Rapid Learning Institute https://rapidlearninginstitute.com Wed, 17 Jan 2018 16:18:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.1 Are you a seller or a leader? Maybe it’s not an either/or https://rapidlearninginstitute.com/blog/seller-leader-maybe-not-either/ https://rapidlearninginstitute.com/blog/seller-leader-maybe-not-either/#respond Wed, 17 Jan 2018 14:28:54 +0000 https://rapidlearninginstitute.com/?post_type=post&p=56410

Generally speaking, salespeople aren’t trained to think of themselves as leaders as they go about the practice of their craft. Sure, some salespeople exhibit more leadership qualities than others. When you’re trying to figure out how to approach a specific sales challenge, though, you probably don’t think about it as a leadership issue. But what...

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Generally speaking, salespeople aren’t trained to think of themselves as leaders as they go about the practice of their craft. Sure, some salespeople exhibit more leadership qualities than others. When you’re trying to figure out how to approach a specific sales challenge, though, you probably don’t think about it as a leadership issue.

But what if successful selling WERE, in fact, largely a matter of leadership?

Organizational behavior consultant Deb Calvert contends that it is. Here’s how Calvert describes some of the leadership attributes that apply to sales:

“Sellers who lead the pack … work with others, including their buyers, to build consensus around a compelling image of the future. They paint a picture of what buyers aspire to accomplish and include, in that picture, how the seller will support the realization of the vision created together. They see higher meaning and purpose in their work, fueled by their own core values.”

Building it in

Sounds like a behavior-altering vision of leadership in sales, all right. But if you want to build more leadership into the way you approach your day-to-day selling tasks, how can you go about it?

Calvert, who has co-authored the book “Stop Selling and Start Leading” with leadership gurus Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, points to five behavioral practices that Kouzes and Posner recommend.A

Align your actions with your core values.

In the daily cut-and-thrust of the sales arena, it’s easy to get lost in tactics and forget about higher considerations. But in the long run, if you focus purely on what you’re going to do next to get that sale, you put yourself at risk of straying off the ethical path. And that can be poison for your reputation and that of your organization. Calvert reminds us that leaders sell with integrity, meaning that they’re clear about what they stand for, and seek to find out how they can best serve buyers within that value system.

Inspire change and enlist others in your vision.

When a leader does discovery, she isn’t just trying to find out how to match what she’s selling with what the prospect might buy. She’s seeking, rather, “to inspire change that shows buyers how their long-term interests can be realized,” as Calvert puts it, and inquiring about future trends and goals as part of that change. Such sales leaders “engage their buyers by asking questions that get the buyer to participate in shaping a dream that specifies exactly what they want and need.”

Innovate and experiment.

Leaders don’t get into ruts, and if they do, they don’t stay there long. Similarly, the salesperson who constantly challenges himself to find new solutions, rather than falling back on the same old, same old all the time, is well positioned to inspire buyers to do the same.

Build trust through collaboration and cooperation.

Leaders in sales don’t do things either to buyers or for them. Rather, they act with buyers to create the appropriate solution together. This, of course, means a lot of questions and a lot of listening on the seller’s part. When buyers see that they’re being listened to and engaged in such acts of creation, their trust in the salesperson grows strong.

Strengthen the courage and commitment of others.

This has to do with giving buyers legitimate praise when they’ve made a breakthrough in terms of understanding or clarity, or even when they’ve taken the time to contribute meaningfully to the sales dialogue. You’re not flattering them or buttering them up — you’re acting like a leader in noticing and appreciating their efforts.


To be sure, leadership techniques can’t take the place of sales knowledge. You still need to work on your prospecting techniques, the way you organize presentations, the language you use to close. But by reframing your sales practices in this kind of leadership framework, you can give them more power and meaning than you might have thought possible.

 

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Boost learners’ recall with this simple practice technique https://rapidlearninginstitute.com/blog/boost-learners-recall-simple-practice-technique/ https://rapidlearninginstitute.com/blog/boost-learners-recall-simple-practice-technique/#respond Tue, 16 Jan 2018 14:07:45 +0000 https://rapidlearninginstitute.com/?post_type=post&p=56378

Not all practice techniques are created equal. In fact, studies have shown that, when left to their own devices, learners typically don’t practice effectively or efficiently – if they practice at all. So when it comes to practice, learners need guidance. Especially when the stakes are high. Imagine, for example, your learners need to remember...

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Not all practice techniques are created equal. In fact, studies have shown that, when left to their own devices, learners typically don’t practice effectively or efficiently – if they practice at all.

So when it comes to practice, learners need guidance. Especially when the stakes are high. Imagine, for example, your learners need to remember and apply some very important new information. What practice technique can they use to help the material stick when it counts?

A recent study suggests a simple yet powerful solution: Have learners read the material aloud. While it may feel strange at first to tell learners to talk to themselves, the results speak for themselves.

The research

Researchers at the University of Waterloo in Canada conducted a study to test the efficacy of several practice techniques. Specifically, they wanted to see which technique would best improve learners’ recall of new information.

The study divided subjects up into four groups. Everyone was given a written list of words to memorize and each group was assigned a specific practice technique: 1.) reading silently, 2.) listening to someone else read the material, 3.) listening to a recording of oneself read the material or 4.) reading the material aloud in real time.

In a follow-up session, subjects were given one final practice session and then tested on their recall. The results were clear: Those who actively read aloud performed significantly better than the other three groups. In fact, they scored approximately 12 percent higher than those who read silently and nearly 10 percent higher than those who listened to another person read the words.

The ‘production effect’

The read-aloud group also scored higher on the recall test than the group that passively listened to a self-recording of the words – they came in second. The researchers suggest this is because reading aloud acts on two levels: It gets learners actively involved and it’s self-referential, or personal, because the learner is hearing their own voice while memories are being encoded.

The combination of these two factors to boost memorization is what researchers call the “production effect.” As the head researcher stated, “When we add an active measure or a ‘production’ element to [learning] a word, that word becomes more distinct in long-term memory, and hence more memorable.”

The “production effect” has been found in previous studies as well, suggesting that there is a certain learning power to combining active learning (like reading aloud) with a personal connection (like hearing your own voice).

Recommendations

Here are some suggestions for applying the research findings in your workplace learning program:

Present the research.

Ask learning professionals in your organization to present the findings of the study to your learners. They may be hesitant at first to adopt reading aloud as a practice technique, but it’s hard to argue with the results.

Suggest when to use it.

While it certainly couldn’t hurt to use this technique regularly during learners’ private practice sessions, reading aloud is likely best used for instances where important information needs to be committed to memory. Whether this is a sales pitch, a presentation or a safety procedure, when recall is critical, this technique can be a learner’s secret weapon.

Combine active learning and a personal context.

The research suggests that the “production effect” is powerful because it combines active learning and a personal connection to the learner. So consider exploring other ways of combining these two elements in your learning sessions. One example: After learners have tried applying a new skill on the job, have their manager ask them how it went and what they learned from it. This will get learners actively assessing their performance while deriving personal meaning from the experience.


Source
Forrin, N. D. and MacLeod, C. M. (2017). This time it’s personal: The memory benefit of hearing oneself. Memory. doi: 10.1080/09658211.2017.1383434

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Do stretch goals work? https://rapidlearninginstitute.com/blog/stretch-goals-work/ https://rapidlearninginstitute.com/blog/stretch-goals-work/#respond Wed, 10 Jan 2018 14:22:19 +0000 https://rapidlearninginstitute.com/?post_type=post&p=56460

You’re setting goals for your team. Should you also include a stretch goal? Seems like a good idea. What’s wrong with asking people to push themselves a little harder? But stretch goals are widely misunderstood and widely misused. They’re not really about getting a little more out of people. They’re designed to break things. First,...

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You’re setting goals for your team. Should you also include a stretch goal?

Seems like a good idea. What’s wrong with asking people to push themselves a little harder?

But stretch goals are widely misunderstood and widely misused. They’re not really about getting a little more out of people. They’re designed to break things.

First, a history lesson…

In their original incarnation, stretch goals were an idea pioneered by Jack Welch at GE. And they were much different from what usually passes for a stretch goal today.

The idea was to drive profound disruption with a goal that seemed impossible, had never been met and that nobody knew how to achieve. By definition, it was a goal that couldn’t be accomplished through incremental change or tweaking existing processes. For example, certain divisions at GE had never seen operating margins in the double digits. Such margins weren’t possible, most people said, given the realities of the industry and the business. So GE set a goal of 14% margins. They had no idea how to accomplish it, but they committed to it. Publicly.

That forced the divisions to rethink their entire businesses. Challenge all assumptions. Completely reinvent themselves.

It worked for GE.

It’s worked for others as well. Toyota set a stretch goal of improving fuel economy by a factor of two. It got the Prius. Southwest Airlines set a stretch goal of ten-minute turnarounds at the gate. It accomplished the goal by throwing out its existing gate procedures and building new ones based on what pit crews in auto races did.

You can see the issue. These are goals designed to be 100% disruptive.  That’s above the pay grade for most front-line or midlevel managers. And it’s also extremely risky. Everyone likes the success stories, but there are probably many more examples of failed revolutions. Yahoo and Sears come to mind.

Researcher Sim B. Sitkin from Duke University has looked at stretch goals and found that they really need two conditions to succeed: (1) a track record of recent successes and (2) “slack” resources – that is, excess resources that can be deployed against the problem. But guess what? In most cases, organizations with high performance and excess resources are unlikely to feel the need for radical disruption – because things are going pretty well.

The organizations most tempted to upset the apple cart are typically ones with low performance and constrained resources. They look at a stretch goal as a Hail Mary pass that can save their struggling business.

But, Sitkin says, these are the organizations that can least afford the risks of taking on a radical goal. If the organization is struggling and people are presented with a seemingly “impossible” goal and told it’s do or die, the goal is likely to be demotivating, not motivating. You’ve created a crisis, and you get all the negative emotions that accompany one. People are paralyzed. They’re worried about survival. They get pessimistic. They stop trying. They jump ship.

In this situation, Sitkin suggests, the better strategy is to dig yourself out first. Pursue small wins to get out of the hole, then look at more ambitious goals.

Little stretches

There’s another kind of stretch goal, which is the kind most people think of – a modest stretch above the original goal. If the goal is to increase sales by 10%, for example, you’d set a “stretch goal” of, say, 15%.

That’s not really a stretch goal in the original sense. It’s what sometimes is called a tiered goal, or a banded goal.

The jury’s out on whether they work. One study found that they work in the short term, but there can be a backlash if people see them as a way to, in effect, speed up the production line. We’ve all seen this: If you hit your stretch goal last year, it becomes this year’s baseline, with a new stretch goal on top of that.

What’s the point?

Keep in mind that the real purpose of goal setting is to drive behavior. An effective goal is all about focus. It helps people make good decisions about where to spend time, effort and resources. If the goal is to increase sales by 10%, or reduce turnover by 50%, or cut energy costs by $250,000, then you stay focused on the things that increase sales, reduce turnover or cut energy costs. And you avoid doing things that don’t advance the goal.

To maintain that focus and clarity, goals need to be simple. Stretch goals introduce complexity. And as the rules get more complex, it’s harder to see how they influence behavior. If I have a goal to increase sales 10%, will I do anything differently if you add a tiered goal to hit 15%? Does the additional goal affect my behavior in any meaningful way? Do I use one set of behaviors to hit 10% and then switch over to some other set of behaviors once I hit that goal? Or if I don’t have that tiered goal, do I stop doing those behaviors when I hit 10% and take the rest of the year off?

Most people don’t work that way. If the behaviors are creating success, you keep doing them, even after you’ve hit your goal.

In addition, as complexity increases, there’s a risk that people get more fixed on the rules of the game than on the underlying behavior. That can result in less-than-optimal behavior, like padding the numbers or sacrificing long-term values for short-term goals.

So when it comes to goals, keep them simple. Simple goals tell us what to do.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to learn more, join us for our upcoming free webinar The Science of Goal Setting: How to set high goals and actually hit them in 2018.

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Tired of prospect no-shows? Try these 5 techniques https://rapidlearninginstitute.com/blog/tired-prospect-no-shows-try-5-techniques/ https://rapidlearninginstitute.com/blog/tired-prospect-no-shows-try-5-techniques/#respond Tue, 19 Dec 2017 17:00:56 +0000 https://rapidlearninginstitute.com/?post_type=post&p=56308

Ever been stood up by a prospect? Of course you have. All too often, new prospects don’t pick up the phone when you call back for that initial substantive discussion, even though both of you agreed quite cordially on an exact time and date when you first spoke. A good thing to remember is that...

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Ever been stood up by a prospect? Of course you have. All too often, new prospects don’t pick up the phone when you call back for that initial substantive discussion, even though both of you agreed quite cordially on an exact time and date when you first spoke.

A good thing to remember is that some of this is pretty much inevitable. Sales experts warn that you should expect a no-show rate of 20% or so for initial appointments. (No-shows shouldn’t be higher than about 10% as you move toward the latter stages of the sales process.)

You’re always going to get some no-shows because, for one thing, prospects will sometimes have a legitimate emergency that requires them to blow you off. At other times, the prospect will simply have a higher priority than picking up your call at the time you’ve agreed on.

Notwithstanding, there are steps you can take to hold your no-show rate down

The 5 Techniques

  1. Schedule for the near future. Appointments set for more than about two weeks ahead easily get forgotten or brushed off. If the prospect won’t give you a meeting date within two weeks, don’t set one. Instead, call them back after two weeks and try again. If they still won’t commit, they’re probably not worth pursuing.
  2. Avoid bad times. Monday mornings and Friday afternoons are notoriously difficult and/or busy times. If you suggest a time like that, the prospect may agree, but is then less likely to actually take your call. Late afternoons on most days are also not great, because people are tired and more likely to duck an appointment they would otherwise honor.
  3. Make your reminders persuasive. Use your reminder e-mail(s) or voice mail message(s) to re-sell the prospect on the appointment. Communicate a short agenda, the value the agenda items will have for the person, your contact numbers, and a confirmation of who is going to call whom. (As a rule you should initiate the call.)
  4. Build the prospect’s commitment to the appointment. In your reminder, let the prospect know how much effort – in terms of hours expended – you devoted to prepare for the meeting. Or you can invite the prospect to take action, such as preparing two or three key questions to ask you on the call.
  5. Minimize appointments altogether by making the first call count. Think of it this way: The prospect has already shown up by taking your cold call, so you’ve achieved a no-show rate of 0% with this person. Boldly communicate as much as you can on that call, rather than routinely resorting to setting an appointment. Don’t cut yourself off at the knees by assuming you can’t present then and there. (Although obviously you want to let people get off the phone rapidly if they need to.)

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‘I already know this stuff’: How to handle overconfident learners https://rapidlearninginstitute.com/blog/already-know-stuff-handle-overconfident-learners/ https://rapidlearninginstitute.com/blog/already-know-stuff-handle-overconfident-learners/#respond Fri, 15 Dec 2017 14:35:48 +0000 https://rapidlearninginstitute.com/?post_type=post&p=56238 People tend to overestimate their own abilities. Countless studies have demonstrated that people routinely misjudge both how much they know and how well they’ll perform. What’s worse, lower performers tend to overestimate their abilities even more than average or high performers.

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There’s nothing wrong with confidence. You hire people based on their skills and aptitude, and you want them to believe in themselves. The problem is: People aren’t great judges of their own knowledge. In fact, we’re all pretty bad at it.

Specifically, people tend to overestimate their own abilities. Countless studies have demonstrated that people routinely misjudge both how much they know and how well they’ll perform.

What’s worse, lower performers tend to overestimate their abilities even more than average or high performers. Which could mean that your least qualified employees are also likely to be your most overconfident. You can see how that can be… less than ideal.

So how can you get learners to actually see their knowledge gaps and admit they have room to improve?

Researchers at the University of Utah looked at strategies to solve the problem of learner overconfidence. And they found that one aspect of the learning process opened learners’ eyes: practice.

The research

The study took place in a rigorous college chemistry course. Before the course began, researchers asked the students to estimate their final grade. In keeping with past studies, the students overestimated, this time by an average of 11 percent. Even more alarming, the students who ended up scoring in the bottom quarter of the class overestimated their final grade by 22 percent.

The next semester, the researchers created a strategy that they hoped would help learners see the light. They divided students into two groups: the intervention group and the control group. The crucial difference: Instead of the final exam serving as the course’s sole assessment, the intervention group received weekly practice tests.

The practice tests didn’t count toward the students’ grades. They were really about providing feedback. They provided students with a real-time view into their performance and the areas they needed to improve. By presenting learners with their actual knowledge level, the students could no longer live in their overconfident bubble.

As a result, students in the intervention group practiced more and scored roughly four percent higher on the final exam than the control group. And the low performers made the most significant gains. The students in the bottom quarter of the class raised their final grades a full 10 percent on average.

Recommendations

Here are some suggestions for how to apply the study’s findings in your workplace learning program.

Provide opportunities to practice.

Consider building practice time into your training sessions. As the study shows, practice not only helps learners improve but reveals their current performance level, which can help erase overconfidence and show them what they need to work on. Of course learners can also practice on their own time to hone their skills. But without formal practice sessions, you can run the risk of learners remaining overconfident in their abilities.

Give timely feedback.

To help learners see their room for improvement, provide them with performance feedback as quickly as possible. If you use any kind of assessments – quizzes, practice sessions, role plays – give learners the results immediately or soon thereafter. The sooner learners know where their knowledge gaps are, the sooner they can address them. And if a learner seems to be struggling with a certain topic, consider having a manager or learning professional give them some personalized feedback to help them get back on track.

Help learners target their efforts.

One of the advantages to practice is that learners can see exactly where they struggle or where their knowledge gaps are. With this information, learners should be able to create a practice plan to address the areas where they’re falling short. If learners need help creating their plan, consider having them pair up with a more experienced peer or learning professional who can give them specific strategies for how to improve.


Source
Casselman, B. L., et al. (2017). Improving general chemistry course performance through online homework-based metacognitive training. Journal of Chemical Education. doi: 10.1021/acs.jchemed.7b00298

 

 

 

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Buyers experiencing remorse need a Dr. Feelgood ― you https://rapidlearninginstitute.com/blog/buyers-experiencing-remorse-need-dr-feelgood/ https://rapidlearninginstitute.com/blog/buyers-experiencing-remorse-need-dr-feelgood/#respond Tue, 05 Dec 2017 17:00:18 +0000 https://rapidlearninginstitute.com/?post_type=post&p=56290

You’ve heard the classic wisdom about avoiding buyer’s remorse: Build trust, inculcate value before the sale, so that afterward, the buyer won’t turn around and wonder whether he’s made the right choice, after all. But that’s not enough to defang buyer’s remorse (which, appropriately, comes from the Latin for “bite back”). In fact, scientific research...

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You’ve heard the classic wisdom about avoiding buyer’s remorse: Build trust, inculcate value before the sale, so that afterward, the buyer won’t turn around and wonder whether he’s made the right choice, after all.

But that’s not enough to defang buyer’s remorse (which, appropriately, comes from the Latin for “bite back”). In fact, scientific research suggests that some degree of buyer’s remorse is almost inevitable, given the way the human brain works.

When people think about a happy event in the future – a dream vacation, a child’s wedding, a coveted purchase – the neurochemical dopamine floods their brains. As is usually the case with the brain, there’s an evolutionary, utilitarian explanation: Dopamine helps us move ahead with decisions by feeling we’ll be rewarded once we do.

But in a buyer’s head, that dopamine tide rapidly ebbs once the purchase is actually made. The person is left thinking, “What have I done?” That’s the bite of buyer’s remorse, in spades.

Anticipation over possession

Research from Stanford University describes the process. Volunteer participants in an experiment underwent an fMRI brain scan while playing video games in which they won money as a reward. The researchers measured blood flow and oxygenation levels in the volunteers first in anticipation of winning the money, and then in taking possession of it.

The market research company Kinesis summed up the findings this way: “The dopamine centers of the brain were activated more in anticipation of the reward rather than the reward itself, leading to the conclusion that customers get more satisfaction from anticipation of the purchase than actually taking possession of the product. This is probably the dominant cause of buyer’s remorse.

So buyer’s remorse, at least the short-term version of it (see below), occurs in that space where anticipation has come to fruition and left the buyer emotionally high and dry.

What you can do

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to mitigate buyer’s remorse by reigniting that feel-good factor in your new customer’s mind. For instance, you can:

  1. Send a thank you note. This isn’t a new idea, but it takes on greater power when seen as a re-trigger of positive emotion at a time when the buyer is subsiding into a post-dopamine low.
  2. Send a bonus gift or add-on the person wasn’t expecting. Same sort of idea as #1, but on steroids.
  3. Contact the customer in an appropriate but short amount of time after the purchase to see how they’re faring.

It’s all about neurochemicals and emotion. They’re going to try to work against you after the sale, so you need to turn things around and make them work FOR you.

Short- vs. long-term

I mentioned short-term buyer’s remorse earlier, as opposed to the longer-term kind. Thing is, buyer’s remorse means at least a couple of different things. It applies to immediate, dopamine-linked regrets – the kind described in the research. But it also describes the conscious disillusionment that sets in over months as buyers come to grips with every product’s inevitable shortcomings.

The latter kind of buyer’s remorse, and its remedies, deserves a longer discussion in the future. But the tactics I’ve mentioned here, while calculated to mitigate immediate remorse, can also help with the longer-term variety.

 

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Why even a little bit of unfairness is a very big deal https://rapidlearninginstitute.com/blog/even-little-bit-unfairness-big-deal/ https://rapidlearninginstitute.com/blog/even-little-bit-unfairness-big-deal/#respond Wed, 29 Nov 2017 14:31:29 +0000 http://rapidlearninginstitute.com/?post_type=post&p=56042 You took action as a manager that was a little bit unfair -- you didn't enforce the dress code, or gave someone a bigger cubicle. But what's the big deal? Neuroscience suggests that it's likely to be a very big deal to your employees.

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You did a bad thing.

When a cubicle near your office came open, you gave it to the new hire instead of offering it to the person with the most seniority. Or you sent everyone on the team an email about a big new project, except you forgot to send it to Sam. Or your company has a business-casual dress code, but one person always comes in wearing faded blue jeans and you haven’t made an issue of it.

What’s the big deal?

Okay, maybe it’s not right. But it’s no big deal. Don’t we all have more important things to worry about?

You may want to start worrying. Because even though these issues seem trivial to you, they probably are a very big deal to the people who work for you.

Psychologists have found that even minor acts of perceived unfairness provoke a powerful negative response. For example, in a classic experiment known as the Ultimatum Game, people will work against their own interests to punish someone who’s acting unfairly. In the game, people are divided up into pairs. The first person is presented with a sum of money – say $10. He or she has to propose a split to the second person – for example, split it evenly; keep $9 and give the second person $1; keep $1 and give away $9; and so on.

If the second person agrees to the split, both people get their share of the money. If the second person says no, nobody gets anything.

Logically, the second person should agree to receive any amount above zero. If the first person only offers them a dollar, that’s still better than nothing.

But that’s not what happens. If the second person sees the split as unfair, they’ll reject the offer, even though they then get nothing. It seems that people will only put up with a little bit of unfairness – up to about a 60-40 split. After that they say no. They’d rather punish the other person, even at a cost to themselves.

(Research suggests, by the way, that perceptions of unfairness are asymmetrical: Not surprisingly, we’re much less concerned about unfairness when it doesn’t affect us or when we’re the beneficiaries of it. Nobody complains when they get a bigger share of the pie than everyone else.)

Why fairness matters so much

Evolutionary psychologists suggest that even a little bit of unfairness is so toxic because it’s perceived by the brain as an existential threat. The person who’s treated unfairly sees it as a signal that their status in the group is at risk. When a leader fails to “follow the rules” – whether the “rules” are formal or informal – it means that he or she is giving some people preferential treatment over others. And when survival is at stake – whether that means layoffs at the company or who gets to eat during a famine – you don’t want to be at the bottom of the pecking order.

So when employees see you acting unfairly, they can’t help themselves. Their brain sees it as a profound danger. That’s why people react so strongly even to seemingly trivial breaches. It’s why people get so upset when they see someone flouting the rules and getting away with it. Or why they feel angry if the “rules” themselves seem unfair. They can’t trust that you or the organization will stick by them when the chips are down.

Scrupulous fairness

Of course, we all break rules – or as leaders, fail to enforce them – from time to time. Sometimes we do it inadvertently. Sometimes we do it for expedience. Sometimes we just don’t care.

If you want to build trust with your people, however, you need to be exquisitely sensitive to perceived fairness. Understand both the formal and informal rules that govern the workplace. Respect them if you can. Break them if you must – but if you do, offer a sound reason for doing so: You’re putting the new hire in the cubicle near you because you need to coach him more intensively. Or if you break a rule by accident, acknowledge the mistake forthrightly: Send around a follow-up email to the entire team, explaining that you forgot to include Sam. And if you ignore rules because you don’t think they matter, change them: Update the dress code to authorize blue jeans, or at least tell your team that you’ve raised the issue with HR.

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E-learning: How to keep learners from getting distracted https://rapidlearninginstitute.com/blog/e-learning-keep-learners-getting-distracted/ https://rapidlearninginstitute.com/blog/e-learning-keep-learners-getting-distracted/#respond Tue, 21 Nov 2017 20:24:54 +0000 http://rapidlearninginstitute.com/?post_type=post&p=56172 Psychologists at Harvard University found that the addition of one simple element can increase learners’ attention and improve retention of the material.

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Imagine one of your employees has committed to watching an e-learning module this week. She blocks out the time on her calendar and tells her team she can’t be disturbed. But as soon as she hits play, an email from her manager arrives.

Now, instead of focusing on the content, her mind begins to drift. She returns her attention to the video, but then starts thinking about all of the things she needs to get done by the end of the week. Before she knows it, the video has finished and she barely absorbed a word of it.

With job responsibilities and constant online distractions, it can be a challenge for employees to give learning experiences their undivided attention. And who can blame them? If only there were a proven way to keep learners focused…

The research

Psychologists at Harvard University recently explored ways to keep online learners focused and on task. They found that the addition of one simple element can increase learners’ attention and improve retention of the material. And the strategy can be implemented easily into any workplace learning program.

In the study, researchers showed three groups of participants a 20-minute online lecture. First, the researchers divided the lecture into four 5-minute segments to make the content easier to digest. In between each 5-minute video, the groups were assigned three different activities.

The first group, the test group, was given a short quiz on what they just learned. The second group, the restudy group, was given time to restudy the new material. The third group, the non-test group, was given an unrelated task – to solve a few math problems.

After the groups were shown all four videos, they were given a cumulative test on all the material they had just learned. As you might expect, the test group performed significantly better on the final test – scoring over 20 percent higher than both the restudy and non-test groups. But that’s not all.

More than test scores

Increasing learners’ memory of new material would be an impressive enough finding for the study. But the researchers – who were primarily interested in learner attention – discovered that interspersed quizzes offer even more benefits.

Specifically, the study found that quizzes cut down the online learners’ mind wandering by half. The quizzes also tripled learners’ on-task behavior – in this case, taking notes on the lecture. The researchers argue that the knowledge of the impending quizzes raises the stakes for learners and focuses them on the material, guarding against distractions.

“It’s not sufficient for a lecture to be short,” said the head researcher. “You need to have the testing… What we really need to do is instill in students the expectation that they will need to express what they’ve learned at some later point… The testing is the critical component.”

Another interesting finding was that the “test group” reported feeling significantly less anxious on the final test and found it to be less mentally taxing. So regular assessments throughout the learning experience may also help learners perform new tasks more confidently down the road.

Recommendations

Here are some ways to apply these findings to your learning initiatives:

Keep learning experiences manageable.

The first step the researchers took was to cut the lecture down from 20 minutes to five-minute pieces. When learning content is short and focused, it leaves less opportunity for learners to lose interest or get distracted.

Assess early and often.

The interspersed quizzes were shown to have multiple benefits, from keeping learners focused on the material to increasing their confidence when using new skills. If your e-learning solution doesn’t offer assessments, have your learning professionals create their own for learners to take. And if you’re using classroom learning, ask instructors to regularly pause during instruction to ask learners questions and engage in activities that will test and measure learners’ understanding.

Show learners the results.

While assessments are valuable for the reasons outlined in the study, they’re also a valuable source of feedback for learners. The results of assessments can be both motivating and can also reveal the areas where learners need to improve, helping them focus their practice.


Source

Szpunar, K. K., et al. (2013). Interpolated memory tests reduce mind wandering and improve learning of online lectures. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(16), 6313-6317.

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If you want them to own it, let them build it https://rapidlearninginstitute.com/blog/want-let-build/ https://rapidlearninginstitute.com/blog/want-let-build/#respond Tue, 14 Nov 2017 14:35:29 +0000 https://rapidlearninginstitute.com/?post_type=post&p=56204

We hear a lot these days about “taking ownership.” You want your people to “own” the tasks they’re working on, “own” the results (good or bad) of those tasks, “own” their careers, “own” their jobs. It’s easy to see why leaders would want to promote a sense of ownership: When we “own” something, we assign...

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We hear a lot these days about “taking ownership.” You want your people to “own” the tasks they’re working on, “own” the results (good or bad) of those tasks, “own” their careers, “own” their jobs.

It’s easy to see why leaders would want to promote a sense of ownership:

When we “own” something, we assign a higher value to it – something that Nobel Prize-winning economist Richard Thaler labeled the “endowment effect.”

In a classic experiment, he gave mugs to a group of people selected at random, then asked how much money they’d accept to part with “their” mug. The average price: $5.78. Then he and his colleagues asked another group of people – who hadn’t been given mugs – how much they’d be willing to pay to get one. This time the average price was far lower: just $2.21.

In other words, the simple fact of ownership more than doubled the perceived value of the mugs. And that was for a generic low-value item that people hadn’t asked for, hadn’t selected, hadn’t paid for and had only “owned” for a short time.

Employees who feel a sense of “ownership” over their jobs make a similar judgment. They see the job as more worthwhile and more valuable. That means, for example, that they’re more likely to be loyal and less likely to quit for another job that pays a little better. They’re also likely to believe in the value of what they’re contributing to the organization. If it’s seen as a job worth doing, it’s more likely to be done right.

We feel more motivated to invest in what we own.

If we own the house we’re living in, we’re more likely to fix up the kitchen or paint the front door. If we’re just renting, why bother? We’re not the ones who will reap the benefits.

The same is true in the workplace. If we “own” our jobs, we’re more willing to go the extra mile. We recognize that the more we put into a job, the more we get out of it – for example, raises, promotions, recognition. People who are just “renting” their jobs won’t make those investments, because they don’t believe they’ll see a return.

We connect what we own to our own self-image.

We understand that what we own reflects on us. If our neighbor gets bitten by someone else’s dog, we feel bad. If it’s our dog, we feel responsible. At work, that dynamic is a powerful motivator to do well. If someone else’s presentation has typos, we may not even notice it. If it’s our presentation, it’s personal: We worry that we’ll look stupid.

Ownership and control

So how can you create a greater sense of ownership among your people?

Ultimately, ownership is about control. If we own the coffee mug, it means we get to control what happens to it. We can put it on our desk and expect it to stay there. We can prevent other people from using it. We can use it as a flowerpot. We can take it home. If we choose, we’re perfectly free to smash it to bits.

But it turns out that this relationship between ownership and control runs both ways. If we exert control over something, we’re more likely to develop a sense of ownership over it.

To see how control influences psychological ownership, consider another series of experiments, involving online sites that allowed people to “build” their own products. When people were invited to “design” a T-shirt, scarf or cellphone case, they were willing to pay more for it than for a similar off-the-shelf product.

Implications for managers

This and similar experiments suggest that you can increase an employee’s sense of ownership by increasing their sense of control.

For example, hold them accountable for results, but give them more flexibility on how to achieve those results. Instead of handing them a project plan, ask them to create the plan and run it by you. Instead of giving them a job description, ask them to define what they think their job should entail.

One of the findings from the “build-your-own” experiment was that even limited control can have powerful positive effects. The people in the experiment weren’t actually given free rein to build their products however they wanted to. With the T-shirts, for example, people had only a limited set of options to select from, and could make only minor modifications to the designs. Even so, they were willing to pay 44% more than for an off-the-shelf product – because they’d “designed it themselves.”

Other experiments show similar results. In one, for example, children worked much harder and longer to solve a written problem when they were given a choice of which color marker to use.

Similarly, even small choices in the workplace can contribute to a sense of control, and ultimately, ownership. Find every opportunity to offer people choices: When do they want to schedule the project meeting? What should be on the agenda? If several cubicles are available for a new hire, which one would she like to have?


Sources:

“The Endowment Effect: Evidence of Losses Valued More than Gains,” Kahneman, Knetsch and Thaler, Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Vol. 1 DOI: 10.1016/S1574-0722(07)00100-X

“Possession in Humans: An Exploratory Study of Its Meaning and Motivation,” Furby, Social Behavior and Personality: an International Journal, Vol. 6, No. 1, 1978, pp. 49-65 (17).

“The ‘I Designed It Myself Effect’ in Mass Customization,” Franke, Schreier and Kaiser, Management Science, Vol. 56, No. 1, Jan. 2010. 

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The power of sets: An upsell/cross-sell tactic you can use https://rapidlearninginstitute.com/blog/power-sets-upsellcross-sell-tactic-can-use/ https://rapidlearninginstitute.com/blog/power-sets-upsellcross-sell-tactic-can-use/#respond Tue, 07 Nov 2017 17:00:13 +0000 http://rapidlearninginstitute.com/?post_type=post&p=56174

Want an insight that will work every time and help you get sales? In that case, don’t read on. This isn’t one of those. But if you’re interested in an insight that is pretty cool and will work some of the time — notably for up- and cross-selling — please do keep going. Researchers at...

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Want an insight that will work every time and help you get sales? In that case, don’t read on. This isn’t one of those.

But if you’re interested in an insight that is pretty cool and will work some of the time — notably for up- and cross-selling — please do keep going.

Researchers at Harvard Business School recently described something about human beings that you may have encountered before but didn’t think much about: People feel some kind of inner need to complete sets of things. This probably explains why folks collect stuff like stamps, coins and beer mugs.

To see how strong an urge this is — and what it may motivate people to do — the researchers set up an experiment in conjunction with the Canadian Red Cross’s 2016 online fund-raising campaign.

‘Survival kit’

About 7,000 potential donors who went on the website were randomly split up and sent to three different landing pages. All three pages showed six items that were billed as important to the survival of unfortunates around the world. But they solicited donors in different ways.

One page stressed cash donations to purchase the items. A second tried to get donors to make specific gifts instead of cash, and showed a globe with a marker indicating where the gift would be used. The third landing page asked donors to give the items as a set, which it called a “Global Survival Kit.” This page included a progress bar, in the form of a line that gradually went around the globe as the items were added to the donor’s cart.

The results showed the power of the set-completion mindset, even with a set that was completely arbitrary. Some 21% of those who shown the kit page made the full donation of six items. Meantime, just 5% of those who saw the global marker page did so, and only 3% of those from the cash page.

Taking risks

This finding is substantial in its own right. But paired with an earlier piece of research, it becomes very powerful indeed. That research involved online gambling. In this experiment, participants were given the opportunity to make a series of up to four low-stakes bets, with the odds considerably better for the first three plays than the fourth. The fourth play was also the only one where participants could actually lose money.

The participants were shown a running tally of their winnings, in two different formats. One group saw circles representing nickels, with the circles filled in where they had already won the money and empty where they hadn’t. The other group saw a single quarter, cut up into “pie pieces” either full or empty.

And again, the need to complete a set drove the experimental participants. Some 29% of those who saw the quarter — a representation of a set of winnings — went for all four bets, even the riskiest one, while just 16% of those who saw individual nickels did so.

The conclusion: Not only are people motivated to complete arbitrary sets, they’re willing to take economic risks to do so!

Packaging

Maybe you can see where this is going, as far as sales is concerned. We’re looking at situations like these:

  • a buyer either has purchased something from you earlier, and you’re trying to get them to add on, or
  • you’re approaching a buyer with a package that has multiple options and you’d like them to buy as many as possible

When these classic up- and cross-sell opportunities arise, the research indicates that you’ll have a better chance if you present your products or services as a set that the buyer would benefit from buying most or all of. Of course, as the researchers point out, the set mustn’t be too large or expensive, which would likely have the opposite effect from what you want. But if you frame the deal right, you’re “setting” yourself up for success!

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