It’s that time of the year again where weary trainers and learning managers shuffle out of their caves to meet up with their geeky friends and ATD it ’til the sun goes down. In my own cave, I fired-up my iPad app for the ATD 2015 International Conference and Exposition to see what’s on the agenda and how I will spend my long-awaited 5 days in the sunshine state of Florida. A few questions came to mind…
1 What will I learn, if anything?
This is my 4th consecutive year at the conference and although the question may seem a little arrogant, I am wondering exactly what I will learn this year and what new topics could possibly still be left. This is the first year I don’t have “some learning-thing” on my mind before leaving. And although I always come away with a thin-red-learning-line, I can’t imagine what it will be this time.
2 What’s in a name?
Since this is the 1st year ASTD is not ATD, will anything be different? Will we truly be innudated with Hollywood Talent producers, as the new-name-naysayers suggested in 2014? Or is “talent” just another way of saying L+D ?
3 Will JD Dillon still have a beard?
Seriously.. I saw him in Vegas for TK15 and literally didn’t realise it was him for about the first 30 seconds. Only by a process of association with Justin Brusino and Bianca Woods did I manage to extend my hand to the strange bearded fellow and say “hello”.
4 What is the obsession with “rock” in the learning world?
When choosing sessions to (maybe) follow, I keep seeing this word in titles. If I follow them all, I’ll come home standing out as a rock-star at work and training like a rock-star … whilst turning my boss into a rock-star , as well as my company’s learning content and having had my brain rocked. And all of that before I even squeeze through tht back-door to get into what will surely be a sell-out neuroscience session with David ( …. wait-for-it … ) Rock.
5 (In the same vein) Is there really NeuroScience in everything?
If you search the ATD conference site for sessions with the word “neuroscience” in the title, you will get even more results than you would for “rock”. It’s in our training effectiveness, our behavioural change, Captain Kirk and Mr Spock’s decision making, happiness, performance advancement and performance management, person biases, leadership , employee engagement and learning design. So, if everyone and everything has something to do with neurosciences, question 5 is actually 3 more questions:
- Did someone hypnotise the advisory board before they chose all these sessions?
- Will the rooms for the NeuroLeadership Institute sessions be sold-out as I predicted above (as they rightly should be, because David and Josh are awesome) or will the neuroscience-lovers spread themselves out elsewhere?
- Should I have entitled my own session “The NeuroScience of Social Media for Formal Learning” ?
9 (see above, it works, honestly) Did Rick Lozano pack an extra guitar to jam with me and is he going to dress as Elvis for his sessions?
If there IS one rock session you should follow, its Rick’s. Seriously – if you don’t go and see at least ONE of Rick’s TWO sessions (really – they gave him two!) you will miss the opportunity to move like Jagger. I followed him before and it was awesome. HE was awesome? He IS awesome. Got it? Just go!
10 Will the bookstore have a nice new ATD-branded polo-top for me to buy?
I promise, if they don’t, I’m just going to wear my grey ASTD one anyway. So there!
Don’t forget to check out David Kelly’s ATD2015 backchannel page here.
And catch me throughout the week via my YouTube channel for speaker interviews and DisneyDiaries, Twitter for cynical discussions and attempted humour with JD and absent-Bianca and this blog for a much more serious live-account of the sessions I follow.
Depuis quelques années déjà, les neuroscientifiques sont présents lors des conférences de l’ASTD. Cette année encore, armés de leurs études et statistiques, ils nous ont bombardés d’informations sur l’importance du rôle du cerveau dans l’apprentissage. Souvent difficiles à comprendre, leurs présentations hypra-factuelles ont néanmoins eu un bel impact. Cette année, ASTD a créé un nouveau chemin menant à la science de l’apprentissage ; et même les conférenciers dans d’autres disciplines ont régulièrement fait référence à « ce que dit la recherche sur le cerveau » par rapport au changement, la gestion, la formation, l’énergie, etc.
David Rock et Josh Davis du « NeuroLeadership Institute » ont une fois de plus remplis les salles lors de leurs conférences sur les thèmes de la mémoire et du coaching. De mon point de vue, ces deux conférences ont été nettement plus abordables, moins factuelles et plus centrées sur le message clé suivant : si vous souhaitez réellement créer de l’apprentissage ou du changement, vous devez prendre en compte le cerveau. Il faut être conscient du son fonctionnement et appliquer 10 conseils pratiques.
Josh Davis et le rôle de notre hippocampe
D’après Davis, la plupart des formations ne sont pas efficaces. Il accepte bien sûr qu’entre 9h et 17h nous sommes capables d’acquérir beaucoup d’idées pertinentes. Et nous, les formateurs, nous avons tous vu des participants motivés à la fin d’une journée et remplis d’objectifs positifs pour le futur. Néanmoins, si l’on n’a pas correctement activé l’hippocampe du cerveau, ces mêmes participants ne feront rien de leurs bonnes intentions et oublieront une grande partie des idées apprises.
L’hippocampe est responsable des connexions neuronales qui créent la mémoire et les habitudes. Il gère notre attention, joue un rôle dans nos émotions et génère des liens entre différentes parties du cerveau. En tant que formateurs, nous pouvons intégrer 5 points spécifiques dans nos activités afin que les participants bénéficient des bienfaits de l’hippocampe :
- Nous devons faire en sorte que l’attention des participants n’est pas divisée. Un formateur dynamique qui pense que les participants peuvent faire plusieurs choses à la fois pendant longtemps a tort. Ceux-ci s’amusent peut-être ; ils ne voient pas passer le temps. Cependant, ils n’intègrent pas les nouvelles idées aussi bien qu’un participant qui ne fait qu’une chose à la fois pour une durée de 20 minutes maximum.
- La métacognition renforce les liens entre les neurones. Par exemple, nous avons plus de chances de retenir un nouveau mot si on l’aborde de multiples façons (Comment l’épèle-t-on ? A quoi ressemble-t-il sur le papier ? Comment bouge notre bouche quand on le dit ?). Nous devons donc intégrer dans nos formations des moments où les participants réfléchissent à comment ils réfléchissent.
- Les fameux moments de « ah-ha » dans les formations ont une réelle importance. L’émotion liée à la satisfaction d’avoir (enfin) compris la matière renforce notre capacité à se rappeler cette information plus tard. Lâcher des participants dans une expérience un peu frustrante qui les oblige à trouver la clé peut fortement stimuler l’hippocampe. Mais attention, une frustration trop longue ou trop émotionnelle aura l’effet inverse.
- Pendant les formations, si l’on veut suffisamment ancrer une nouvelle idée, il faut intégrer des moments de récupération de ces idées. N’attendez pas trop longtemps pour vérifier si les participants sont capables de se rappeler ce qu’ils ont vu. Un quiz ludique une heure plus tard peut renforcer nos nouvelles connexions neuronales pour le futur.
- Enfin, il faut créer de l’espace dans le processus d’apprentissage. Un changement de lieu, un moment de relaxation, voire même du sommeil ou de l’exercice peuvent rafraîchir le cerveau, augmenter notre créativité et ancrer les nouvelles idées.
David Rock et le coaching réussi
Fondateur et CEO du « NeuroLeadership Institute », David Rock est considéré comme une des stars des conférences d’ASTD. Et le travail des coaches ne le satisfait pas.
D’après Rock, seulement 1 coaching sur 20 est réussi. Le coach pense que le travail est efficace, mais si la neuroscience est négligée, notre comportement ne change pas, les nouvelles habitudes ne s’ancrent pas et la performance n’est pas améliorée. Pour réussir, il faut créer « un état vers » qui peut nous ouvrir à des moments de réelle compréhension. Sans ces moments, il n’y aura pas d’action ni de nouvelles habitudes.
Pour nous protéger, le cerveau doit constamment décider si l’on peut aller vers quelque chose, ou s’il est mieux de l’éviter. Même si la possibilité d’être mangé par un prédateur n’existe plus, notre cerveau est quand même prêt à courir, se cacher ou se battre contre ce qu’il perçoit comme un danger. Un coach qui veut captiver et stimuler le cerveau de son interlocuteur doit veiller à faire 5 choses, que Rock nous présente sous forme de son « SCARF » :
- Chacun de nous veut se sentir sûr de son propre « statut » (S). Au début de nos activités de coaching, nous devons renforcer cette idée de statut. Nous ne pouvons pas nous permettre d’attaquer l’autre. Même suggérer que la personne a « un problème » ou qu’elle « ne réussit pas » peut créer un manque d’estime de soi. Il faut présenter le coaching comme une approche positive et renforcer l’idée que la personne a tout ce qu’il lui faut pour réussir.
- La « certitude » (C) dans nos activités de coaching met le cerveau à l’aise. Simplement bien annoncer la durée du coaching, la manière dont nous allons travailler et ce que l’autre peut attendre de nous peut augmenter cette certitude. La clarté à chaque moment est cruciale.
- Le cerveau ne veut pas se sentir coincé contre un mur ou poussé dans une direction ou l’autre. « L’autonomie » (A) de la personne doit être renforcée par le coach. C’est celle-ci qui va trouver ses propres solutions. C’est elle aussi qui décidera que faire et qui prendra la responsabilité pour le changement.
- Un sentiment « connexion » (ang : relatedness – R) entre coach et personne coachée se base sur la compréhension et l’empathie. Le coach qui pose des questions ouvertes, laisse s’exprimer l’autre et l’écoute activement a plus de chance de créer le sentiment que « l’on se comprend ». De plus, même si tout le monde pourrait coacher quelqu’un, un coach avec de l’expérience et un vécu de la situation pourrait être perçu comme plus sympathique et plus « comme moi ».
- La « justesse » (ang : fairness – F) est primordiale dans le succès du coaching. Si la personne coachée sent qu’elle n’est pas comprise ou, pire, que ce qui se passe n’est pas juste, elle va vouloir s’en fuir. Donner le temps à l’autre pour s’exprimer, être correct dans ce qui est dit et bien faire la distinction entre « avis » et « faits » peut créer plus de justesse dans le processus.
Depuis la conférence, mon propre travail en tant que formateur et coach a déjà changé. Partant de l’hypothèse que Davis, Rock et les neuroscientifiques ont raison, je veille à implémenter les idées évoquées ci-dessus. J’attends avec impatience de voir les résultats !
Dutch actor, coach, trainer and speaker Juanita Coble kicks off session #W110 on change and the importance of engaging people in the process. Welcome to ASTD2014 day 4…
According to Coble, Neuroscience tells us that when people are uncertain, they move into an “away state”. This accounts for many of the negative reactions to whatever change is going on.
Starting with a role-play, Coble took the stage as an actress, playing the role of interim director, Mrs Smith. “She” wouldn’t answer my questions, “she” was very direct, seemed to think she knew it all and was overly positive, but in a strange fake way. Telling us a story about making lemonade, “she” just talked, talked, talked…
Following Coble’s stage moment, session participants were invited to play a role and discuss their reactions to the change with “colleagues”. My character (who I will call “John”) saw it coming. He had already been looking around and had an interview planned for a new job. Other participants played other roles (although I still don’t know what instructions they received).
Thinking about one of our own changes, Coble asked us to make notes in answer to 3 different questions: “What has to go?”, “What should stay” and “What is needed?”
As the session moved on, participants were really encouraged to express their feelings about those things. For the “go” things, we wrote them on a piece of paper, crunched them up and threw them at the speaker (I was thinking of Mrs Smith 🙂 screaming “good riddance”. For the “should stays”, we simply discussed with our neighbours.
For the “what is needed?” question, we were invited to think of a “happy ending” to the change story. This could be more or less creative, either a literal ending to the story or a more figurative, romantic, novel ending. For my own “home-selling” change story, I thought about some kind of fairy-godmother coming to me in the night to reassure about how things we’re go. When our speaker asked me what my story-ending was, I told her. She asked me how I could get that. I answered. She asked me what I was going to do about it. The “coaching approach” got me thinking for myself and really helped me to identify the real problem going on.
How do you convince leadership that this kind of dialogue is necessary?
Coble says that the proof is already there from NeuroScience. Davis and Rock from the NeuroLeadership Institute told us that people need “certainty” and “relatedness” (as well as other things) to be able to really integrate new change and new learning. If they don’t feel sure about things, or feel misunderstood, they will probably not get onboard. If they don’t do some “metacognition” (thinking about thinking) it won’t be anchored as it should be.
I have heard many people say that “coaching is a luxury we can’t afford”, yet the benefits of getting people to think for themselves have been widely documented and include better retention, satisfaction, creativity, responsibility…
What other things can we do to get people involved in the change process, or to facilitate sessions when change is happening?
A distinction must be made between involving people in initiating and defining the change, and helping them to face a change that is going to happen in a certain way. During the session, I was mostly focussing on the second type: How can you get people onboard for a predefined change, getting them engaged and responsible?
Coble gave a list of several options and we brainstormed more:
- Use of social-media platforms to create discussion and sharing
- On the job training
- Classical discussions, one-or-one or in group meetings, really taking the time necessary
- Rehearsal sessions with managers, helping them play-out the communication with people role-playing different reactions
- Multi-platform communications
- Sound fragment dilemmas – essentially this involves recording the change-agents involved if defining the change as they explain what’s going on as they think about the change and drive the process forward. Those who are “following” the change are then invited to listen to those recordings as podcasts to get more insight on the feelings and motivation of others. I see no reason why this could not be done for recordings of anyone in the organisation, as this would help everyone to get a better sense of what is going on with others.
- Fast-forward theatre – the idea of having actors come in to play scenes showing what things look like in the future, when the change is properly completed
- Corporate “family constellations” which I do not feel I can do justice to in text on this blog. Please follow the link.
We then focused on one other specific technique that got my attention
A friend and colleague of mine, Oisin Varian, has occasionally talked to me about the value of visualisation techniques. In today’s session, I experienced the power of this first hand. Juanita Coble asked us to close our eyes and think about a future 10 years from now, when our own personal “change example” is properly completed.
With a few guiding words from the speaker, I imagine myself coming home one day from work (new home), opening the door and seeing my eldest daughter (now 18) on the sofa, talking to a friendly looking boy. My other 2 daughters were in the kitchen with their mother, doing homework, chatting and making food. I walked in relaxed and smiling and greeted everyone at the start of the evening. As I did this visualisation exercise, I started to yawn and relaxed the tension that had been in my shoulders all morning. Now, admittedly, I have been very tired at the end of 4 days of conferencing, but as I saw this new environment and my family, I had a tear of happiness in my eye.
Coble then asked “future Dan” to imagine he was looking back at himself today and think about what he would say to him about the change. My answer? “Relax. Don’t worry about all the details. Stop running around trying to make it all perfect. What you are going to get is nothing like you can possibly imagine today, and it’s going to be great.” I yawned some more.
I found this exercise very powerful and listening to other participants saying what they would say to themselves from the future, I could see that this technique wasn’t only working for me. Many people were feeling more (self) understood and self-assured. They also named quite clearly what it was they needed to focus on in the current moment of (difficult) change.
Put all these techniques together in a good way and you can create engagement
I believe that. We all know as managers and trainers that we have to take time to listen to people when facilitating change. Coble gave us the tools. First class session.
- Who loves red monkeys? (own blog)
- 18 tips for managers to bring change into an organisation (own blog)
- The a Dance of Change by Peter Senge (book)
Understanding the brain makes better coaches
If a part of your job is to “make people better”, you are a “coach” says Rock. And although we’ve all been doing it for years and have some expertise, Rock says that unfortunately even if the coach thinks things went well, many coachees say that the coaching was not successful (only about 1 in 20 are, says Rock).
Rock starts with a story of his own experience with being coached, some 16 years ago. He noticed that when his coaches were asking questions, they were often doing it as some kind of “ego-full double-guessing” of the coachee. He had the feeling that although the coach was supposed to avoid giving input and solutions themselves (directive leadership), very often they would still somehow be leading people towards their own (coach) ideas and over-directing the conversation. Rock thinks it would be far more effective to really make the coachee think for themselves and help them to generate insight themselves. That’s what coaching is is for Rock: Facilitating positive change by improving thinking. The role of the coach is to help people to create new unconscious habits to achieve the things they want. And he adds that if you understand the brain, you can do that better.
Rock says that coaches who understand how the brain functions get better results. He says that objective measurements show this. If you look at the change in behaviour and it’s impact on results following the coaching initiative, you can see things are better with a brain-understanding coach, than one who does not have these insights.
OK David, I’m sold. Now tell me what I need to know!
4 steps to get people to a new (unconscious) habit
For people to create new habits, they need to take repetitive action over time. And to actually want to take that action, coachees need to have an insight moment or “ah-ha” moments. This creates better connections in the brain and motivates them for action. And to get that insight, they need to be in a “toward” state.
In general, says Rock, much of what happens in the brain at a neural level is about the brain’s perception of whether or not what is going on is good or bad. If it’s good, we want to move toward it and do more (create more neural connections). If it’s bad, we want to move away from it (the brain stops getting involved in things). Rock says quite simply that you cannot create “insight” if the person is in an “away” state.
To create the “toward state” we have to create positive SCARF.
Rock says that there are some simple things we can do to create a more positive SCARF:
- Tell people how long you are going to talk to increase certainty
- Ask a question before you say what you want to say creates more status, relatedness and a sense of fairness
- Avoid anything that might seem like an attack
- Focus first on creating more relatedness by spending time listening to the goals of the coachee
- Understand that different people might have different SCARF profiles (ie CEOs might be more interested in autonomy; project managers might focus more on certainty)
- Don’t use sentences like “tell me about the problem” – this puts people in an away state, because they are focussing on things they don’t like, or want to avoid
- Use thoughtful, inward-directed and neutral questions
- Pay attention to people around you. If you understand SCARF (see book link below), Rock says you will quickly spot who has a preference for what.
- Try to let coachees come to their own insights themselves. This will increase status, which will be more motivating.
What can we do to create more insights?
- Create some quiet time. Give time to the coachee. As a coach: Shut up!
- Allow the coachee to look inward. If your brain is being bombarded by light and sound and other stimuli, there are less chances of having insights.
- A slightly happy state is better than a slightly unhappy or anxious state.
- Not working directly on the problem creates more insights than directly trying to solve it.
Regarding the last point: When I hear David Rock saying this, I am thinking about my own coaching sessions and how I use the GROW model. Typically, we might discuss goals and reality before moving toward looking for opportunities to improve things. But Rock says that generally, real insights don’t come when we are trying to have them. They come later, when we are quiet or when we are feeling good (which is generally not when I’m being interrogated by a coach!).
Don’t focus on the problem, focus on how the coachee is thinking
The final lesson I took away from Rock’s session today is that coaches need to change the way they look at what is going on in their coaching sessions. Too often, even if we are not offering solutions (directive style) , we are still there with the coachee trying to solve the problem. We need to stop this. Let the coachee look at the problem we should be looking at the coachee and how he or she is thinking, “going toward” and discovering insights.
- For more information on SCARF, see David Rock’s PDF here.
- notes from Josh Davis’ session on how to make learning stick
- Read David Rock’s book “Your brain at work”
- Take the SCARF self-assessment here
Session SU101 of the 2014 ASTD ICE is proof that you really DO need to get there on time. As the fire marshals hold fort on the main door, I sneaked in around the back to secure one of the final seats in what is clearly a popular session: Josh Davis on the “NeuroScience of Learning”, which promises to supply general design principles for how to create behavior change in leaders…
Davis is interested in why many one-shot training sessions don’t stick and don’t make the change they were designed to achieve. Asking the audience, we can see that almost everyone finds that people learn at their training events, but then never use what they learn and end up forgetting it. Why is this? The NeuroLeadership Institute has been trying to find out why.
At the root of the problem is the hippocampus, which deals with attention, generating links, emotions and spacing. Due to its central position is the brain, the hippocampus is responsible for coordinating the neural connections required to create memory and habit. To create a rich web of connections in the brain, you need to engage the hippocampus.
Davis starts by telling us about attention. Attention is not designed to last. It is designed to keep looking around and being aware of what’s going on. If you don’t, you die. Simple.
Attention can last about 20 minutes. And of course, in the training game, we tend to work a lot more than that! But in today’s learning environment, we must be aware that we are fighting more-and-more for attention from participants. According to one study, today’s multi-tasking high-media users have significantly diminished capacity for attention. Even when asked to remember something for just 1 minute, they do a lot worse than their non-connected single-focused colleagues. But it’s worse than that: Their multi-tasking tweeting, iPhoning activities is making it harder for the others to pay attention.
What’s the point? Single focus of attention is required to tell the hippocampus that what we are looking at is something to recall. Divided attention doesn’t do that.
Once you have attention, the ability to generate links to what you already have in your brain becomes important…
Don’t forget, the hippocampus is trying to make links in the brain. It tells puts together everything that is going on about feelings, visual stimuli, thoughts, previous knowledge and memories etc.. As learning professionals, we need to help it.
If you want to help the hippocampus to do this, there are a few things to do:
- Metacognition (or thinking about thinking) is a great approach. Self-reflection on the learning process generates more connections, which will make the content more easy to recall. For example if we were trying to remember a specific word, we could think about how it looks on the paper, or how it sounds in our ears when we speak it out loud. We try to get the brain more aware of what is going on while it processes the information.
- Retrieval strategies are all about practising recall of what is being processed. If you don’t test retrieval, your chances are significantly lower of remembering than if you practised remembering several times.
- Insight activities or moments help to promote memory of content. If you can create real “ah-ha” moments, where people finally “get-it” your participants will be more likely to remember. Davis says that this is because the “ah-ha” insight moment adds a level of emotion to the experience.
Davis offers some simple strategies you can use in training: Polling, guided reflection on personal experiences, note-making, explaining ideas to others (and creating tweetable messages or mini-presentations) and hearing ideas from others.
Third tip: Scare people!
…OK, not really. But kind of! Davis explains that because of the proximity of the amygdala to the hippocampus, if we can create emotion in learning, there is more chance to build attention and lasting memory.
As we are more emotionally aroused, the amount of catecholamines released into the brain by the amygdala changes. Davis says that we need to find the sweet spot of optimal-arousal that improves attention, but not so much that things get scary.
Tactics for trainers to influence emotion in the room include those covered by NeuroLeadership Institute CEO David Rock in this paper on SCARF. During the session, Davis asked us to look for other ways. He gave us 90-seconds and told us to write hem down. Afterwards, he added that he did this to create a little pressure. That little bit of negative-emotion can improve attention. So can sweets, humour, music…
Finally: Spacing in the learning process
It’s not enough to just throw something into the memory and hope it stays there. We have to grow the memories. By building in moments of rest and reactivation, people are more likely to remember things. Three strategies:
- If you come back to them later (repetition) with questions and reinforcement of content, they are more likely to remember.
- If you can change the context of what is being learnt (or even where it is being learnt), this is also more likely to make sticky learning.
- Sleep! Yes, really!
I had contacted Josh Davis prior to the session to ask him if the session was going to be very “deep” and heavy on facts, figures, statistics and studies (all of which I am allergic to in conferences). He told me that the session was scoped for starters, people with not much knowledge about NeuroScience. I am pleased to report that that was the case and as a very positive outcome, I have learnt something: If you want to make learning stick, you need 4 strategies to engage the hippocampus.
Thanks for reading!
Retaining and developing talent is not what you think it is.
ASTD2013 session M106 was led by David Rock from the NeuroLeadership Institute. Based on the meta-research of thousands of Neuro-science studies, the NeuroLeadership Institute says that we can really do a much better job of helping leaders make decisions and solve problems, regulate emotions, collaborate with others and facilitate change.
Today, we are talking about developing talent. To structure to his session, David spoke around his 50,000 foot view of talent development, which is a 5-step process…
(Note: For what follows, I have not quoted the scientific research or resources referenced by David. Please contact him directly for that. Just take everything noted here as true, with the assumption that its all proven by the neuro-science.)
There are different kinds of talent philosophy and you should think about your own
Some people think that leaders are naturally born and there is nothing you can develop. You are either born “smart” or you are not. You can’t change much. With this point-of-view, giving feedback and “stretch-goals” is considered dangerous because there is no point trying to develop people. It will only make things worse. The brain feels threatened by such approaches.
Others (like most of today’s attendees) believe that leadership competences can be acquired and developed. By using assessment and development, coaching, training, performance management etc.. we can help people improve.
Interestingly, David Rock adds that each individual’s capacity for personal development may depend on which of these philosophies he or she believes in. We are primed to grow (or not) based on our perception and those with the growth mindset have, for example, much better more active brain responses to feedback and performance evaluation.
You need to know which are the most important talents to develop in today’s leaders
David says that in the past values, strengths, general and emotional intelligence were considered as the most important talents to develop in leaders.
Today values, strengths and general intelligence remain important, but emotional intelligence is a turn-off phrase for managers. New talent ideas to develop include self and social regulation, adaptive intelligence, network intelligence and global mindset.
But in addition, given our highly networked mobile connected environment, David adds that we must now pay even more particular attention to assessing and developing team talent. He says that collective intelligence is far greater than the sum total of the intelligence of its individuals. This is proven and must be remembered. I see an interesting link to what Shari Yocum said yesterday about analysing informal social networks…
Assess talent correctly
David says that classic assessments may not be the best way to search out talent. Most of our approaches to assessment only assess people’s ability to do assessments. In other words, clever people who can spot patterns in the assessment process come out better.
He adds that classic interview processes also fail for recruiting (or developing) real talent. The people who perform best in interviews are the people who perform best in interviews. In my own experience, I have seen countless engineers and techy people who fail miserably to express (read “sell”) themselves in interviews. But they would have otherwise been a good match for the competences required.
Add to that the fact that everyone assessing the talent of others will be massively biased and its clear that these approaches to talent assessment are doomed to failure.
What does David suggest? At the NeuroLeadership Institute, they recruit people by giving them concrete measurable tasks to perform that are as close to the reality of the work as possible. An editor is given a document with 100 errors and asked to edit it. A salesman is asked to go out on the floor and sell something. An engineer is asked to design something. As a side-note, reading “Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google?”, you can see that Google suggest the same approach…
Develop talent. (And its not about performance management)
According to David Rock, you can forget about performance management and performance evaluation. People are not happy with it, they say it doesn’t create any significant change in performance and rarely reflects employee contributions. This seems SO wrong. Why?
Firstly, Rock says that humans are not wired for feedback. Getting feedback activates some of the same parts of the brain as dying (!!!). It is scary. And we are not capable of listening properly to people. Especially not if they are different to us. Which everyone is.
Secondly, there is too much focus on the process within performance management and not enough on what happens during the actual conversation and dialogue. The Neuro-scientist knows that status, certainty, perceived autonomy, relatedness and fairness all have an impact on our (in)ability to have good dialogue. Which is one of the building blocks of effective for most performance evaluation moments.
Finally, having performance evaluations once a year is not going to work. Intuitively, we already knew this.
So what can you do about all this? David Rock says there is SO much we could do (and encourages you to read his research) but adds that if you could only do ONE thing today, it should be to help the leaders involved in talent development, performance management and evaluation to understand the impact they have on others and what is going on in the brain.
Thanks for reading!
In preparation for the ASTD International Conference and Exposition this May in Dallas, I interviewed ASTD’s Community of Practice Manager for Learning and Development Juana Llorens to get her recommendations for sessions, preparation and follow-up…
What do you expect people from your community are going to be excited to learn about at the ICE this year?
I think that many people in the ASTD Learning and Development Community are excited about taking some practical guidelines back from this year’s ASTD ICE in Dallas. This is a group that loves theory and big ideas, but they also really want to get their hands on those big ideas and put them to work. They are looking for any tools and tips to design learning faster and more collaboratively.
With that in mind, I imagine that Michael Allen’s “Leaving ADDIE for SAM” session and anything on Agile will be quite popular. People also want to figure out how to use evidence and science in practical ways to better engage their learners and get their programs to really “stick.” David Rock’s session (The Neuroscience of Growing Talent), Ruth Clark’s Scenario-based e-learning session, and Karl Kapp’s session on games will be well-attended in that arena. Also look out for the Josh Davis session and Julie Dirksen session. They will be talking about how to do a phenomenal job with brain-based and evidence-based approaches. This is just a sample of what gets the L&D Community going!
How would you advise people to prepare for their visit to the ICE?
There are plenty of tools on the conference website to help you plan your time. Put them to work and research the sessions that will have the most meaning for you. On the other hand, allow for flexibility—stop by a session or two that you might not ordinarily attend. You might be surprised. Also, set at least 3 specific goals for what you want to bring back to the job. That could be 10 new professional contacts, or a new way to perform a major task. And speaking of contacts, bring business cards! So many people travel miles away from home with no way to distribute their contact info. If you want to save trees, generate a QR code that your new connections can scan to keep in touch.
For those that can’t be present in Dallas, what is in place to follow or to get updates at a distance?
If you aren’t able to attend, there are plenty of options to get updates. Follow ASTD on Twitter using the hash tag #ASTD2013, and subscribe to one or more of the ASTD Blogs for news, tips, reminders, and fresh content about what’s going on in Dallas. In addition, the “Conference Daily” will be available online as well at http://www.astd.org/Publications/Conference-Daily (as of May 19th only).
Juana Llorens is the ASTD Community of Practice Manager for Learning & Development. She works with L&D practitioners, writers, and experts and thought leaders from around the globe to deliver meaningful content and best practices to instructional designers, students, training facilitators, and all others interested in workplace learning. Follow Juana on Twitter @ASTDLearningDev, find her profile on LinkedIn or visit astd.org/Communities-of-Practice/Learning-And-Development to read blog articles and updates from around the industry.