The Future of Talent Management

A recent Manpower Group survey shows that 75% of organizations suffer from a shortage in the talent needed to move their organizations forward. Despite this shortage, 95% of employees in a survey done by McKinsey believe that their organizations’ talent management strategies are lacking or falling short of meeting their objectives. So why is that? And what can organizations do to enhance the effectiveness of their talent management strategies?

To answer these questions, we shall take you through a quick overview of the current trends affecting the talent force and how talent management strategies need to adapt to match these trends.

Trends Affecting the Current Talent Force

1. Demographic Shifts

Most developed countries around the world are facing varying degrees of decline in population growth, causing many shifts in the overall regional shares of the global workforce. As a result, the African share of the global talent force is expected to rise by 5%, while the European share is expected to decline by 4% by 2030. Consequently, Africa and Asia will continue to be home to close to three-quarters of the total global talent force. This has a significant impact on how organizations should manage their talent. For organizations to survive, they must adapt their talent management strategies to embrace higher diversity and inclusion (D&I). This includes being open to hiring global talent, providing remote work opportunities, developing employees’ multicultural collaboration skills, and building fair and equitable global compensation and benefits schemes.

Moreover, as the Boomers generation retires, the future workforce will be 75% Millennial by 2025. This fact has interesting implications. In a study done by PwC, when asked which benefits they would most value from an employer, Millennials named training and development and flexible working opportunities over financial benefits. It is apparent that, with the Millennial generation, talent management professionals must be aware that they are facing a generation that puts a higher emphasis on ‘purpose’ and ‘flexibility’ as important benefits that attract them to employers and help them stay. Therefore, the old ways of simply hiring the right people and ‘paying them to stay’ will no longer work. Talent professionals must adapt their strategies to offer a more attractive employer value proposition to the Millennial generation.

2. Changes in the Future of Work

The Future of Skills report by LinkedIn Economic Graph shows that the skills required for the future of work have changed by more than 25% since 2015. Not only that the skills have significantly changed, but they are also likely to continue to change by anywhere from 39 to 44% by 2025. With this rate of change, simply hiring the right people and providing basic compliance training will no longer work. Also, expecting to simply hire external talent when no internal candidates are suitable will no longer work too. With this rate of change, chances are that the talent that organizations will need in the future will be in shortage inside and outside the organization. This is why talent development professionals must be on the lookout for what skills their organizations will need in the future and must proactively help their current talent prepare for that.

Moreover, as a result of the 2020 pandemic, employees are now more accustomed to different work arrangements than in the pre-pandemic period. In fact, in a Buffer survey, a whopping 99% of employees say that they would like to work remotely at least some of the time for the rest of their careers. Even more, in an Owl Labs report, 32% say that they will leave their organizations if they have to return to work on-site full-time. With these statistics in mind, organizations must adapt their talent management strategies for a more remote workforce.

network based leadership

3. Changes in the Nature of Leadership

Top-down hierarchical organizational models are dead and network-based holocratic models are the new rule. The younger knowledge workers expect self-managed teams, independence in decision-making, and knowledge and resource sharing among organizational departments.

Moreover, Millennials have learned the lessons of ages past, so most Millenials believe that they are personally responsible for their own skill and career development. This gives rise to a more widespread, previously overlooked type of leadership– self-leadership. The future workforce will assume more self-leadership than the previous ones, both for personal development and for the achievement of organizational objectives. Therefore, talent management strategies must evolve to build, support, and retain this new kind of leadership.

The Current Status of Talent Management

So, with all these trends in the talent force, how are organizations doing with managing their talent? Not so well! Research shows that only 5% of employees think their organization’s talent management strategies are very effective and only 23% of managers and senior executives working on talent management believe their current acquisition and retention strategies will work. So, how can we turn things around?

talent management

Build a Talent Management Strategy for the Future

A mistake talent professionals sometimes do is to assume that what worked before will continue to work. But with the current trends affecting the talent force, it is evident that a change needs to be made. Here are some general changes that talent professionals must start integrating into their current strategies to be more relevant to the future.

1. Globalize & Localize

As you set your talent management strategy, be open to hiring, developing, and maintaining global talent. This is no easy feat but a global workforce requires access to a myriad of local recruitment platforms, global training providers, and global compensation and benefits schemes. You cannot simply post a job vacancy on a single local platform and expect to attract global talent. More importantly, to reap the benefits of hiring global talent, you must put in the effort to make them feel included. Your D&I programs should provide focus on the localization of holidays, celebrations, company-wide communications, training, etc. It should also put emphasis on providing fair promotion and career advancement opportunities to all employees regardless of which part of the world they are working from.

2. Decentralize

As said earlier, Millennials simply have taken matters into their own hands. Therefore, relinquish your control and establish talent management solutions that give employees control over what career progression paths to choose, individual training needs they would like to address, how they would like to address them, what organizational goals they would like to pursue, and how they would like to be rewarded for their work. In fact, giving employees personal control over their career development significantly increases their chances of achieving their development goals.

3. Socialize

You are now dealing primarily with the ‘social media generation’. This is the generation that grew up with immediate access to anyone anywhere. They could easily network with the top C-Suite leaders of any organization on LinkedIn. They could easily look up information anywhere anytime, learn from online resources shared by others on social platforms, and reach out with questions on forums. Of course, this generation comes to work with different expectations about how knowledge and people are accessed.

This is why your talent management strategy needs to leverage this social lever. Do you use social media for talent acquisition? Do you leverage company referrals? Do you create a social media buzz around your employer value proposition? Do you incorporate social learning in your training solutions? Do you have an organizational knowledge base accessible to and searchable by all employees? Do you have an internal platform that enables immediate communication with anyone in the company, including the CEO? The answers to these questions show how well you have socialized your talent management processes.

4. Personalize

Last but not least, this new Millennial talent force is used to receiving personalized solutions in all aspects. Therefore, a one-size-fits-all approach to training, compensation, and motivation does not work. Diversify the modalities of your learning solutions, offer a wide range of benefits that employees can choose from, and diversify your organization’s employee engagement initiatives to provide employees with options to choose from.

How Can XpertLearning Help?

In this article, we have given you a quick overview of the top trends changing the face of talent management. If you’re interested in improving your talent management strategy, you can reach out to benefit from our consultancy services. And if you would like to do talent management like a pro, then you may consider purchasing a talent management system. To help you with this decision, you can check out the wide array of options we offer here or, even better, pass by stand C28 at the HR Summit and Expo, Dubai, on November 15th and 16th to watch a live demo of our talent management solutions and discuss your needs. To obtain a free entry, register here.

Communicating Like a Leader

Communication skills are often cited as one of the most sought-after skills in the corporate world. In fact, research by McKinsey about the future of work has listed communication skills in the list of top 13 skill groups expected to be in demand in the future and the ‘ability to synthesize messages’ as one of the biggest predictors of employment. Studies also show that improved communication skills enhance employees’ chances of advancing in their careers.

So, with all this buzz about communication skills? What are communication skills exactly? And how can you use them to press the fast forward button on your career?

Communication

What are Communication Skills?

As the name implies, communication skills are the skills required to exchange verbal and non-verbal messages between one or more parties. One party? Yes, we’ll get to that later.

The messages exchanged in the communication process could range from simple, direct, factual information to complex, emotionally-laden exchanges. By all accounts, communication is a two-way street. It involves listening, speaking, showing understanding, and expressing empathy.

The Two Types of Communication

One of the biggest mistakes that professionals make when they try to improve their communication skills is that they jump to improving their interpersonal communication. However, true and effective communication starts from within. There are two types of communication that are important to develop in order to build relations effectively with others.

  • Intrapersonal Communication: This involves one’s ability to identify one’s emotions and contradicting thoughts, question them, and discuss them with one’s self.
  • Interpersonal Communication: This involves one’s ability to communicate one’s emotions and thoughts with others while understanding and empathizing with others’ emotions and thoughts.

It is critical to understand that effective intrapersonal communication is the road to effective interpersonal communication. You cannot have one without the other.

Now that you know about the two types of communication, you may be wondering what this has to do with career advancement and progress. In the next section, we’ll tell you the connection between the two types of communication and your leadership potential and that of your employees.

The Two Types of Communication in Action

 

 

The above model proposed by Thomas Harris M.D. in 1967 remains to date one of the best models describing the interplay between both types of communication in the workplace and personal life. Every quadrant in this model describes one position that an individual takes in life as a result of communicating with their selves and others. According to Harris, one’s position in the model inevitably dictates their behavior and their leadership potential.

The Four Positions:

  • I’m not OK, You’re OK: In this position, the individual communicates to one’s self a sense of insufficiency and low self-esteem, whilst putting others on a pedestal. This results in a breakdown in communication resulting from a lack of openness to express one’s self to others, depriving the entire group of one’s intellectual contribution.
  • I’m OK, You’re Not OK: In this position, employees drive others away by a heightened sense of self and an overmagnification of their own egos in comparison to others. Although individuals with this position may or may not have justifications for their high self-esteem, yet looking down upon the thoughts and emotions of others leads to the alienation of team members and an overall decline in the collective intelligence of teams.
  • I’m Not OK, You’re NOT OK: In this position, employees fail to appreciate themselves and others leading to low morale and demotivation across the entire team. Employees in these positions communicate a lack of purpose and continuous doubts about a team’s ability to succeed.
  • I’m OK, You’re OK: In this position, the individual communicates confidence and trust in one’s skills and others’, thereby, leveraging the collective intelligence of the group, creating high team morale, and motivating the entire team to have all hands on deck.

How to Communicate Like a Leader

After being introduced to the four types of communication resulting from the interplay between intrapersonal and interpersonal communication, you might have already deduced the common position that leaders usually have. Yes, it’s ‘I’m OK, You’re OK’! 

People with leadership skills tend to communicate confidence in their selves and others. They are more understanding of their own mistakes and others’ too, which renders them more forgiving and willing to accept mistakes as opportunities for learning rather than judgment. They are overall more pleasant and motivating to work with, continuously challenging others to share their opinions and sharing feedback openly and nicely.

Develop Your Leadership Potential

So, if you want to push forward your career in the right direction, start by exploring what you are communicating to yourself first. When that’s OK, work on developing what you’re communicating to others. If you’re interested in knowing more about the effect of communication on organizations, how to improve organizational communication, and boost company performance accordingly, register to attend our XpertTalk on just this topic here.

 

 

Seven Tips for More Effective Virtual Instructor-Led Training

Since 2020, online training has been on the rise with surveys reporting that at least 80% of companies have used an e-learning platform to deliver their learning & development programs. According to a recent study by the Training Industry, of the huge number of online training programs conducted, 31% have been in the form of virtual instructor-led training (VILT). So what is virtual instructor-led training exactly? How does it differ from other online training modalities? And how can organizations optimize this form of training for the best results?

If you’re interested in knowing the answers to these questions, keep on reading this article. In this article, we’ll share with you some top tips to follow in order to deliver virtual instructor-led training programs that are as impactful as offline training.

What is Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT)?

Virtual instructor-led training is a form of learning program that occurs online. These programs differ from their self-paced counterparts in that they are instructor-led and synchronous. In other words, an instructor delivers the training entirely online using a meeting or learning application such as Zoom, Google Meet, or Blackboard Collaborate.  Learners attend the training program from anywhere across the globe simultaneously as it is being delivered.

What is the added value of that? Interaction! Interaction is the single biggest advantage that VILT has over self-paced programs. The face-to-face availability of both the instructor and the learners all at the same time gives room for higher interactivity and knowledge sharing. The question becomes how organizations can leverage this advantage.

Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) in Numbers
75% of organizations use virtual classrooms and webcasting for online training.
37% of companies’ training portfolios are being offered in virtual and hybrid delivery modalities.
69% of learning leaders think that 60% or more of their organization’s instructor-led training will remain virtual.
● Employees learn 70% of their abilities on the job, 20% from their peers and colleagues, and 10% through formal training sessions.
32% of learning leaders favor in-person training, as opposed to 16% favoring VILT.
36% of senior leaders prefer other learning approaches to VILT.
● Learning leaders describe learners’ distraction as the biggest area for VILT improvement.
● Learning leaders more often cite interactivity and engagement as an area of needed improvement in VILT.

Despite the obvious advantage of VILT, many trainers struggle to make it work due to the lack of upskilling received to adapt their delivery styles to the new learning environment. In fact, many learning & development professionals have not received any sort of upskilling in this new modality before being demanded to design and deliver VILT.

So, how can we turn this around?
Here we introduce to you our top tips to deliver VILT that engages and sticks.

1. Set the rules

One of the big mistakes that VILT instructors do is that they give up the control they have in offline training once the training goes VILT. Instead, make sure you re-iterate the rules that make training work. One of the most important rules to set before the training starts is the ‘camera on’ rule. It is a best practice that learners commit to opening their cameras throughout the VILT program to help them maintain their focus and achieve their learning goals.

2. Do not compromise on instructional design

Sound instructional design is based on the 30%-70% or the 20%-80% rule where the instructor’s speaking time ranges from 20-30% of the training time as opposed to 70-80% from the learners’ side. This is maintained by simply presenting the learning material in the instructors’ speaking time and dedicating the remaining time to active learning activities such as problem-solving, application, role-playing, case study analysis, etc.

However, for some reason, some of the best instructors who follow these rules offline sometimes entirely drop them when they move to the VILT sphere. It is important to think through ways to adapt your existing offline activities to work online so that you can maintain the same healthy speaking time distribution in your VILT programs.

3. Leverage the learning platform

The platforms used for VILT today have increasingly new and extremely useful features that can assist in driving interaction. However, reports show that many of these features go unused. For example, a study by Capterra shows that 32% of organizations have reporting or analytics features in their learning platforms but they go largely unused. To reap the benefits of the technology you are using and boost interactivity, take the time to consult with your provider or the IT department in your company to understand how to use the various features your platform comes with. Most platforms today have handy features such as polls, reactions, screen sharing, whiteboard sharing, breakout rooms, etc.

4. Adapt activities & games

Do not skip the activities and games simply because the training is now online. You can adapt most activities & games to be conducted in VILT format. There are many tools that can help you with this such as Google Jamboard, Miro, Padlet, Quizizz, Mentimeter, Cosmobuzz, SpintheWheel, Kahoot, or even good old Powerpoint. You can even use instructional design software such as Storyline to create shareable simulations that learners can take in the online class with you.

5. Educate on the technology

One of the biggest barriers to leveraging all the tools that can help with VILT is that very often the learners themselves struggle with the technology. In fact, according to OECD, on average, only 5% of adults score at the highest level of digital proficiency in PIAAC while about 15% of adults lack even the most basic computer skills needed to use learning technology. To counterfeit this, create short tutorial videos about all the tools that will be used throughout the training and share them with the learners in due time before the program starts along with the rules. This should give the learners enough time to acquaint themselves with the tools they will use and the rules they are expected to adhere to during the program.

6. Do not compromise on classroom management

A big part of classroom management is managing under and over-participating learners. All effective instructors manage this well offline, but for some reason, they leave this very important skill out the door before they start their VILT program. Remember, VILT does not mean relinquishing control. Therefore, we advise you to continue to invite under-participating learners to answer specific questions and share their opinions, to thank over-participating learners for their contributions, and to take the time to listen to others’ points of view.

7. Manage recordings

Although the ability to catch up on what has been missed through watching class recordings is one of the best advantages that comes with VILT, unfortunately, practice shows that a ‘promise to share recordings’ before the start of a program significantly decreases attendance. Therefore, we advise you to add within the program rules minimum attendance criteria for recording sharing. This will ensure that learners prioritize attendance and resort to recordings only when necessary.

How Can XpertLearning Help?

These were our top tips for delivering more effective virtual instructor-led programs. If you are considering transforming your ILT programs into VILT but need help making the shift, check out our VILT solutions here. Whether you train in-house or bring in external instructors, we can assist you with creating new training programs or transforming your existing Instructor-Led Training programs into a virtual format.

 

The Layman’s Guide to Cryptocurrency

If you work in finance, banking, or investment, you must have heard the words ‘cryptocurrency’ and ‘Bitcoin’ flying around. In fact, as we stand today, there are more than 10,000 cryptocurrencies in the world with a value of $919 billion. With this ever-increasing pace of adoption, you might be wondering, ‘are cryptocurrencies right for my organization?’ or ‘shall we start investing in Bitcoin?’. If these questions are crossing your mind, we have the answers for you.

In this article, we’ll introduce you to cryptocurrencies, how you can get them, and whether they are a good investment.

What are Cryptocurrencies?

Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies that are exchanged on a decentralized ledger called a blockchain that facilitates all kinds of financial transactions.

When using a blockchain, there is no centralized bank or government mediating the financial transactions between parties. Instead, the blockchain automatically mediates all transactions by storing every set of transaction information in a block that is highly secured with cryptography. This ensures the safe and tamper-free recording of all transactions. It also enables the automatic verification and authorization of parties, so financial transactions take place with ease, speed, safety, and more cost-effectiveness.

 

 

The Pros of Cryptocurrencies

Owing to their reliance on blockchain technology as well as their removal of all intermediaries in transactions, cryptocurrencies present users with a huge set of advantages. Here are some of the many benefits of using cryptocurrencies.

1. They are global currencies
Cryptocurrencies are not tied to any particular jurisdiction. As such, they can be used anywhere and transferred freely from one country to another. In fact, due to the ease by which they facilitate international transfers, they are expected to play a growing role in the remittance economy.

2. They are exchangeable with fiat currencies
Fiat currencies are currencies legally issued by a jurisdiction such as the USD or GBP. Some people fear that cryptocurrencies can only be used in the ‘digital’ world. However, they actually can be exchanged in crypto exchanges for fiat currencies which you can use in the ‘real’ world. This exchangeability makes cryptocurrencies highly valuable as you don’t need to wait for wider adoption in order to start using them.

3. They are highly secure
As the prefix implies, cryptocurrencies are highly cryptographed currencies. In other words, they are secured by sophisticated cryptography which makes it impossible to change any historical records on the blockchain. Not only that but blockchains also use a two-factor authentication process to allow transactions. This makes cryptocurrency transactions one of the most secure financial transactions out there.

4. Crypto transactions are faster and more cost-effective
Since exchanging cryptocurrencies for products, services, or fiat currencies on the blockchain is an automated decentralized transaction, all intermediaries are eliminated. Such elimination significantly reduces the cost of transactions for every purchase or sale you make. It also significantly enhances the speed. In fact, according to a recent study, ‘Bitcoin transactions take an average of 10 min to settle…In severe situations, this might last for several hours or even days……but it’s an average of three days of bank transactions processing.’ This is a very luring feature to consider if you’re considering adding cryptocurrencies to your organization’s treasury.

5. Cryptocurrencies are market-based
You may see this as a pro or a con, but the point here is that the value of a cryptocurrency is only dependent on the changes in supply and demand. No government interventions could falsely increase or decrease its value. As such, cryptocurrencies are extremely transparent currencies.

6. They are growing in adoption
Although blockchain technology appeared in 2008, the first cryptocurrency ever, Bitcoin, was introduced in 2009. Despite their promising benefits, cryptocurrencies’ adoption did not grow as fast as anticipated. That being said, their usage has still been growing steadily since the inception of cryptocurrency. In fact, now some major companies such as newegg.com, AT&T, Microsoft, Overstock, Shopify, Rakuten, Home Depot, and Rolex are already accepting them as valid modes of payment for their products and services.

How to Obtain Cryptocurrencies?

One of the most pressing questions that people interested in crypto have is ‘how to get it?’ and ‘where to keep it?’. In the section of the article, we’ll provide you with simple non-techy answers to these questions.

Buy a Cryptocurrency

The first thing you need to do is to obtain cryptocurrencies.

You may have heard of ‘mining’ as a way of obtaining cryptocurrencies. However, as easy as ‘mining’ sounds, it is actually almost impossible for individuals to ‘mine’ cryptocurrencies. Why? Because although technically speaking, all you need to mine is a computer and an internet connection, the amount of energy your computer will need to mine can be the equivalent of an entire country’s consumption. As a result, only big organizations in actuality have the resources to mine cryptocurrencies. In fact, a recent study by MIT shows that 10% of miners account for 90% of the cryptocurrencies’ mining capacity.

 

So what can you do?

There are much easier ways for you to obtain cryptocurrencies. In fact, it is just as simple as buying fiat currency. All you need to do is select a broker or a cryptocurrency exchange platform to buy cryptocurrencies. You’ll find many options for exchange platforms. Review their fees and features well before you make the choice.

Once you have selected your broker or platform, you’ll need to fund your account with fiat currency in exchange for the crypto ones. Now, you will have cryptocurrencies in your account and you will be free to make ‘buy’ or ‘sell’ orders using your broker or exchange platform’s website or mobile application.

Where to Store Cryptocurrencies?

Cryptocurrencies are digital non-tangible assets that you can only access using a private key. So it is important that you store this digital key in a safe and secure place to prevent unauthorized access to it and your cryptos. Most crypto exchange platforms will provide you with crypto wallets to store your private key safely. However, depending on the platform, you may be offered a ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ wallet.

● Hot Wallet– These wallets are digital. They provide you with online software that you can use to securely store your key.
● Cold Wallet– These wallets are physical. They provide you with an offline electronic device that you can use to securely store your key.

Wallets also use high-security practices to ensure the safety of your key and, thereby, your assets. However, it is worth noting that they are not as secure as the blockchain itself and that, in fact, many cryptocurrency breaches happen through crypto wallets and not the blockchain.

Proceed Wisely

As promising as cryptocurrency is, it is still a currency in its infancy and it is still highly unregulated and unprotected by law. Therefore, as an intelligent banker, investor, or financier, weigh the returns against the risks; the benefits against the costs, and proceed wisely.

How Can XpertLearning Help?

This has been our introduction to cryptocurrency. If you are interested in knowing more about fintech, artificial intelligence applications in finance, cryptocurrencies, and potential tech-induced disruptions in finance, check out our banking and finance courses. These courses are presented by our partner, Intuition, a leading global knowledge solutions company helping financial professionals develop the skills and expertise they need to unlock their potential.

 

 

How to Have More Women in Tech?

The tech sector is growing with a rate of  5-6%, making it one of the largest growing sectors in the world. Not only that but the sector also provides 15% of the highest 20 paying jobs worldwide. With these statistics in mind, women are encouraged to step forward and reach out to gain all the perks and benefits that a career in tech can offer. Sadly though, despite all the long strides that women have made in the workplace, only 26.2% of tech jobs are held by women and women still get paid 2.5% less than their male counterparts in the sector for the same role.

What are the reasons behind this? And what can tech or tech-enabled organizations do to build more diverse & inclusive work environments? 

Where is all of this coming from?

There are several factors contributing to having less women in tech. These factors combined drive less and less female representation across the employee pipeline.

Fear of a STEM Education

The gender gap in tech surprisingly is highly driven by an entry gap stemming from young girls’ lack of interest or fear of STEM subjects in school. The result? Only 26% of students in STEM majors in universities are women. There’s no surprise that if this is the percent taking up a STEM major that the percent of women entering the tech sector will be around that same range.

Misrepresentation in Senior Roles

Men represent 89% of all senior roles in the tech sector, an observation that is likely to create  barriers of entry to women at all levels. This means that even for those few women who choose a STEM career, they need to pass by a male manager’s approval in order to get promoted in their career path. With unconscious gender biases in place, this makes it harder and harder for women to progress in their careers which reinforces that gender pay gap and drives women out of tech.

High-Stress Sector

The tech sector has undergone many upheavals in the past fifty years, giving it a reputation of being a sector ruled by uncertainty and fast pace. In a world where only those who ‘move fast and break things’ survive, things can get very stressful. This affects women more especially since women usually have other considerations at play. With the need to balance things such as building a career and building a family, providing caregiving to an elderly parent, etc, this uncertain and fast-paced culture can be nerve-wracking and a dreary career option even to the most talented of tech women.

How Can You Build a Women-Friendly Tech Workplace? 

As shocking as all the numbers are, do not be discouraged! Organizations have gone a long way in the past fifty years to improve the situation for women. In fact, although only 26.2% of tech jobs are held by women today, this number is three times higher than it was in the 1970s in some countries.

But there is still more to do. Here is our list of best practices that you can do in your tech organization to have more women on board.

Revisit Your Job Posts

Research has shown that the language used in job posts significantly impacts the gender gap of applicants to the same roles. For example, words like ‘competition’, ‘expert’, or ‘lead’ tend to drive off women. On the other hand, words like ‘collaboration’, ‘team’, or ‘support’ can lead to more women applicants for exactly the same roles. It all has to do with how you phrase it!

Offer Leadership Development & Mentorship Programs

Equip your female employees with the skills they need to advance in their tech careers. Provide them with leadership development programs that build their skills and hone them for senior leadership roles. More importantly, initiate a mentorship and sponsorship program that connects the new women entrants in your organization with the already established women leaders who have made it. Having a role model and a mentor from the same gender helps provide women with the support they need to grow.

Build Flexibility into the Work Environment

Being laden with the responsibility of balancing conflicting duties, women prize flexibility in the workplace. They benefit greatly from flexible work hours, remote work arrangements, and all policies that make their balancing act easier. Moreover, they also benefit from perks that are designed to support women. For example, child care assistance or extended maternity leave are all perks that assure women that they are valued and their special requirements are not considered a burden on the organization.

Issue Gender Reports with Transparency

Reporting goes a long way in quantifying an issue and raising awareness about it. A simple annual or semi-annual report showing the gender distribution of your workforce across all roles and levels, if published regularly and disseminated widely in the organization, can raise awareness about your diversity and inclusion goals. This may encourage more hiring managers in your organization to reflect on their hiring practices and promotions decisions.

Start Early

Reach out to young girls in schools pre-university through your corporate social responsibility programs. Showcase to them the rewarding prospects of a career in tech and help take down the barriers to loving STEM subjects. It would be great if you can connect them with female techies in your organization to mentor, guide, and encourage them.

How Can XpertLearning Help?

These are the best practices for building a tech workplace that encourages and supports women. If you are considering giving a leadership program to women in your organization, check our leadership courses here. And if you’re considering purchasing a talent management system to more effectively track diversity and inclusion statistics in your organization, check our partners’ talent management systems here.

 

 

The Path to Digital Transformation

Since the advent of computers in the 1950s, digital trends have been taking the world by storm. Moreover, since the introduction of the internet in the 1980s, more than 12 million internet-based companies have emerged and almost all large brick-and-mortar companies have incorporated the internet in several areas of their business. Now, around 30% of the world’s business happens online. And now, even more aggressively than before, we find ourselves at the threshold of the fourth industrial revolution. What does this mean to you? What technological trends shall be taking over? What changes do you need to make and how?

In this article, we’ll explore the different digital trends emerging today and likely to lead the world tomorrow and what you need to do about them.

Digital Trends of the Future

Big Data Analysis

The current internet revolution is making quintillions of data available to organizations– data about their customers, operations, distribution channels, etc. For so long, this data would have remained idle and unused but, with the emerging technologies, organizations now can swiftly dig deep into this data and analyze it. This helps them arrive at deep insights into their customer behaviors and operations utilization.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence is an application of computer science by which machines learn to think and make decisions like humans. Artificial intelligence is already being used now to fuel many of the features that we experience today. Some of the widespread applications of AI are the recommendation systems that you experience on social media or streaming platforms. Other applications of AI are computer vision applications such as Google Lens and natural language processing (NLP) applications which enable text-to-speech conversion and vice versa. Artificial Intelligence is infiltrating many aspects of business today and is likely to be a game changer in the future.

Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a technology based on artificial intelligence and it enables the creation of a network between devices. This network allows devices to communicate freely to provide better service to customers or higher efficiency in organizations. Imagine your door communicating to your lights to switch off as you close the door on your way out while simultaneously activating your cellphone locator app.

Cloud Computing 

Cloud computing is a technology that allows computing services such as servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and intelligence to be available to you over the internet ‘the cloud’ without the need for you to host servers on your organization’s premises. This allows you to expand your digital services and offerings to customers with high flexibility and speed and at a much more affordable cost.

What do these digital trends mean for you?

These digital trends are already having a great impact on businesses today and will have a higher impact in the future. Let’s see how they impact you.

Marketing

Marketing is one of the biggest areas where digital trends are disruptive. For starters, big data analysis makes it much easier and faster for you to derive insights about your customers. Now, you can not only understand where your customers are and how much they pay, but you can also discover insights into their preferences and their psychological attributes. Perhaps, you discover most of your customers are extroverts. Then, you can use this information to build more effective marketing campaigns. Moreover, with artificial intelligence, you can also target only relevant customers with your ads, build omnichannel marketing campaigns, and track your ads’ effectiveness.

Customer Success

These digital trends now enable you to be in constant touch with your customers in real-time wherever they are. They also enable you to catch up with your customers from where they have left off, regardless of where their last interaction with you has taken place. More importantly, you can deliver more services to your customers in more convenient ways. Customers can make orders via your website, chatbox, or mobile app. They can get better upgrade recommendations and enjoy higher integration between their services and products.

Operations & Distribution

Digitization is pushing forward Industry 4.0 or the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Artificial intelligence enables the building of smart factories that operate smart machines and make automated smart decisions. Data analysis helps you take better decisions to manage your smart factories with higher efficiency and effectiveness across the value chain. Most importantly, these digital trends help you more efficiently build products and services around a mass customization model, thus, delighting more customers.

Finance

It goes without saying that with more customers and higher efficiency, digitization helps you generate higher profits. These digital trends also make it easier for you to provide a much wider array of payment options to your customers. They also make it faster for you to collect your payments and manage your in-cash flow. For instance, technologies such as Blockchain can help you get paid automatically via smart contract applications.

How to make the digital transformation?

According to BCG, around 70% of digital transformation initiatives fail. The reason? Implementation! Digital transformation is one of those things that are easier said than done. Everyone knows it’s coming; everyone knows the change is inevitable, but almost no one can make the change. Here are our recommendations for how you can smoothly steer a digital transformation initiative.

1. Start small

The first thing you want to do is build a success story. Find an area in your organization that will significantly benefit from the transformation, and apply the change there. Make sure as well that this area has the talent necessary to do the job. Once a success story is created, you can now use it to scale digital transformation.

2. Build the business case

For digital transformation to work, you need to be the transformation champion. Take your success story and make a huge internal marketing campaign about it. Make sure everyone knows about it and inspire the change. As you promote your business case around the company, remember that numbers, pictures, and emotional stories combined can make your success story more impactful.

3. Scale to other areas

Start identifying other areas of the organization that can benefit from the transformation, and categorize them based on priority. Follow a step-by-step approach. Start with the areas that will benefit the most then move ahead from there.

4. Enable Resources

Most organizations make the mistake of thinking that they can make the transformation with little to no extra cost. But this is not true! Transformation requires allocating resources such as money, time, and effort. It can’t really succeed for free. So, make sure the resources are available for your great feat.

5. Mobilize Talent

You cannot make any big change without people on board. A digital transformation initiative is a great opportunity to partner with learning and development to help you achieve your organizational objectives. Employees must receive training both on the digital transformation imperative and on the specific skills they will need to make the change happen in their area of work.

6. Build non-digital processes first

One mistake that companies often make with digital transformation is that they assume they can build highly-digitized processes on top of unorganized inefficient non-digital processes, but that makes the transition longer and full of flaws. A better way to go about it is to transform your manual processes to lean, efficient processes, then make the digital move.

These were our recommendations on how to lead digital transformation in your organization and why you need to do it now. If you are ready and would like to deliver training for your employees to prepare them for the shift, please check our digital transformation courses here.

 

 

 

Top Tips for Selecting a Business English Program

In an increasingly globalized world, an estimated 244 million people live in a country other than their country of origin and global trade has been increasing over the past decade reaching a record high of $28.5 trillion in 2021. Matching this geographical expansion in employment and business, companies’ workforces are becoming increasingly diverse, bringing together people from varying languages and cultures into single, sometimes geographically dispersed, teams. But how do these teams perform? Their performance greatly hinges on their ability to communicate effectively using a common language and a shared cultural understanding. To most organizations, this is where Business English online programs come in. According to international statistics, $9.6 billion were spent in 2020 alone on English Language learning as more companies and individuals strive to enhance their global competitiveness.

But almost anyone who has tried to learn a foreign language has been through the dilemma of trying to find an effective course and, in particular, a course that one can commit to for a more extended period of time. To help you through this hassle, we have compiled some important features that signal that you have found an effective Business English course. So, next time you are selecting a program for your company’s employees, you know what to look for.

1: It’s not just an English language program; it’s a Business English program

You may think this does not matter, but the truth is there are 171,146 words in the English language, and only 1.4 % of them are used in daily life, even less in business contexts. So, to reduce learning clutter and sift through the learning curve, simply go for a course that actually teaches you the grammatical structures and vocabulary relevant to your target use. Extrapolating on this point, the more industry-tailored the program, the more effective, since you’ll be learning material that is directly relevant to your needs and you can put instantly to application.

2: It reflects sound instructional design

A well-designed business English course would include pre-assessments that determine your employees’ levels and it will feature a learning journey that takes learners through a sequence of logically-organized modules that build on each other. Moreover, important to learning in general and language learning in particular, an effective language learning program would employ the Velcro effect where learners get presented with new information within a larger context of previously learned information. In a Velcro-based course, new information presented at any given time would not exceed 20% of all information presented. So, courses that simply present learners with 100% new vocabulary every lesson are not a very good idea. Yes, your employees will seem to learn more each lesson, but they will be challenged with a high cognitive load. They will also tend to forget what they learn as the Velcro effect naturally embeds the spacing effect in the learning design. In case you’re wondering what that is, the spacing effect is the observation that repetitions spaced in time produce stronger retention than repetitions massed closer together in time. So, a Velcro-based program will not only enhance your employees’ comprehension but also boost their retention.

3: It is designed with a high level of interactivity

According to the learning pyramid theory, we retain only 30% of what we read, see, and hear, but this retention level significantly increases as we engage more actively with the learning material. So, it is important as you choose a business language program for your employees that you select a program that features higher interactivity. Steer away from the read-and-watch kind of programs, rather look for programs that enable discussions, presentations, practice, role-playing, and problem-solving. 

4: It is skill, not knowledge, based

A typical instructional design flaw in many available language courses is the unnecessary high focus on the acquisition of grammar and vocabulary knowledge while demonstrating a high disregard for skill acquisition. In the end, language is a competence that is based on four skills: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. It is true that these skills are based on knowledge of grammar and vocabulary but focusing on knowledge at the expense of skills makes one know a lot ‘about’ the language without actually knowing the language. In fact, skill practicing in an effective language learning program should constitute 80% of the course.

5: It’s an immersive and task-based program

If the business language program is immersed in the business requirements of your company’s employees, the chances are employees will commit more strongly to the program and will find it more engaging and useful. By being immersed, we mean that the program provides opportunities for your company’s employees to complete their work-related tasks with the help of the program. Perhaps, you have an employee who has an important presentation to deliver in the English language or who needs to prepare for an important negotiation in the English language. A program that aids learners in completing such tasks is considered immersive. In an immersive program, learners learn the language, not with the purpose of learning the language, but with the purpose of completing a work-related task using the language. 

6: It leverages effective feedback

Have you ever heard the adage, ‘practice makes perfect?’ 

Well, we’re here to tell you it’s wrong! Practice without feedback will only make you perfect at making mistakes. This is why an effective business language program will not be a program solely focused on teaching, but it will also have a one-on-one coaching or feedback component.

7: It’s not only a language program but also a cultural program

There’s no better ROI than hitting two birds with one stone! With a business English program that features a cultural focus, you ensure that your employees do not only succeed in learning the language and communicating within a global context, but you also ensure that they acquire the cultural sensitivity needed for them to navigate an increasingly global work environment and build more harmonious global teams.

8: It fits your employees’ lifestyle

We all know this! Language learning is not a hit-and-run course; it’s a long-term commitment that could extend for 550-900 hours to achieve fluency. A wise decision here would be to select a program whose modalities and schedule fit with your employees’ lifestyles and work schedules to guarantee commitment and completion.

 

This is our list of the eight top features to look for in a Business English language program to help you achieve the highest training ROI. So, next time you need to select a business English language program for your company’s employees, you will be able to make the right choice that gives you the most bang for your buck. 

What XpertLearning Can Do for You?

At XpertLearning, we are aware of how Business English language learning programs can greatly enhance the performance of your global teams, this is why we provide several Business English learning solutions, through our partners, that vary from self-paced programs to blended programs and personalized coaching. To know more about our language solutions, please  visit here.

 

 

Top Ten Questions to Ask When Buying an eLearning Programs

The online learning industry has grown 900% globally since its birth, giving rise to a massive range of options for selecting an eLearning program. This huge increase in options, while positive, often leaves prospective learners with a bad case of analysis paralysis or, even worse, could lead them to make wrong choices about the programs they select, rendering them dissatisfied by the end of their learning experience. To help you choose the right eLearning programs for you or your organization, in XpertLearning, we have created this list of questions you must ask before you purchase any online learning program.

Q1: Does the content match your objectives?

You must know what you want to achieve from undertaking the course in the first place. With your clear objectives in mind, you must compare your objectives with that of the course. And do not simply compare the objectives but the course outline too.

A common mistake that learners make here is that they set lofty or irrelevant goals to start with. Falling prey to ‘shiny-object syndrome’, they tend to feel an urge to achieve various learning objectives that may have little to no bearing on their careers or personal lives. To counterfeit this, put your learning objectives to the ‘Litmus test’ by asking this simple question: will I be able to immediately apply what I have learned in this course in my life?

Q2: Is the course author or presenter an expert on the topic?

As the saying goes, if you want to learn, learn from a pro. This is why it’s generally best practice to take note of the course’s author or presenter and double-check whether they are an expert on the subject matter. An excellent way of getting to an honest, objective view is to check their social profiles in search of social proof. Also, if the author or presenter has written books or blog articles on the topic before, they are worth a try before you enroll in the online course and dive in at the deep end.

Q3: Is the course content visually appealing?

You might think this is an unnecessary luxury but this is content that you’ll be viewing for hours on end. So do not underestimate the power of aesthetics. There is nothing more than poorly designed visuals, a mismatching color pallette, and outdated graphics to distract you from your learning and off-put you throughout the learning process. Studies confirm that visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text and that good visual design significantly affects attention, comprehension, and course retention.

Q4: Is the course interactive?

The last thing you want is to find yourself reading long text for hours or passively watching videos. For you to enjoy the course, apply your learning, and retain information, you need an online course with high interactivity. Interactivity could include scenarios for you to think about, problems to solve, decisions to make, games to play, or even simulations for you to experiment with. In general, the higher the interactivity, the higher the likelihood of your meeting your learning objectives and completing the course without dropping mid-way.

Q5: Is the course updated?

The authoring date of the latest version of the course is important because knowledge and best practices are in continuous development. You do not want to be learning principles or topics that are no longer relevant to the world today. Most of the top online course providers make sure to update their courses regularly to reflect any changes. So, usually, an updated modification date is a good sign that the course will be relevant and include the latest research findings, statistics, and insights.

Q6: How long is the course?

Online courses vary in duration from 1-hr courses to courses that can take months or even years to complete. You need to be realistic about how much time you or your employees have available for the course and only purchase courses that you have time for. By that, we mean not only the time to complete the course material itself, but also the time needed to review the material, complete any necessary readings or assignments, and, most importantly, apply what has been learned in your career or life.

Another thing to look for regarding course duration is the chunk-ability of the material. Does the course apply the principles of microlearning which have proven results in improving comprehension and retention? Or does it present the material all in one big, long chunk? 

Q7: What is the course’s mode of delivery? 

Is the course synchronous or asynchronous? In other words, will you need to be available at specific times to attend the course or is it self-paced? Or does it combine both in a blended learning fashion? No particular mode of delivery is superior to others. It all boils down to your time availability or the availability of your organization’s employees along with the degree of direct contact required to maintain engagement with the course.

One other thing you may want to check is the mobile compatibility of the course. With 30% of smartphone owners already using their phones for on-the-go learning, mobile compatibility can further increase your chances of course completion and your organization’s.

Q8: What’s the social proof of the course’s effectiveness?

This is a tricky one! Many online learning providers will present you with their own customer testimonials and reviews. Although helpful, this remains to be very subjective reporting of the course’s effectiveness. So, top this with checking the course’s reviews outside the website of the provider, especially in topic-related online communities and forums.

Q9: Can you try out some part of the course before a full purchase?

This is the best proof you can get! It not only tells you whether the course meets your objectives and the learning quality standards you expect, but it also tells you if you are comfortable with the style of the course presentation. However, in some instances, this option may not be available. In this case, does the provider offer any other free learning material such as blog posts, cheat sheets, webinars, etc.? If yes, make sure to check them out to get a view of their learning material quality from a point of view that is closer to reality.

Q10: What type of after-sales or technical support do they provide? 

After-sales support is often one of the most overlooked features of an effective learning course. After all, what people care about the most is the content, accreditation, and pricing. However, if your online learning experience is disrupted by a technical glitch, you will need immediate support or your progress will halt indefinitely, sending you off track and increasing your chances of not catching up or dropping out.

Learn Like a Pro with XpertLearning

Here you go! These were the most important questions you need to ask yourself before undertaking an online course. And because we know how important these criteria are, in Xpert Learning, we incorporate the principles of instructional design, visual design, scenario-based learning, microlearning, gamification, etc. in our learning programs. To know more about our online courses, check this page here.

And that’s not all! Before we let you go, we have these four bonus questions for you which you should consider if you are purchasing an online course for your organization, not yourself.

Bonus Q1: Is this technically compatible with my organization?

You will be quite distraught if you purchase an expensive online course only to find out that it does not work or does not fully load on your organization’s LMS. This is why a good rule of thumb is to go for courses that are SCORM or AICC compliant because most LMSs support such courses. Moreover, you are also better off checking the file size of the online course to ensure it works on your LMS or organization’s servers with little to no technical lag.

Besides ensuring that the online course is technically compatible with your organization’s resources, you also need to check if it is compatible with the technical skills of the end-users– the employees. Will the employees be able to easily access the course and navigate it? Will their current gadgets and technological literacy support this course?

Bonus Q2: Does this course support your organization’s diversity & inclusion strategy?

Effective organizations in an increasingly globalized world employ a diverse and inclusive workforce. So to make sure that everyone in the organization benefits from the course you are purchasing, you must check the course’s accessibility features. Does it incorporate Universal Design for Learning principles? Is it consistent with WCAG 2.0? Does it support learners using assistive technologies?

You should also check the languages that the course supports especially if your organization’s workforce is spread out around the globe. Can the same course be delivered in multiple languages? Does it at least come with multiple-language subtitles?

Bonus Q3: How can you assess the effectiveness of the learning process?

If you are purchasing an online course for the organization where you work, you already know that the management board always needs a business case and an ROI to justify the investment in the program. So it is an important question to ask the learning provider if they offer pre and/or post-course assessments and surveys to enable you to track the course’s learning effectiveness and capture its ROI.

Bonus Q4: Can you have it customized to your needs?

Perhaps you have specific learning objectives that you need to achieve across your organization that cannot be met by any off-the-shelf learning program. Or perhaps you prefer that all learning courses taken in your organization present your organization’s brand. In these cases and more, you are better off working with a learning provider that can create ‘custom content’ for you. Several online learning providers provide that option but you are highly advised to check some of their previous works before you dive full-length.

What XpertLearning Can Do for You?

At XpertLearning, we are aware of these needs, this is why our solutions vary from learning management systems that help you measure the effectiveness of your programs to online off-the-shelf courses and custom content that can be tailored to your specific needs and brand. To know more about how we can help you, please contact us at enquiries@xpertlearning.com.

 

 

Four Tips for Women Leadership

Women have gone a long way in building careers for themselves and maintaining a healthy balance between work and family. However, although women represent 48% of the employees entering the workplace every year, only 21% of them eventually make it to C-Suite leadership roles. And this is not because of gender bias or discrimination but rather because of the deeply-rooted inclinations of women. 

This is why, in XpertLearning, we have decided to support these women at the top and other aspiring women with our top tips to become great women leaders.

 

Tip 1: Be comfortable with authoritative behavior

Research by Deborah Gruenfeld, Professor of Leadership & Organizational Behavior at Stanford University, proposes that when it comes to power, there are two opposite extremes: authoritativeness and approachability; with most women lying towards the approachable end of the spectrum. First of all, what do these dimensions mean?

– Being authoritative means behaving in a way that emanates the impression that you are in charge, able to make decisions, able to give directions, and have more privileged knowledge and experience than others. 

– Being approachable, on the other end of the spectrum, means behaving in a way that makes you seem more open, empathetic, willing to take others’ knowledge & experience into account, and relating to others on a human level. 

Wondering why most women tend to consistently demonstrate approachable behavior? Because for centuries, women have been socialized to be nice, sweet, and likable, which has made approachability almost second nature to them. Although this approachability helps women a lot at the beginning of their careers, it is exactly this approachability that works against them when they start climbing the organizational ladder. Being less ready to demonstrate authoritative behavior than men, they tend to be seen as less competent or less directive– impressions that make them drop in the list of potential senior leadership candidates. 

So, how can women start being more authoritative?

Deborah Gruenfeld proposes you start by taking up more space. Feel free to demonstrate expansive body language that shows that you are relaxed in your position. Moreover, cultivate the habit of speaking your mind with openness, without seeking approval in the eyes of others. In meetings, focus less on taking notes and more on contributing to the discussion. Simply demonstrate confidence in your knowledge, experience, and right to be there.

 

 

Tip 2: Switch comfortably between being authoritative and approachable

The infamous ‘Heidi versus Howard Roizen’ case study pioneered by Harvard University has unfortunately shown that in leadership roles, although men and women behave the same, they are perceived differently, doing the same things. In the research, participants are presented with a story of a career person as they navigate their way up the corporate ladder. The trick, though, is that the protagonist of the story is ‘Howard Roizen’ in the control group and ‘Heidi Roizen’ in the experimental group. The findings? Striking! Although participants rank both Howard and Heidi equally competent, when asked who they would rather work with or hire, the choice is predominantly ‘Howard’. Simply, Heidi seems way less likable than Howard although they behave in the same way! 

The simple reason behind this lies in the societal expectations of both men and women. People have been hardwired to expect women to be more approachable and find it unappealing when women behave otherwise. That should not discourage women from experimenting more with authoritative behavior. The best advice is to balance both styles in the workplace. Women need to assess the situations where they need to be more authoritative and then should permit themselves to be so. In all other situations, feel free to be as approachable as an effective leader should be, and do not jeopardize your likability.

 

 

Tip 3: Don’t go out till you’re out!

In a widely-shared speech for Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg, she explains that she has observed that there comes an age in every woman’s life where she seems to be expecting a career exit as she plans to build a family. Women in these situations, as per Sandberg, often start implicitly exiting from work while still being employed. They simply show less enthusiasm about joining new projects or working hard for the next promotion. They simply exit before actually existing. Sandberg advises women to push through till their last day of employment. Her reason? If you leave the workplace with a track record of success, you are likely to have something to come back for when you are done with your career break.

 

 

Tip 4: Desire leadership if you want it 

Research by Cornell University has shown significant results too, further enforcing that there are other reasons than bias lying behind the gender gap in corporate leadership. The main culprit according to this research is that women “associate more negative outcomes (e.g., time constraints and tradeoffs) with high-power positions, perceive power as less desirable, and are less likely to take advantage of opportunities for professional advancement. Women view high-level positions as equally attainable as men do, but less desirable”.

The basic finding in this research is that women are not as excited about being in leadership positions as men. They seem more aware of the high cost of these roles as they tend to have more life goals than men. Our advice to you is to make the choice that works for you. If you are unwilling to pay that high cost, then do not stress yourself into making compromises that risk your life goals. But if you are willing to pay that cost, then go for what you want. What you need to do first is assess your life goals and make a choice. 

Parting Words

These were our four tips to become a woman leader. These tips should not distract you from working hard and smart, however. Because regardless of how you are perceived, achieving tangible work results is still the number one secret behind career success.

 

 

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