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Teamwork in the Workplace: Enthusiastic, Consistent, and United Effort



When people think about what makes a great team great, they often gloss over “effort.” After all, it seems a bit obvious to say that a team can only succeed by putting in hard work.

But for teamwork in the workplace to be truly effective, the definition of team effort must extend beyond “working hard.” Effective effort involves three key components: enthusiasm, consistency, and a united commitment. In fact, consistent, united, and enthusiastic effort is so important to team success that we’ve named it one of our “seven cornerstones of teamwork,” which make up the foundation for exceptional teamwork in the workplace. Read on to see which component of effort your team might be missing:


Armed with shiny, new resources (or budgets) and a well-defined goal, teams often start off incredibly excited to tackle the task at hand. That excitement, however, comes in waves—morale is high at the launch of the project and gets another boost at the completion of big phases, but it dissipates between these peaks when the hard work must be put in. Unfortunately, that’s when teams need an injection of enthusiasm the most!

Teamwork in the workplace suffers and slows when members are not enthusiastic and fully engaged; a study by Gallup revealed that engaged workplaces outperform their peers by 147 percent in earnings per share. If you look around and see that your team members are putting in the work, but your project still seems to be moving at a glacial pace, a lack of enthusiastic effort may be to blame.


It’s an all-too-common scenario: A team member shuffles into a meeting 15 minutes after it starts, offering a half-baked excuse. It’s one thing if this were a one-time experience, but it happens again for the next meeting…and again after that. This team member needs a major reminder that the effort he or she contributes must be consistent (and that doesn’t mean being “consistently” late!). That means being there for every meeting on time, answering team emails in a timely manner, and not making excuses when the going gets tough.


While team members must be consistent in a practical sense, they must be emotionally consistent in their effort, as well. For example, a lack of consistent emotional effort may manifest itself in a team member’s tendency to pull out his or her phone during Friday-morning meetings—she’s physically at the meeting, but, mentally, she’s totally “checked out.” It’s not enough to just show up consistently; for teamwork in the workplace to succeed, each team member must consistently give the project his or her all.


Today, many smart companies are changing up teamwork in the workplace by instituting subgroups, which are smaller “teams within teams” strategically formed in order to focus on a specific subset of the overall team’s goal. Sometimes, unfortunately, forming subgroups can have an adverse effect on team effort. Subgroup members may become jealous that they’re not on a more “glamorous” or client-facing subgroup, or they may slack off on subgroup tasks, because they don’t see how their subgroup is important.


That’s where the importance of a united effort comes in. Subgroup members must remember that every subgroup performs an indispensable function to teamwork in the workplace—therefore, each and every subgroup needs to be united in its effort to reach the overall team goal. On an individual level, a united effort is so important to team success because team members naturally rely on one another, like for a report that can’t be written until the data are collected by a certain team member. When one team member slacks off, that will inevitably affect another team member’s ability to contribute to his or her team fully.

Set the Expectation Early

Putting in consistent, united, enthusiastic effort should be a given for every employee—but, unfortunately, that’s not always the case. That’s why team leaders must be up front about the level of personal commitment and discipline that will be expected of each member. If a prospective team member is not willing or is unable to commit to this kind of effort, then allow him or her to bow out of the team. It may be hard to find a replacement, but it would be even harder to get through a project with team members who must be cajoled at every turn into putting in effort. Although, at a company with a high-performance culture, once the expectation for consistent, united, and enthusiastic effort is set, the chances of high-performing members “bailing” on the team are minimal.

If a lack of effort may be the culprit in your own company’s teams, which specific component do you think your teams are struggling with the most?

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7 Ways to Improve Teamwork in the Workplace



Off the top of your head, you can probably think of at least a few ways that teamwork in your workplace has fallen short. The team may have missed a deadline or failed to meet a set objective. Regardless of what happened, when these incidents happen it is a usually a sign that teamwork and collaboration are not functioning properly. Even when a team’s efforts lead to seemingly good results, there are often plenty of missed opportunities because of issues such as:

  • Not every voice on the team was heard.
  • Communication roadblocks prevented good ideas from coming to fruition.
  • Subgroups went in a direction that didn’t support the team’s objective.
  • The team fizzled because there wasn’t a consistent and united effort.

If any of these issues sound familiar, it might be time to take steps to improve teamwork. Effective teamwork doesn’t happen overnight. It takes intentional effort and a thorough understanding of what teamwork actually is.

Below are seven cornerstones to improve teamwork in your organization, along with links to resources that will help you learn more.

1. Understand the Importance of Leadership

Every team needs a leader to encourage accountability, model empowerment, facilitate streamlined decision-making, and maintain momentum. However, the appropriate team leader isn’t always the person you first expect. Team leaders are typically individuals who know the most about the project—which means they might not have extensive experience with leading. They might not even be the person with the most ‘senior’ rank in the room. That’s why building in leadership skills exercises into your teamwork training in the workplace is so important.

The role of a team leader extends beyond conducting everyday meetings and capturing action items. The person in a leadership role must recognize their importance, model the expected behaviors, and understand how to harness individual strengths to achieve the outlined objectives.

2. Create Unanimous Focus on a Common Goal

When teams get distracted and stray away from the defined objectives, the project will take longer, or worse, never be fully achieved. Even when teams are working on a simple project, team members still need to see it as their own project. But for that project to truly be the best it can be, each person on the team must have a unanimous focus on a common goal.

It’s not uncommon for the individuals in a team to be pulled in multiple directions. They have daily tasks that must be completed, long-term projects to move along, and departmental objectives to bear in mind. Clearly articulating and repeating the team’s common goal can help the group maintain focus, especially between meetings.

3. Clearly Define Roles in Subgroups

When a team is faced with a large goal, it’s best practice to create smaller teams, or subgroups, within the project to address more specific tasks that support the overall goal. The goal of a subgroup is also more tightly focused than the overall team goal. This means less input from higher-ranking members who are most enthusiastic about the ‘big picture’. Instead, subgroup members with specialized knowledge will steer the subgroup towards its goal.

Subgroups should operate as mini-teams, using all seven of these cornerstones in their own work. Each subgroup needs its own leader, a unanimous focus on a common goal, and so on. They must also be subordinate to the larger team, always supporting the larger goal.

4. Tap into Your Shared Resources

Many people only consider hard resources—money,  equipment, technology, and so on—when thinking about the resources that are shared among a team. However, soft resources can be just as important when cataloging your inventory of shared resources. While they might not seem like elements that must be shared for team success, but think about what would happen if just one person was passionate about the team project, or if only one person ever tried to overcome the inevitable project hurdles that sprung up. Just as when hard resources aren’t spread around equitably, it’s unlikely that project would ever be completed.

In a work environment where budgets are closely followed and individual productivity is valued, it can be culturally challenging to effectively share resources, both hard and soft. Organizations that are committed to improving teamwork must make it clear that team members have access to the resources they need in order to accomplish their goals.

5. Use Frequent and Effective Communication

Every individual on a team must always be able to say, “I know what I need to know,” and, “I understand everything.” If these two statements are not true at any given time, there is potential for the team to break down. The keys to communication in a team are for it to be both frequent and effective. And remember that effective communication requires all team members to know on a high level what’s going on within the team, but also to truly comprehend what’s going on.

Effective communication in a team requires both the right skills and the right tools. Ongoing training can help build the necessary skills to improve teamwork, such as active listening, giving feedback, and creating an environment in which people are comfortable speaking up. The right tools will depend on the team, but could include a document management system, an internal messaging platform, or a system for sharing and storing meeting notes.

6. Offer Enthusiastic, Consistent, and United Effort

The whole point of creating a team is to accomplish a specific goal. This requires effort on everyone’s part, but unless that effort meets certain criteria, you’ll soon find yourself spinning wheels. Putting in consistent, united, enthusiastic effort should be a given for every employee—but, unfortunately, that’s not always the case. That’s why team leaders must be up front about the level of personal commitment and discipline that will be expected of each member.

In addition to articulating the need for this type of effort, team leaders must also model the desired behavior. If team members see that their leader isn’t accountable for his or her commitments or makes excuses for substandard work, they will eventually conclude that this is acceptable behavior and reflect their leader’s level of effort.

7. Employ Periodic and Temporary Suppression of the Ego

Essentially, the principle of teamwork related to ego is about ensuring that individual agendas don’t take over the team’s goals, inhibit other team members’ contribution, or development and create a cycle of diminishing team effectiveness. No team will succeed if it is composed of members with a “me first” attitude. Successful teamwork depends on every individual feeling that their contribution matters.

Keeping egos in check without quashing them requires a delicate balance. Everybody on the team must intentionally manage their ego and shift the focus from individual agendas to the team’s objectives to effectively achieve the desired outcome.

Next Steps to Improving Teamwork in the Workplace

While the teams in your organization might have mastered some elements of this list, it is important to understand that in order to improve teamwork in the workplace it cannot be done alone. So, if you are committed to creating a workplace where teamwork thrives, start by performing an assessment of to determine which areas could improve. You will inevitably find a few gaps. When you do, provide competency development to bring all seven cornerstones into balance and see how the organizations in your team transform.

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4 Tips for Planning a Successful Corporate Event

Obvious news flash: Many decisions go into planning a corporate event, from finding the right location and determining menu selections to agenda constraints and giveaways or no giveaways. You even need to consider lighting. Before you can plan the details of your event, take time to brainstorm what will truly make it successful. These four tips will help you plan an event that’s memorable, informative, and dare I say, fun.

1. Determine the Goals of Your Corporate Event First

Educate, inform, drive behavior change, introduce, celebrate, or improve skills—these are all potential goals. Whatever you choose will drive the rest of your event planning, from your budget and venue choice to content and approach. Ensure the goal is strategically aligned with the company’s overall business goals, which will improve the chances that your executives are more eager to buy into your plans. Determining goals first also allows you and your team to clarify a plan of action for measuring event ROI, something else near and dear to the executives.

2. Incorporate a Fun, Relevant Theme

Pick a fun theme to excite and engage your participants throughout the event. You can even get them involved beforehand by asking them to  brainstorm ways they can come to the event fully immersed in the theme—outfits, bringing theme-related items, viewing related videos prior, or team-related pre-work. Themes don’t just present an opportunity to amp up excitement; they can also be used to make your corporate event feel more cohesive, especially if it spans multiple days. Weave elements of your theme throughout different activities to connect the dots for participants.

When you do decide to incorporate a theme into the event, make sure you pay close attention to the details. A half-hearted attempt at carrying out a theme may deflate participants more than it pumps them up, whereas a carefully considered and well-executed one sends the message that your company has invested time and energy into creating this event—and participants are expected to do the same.

3. Keep Participants Engaged with Immersive Activities

If one of the goals of your event is to teach participants new skills, explore training approaches that require active participation. Getting your participants out of their chairs and interacting with one another creates excitement throughout the event. Plus, participatory learning is often more effective in the long term for retention. When participants learn by doing, that knowledge stays with them much longer in comparison to passive learning strategies. We have all been there before and know it’s far easier for participants to “clock out” on a lecture or PowerPoint presentation than it is with an engaged a hands-on learning activity.

If you’re thinking about including immersive training activities at your event, be sure to consider experiential learning. In an experiential learning exercise, participants are tasked with working together to tackle a fun but challenging “project” and the skills needed to successfully complete the challenge are the same ones needed to succeed at work. One of the biggest benefits is that it teaches participants new skills and allows them to practice them during the same exercise. Allowing participants to practice in a conference setting, wherein they’re able to get immediate feedback from facilitators, gives them a chance to refine and perfect those skills before they use them on the job. Plus, experiential learning is a good fit for all types of learners, thereby making it ideal for events put on for a diverse workforce.

4. Invest in Retention Tools and Strategies

No corporate event should be a “one-and-done” affair. If it focuses on teaching participants new skills and information, make sure you have a plan in place to help participants remember the lessons learned. Some post-event retention tools may include:

  • Online videos or webinars that serve as refreshers on event training
  • Interactive online games that test participants’ knowledge and retention of key concepts
  • Group discussions that explore the challenges and solutions addressed during the event
  • Forums on which participants can post follow-up questions and discussions

Keeping retention in mind throughout the planning process also helps you design components that support long-lasting learning.

If you planned a particularly well-received corporate event before, let us know what elements you think contributed to its success.

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The Link Between Employee Engagement And Staff Retention

It’s of the utmost importance that we recognize how employee engagement and staff retention are connected. When employees are not engaged at work, they have little incentive to stay. Even pay increases often cannot keep an employee who is not engaged, especially if they don’t see a promising future that includes satisfying work and a clear development path.

Given this, it’s not surprising that an SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey indicated that the top three workforce challenges for HR professionals are retention, engagement, and recruitment. Rather than dealing with the symptoms—turnover and recruitment issues—getting to the root of the problem leads to long-term solutions. Focusing on engagement can help reduce turnover, which also alleviates recruitment issues because there are fewer empty positions to fill.

Why Is Retention Important?

One of the most motivating reasons for businesses to improve retention is the fact that it’s expensive. The cost of turnover includes lost productivity, lost profits, recruitment, training, and more. A Deloitte report found that the average cost to replace an employee is around $7,000. For large organizations with high turnover, this can quickly add up. While this number might seem reasonable, the more shocking number that is less easy to see in a financial report is the cost of lost productivity, which is estimated around $120,000 per employee. Even the loss of one employee can have an impact on the bottom line.

Another reason to focus on retaining valuable employees is the company culture. High-turnover companies have a hard time building the culture they want because there are fewer long-term employees to demonstrate the ideal behaviors. Additionally, when employees see that others frequently leave the organization, it sets a negative tone and prompts them to question why they are staying.

How Engagement Impacts Retention

Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report captures the link between engagement and retention in a nutshell:

“Employees who are engaged are more likely to stay with their organization, reducing overall turnover and the costs associated with it. They feel a stronger bond to their organization’s mission and purpose, making them more effective brand ambassadors. They build stronger relationships with customers, helping their company increase sales and profitability.”

The same report found that only one-third of workers are engaged, which should be a red flag for most organizations. If you’re not confident that the majority of your employees are engaged, this could lead to a costly turnover rate.

How to Improve Employee Engagement

Improving engagement is possible, but it requires a sustained effort. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution that will immediately shift mindsets, organizations should focus on the following three components to improve employee engagement:


Publicly recognize employees for a job well done. When leaders demonstrate that they value an employee’s contribution, it fosters further engagement. Employees also want to stay at a company where they feel valued and appreciated. You can do this by creating a rewards program, hosting monthly or quarterly dinners where employees are recognized for their contributions, or simply thanking your team at the next staff meeting.


Create a culture that encourages, supports, and motivates employees to do their best work. Whether you do this by allowing dogs in the office, having a company-wide ping-pong tournament, or having quarterly team meetings, your culture should remind people why they want to be there. So, while the elements that make up your culture will be as unique as your organization, determining the desired culture will be the responsibility of leadership.


Employees today value education and learning opportunities. They also want to know what opportunities lie ahead. Create clear growth paths and provide the resources that will help people achieve their development goals to keep them engaged as they progress in their careers. This requires more than a single annual review and should include coaching and mentoring to help employees reach their personal career goals.


Retention is a real issue that should be addressed, especially if you already have high turnover rates. Increasing employee engagement can help improve retention and also provide the benefits of better productivity and greater employee satisfaction. Focus on your company culture and take proactive steps to improve engagement, especially among your top talent.


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4 Ways to Measure the Impact of Corporate Team Building

Team building activities have been shown to improve overall workplace performance by increasing productivity, improving communication patterns, and encouraging creativity and innovation. But measuring your progress toward these overhead objectives can be challenging if you don’t know where to look or what metrics to focus on.

Measuring the return on your corporate team building investment is not as elusive as you might imagine, especially if you plan ahead and set clear goals. Some impacts can be observed, while others can be objectively measured. Our list includes both evaluation methods to help you gain a more complete picture of how team building initiatives are impacting your business.

1. Establish a Baseline of Comparison and Identify Long-Term Goals

It’s much easier to measure the success of your team building event if you establish a baseline for comparison and defined key objectives early in the planning process. Recording certain metrics prior to hosting your event will help you establish a benchmark and identify areas for improvement. Indicators such as absentee rates, retention rates, productivity rates, and customer satisfaction rates are all good metrics to consider measuring against.

In addition to collecting performance and productivity data, observe how your team operates on a daily basis and take note of internal dynamics and behavioral patterns. Do meetings drag on too long because people aren’t aligned on key issues? Do only a few employees contribute to group discussions? Have miscommunications resulted in inefficiencies or mistakes?

Identify areas where your team is struggling and decide how you will define improvement in those specific areas. Measuring against this definition using your baseline metrics and observations will help you gain a clear picture of your progress.


2. Know What a Successful Team Looks Like

Although this may sound abstract, studies have shown that successful and productive teams share certain social characteristics. In a Harvard Business Review study, researchers were able to accurately predict what team would win a business competition based on learned social characteristics alone—regardless of the quality or strength of their pitch.

Of course, some people are naturally more charismatic or communicative than others, but research shows that group dynamic—specifically group communication—is as important to a company’s success as the innate skills of individual contributors. Unlike our more hard-wired qualities, effective communication skills can be nurtured through team building activities that aim to establish trust and respect. Furthermore, team building events encourage individuals to forge personal connections that engender more engaged and cohesive group dynamics.

Clearly, communication is king. But what does effective communication look like in a professional, group setting?

The most successful teams exhibit these qualities:

  • Everyone in the group speaks and listens roughly the same amount.
  • Contributions are clear, succinct, and energetic.
  • Communication is multi-directional and not just between leaders and subordinates.
  • People demonstrate engaged body language, such as facing one another and using active listening and speaking gestures.
  • Members actively brainstorm in small groups and bring ideas back to the larger team.
  • Team members make an effort to collaborate face to face whenever possible rather than using technology.

Knowing how a successful team operates will help you determine if your employees are trending in the right direction and will allow you to identify areas to target in your next team building event.

3. Ask for Feedback

This is perhaps the most obvious evaluation method and the most widely overlooked. If you’re not sure where your team stands, it never hurts to ask. Sending out anonymous surveys using apps like TINYpulse or SurveyMonkey can help you gauge how your team feels and measure the impact of team building events.

Ask questions about workplace communication, group dynamics, productivity, creativity, job satisfaction, and office environment before and after your event. This can not only help you identify which areas need immediate focus, but also help you track your progress and identify opportunities for growth. To understand the long-term impact of your team building initiatives, make sure to ask for feedback at regular intervals rather than limiting responses to a one-time questionnaire.

Along with asking for more general feedback, don’t be afraid to ask employees about the team building event itself. Encouraging them to reflect on the event and discuss how team building lessons or skills might be applied to their job will boost engagement and content retention. In addition, this feedback can promote buy-in for future events by ensuring that their thoughts are heard.

4. Look at Your Bottom Line

Companies that invest in team building activities typically have higher employee retention rates and are more cohesive, innovative, and efficient—all qualities that directly impact their bottom line.

For example, when employees stay with a company longer, recruiting, hiring, and employee onboarding costs decrease. If teams are more effective, efficient, and innovative, then customer satisfaction and retention rates should improve, driving sustainable revenue growth. If your employees are happy and feel valued, you’ll not only attract the best talent, but also retain them—helping expand your brand’s influence.

These impacts may not be immediately evident, but team building should be thought of as a long-term investment in your company’s health. The behaviors and thought processes that you nurture today will lead to greater success and savings down the road.

The Takeaway

For the best results, make a commitment to incorporating team building events into your annual calendar and optimize as you go. Take stock of what worked and what didn’t after each event and identify areas to improve upon in the future. Don’t be afraid to seek out professional guidance to help you make the most out of your event budget, determine what activities are most likely to accomplish your goals, and execute the most engaging and compelling team building experience possible.


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The Key Players You Need for a Successful Event Planning Team

Successful corporate event planning takes more than just a great agenda and a high-quality venue. Preparation and multiple people in varying roles must all participate in order to deliver an executive-worthy event. Key stakeholders must be involved throughout the process; support staff must have clear directions, and the point person running it all must work closely with the entire team to bring it all together.

Here are the must-have players on any corporate event planning team:


Depending on the scope of the event and the size of the organization, there will most likely be one or more executives involved in laying the groundwork. It is important to understand what their thoughts are on the business goals associated with the event, the budget, the agenda, and so on. Some of the responsibilities that executive decision-makers have during planning are:

  • Determining the overall budget for the event
  • Determining the business objectives, theme, and tone of the event
  • Vetting the speakers and activities
  • Approving major expenditures
  • Participating in development of the agenda
  • Making crucial decisions throughout the planning process
  • Not only participating in and championing the event itself but also the activities pre and post to set the tone

Keeping these key team members informed throughout the planning process makes it easier to achieve fast decision-making and allows corporate event planners to quickly get buy-in on new ideas.

Learning and Development/Human Resources

If the event includes a learning element, the appropriate people in the organization must be involved. Having these team members involved will ensure your event is aligned properly with existing initiatives and will make the most effective impact on key stakeholders. Some of the responsibilities of this role are:

  • Recommending training content for the event
  • Developing a curriculum if necessary
  • Sourcing a partner to deliver training content
  • Ensuring that learning events are in line with the organization’s objectives and strategy

Learning and development professionals can offer unique insights into corporate event planning that other team members might not have. If this role doesn’t exist in the organization, it could be filled by an HR professional or the event planner themselves.

Event Planning Staff

Nobody has unlimited time in the day, and a corporate event planner cannot be in two places at the same time. Having support staff available is essential for a successful event. Remember that when assigning the following tasks, it is your responsibility to work with team members to create individual project deadlines so that you can manage the timeline and optimally use your available resources. These team members are responsible for tasks such as:

  • Ensuring presentation technology is functioning
  • Working with venue staff to provide food and other amenities
  • Registering event participants
  • Coordinating lodging and transportation for participants and presenters
  • Preparing information packets and setup/takedown of the event materials

You can’t have a successful corporate event without participants. The more engaged they are before, during, and after the event, the higher the chance of success for all involved stakeholders. Bear this in mind as you plan the agenda and schedule learning events. Incorporate a variety of sessions to keep people engaged and consider one or more experiential events. Start engaging attendees in the days and weeks before the event to generate excitement and maintain the momentum you’ve built by investing time into planning a reinforcement and measurement strategy for after the event concludes.

Corporate event planning is no small task. Even a single-day company event can take months of careful planning and a tight-knit team to successfully execute. Form your team early to ensure faster decision-making and greater buy-in from all the key stakeholders throughout the process.


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How to Tailor Workplace Training to All Types of Learning Styles

Every individual is unique, and everyone brings with them a unique set of traits to the workplace—from their personality and past experiences to the way they learn. In fact, there are several types of learning styles and ways that workplace training can be designed to meet those diverse learning needs, as well as decrease learning decay. While some individuals learn best with written material, others are make sense of new information when they can see or hear an explanation of what is being taught.

In order to ensure that employees get the most out of their training experiences, it’s best to tailor workplace training to address the needs of all types of learning styles as much as possible. By making small adjustments to existing training or larger changes to your training programs, you can position your organization to achieve strong training ROI, improved employee engagement, and sustained behavior change.

How to Tailor Training to the Various Types of Learning Styles

Though there are many learning theories, we’ll focus on one of the most popular, Howard Gardner’s Seven Learning Styles. There are a number of elements that can be included in workplace training so that it appeals and connects to each learning style, helping individuals learn new behaviors that will help improve performance and job effectiveness.

Here are some ways your training initiatives can be designed to appeal to the various learning styles:

Visual Learners

Visual learners learn by what they see and build comprehension of new concepts through pictures, images, and the spatial relationships of objects. Workplace training for visual learners can be tailored to include presentations with plentiful diagrams, videos, and charts.

Auditory Learners

Auditory learners are excellent listeners and discern patterns in spoken, lecture-type teaching. This type of learner prefers speeches, audio recordings, and training that includes plenty of opportunities for dialogue.

Reading/Writing Learners

These individuals learn best through close examination of text, reports, stories, and case studies. Workplace training for reading/writing learners can be tailored to include manuals, handouts, quizzes, and presentations.

Kinesthetic Learners

Kinesthetic learners expand their comprehension of new information through their senses, and enjoy hands-on activities like simulations, walk-throughs, and sessions that include building or working with physical objects.

Logical Learners

Sometimes referred to as mathematical learners, these individuals learn from studying whole systems, patterns, and high-level concepts. They are particularly drawn to spreadsheets, multi-step methodologies, and graphs. Logical learners respond well to workplace training that includes opportunities to distill multiple concepts into one big idea, showing them how to improve their behavior.

Interactive/Social Learners

These learners are strong at understanding the feelings and motivations of others. The thrive on team learning activities, role-playing, and group discussions.

Solitary Learners

Solitary learners focus on self-reflection and introspection as their prime way of synthesizing and making sense of learning. Training for these learners should be tailored to include opportunities to work through the content at their own pace, as well as a balance of collaborative activities with those that allow them to work independently.

Experiential Learning Works for a Range of Learning Styles

Experiential learning can be an appealing workplace training choice because it addresses the different learning needs of employees. Here are some examples of how experiential learning works with many types of learning styles:

  • For visual learners – The immersive nature of experiential learning features stories with vivid details that allow these types of learners to visualize desired behaviors introduced to them in training.
  • For auditory learners – The discussion and dialogue inherent in experiential learning allow auditory learners to learn by hearing how others synthesize and apply newly learned behaviors.
  • For reading/writing learners – Reading/writing learners thrive on making connections through what they read, and experiential learning addresses this by offering discovery-based learning that compels learners to create order out of the information presented, then take action based on their understanding of the material.
  • For kinesthetic learners – Kinesthetic learners love to learn by doing, which is at the heart of experiential learning. Participants engage in immersive activities that mimic real-life situations and are directly relevant to the workplace.
  • For logical learners – Experiential learning works for logical learners because it challenges them to think about their actions and behaviors, and link it to what they did with the aid of a facilitated debrief.
  • For interactive/social learners – Experiential training appeals to social learners because it is by nature an interactive experience. Expert facilitators engage groups of participants and help them to learn from their shared experiences during the session.
  • For solitary learners – After the collaborative portion of experiential training wraps up, a facilitator-led discussion gives solitary learners the chance to think about their behaviors and actions, how those affected their results, and how the experience relates to their everyday life on the job.

Selecting a Solution That Appeals to All Types of Learning Styles

Though it may be challenging, it is possible to implement workplace training that addresses the needs of the many types of learning styles. Everyone learns differently, so it’s worthwhile to consider the various learning needs that exist within your organization and adjust your training accordingly. Experiential learning in particular includes elements that naturally appeal to many different learning styles and offers benefits that can be appreciated by every employee.


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Social Learning Theory and What Experiences Mean in the Future

Trends come and go in the learning and development space. Sometimes new approaches stick, profoundly influencing the shape taken by workplace learning and training for years to come. One such hugely influential trend: Social Learning Theory. Let’s explore how Social Learning Theory works (and why it’s more than hype), how it relates to a newer, “experiences”-driven learning approach, and how this landmark theory can have a positive impact on the future of workplace learning.

Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory

To understand Social Learning Theory, let’s look to its originator, psychologist Albert Bandura. Bandura created this landmark theory in the 1970s to explain how we learn, which he developed after conducting his famous “Bobo Doll” experiment. For the experiment, Bandura split a group of children into three sets. The first set observed adults acting aggressively toward a doll called a Bobo Doll; the adults hit the doll with a hammer, tossed around the doll, and committed other aggressive acts. The second set of children observed adults acting non-aggressively toward the Bobo Doll; they played with the doll quietly. The final set of children made no observations and served as the control group.

Later, Bandura and his team directed each child to play with the Bobo Doll on their own. Bandura found that the children who observed the aggressive adults also acted aggressively toward the Bobo Doll, while the children who observed non-aggressive adults imitated their non-aggressive play. From this landmark experiment, Bandura theorized that we learn from each other through imitation, modeling, and observation. He also developed four components of social learning theory, claiming that all of these components must be present for learning to stick:

  • Attention: Behavior must grab our attention in some way for us to imitate it.
  • Retention: We best recall learning when faced with situations that are similar to our initial learning environments.
  • Reproduction: Learning is more likely to be reproduced when it’s reinforced.
  • Motivation: We’re motivated to learn by punishment and rewards.

Social Learning Theory and Experiential Learning: A Comparison

Social Learning Theory has influenced workplace learning design for decades, but it actually has a lot in common with experiential learning, in which participants learn new skills and behaviors by working through hands-on, game-like scenarios. Participants learn that the skills needed to win the game are the same skills they need to “win” at work.

In fact, experiential learning contains the essence of all four crucial components of Bandura’s Social Learning Theory. This is how they fit together:

  • Attention: Bandura theorized that people are more focused on a task if it’s new or different in some way—and that’s what experiential learning provides. Experiential learning combines immersive activities that mimic real-world challenges with a targeted debriefing session that connects the lessons learned with the reality of the workplace. It allows participants to learn by doing, and not by just listening, reading, or watching.  Certainly it’s a different approach from traditional workplace learning, and one guaranteed to capture attention.
  • Retention: According to Bandura’s theory, people are able to recall and apply what they have learned when faced with a situation that resembles their initial learning context. This is exactly how experiential learning is designed—to mirror real workplace scenarios, without being exactly the same.
  • Reproduction: Bandura also posited that people are more likely to reproduce learning when it’s reinforced. That is why post-training retention strategies, such as coaching, one-on-one, small group meetings, and digital reinforcement, are integral to the success of experiential learning.
  • Motivation: Finally, Social Learning Theory puts forth the idea that people are motivated by punishment or reward. With experiential learning, the positive (or negative) outcomes of approaching the game in a certain way are made explicit during the debriefing session, so learners can clearly connect their actions and the consequences.

It’s clear that experiential learning shares much in common with the watershed social learning discoveries made by Bandura many decades ago. Now we can apply more current knowledge about how we learn from each other to the power of experiences. No wonder experiential learning boasts retention rates as high as 90 percent!

The Future of Social Learning and Experiential Learning

At their cores, both social and experiential learning methods are about learning from experiences—experiences that are immersive, interactive, and captivating, leading to learning that sticks. What does it look like as we move forward, this intersection of these two learning approaches? It’s time to bring experiences into the digital realm. Thanks to sophisticated software advances and an abundance of connected mobile devices, we can now learn from practically any place and collaborate with anyone, at any time.

Retention strategies, in particular, represent a new learning frontier; retention and reinforcement programs are particularly suited to involving digital elements that draw from both Social Learning Theory and experiential learning. Gone are the days when “reinforcement” simply meant emailing the slides after a presentation. For example, take the trend of gamification in reinforcement. After an in-person training event, the core teachings of the training are reinforced through online “games,” where learners are immersed in an interactive experience fueled by rewards (like digital badges or prizes). In this way, gamified retention strategies draw on both experiential learning (i.e. their immersive, interactive nature) and social learning (i.e. rewards-based reinforcement).

It’s evident that social learning and experiential learning methods are both built on the same foundational concepts. When these methods are combined, you get learning that lasts, resulting in permanently changed behaviors.


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A Successful Leadership Retreat Requires These 4 Things

An offsite leadership retreat is a great time for leaders to get away from everyday pressures, get some through some serious planning and strategizing, and maybe have a little fun while they’re at it. Finding the time to invest in this type of event can be difficult, so it’s important to make the most of the opportunity. Here are the four key elements that make for a successful leadership offsite:

An Objective

Without a clear focus on a desired outcome, a leadership retreat won’t achieve what you need it to. Maybe your leaders will return to the office feeling a little bit refreshed from a few days offsite, but it’s more likely that they will be frustrated at wasting their time, or worse, it could drive wedges into relationships when people are made to sit through days of meetings with no clear purpose. So before you pick a date for the annual leadership retreat, figure out why you’re having it in the first place.

You can do this by sitting down with senior sales executives and other leaders who are ultimately accountable for the event. Talk about what they are looking to achieve by having the retreat. Why are they bringing the leaders all together? What is the main purpose, and what do they want everyone to return to work with? Once you have defined the main objective and perhaps a few sub-points, then you can begin thinking about the specifics of the event agenda.


Regardless of the objective for the leadership retreat, it’s vital to create alignment among the leaders in attendance. When you send out the agenda prior to the retreat, it should include a clear statement of the goals, along with any pre-planning or work you need leaders to prepare.

Then, to open the retreat, the retreat leader – whether that’s the CEO, senior sales executive, or a professional facilitator – should lead a discussion or an activity to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Since the top leaders at any company will have different – and sometimes competing – priorities and perspectives, they might not be coming to the retreat with the same goals. Together, attendees should come to an agreement on what they will achieve, and a definition of what success will look like at the end of the retreat. This is an opportunity for truthful discussions and brainstorming about the business, so it’s important to establish a safe space that encourages healthy debate, not just rubber-stamping things to get it over with.

Throughout the leadership retreat, the leader of the event should circle back to the established definition of success and track progress, summarizing decisions that have been made and ensuring the alignment that was created is intact.


The only way the objective can be successfully achieved and alignment maintained is by ensuring that all of the attendees are engaged throughout the retreat. This is part of the reason leadership retreats are held offsite – it minimizes distractions and provides a change of scenery to help people to think creatively. But removing distractions alone isn’t enough to ensure that leaders remain engaged. It helps to have a variety of interactive sessions and experiential activities to get people moving. Getting people out of their comfort zones and engaged in an experiential activity can be eye opening, and prime the leadership team to come up with innovative ideas and new solutions. These types of activities are also great for developing skills such as leadership, communication, effective delegation, and problem solving, so it could be a great time to add time for professional development.

Using different types of activities throughout the leadership retreat not only keeps things interesting, it also ensures that everyone gets the chance to contribute. Shaking up the way the conversations happens appeals to multiple styles of thinking and inspires creativity, innovation, and problem-solving. This ensures that everyone, regardless of the way they approach problems, will feel included and stay engaged with the process.


No matter what comes out of the leadership retreat, it can only be completely successful if leaders actually implement the ideas that were brought forward and agreed to be actioned on. At the end of each session throughout the retreat, the decisions that were made and action items that were identified should be agreed on and recorded. At the closing of the retreat, the leader should recap everything that was accomplished, and facilitate a discussion on how the team will follow up on each item. After everyone has returned to work, the plan that was developed should be sent out with names and deadlines attached to each item. This way, nothing slips through the cracks post-event and everyone is held accountable for what they agreed to do.

Planning an effective leadership retreat begins with getting clear on why you’re having the retreat in the first place, getting all of your attendees in alignment about what they need to accomplish, keeping everyone engaged throughout, then making sure the outcomes translate into action back at work. If you can do all of that, your executive team will be excited about what they can accomplish during their time out of the office, as well as what it means for the year ahead.


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5 Ways Team-Building In the Workplace Helps Improve Performance

You might have heard the adage, “teamwork is less me and more we” before, and for good reason: this simple sentiment gets right to the root of teamwork. Yet, as simple as it is, for too many organizations, employees lack the skills they need to pull it together and “get the job done.” A lack of team-building skills among team members can kill productivity, negatively impact morale, and hurt bottom line results.


When people are committed to teamwork, the workplace operates more smoothly, problems are resolved more quickly, conflict is less likely to turn toxic, and output is greater. Despite the benefits, people can be reluctant, even refuse, to be a team player. To overcome this, here are five activities leaders can use to immediately address any team dysfunction in order to build trust, improve communication, and ultimately create a culture of collaboration.

1. Promote Consensus and Create Alignment

When employees are spending more time arguing and promoting personal agendas, try this tactic to promote team-building in the workplace:

  1. Stop the meeting and pull the team together with a flip chart or whiteboard handy
  2. Create two columns: “Ideas We Agree On” and “Pros/Cons.”
  3. List the ideas or points that the group members can all agree on.
  4. Continue discussions based only on those items, discussing the pros and cons of each point.

This simple activity is perfect for refocusing a group that has gone off the tracks. After the activity, teams will have a framework for communicating about new ideas and initiatives.


2. Reveal the trouble with communication

In the workplace, nothing is more important than effective communication. With the following activity, you can show employees how easy it is for misunderstanding and conflict to arise due to poor or vague communication.

  1. Present a series of statements one by one, and ask your team to write down what the phrases mean to them. Examples: “Turn this in at once,” “let’s meet downstairs,” and “By end of day please”.
  2. Have each person read his or her interpretation aloud and note the differences.
  3. Ask the group for ways to remove ambiguity in conversation and expectations.

This activity shows that even phrases we think are clear may not be. Teams thrive when communication is clear, concise, direct and commonly understood by all.

3. Wipe out cynicism for innovation

During brainstorming sessions, some employees may be reluctant to speak up because they worry that their ideas will be ridiculed or ignored. Eliminate that concern with this lighthearted brainstorming activity that encourages people to be open-minded and positive:

  1. As a group, create a list of negative statements that will be banned from the session. For example, “That will never work,” “We’ve done that before,” “That is impossible,” etc.
  2. Ban spoken “disclaimers”. For example “I haven’t really thought this through but …” or “Maybe we’ve tried something similar before …”
  3. Choose a fun “code word” for when any of these forbidden words are heard during your meeting and have people call it out.
  4. Use encouraging words to reinforce desired behaviors. For example, “That makes me think of “I love it” and “Let’s try it.”
  5. Write all ideas down and assign individuals to flesh them out further.

The idea of totally open brainstorming may be difficult at first for teams to adjust to, but always reinforce that a brainstorming session exists only to create ideas, not to judge them. Even a “bad” idea may result in several other great ones.

4. Strengthen relationships and collaboration

When relationships between employees are strong, they are better able to communicate, work together to problem solve and manage conflicts. The goal of any activity designed to strengthen relationships and collaboration is to help team members change their mindset from a “me” mentality to a “we” mentality.

Working together for the common good is one way to strengthen those relationships, so gather your team for a few hours to do something good for the community. For example:

  • Volunteer at a soup kitchen
  • Organize a toy drive
  • Compete in a charity run
  • Raise money for a local school

These types of positive activities unite the group, and they also give employees a case of the “feel-goods”, both of which benefit the team.

5. Unite behind a common goal

Establishing goals is critical to team success. However, you can’t stop at merely writing them down! Periodically, you need to revisit, reassess, and perhaps even rewrite your team goals to ensure they align with the organization’s changing objectives. Each month, complete this exercise with your team to encourage everyone to work together toward a common goal:

  1. Explain that you want to write or revise a team goal.
  2. Ask each employee to answer this question on a piece of paper: “What is the most important objective for this team in the next four weeks if we want to reach our annual goals?”
  3. Collect the answers and list them on a flip chart, grouping similar answers together.
  4. Have the team vote by placing a tally or check mark next to their top two priorities.
  5. Choose the goal with the most votes.

Then together, answer these questions:

  1. What is our deadline for the goal?
  2. How will we measure progress on this goal?
  3. How will we know we have reached the goal?

To help make this exercise even more personal, have each employee write down three personal goals that help the group meet the team goal. Before each team meeting, have each person update the group on his or her progress.

If improving workplace performance and creating a culture of collaboration are organization priorities for you, these are five ways you can easily begin to build team-building skills.


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