Category Archives: Skills Development

Training for Behaviour Change

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The only way to get full value from your training is when the desired behaviour is implemented and positively reinforced. Knowing what to do and doing it are two different things. The transfer of knowledge in the training room is simply not enough.

Staff Training  likes to “Keep it Real” and our approach thus always involves spending some time on behavioural analysis to identify cause and effect, thereafter moving to an actionable plan.

But let us talk you through an example using a case study.

Office Manager “B”:

“I would like training for my receptionist as she does not carry out even the most basic of instructions, for example we ask her to switch off the air conditioner and copier every evening to save power and three out of the five days this does not happen. When I ask her what happened she just says that she forgot.”

Firstly we need to understand that when it comes to behaviour change there are five potential influencing factors:

1. The Benchmark or requested change needs to be clear

2. Recognise that some behaviours are more difficult to change than others

3. Recognise that external influence/ policy/procedure change may be necessary

4. The behaviour change may have to filter down from the top

5. There needs to be ongoing motivation for the new habit

 

The Benchmark

If we then look at the benchmark for desired outcome, the explanation and/or illustration of this new standard needs to be clear, without ambiguity and logical. In addition to this we need to keep the processes and logic simple to encourage full engagement from the participants. Explaining the what, when, how and why is vital. As well as the consequence of not performing. In some instances a physical example of a benchmark would be useful.

 

Recognising that some behaviour is easier to change than others

In an organisation it becomes abundantly clear that there are some individuals who will assume the authority, responsibility and accountability (control) and others that will wait until these are transferred to them.

It is easier to change your behaviour if you have control, in other words you have full authority, accountability and responsibility.

For example a junior employee wanting to ensure that the air conditioner is switched off by the last employee if he/she is tasked with the duty and needs to leave early, will find it more difficult to enforce the request than the CEO would.

The difference is that the CEO carries the full authority and there would be little doubt in anyone’s mind that the request from the CEO is in fact an instruction. The junior employee, however, may not fare quite as well.

 

Recognising that external influences and system/procedural change may be necessary

Whilst a learner/employee, may well have the desire to change his/her behaviour, it becomes difficult for them to do so if the system does not allow it. For example a receptionist wanting to switch off the air conditioner at 16h30 can do so every day, but if the procedure is such that she has to walk to an outbuilding to switch off the air conditioner, and she has nobody to answer her switchboard during this period, the chances are it won’t be done.

Additional authority and management buy-in may be necessary to allow her the opportunity of a stand-by receptionist, alternatively the ability to delegate the job to another colleague. Assisting a learner to understand this step and the importance of then asking for the system change is imperative.

 

The behaviour change may have to filter down from the top

So assuming that the receptionist switches off the air conditioner and management who are working late decide to switch on again, it is necessary for management to take the responsibility of switching off when they leave. Should management then forget to switch off and shrug off the duty as one that is trivial and unimportant, it will be unrealistic to expect the employee to continue to enforce the behaviour of switching off.

 

There needs to be ongoing motivation for the new habit

If the same receptionist then does change her behaviour and does manage to switch off and the next week she is faced with another hurdle that involves asking for the nearly impossible with no support from management and/or others, it becomes difficult for her to see why she should co-operate. She may well slip back into apathy and procrastination due to the difficulty of the task. Continued motivation for learners is often as simple as saying “Wow, thanks I can see the progress from last year this time”

With a good understanding of these influencing factors it now becomes easier to investigate and understand the cause and effect of certain behaviours and then to put an action plan into place to change them permanently. A good training programme will recognise that this is a desired route and as a result there will be more sustainable results.

 

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Easy methods to boost your study skills and grades

To obtain or make improvements to your academic records, one must learn and master the right study skills. The key point is the fact that regardless of your personal style, your style needs to be optimized which is only attainable with proper study skills.

In the event you see that you are below par with your academic studies, you ought to come to the realization just what the requirements are in order to enhance your study skills. It could be the case that you are currently satisfied with your grades, however, feel that you would like to optimize your study skills and have the ability to study more efficiently and help out with other areas of your life. Improving upon one’s study habits is comparable to studying a brand new subject. It merely requires dedication together with an open and clear mind.

 

Group Study: One simple strategy to improve study habits and skills is to form or join a study group with fellow students. Group study makes it possible for individuals to share and express views as well as discuss different topics. It facilitates better problem solving and results in a deeper understanding of the subject matter.

 

Self Study: There are individuals who would prefer to study alone and perform significantly better. These individuals will need to look for study space that is comfortable and be conducive to studies and concentration. The optimal space is not too cluttered and makes it possible for a stress free area. It must have adequate space for your books, computer along with other items essential for your studies. The study area needs to be kept clean and organized. A messy or cluttered area can give rise to added stress and disturb your ability to study.

 

Hours of Study: Allocate a fixed number of hours to study daily. Study time does not need to be the same time everyday, however, the number of study hours must be the same. More effective time management will enable you to balance your studies over the semester. It will be possible to cover the entire syllabus and avoid any stress when it comes to examinations and provide you with plenty of time to revise your work. Ahead of examinations it is considerably better to maintain a relaxed state which is only possible if you feel confident that you have completed your studies on time.

 

Take notes: A good habit to adopt is to take notes and create a list of questions related to the topic of study. Review your notes weekly and test yourself to make certain that you are making progress. Your personal notes will provide you with a far better grasp on the topic together with weekly reviews you will find yourself revising your notes instead of the whole semester’s workload during examinations periods.

 

Healthy eating habits and exercise: It is important to consume a balances diet and take time to relax and do some aerobic exercise. Healthy eating and exercise will prevent your body from breaking down and contracting flu or other illness.

Enhancing one’s study skills can assist with numerous aspects of your life not merely school and college. It will have an effect and influence on your career and self confidence in the workplace creating a bright future.

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Measuring ROI on Soft Skills Training

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One of the most frequent questions we’re asked by training managers is, “How do I measure the return on investment from training?”

On the face of it measuring the return on investment from soft skills training seems like a near-impossible task. After all, how do you quantify the financial benefits of more assertive behavior, better listening skills or negotiating tactics?

You might think that simply looking at an individual’s overall performance after the training is a good indication of whether or not it was effective, but then what exactly about the training was effective? Where exactly has the individual improved and how can this be given a value in rands and cents?

To measure the return on investment from soft skills training you need to be very specific about why you are training, what you hope to achieve at the training and understand how this relates to productivity and sales in your organisation.

You may have identified a trend whereby the sales department is outsourcing work when customers request services you do not offer, instead of trying to sell the client to an alternative that you do offer, and can possibly customise.

This lost revenue CAN be measured and its decrease can be directly attributed to a more assertive sales team.

Alternatively, a company may identify a problem whereby an individual or team is having to repeat or re-attend 15% of their work because the instructions from the client are not being followed properly (e.g. the menu at the top of the website is supposed to be turquoise, not blue, and the large graphic should be on the right and not the left of the screen), costing the company in wasted time.

With this specific problem identified a training manager could send this individual or team on a Customer Care Training workshop where active listening is covered, and immediately begin to measure the return based on a drop in repeat work.

Understanding the reasons that you are training is the first step in being able to measure the monetary return from any training course.

Even when training for what we consider to be the wrong reasons (and unfortunately sometimes the most common reasons for training), such as for BEE points, the return on investment can easily be measured.

If the reason you need your BEE points is so that you can qualify to offer your services to governmental departments and large corporates (or to improve your BEE rating and move onto a higher level), the return on investment from the training will show on your balance sheets.

However, as you may already be able to see, the more areas you focus on measuring improvement in, the more you will start to see how it all relates to financial gain.

Consider that, generally speaking, training your staff has the effect of reducing psychosomatic illness, stress and the ‘victim stance’ among employees, as well as increasing motivation and loyalty to the company, all of which contribute to lower absenteeism rates overall (also measurable financially).

Training also leads to reduced turnover of staff, decreasing the costs of recruitment as well as initial training.

And on and on it goes…

However. A word of warning.

We need to remember that it’s not just a numbers game – our human assets, or employees, are our most important assets and return on investment should not be the only factor taken into consideration when training. One should also look at broader aspects such as impact on community, creative license and 3rd party perceptions.  These last issues being just a few of those that should be taken into account in a well thought out ethical decision.

By Staff Training, a South African soft skills training company.

 

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Benefits associated with Vocational Training and Trade Schools

Trade schools are institutions that students sign up for so that they are trained to be able to attain technical knowledge relating to specific fields. Students get the opportunity to boost their understanding and education with regards to the innermost specifics of their subjects of study as well as broaden their scope of professionalism. As opposed to being trained on general things like they do on campus, students experience an intense instruction linked to a specific specialty. These schools are efficient, productive and cost-effective to attend.

During global economic recessions or downturns, trade schools offer students the opportunity to upgrade their skills and expertise. The cost of trade schools, in general, are far cheaper than larger institutions who offer 4 year degree programs, including universities and colleges. With intense and focused training at trade schools, it provides students the ability to receive practical knowledge and experience and enhance their likelihood of employability once they graduate.

Trade schools are have their advantages given the fact that they allow students to study exactly what they desire and need to know regrading their speciality of choice. Trade schools courses are also shorter thereby reducing the total expense of further training and education. Its also provides students the confidence and security to manage their careers and enter the workforce far sooner. Trade schools provide training in areas that cannot be overtaken by mechanization of companies and factories. Training and courses such as driving, masonry, and artisan cannot be mechanized.

 

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Given the cost of degrees offered by universities and colleges, trade school offer students low cost options to be trained in specific fields and specialties and give them the opportunity to enter the labor force sooner. At the same time, given the fact that trade school courses are generally shorter, students are able to continue their education and training while they are working or on part-time basis.

Numerous research studies have been carried out comparing the success of trade schools students as compared to their traditionally-educated and trained peers. Virtually without exception, studies have proven that vocationally trained employees earn more, earlier in their preferred careers as compared to four-year college graduates within the same field, and in addition match them in salary and advancement years later. Despite the fact that these findings do vary somewhat dependent on the profession involved, the general conclusion remains to be the same – trade school degrees and certifications definitely provide those who earn them an advantage over their competitors.

Trade schools provide a more practical education rather than theoretical. For anybody who is the kind of person who does not take pleasure in listening to lectures and memorizing academic material, however , excelled at learning practical solutions to “do” things, you are definitely going to prosper with vocational training. The conventional trade school course instructs students whereby they require students to practice the tasks which will be essential in their profession, as opposed to asking them to read about them in a textbook.

 

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For individuals who either battled academically in high school, or who failed to graduate, gaining admission to a trade school is less difficult than a traditional university. Even though many accredited trade schools do want applicants to possess a high school diploma, many will recognize relevant work experience, letters of recommendation from managers.

Prior to making the choice to enroll in a trade school, you need to examine the disadvantages and advantages of vocational training. Additionally, it is recommended that you do as much research as possible into your career goals, and decide if a vocational education is regarded as being the most effective way to get your foot in the door. What you will find out is that employers in certain career fields have a preference for hiring graduates with trade school degrees, while others give preference to university students or people who have worked their way up as an apprentice.

All things considered, trade schools can without doubt get you ready for a thrilling, successful career in a wide variety of fields. It is essential to remember, however, the fact that vocational programs are neither the only approach, nor necessarily the best way, to reach your goals in every field.

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The importance of upgrading skills via continuing education and training

Education does not end once you graduate. Truly, it is really a lifelong process. When you finally graduate and enter into the professional world, continuing education assumes a higher priority. Some would claim that education only begins once you have graduated. This simple truth is contrary to popular thinking but is valid in the literal sense. After you graduate and enter into the professional working environment you are going to encounter and have to cope with a variety of challenges. While many challenges can be avoided others are going to be remarkably difficult.

This necessitates specialized training in an individuals specific vocation so that you can successfully meet these kinds of challenges. Most of the time, a large number of professionals, in pursuit to meet up with their job responsibilities and obligations, have a tendency to push aside the the advantages of obtaining higher education. Rushing and impatient to earn money and fulfill deadlines, continuing education, for the most part, usually takes a backseat and put on standby. This phenomena is not merely troubling, but also belittling, and in most circumstances certain to slow the professional growth path of an individual.

The business environment is continuously changing and evolving. Due to the quick pace of technology development during the last decade, it has literally transformed the way we work and contributed to the need to constantly update our skills so as to keep abreast in one’s field of work. This single element of our working environment, when not kept in check, can and also has on numerous occasions turned out to be fatal for an individual’s expertise and skills. Maybe you are one of the best sales person ever, however, if you are not conscious of the most up-to-date developments and trends within your field, your expertise would most likely grow to be stagnant and outdated in a very short time. The end result being that you would probably struggle to hold onto existing and faithful customers, not to mention appealing to and retaining the interest of new ones. Your techniques and methods are most likely out of date and not in accordance with the needs and demands of the modern customer, resulting in the demise of your recognized leadership in your field. New competitors, along with considerably better and more up-to-date and modern techniques of work could take over and put you out of business before long.

This requires a need for continuing education and the constant updating of your skills. Continuing education provides an advanced skills and knowledge to your resume. It provides you with an advantage over your competition and enables you to advance your career to greater heights. In general, the majority of people keep away from continuing education. This is typically simply because continuing education calls for time, dedication and money. Most individuals do not wish to leave the comfort of their jobs and as a consequence fail to notice all the advantages and possibilities associated with continuing education. A large number of esteemed institutes and universities have attempted to meet the needs of the working professionals and introduced a variety of executive courses that not only offer the opportunity at improving an individual’s set of skills and contributing to better qualifications to one’s resume, but additionally accomplish it in the most accessible manner. These executive programs have been developed and presented bearing in mind the very limited time and monetary needs of the working professional.

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