Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Can You Keep A Secret?

There are many trade secrets that I’ve picked up in my 6 years as a trainer and if you promise not to tell, I’ll share some with you.

Secret number one is that there is more to training then standing in front of people and speaking!

To maximise peoples learning there are many things that a trainer needs to take into consideration, even down to dress code. One trainer I know told me of a time when she accidentally put odd shoes on, as expected this was quickly picked up by her delegates. Her argument was that they were both black and she was in a rush

This brings me on to secret number two. Preparation and planning. The training process starts long before the delegates walk through the training room door, with everything from the computers being set up, to having workbooks, refreshments and even checking the lighting and temperature in the room. Not to mention the research that will have happened to enable the trainer to run the course in the first place.

The reason I became a trainer was so I could help and support people gain new knowledge, skills and confidence in something that will benefit them, and there’s nothing better than watching the look on people’s faces as things suddenly click into place. No two days are the same even if it is the same course being delivered as the day before, and there is always an air of anticipation on what the day will bring.

Secret number three is that trainers have a ‘tool kit’ of experience, knowledge and ideas to help enhance the learning experience. You have to quickly read peoples body language and establish everyone’s learning styles so that they get the most from the session. Accelerated Learning techniques are also used-this doesn’t mean talking at twice the speed and rushing through things! It’s about how people learn and how the brain processes information. Smells, sweets, group exercises, toys and a variety of learning methods are all used to optimise the learning.

Secret number four is that training is not about teaching but about a fun, informative, supportive learning environment, the focus being on the learners and how they can get the best out of the day.

Truth be told training is pretty fun and in addition to the learning and support material that you get to take away you just may also find out the difference between a koosh ball and a tangle but Ssh that really is a secret.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Is your Business Socially Responsible?

The 7th Annual Responsible Business Summit gets underway today at The Park Plaza Hotel in London, with attendees from companies such as: Cancer Research UK, CIPD, HSBC, IBM, ITV, Levi Strauss, Masterfoods UK, Nokia Corporation, Oxfam, PepsiCo, Save the Children, and Starbucks.

As with previous years, there will many informative speeches made on topics including “Corporate Responsibility as a driver for innovation and opportunities,” and “Engaging your employees in CR: How to make it work,” with the aim to inform and excite executives from medium and large corporations, non-profit and government agencies on the need for Corporate Social Responsibilty.
While these type of conferences are geared mostly towards large corporations due to the cost involved in attending, the ideas and ethics behind it need to be passed down to companies of all sizes.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) may seem like something only large corporate companies such as Microsoft and O2 can build into their company ethos, as they have the resources to do so but it should be an important part of every businesses strategy.

So what is CSR?
CSR is the blend between business and society, where businesses voluntarily take on their ethical responsibility to contribute to community and society at large. This can be anything from quality of life in the workforce and employee rights, environmental issues, work within the community and job creation.

So what do you do?

It seems hard to think of ways that small businesses can support CSR when there is little expendable cash available but here are some ideas that with improve your company and your immediate community, without sacrificing company profits:

  1. Give a student a chance by offering work experience through a local Secondary school.
  2. Hire someone local to do jobs such as office cleaning, window cleaning, gardening, or deliveries.
  3. Recycle – contact your Borough and make sure that you are doing all you can to minimise waste in your area. This includes paper as well. If possible, don’t print it.
  4. Turn off lights when possible. No one should be working all night!
  5. Work business-to-business with other companies in your local area; this will support growth in the community.

It is apparent that most of the companies that are leaders in their fields (whether small, medium, or large) are also leaders in Corporate Social Responsibility. The two go hand-in-hand, just like Business and Society.

Get involved in your community and you’ll be surprised at the impact it will have on other areas of your business. It is up to you to socially aware- it’s what any innovative business would do!