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  1. An odd title to be found on a website selling bite-size training materials don’t you think?

    Perhaps I ought to extend the title a little: Bite size training won’t work if that’s all you do. And to think of it, neither will your e-learning, or resources library.

    Much like a cocktail sausage and a vol-au-vent won’t fill you up the same way that a roast dinner will.

    buffet

    Bite-size training should be seen as part of a learning buffet- one of the many options available to learners in your organisation, but it needs to be supplemented with other bite-size elements to create a satisfying 'mea'l: Bite-size training is part of a blended solution, not a replacement for traditional training. It should be delivered along with some self-directed study, a coaching conversation, e-learning, active reflection, a discussion on social media. Taken TOGETHER these bite-size elements can replace a traditional day (or two-day) workshop.

    Anyone who has catered for a large group knows that creating a good buffet is just as hard work as cooking a roast dinner, so bite-size training (if it is to be a success) isn’t always an easy option. It offers more flexibility (as a buffet does in comparison with a sit-down dinner), and if properly planned and substituted, it can be a satisfying alternative. But equally, one element e.g. e-learning, a 90-minute whistle-stop session, can leave people disappointed and hungry for more if that’s all they can have.

    So make sure that you include some live elements as well as e-learning, some social methods as well as independent ones, and opportunities for deep-dives as well as light touches.

    And remember that we have an end of year on ALL our training materials – Theres 20% off everything in our training materials shop until December 31st. Just use the code 31122018 at the checkout.

  2. This weekend, I went to watch the film Bohemian Rhapsody. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I wasn't disappointed!!! Within 20 minutes I forgot I wasn't watching the actual members of Queen, so full credit to the main cast.

    One of the themes that realy struck me was just how much Queen were a team - they referred to themselves as a family frequently - but they were a high performing team.

    • They accepted each other for exactly who they were - no-one tried to change anyone else
    • They respected what each other bought to the team
    • They challenged each other to be even better at what they already did well, rather than focus on areas of weakness
    • They made big decisions together
    • They handled conflict privately
    • They presented a united front to the world
    • They agreed that all royalties be split evenly as the acknowledged that actually, none of them was much good without the others - a real example of the whole being greater than the sum of it's parts
    • They trusted each other

    So many lessons to be learned!

    If we are lucky (as they were) we find ourselves working with people who naturally gel and perform well together. However, in most businesses, teams need a little help to perform to their best ability. There's no magic wand and no guarantees, but our bite-size sessions on building teams are a good place to start! 

  3. For a number of years, I've offered my bite-size training materials in editable format as well as PDF so they can be customised. I've done this so that they can be integrated into a longer programme (Maybe you just need 90 minutes from us and have written the rest yourself), or (more commonly) so that they can be tailored to reference your own examples and use your internal language.

    But what do I mean by customisation? 

  4. I decided to run into my local village today (well jog). It's only 3/4 miles and I knew I'd be walking back, laden as I would be with milk and vegetables. I'm not even keen on running, but I won't make my Zumba class tonight as I'm travelling to run a course tomorrow, so I thought I ought to do something.

    Although I can do a 3 hour Zumba class with relative ease, 5 minutes of running usually finishes me off. But I jogged all the way in without a break. Ok, it was only 12 minutes, but that's 7 more than I normally manage. I felt proud. 

    jogger

    Why did I do so well? I think it was a combination of factors: 1) the fact that I'd set myself a small (but stretching) goal and given myself permission to walk back. 2) that it was a 'now or never' thing - my time was limited 3) I set off slowly - more slowly than I normally do, BUT I was able to maintain the pace and get into the rhythm rather than run faster, get out of breath and give up.

    Important lessons for us all think, especially new managers. How many times do we try to do something new, and effectively run out of breath and give up after 5 minutes? Because we try to do things perfectly straight away, we are in effect setting ourself up to fail. We ought to just DO things!! I didn't have a time in mind. I knew that I 'should' be running faster, but I started easy, and found that I could manage.

    When promoted, or after training, we need to do things differently, but trying to do too much, too soon, too quickly helps no-one and actually sets us up to fail. Small but achievable goals and reaslistic expectations (combined with small rewards) will always bring better results in the long term.

    That's what Power Hour Training is all about - doing ONE thing differently, making SMALL changes, and helping people to develop a bit at a time.

  5. Today, it’s lucky that I only had about 3 hours of work that I HAD to get done, because I made a breakthrough in something I’ve been struggling with for years, and I needed to strike whilst the iron is hot.

    If you follow me on social media, you’ll know that my broadband is terrible. It is my second favourite topic to tweet about after L&D. I have complained, privately and publicly to anyone and everyone for about the last 5 years. My complaints have been ignored, or politely dismissed. Sometimes I’ve managed to get as far as an email exchange but things soon dwindle from their end.

    But today an actual person took interest. She gave me her direct contact details and asked me to call.

    • She LISTENED to my frustrations
    • She ASKED what I’d done so far, and about my circumstances
    • She set me a clear ACTION POINT.

    Which I put into place immediately!!!

    The terrible nature of my broadband has been a bug bear for years. It is largely outside of my control. However, what this lady was able to do was help me to find something that was WITHIN my circle of control, and challenged me to do it. If I complete the task she set me, she will then take the next step. She put the ball in my court, but has indicated she’s in the game with me.

    I’ve always been a massive fan of Steven Covey’s Circle of Concern Model – it genuinely changed my life, and reduced my stress levels considerably, and she just put something within my Circle of Control.

    It made me wonder about how many people moan about things at work? Does anything ever get done as a result of these moans, or do the moans just gradually suck the life force out of the people who work there, and so the business itself?

    It’s true that we sometimes moan about stuff that doesn’t REALLY matter. Sometimes a moan is cry for attention. Sometimes it’s a genuine frustration. Regardless of the seriousness of the moan, following these 3 steps can help eradicate them…

    If we LISTEN, and if the moan is something that doesn’t really matter, just the fact that we have been listened to may well be enough. If it isn’t, ASKING shows that you value the persons’ feelings and can again either stop the moan there OR become the first step in solving a problem. Often, like me, people feel frustrated and powerless. They actually WANT to solve the problem and are willing to take action and put the effort in, but they feel that it’s out of their hands. If they are empowered to solve the problem, they will. All they need is for someone to help them to see alternatives, expand their circle of control and hold them accountable.

    My bite size training module on Empowering Leadership touches on this as well as other useful tools.

     

  6. It's disappointing that even today, many people take on, or are promoted into a job without real training. This is a sad reflection on a businesses induction training - and if you need help with that then our friends at Keystone Development are highly recommended.

    lady learner

    New managers (like new drivers) may techniclaly be ready for the job, but they lack a whole heap of experience and (as we all know), driving lessons can only prepare you for specific scenarios. the rest we have to learn as we go.

    So the purpose of this blog is to highlight some of the mistakes that new managers make in the hope that forewarned is forearmed. By anticipating difficulties, training teams (and the manager themself) can have a plan in place for overcoming them. Here are some of the most common challenges:

    1. Not setting out expectations – What’s obvious to you may not be obvious to others. They are not mind readers. Discuss what is expected and set clear goals and objectives so that you CAN leave your team to get on with things.
    2. Poor planning and prioritisation – Many managers simply react to what is happening around them, or jump to attend to their boss whenever called. Even very hands-on managers need to take time to plan each day and identify what MUST be done, as well as focus on the future.
    3. Not delegating – You can’t do it all yourself, and you shouldn’t try. You have a team now, and people in that team need to feel useful and valued. Do your fair share of the work, but don’t do it all.
    4. Focussing on paperwork – many managers make the mistake of focussing all their time and energy on paperwork, reports, admin and spreadsheets. Reading and manipulating data will not achieve results. Managing is about PEOPLE so prioritise them over paperwork.
    5. Lack of Trust – When you have high standards, and when you are responsible for the work of the team, it is tempting to check everything personally. However, this creates a bottle-neck and makes the team feel that they are not trusted. Instead of spending time checking, spend the time coaching.
    6. Trying to be ‘one of the guys’ – Of course you can have friendships at work, but when you are at work, you are a manager. You cannot gain respect as a manager if you act too much like one of the team. set and stick to boundaries.
    7. Not asking for help – When you start a new job or are promoted, give yourself time to grow into the role. You don’t and can’t know everything you need to from day one. Learn from more experienced managers, ask for advice and even consider getting a mentor.
    8. Being busy rather than productive – Many managers rush from one crisis situation to another, from one meeting to another. They work long hours but never seem to achieve anything. Identify the activities that will add most value to your objective/team and focus your time on those. It feels good to 'save the day', but this can be addictive and managers who are too involved are doing, not managing.
    9. Being too eager to please – Many managers feel their job is soley about helping others (which in part it is), but this doesn’t mean getting involved in things that don’t help your team to achieve its objectives, or getting sucked into other peoples problems. Sometimes you have to make unpopular decisions or have difficult conversations. Being respected isn't always about being nice.
    10. Poor performance management – Managers have a duty to manage the performance of their people. This means having conversations every day about what is going well, and where improvements need to be made. Giving feedback is probably the single most important skill that a manager needs.
    We have done our best to provide training materials to give people the skills to avoid these problems - In particular, our New Manager Bundle and Performance Management Package have been designed to help new managers to get to grips with the basics and avoid these common mistakes.
  7. Recently I stayed in a budget hotel as I delivered 2 days training. I’m used to budget hotels. I don’t need a lot so the Premier Inn (aka Purple Palace) meets all of my needs.

    It provides:

    • A comfy bed
    • A quiet room
    • A good breakfast
    • Option to purchase an evening meal (so the lone traveller doesn’t have to venture into the unknown to get fed)
    • A hairdryer (important for the female traveller)
    • Free wi-fi (important for the business traveller)
    • Enough towels

    There’s no gym, or catering for specialist diets, or room upgrades, or room service, but that’s OK – it’s a budget hotel.

    However, on this occasion I was booked into a different chain. The bed was OK and for the most part it was comfortable and quiet (I got around 5 hours sleep), but there NO food available at all, only 30 minutes wifi, no hairdryer, no extractor fan in the bathroom and only 2 towels so the smaller towel has be used for hand washing, teeth-brushing, standing on when you get out of the shower AND wrapping your hair.

    How they are in business when the Premier Inn exists I have no idea.

    Budget should mean you have all the basics, and the basics are good. The opportunities for personalisation are minimal. This is what keeps the price down. A standard service, not a limited (or dare I say it) inadequate service. A service that’s predictable, reliable and provides everything you need, if not everything you would want.

    I modelled my Power Hour training materials on the Premier Inn – standard, not fancy (I’ve done all the typesetting myself, and you print them out) but providing all the content and guidance you need to run as great training session. Good value. A bargain. Because there’s a difference between budget and cheap.

    fivers

  8. At the outset, I would like to frame this piece by stressing that I DON'T advertise myself as a coach. I have a basic qualification in coaching and don't offer coaching as a stand-alone service. However, I do help managers to develop basic coaching skills so that they can have constructive and developmental conversations with their teams. So... here's goes.

    I ran a half-day session on coaching skills for managers recently. There was a confusion over what coaching actually is. As I see it, it means different things to different people. The construction manager will tell you that he's coaching people when he shows them how to build a wall; the engineering team leader may tell you she's coaching people when they solve a problem together; the professional coach may tell you that it's about unlocking personal obstacles.

    Some people are scared to offer 'coaching' at work because they associate it with counselling. Some people feel that it can only take place in a long, formal session and therefore isn't compatible with the modern business needs of agility and pace. Others think that they can only coach someone if they are an expert themselves.

    This is why I wanted to state my position at the start: I'm not precious about the definition people use. To me, 'coaching' can fall anywhere on the continuum below, and the format of coaching will vary depending on the nature of the issue, the urgency of finding a solution, the relationship between the individuals, whether there is a single 'right' way or many, and the risk associated with choosing an untested path. What matters is that people work together to find the best way forward for them.

    coaching continuum

     

     

    I cover this in my bite-size module 'Coach People', as well as the core skills. It's not designed to provide the skills needed to be a professioanl coach. It's designed to help line managers have supportive yet challenging developmental conversations with their people to create learning from real-work situations.

  9. You can download a guide to using picture cards in training from our FREE STUFF page!

  10. 20180227_124116

    A lovely bowl of cream of carrot and coriander soup. Just the thing for a cold winter’s day, and pleasing because I made it myself, using carrots I’d grown myself and pulled from the garden 2 days before.

    Though of course, I didn’t make it entirely myself. Yes, I grew the carrots, chopped the carrots, added the leeks and seasoning, set the soup maker going and stirred in the cream. But I didn’t grow the leek or the herbs – or transport them to the shop where I bought them. I didn’t raise or milk the cow that made the cream. I certainly didn’t invent or build the soup-maker that actually took all the effort out of making my homemade soup.

    However, all these things happened behind the scenes. In my mind, I made the soup. I’m proud of myself and it tasted good.

    In the same way that you (quite rightly) feel proud when you design your own training and development programme, even if you buy in a lot of the raw ingredients you need to create your masterpiece.

    You select the ingredients. You pull it all together. You season to taste. You can use our training materials as a starting point and add your own home-grown elements and alter the balance to create something that unique to you. Even though the modules are delicious on their own (and stand alone as a complete module), you can buy editable versions to allow you to act as the head chef and make your own signature dish – our materials are just the basic ingredients with which you can create something amazing. It isn't cheating!

    So why not browse our topics and make something special?