Education

All posts tagged Education

Facing Conflicts

Published October 19, 2015 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Are you, like many others, frustrated and tired of finding solutions to manage various conflicts, then discover you must face them again, repeatedly? That question was the inspiration for this week’s posts as we take a closer look into the nature of conflicts and how effective leaders are able to come up successful resolutions. In our research work, we will also examine whether a model exists that can yield more effective methods for achieving positives outcomes that are in alignment with reaching organizational goals; regardless of whether they are new challenges or the same ones that are recycled over and over again.

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To begin our analysis, we must first acknowledge that today’s global marketplace is multifaceted and culturally diverse. The atmosphere consists of people from assorted backgrounds and belief systems that come together in a work environment. It’s only natural that conflicts will arise when issues develop due to personalities that clash over a variety of reasons including: (a) ethnocentrism, (b) lack of trust between parties, (c) breakdown of communication systems, (d) workplace bullying, (e) interpersonal and intrapersonal conflicts, (f) ethical incompetence, and (g) lack of emotional intelligence, to name a few.

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In addition, conflict in a work arena also prevents workers from experiencing job satisfaction. In his book, Personal Conflict, Daniel Dana (2001) purports that, “Good decision-making helps to prevent conflict” (p. 2). In other words, leaders who can identify the source and level of a conflict, are in a better position to use this information to address problematic issues effectively and successfully to avoid consequences like employees who lack motivation, the slowing of productivity, and most important, damaging relationships which can ultimately lead to the dissolution of an organization.

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On Wednesday, we continue our discussion by conducting a closer analysis into the nature of a conflict as we cite and examine a few scenarios that helped contribute to the development of problematic issues. In addition, we will also examine how these problems may have been avoided with practices of accountability and transparency from more effective leadership. Until then … keep working on finding positive solutions and stay organized!

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“Conflict can and should be handled constructively; when it is, relationships benefit. Conflict avoidance is *not* the hallmark of a good relationship. On the contrary, it is a symptom of serious problems and of poor communication.”  ― Harriet B. Braiker,

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Coming this winter

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References

Dana, D. (2001). Conflict Resolution (1st ed., p. 2). Madison, WI: CWL Publishing Enterprises.

WINTER BREAK EDITION – Agents of Change (Conclusion)

Published January 3, 2015 by Mayrbear's Lair

 

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Indeed, while the actions of change agents can cause confusion and pain, their servitude is focused on making society better. For instance, as another strategy, advocates of change with respect to independent moms, will engage their resources to reach out and network with women in similar conditions at forums and support groups to open a dialog. Some may decide to organize and provide a safe, accepting, and life-changing platform online, eventually opening local group chapters. These tactics provide similarly strong women a place to gather, exchange ideas, share inspirational stories of survival and triumph, and look for additional help and resources.

The recruitment and support from corporations and individuals with influential power in the political arena is equally important to change agents. They solicit these individuals to reveal that the intent of the movement is noble. Their focus is to make their goals and intentions clear: to stop the spread of fatherless homes and help put an end to children growing up without their dads.

Agents of change also acknowledge that one way of doing this is the formation and implementation of fatherhood support programs and initiatives. In truth, not all fathers set out to become inactive participants in their children’s lives. Many are unemployed and looking for opportunities to become a better parent but because they lack the education, support, and guidance, they can become depressed and give up. In addition, strict measures could be sought for those fathers who do have the means to support their children, yet choose to hide or avoid their responsibilities as an active participant because of their bitterness and anger towards the mother. Initiating tougher laws on tracking down these types of absentee parents could include strict penalties. Some agents in this case, may seek to expose this misconduct publicly, with the intent of implementing programs that will subject these deadbeats to substantial fines, and in extreme cases, spend time in a penitentiary. This may help provide the negligent parent a place of solitude giving them the opportunity to rethink their choices and poor judgment as one means to reform their destructive behavior.

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Conclusion

In summary, even though their actions can be disruptive, agents of change can transform society by shifting perceptions and revolutionizing old systems. With respect to the topic of absentee fathers, this can be achieved by revealing how their absence impacts a child their entire life – this includes their attitude, actions, beliefs, decisions, and how it shapes their identity. The truth is, children do not ask to be neglected. It is the responsibility of the parents to provide a safe, loving, and supportive environment for their offspring. Children of a negligent parent are forced to learn how to adapt to their condition in order to address the resulting negative behaviors; and in order to help lead the child to their breaking free so they can experience a confidence building, empowering love that will help them heal their pain and loss in order to pursue and fulfill their deepest longings.

As an agent of change for this particular kind of movement, educating and setting up programs for single mothers and absentee fathers can inspire motivation to create reforms. Working to shift these individuals into empowered, accountable, and caring parents, will only serve to aid in the healing process. In other words, creating new opportunities for estranged fathers can help encourage them to become active participants in their children’s lives, which will ultimately benefit everyone involved.

Our posts this week revealed different strategies on how an agent of change could address the epidemic of the absentee fathers; a topic that continues to plague society which affects families from every corner of the world and in all walks of life. Whether fathers leave entirely during childhood or are physically present but emotionally distant, those who miss out on an affirming, intimate parental relationship, continue to experience the devastating consequences of that loss. In conclusion, change agents that support a noble and worthy cause are passionate about it and will work diligently to set the stage for social transformation.

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It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad. – C. S. Lewis

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References

Administration for Children and Families. (2012, October 1). Office of child support enforcement preliminary report. Retrieved January 25, 2013, from: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/css/resource/fy2011-preliminary-report

Kaufman, G. (2012, December 21). This week in poverty: US single mothers – the worst off. Retrieved January 25, 2013, from The Nation.com: http://www.thenation.com/blog/171886/week-poverty-us-single-mothers-worst#

Legal Momentum. (2012). Single motherhood in the United States. Retrieved January 25, 2012, from: http://www.legalmomentum.org/our-work/women-and-poverty/resources–publications/single-mothers-snapshot.pdf

Office of the Inspector General. (n.d.). Child support enforcement.  Retrieved January 25, 2013, from: https://oig.hhs.gov/frau

Friday’s Vacation Week Treat

Published August 22, 2014 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Friday’s Vacation Treat

Live Every Day as if it Was a Friday

Dr. Malhorta suggests that we do not trade money for meaning in our lives. Instead we seek and find a career that gives us meaning and all the money that we need. Finding meaning is the only way to live every day as if it was a Friday.

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She continues that we cannot live our life just waiting for the weekend. We must find something that excites us. As Dr. Wayne Dyer once said, “Do not die with your music still inside of you.”

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She suggests that it is our job in this life to find our music and go about the business of sharing it with the world. If we have not found our music yet, then we must keep searching. And finally, the good doctor subscribes that we do one thing everyday that makes us happy (Malhotra, 2014).

So from today forward, let’s be mindful to make it a Friday, every single day. What better day to begin than on a Friday! Have a great weekend everyone. We’ll see you back here next week!

Until then … stay organized!

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“I think we should be working for contentment . . . an inner sense of fulfillment that’s relatively independent of external circumstances.” ― Andrew Weil

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References:

Smita Malhotra, M. (2014, July 16). 8 lessons I want to teach my daughter. Retrieved August 17, 2014, from The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/smita-malhotra/eight-lessons-i-want-to-teach-my-daughter_b_5565037.html

For more information on Mayr’s published works or to purchase any of Media Magic’s Business Life titles, please visit our website at: Media Magic’s Publications

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The Ethics of Heightened Tensions

Published August 4, 2014 by Mayrbear's Lair

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With all the bad news and negative images in the world, it may help explain why many people are feeling overwhelmed with emotions and behave defensively. In addition, most folks are dealing with pressures from work, expectations from colleagues, commitments to loved ones, financial obligations, relationship issues, and so forth. As tensions continue to build, more and more people are unable to operate at full capacity, and in extreme cases, many with low tolerance levels respond quickly with short explosive fuses that can result in destructive and even violent acts.

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People that react from fear and panic, initially respond from a fight or flight state of mind. That is when the reptilian part of the brain takes over which instinctively goes into survival mode. It is from this heightened state that typically many individuals engage in behavior with little or no regard for ethical outcomes. Their only objective in operating from this attitude is a successful outcome. In other words, irrational responses are more likely to occur when decisions are made quickly from an extreme emotional mental state, rather than allowing a moment to think of a situation appropriate response before taking action.

There are exceptions, of course, when life and death situations occur. A split second decision in an emergency may be crucial. Under these conditions taking a moment to think rationally may not be an option. However, in other instances, when pressure is mounting in an individual’s personal or business life, in addition to their feeling that the world is in complete disarray, the sensation of hopelessness can prompt some individuals to behave irrationally; giving in to unethical or destructive behavior.

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It seems logical, that especially during those times when we feel that: (a) the world seems unfair, (b) an escalating amount of respected leaders are caught behaving unreasonably, and (c) more people than not, seem to be engaged in misconduct, that is when we really need to get involved and help make positive changes. Not just in our immediate environment, collectively, we also need to become more cognizant of our contributions as a global family. In other words, take accountability when we make mistakes, bad judgement calls, or hurt others. It also requires that we engage in behavior that reflects mindful, responsible citizenship in our business affairs and home environments.

One way to achieve this is to help cultivate an ethical climate by making conscious choices to conduct ourselves reasonably with common sense and compassion for others. For example, when we encounter people or an institution engaged in unethical behavior like cheating, stealing, lying, or illegal conduct, we are faced with one of three choices: (a) expose the behavior, (b) ignore the behavior, or (c) participate and condone the behavior. If we choose to expose the behavior, we risk being chastised as whistle blowers, but by courageously moving forward we can help achieve ethical outcomes. If we ignore the behavior, we avoid the risk of not fitting in as a player at the corrupted culture and save everyone involved the embarrassment of getting caught. However, by keeping silent, we are helping to enable unethical behavior. If, on the other hand, we choose to condone the behavior, even participate in it, we are not only contributing to an unethical culture, we are gambling that we will not get caught or face the consequences for engaging in misconduct.

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This is where ethics comes into play. In my book, Ethics in the Real World (2013), I explained that individuals who make the best ethical choices do not engage or support strategies that include lying, cheating, stealing, or illegal conduct.  The truth is, most people are not interested in conducting business with others they do not trust. Furthermore, leaders who lack ethics and cultivate a culture of fear are not likely to earn respect from their staff or the community for that matter (Berry, 2013). When individuals, whether in respected positions of power or not, use tactics of intimidation, illegal conduct, misdirection, or get caught in blatant lies, they jeopardize tarnishing their reputation and credibility permanently.

Thich Nhat Hanh (2013) compares all our emotions to weather events—they blow in, remain for a time and move on. He suggests that if we stop all our thinking when these storm fronts of strong emotions develop (and I will add “refraining from verbalizing and directing toxicity towards others” to this list), we can help prevent fueling the fire. Instead, we can choose to apply mindful practices like breathing and walking strategies as coping techniques, that will not only calm down our breath when we are feeling out of control, they also serve to help calm the body and mind (Hanh, 2012).

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The truth is, we all have strengths and weaknesses and will continue to face many temptations throughout our journey in life. Although it may take only one person to help shift a corrupted culture, it still requires others to follow suit. Taking all this information into consideration can help us understand more clearly why it makes sense that during those times when we are feeling most vulnerable, confused, and overwhelmed with emotions, that including a component of ethics in the decision making process can help us achieve outcomes we are content to live with.

On Wednesday’s post, we will take a closer look at what neuroscience students from Brown University discovered recently about mindful practices. Until then … Have a great week everyone! Be mindful and stay organized!

“Truth is by nature self-evident. As soon as you remove the cobwebs of ignorance that surround it, it shines clear.” —Mahatma Gandhi

References:

Berry, M. A. (2013). Ethics in the Real World. USA: Kindle Direct Publishing.

Hanh, T. N. (2012). Work: How to find joy and meaning in each hour of the day. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.

Employee Staffing

Published June 7, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Employees are the lifeblood of an organization. In order for them to perform their responsibilities effectively, they must have certain knowledge and skills to accomplish their tasks. Axulay (2012) contends that in order to train staff effectively, employers need a plan with specific parameters and regulations to help their employees navigate with purposeful intent to achieve their organizational goals. Employee development needs to be calculated, measured, strategic, and a deliberate procedure (Axulay, 2012). This research takes a closer examination of the staffing process and the strategies leaders use to produce the most effective results. As an example to support our research, we will analyze, assess, and provide recommendations for a fictitious case scenario where employees at an organization are operating at below par performances in the assembly of cell phone tuning devices. In addition, a closer examination reveals of some of the effective principles, activities, traditional methods, and misconceptions behind the obstacles that create barriers which prohibit efficient learning. The research deduces that training employees plays a significant role during the staffing process because it provides practical tools that produce a high probability of success, creates a climate that is open to new types of learning, and provides employees an opportunity to expand their skills.

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Training

The Purpose of Training

Many employers and managers recognize the significance that training plays during the staffing process. However, according to Stolovitch and Rosenberg (2011), most employers are not cognizant that learning means change. As more companies transit into learning organizations, they are moving from traditional methods of training and development and evolving into groups where workplace learning is part of their culture (Stolovitch & Rosenberg, 2011). The purpose for instructing, educating, and training employees is to permit them to absorb information.

The Leader’s Role in Training

Leaders are learning that the most effective training methods employ a variety of learning devices that include expanding: mental (cognitive), physical (psychomotor), and emotional (effective) knowledge and skills. In addition, they design activities, learning plans, and incorporate practical tools that will yield the most effective results (Stolovitch & Rosenberg, 2011). Employers also apply technology that encourages fundamental education to support the training process. Subsequently, they create efficient methods to measure the effectiveness of their training programs, thereby alleviating ineffective and counterproductive systems. In short, the most successful leaders find ways to restructure the mindset of trainers so that they transform the individual being trained, rather than their students just becoming recipients of an educational process.

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Assessment

Employee Readiness

Employers that do not train staff risk high employee turnover and set the stage for staffers to experience job dissatisfaction. Axulay (2012) suggests it is essential that staff development is strategically planned. Additionally, the most effective trainers are able to ascertain whether staffers are at the discovery, developmental, or demonstration stages to implement the most productive training methods that will yield the highest results (Axulay, 2012). Their goal is to penetrate barriers that impede receptivity in the learner.

Case Study Analysis

In one case study, for instance, where cell phone assembly line employees are operating at below par performances, the line-manager is looking to change the behavior of staff members. Axulay (2012) contends one way to accomplish this is for leaders to help staffers comprehend the impact their poor performance has on the organization and other staff members. The next step is for managers to identify the causes for low quality performances and whether staffers are ready and receptive to change (Axulay, 2012). The readiness assessment phase is imperative because employees will not have the ability to change their behavior unless they first acknowledge a need to change it. The line leader must ascertain the reason employees are producing poor quality workmanship and the staffing factors that are contributing to the problem and assess whether it may be a training issue. To tackle this systematically, they must determine a variety of factors. They have already discerned the need for change, but in order to determine what type of learning the employees require, they must decide whether it is based on knowledge deficiencies, a lack of skills, or merely an unhealthy attitude. For example, some employees may disagree with assembly line protocol, or have personal trait issues, while other employees simply do not perform effectively because they do not value or take pride in their occupation on the assembly line. Once these factors are determined, an efficient training system can be designed to produce more effective results.

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Strategizing

Identifying the Problem

Organizations that implement training programs for employees create a climate that is open to new types of learning. Kolb (1990) purports that more often employers tend to focus valuable time improving weaknesses in personnel due to technical deficiencies that they believe can be remedied merely with proper training. However when individuals are asked to perform outside their comfort zones, people are resistant to change creating barriers that affect the learning process (Kolb, 1990). Employees eventually become frustrated, dissatisfied, and perform poorly.

Designing an Effective Plan

Regardless of the causes, it is evident that a lack of motivation is at the core of why the assembly line employees are not engaged in high performance levels in addition to insufficient training. For these reasons, we recommend that managers design and implement an evaluation process designed to ascertain the number of employees who are delivering substandard outcomes due to skill deficiencies and identify those who are struggling with personal trait issues. Kolb’s (1990) research concludes that when employees are underpaid and feel unappreciated, employers experience higher absenteeism and substandard work performances (Kolb, 1990). On the other hand, employers benefit substantially by nurturing a culture where personnel are appreciated and rewarded for outstanding performances. Under these conditions, employees are more inclined to participate enthusiastically, offer innovative ideas, display higher levels of energy, and engage in superior productivity.

Apprenticeship Programs

Training provides employees with practical tools that help produce a high probability of success. Bednarek’s (1990) research looks at another kind of system organizations implement to experience high levels of success from their employees: apprenticeship training programs. His research studied organizations where employees were not just the master craftsmen they were also trained and became the trainers themselves in their apprenticeship programs. In addition to teaching employees new skills, these kinds of programs also include instruction in theory that is applicable to their trade so that the student receives a whole picture of the business that supports the learning process (Bednarek, 1990). Apprenticeship training systems educate employees from a platform that is methodical, precise, and consistent because they have been tested and proven effective. Based on Bednarek’s studies, our next recommendation for the assembly line crew would be to establish an apprenticeship program that outlines standard procedures, policies and repercussions for violating those parameters. Effective tutoring programs can help establish consistent outcomes, are nurturing, and usually produce higher results.

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Conclusion

The line managers in our case study strive to achieve organizational goals by providing superior quality products in a cost effective manner. Indeed, these are important goals that all effective leaders strive to achieve for their organization. Amernic’s (1982) research deduced that the reason personnel shortages are elevating at record rate is because of a serious need to educate and train employees (Amernic, 1982). Organizational leaders who can identify whether an employee requires more knowledge and information, more opportunities to practice their knowledge and skills, or more situations where they can apply their expertise effectively on the job, will have an edge on how to elicit better performances from staff members. Successful employers who cultivate developmental goals that define their brand’s vision of success design systems that are practical for achieving those outcomes.  To these leaders, goals are the key to their results and effective employees is the significant component that helps an organization to support their vision. Employees that are trained to focus on the value they achieve from their behavior and not the behavior itself will most likely experience successful outcomes.  Our research concludes it is imperative employers identify the root causes of poor work performances and design effective employee training programs as a significant part of the staffing process. This strategy provides employees the opportunity to expand their skills and encourages higher levels of performance, which is a significant contributing factor to attaining organizational goals.

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References

Amernic, J. (1982, June). Training programs counter personnel shortages. Canadian Datasystems. Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Retrieved May 22, 2013, from http://search.proquest.com/docview/208855476?accountid=32521

Axulay, H. (2012). Employee development on a shoestring. Danvers, MA: ASTD Press.

Bednarek, D. (1990, August). Skillfully crafted apprentices/programs turn employees into craftsmen. Milwaukee Journal. Milwaukee, WI, USA. Retrieved May 22, 2013, from http://search.proquest.com/docview/333428413?accountid=32521

Kolb, R. (1990, October 2). Focus on employees’ positive contributions demanding that workers perform tasks outside of their “comfort zones” is counterproductive. Milwaukee Journal. Milwaukee, WI, USA. Retrieved May 22, 2013, from http://search.proquest.com/docview/333455300?accountid=32521

Stolovitch, H., & Rosenberg, M. (2011). Telling ain’t training (2nd ed.). Danvers, MA: ASTD Press.

Learning Through Experience

Published April 29, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Scholars agree that experience is a concept that is undervalued, underestimated and in some cases, even disregarded. According to Beard and Wilson (2006) experience pervades all forms of learning. Their definition of experiential learning is the process of active engagement between the inner world of a person and the outer world of the environment.  Active engagement is one of the basic components of experiential learning. It involves the entire individual, through thoughts, feelings and physical activity. Experiential learning takes on many appearances that include recreational or leisure activities, exhilarating journeys or adventures, experimentation or play. In other words, people learn new skills by doing them. A teacher who directs their students to learn rhyme and meter by instructing them to create a dance routine to a poem in iambic pentameter is one example of experiential learning (Beard & Wilson, 2006).

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A fundamental element to effective learning is the ability to reflect and review the learning process.  This helps identify which methods are effective and which are not. Root issues however, tend to remain unaddressed. For this reason measurement is an essential component to high performance, improvement, and success in any business or other area of human endeavor. In fact, Spitzer (2007) postulates the key to success is measurement because it can reveal the organization’s current position in the marketplace, identifies strengths and weaknesses, and helps in the development of new goals. For this reason, performance measures have a transformational effect on the way people and organizations examine their work, products and customers (Spitzer, 2007). During my employment in the mortgage and loan industry, I observed many formal and informal reflection and review processes that were developed as the organization grew. For example, as the organization achieved higher levels of success, the number of employees increased. This included additional loan officers, processors and administrative staff. At this new level of corporate operations, management conducted annual reviews to verify the organization was complying with policies and operating legally within the corporate framework to avoid substantial penalty fees.  At this stage, operation managers were legally required to work in compliance with labor laws and began to implement systems that offered employee benefits including health insurance and paid vacation time.

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Annual and monthly reviews were conducted with focus centered on the volume of loans and closings. This could help identify methods loan officers and processing teams incorporated and give insight to what was effective as well as pinpoint weaknesses. Weekly and monthly sales strategy meetings were also conducted to assess the volume of lead activity and identify why some transferred into sales and why others didn’t. Once the information was collected and evaluated upper management could then decide on tactics and training programs to help staffers develop higher skill levels, use them consistently, and incorporate systems that would assist to motivate them (Silberman, 2007). The founders of the mortgage company, for example, decided to seek professional assistance to help guide the company’s success and engaged the services of an elite mortgage and loan coaching company. Annual leadership meetings were conducted. The executives were assigned new tasks and set short and long term goals. Monthly calls were scheduled and each team leader was required to submit a progress report to monitor activity.

Leaders that actively work to improve themselves and their organizations, seek new opportunities to learn. Those who are wise enough enlist the guidance of successful mentors and coaches. These trailblazers do not underestimate the value of experiential learning and are able to make adjustments based on methods of trial and error. These are the bosses and organizations employees are proud to be a part of.

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References:

Beard, C., & Wilson, J. (2006). Experiential learning: A best practice handbook (2nd ed.). London, England, UK: Kogan Page.

Silberman, M. (2007). The handbook of experiential learning. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Spitzer, D. R. (2007). Transforming performance measurement: Rethinking the way we measure and drive organizational success. New York, NY: AMACOM Books.

References:

Beard, C., & Wilson, J. (2006). Experiential learning: A best practice handbook (2nd ed.). London, England, UK: Kogan Page.

Silberman, M. (2007). The handbook of experiential learning. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Spitzer, D. R. (2007). Transforming performance measurement: Rethinking the way we measure and drive organizational success. New York, NY: AMACOM Books.

Learning Organizations

Published April 19, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Introduction

Garvin postulates that learning organizations are enterprises skilled at creating, acquiring, interpreting, transferring and retaining knowledge; purposefully modifying behavior to reflect the new knowledge. There are six critical activities that must transpire within a learning organization that includes: (1) the collection of data and intelligence, (2) bench-marking or learning from the successful practices of others, (3) learning from past history and experience, (4) experimentation of new ideas, (5) the encouragement of systematic problem solving, and (6) sharing that information throughout the organization. Knowing what to do, doing what we know, and following through are the three key components that affect the learning process. Failure will most likely occur when leaders seek solutions to problems from a very narrow parameter and from one source only. Learning is not a random event; it occurs as a result of pursuing clearly aligned goals (Garvin, 2003). Furthermore, it is difficult to learn effectively from one experience alone. This research examines learning organizations and the significance of components that affect the learning process including: (a) an openness to new perspectives; (b) receiving unfiltered information; (c) the acknowledgement of strengths, weaknesses, and biases; and (d) the ability to perform with a sense of humility.

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Cooperative Education

Organizations that apply specific learning mechanisms allow systematic collection, analysis, storage, dissemination, and the use of information that is applicable to their effectiveness (Lipshitz, Raanan, Popper, Micha, Oz, & Sasson, 1996). In addition, effective learning organizations must remain open to new ideas. Cooperative education focuses on the basic conceptual differences between education and training. In a rapidly changing world however, neither education nor training has the longevity they once enjoyed. Innovation for example, must begin with the recognition that the instructors do not produce learning. Learning is conducted by the learner alone and occurs over a period of time, especially once the student engages actively in the new acquired training. Effective teachers need to become designers of the learning process in participation with the student. To ensure that organizations remain in control of their destiny, each one must develop new approaches, evaluate, educate, and make applicable adjustments in order to creative a cohesive model. Successful learning organizations create clear communication, engage in advanced levels of problem solving, and consist of personnel that are highly motivated, accountable, and work as a cohesive team (Cates, 2009).

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Capitol-EMI Records, my former place of employment, for example, evolved into a cohesive learning organization as a result of the ongoing development from technological upgrades. Management learned to work together as a team in conjunction with the manufacturing plants, corporate offices, and the artists to transit from each model of intellectual property. Initially, the product delivery system for music albums, for instance, was comprised of a porcelain record disc. The next phase of development occurred when the delivery system adapted a more durable vinyl format. Music products continued to evolve with the development of the 8-track system, which was followed by the introduction of a more condensed version in the manufacturing of cassette tapes. The next shift occurred when audio manufacturing transited from an analog system to a digital platform when the compact disc was introduced. Music was now produced from a higher quality audio signal whose digital representation paralleled that of a live concert event. Although compact discs are still available for purchase, the current industry standard allows consumers to download products in an MP3 file format direct to their electronic devices. Capitol-EMI, along with all the other record industry giants learned to evolve and adapted to the changing trends and technologies to contend with the competition, remain profitable, and maintain a share of the marketplace to satisfy consumer appetites.

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Application and Examples

Research conducted by Bersin and Associates (2008) identified 80 organizations that represent best practices in the implementation and execution of the learning process that drives their business. These institutes were chosen because they exceed industry averages and incorporate many best practice mechanisms of organizational learning. Executives provided details for this research on a variety of factors including: (a) the types of learning services implemented; (b) the relationship between HR and corporate learning, (c) the performance management methods adopted, (d) attention to the needs of young workers, (e) the use of advanced technologies, (f) e-learning capabilities, (g) employee career path guidance, (h) global training capabilities, and more. Their research concludes that the organizations developed advanced skills and maturity in strategic planning, learning programs and delivery systems, effective talent management, efficient technology and infrastructure, and valuable performance measurement and analysis (Anonymous, 2008). One of the outstanding learning companies identified in the Bersin research is Home Depot (HD). HD employees take pride that their organization is a people-centered institution. Staffers share the consequences of both successful and failed performances. In addition, HD displays solidarity during challenging times and a keen ability to learn from their hardships. One such example occurred when CEO Robert Nardelli assumed the helm of the organization. Under his militaristic style of leadership, the corporation suffered significant market share loss. The organization discovered that the former GE leader’s tactics which received success in his previous arena, proved ineffective in the HD culture. Nardelli was eventually removed and the HD Board of Directors made effectual changes as a result of that valuable experience.

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Conclusion

Acquiring knowledge from one experience only does not produce strong results, especially in a competitive expanding global marketplace. In addition, learning organizations must remain open to innovative ideas and cultivate a climate that supports team learning in alignment with organizational goals. Organizations that embrace openness to criticism and accept change, where the rate of learning is equal to the rate of change, will have a better chance of longevity. A healthy learning environment encourages good decision making that is derived from wisdom, knowledge, and experience, often as a result of bad decision making. Organizations that can learn from their mistakes and identify opportunities for learning that tend to get lost along the way, will most likely discover and remain on the path of a long and prosperous existence.


References

Anonymous. (2008, August 12). Bersin and Associates names 80 high-impact learning organizations. New York, NY, USA: PR Newswire Association LLC. Retrieved April 3, 2012, from http://search.proquest.com/docview/450191254?accountid=32521

Cates, C. L. (2009, May 17). The creation of a large scale corporate feedback system with a view toward learning organizations and sustainable change in higher education. Cincinnati, OH, USA: ProQuest LLC. Retrieved April 4, 2013

David, G. (Director). (2003). Building a more effective learning organization [Motion Picture].

Lipshitz, Raanan, Popper, Micha, Oz, & Sasson. (1996, September). Building learning organizations: The design and implementation of organizational learning mechanisms. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science. Arlington, VA, USA. Retrieved April 3, 2013, from http://search.proquest.com/docview/236344403?accountid=32521

How Valuable is Training to the Learning Process

Published April 15, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

TrainingThe Value of Training

This week’s topic is focused on social learning, which in its simplest definition means receiving knowledge with and from others.This happens inherently at meetings, gatherings, and amongst good friends over a cup of tea for example, just as easily as it occurs in a classroom situation.We can also experience social learning in the workplace when we step in to an adjacent office to ask a question, or call a colleague to pose the same query. In addition, because of social media tools, learning is now unconstrained by geographic differences or temporal boundaries. Classic business models however, make the presumption that pertinent information is created and shared either through management or training alone. Most of the knowledge acquired in today’s organizations in fact, comes from engaging in networks where people co-create, collaborate and share information with full participation in guiding and driving their learning by whatever means will help them grow. Successful corporate leaders understand this concept and encourage group networking for instance, to help acquire further knowledge and experience. In the meantime, training still serves as a valuable tool in the learning process because it provides individuals solutions to challenges that have already been mastered by others (Bingham & Conner, 2010).

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New Skills Development

Wick et al. (2010) postulate that there is a strategic significance to learning and contributing to the workplace that corporate training and development programs can and should provide. Leaders anticipate and support training programs because they are beneficial and rewarding in that they can help improve workplace performance. However, each individual’s learning experience from any given situation is shaped by a variety of components including (a) his or her expectations, (b) attitude, (c) prior knowledge experiences, (d) learning style, and (e) aptitude and emotional experience. Furthermore, other factors can also influence the degree in which individuals transfer and apply that knowledge. These include opportunity, encouragement, reinforcement, and early successes or failures. Therefore, the success of training programs relies on both the absorption and facilitation of the educational program. The design of the learning initiatives must take into consideration and incorporate the training to encompass the entire learning process, not just what occurs in the classroom situation. Equally important is what happens before and after the formal period of instruction (Wick, Pollock, & Jefferson, 2010). Effective training programs therefore should include follow-ups, assessments, and continual re-evaluation to keep skills honed and the creative energy stimulated to maintain a cohesive organization.

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Modeling Behavior

The training process also includes to a certain degree, the modeling of behavioral practices. Most people are not even aware that they instinctively model behavior. For example, when a popular character on a television series or commercial displays a certain kind of behavior or cites a phrase that stands out, it is likely that it will become a popular catch phrase shortly thereafter. That is how such popular quotes like, “where’s the beef’ and “yadda, yadda, yadda” are born, which advertisers rely on as a key component to creating an effective marketing campaign. In this sense, society models behavior based on popularity. In the training arena, modeling behavior presents individuals an opportunity to use information that supports and reinforces substantiated knowledge that will yield results. Behavior modeling can occur in situations of collaboration, coaching, as well as from senior management and supervisor support. Social situations, whether in an office setting or on a playing field of a sports arena, offer ripe environments for individuals to learn how to model behavior from each other in an effort to become more successful or win a game. The Greek philosopher Plato said that, “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play, than in a year of conversation” (Chopra, 2013). It is no wonder then, that organizational leaders who incorporate training programs with an open, playful, and interactive arena, create a perfect storm for the learning experience. In conclusion, training, developing new skills, and modeling behavior absorbed from successfully trained individuals with proven positive outcomes, can be an effective approach to achieve higher levels of success when it is applied in the workplace.

References:

Bingham, T., & Conner, M. (2010). The new social learning: a guide to transforming organizations through social media. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Chopra, D. (2013, March 27). Oprah and Deepak 21-day mediation challenge: Day 17. Carlsbad, CA, USA. Retrieved March 27, 2013, from http://www.chopracentermeditation.com/bestsellers/ProgramPage.aspx?bookid=178&id=7854

Wick, C., Pollock, R., & Jefferson, A. (2010). The six disciplines of breakthrough learning. San Franciso, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Learning Theories

Published April 12, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Learning theories are concepts that describe how information is received, understood, administered, and applied. There are a variety of diverse learning theories, such as the behaviorist, cognitive, social, and experimental theories for example. They all strive to affect a change in three main spheres of influence: (a) cognitive, (b) affective, and (c) psycho-motor. Without learning theories, the education process can lead to senseless action. In short, an individual that spends time attempting to learn something will experience ineffective end results. Wang’s (2012) research reveals that in democratic cultures people believe critical thinking is an effective model, whereas in authoritarian cultures, memorization is perceived as an effective learning pattern. Other researchers contend that the critical thinking template leads to innovation and creativity, whereas rote learning tends to stifle the creative process (Wang, 2012). This research takes a closer examination at two types of learning theories: (a) the behaviorist theory where the learning process is derived from methods of trial and error, and (b) the cognitive theory which centers on communication styles and brain hemisphere performance. Learning theories help experts comprehend the methodologies of how people absorb information so that they can better identify techniques of effective education.

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Behaviorist Theory

Learning theories were established to help with growth and development. Semple’s (2000) research discloses that the behaviorist theories of the 1950s and 60s were based on the psychological concepts of behaviorism developed from B. F. Skinner’s work. Skinner viewed learning as the changing of behaviors from individuals by a process that involves exploration derived with a trial and error component until a desired outcome is achieved. This method involves rewarding the individual for their achievements, not for their errors. Participation by the student is a stimulus-response process. Knowledge is seen as an objective, an absolute and a given. Skinner’s ideas evolved from animal experimentation and were referred to as operant conditioning. Learning took place when there were observable changes in behavior (Semple, 2000).

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Cognitive Theory

There are other aspects of a person, such as personality, learning style, preferences, and interaction abilities that contribute to the plethora of unique traits and talents of an individual. Cognitive theorists recognize these attributes and focus their research on responsive patterns instead of isolated events. Cognitive theories deem the learner as the more significant element than the conditioning environment. The whole-brain theory for example, centers research on the preference of the operant from one of the two hemispheres of the brain, also taking into account the effects of short- and long-term memory. The right brain is considered the center of creativity, while the left brain is perceived as the root of logic and reasoning. Some experts believe that this concept is also applied as a component to connecting with the subconscious mind in order to help change a negative self-image (Stuart, 1992).

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Application

Behaviorist theories try to explain the learning process by observing conduct without consideration of the mental process. They perceive learning as the ability to take symbolic, mental constructions and transform them into active mental processing. Many believe this approach is limiting and that the thinking process should also be included as part of the research. The cognitive theory, in contrast, emphasizes focus on expanding the mental process and the complexities of the memory of the learner rather than focus on the environment in which they are conditioned. Semple classifies five kinds of learning capabilities or outcomes that have been identified in the cognitive model: (1) intellectual skills, (2) verbal information, (3) cognitive strategies, (4) motor skills, and (5) attitudes (Semple, 2000). These components can influence communication style, which can affect an individual’s learning capabilities.

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Most employees experience the learning process through trial and error to a certain extent. However, an environment with primary focus on rewards for trials and punishment for errors, tends to produce an atmosphere of fear and intimidation. In this kind of climate, employees experience anxiety and stress fearful of being reprimanded, punished and humiliated in front of their colleagues. This generates a culture that stifles growth and creativity. Organizations that focus on learning methods to stimulate active critical thinking, however, stimulate the impetus for self-initiation and motivation. For example, an organizational leader that initiates an open environment where creativity and innovation are encouraged and individual inputs are valued and respected, can help produce a setting where staffers are actively motivated and engaged in their work. This atmosphere is conducive for creating a successful climate that promotes social development and learning. In other words, when an individual is a whole participant in an organization, including on an emotional level, they are more likely receptive to learning events. An arena that allows individuals to grasp and comprehend that which is derived from within, is a nurturing culture where achievements are completed from a sense of self-discovery and self-worth (Wang, 2012).

Conclusion

Learning theories explain the transformative educational process that help individuals progress and evolve. Some theorists, like Abraham Maslow, contend the end goal of a learner is to achieve self-actualization, or the full use of talents, capacities, and potentialities, emphasizing the role of the teacher as information transmitters, rather than information facilitators, that place the student at the feet of their mentors or educators (Wang, 2012). Without learning theories, education can lead to mindless activity. These educational models help experts comprehend the methodologies of how people learn because it can influence the effects on their growth and development which in turn can help lead to positive changes.

Mindful leaders, with a deep appreciation and connection to personnel recognize that most individuals are not even aware of their true capacity or what they are actually capable of achieving. As people become more conscious and self-aware, they begin to recognize that we are all more than just human beings that exist in an ever changing universe. In fact, many of us are only beginning to discover that we have been living and operating on the tip of our lifeberg and are only now beginning to grasp the enormity of our full potential.

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References

Semple, A. (2000, September). Learning theories and their influence on the developement and use of educational technologies. Australian science teachers journal. Canberra, Australia: Australian Science Teachers Association. Retrieved 28 2013, March, from http://search.proquest.com/docview/194492485?accountid=32521

Stuart, P. (1992, September). Learning-style theories. Personnel Journal. Santa Monica, CA, USA: Media Tec Publishing, Inc. Retrieved March 28, 2013, from http://search.proquest.com.proxy-library.ashford.edu/docview/219777600/fulltext/13D190514712D4D9ACB/4?accountid=32521#

Wang, V. (2012, November 21). Understanding and promoting learning theories. International forum of teaching and studying. Marietta, GA, USA: American Scholars Press, Inc. Retrieved March 28, 2013, from http://search.proquest.com.proxy-library.ashford.edu/docview/1179004267/fulltext/13D190514712D4D9ACB/1?accountid=32521

Why Become a Learning Organization?

Published April 10, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

LearningOrganization

In today’s global economy a profitable company must become a learning organization if they want to experience sustainability. As the world becomes more complex and businesses become more interconnected organizational leaders must encourage an environment that embraces group learning practices. Organizations that excel will be the institutions that discover how to inspire commitment and the capacity to learn from personnel at all levels.  In the early forming and norming stages of an organization for example, everyone is learning how to work together, figuring out what systems succeed, which do not, and develop adaptations for more effective performance.  In addition, modern brain imaging techniques, previously unavailable prior to the year 2000, reveal that it is almost impossible to retain new information unless it is emotionally relevant. For example, stress and fear create environments that encourage learning disabilities. Leaders who use fear and intimidation in their organization are likely to constrict the learning process (Reason, 2010).

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Organizational cultures where individuals can learn together and expand their capacity to create desired outcomes; where innovative and expansive patterns of reasoning are nurtured tend to experience more success. Now that the economies and businesses have become more global, cost and performance pressures are unyielding. Time required for assessment and reflection is becoming scarcer and the production of financial capital seems to happen at the expense of social and natural capital (Senge, 2006). Take for example the recent debacle in the pharmaceutical industry where thousands of people have been afflicted from a deadly fungus because of the organization’s failure to learn how to conduct safe business practices. As a result they performed inadequately due to pressures from large profits and consumer demands. Organizations that fail to assess and make adjustments to rapid growth and expansion can in severe cases like this, place the public in harm’s way. Consumer fatalities are an extreme consequence for any organization to work through. It reflects a company that requires changes not only from an organizational level, but from individuals as well.

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The truth is that people are constantly discovering how to learn together. In fact, the entire global business community is discovering how to learn together and is evolving into a learning community.  In the long run, an organization’s ability to learn faster than the competition will likely be the key component to their profitability and sustainability. Many of us for example, have been a part of a great team or group of people that functioned together in an extraordinary way, whether in a sporting event, an organizational environment, or in a theatrical arena. There was trust, recognition in each other’s strengths and compensation for each another’s weaknesses. Everyone worked together for a common goal that was larger than individual goals. A cohesive union was created that produced extraordinary results. The team perhaps did not begin with a great start, but experienced greatness because people learned how to work together to produce extraordinary results. This is the experience of a successful learning organization and the driving engine that motivates and inspires individuals to become a part of one.

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References:

Reason, C. (2010). Leading a learning organization. Bloomington, IN : Solution Tree Press.

Senge, P. (2006). The fifth discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization. New York, NY: Doubleday Publishing.