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I'm teaching myself eLearning & found this interesting infographic

What People Love & Hate About E-Learning - Articulate Infographic

Brought to you by Articulate

international communication.....2015 style

I'm currently writing a book for Harper Collins on International Business Communication.

Last weekend I experienced a fantastic real life example.

I take groups of tourists for guided walks in the Hampshire countryside.

The group were from Taiwan and some spoke no English.  My Chinese only extends to saying hello and thank you and ordering a beer.

We were discussing wildlife and one of the party said (through the interpreter) that he had seen a documentary about wildcats in Scotland, and did we have wildcats in Hampshire. 'No', I told him, though we have foxes and birds of prey. A lady asked a question of the interpreter but the chap was struggling with the name of the animal she wished to know about.  He tried the traditional method of simply using the Chinese word in the sentence but s-l-o-w-l-y- and the LOUDLY. But to no avail. Then his face lit up.

"Do you have, living in the woods here.....Paddington!?"

So an interesting point I shall include in the manuscript is the use of international cultural reference points; I don't know what 'bear' is in mandarin and he didn't know what the word was in English but everyone knows Paddington!

I've been asked for some 'detail' on the Four Ds of handling questions; so click here for an info-graphic.

70:20:10...the top five ways people really learn in the workplace...and how you can help

The top five ways people really learn in the workplace

The Education Development Center Inc. of Massachusetts, USA set out to find out how people learnt best in the workplace.  Researchers engaged in shadowing-observation and interview, in-depth individual interviews and focus groups of small teams of the target employees.  They researched over a thousand participants in seven different commercial organisations.

Then they subjected everyone to a survey questionnaire which they statistically analysed.

Then they gathered organisational data regarding goal setting, business metrics and organisational procedures.


They published their findings as “The Teaching Firm: Where Productive Work and Learning Converge”. That document is just shy of 300 pages long, so here is a brief précis of the top five most-valued ways people learn in the workplace. I’ve also included their must-do things for management to provide.


1.     ‘Teaming’. This is the title given to the specific and deliberate creation of a team to address a particular problem or goal. Teams can be created from actual work teams, people from different functions or level in the hierarchy, or a team with external specialists. People learn most when the team has:

·             Authority over the outcome, rather than making recommendations that just get shelved or shot down by the VP of No

·             Resources to achieve the outcome/goal expected, rather than being explicitly or implicitly expected to do everything with nothing

·             Diversity of perspective. The best learning comes from questioning and challenging; avoid ‘group-think’ even though this may be harder work for the team leader

·             Team decision-making. Don’t put the most senior person in charge of the decision-making…it encourages people to avoid thinking and just go along with the ‘boss’

·             Appropriate time schedules. Ensure that everyone has the right to attend meetings, during work hours, without pressure to get “back to work”. Don’t pick “burning platform” problems or goals that force unrealistic timescales on the team.

This is the most valued (but not the most common) source of informal learning so if your organisation doesn’t do this regularly you could be missing a massive opportunity

2.     Meetings. Although meetings are often decried as a SWOT (Serious Waste of Time), they are still the second most valued source informal learning. However the learning occurs mainly through observation, participation and questioning. So meetings must have

·          Active participation from all attendees

·          Clearly stated goals and agendas

·         An open-minded chair who encourages open exchange of ideas and opinions from everyone.

Make sure that the meetings aren’t always firefighting; this tends to prevent discussion and learning in favour of rapid decision-making (and hence, often autocracy)  

3.     Customer interaction. Everyone has customers.  They may be paying customers or they may be referred to as “service users”.  Alternatively people may have internal customers.  Interacting with customers helps people to not only understand the customer’s immediate needs but also to see the ‘bigger picture’. To make this work  

·         Orientate and focus peoples’ roles to be customer centric rather than following a process or procedure

·         Encourage visits by the customer(s) and to the customer

·         Trust employees to talk, without supervision, with their customers; to ask questions and explain your organisation’s position.

4.     Supervision. This includes the explanation and policing of policy and procedure, explanation of expectations, day to day monitoring and feedback on performance and assistance in small scale problem solving. Effective supervision needs:

·         Frequent interactions; so make sure that you give managers (of whatever level) adequate time in their job-descriptions to spend time observing, feeding back and generally managing their people.

·         An environment conducive to constructive feedback and questioning

·         A sense of trust and credibility between the two parties.

5.     Mentoring.  This differs from supervision in that the mentor is not responsible for the individual’s output or performance, hence no expectations or monitoring. Mentoring is often more about longer term issues for the individual rather than the day to day. This is often an informal arrangement at the choice of both parties. To encourage mentoring on this basis you should

·         Acknowledge expert employees; mentors don’t have to be senior people, but they need to be credible and influential people.

·         Promote a culture where people are allowed and encouraged to seek out and spend some time with each other, mentoring and being mentored. A hectic, goal driven, fire-fighting, go-getting, bottom line focussed environment may actively discourage mentoring (and all the other four activities mentioned above!)


The same study also identified some of the reasons why people are motivated to learn in the workplace.  Just about the single most important factor is ‘goals’! When people have work goals that are clear and credible and which clearly contribute to a bigger picture they are more motivated to learn.  When people individually have some sense of their own personal goals in life, they are also more motivated to learn.

So make sure that you and your leaders set and manage your peoples’ targets and objectives with these factors in mind. And encourage people to think about their careers and life goals as well. 

I didn't know this, do you?

I've known for ages that I can 'blank' the screen (by simply pressing the W key) during a PowerPoint slideshow, if I wanted to develop delegates' ideas on a flipchart.

But what I didn't know was that if I right-clicked whilst the screen is blank I could then select a pen and write, live, on the projected screen using the mouse or the track-pad on the laptop. BRILLIANT!

I've also tried it with a Wacom writing stylus and tablet and it is amazing.

If you knew about this why didn't you tell me? If you didn't know, you do now!


Seven ways to make role play work in a training course

Seven ways to make role play work in a training course

No one seems to like role play; there is always a concerted groan when you mention it but paradoxically people generally really benefit from it. Role play proves (to the trainer, their colleagues and themselves) that they have the real behavioural skills to handle challenging situations be they with customers, colleagues, bosses or subordinates.  Yeah, we all know what we should do in these situations, but role plays force us to prove that we can put the theory into practice.


Here are seven tips, based on twenty five years’ experience, that help make role play work as a method in the training room.

1.     Brief everyone, before you start, that they will all be asked to provide feedback afterwards.  Make the request for feedback specific that the feedback is either

a) positive; “I thought that X was particularly well done” or

b) alternative; “I think that it may have been better if you had done Y, because….” This tends to prevent people identifying only the negatives, which is why most of us don’t like role play.  It also focusses everyone who is watching to actually watch and learn from their colleagues as well as their own experience.

2.     Make the role play scenario realistic. If you have the time in the training room then ask the delegates present to suggest their own scenario that falls within the learning objectives.  If you don’t have this luxury, make the situation as realistic as possible for the people on the training.  If you use an entirely fictional scenario which is not directly relevant to the delegates it can still work, but you will have to put a lot more time and effort into “bridging” the lessons back to the workplace.

3.     Keep their brief as short and as simple as you can.  Delegates need to be able to read it, understand it and memorise the relevant parts without constantly having to refer back to it.  As a rule of thumb a half page of A4 in 12 point type should be enough for a role play scenario.

4.     Don’t ask them to actually play a role; ask them to act as themselves. Make sure your brief doesn’t ascribe a gender or physical characteristics to them that will encourage them to start play-acting.  Nothing destroys a role play session faster than amateur dramatics! Brief them to act and react in as realistic a way as possible.

5.     If the budget allows, get a professional actor in to actually play any roles. If money is too tight, play the ‘roles’ yourself.  This has a number of benefits; firstly, the delegates aren’t playing a role that has limited learning for them. Secondly, there is no quid pro quo (you-go-easy-on-me-and-I’ll-go-easy-on-you) bargaining. Thirdly, it allows you to lead the behaviours that provide the best learning

6.     Make sure that they don’t have the same brief that you (or the actor) have; in the real world they have to act on what they know now, they find out stuff as they go along and they have to react to that discovery, so make the role play reflect this.

7.     In the real world people can’t “call time-out”, so make it clear that this isn’t an option in the role play.  They have to either work with what they have got or, if in the real world they would suggest a brief adjournment to take advice or carry out research, then that is what they will have to do in the role play. This keeps it all more realistic and prevents confusion as to whether people are behaving as they would in the real world or not.

Role play is a brilliant way to practice for reality.  It can be hard work but remember the adage, “Train hard, work easy”.

12 Practical Ways For L&D Professionals To Move Towards A Healthy 70:20:10

12 Practical Ways For L&D Professionals To Move Towards A Healthy 70:20:10

By Rus Slater 2/3/2015

If you are in the L&D world you’ll need no introduction to the concept of 70:20:10. But most of the formal training that L&D people receive focuses them on the provision of the 10.  What can L&D professionals do to widen the learning net to help their client base to maximise the other 90%?

Here are 12 things that you can do according to your role and authority.

L&D designers and deliverers

1.      Design your training sessions to encourage networking between the delegates afterwards. Put a ‘contacts table’ in the workbook so people can capture names and contact details.  Rotate people around in their syndicates so they get to make contact with as wide a number of people as possible. Reiterate the suggestion at the end of the training to plant the seed of networking internally or with likeminded people from other sites or organisations.

2.      Design your training sessions to teach people how to intentionally extract learning from situations. We all learn intuitively but this is generally a much slower process.  Introduce the experiential learning cycle. Make it explicit that this is of value to them after the formal training session. Demonstrate its use with delegates’ past experiences and the lessons they did or could have learned.

3.      During your face to face sessions provide as many useful references as you can to relevant resources that people can access back at work. For example, books, websites and ‘communities of practice’, be they online or actual. Encourage people to access them when in need and to share what they learn. Communities of practice can be brilliant opportunities for people to see what problems and challenges other people face; this allows them to pre-empt these problems in their own work as well as encouraging people to learn by helping others.

4.      Create post-training reflection sessions where people are encouraged to reflect on what worked and what didn’t work. Webinar can be a great way to do this cheaply and effectively. Each person submits a single slide of what they have done in the workplace since the formal training and what has worked and what still needs work.  Each person shares their successes and issues for only three minutes, and then the floor is open for colleagues to offer support and suggestions.  This not only focuses everyone’s minds on building upon their classroom learning in the real world, but also helps people to learn from each other’s successes and gives people the opportunity to learn from problems that aren’t theirs.

5.      Set up Action Learning Sets (ALSs) to approach problems, challenges or opportunities that are possible or recurrent for their organisation and their people. ALSs are brilliant for continuous improvement and scenario planning for the organisation as well as providing learning opportunities and exposure to new thinking.

6.      Encourage people to keep learning logs; a weekly written reflection of lessons learnt. This helps focus the activity generated by #2 above and also helps people to increase in confidence…





In-House L&D Managers/Directors


7.      Create a ‘resource centre’ for people to access at their point-of-need; e-learning modules, videos, podcasts, books, articles, press cuttings, case studies and manuals can all be available to help people when they have a problem. Make the damn thing easily accessible to everyone! This is so much better than waiting until there are enough people to justify a training course. If possible/appropriate buy licences for such online ‘toolkits’ as or


Senior HR people who also have L&D responsibility


8.      Ensure that people can access social media and websites on their organisational IT. Of course, you don’t want people ‘notworking’ when they could/should be networking but the internet is a fantastic source of ‘learning-at-the-point-of-need’. The ability to ask a question or search for an answer online provides a rapid solution to many of the ongoing problems people find.  It also allows people to identify solutions used in other organisations and industries which avoids the inward looking isolation that can be detrimental to organisational effectiveness.

9.      Encourage people to share the lessons they have learned so that others will learn from them, this is a great morale and confidence booster as well as spreading good practice. Access to open communities of practice is a great way to facilitate this.  Encourage your line management to add a ‘learning’ item to the agenda of their regular team meetings. Encourage self-driven learning through your organisational communications; have a regular article on your company newsletter or website highlighting some of the things particular people have learned whether they are directly related to their current role or not.

10.   Make self-driven learning a part of people’s KPIs.  For managers, make the creation of an environment that supports people’s self-driven learning part of their management KPIs.

11.   Train people to coach and encourage coaching.  This means training people as coaches and ensuring that everyone understands what they can do to be coached effectively.  Don’t just train managers as coaches; copy Marks & Spencer, they actively encourage their long serving staff to act of coaches.  Train your influential people and your “natural” leaders to coach rather than simply teach.

12.   Encourage people to take secondments and job swaps with the express intention of learning through experience.  Encourage people to volunteer in the community for the learning opportunities it gives. According to the BITC (Business In The Community) report “The Business Case for Volunteering”, 96% of managers believe that volunteering can provide workplace skills and 57% of them believe that this can help to plug skills gaps in their teams.


a customer service case study

A Customer Service Case Study


I own a pair of Foster Grant ‘Microview’ reading glasses.  They a cleverly designed in that they fold at the bridge and the arms are telescopic, so when I’m not wearing them they are about the size of a matchbox.

Sadly I lost the little hard shell case that keeps them protected in my pocket or bag.


So I went to Foster Grant’s website to see if I could replace just the case.  On the homepage was a link to “contact us”. 


On the contact us page was a phone number.


When I dialled the number, the phone was straightaway answered by a human, a polite and helpful young chap called Tom.


I explained my dilemma and tom told me that they glasses are manufactured overseas and arrive in the cases, so he couldn’t sell me a case on its own BUT what he could do was to pop over to the warehouse and see if there was a loose case available. He would let me know either way but he couldn’t at this stage promise that he’d be able to get me a replacement case.

He took my landline and mobile numbers and promised to call me back.


Less than an hour later the landline rang.  I didn’t get to it in time but a moment after it had stopped ringing my mobile rang.


It was Tom.  He’d found a spare case.

I asked if I could therefore buy it.

“No, sir, no need.  It is a bit faded so I’d be happy to send it to you for nothing” Tom said.

I asked if he was sure that this was OK, didn’t he need to ask his manager.  No, he told me, he was able to make this decision without higher authority.

He took my name and address and I’m awaiting the case’s arrival by post imminently.


What lessons can we learn from this about customer service?

1. Foster Grant made their telephone number publicly available; getting hold of them was as easy at it could have possibly been

2. They didn’t have an automated answering service; but a real live, thinking human being as their first line of support

3. The agent, Tom, was clear about what he could do but also made sure that he didn’t raise any expectations that he would be unable to fulfil. He was honest, straightforward and polite about it and he was “empowered” to make decision that would solve my problem.

4. He kept his promise to contact me, even though I didn’t answer his first call he persisted, he went the extra mile.

5. I love the glasses and now I love the company; I’ll sing their praises in this little report and I’ll tell everyone I know who wants to buy a pair of reading glasses to go to Foster Grant.

6. What has this cost Foster Grant? A “waste” product hat would have otherwise ended up in the bin, a Jiffy-bag and the postage.


Rus Slater


Last week I ran a meeting for the community and it was an outstanding success:

"Thanks to all your hard work and your  introduction and  guidance  at the meeting, we  now  have the  working structure that was needed without the usual navel gazing and ego airing such meetings can generate"

So I thought I'd share some of the "wisdom" that guided it:


A Simple Seven Point Tool To Make Your Meetings More Effective And Save You From Wasting A Lot Of Time



tand up, don’t sit down; this tends to focus people’s minds on getting to the point more quickly than if they are all sitting around in comfortable chairs, with coffee and doughnuts.







wo minute challenge: No one is allowed to speak for more than two minutes without giving others a chance to comment, question, challenge or take the floor.







genda: have a proper agenda which sets out the outcome of the whole meeting, subsidiary items and their outcomes and the amount of time to be allocated to each item. Send it out in advance. Don’t have ‘Any Other Business’ is on the agenda or not!







o going off-topic; as the chair, you must stop any off-topic discussions, be they in plenary (everyone all together) or between individual members







istractions and interruptions are not allowed; no one is to take a quick phone call, no visitors, no texting, no “popping out to deal with this”.  Stick to the matters on the agenda, no multi-tasking.





nless you need to be here, be elsewhere.  Most meetings have at least one person who has no need to be there; they contribute nothing and have no need to hear other peoples’ input. If you are the chair allow people to opt-out if it is justifiable.







ush off as soon as you have completed the agenda and achieved the goal of the meeting.  Don’t hang around, even if you travelled for two hours for a forty minute meeting.  Extending the meeting just to “make it seem worthwhile” is probably just wasting time. This includes the planning of the agenda; if it can be done in 10 minutes, don’t schedule an hour!





Yesterday was the Fleet half marathon and it is my wont on this day each year to spend the day gardening and watch the runners go past my house. We live at the point where the faster runners reach after about 55 minutes.

Near the end of the long trail of sweating bodies were two runners who had fallen in pace to a very, very slow jog.  As they drew past me one said to the other,

"God it's so hot.....I don't know how anyone can run in this!"

At which point another runner, dressed head to toe as a griffin with a massive plastic head on top, came zooming past them.  He was carrying a heavy bucket full of small change.

"Well done, ladies!" He called to them in encouragement, "Not far to go now".  And with that he shot off at a fast lope, head bouncing in the sunlight and the bucket swinging from his right hand.

The two women were silent.  Their pace remained exactly as before.

I couldn't help wondering whether his physical appearance at that particular time was motivating or crushing.... 

Management of leavers: A little case study

You are a director of a small organisation in the not-for-profit sector.

A young member of staff has been with you for two and a half years.  He started as a student doing his BA in exactly the subject your small organisation exists to promote.

He got his BA (at a First) and stayed with you part time whilst he did his MA, still in the highly relevant subject.

He got his MA (at Distinction Level) and converted to a full time role with you.

He has initiated and delivered a series of innovative new offerings for your organisation, and is much appreciated by your customers.

However, you never promote him or give him any kudos.  So he resigns as he has found another role with a different, non competing organisation.

Your PA arranges an exit interview to take place on his final day.

You don't turn up for it, but neither do you inform him or your PA that you aren't going to make it.

Later that afternoon his leaving "do" is taking place in the site restaurant.  You go in for your lunch but, though you sit at the next table you say nothing to him.  You ignore him completely.

He leaves.

Your PA rearranges the exit interview a week later.

The young man walks to your site and arrives on time for the meeting.  You are off site and five minutes before the interview is due to begin you phone your PA to cancel.

He leaves having wasted most of his morning. 



1. How professional do you as a manager appear to be to him and the people who still work for you?

2. What image do you expect him to paint to his friends and acquaintances about you and the organisation you manage?

3. What effect on future recruitment do you think it might have if I actually named you and the organisation in this blog?


This is not a fictitious case study~it happened less than three months ago! 


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