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Personal development is the development of individuals using a range of methods, programs, tools and techniques that develop talents and potential, improve knowledge and individuality and contribute to the achievement of dreams and ambitions.

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17 (Often Overlooked) Ways for Managers to Get the Edge

Article Overview:
Mark Moore gives his list of 17 ideas that will help managers develop their skills. Short, sharp and to the point - this is a really useful document that will get your manager's thinking and encourage discussion.

About

Article Overview:
Mark Moore gives his list of 17 ideas that will help managers develop their skills. Short, sharp and to the point - this is a really useful document that will get your manager's thinking and encourage discussion.

Opening Words:
1. Understand how the Mind Works.
Learn to use your brain purposefully to enhance focus, concentration, motivation, drive, memory, learning, and communication.

2. Learn how to Read More Intelligently and Faster.
Learn speed reading, strategic or 'range reading' techniques to enable you to handle incoming emails, reports, articles, and letters faster and more effectively. Invest the time to learn, and it will pay off considerably over your career.

3. Learn how to Focus Your Attention on what's Important.
Where you focus your attention will determine what you get done in your working day. Learn the psychology of effectiveness, not just 'time management' tools and techniques. Focus on your goals, and move boldly towards them.

Useful Reading For:
All managers.

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360 Degree Feedback

About this Article:
Carol Wilson identifies the tools and models frequently used during coaching projects. In this article she looks at 360 degree feedback.

About

About this Article:
Carol Wilson identifies the tools and models frequently used during coaching projects. In this article she looks at 360 degree feedback.

Opening Words:
360 degree feedback is a process used by many organisations today to provide managers with information about how they are viewed by the different categories of people they come into contact with in the course of their work, for example, the managers they report to, the staff who report to them, and their colleagues, customers and clients.

The feedback is usually delivered anonymously and participants are asked to fill in a series of tick-boxes (often on-line) and to provide individual comments about various aspects of the subject’s performance, typically around their skills, abilities, attitudes and behaviours.

Useful Reading For:
Anyone who is thinking of using 360 degree feedback or upward appraisal mechanisms for their own or others' development.

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Building Resilience in Your Career

Article Overview:
In this article, Simon North and Penny Gundry take a look at resilience to define what it is and identify how we can increase our resilience to enable us to learn, adapt and to move forwards given any situation.

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Article Overview:
In this article, Simon North and Penny Gundry take a look at resilience to define what it is and identify how we can increase our resilience to enable us to learn, adapt and to move forwards given any situation.

Opening Words:
We should ask two questions about resilience. Firstly, what is it? In most dictionaries, it is defined as the power to revert to original form after compressions. Secondly, is there really something to consider in this resilience issue? In the context of careers, there most certainly is.

In the UK, a PWC report for 2011 estimated that absenteeism cost to the economy was £32 billion. A similar cost was A$30Bn in Australia. Figures for the costs of absenteeism, insurance, costs of cover and lost productivity are huge in the US. In terms of days absent in the past three years, the figure in the UK is 6.5 days per employee a year and in Canada was 7.7 days.

Useful Reading For:
Everyone.

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Burnt-Out or Fired-Up?

Article Overview:
This is a great new article from Mandy Green of the Matchett Group that looks at some of the unique challenges of the training role. Mandy offers some clear advice and tips for managing the more stressful aspects of the job. A must-read for all trainers!

About

Article Overview:
This is a great new article from Mandy Green of the Matchett Group that looks at some of the unique challenges of the training role. Mandy offers some clear advice and tips for managing the more stressful aspects of the job. A must-read for all trainers!

Opening Words:
A trainer’s life is not always a happy one, as one of our colleagues found when, after a very long journey, he arrived at a hotel in Siberia in the early hours of the morning to give a training course the next day. The taxi had driven away, the hotel staff denied all knowledge of his room reservation or the training course, then proceeded to rip him off by over-charging for the booking that he had to make with his own credit card.

Other worst-case scenarios include: arriving at the venue to find the course materials have not turned up; arriving at the venue, only to be told that the venue has been changed; there’s also ‘the show must go on’ syndrome, when, despite feeling at death’s door, you still run the course; and finally, and not least, when there are tears, tantrums and aggression - from delegates: (this can occur in soft skills courses, where some fairly tender areas can be probed) which you have to deal with professionally. Being hurtled around from airports to train stations, dealing with cancelled flights and trains, or spending long hours driving, are also par for the course in a trainer’s life.

Useful Reading For:
A must-read for all trainers.

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Catching a Coach

About this Article:
Jeremy Thorn takes a look at Executive Coaching, who it applies to and who may be missing out on the benefits of said coaching.

About

About this Article:
Jeremy Thorn takes a look at Executive Coaching, who it applies to and who may be missing out on the benefits of said coaching.

Opening Words: 
Whom do you think might benefit the most from an opportunity for Executive Coaching? Would it be just for those who show promising career potential, do you think, or could there be others? And although coaching has become increasingly popular over the last 10 years, is this the only alternative to a more formal programme of management development? It doesn’t have to be!

Useful Reading For:
Anyone interested in introducing executive coaching to their organisation or in being coached.

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Choosing Who You Work With

About this Article:
In this article, Bill Lucas argues that smart people care about who they hang out with. He points to evidence that suggests that the main indicator of children's success in school is not their teacher or their class group but the peer group they chose to spend time in the lunch queues with.

About

About this Article:
In this article, Bill Lucas argues that smart people care about who they hang out with. He points to evidence that suggests that the main indicator of children's success in school is not their teacher or their class group but the peer group they chose to spend time in the lunch queues with.

Opening Words:
What are your colleagues like? Do you work among friends? Do you get on well with your boss? Do you number “enemies” among those you work with? How many times have you wondered whether you could wave a magic wand and make certain people vanish from your life?!

At first sight you might appear to have little choice about who you work with. You are given a manager and you have to work in certain teams over which you have little control. But stop and think for a moment. Is this really the case? While you have to work with a few people, are there not many opportunities for choosing your colleagues? Smart people care about who they hang out with, although possibly not along the lines of Wilde’s whims. (I read an interesting example of this truth recently. It described research into children’s achievements levels at school. It turns out that the main indicator of their likely success is not their teacher or their class group but the peer group they chose to spend time in the lunch queues with!)

Useful Reading For:
Everyone.

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Coaching Feedback for Managers

Article Overview:
In this article, Carol Wilson looks at four key areas of feedback: Positive feedback, negative feedback, receiving feedback and coaching feedback.

About

Article Overview:
In this article, Carol Wilson looks at four key areas of feedback: Positive feedback, negative feedback, receiving feedback and coaching feedback.

Opening Words:
Feedback is often regarded as the most difficult part of a manager’s job. However, in a coaching culture, negative feedback is experienced in a positive way; as an opportunity for making new discoveries rather than blame.

Positive feedback is an energy raiser for the giver as well as the receiver. However, it must be authentic and genuine or it will be dismissed as worthless.

People often say that they only hear feedback when something is wrong. However, it costs nothing to tell people when they have done well, or give a simple thank you. Both will make the recipient feel more valuable and raise their confidence. Self-belief is vital for success, and praise, when it is deserved, builds confidence and motivation to achieve more.

It is great to give positive feedback in public; it gives people a real boost to be singled out and admired for what they have achieved. There are also two possible areas for caution here:

Useful Reading For:
Managers, including first time managers, and anyone who wants to develop their ability to give, or receive, constructive feedback.

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Co-consulting

Article Overview:
The article explains what co-consulting is and gives some useful hints and advice for using co-consulting effectively.

About

Article Overview:
The article explains what co-consulting is and gives some useful hints and advice for using co-consulting effectively.

Opening Words:
I sometimes find trying to help people, groups and an organisation change and develop a lonely and stressful business. I would rather it was fun more of the time! It has been hard to think about what needs to be done and to overcome my own feelings of powerlessness. These feelings are very common among people who work in organisations; as trainers, consultants or managers. This has certainly been my experience both as an internal and external consultant. Some years ago a colleague and I found a way through these difficulties that worked for us. I have been using it for years and would like to share it with you.

In its simplest form, two people take turns helping each other. For say half an hour one person is the client and works with the other who is her/his consultant. The consultant and client can use any method that the client is willing to try. The consultant will need to listen to the client well first to understand the nature of the problem or issue before moving to a method. Often just listening attentively and asking questions is enough.

Useful Reading For:
All trainers and consultants.

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Continuing Professional Development for the 21st Century

Article Overview:
This article by Graham Guest looks at the importance of continuing professional development in the modern world, and looks at the link between personal and professional development.

About

Article Overview:
This article by Graham Guest looks at the importance of continuing professional development in the modern world, and looks at the link between personal and professional development.

Opening Words:
We are all used to hearing about the rapid pace of technological and organisational change and the fact that there is no longer such a thing as a job for life. Just a few decades ago the main focus in a person's career was likely to be on initial education and training, and too many people were lulled into believing that their first post-secondary academic qualification, like their job, would fit them for the whole of their working life.

The main focus now, especially for professionals, is on the necessity to keep learning and developing our skills, knowledge and understanding throughout life. True professionalism relies increasingly on an ability to respond quickly and effectively to technological and organisational change, as well as to changing market conditions, client requirements, government policies, and national and international regulations. In the context of work, a major aspect of lifelong learning is continuing professional development (CPD).

Useful Reading For:
This is relevant to everyone in the workplace.

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Continuing Professional Development in the Workplace

Article Overview:
In this article, Graham Guest considers the view that a job can no longer be considered for life and the implications of this for continuing professional development in the workplace.

About

Article Overview:
In this article, Graham Guest considers the view that a job can no longer be considered for life and the implications of this for continuing professional development in the workplace.

Opening Words:
It is not so long ago that a person joining a company - particularly a large organisation - could expect a job for life. The way into a company for a professional was through a period of academic study followed by, or combined with, structured training. After this the individual would generally follow a clearly defined path of progression in his or her chosen field of employment. Continuing professional development (CPD) was regarded at best as an optional extra to be undertaken according to the needs or wishes of the individual or to meet some short-term requirements of the company. At worst CPD was felt not to be important and additional training was given at random to use up training budgets or to make staff feel that they were wanted. "John hasn't been on a training course lately; isn't it about time we sent him on one?"

Useful Reading For:
This is relevant for all personal development in the workplace.

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Developing Facilitation Skills

Article Overview:
Debra Pittam's article looks at how you can develop your facilitation skills.

About

Article Overview:
Debra Pittam's article looks at how you can develop your facilitation skills.

Opening Words:
What is Facilitation?
Facilitation is the process of enabling and guiding a group of people to collaboratively determine and/or achieve their goals through the skills, attributes, methods and processes provided by the facilitator and those within the group. Facilitation ensures that groups benefit from what they both share and the diversity that they each bring to the group.

Useful Reading For:
All trainers.

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Diversity and Fruit Salads

Article Overview:
In this article, Joanne Barnfather takes a look at diversity in the workplace and asks the question, “How do we create an inclusive and supportive business culture, leading to profitability?”

About

Article Overview:
In this article, Joanne Barnfather takes a look at diversity in the workplace and asks the question, “How do we create an inclusive and supportive business culture, leading to profitability?”

Opening Words:
We have all heard or read the definition of ‘TEAM’ – ‘Together Each Achieves More’.

We live in a world dominated by iPods, iPads, iPhones and irobots. I realised, one day when working with a difficult group, that we need to add to the definition of ‘TEAM’. We need to focus on the ‘iTEAM’. Because, no matter what we do, if ‘I’, the individual, is not committed at the beginning, because they feel left out, unappreciated, or misunderstood because they are ‘different’, then ‘TEAM’ will be far more difficult to achieve.

In business we need to support and be supported by many different people.

Useful Reading For:
Anyone interested in creating a work environment where all people, regardless of race, ethnic group, language, gender, age, ancestry, marital status, social-economic or educational backgrounds, will demonstrate respect and insight for one another, enabling them to work better as a team.

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Do You Have What it Takes to Become a Freelance Trainer?

Article Overview:
This useful article is aimed at anyone who is considering taking the step into self-employment as a freelance trainer. It looks at the pros and cons of being a freelance trainer and gives the reader a useful summary of things to consider before making the move.

About

Article Overview:
This useful article is aimed at anyone who is considering taking the step into self-employment as a freelance trainer. It looks at the pros and cons of being a freelance trainer and gives the reader a useful summary of things to consider before making the move.

Opening Words:
One of the consequences of the current economic downturn is that many companies are making staff redundant. When times are tough, training is often one of the first things that organisations cut back on (even though we know this is misguided). However, this may be a blessing in disguise for corporate trainers who have been toying with the idea of going freelance for years, but have never quite got round to it. Being made redundant and forced to step out of your comfort zone could be the kick-start needed to take your first serious steps towards self-employment.

As a freelance trainer of 5 years I can testify to the many advantages of this way of life:

Useful Reading For:
Anyone who has ever considered becoming a freelance trainer.

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Emotional Intelligence

Article Overview:
This excellent article from Mike Bagshaw explains what Emotional Intelligence is, and explains what to consider if planning Emotional Intelligence training.

About

Article Overview:
This excellent article from Mike Bagshaw explains what Emotional Intelligence is, and explains what to consider if planning Emotional Intelligence training.

Opening Words:
When people in the workplace do not act with emotional intelligence the costs can be great: Low morale, bitter conflict and stress all limit business effectiveness. There is also the financial cost of litigation when people complain of being bullied, intimidated, and exploited. Emotional intelligence also contributes in a positive business enhancing way, improving teamwork, customer service and the managing of diversity. Fortunately this critical personal resource can be improved through appropriate coaching and training.

Stability makes us feel secure. It gives a firm and safe base on which to build. Stability means we know what is going on, and what is likely to go on in the future, and stability is something we have not got. Instead, we have one dramatic change after another. It feels frightening and out of control, and it's a natural reaction to keep things the same as much as we can, even when we acknowledge that that is going backwards. What we need to do is build, but we can not have the firm base of stability. We need to draw on inner resources to help us move forward.

Useful Reading For:
Managers and trainers.

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Five Secrets for Self-Promotion with Integrity

Article Overview:
Helen Krag shows us how to ‘blow your own trumpet’ whilst maintaining your integrity.

About

Article Overview:
Helen Krag shows us how to ‘blow your own trumpet’ whilst maintaining your integrity.

Opening Words:
OK, you’ve got your head down and you’re doing a great job in your company; you’ve delivered against your objectives in the last year and you’re well-liked. So that pay rise or dream promotion should be landing in your lap anytime soon, right? Well, not necessarily! If this is your attitude and it’s not happening for you, then read on …

Fact: Successful people who reach top roles in business are not just good at their jobs – they are also generally masters of self-promotion. Typically, they have learned to do it with integrity, in such a way that it fits with them and their values and ideals. Traditionally, men have had a reputation for being better at it than women, with women often feeling uncomfortable about ‘blowing their own trumpet’. So, here are 5 secrets of successful business people that will help you promote yourself and your reputation – so that you stand out from the crowd, with your integrity fully intact.

Before you dive in, here are two golden rules:

Useful Reading For:
Anyone who wants to progress in their chosen careers and be recognised by others.

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Good Practice in Appraisals

Article Overview:
All managers know that staff appraisals are an essential part of ‘performance management’. But Organisational Development Consultant, Jeremy Thorn, suggests that ‘performance enhancement’ might be a far more rewarding focus.

About

Article Overview:
All managers know that staff appraisals are an essential part of ‘performance management’. But Organisational Development Consultant, Jeremy Thorn, suggests that ‘performance enhancement’ might be a far more rewarding focus.

Opening Words:
In some organisations, appraisals are widely reported to be dreaded, by both managers and subordinates. Managers often dislike conducting them, especially those who have not been trained, perhaps because they see appraisal interviews as a possibly embarrassing formality, which take up too much precious time. And across the desk, staff often say they find appraisals daunting, often threatening and, sometimes, even de-motivating. Done badly, the appraisal process can indeed frustrate and damage staff relations, especially if seen as a one-off ‘end of term report’ – or even worse, a ‘character assassination’!  

Done well, however, an appraisal can be genuinely productive and enjoyable, for both the appraiser and the appraised. Indeed, in many organisations, I hear complaints by staff very much more often that their appraisals have not been carried out by their busy line managers on time, rather than that they have happened at all.

How does any organisation ever achieve such a positive outlook?

Useful Reading For:

All managers and anyone wanting to improve the way the appraisal system is used in their organisation.

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Help, I am the New HR Director. Now what?

Article Overview:
This excellent article from Joe Espana, considers the difficulties faced when someone is appointed to the role of HR Director. Joe argues that they have approximately 90 days in which to make an impact, and suggests different strategies for dealing with three different scenarios that might exist within the organisation.

About

Article Overview:
This excellent article from Joe Espana, considers the difficulties faced when someone is appointed to the role of HR Director. Joe argues that they have approximately 90 days in which to make an impact, and suggests different strategies for dealing with three different scenarios that might exist within the organisation.

Opening Words:
You've made it. What you always wanted to achieve; a senior HR role with a seemingly dynamic company, a CEO who gives every indication that he is on your side and will listen, and a real challenge that will allow you to make full use of your talents. And then the realisation of what you've taken on really hits. A friend of mine once describe getting his new HR Director role like this: His challenges felt at first like having to climb Mount Everest and being at base camp. Two months into the job he was beginning to realise that what he had taken on was definitely the summit of Mount Everest, but he now realised that far from being at base camp he was actually at Heathrow waiting for his delayed flight to Kathmandu - and, oh by the way, he'd forgotten to pack the oxygen needed for the climb.

The issue for many senior appointees in these sorts of circumstances is knowing exactly where to start. The requirements of an organisation in which everything seems important and urgent needs careful balancing. And on top of that, there is the added pressure of having to demonstrate value and contribution as soon as possible. By any measure, the new HR Director has approximately 90 days to show that he or she was a sound recruitment decision. The key issue, therefore, is to work out where the biggest return for effort exists.

Useful Reading For:
Management involved in HR.

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Houdini Moments

Article Overview:
In this article, Steve Marriott looks at how we can break away from the conventional coaching techniques to transform the world of coaching.

About

Article Overview:
In this article, Steve Marriott looks at how we can break away from the conventional coaching techniques to transform the world of coaching.

Opening Words:
The world of coaching is changing. Successful people the world over will at some point talk about a great coach or mentor who has helped and inspired them on their way to fame. So why is it that ‘coaching’ is still seen in many organisations as something to be avoided? Do you work in an organisation where to be ‘coached’ means to be ‘performance managed’?

We all want to be better at something in our lives; perhaps you want more of (maybe less of) something in your life, but from time to time we find ourselves ‘stuck’, procrastinating or simply unable to move forward with our dreams and desires.

Useful Reading For:
Anyone who wants to develop their coaching skills, or better understand the role of the coach.

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How Am I Doing?

Article Overview:
This is an excellent article from Ian Clarke - the first of three on feedback - that considers the need to think about how you are going to ask for, and gain meaningful feedback.

About

Article Overview:
This is an excellent article from Ian Clarke - the first of three on feedback - that considers the need to think about how you are going to ask for, and gain meaningful feedback.

Opening Words:
This is the first of three articles about working with feedback. The second article is entitled “If Feedback is so valuable why do we keep it to ourselves?”. The third article is entitled “Who do you think you are?”.

The following story illustrates that getting useful feedback needs a little more thought than just asking, “How am I doing?”

It was the first working day of the new month and Matt Turner realised it was his monthly review meeting with his boss, Jenny Machin, that afternoon. Matt prided himself on being well prepared for these meetings so he checked his figures for the previous month, his year to date achievements, his plans for the coming month, his staff issues and achievements and his forecast for the remainder of the year.

Useful Reading For:
Managers in particular, but anyone who wants to develop their ability to obtain valuable and meaningful feedback from others, or anyone wishing to develop a culture of feedback and coaching.

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How Will I Remember All This?

About

Article Overview:
Ever wondered how you are going to memorise that presentation you’ve got to give tomorrow? This article by Dr Trish Riddell may just hold the answer.

Opening Words:
You have an important presentation to give tomorrow. You’ve put lots of work into it and you feel sure that you have something to offer. The graphics are great, the ideas are excellent and you are excited about the prospects. But you are still worried about whether the presentation will go well. How can you be sure that you will remember all the points that you want to make? How can you make your presentation slick, professional and note-free?

Useful Reading For:
Anyone who wants to improve their ability to recall information.

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If Feedback Is So Valuable, Why Do We Keep It To Ourselves?

Article Overview:
The second in three articles from Ian Clarke about feedback. This one looks at our willingness to give feedback when requested.

About

Article Overview:
The second in three articles from Ian Clarke about feedback. This one looks at our willingness to give feedback when requested.

Opening Words:
The last article discussed the value of asking for feedback and how we can help and encourage our colleagues to give us feedback. The other side of the coin, of course, is “How willing and how effective are we at giving feedback when asked?”.

We can often find it much more difficult to give feedback than receive it. We can even find it difficult to give praise. I’m told the three greatest causes of stress are overwork, boredom and not feeling valued. (Take a look at your last employee survey to see if you and your colleagues feel valued, recognised and well rewarded). As you read this can you think of any recent instances when you wanted to give some feedback to somebody but decided not to? Can you remember why you decided not to?

Useful Reading For:
Managers in particular, but anyone interested in developing their own ability to give and receive meaningful feedback or anyone wishing to develop a culture of feedback and coaching.

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Learning to Play or Playing to Learn?

Article Overview:
In this article, Nicki Davey challenges the preconceptions and stereotypes many hold about senior people and encourages all learners to be given the opportunity and permission to play.

About

Article Overview:
In this article, Nicki Davey challenges the preconceptions and stereotypes many hold about senior people and encourages all learners to be given the opportunity and permission to play.

Opening Words:
Some years ago I was asked to run a training course for all the staff, managers and trustees of a large charity. I met the CEO to discuss the course and mentioned that I would use a collage-making activity early on in the day to identify and explore some of the key issues and her response was, “But we’ll have senior managers and board members on the course – I really don’t think that cutting and sticking is a suitable activity for them, do you?” My answer was, “Actually, yes, I do”, and I explained to her how collage-making is a whole brain activity involving visual imagery, physical activity, talking and listening, and organising ideas and how it breaks the ice, helps people talk about a difficult subject in a safe way, is a great leveller, and generates a rich discussion. Her response was a somewhat cynical, “Well on your own head be it,” - she clearly thought this was a BAD idea!

Useful Reading For:
All trainers.

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Lifelong Learning for the Global Networked Society

Article Overview:
This article by Graham Guest considers the changing patterns of work and learning and explores how they are forming the basis of a newly emerging global networked society.

About

Article Overview:
This article by Graham Guest considers the changing patterns of work and learning and explores how they are forming the basis of a newly emerging global networked society.

Opening Words:
Professionals have normally become qualified as a result of a period of formal education followed by, or integrated with, a structured training programme. They have then followed this initial formation stage with continuing professional development (CPD). We are however beginning to see a breaking-down of this traditional pattern and its replacement with a process of lifelong learning. Such learning is formal, non-formal and informal and undertaken in a variety of ways. The development and application of a wide range of information and communications technologies (ICT) means that people can learn where, when, what and how they want. In addition the focus of learning is moving away from the teacher and towards the learner.

These changes in the structure of learning are being accompanied by changes in the patterns of work. No longer can a person be guaranteed a job for life and indeed the very concept of the 'job' is being called into question. The emphasis now is on flexibility and portfolio careers, where the individual develops a range of knowledge, skills and understanding to apply to new situations as they arise. The convergence of learning and work is seen in the concept of the learning organisation and other forms of learning community such as the learning city. Societies, along with work and learning, are becoming more and more globalised, and individuals are increasingly regarding themselves as members of a number of inter-relating networks.

Useful Reading For:
Anyone responsible for learning in the workplace.

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Metaphor and Creativity

Article Overview:
This fascinating article by Martin Shovel and Martha Leyton looks at the power of metaphor, and how the metaphors we use affect our thinking. In particular, the authors look at the metaphors used in the West to explain creativity, and ask if these could be restricting our thinking.

About

Article Overview:
This fascinating article by Martin Shovel and Martha Leyton looks at the power of metaphor, and how the metaphors we use affect our thinking. In particular, the authors look at the metaphors used in the West to explain creativity, and ask if these could be restricting our thinking.

Opening Words:
Imagine you are settling down to a long train journey. You reach into your bag and pull out the novel you are reading and just as you are about to take up the story the stranger sitting opposite starts talking to you. You have plenty of time on your hands so you welcome the chance to begin a conversation with her. But how would you respond if she were to start by describing the song of her life or by explaining the painting of her life or even, perhaps, telling you about the recipe of her life? Her behaviour might seem very strange and you would probably feel a growing sense of discomfort and confusion.

Now rewind the tape and start again. This time she begins by telling you the story of her life. Now the experience of listening to her feels comfortable and familiar, and both the content and structure of what she is saying make sense to you. Story is the medium through which we understand and experience our lives and the lives of other people. Stories give our lives their structure and meaning. They help us make sense of the world around us by transforming the constant flux of experience into meaningful patterns. Without stories our existence would be chaotic and ineffectual.

Useful Reading For:
Anyone involved in the creative thinking process.

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Six Ways to Boost Your Happiness at Work

Article Overview:
In this article, Helen Krag asks, how happy are you at work? She goes on to look at ways you can boost your level of happiness.

About

Article Overview:
In this article, Helen Krag asks, how happy are you at work? She goes on to look at ways you can boost your level of happiness.

Opening Words:
On a scale of one to ten, how happy are you at work? I encourage you to jot down that number. Is it the right number for you, or do you seek to change it in some way? Read on for six ways you can boost your own level of happiness at work.

Being happy at work is less about our circumstances, more about how we choose to respond to them. Tony Robbins, leadership and success guru, offers a useful framework for six Human Needs that typically drive our behaviours. As human beings, we are adept at finding ways to satisfy these needs – some of which are positive and resourceful for us, and others which are less so. Let’s take a look at the six.

Useful Reading For:
Anyone who works!

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Speed Reading

Article Overview:
This article by Clare Forrest, a reviewer and columnist for the Training Journal, considers the benefits of speed reading, and explains the techniques for saving time and improving comprehension. It also provides an opportunity for readers to test their own reading speed.

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Article Overview:
This article by Clare Forrest, a reviewer and columnist for the Training Journal, considers the benefits of speed reading, and explains the techniques for saving time and improving comprehension. It also provides an opportunity for readers to test their own reading speed.

Opening Words:
Reading is much more than just recognising words. It is a complex process that enables us to identify, assimilate, integrate and absorb the material we are reading. If you want to become a faster reader then you need to be prepared to practise frequently until you have gained the skill. Speed reading is not a gimmick. It is a proven technique and it works.

Almost anyone - and that includes most dyslexics - can double their speed of reading and at the same time improve their comprehension. Reading is about understanding but it is not about retention, though there is no doubt that learning to speed read also improves retention - more of this later. Slow readers read less, retain less and understand less.

Useful Reading For:
Anyone who wants to know more about speed reading.

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The Affective Domain - A Little More Detail

Article Overview:
In this article Paul Ackerley discusses the ‘Affective Domain’ and the impact this can have on learning.

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Article Overview:
In this article Paul Ackerley discusses the ‘Affective Domain’ and the impact this can have on learning.

Opening Words:
Since writing a couple of times about matters connected to the Affective Domain of Learning, I have had a discussion with one trainer who informed me that it was not covered at all in their course – I find that concerning.

I believe that a trainer is missing a vital tool if they do not understand and use the Affective Domain.

So, what exactly is it? Well, the Affective Domain (together with the Cognitive and Psychomotor Domains) came about as a result of work by Benjamin Bloom and other colleagues.

Useful Reading For:
All trainers/learning and development professionals.

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Things My Daughter Taught Me

Article Overview:
"It's so easy to believe that adults have all the answers and children have all the questions", says Peter Freeth, in this latest article, but "by paying more attention to the wonderfully literal view my three year old daughter has of the world, I have learned a lot about it and about the way she interacts with it."

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Article Overview:
"It's so easy to believe that adults have all the answers and children have all the questions", says Peter Freeth, in this latest article, but "by paying more attention to the wonderfully literal view my three year old daughter has of the world, I have learned a lot about it and about the way she interacts with it."

Opening Words:
It’s easy to believe that adults have all the answers and children have all the questions. I find it increasingly the case that it’s the other way round. By paying more attention to the wonderfully literal view my three year old daughter has of the world, I have learned a lot about it and about the way she interacts with it. She could certainly teach many “grown-ups” a thing or two, so I thought it would be important to record some of the things she teaches me for posterity, or to use to embarrass her when she brings her first boyfriend to tea.

Useful Reading For:
Everyone.

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Thinking About Thinking

Article Overview:
Martin Shovel argues in this article that to rise to the challenges presented by the brave new world we need to develop a more flexible thinking style. He goes on to explain what metacognition is, and why it is matters.

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Article Overview:
Martin Shovel argues in this article that to rise to the challenges presented by the brave new world we need to develop a more flexible thinking style. He goes on to explain what metacognition is, and why it is matters.

Opening Words:
Like it or not, radical and accelerating change has already become a permanent feature of our lives. When Bill Gates was a schoolboy, computers were the stuff of science-fiction but they ended up making him the richest man in the world. Like Bill Gates, many of today’s schoolchildren will end up working in jobs and industries that haven’t even been invented yet – occupations and lifestyles beyond our wildest, and weirdest, imaginings.

To rise to the challenges of this brave new world it’s essential that we find a way of developing a more flexible thinking style. Like a professional tennis player studying a video of herself so that she can improve her serve, we need to discover a means of observing our own thought processes from a distance. From such a vantage point we might begin to influence the dance of neural networks inside our head.

Useful Reading For:
Anyone who is interested in developing a more flexible thinking style.

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Time Management or Behaviour Management?

Article Overview:
Joanne Barnfather takes a look at our behaviour and how it affects the use of our time.

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Article Overview:
Joanne Barnfather takes a look at our behaviour and how it affects the use of our time.

Opening Words:
Time is precious. You cannot save time - you cannot put a couple of hours away in a cupboard to use later when you need them. It seems that time is the greatest enemy of many people. Yet some people seem to get the job done with ease and in time. The difference is each person's ability to manage their time. It is essential to be aware of how you use your time.

We are all given 86,400 seconds every day, what do you do with them?

Useful Reading For:
Everyone, especially those who'd like to manage their time better by working smarter, not harder.

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What Are Your Clients Teaching You?

Article Overview:
This is an interesting article from Olivia Stefanino which considers the opportunities coaches have for learning from their clients. Does coaching also provide an opportunity for coaches to 'look in the mirror'?

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Article Overview:
This is an interesting article from Olivia Stefanino which considers the opportunities coaches have for learning from their clients. Does coaching also provide an opportunity for coaches to 'look in the mirror'?

Opening Words:
One of the characteristics that sets great coaches apart from their more average colleagues is an attitude of open-mindedness, curiosity and a willingness for self-examination. And one of the quickest places to discover more about you, your attitudes and your hidden strategies is to look at the kind of clients you tend to attract.

While you might be forgiven for thinking that you’re there to help your clients, there’s always some kind of “energy exchange” (beyond money), that can offer you some rich insights into what’s going on in your own life.

Of course, it goes without saying that when you’re working with a client, it’s only right and proper that you focus all of your time, energy and attention on him or her.

Useful Reading For:
Coaches and coaching managers.

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When Change Really Hurts

Article Overview:
In this article, Sheila Williams looks at how we feel when faced with imposed change and suggests five ways for helping us work through such changes.

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Article Overview:
In this article, Sheila Williams looks at how we feel when faced with imposed change and suggests five ways for helping us work through such changes.

Opening Words:
When imposed change – change we have not chosen ourselves – hits us, it can really hurt. We often experience feelings of loss, hopelessness, being powerless, worried that we can’t count on anything and overwhelmed by the need to adapt to new demands.

The Change Curve is a model that illustrates the emotional stages we may go through when experiencing this type of change and not only helps us to make sense of our emotions but allows us to recognise that what we are feeling is entirely normal.

Useful Reading For:
Anyone responsible for managing change or faced with change.

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When it Comes to Inspiration, Is Ignorance Bliss?

Article Overview:
In this article, Martin Shovel considers the benefits of understanding the process of innovation and of understanding why the things that happen, happen. By understanding the processes at work, he argues we'll be better placed to repair them when things go wrong.

About

Article Overview:
In this article, Martin Shovel considers the benefits of understanding the process of innovation and of understanding why the things that happen, happen. By understanding the processes at work, he argues we'll be better placed to repair them when things go wrong.

Opening Words:
Goethe proclaimed, “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.” Translated into the vernacular, his advice is simple and straightforward, “If you want to do something, just get on and do it!”

Sound advice, I'm sure you'll agree, but it doesn't always cut the mustard when I'm trying to come up with new, creative ideas. Perhaps geniuses like Goethe are rarely, if ever, short of inspiration, but inspiration doesn't seem to visit us lesser mortals with such regularity. Too often we find ourselves waiting for it to come, and like the proverbial bus, it might not turn up for ages and then three ideas pop out of the blue at the same time.

Useful Reading For:
Everyone, and particularly those interested in taking control of the creative thinking process.

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Which Course Do You Want To Go On This Year?

Article Overview:
This article considers the importance of using a facilitative approach to identify training needs.

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Article Overview:
This article considers the importance of using a facilitative approach to identify training needs.

Opening Words:
The performance review isn’t simply an opportunity to review what’s happened and dish out praise or criticism accordingly. In fact calling a performance review a review at all is unfortunate, because an effective appraisal should be as concerned with looking forward as it is with reviewing what has already happened.

The review should be used, for example, as an opportunity to check that previously agreed objectives remain appropriate, and to change these if necessary. It’s also an important opportunity to identify what training, development and support an individual will require in order to meet the challenges of the future. If you fail to identify the training and development needs of your team, you are not only failing them, but you are failing the business as well. You wouldn’t send your teenager into town in your new sports car, unless you were pretty sure they could drive competently, so why would you risk giving a member of staff an objective without considering whether they are competent to complete it, and if not, what additional training they’ll need?

Useful Reading For:
Managers and team leaders involved in performance reviews.

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Who Do You Think You Are?

Article Overview:
The final of three articles from Ian Clarke about feedback, this one looks at what happens when we receive feedback from others.

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Article Overview:
The final of three articles from Ian Clarke about feedback, this one looks at what happens when we receive feedback from others.

Opening Words:
The previous two articles discussed the value of asking for feedback and how effective we are at giving feedback to our colleagues. This article explores what can happen when we are the recipients of feedback.

How good are we at hearing what people say when they are talking about our behaviour. Are we able to accept praise? When someone says we have done a good job do we believe him or her? How do we respond? “Thank you – I appreciate your comments” or “It was nothing – just doing my job”.

Are we able to accept criticism? When someone says we could have done a better job do we believe him or her? How do we respond? “Thank you – it would help me to hear your views on how I can improve” or “Hey – give me a break – I’d like to see you do better”. Even if we don’t actually say it we may start thinking – “Who do you think you are talking to me like that?”

Useful Reading For:
Managers in particular, but anyone wishing to develop their ability to receive feedback objectively or anyone wishing to develop a culture of feedback and coaching.

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Wholehearted Living

Article Overview:
Mark Forster's article looks at the danger of saying "yes" against your better judgement, and the knock on affect this can have on time management.

About

Article Overview:
Mark Forster's article looks at the danger of saying "yes" against your better judgement, and the knock on affect this can have on time management.

Opening Words:
I can't remember who it was - but a year or two ago someone wrote on one of the email lists to which I belong that she had learned never to say "yes" unless she could say it wholeheartedly. Whoever it was, I owe her a debt of thanks because it is one of the best lessons that I have ever learned.

The context was how easy it is for our lives to fill up with responsibilities that we have taken on more or less reluctantly. When someone asks us to do something, it is often difficult to say "no." So we end up saying "yes" against our better judgement. And one of the reasons why it is so easy to say "yes" against our better judgement is because we often don't have a clear and easy way to tell what our better judgement is. The other person will often come up with highly persuasive reasons which make us feel that we will be uncaring or ungrateful or illogical or mean or reckless or whatever if we don't agree with them. And since we don't want to feel any of these things we say "yes" reluctantly - and regret it later!

Useful Reading For:
This is a useful idea to use in assertiveness training but is relevant to anyone who finds it difficult to say 'no'.

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Why It's Smart to Hang Out in the Fog (Sometimes)

Article Overview:
In this article, Bill talks about Jordan moments (it will make sense when you read the article!) and discusses the importance of tolerating uncertainty when looking for creative solutions.

About

Article Overview:
In this article, Bill talks about Jordan moments (it will make sense when you read the article!) and discusses the importance of tolerating uncertainty when looking for creative solutions.

Opening Words:
A few Sundays ago I found myself at the London Book Fair with my friend Guy Claxton. This was no accident. We were there to promote our new book for the BBC, Be Creative; essential steps to revitalize your life and work. (This was a celebrity event, gentle reader! Picture the scene. Just a few stands away, Jordan was drawing the crowds. Fresh from her Australian jungle frolics, she was launching her autobiography. Posing for the cameras she accidentally dropped what onlookers believed to be a copy of her book only to reveal to watching journalists that it was full of blank pages and not yet ready for publication. Apparently Jordan just did not know what to do with herself. Interestingly – and impressively - she appeared utterly unphased by the experience.)

All of which got me thinking….

Useful Reading For:
Everyone. Especially anyone exploring the avenue of creativity.

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Wish-full Thinking

Article Overview:
In this challenging article, Sheila Williams reminds us of the importance of clear goals and wonders if sometimes we put aside our real dreams for more 'sensible' goals that perhaps don't inspire or enthuse us in the way that pursuing our dreams might.

About

Article Overview:
In this challenging article, Sheila Williams reminds us of the importance of clear goals and wonders if sometimes we put aside our real dreams for more 'sensible' goals that perhaps don't inspire or enthuse us in the way that pursuing our dreams might.

Opening Words:
A new year is with us and I wonder whether you have spent any time reviewing your goals or setting new ones? Or, to put it another way, did you make any New Year Resolutions? For what are resolutions other than goals – something we want to be, do or have? This time of year reminds me of two clients who changed their lives by making and achieving courageous and challenging goals.

Janice was a qualified accountant in the public sector. After attending a personal development workshop, she asked me for help with setting her next career goals. At our first session she came armed with four or five options, each well documented and SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound). As we discussed each potential goal, I noticed a distinct lack of enthusiasm.

Useful Reading For:
Everyone.

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