Why sending your employees on a training is often a waste of time and money

boring training
Sending your employees on a training seldom leads to the desired behaviour change in the workplace. Why is that?

Most trainings are focussing on sharing (new) knowledge, but we all know that more knowledge will not change people’s behaviour. Smokers have the knowledge that it’s not good for their health, yet they keep on smoking. There are thousands of books, articles and seminars around the topics of leadership, creativity and innovation, but the readers and participants find it hard to implement this knowledge into new behaviour and changing a culture.

Some trainings are sharing (new) skills that people need in their job. These are only effective when easy to apply with immediate positive result or something they are obligated to do as part of their job (use a specific IT system). We all know that when people try something new and it doesn’t seem to work out well immediately, they’ll give up quickly and go back to their old patterns of behaviour which feels safer and not like a failure. Also when people try something new at the workplace after a training, their co-workers or manager will respond to it. They are part of a social system. When the response is negative “We tried this before and it didn’t work” or “Oh I can see that you have been to this training, haha”, people stop their efforts because they want to fit in with the group.

Trying something new and changing behaviour requires courage and resilience

Some trainings are sharing (new) mindsets that are needed in our fast changing and complex world. For instance being present, positive and open, creative, more comfortable with not knowing, non-judgemental, feel ownership, learn from failures, etc. When these mindsets are shared like knowledge, they sound very logical and useful, but they will not be adopted into new behaviour.

Most trainings use a seated table setting, where people sit still during most of the time while the trainer is explaining some slides or flipchart drawings. Also all online learning is done in front of a computer. When we sit still, our attentive energy goes down quickly and our minds drift off.

Learning without active engagement is not very sticky.

So how can we move away from this Knowledge will lead to change paradigm? By designing trainings that are far less knowledge based, and far more actively and emotionally engaging and experience based. Adding emotions to the learningexperience will make the learninginsights very sticky.

All learning has an emotional base (Plato)

We are motivated to change by either negative or positive emotional experiences. A heartattack and the fear of not seeing their kids grow up will make the smoker give up smoking. The feeling of true connection after sharing something vulnerable in a positive and supportive atmosphere will make people want to do and create this again. A good trainer will not only create relevant learningexperiences in a safe space, but will invite the learner to come up with their own insights from reflecting on their experience, because…

It’s not from experience that we learn, but from reflecting upon our experiences (Thiagi)

And when the learner has some new insights, they will be invited to take courageous action to apply this insight in their daily practice.

Courage should be a standard (experiential) topic in any trainingprogram with change as a desired result. (Annemarie Steen)

Good trainings need follow up to guide the learner (and it’s environment) in the process of implementation. This can be done by the trainer, a (peer)coach or the manager. How much follow up is there on your current trainingprograms?

Now let’s reflect on you reading this article. How do you feel? Positive and happy that your own vision on learning and change is confirmed? Slightly uncomfortable because you might have made some investments and you doubt their effectiveness? Maybe you feel curious to learn more about creating effective learning and behaviour change? And what action could you take on that? And have the courage to do just that 😉

Annemarie Steen is an international playful learning experience designer and facilitator on the topics of (personal) leadership, creativity & innovation and positive company cultures. She was awarded Best Visiting Lecturer of the year by her MBA students at the Estonian Business School. Feel free to contact SteenTrain (contact@steentrain.com) to have a conversation on how to spend your trainingbudget wisely or to transform your current learning and development programs in having more impact.

Playfulness connects – Make new friends in a ballpit

Today I came across this short video (thanks @aikjeboukaert) from Soulpancake. I love this stuff. Why? Because it represents my vision: Playfulness connects. If you get total strangers (but also co-workers, friends, colleagues or family-members) in a playful state of mind…real heart-to-heart connection takes place. Watch and see for yourself!!

Playfully Yours,

Annemarie Steen

Hospitality Industry struggles with Experience Economy

When we travel, we all have hotelexperienceto sleep. Why are we prepared to pay € 25 for a night sleep in a hostel, € 50 for a bed & breakfast, € 100 for a three star hotel and € 500 for an exclusive hotel? Where we choose to sleep differs and varies with our travelpurpose (business, holiday, romantic weekend), our budget and our previous experience or reviews from friends or total strangers on a website. This is in a nutshell what the Experience Economy (Pine & Gilmore, 1999) is. We are prepared to pay a higher price when the added value and experience is perceived to be higher. “We are on the threshold, say authors Pine and Gilmore, of the Experience Economy, a new economic era in which all businesses must orchestrate memorable events for their customers.”

wow experienceBut when do we become loyal clients that come back? And when do we become ambassadors for a hotel or restaurant and tell our friends about our experience? Only when the reality is perceived better than what we expected to get. Only when we got the WOW-Experience. And this is where the struggle for high end luxury hotels and restaurants begins. The expectations are allready very high when the guest comes in. Ofcourse a hotelguest of a luxury hotel will expect to get a spacious room that’s superclean, with a nice view, well designed interiors, good and various choices of food, a beautiful spa and swimmingpool and friendly and professional staff. So, what will give him this extra memorable experience? Is it a well orchestrated show with lights and music, an unexpected flashmob of dancing staff, a singing waiter on rollerblades? I don’t think so.

I believe the Hospitality Industry focusses too much on design and concepts. Ofcourse I was stunned with the view on top of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore, the first time I saw the 150m wide infinity pool, but will this experience bring me back the next time? No, I don’t believe so. So what will?

real-fake smileIt’s connecting with the people and the atmosphere that they bring into the hotel that makes the difference. And with connecting I don’t mean the professional and helpful smile I get when I ask a question. It’s connecting from heart-to-heart. From one human being to another. Sharing a joke or a laugh, a concerned look when you share that your child is sick at home. The singing waiter can be a memorable experience to come back for, if the singing waiter is genuinely enjoying what he’s doing, radiating with fun and connecting to others, in stead of doing a daily routine like the pianoplayer in the lobby. I believe orchestrating experiences to deliver something new, only lasts for a short time and doesn’t create the loyal guest that returns and returns. We all know and feel that a theatre play is not real, however nicely performed. Or are you the kind of person that likes to see the same show over and over again? It’s fake or real that makes a the difference. Can you tell the difference between a real and fake smile in the picture? (Pine & Gilmore also realized this when they wrote their other book “Authenticity”, 2007)

Still, stafftraining for Hospitality Industry is often focussing on doing things right and in the same (our) way. A very logical left brain way of doing things. This results in professionalism with a bit of a distance, easy to measure and control,but leaving very little room for acting out of the box.

So how to get this genuine personal touch into the picture?

Work on well-being, happiness and playfulness with your staff. Playful Training will allow them to open up, connect with others from their own selves and dare to come up with creative ideas to engage with the guests in new and memorable ways that come from their hearts.

Let me hear what you think.

Playfully yours,

Annemarie Steen (Playful Facilitator & Speaker of 21st century Leadership Skills)

Look what happened after a two day Joy-Care Leadership workshop that I delivered with www.ha-p.com for the management of Marina Bay Sands Hotel Singapore. A few participants dared to take the initiative of organizing this ‘Coffee Break Dance’ where colleagues share the fun of leaving their comfortzone. Do you think the laughter is fake (orchestrated) or genuine (from the heart)?

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Caregivers Recharge Event Singapore

Last week I had the privilege of delivering an interactive Joy-Care workshop(*) with Avi Liran at an event in Singapore. The event was organized by Khoo Teck Puat Hospital for the Caregivers of Singapore. Almost 150 participants joined us in a series of playful and fun exercises to destress, recharge and connect with eachother. After the workshop many participants (from Singapore, Philipines, Myanmar, Malasia and India) came to thank us for the uplifting experience and insights with simple tools that they can implement into their daily lives, working with sometimes difficult patients and many stressfactors. I feel very grateful for the opportunity.

(*) Our Joy-Care Concept is based on insights and findings from Positive Psychology and neuroscience. The playful and fun experiential learningexercises are aiming to enhance the participants well-being in teaching and stimulating the 5 elements of well-being; positive emotion, engagement/flow, relationships, meaning and accomplishments (PERMA as described by Martin Seligman in “Flourish”)

Benefits of playful laughter, “Fake it, till you make it!”

ImageHi,

Yesterday I facilitated a Laughtersession for a group of 25 people from a mental/ healthcare institution. I did this as my alterego, Yamuna. I started the session with explaining how Laughter Yoga started with (Yamuna’s uncle) Dr. Madan Kataria from Mumbai India in 1995. As a physisian he believes in the benefits of laughter for your health (both physiological and psychological), so he decided in 1995 to start a laughterclub with some friends in a park in Mumbai. After a few get togethers, they ran out of jokes, so they didn’t have something to laugh about. Then, they decided they would laugh anyway for no reason at all. And they felt equally good after the session.

What Dr. Madan and his friends discovered was, that by starting to laugh for no reason in a group, soon it turned into real laughter. So the saying goes: FAKE IT, FAKE IT, till you MAKE IT!

Scientific research confirms that the body doesn’t know the difference between real and fake laughter. So when you start to laugh for no reason, your body will send signals to your brain, telling your brain you’re in a good mood, and your brain will tell your system to start producing the hormones endorphine and dopamine (which make you feel good) and reduce your stresshormones cortisol and adrenaline. Also laughter will increase vascular bood flow and oxygenation of the blood, increase memory and learning and improve alertness & creativity.

Now, over 600 laughterclubs are active around the world and they have developed many playful laughterexercises. Many of them can be found on the internet and youtube.

The most fun part of facilitating this group for me was, that I invite people to leave their comfortzone and join me in very playful exercises. The best moment was, when I asked the question of “Who knows a nice way of greeting people?”. One woman spontaneously blurted out “touching noses”, and immediately reacted shy; “oops, did I actually say that?” So we invented a “touching noses” laughter exercise on the spot and the whole group joined in. Watching the people having fun and joining in, making the woman’s ‘blurt’ an important contribution to the group, made me feel totally happy. After Yamuna was gone, Annemarie reflected with the group on their experience. They felt less inhibited, more open, more space, energized, relaxed, closer connected to eachother and tired in a good (after exercise) way.

When I ask myself why this moment gives my the greatest pleasure, it is because it touches my personal mission, which is (for now…it’s an ongoing proces):

To inspire people to leave their comfortzone (where learning & growth takes place) by sharing my experience & knowledge and by creating playful & meaningful learningexperiences.

With playful greetings,

Annemarie Steen (& Yamuna)

PS If you want to laugh with me…send me a message and we’ll set up a meeting (on- or offline)

 

Storytelling, great tool for selfdiscovery and reinvention

Last week I attented a 5 day online seminar on storytelling (www.reinventionsummit.com), with 4 hours of interviews with expertspeakers a day, and the possibility of online chatting with up to 99 other participants from all around the world. This was my first online seminar and found it to be very interesting. #lovenewtechnology

The biggest insight I got, was that The more personal your story is, the more universal it becomes.

Succesfull speakers, bloggers and online personalities shared their moments of truth. And when they decided to throw down their ‘perfect’ masks and dared to really show their authentic selves, their fears, their pain, their frustration, it was the beginning of their successtory. Apparantly we want to read and hear stories we can relate to on a personal level.

Another thing that I found interesting was, that most people think that they don’t have very dramatic stories to tell. Well, Life is dramatic, so we all have stories! (maybe you’ve become used to the drama in your life so much, that it feels normal to you).

The title of the seminar was Reinvention Summit. So what does storytelling have to do with reinvention? Well, if you review your own life’s experiences for stories, they are all about selfdiscovery and reinventing yourself. Your life’s themes are to be found in your experiences, insights & stories.

Ofcourse reviewing your life for these kind of (sometimes very hard, painful of shameful) experiences, can be challenging and it takes a lot of guts to share them with others. Ofcourse, you don’t have to. But I believe it’s worth the effort of exploring them and telling them (or writing them down) at least to yourself.

So what’s your story?

With enthusiasm,

Annemarie Steen

Leaving your comfortzone gets you energized.

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Last week it was April’s foolsday. A good friend of mine decided after 20 years of being a housepainter, to start a career as an artist. Next week he wants to open his atelier/galerie (at his house in the city center of Eindhoven). To attract attention to this opening, he came up with an April’s foolsjoke. He asked four of his female friends to sit behind the windows as prostitutes, with red lights on, so it looked a lot like Amsterdam. Ofcourse his friends felt a little strange about it, but also saw a good joke in this, so they agreed. And they did attract a lot of attention from passing cars, bycicles and pedestrians.

After 1 hour the police came to stop the whole thing, and they couln’t appreciate the joke. The next day there was an article about it in the local newspaper, so mission accomplished for my friend.

Why do I want to share this story with you?

Well, for starters it shows that a creative idea can get you free publicity.

But, for me the thing that got me writing about this, was the energy of the girls after their experience.

I didn’t see the girls sit behind the window (unfortunately I was too late), but I met them later in a bar. The energy of the four women was very high and they were almost radiating. The reason for this was that they did something that was outside of their comfortzone, a little scary, but they did it anyway. Stretching their comfortzone apparantly generated lots of energy.

I see this same thing happening with people in trainingsituations. The one’s who dare themselves to leave their save comfortzone…”I’m afraid, but I’m gonna do it anyway”…learn the most and get really energized from the experience.

Wish you many out of your comfortzone experiences!!

And please share them as a comment on this post. What was your OUT OF MY COMFORTZONE moment? Did you feel energized?

With enthusiasm,

Annemarie Steen

Make your passwords work for you!

Hi,

Do you have many different passwords to remember and type in when you log in somewhere? Well, I do. At first I found this annoying, and tried to make it easier by clicking on ‘remember me’ to make the login proces go automatically. Untill I wanted to login from a different computer, and all of a sudden I didn’t know my password anymore and I had to go through a forgotten password procedure. I even had to go to my bankoffice to get a new password. Not fun!

So, I thought of a solution to 1. remember my passwords more easily and 2. to make the whole process a little more fun and meaningful. This is what I did…

I changed my passwords into something meaningful for me personally. Something that would give me energy, words that focus me on a goal I have, words that work as affirmation, words that inspire me or words that relate to the account I have to sign in.

For example:

To create an attitude of gratitude, your password could be something like: grateful3 (so you think of 3 things that you’re grateful for, everytime you log in)

To keep your focus on a salestarget, you can choose a password like: over50

Are you in service, you can choose something like: clienthappy

If your computer asks to remember your password, ofcourse you say no. It’s more fun and effective if you have to type it everytime you log in.

With enthusiasm,

Annemarie Steen (1nsp1repeople)

Mirror neurones; how do they affect you?

Recent research has come up with scientific proof of ‘mirror neurones’. What are these? And how do they work?

Well, before reading on, let’s do a small experiment.

Answer this question before reading on: how do you feel right now, on a scale from 1-10 (10 is excellent, superb, never better)

Then, have a look at my picture for at least 30 seconds.

Done? Ok, describe how do you feel right now? Has your initial number changed?

So what does this have to do with mirror neurones. It turns out, that just by looking at faces of other people, we tend to experience the emotions that we see. The effect is very strong when we mimic the face we see (you may wanna give this a try), but also by just looking, without changing anything in your own facial expression, will fire some neurones in your emotional brain, that will make you feel the emotion that you see. In this case probably (and hopefully) happy.

What is the practical side of this knowledge. Well, whenever you feel a little down or sad. Just by looking at, or surrounding yourself with happy people, you will feel better.

Have a smiling day!

Annemarie Steen