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Motivation Beyond the Meeting: How to Make Training Last

By Staff Writer

How do you maintain the energy created by a training session and help your employees stay enthused? If you’ve ever been frustrated by a drop in employee morale after an project or event is over, one expert would like to suggest that you take a closer look at the example you are giving on how your approach your work, the physical environment you’ve created and more.

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Leif Hansen, founder and “Chief Engagement Officer” for a company called Spark Interaction, offers his “7 Wow Factors” to HR professionals as ways to motivate their employees beyond a training session. He teaches company leaders how to create employee engagement that sticks. His program for teaching the “Wow Factors” is called, “How to Wow: Facilitating Experiences that Keep People Coming Back for More.”

As the economy improves and job opportunities grow, do you fear a talented employee leaving a farewell message and moving to a more dynamic company? Read on for a summary of an interview with Hansen about his unexpected employee motivation techniques and how they’ll help you see opportunities to make motivation stay around.

1. Develop Your Personal Integrity

How much integrity do you have with yourself? Before you start asking the people you lead to trust you, you need to trust yourself. There are several elements that can affect your this area.

1. Know your purpose. Why are you doing this job? How does it support your own career goals and vision for yourself?
2. Connect to your passion.  Are you aware of the original passion that moved you towards your job? The presence or absence of passion will come through in how you communicate.
3. Care for your employees. Do you really care about what you are doing and the people you’re serving?

Hansen emphasizes that trust is no longer considered a soft skill, it’s a hard skill. If you are connected to yourself, you trust yourself. That confidence will then be apparent to your employees.

2. Allow People to Connect to You

Hansen says to, “Create safety that people can feel.” His example of creating safety is setting up an environment where conflict is actually good, even if it is between a manager and an employee. Hansen reminds us that it is impossible to avoid conflict. And, that conflict often spurs positive changes and profitable advances. If conflict isn’t possible at your company, that can actually hurt your comptetive edge.

Hansen suggests that the way to this safety is to encourage honesty and provide clear, safe channels to communicate. If an employee has a suggestion for making meetings more efficient they should know who to talk to and not feel afraid they’ll lose their job for challenging the person running the meeting.

3. Encourage Employees to Connect with Each Other

Employees need to have trust in each other in order for your company to flourish. What is a common barrier to this trust? Hansen suggests you explore punishment for failure. Employees should be able to trust each other, he says, especially when they or others are taking risks.

Failure is a normal part of being human, Hansen reminds us. But, it’s also considered very shameful in many workplaces. Allowing room for failure has great advantages for a business. What if you create a workplace that offers the freedom to fail? This situation lets employees feel safe to taking chances and do things differently. These risks can then lead to innovations and improvements that will make your company stronger.

4. Address Both Sides of Employees’ Brains

You’ve heard of the left brain – linear, rule-based – and the right brain – creative, comfortable  without rules. Traditionally, workplaces have emphasized the growth of the left brain skills they need for their workforce to be productive. But, what happens if your nurture the right brain, as well?
Hansen suggests that employees need more than just directions on how to perform a task and complete it. At work, they are looking for satisfying relationships, creativity, playfulness, enjoyment and meaning. In a sense, you want to listen to your employees and give them the opportunity to tell their story. Why are they in this job? What’s valuable about it for them? You can then nurture the positive ways they identify with their job and, likely, make them more productive.

5. Adapt to Emergent Needs

Are you locked tight into who plays which role in the company and what their title is? Hansen proposes that you hold plans and titles loosely enough to adapt to emergent needs. He likens this frame of mind to one of an improvisational theater actor, ready to respond to another actor on stage.

For example, if you are presenting to or leading some a group, you typically come with an agenda. But, Hansen warns, don’t stick to your agenda if some reality is more urgent  – a crisis, a need, a problem. It is going to do more good to address those real-time needs than stick to your agenda.

6. Create a Productive Environment

You want your employees to create great things, but are you giving them a great environment to create in? It’s important that you consider their work space. Make it one that is functional, beautiful and effective. The work place should be pleasant to look at, meet people’s physical needs and also ensure that everyone’s work can get done.

For example, software giant Google has a place where employees can bring their dogs, areas to grab a snack, and places for employees to hang out and talk away from their desks. Each of these spaces meet a practical need and foster community.

7. Use Social Technologies to Create Connections

“A training actually starts before it even begins,” Hansen tells us. People usually want to talk about, look forward to, dread or wonder about an upcoming event as soon as they know about it. What if they could share their thoughts with each other about the training or event more easily? What if they could do so across departments, both before and after?

Thanks to Web 2.0, there are many ways that you can facilitate this sort of sharing. There are technologies, both offline and online, that create space for community and can help build relationships between employees. The buzz word for this HR-friendly, social media technology is “Enterprise 2.0.” It any social media tool that helps companies build stronger businesses for internally and externally.

For example, there is a version of Twitter that only allows people in the same company to share thoughts and follow each other. It’s called Yammer. It’s limited to people within a company and they have a limited number of characters to express their thoughts. Groups can form and employees can follow each others’ statements, links, rants or ideas. There is even an iPhone app for this program.

Another Enterprise 2.0 tool Hansen mentions is called mindmeister. It allows employees in different locations to brainstorm together using a method called mind mapping. By using this tool, employees can both get inspired by and influence each others’ ideas in real time.

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