in the office all the time. When you are able, be in the office a few days a week or at least a few hours each day. Use video conferencing when you can. Know the familiar saying, “Out of sight, out of mind?” Don’t let that be you. Use your presence to make an impact.
  1. Listen. Ask questions, and listen. Ask your colleagues how things are going and where they need help. Gather feedback. When you establish yourself as a listener, you will become known for making inclusive, educated decisions. When your colleagues see that you listen to them, they will recognize they are a valuable piece of the equation. When you make people feel valued, they will want you to be in a position to lead.
  1. Have lunch with your colleagues. Don’t underestimate downtime. With downtime, there is more freedom and opportunity to connect with people. Don’t eat at your desk. Don’t eat by yourself in the cafeteria. Ask teammates to go to lunch with you, or pull up a chair at a table once you have gotten your lunch. This is not the time to put a wedge between you and others. Social opportunities are times to bridge the divide, connect with people on a human level and make an impact.
  1. Teach teammates. Leaders empower others with the tools to accomplish goals. Share your knowledge, whether that is in a workshop setting or teaching a colleague one-on-one at their desk. Be a giver. The knowledge you impart helps the organization succeed and everyone there to succeed.
  1. Inspire people. It is a great feeling when someone tells you, “Thanks. I’m going to try that.” Or “I’m going to look into that after speaking with you.” Great leaders have the ability to inspire. If your teammate is discouraged about the mistake he made, help him to look at the bigger picture. Encourage your colleagues to try something new. Some people feel that providing emotional support in competitive environments is risky business. Too often, people try to be a “boss” by exerting dominance and using scare tactics. Emotional support in the workplace is critical to the cohesiveness and success of the organization. Leaders have the ability to provide the support necessary to run a successful organization. Leaders light a fire in you, not under you.
  1. Give credit to others. Life and work is not a zero sum game. A successful teammate does not make you look unsuccessful, so don’t be afraid to highlight other’s achievements. Tell your manager that your partner helped the team meet the grant application deadline. Let your manager know that the intern did great background research that helped you to woo a new client. Shining the light on others is part of being a leader. Leaders want others to look good. When others look good, it makes you look good. Everyone wins.
  1. Take a smart risk. Playing it safe is not always the answer. Great companies want their employees to think innovatively. When you are up when they see an opportunity that will benefit the organization. “Bosses” are temporary. Leaders are forever. With a focus on impact, leaders transcend titles and positions. When you focus on a greater goal, others will recognize you are ready to advance.

5 secrets to coaching your employees to greatness (Entrepreneur)

By Renee Robertson

Source: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/247573 June 27, 2015

No matter what role we find ourselves in — entrepreneur, executive, sales and marketing professional, to name just a few — we are in constant motion, reacting to the day’s events, feeling the pressure to perform and always thinking about results. These are not all bad behaviors to have, especially for high-performing individuals. This is a space in which we thrive. However, it is only a matter of time before the impact and pressure of these activities show up in our behavior. This is exactly why coaching for high-performing individuals who work in innovative and fast-paced businesses is a great fit.

First of all, let’s define coaching, as it means many things to many people. Many times a certain technique that is referred to as “coaching,” isn’t really coaching at all; it’s actually counseling or feedback. For example, you may have heard or had this happen to you: a manager will say, “Let me give you some coaching around ABC,” and they proceed to explain to an employee why the employee failed to accomplish a task. The manager then explains the way ABC needs to be done. More times than not, the recipient of this so-called “coaching” walks away disillusioned by what they think was a coaching experience and perhaps, deflated and unmotivated. As a result, coaching can get a bad rap and employees may begin to disengage. So what does a real coaching conversation look like? Well, something like this: “So, how do you think your presentation on ABC went?” The employee is given time to reflect, respond and be an active participant in the conversation. The manager continues to ask thoughtful questions such as: “What would you have done differently?” ”What actions will you take?” or “How can I support you?” Do you notice the difference? This is a coaching conversation — the employee is empowered to act while being supported by their manager. The employee gains confidence knowing that they own the outcome while feeling acknowledged and supported by their manager. Now more than ever, there is a great opportunity to bring coaching into organizations. According to Gallup’s study on the global workplace, only 13 percent of employees worldwide are engaged at work or are psychologically committed to their jobs and likely to be making positive contributions to their organizations. Therefore, many team members are “not engaged.”  If this is the case, then why not integrate coaching into your talent management strategy? Not only will it increase employee engagement but will help achieve other talent development goals such as developing certain competencies like problem-solving, strategic thinking or filling your talent pipeline with ready-now talent for upward or lateral. To integrate coaching into your talent management strategy, the following five steps should be taken:

  1. Educate your leaders

Start at the top and educate your executives on the differences and benefits of coaching versus counseling. Interview them on their perspectives on coaching and assess their willingness to participate and support a coaching initiative. Explain the benefits of coaching and ask them where they see applications for coaching inside their organizations.

  1. Identify coaches, participants and executive sponsors

Look for individuals and managers that can become trained to be internal coaches inside your company. These individuals may be inside your talent management and organizational development areas or could exist inside the business itself. Consider having talent management or human resources executives trained and credentialed by the International Coach Federation as professional coaches. Alternatively, you may choose to utilize external coaches. If so, you can submit a request via the International Coach Federation Coach Referral Service website or ask colleagues for recommendations. Simultaneously, you will want to identify candidates to participate in the coaching program. Participants should be excited to be part of the program and willing to make a commitment. Just as important as identifying the coaches and participants is to make certain that you have executive sponsorship. Determine which executives would like to sponsor the program and be a participant. Request that they support you in your coach and participant identification, marketing efforts, during participant enrollment and throughout the program’s life cycle.

  1. Manage expectations

Be sure to clearly set expectations with your internal coaches, individuals being coached, the executive sponsors and, of course, your managers and colleagues. It is best to run the initial program as a pilot and build upon its success. Make certain everyone is clear on the goals of the program, time commitment and their roles and responsibilities.

  1. Train

Enroll your internal coach candidates in a coach-training program that is designed to train individuals that work inside companies as a coach. If you choose to enroll internal employees to become coaches, ensure they’re being coached by a coach with experience coaching internal coaches. In addition, be sure to train the individuals who are to be coached on the role and responsibilities of the participant, while establishing a clear and consistent process for enrolling clients, coaching time and exiting clients.

  1. Measure success

Prior to starting the program, determine how you will measure its success. It may be done simply by using a net–promoter score or setting up a simple impact study. (It doesn’t have to be a rigorous measurement such as ROI.) If your program is embraced and utilized (coaching clients show up and participate in the coaching), then that’s a great sign. Interviewing them or surveying them on the benefits they received is also an excellent idea. In addition, be sure to ask the managers of the program’s participants about the changes they may have noticed in their employee’s behaviors after being coached.

In a time where we’re surrounded by change and have so many demands on our personal and professional lives, the need for coaching is at an all-time high. Coaching is a model for engagement, empowerment and accountability. It teaches those being coached to be responsible and to “own” their results. By engaging in coaching, you’re making a decision to replace mediocrity with high-performance.

Who Treats Their Workers Best? / Human Capital report

Switzerland is first, Yemen last and Northern Europe the top region in a new evaluation of how nations foster their work forces.

GIBS Information Centre / GIBSIC‘s insight:

Global job problems  –  

The project stemmed from conversations about the global jobs problem — particularly youth unemployment and regional skills gaps — and how countries can better invest in current and future workers. The researchers focused on life-long investment in an individual, from birth through death, including areas such as early-childhood education, access to health care and training throughout a worker’s career. They tapped public data, such as labor force participation rates, school enrollment rates, infant mortality and life expectancies, as well as findings from World Economic Forum surveys of business executives.

The authors created a Human Capital Index, based on 51 variables, and found the strongest countries were concentrated in Northern Europe and North America. (Canada placed 10th; the U.S. was 16th.) The countries with the most work to do were largely in the Middle East and Africa.

See on blogs.wsj.com