Afiniti ranked in the Top 20 Highest-Performing Learning Providers 2018 by the Learning and Performance Institute (LPI)

Afiniti is proud to feature in the LPI’s new eBook outlining the Top 20 highest-performing learning providers.

Distilled from the thousands of LPI-accredited organisations worldwide, the Top 20 eBook features the cream of the crop, the learning providers who “have a clear roadmap by which to build their capability and adapt their strategy for continual success. They demonstrate a strong customer value proposition and have a corporate culture that instils confidence throughout sales and marketing, to delivery and after-sales support. They are passionate and committed to developing their staff, their products, their market reach, and their performance.”

Earlier this year Afiniti was accredited, for the 14th year in a row, as an LPI Gold Standard Learning Provider. Afiniti attained this prestigious accreditation by demonstrating an overall KPI score of over 75%, and in some categories, including – Corporate Integrity and CSR, Learning Consultancy, and People Development – a score of 100%.

As business change specialists, learning is a key practice area for Afiniti who partner with clients to design, deliver and embed sustainable change using the right blend of: learning, communications and engagement, Project/Programme Management, and change management, tailored specifically for each clients’ needs.

“Prospective and existing customers can be assured that these 20 organisations will provide the highest quality of service and the best user experience.”

LPI CEO, Edmund Monk, said of the Top 20 providers featured in the eBook: “Prospective and existing customers can be assured that these 20 organisations will provide the highest quality of service and the best user experience. They are trusted business partners, acting always in the best interests of their clients and, as such, fully endorsed by the Learning and Performance Institute.”

Nick Smith, Partner, Afiniti commented: “It’s been a great year so far for Afiniti in terms of receiving recognition for the fantastic work we consistently deliver with our clients. To be ranked in the Top 20 highest-performing learning providers reflects our commitment to helping our clients achieve their business objectives through innovative learning programmes and other business change disciplines which help to make change stick.”

If you’d like to learn more about how Afiniti can help your business design and deliver training and learning, or other aspects of your change management projects and programmes, get in touch and we’ll get straight back to you.

We frequently post our thoughts, ideas and tips on: change management, learning and communications, PMO/CMO, employee engagement and culture.

Subscribe here to start receiving a monthly roundup email from our Insights blog.

Afiniti receives LPI Gold Standard for 14th year

Afiniti is proud to have been accredited as a Gold Standard learning provider for the 14th year in a row by the Learning and Performance Institute (LPI).

LPI accreditation is the globally-recognised quality mark for providers of learning products, technologies, services and facilities. The accreditation process is rigorous, with providers being required to demonstrate a KPI score of 75% or greater across all sections, including client-endorsed case studies and telephone-based references.

Being awarded the gold standard for so many consecutive years is testament to the innovative approach Afiniti takes in order to design and deliver tailored learning solutions which ultimately help our clients make change stick.

At Afiniti we tackle each client’s challenge or opportunity with a clean sheet of paper – partnering with them to design, deliver and embed sustainable change using the right blend of: learning, communications and engagement, PMO/CMO, and change management, that’s just right for their programme and their people.

“It’s encouraging to see Afiniti in a strengthening positon, and their evolving focus on culture change…”

Doug Shaw, LPI Accreditation Mentor, commented, “It’s encouraging to see Afiniti in a strengthening positon, and their evolving focus on culture change, backed up by a clear Practice Applications Framemwork, is a useful way for Afiniti to differentiate in the L&D market.”

Nick Smith, Partner, Afiniti explained, “It’s not easy to consistently achieve the LPI Gold Standard and yet we’ve done so now for over a decade. This really is a huge achievement and testament to the ongoing commitment and dedication of Afiniti colleagues. We’re especially proud to have received 100% KPI scores for Corporate Integrity and CSR, Learning Consultancy, Self Study Content, People Development, and Business Stability.”

If you’d like to learn more about how Afiniti can help your business design and deliver training and learning, or other aspects of your change management projects and programmes, get in touch and we’ll get straight back to you.

 

We frequently post ideas and tips on: change management, learning and communications, PPM, employee engagement and culture.

Subscribe here to start receiving a monthly roundup email from our blog and our Quarterly Business Change Digest, written by the change experts at Afiniti.

The emergence of immersive learning

Upon hearing ‘immersive simulation’ you might think about unflattering virtual reality helmets, Sim City or any other gamer role play, but immersive learning is becoming a ‘game changer’ in corporate learning.

Immersive simulation is effective in embedding learning as it allows the learner to act in a real life situation with guidance and without all the consequences.

Employees can practice the newly acquired skills as many times as they’d like until they feel comfortable applying it in a real life situation.

We inherently learn by doing rather than sitting in front of  10 minutes of eLearning and being expected to transfer knowledge into skills so this is the closest you can get to the real thing without the risk.

A corporate immersive simulation typically involves different ‘real-life’ situations in which the learner needs to make decisions based on the learning they’ve received. It involves constructive feedback when they get it wrong and positive reinforcement when they get it right.

It’s great that the evidence demonstrates what a powerful tool immersive simulations can be, but you’re probably asking ‘isn’t implementing something like this expensive’? Investing the money upfront will allow you to reap the benefits long term. Not only does immersive simulation provide a safe environment for employees to learn from their mistakes, but those mistakes are not actually occurring in reality therefore not negatively impacting the bottom line.

As previously mentioned, the rate at which learning is embedded is also higher than traditional methods and thus you’re getting more bang for your buck.

Things to consider when setting up an immersive simulation in your organisation:

  • Make it future proof: If your company is investing a large amount of money, you want to make sure it will have a long shelf life in order to allow employees to reap the benefits for as long as possible, or at least until technology vastly evolves yet again (which is inevitable). When we worked with a client to ensure employees were ready to adopt new systems and working practices of a new company taking over, we used a designated learning space with sandboxes of the systems people would be using with experts from different fields trying out common tasks with people. It was also an occasion where leadership had a voice and additional communications reinforced behaviours to further reassure and prepare people. The tools, templates and supporting technology were reusable.
  • Involve your SMEs from the very beginning: The earlier you involve the experts, the less content reviews you will need to endure. This means a quicker and more accurate delivery of the simulation to the business which, 9 times out of 10, is needed as soon as possible.
  • Get people excited about it!: This is an exciting new tool that employees actually get to play with, so use that to your advantage. It can often be difficult to engage learners, especially with corporate material but the fact that this is gamification at its finest means there’s much to leverage here to gain user buy-in.

Immersive simulations are an up and coming tool in corporate learning and pack a huge punch when it comes to embedding learning. When looking to be innovative and cutting edge, using this tool in your organisation is definitely something to consider.

Can mLearning work for business change?

You have a smart-phone, right?  Maybe more than one.  A tablet?  iPad, Nexus, Galaxy Note, Surface? If so, you’re carrying a potent mLearning tool.

The learning benchmarking organisation, Towards Maturity, has reported that 39% of the organisations they track are using mobile learning in some way, and 76% expect to adopt in the next two years.

Faced with a situation you haven’t experienced before, rather than trying to retrieve a dim memory from a day-long training course last year, how about being able to call up specific modular training? How about being able to see videos, demonstrations, guidance relating to the exact scenario you’re dealing with now?

Learning when and where you want

Outside of work, people are relying more and more on these “as you need it” guides – look at the number of YouTube videos for make-up tips, recipes, or how to tie a bow-tie.

People like being able to call up help as and when it’s most needed.  If that’s how people choose to learn outside the work environment, then it follows that the same approach could work well in professional context.

Making it work for business

We’ve seen it work well on a project to deploy iPhones throughout a large organisation. Device based learning materials can be very interactive and multi-functional, for example, the electronic quick reference guide created to support the deployment, was searchable and structured into task-based topics.

A commonly cited drawback of classroom training is that it often relies on artificial or unrealistic scenarios.  Mobile learning or mLearning allows quick field-based development of learning, based on real situations in the field. This means the learning can be more closely aligned to the practical reality, which lends credibility as well as being more aligned to the learner’s requirement.

Here are some ways it can have an impact:

Maximising mobile devices for learning

Mobile learning or mLearning can empower the user with access to any-time learning they can customise through downloading apps. It can work through:

  • Tailored push notifications
  • Modular content
  • Apps developed with additional video and links to other resources
  • Apps for collaborative tools that can be accessed via mobile devices enabling learners and L&D people to communicate about specific issues.

As with all training solutions, mLearning is not a silver bullet.  Classroom training, self-directed learning and eLearning all have important roles to play.  The trick is to pick the right horse for the right course.

How to use interactive video learning to engage users

Interactive video gives learners an active role in the direction and content of learning material; especially useful if they are using their own device or working remotely.

Working via links placed in a ‘hub’ video, the learner can be given more detailed information about what’s being said or done on screen at that point. There is also branching video which lets the learner make choices and takes them through a scenario.
This makes interactive video or film a powerful corporate learning tool to market for learning and embedding around business change. This example from HuStream shows the basic principles.

So what can it achieve?
You engage learners by giving them active control over decisions. You can include links to other videos; links to other supporting content; multiple choice questions. Each provides their own element of discovery, urging learners to adapt and immersing them in the content.

It’s great for tracking user movements and touch points, helping the development of future content to evolve in a learner-centric fashion.
So some advantages to consider then:
• It’s great for device/web-based distance learning
• The storytelling, connective narrative, works really well for getting the message across, the ‘why’ not just the ‘what’.
• It actively involves people engages them in a way that demands their attention and conscious choice
• It supports scenario based learning – particularly for safety training on oil rigs
• It’s more personalised, learners find out what they need to, when they need to
• Video production is getting a lot easier and cost effective with more production tools appearing all the time
• You can feature the sponsor of your change programme, providing the necessary ‘face to face’ equivalent – a massive bonus when you are dealing with remote learning
• You can measure what content appeals most to people and embed feedback forms

Complex training scenarios that involve a lot of reading could prove unsuitable for interactive video. Despite this, there is great potential for engaging learners with a message and a story behind change. As with all learning methods, what will suit one learning scenario won’t suit another and the initial change readiness discovery and training needs analysis work is particularly important to decide whether interactive video is the right choice.

 

Learning in a world of constant change

People now have to go through constant change in their work environment. How can we make sure learning engages users and meets business needs?

Here at afiniti, we are all about “Making Change Stick” – giving people learning that connects directly to their job roles, gives them ownership of business change and influence over how they learn.

Complex projects mean big changes for the user community so we need to go over and above a normal training course.

Traditional structured learning can fail because it makes assumptions about what delegates need to learn. If this assumption is wrong, then the learner is faced with content that they don’t relate to, and which they know won’t have any relevance for them in their role.

 

Less push, more facilitation

One way of ensuring that the learning is relevant is to allow learners to shape the content themselves, using a less prescriptive, more facilitative approach – think less classroom more workshop.

This may mean that the objectives of the session are not pre-defined, and creates an atmosphere where the “trainer” takes a step back and allows the learners to lead.

The trainer will need to provide structure to the session, and provide subject matter content as required, but should allow the learners to explore unpredicted avenues.

Sometimes the content may be entirely new to the learners, but it still needs to be made relevant and relatable. In this situation, a good approach may be to allow the learners to create their own realistic scenarios to apply the content to.  This will generally involve pre-work with representative users to generate reliable and realistic scenarios which people will encounter in their roles.

In this way, learners feel that they have had the opportunity to apply their own real world applications in a way that makes sense to them, as well as building their confidence that the content (whether system, soft-skills or process) is fit for purpose outside the protected training environment.

 

The challenges

This approach does present challenges to the provider.  Firstly, to allow the “off-piste” exploration of the subject matter, the trainer must know more than the narrow field of content dictated by a pre-structured session. By inviting this discussion, the trainer’s knowledge and credibility are really put to the test.

 

Measuring success

Without pre-defined learning objectives, evaluation of learning becomes harder to measure. User satisfaction as a metric should hopefully increase with this approach, and if done well, the required behavior changes should be embedded more effectively.

With this in mind, it may make more sense to implement post-training evaluation which assesses whether the required behaviour change and business benefits have been achieved, with less focus on meeting potentially irrelevant learning objectives.

To Make Change Stick, those of us actually delivering change to people need to meet the challenge of genuinely involving them in change. We need to facilitate collaboration between colleagues and prompt conversation about real scenarios, whilst all the time providing measurable results that show that people have adopted the new and are confident with it.

Putting your team on the map

Is your team not getting the recognition and place within the business it deserves? Then you could benefit from team branding.

When we think about successful branding, we often focus on how it inspires loyalty from an external customer base.

What we often forget though, is the power of branding to raise the profile of an internal team and to cement its position within a business. The fact is: branding is an essential part of raising a profile and defining an internal team or department.

Do you really know what everyone else in the business thinks about your team? How do they think you’re adding value? Discovery and team branding can help you with this. Here are some pointers:

 

Give them something to talk about: design a great team

Whatever you do, remember that your team brand campaign can only be as great as your team itself. So start by having a workshop and brainstorming about your team’s vision and its long term plan. This includes thinking about what employees require from you: What methodology, framework and tools will give weight to the team?

Once your core business objectives are aligned to your brand as team, you can use your communications to drive your profile forwards.[1]

 

What’s your story?

Once you know your vision and plan, work on how this will transform itself into the story behind your team brand and identity. Designing a communication plan with channels tailored to the needs of your stakeholders will build knowledge and awareness. Consistency is also key, and will ensure your target stakeholders stay engaged and interested in your team.

 

Creating valuable content

There are plenty of ways to create these valuable conversations and let people know what your team is all about. Branding and templates can create a professionalised feel and stir that recognition. Inviting people to interactive hubs or other face to face events can build understanding of what your team is all about.

 

It pays to be social

Connected networks and social media are necessary in branding. Today, employees go beyond traditional means to connect across the business and provide information more freely, across many social media.

Communicating about your business through connected networks has become the norm, rather than the exception. In fact, the “rising influence of social media has altered the way we seek, evaluate and engage in work and the employers that offer it.” [2] And as the way employer brands promote themselves changes, so should your communications strategies and plans.

 

Having an authentic voice

Consider creating real content, by using team members as brand ambassadors, and by letting them talk freely across specific media. In turn, this creates the opportunity for employees to create their own, much more realistic, picture.[3]

 

I hope this is food for thought. What are your ideas on internal branding?

 

Find out more about how we helped to put a competency development team on the map.

[1] http://www.slideshare.net/TBWA_Corporate/tbwa-7-trends-to-disrupt-employer-branding

[2] http://www.slideshare.net/thetalentproject/bpx-round-table-employer-branding

[3] http://www.slideshare.net/thetalentproject/bpx-round-table-employer-branding

How can Kaizen help us deliver better change?

Can Kaizen, the Japanese theory of ‘good change’ bring people together at all levels in a business for faster, continual change?

Kaizen – Japanese translated literally as ‘good change’ – is the practice of continuous improvement.

Under it, all employees are responsible for identifying weaknesses and ideas for improvement and everyone, at every level in the organization, is instrumental in making change happen. Everyone communicates across all levels to share ideas and collaborate. Read more

Making Change Stick through learning

People now have to go through constant change in their work environment. How can we make sure learning engages users and meets business needs?

Here at afiniti, we are all about Making Change Stick – giving learners inspiration through learning that connects them directly to their job roles, gives them ownership of business change and influence over how they learn.

Complex programmes and projects mean big changes for the user community and we need to go over and above a normal training course.

Traditional structured learning can fail because it makes assumptions about what delegates need to learn. If this assumption is wrong, then the learner is faced with content that they don’t relate to, and which they know won’t have any relevance for them in their role.

 

Less push, more facilitation

One way of ensuring that learning is relevant is to allow learners to shape the content themselves, using a less prescriptive, more facilitative approach – think less classroom more workshop.

This may mean that the objectives of the session are not pre-defined, and creates an atmosphere where the learning consultant takes a step back and allows the learners to lead.

The learning consultant will need to provide structure to the session, and provide subject matter content as required, but should allow the learners to explore unpredicted avenues.

In this way, learners feel that they have had the opportunity to apply their own real world practices to the new in a way that makes sense to them, as well as building their confidence that the content (whether system, soft-skills or process) is fit for purpose outside the protected training environment.

 

The challenges

This approach does present challenges to the provider.  Firstly, to allow the “off-piste” exploration of the subject matter, the learning consultant must know more than the narrow field of content dictated by a pre-structured session. By inviting this discussion, the consultant’s knowledge and credibility are really put to the test.

 

Measuring success

Without pre-defined learning objectives, evaluation of learning becomes harder to measure. User satisfaction as a metric should hopefully increase with this approach, and if done well, the required behaviour changes should be embedded more effectively.

With this in mind, it may make more sense to implement post-training evaluation which assesses whether the required behaviour change and business benefits have been achieved, with less focus on meeting potentially irrelevant learning objectives.

Sometimes the content may be entirely new to the learners, but it still needs to be made relevant and relatable. In this situation, a good approach may be to allow the learners to create their own realistic scenarios to apply the content to.  This will generally involve pre-work with representative users to generate reliable and realistic scenarios which people will encounter in their roles.

 

To Make Change Stick those of us actually delivering change to people need to meet the challenge of genuinely involving them in change. We need to facilitate collaboration between colleagues and prompt conversation about real scenarios, whilst all the time providing measurable results that show that people have adopted the new and are confident with it.

I’d really like to hear about how  you have delivering learning to users during change and how you create long term sustained adoption.

Measuring the right thing in performance management

Ever feel like your performance management is a bit of a box ticking exercise?

You’re not on your own. A Towers Watson survey of 100 UK businesses in December 2013, revealed that 96% believed that Performance Management is important for their organisation, yet only 64% reported having either an effective or very effective approach.

People and their ongoing performance and development are crucial to profit. A growing understanding of this means a tick box approach to people appraisal and management isn’t going to cut it anymore.

What is performance management?

As defined by Michael Armstrong of the CIPD: “Performance management is a process which is defined to improve organisational, team and individual performance and which is owned and driven by line managers”.

Performance Management (PM) practices have been an integral part of most business models for decades and were traditionally a one-dimensional and isolated system managed by Human Resources.

Why is it so important?

CEOs now have a keen eye on how robust our PM systems really are and how closely linked they are to the overall business strategy.

Why is this? In the last 20 years or so, applied psychologists and professionals have been able to prove a direct link between people management and profitability.

Increasingly, many firms are moving toward rewarding development and innovation as there is now a realisation of just how important and influential employees can be to an organisation’s growth and ultimately its bottom line. PM systems are no longer a simple HR activity.

Subsequently millions of pounds have been invested into revamping organisation-wide PM approaches. The idea is if you invest in your people, you will gain a competitive edge, as well as benefit from increased profitability.

Updating your approach

In the past, most companies measured their employee’s performance based on their hard skills such as sales targets, volume of work etc. Generally any type of skill that could be tangibly measured and produced hard data. This was quite easy for line managers to appraise, you either met your targets or you didn’t. But now there is growing appreciation of soft skills and other less quantifiable behaviours and their role in performance.

It’s trickier to assess the more intangible or soft skills such as teamwork, cooperation and generally any trait that can be associated with Emotional Intelligence. How do we ensure that these skills are fairly and objectively appraised?

Although not as exact as the data produced by measuring hard skills, there are ways in which you can provide the most consistent and objective feedback possible as an appraiser:

360 degree feedback

Gaining feedback from the employee’s peers, customers, direct reports and superiors gives a well-rounded view of the individual and may provide valuable information on their competencies and soft skills and how they work.

Goal setting

Creating goals and milestones with the employee not only motivates them throughout the year but it is also a way to obtain data from the development of soft skills. For example, if there is a need to develop teamwork skills, you could create a goal with the employee to get involved with a least two team based projects a year. Linking some of these goals to the overall business strategy ensures that every person is ultimately working towards the same objectives.

Regular meetings throughout the year

Not only does this build a good rapport between you and your appraisee, it also increases their motivation to perform well. It is important to always ask them to send you the topics they would like to discuss in your meeting, as well as sharing yours. Having a combined agenda such as this brings structure and an appropriate level of expectation to the meeting.

Performance Appraisals and Performance Management systems in general are very complex yet desirable subjects to understand, especially by senior executives. As managers and appraisers, it is difficult to master the appraisal process. However, with increased self-awareness and consistency, along with some of the tips mentioned, you’ll not only make the process more efficient for you and your appraisee, but also hopefully more enjoyable!