How collaborative learning can change your business for the better

Collaborative learning is nothing new. We all know that people spend time looking for, reading and watching content to help them do their work. In most cases, this informal learning is in reaction to an immediate need and the source of the information is an online search.

Imagine if all the informal learning achieved in this way was captured and available to everybody in your business. If one person needs to fill a gap in skill or knowledge to perform their work, it is likely others in your business share the need.

Is the knowledge already held by people in your business available to others? Does your business have a collective knowledge base that is aligned with the work your business performs? Collective, accessible knowledge and information that is created, curated and shared is one of the powerful contributors to engagement and culture in a business. Collaborative learning is also an effective means of providing recognition to people that contribute to the collective knowledge.

Our clients are using training and information created by people in their business to deliver effective onboarding to people joining the business. This has standardised the onboarding  experience for every person. Using collaborative learning also assists people to identify subject matter experts in the business and get a feel for the work other people perform in the business.

Here are some ideas to consider.

  • Ideally every person in your business has some knowledge of your strategy and how their work contributes to achieving it. If not, this is where I would suggest you start. I would suggest taking it a step or two further by breaking your strategy into supporting goals and team objectives. If your business is small and does not have teams, consider assigning objectives to functional areas of responsibility in the business and this could be one I recommend the strategy, goals and objectives are documented and communicated regularly.
  • Use the strategy framework to open up a clear line of sight between the work they perform every day in the business to what needs to be completed to achieve the strategy.
  • This process will help guide the types and content of learning, information and ideas developed by everyone to be directly relevant to both the strategy and the work performed everyday. This is a great place to start and it will get collaborative learning embedded in your organisation.
  • Once you have collaborative learning embedded in your business and aligned with strategy, you can take it much further. For example, you may choose to use collaborative learning in your marketing, sales, customer retention, product development and any other aspect of your business.
  • Implementing a cogent collaborative strategy in your business will have a positive impact on the development of intellectual property that will add significant value to your business.

Is your business exploring ways to improve the culture? Boost engagement? Retain your best people? These factors and more will be developed and sustained with a planned collaborative learning strategy and implementation.

If you are interested in learning more about collaborative learning and ideas about how to implement collaborative learning in your business, you are welcome to contact me directly via LinkedIn. You can also request a demo from this page.

Check out our WorkPlan website to learn more about our work in collaborative learning and engagement.

 

Productivity has nothing to do with the latest app.

Productivity has nothing to do with the latest app. It is all about you and your behavioural style that will determine how productive you are. There is no shortage of productivity experts promoting the latest and greatest productivity apps. It is interesting how large the populations of followers these productivity experts attract. It demonstrates just how many people are interested in personal productivity.I am very interested to learn how many of these followers adopt a new app and workflow and stick with it for any length of time. In my experience, I have found a great number of people jump from app to app and different workflows in a never ending cycle of searching  for the ‘magic bullet’.The never-ending quest for productivity nirvana is a symptom of a deeper cause. This deeper cause is variable by person but there are some common characteristics:

  • Seeking perfection rather than good enough.
  • Not beginning work until the right tool has been selected.
  • Difficulty knowing how to start work and delaying the start with analysis paralysis.
  • Mistaking boredom with a lack of productivity.
  • Collecting a range of apps, tools and methodologies with bits of work created using different tools and apps.
  • Information is scattered everywhere and the person is spending time searching. 

There are three primary obstacles that get in the way of people being effective and achieving high levels of productivity. These are:

  • The organisation does not communicate its strategy well so people are not clear on what they should do to have the most impact. If the have an idea, they are not able to prioritise it amongst the fog of other tasks. 
  • The person is using workflows and tools that are not well suited to their behavioural style.  This is common in organisations that roll-out productivity software without investing in training and designing workflows. 
  • Information and knowledge sources are scattered all over the place causing people to spend hours hunting information they need to complete their tasks. In worse case scenarios people end up searching the internet for sources or re-creating information the firm already has……somewhere. 

Even with a great strategy, an organisation will not achieve its objectives if people are not effective on a personal level. The greatest strategy still relies on people executing the right tasks well and within a timeframe.

What contributes to workplace stress?

In April 2018, Canada Life Group Insurance released a study showing that workers’ productivity is badly impacted by stress and anxiety in the workplace. The study shows office workers are impacted most severely. Here are some of the findings of the research study that although not unexpected should still be very concerning. * 30% of workers report feeling stressed or anxious due to high workloads and pressure to perform. * Workers in cubicles and open plan offices are more regularly impacted by workplace stress than those that work from home. * 23% of employees report lower productivity based on their feeling that their boss does not care about their wellbeing. * 77% of employees offered flexible working arrangements say this improves their productivity. I am always amazed at how many of my clients’ offices are rows of tables with computers. There are some reports that this trend is showing signs of reversing, nonetheless people are asked to perform effectively and be productive with other persons on either side and in front of them. Here are some additional findings from the Canada Life Group Insurance research study. Notice the differences in the percentage of people reporting being stressed at work based on their office style: * Cubicle style        37% * Open plan            32% * Private office        31% * Work from home  17%

Engaging your people is not that hard.

As a CEO, entrepreneur and business advisor I understand how critical employee engagement is to developing and sustaining a great culture. Great culture is a huge competitive advantage with benefits flowing from low turnover, higher productivity and levels of innovation. 

Engagement is not complex. People engagement stems from the most basic elements of human needs and behaviour. I think businesses should start with the basics and measure the results. 

These are 8 actions you can take without spending money to improve your people engagement.

8 Actions You Can Do Now to Boost Engagement in Your Business

  1. Write accurate position descriptions for every role in your business. People need to know the parameters of their work and the expectations for the position they hold. 
  2. Implement a three phase performance review process. I usually start at a three phase process but ideally it is more frequent. The first phase is goal setting. The second phase is a progress review and course correction as needed. The third session is a performance review that is used to plan development, succession, remuneration etc. 
  3. Cascade your strategy by scheduling weekly team meetings between managers and their teams. The purpose of these meetings is to track tasks and activity aligned with the strategic goals of the business. We use a set agenda for these meetings and they are of enormous value in keeping a business on track to achieve its strategy. 
  4. The business owner or CEO must be visible to the people in the business. This means the CEO is accessible informally as well as formally. You can learn a great deal about a company culture by the body language of employees when the CEO is nearby. 
  5. The business owner or CEO must use a channel of communication that keeps all people up to date with what is going on in the business and in the market they operate in. Some of my clients use newsletters or simple emails. I prefer a video that can be delivered from the company intranet or via Vimeo or YouTube.  
  6. People must have access to learning opportunities. Many firms have adopted learning management system to offer online learning for both professional and personal development. Some of my clients have created some very engaging learning using iPhone video, screen recording and other low cost tools. They deliver this video based learning on YouTube or Vimeo. You should at least have a process to encourage people to request training and demonstrate your commitment to training by allocating a budget for this purpose.
  7. Coaching and mentoring will do so much to ensure you do not lose valuable knowledge when people leave your business. Most people really enjoy the opportunity to coach and mentor other people. You must ensure there is a purpose and a pathway for the coaching and mentoring to avoid the program going off the rails. 
  8. Celebrate! Celebration is a social activity that is one of the easiest ways to build relationship bonds between people. I always recommend that no birthday goes un-celebrated. You can celebrate new sales, achievement of goals, personal milestones etc. You can also include social functions around the holidays such as Christmas. One of my personal favourites is including your key customers in some celebrations. What better way to forge strong bonds of engagement between your people and the people they serve. 

The 8 actions above should be done regardless of whether you see signs of deteriorating engagement in your business. If you are aware of the need to improve people engagement it may be time to get some help.  Let’s face it:  it always helps having another person to give you perspective and honest feedback.  You need to get some advice from a person who can bring ‘fresh thinking’ to your business and get your people engaged and performing at their peak. 

Do you need a trusted business advisor, someone who can help you see your business and goals through ‘fresh eyes’?  Contact me and I will work with you to look at where you want to go and help you find the best way to get there.