Critical Thinking Pocket Insight

Critical Thinking Pocket Insight

Freya Owen

Freya Owen

Senior Research Consultant

Critical Thinking is the ability to analyse information and form a reasoned judgement in a way that is logical and cognisant of assumptions and biases. In the increasingly complex workplace of today, with information in abundance, change rapid, and new technologies disrupting how we work, the ability to think critically has never been more important. i  Our 2024 global L&D trends report highlighted critical thinking as a top skill for success in the workplace of the future. ii   In their Future of Jobs Report, the World Economic Forum found that analytical and creative thinking, both closely linked to critical thinking, are the top two in-demand skills for 2024. iii Moreover, Forbes recently listed critical thinking in their top ten in-demand skills for the future workplace. iv  

In this pocket insight, we set out what we mean by critical thinkingwe consider why it is so in demandand we discuss whether or not critical thinking can be trained 

What is Critical Thinking?

Critical thinking dates back over 2,400 years to the first known philosophers. Socrates began the study of philosophy through asking ‘the people’ endless questions. He considered a conversation that ended in everyone realizing how little they knew a success – ‘far better that than to carry on believing you understood something when you didn’t’. v Questioning and being curious is at the core of critical thinking.  

In psychology, critical thinking is defined as a metacognitive process, which means thinking about thinking. Critical thinkers improve the quality of their thinking by analysing, assessing, and logically reconstructing their own and others’ thoughts. In neuroscience, critical thinking is when logic (our pre-frontal cortex and explicit memory system) is brought to bear on our habitual (implicit system), emotional (limbic system), and social inclinations. It occurs when we overcome the default of going with our automatic, unconscious beliefs, or with the group impetus.   

In addition to being a skillset, critical thinking requires mindset capabilities, including:  

Self-awareness: why am I thinking the way I am about this decision or problem? Are my emotions or prior beliefs impacting my ability to make or agree with an argument?  

Growth mindset: am I fearful of being wrong such that I refuse to update my previous position, despite there now being clear evidence to the contrary?  

Social awareness: are the right people in the room for this discussion? Is there diversity of thought? Are social influences impacting the ability of the group to think logically and with appropriate challenge? 

Taken together, critical thinking is the process of being aware of and questioning one’s thinking, updating that thinking where appropriate. It involves considering all available evidence, asking challenging questions, and remaining open-minded. 

Why is Critical Thinking in Demand?

Do you think critically?  Most people would answer yes to this question. Yet half of employers rate their employees’ critical thinking skills as average or below average, vii and according to Harvard Business Review, critical thinking is rated the number one professional skill lacking among new graduates, with 60% of managers feeling this way. viii 

This is important, especially in today’s workplace where:  

  • Increased complexity is requiring critical thinking skills. ix In today’s world of work, the components contributing towards decision-making and problem-solving are vast, and the speed at which things are expected to be done is rapid. With more to consider in a shorter time period, critical thinking skills are vital. A further complexity is that workplaces themselves are by nature more complex; multinational, hybrid and multigenerational. Ultimately, these complexities have skyrocketed the need for, and desirability of, critical thinking skills.  
  • Information overload increases the need to think critically. In a world where knowledge is no longer power due to widespread accessibility of data, facts, and communications, individuals need to think more critically about the information they receive. Is the source credible, does the argument make logically sense, what is the context, and are there swaying influences?  
  • Artificial intelligence is increasing the desirability of critical thinking skills. As the presence and influence of AI increases, the skills necessary for success are changing. Humans must work effectively with AI, for example learning to think critically about the outputs of tools like ChatGPT. In addition, they must also differentiate themselves from artificial intelligences. Top contenders for differentiating human skills in an AI-fuelled workplace include critical, analytical, and creative thinking (as well as “human skills” such as empathy and communication skills).x 

This is important for individuals. Critical thinking skills allow employees to get more things done; critical thinking helps individuals to problem-solve and make decisions, improving their ability to contribute to business results.xi Critical thinking also drives innovation through the open generation of ideas and thorough evaluation of alternatives. There is even some, albeit correlational, studies linking critical thinking capabilities to greater interpersonal, business and financial outcomes xii, and greater life outcomes xiii. 

It is also essential for organisations. 

Critical thinking is linked to optimal problem-solving xv. Issues are commonplace in the world of work thus the ability to identify, analyse, and address problems at speed is key for success. Critical thinkers get to the root of a problem and take the time to evaluate alternative options, ultimately reaching more innovative and effective solutions that may have otherwise been overlooked.  Critical thinking also leads to greater decision-making xvi through the consideration of multiple perspectives and options, and the emphasis placed on reliable information.  Taken together, critical thinking results in greater individual productivity and innovation, improved problem-solving and decision-making, and, ultimately, improved business outcomes. 

Can Critical Thinking be Taught?

Yes! 

At Arcadia, we consider critical thinking through the lenses of mindset and skillset. The former involves challenging beliefs and biases, not being afraid to be wrong, and being curious for other, differing perspectives. The latter includes a set of tools one can use to deploy critical thinking. For both mindset and skillset, there are lessons to learn for individuals, managers, and leaders of organisations.  

Some great Critical Thinking models include:  

1) The ‘RED’ model based on the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking test, allows individuals and teams to reach optimal conclusions by following a simple 3-part model: 

  • R ecognise assumptions – includes information gathering and synthesizing 
  • E valuate arguments – sensemaking, analysis and problem-solving 
  • D raw conclusions – strategic and creative-thinking, judgement and decision-making. 

2) The 5 Whys approach, originally developed in the 1930s by Sakichi Toyoda, the Japanese inventor and founder of Toyota, delves deeply into a problem through a process of repetitive questioning. This allows for the identification of the true root cause of a problem, such that effective actions can be taken to minimise or eliminate the risk of reoccurrence:  

  • Define the Problem 
  • Why is it happening?  
  • Why is that?  
  • Why is that? 
  • Why is that? 
  • Why is that?  

3) Considering other perspectives, utilising, for example, the 6 Thinking Hats developed by Edward de Bono.xvii Teams divide themselves into categories in order to focus or redirect thoughts in a way that allows for more productive and focused discussions, ultimately leading to greater problem-solving or decision-making:  

  • Objective: what information is known or needed? 
  • Intuitive: how do we feel; what do we fear, like, and dislike? 
  • Cautious: what are the potential risks, difficulties and problems? 
  • Optimistic: what are the benefits and value opportunities? 
  • Creative: what other, alternative and new possibilities could we explore? 
  • Controlled: how do we organize our thinking process to reach an optimal conclusion? 
The context in which critical thinking is used is important. Critical thinking can be taught in combination with closely related skills such as decision-making and problem-solving. For example, The 5 Why’s are used in the context of problem-solving to find the root cause of a problem, while the 6 thinking hats are a great way of considering multiple perspectives when decision-making.  Crucially, at an organisational level, the ability to think critically will only lead to success if it is coupled with an environment that is encouraging of critical thinking. Such a culture incorporates psychological safety, strong chains of communication (to avoid individuals working in silos and only thinking about local implications), and managers that empower and encourage constructive challenge. A key component of critical thinking is the inclusion of diverse perspectives; at the organisational level, this requires inclusive leadership. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, as the workplace becomes increasingly saturated with information and smart technology, the ability to question, evaluate, and adapt thinking is paramount. It involves questioning what we know and being open to diverse perspectives. From employees to managers and organisational leaders, fostering a culture that champions critical thinking is essential for success. By embracing a curious mindset and equipping employees with critical thinking skills, organisations will see greater problem-solving, more inclusive decision-making and, ultimately, improved business outcomes. 

We’d love to discuss critical thinking with you – what it is, its importance in the workplace, and how we can build critical thinking skills at the individual and organisational level. 

Related Reading

For further reading on Critical Thinking, check out these books: 

  • Matthew Syed – Rebel Ideas 
  • Edward de Bono – Six Thinking Hats 
  • Adam Grant – Think Again  
  • Daniel Kahneman – Thinking Fast and Slow 

 

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Work-Life Balance: Customizing Learning Journeys to Meet Your Learners Where They Are

Work-Life Balance: Customizing Learning Journeys to Meet Your Learners Where They Are

Barry Bickel

Barry Bickel

Principal Consultant
North America

Author

Jess Koerner

Senior Marketing Executive

North America

Related Materials

Arcadia: Give us a little background on who you are and what you do at Arcadia? 

Barry Bickel: Sure, I am a Principal Consultant at Arcadia and I’ve worked here for just over three years. I lead the North American sales and marketing team. I also sit on the global sales and marketing leadership team and personally manage a large financial services client here in North America. 

Arcadia: With all of your consultation experience, how do you approach understanding your client’s pain points and challenges when designing a learning journey for them? 

Barry Bickel: Before we even discuss a learning journey, it comes down to preparation. Prior to engaging with the client, I do a bit of research on the industry that the client is in. I gather as much insight as I can prior to any call with them. Then, during a call with the client, it’s about having quality questions prepared and active listening skills ready to get to the bottom of what their challenges and pain points are.  

Once a learning journey is on the table, I’ve utilized diagnostic interviews to uncover a client’s organizational pain points and challenges. In diagnostic interviews, we engage with the clients and we set up a series of interviews with key stakeholders or possible participants in the program that Arcadia will conduct. Often, our research team will conduct the interviews and we’ll gain insight across an organization for a holistic view.  

Arcadia: You’ve already hit on this, but do you have anything you’d like to add with reference to what methods you use to ensure that the learning journey aligns with the client’s organizational culture and values? 

Barry Bickel: The only thing I’d add is that the longer you work with a client, the better you understand that client’s culture and how best to meet their needs. That’s a true benefit of maintaining a strong client relationship over time.  

Arcadia: That makes sense and highlights our client centricity approach. Can you describe a project where you tailored a learning journey to meet a client’s specific needs and objectives? 

Barry Bickel: Sure, one was with a large financial services client here in the US.  They came to us with a challenge surrounding their executive directors. Their high potential executive directors needed some work to better prepare them for possible promotions. They wanted to develop a program that spanned over a period of five to six months. One aspect of the program was to use different modalities of learning which is what we call blended learning. They also wanted the program to include sponsors within the organization that the participants would engage with in-between each of these touch points. The program ran last year in 2023 and ended in January 2024. It was very successful, and the client is going to repeat it again this year. 

Arcadia: That’s very exciting. How do you incorporate feedback from clients throughout the design and implementation process to ensure the learning journey meets their expectations? For example, you might have already implemented some learning modules and the client wants to make some tweaks. What does that process look like?  

Barry Bickel: We’re very flexible with clients. Everything we do is customized to the client’s needs, so the process would typically work where we gather feedback from the client and what they’re looking for is discussed well in advance of the solution creation. We would then design a solution. That solution would then be reviewed with the client several times.  

Even beyond client specifications, if the client is open to it, I always suggest conducting a pilot workshop or a pilot program. You can learn a lot with the first group. You’d have some participants that you interview throughout the program or at the end of the program, and then you can make adjustments together with the client. This way the future programs are the best they can possibly be. Obviously if it’s a one-off program, you can’t do that, but if you have a program that’s going to be run on an annual basis, it’s imperative that you gather that feedback after each round because you can always improve it. 

Arcadia:  That’s awesome: I’m sure potential clients love to hear how we put them and their results first. How do you define self-paced learning and what are the primary benefits it offers to learners and organizations? 

Barry Bickel: Self-paced learning to me is anything that an individual can do to learn on their own schedule. It offers flexibility for when and where they choose to engage with the learning versus a scheduled live workshop. Self-paced learning can be delivered in a lot of different ways. Historically, traditional eLearning has been the go-to for self-paced learning. But, now with advancements in technology, there are other approaches like interactive PDF which is self-paced learning where you can embed videos and embed quizzes and things like that. There is also bite-size mobile learning, where you can have a learner access a quick five to ten minute learning module on their device and engage with the learning on the go or when the time is right for them.  

Arcadia: What are the benefits that you’re witnessing self-paced learning bring to organizations? 

Barry Bickel:  I think COVID changed a lot of things in terms of learning traditionally. It was always in-person prior to COVID. Coming out of the pandemic now, most learning is still virtual. There is some in-person learning that’s being conducted, but what everybody learned during the pandemic was that you could deliver very high-quality learning either in a virtual setting or with a self-paced approach and it works 

We’ve found that learners, particularly younger learners, have an expectation that learning will be either virtual or be self-paced and that they would prefer self-paced because they’re used to it. In fact, a lot of them attended university or college through self-paced learning.   

The benefits of utilizing self-paced are that you’re meeting the needs of your learners and that it allows you to deploy learning during periods throughout the year that might be less conducive to virtual or in person workshops, like the summer, for example, where there are a lot of vacations. It’s nearly impossible to schedule workshops that can accommodate everyone’s PTO schedules. We can combat that by deploying self-paced learning where every learner can engage at a time that works for them and you don’t miss upskilling anybody. 

Arcadia: Can you share examples of self-paced learning modalities that you have incorporated into learning journeys and how have they been received? 

Barry Bickel: Sure, I’ll keep it within the same project I mentioned before. We used interactive PDF-based self-paced learning. The way it was structured was that the learners would attend a 2-hour workshop and then they would have three weeks to complete a self-paced learning module that was deployed to them right after the workshop. The self-paced learning complemented what they learned in the virtual workshop and added on to the learning as well. The PDF contained some reading, videos, questions to answer within the PDF and then they would take a quiz at the end of the PDF learning. The total time to do each module was about 15 minutes, so it was a very quick hit of learning for them which was easy for them to manage, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. In that program we had five months of workshops and five months of alternating self-paced learning modules. 

Arcadia: That’s a good point that you bring up about learner buy-in and making the learning manageable for them. Would you also consider PresentR, VR, and our LMS services part of self-paced? 

Barry Bickel:  Yeah, 100%. Those are newer technologies and I’ve not personally used them yet with a client, but PresentR is a great example of self-paced where you can actually work on your presentation skills by yourself on your computer and get AI feedback directly delivered to you after practicing. It’s really an amazing tool. 

Arcadia:  That does sound amazing. With the PDF-based example that you’ve provided, what strategies did you employ to ensure that the self-paced learning remained engaging and effective for learners? 

Barry Bickel: It starts with a very appealing design to the modules. In addition to that, it needs to be short enough. If the learners get into it and it looks too complicated or too long, they will withdraw from it. I like to keep them engaged by using videos. Everyone likes to watch a video, particularly videos that are short, fun, and interesting.  

The other thing that stands out is having a caveat of, “in order to advance through the learning module”, they have to capture some thoughts. For example, we may have them read, watch a video, and then prompt them with, “how do you think you’re going to apply this to your work after the program is over?” Then, what they type in, they get to keep for reference later.  

This forces them to pause and think about the learning, and it helps to embed the learning in their brains as they’re going through it. Plus, it keeps their fingers on the keyboard, so they can’t multitask. They have to be fully engaged versus some of the traditional eLearning, which we’ve all done where you can click through it and not even pay attention and get to the end and then just check the box, but you never learn anything. Kindly forcing them to engage throughout the process is important. 

Arcadia: What would you consider embedded learning and how does it contribute to a more seamless and integrated learning experience for learners? 

Barry Bickel: Embedded learning is learning that is done in the context of a real-world situation. It’s about helping the learners to come to the table with real world situations in mind and then absorbing the learning within the context of those real-world situations. Many must learn while doing in our field of leadership, communication, and mindset and the only way to do that is to have them practice on the job.  

I think you’re failing the learner if you don’t help them embed the learnings in their day-to-day work. If you just talk theory throughout a workshop or a self-paced learning module they are never going to fully grasp it. By engaging with the material, mindset, or whatever the case may be, they intrinsically learn it.  

Arcadia: Can you provide examples of how you’ve integrated embedded learning components into client learning journeys? 

Barry Bickel: Of course, one example would be to send someone through a workshop on presentation skills and maybe executive presence and then you have them practice on a tool like PresentR which gives them feedback and a score.  Then you’d follow it up with supplemental coaching. 

Arcadia: How do you balance the flexibility of self-paced learning with the need for structure and guidance to ensure that learners stay on track and achieve their learning objectives? 

Barry Bickel: I don’t like 100% self-paced programs. That being said, I think 100% self-paced is fine for compliance things like ethics, computer security, or something like that. But, if you really want something like leadership training or mindset workshops or communication skills with active presence, you have to alternate workshop experience with self-paced learning. Self-paced is also a great way to extend an existing investment of a learning journey.  

Arcadia: Is there anything else you’d like to share? 

Barry Bickel:  I would reiterate, that we as an industry have a long way to go in the world of self-paced, bite sized, artificial intelligence, and embedded learning. But just embrace it and give it a try! I encourage all organizations to really look hard at things like different modalities and approaches such as blended and self-paced learning. Do what makes the most sense to meet the needs of your learners: meet them where they are in every sense. 

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Pitching to Win – Research and Insights

Pitching to Win – Research and Insights

The power of an effective in-person pitch is immense. A charismatic salesperson who uses persuasive language and exhibits expansive body language is captivating. In this article, we start by revisiting tried and tested methods for persuasive and effective pitching.

But what ultimately leads to a winning pitch? We believe the differentiating factor between a good and great sales pitch is the ability to connect with the customer. To be human. To build trust and rapport and to exhibit emotional intelligence such that the customer feels valued, understood and persuaded to make a purchasing decision. In this article, we explore why harnessing this human aspect of sales is crucial for success.

Finally, we look at how the sales landscape is changing. Information overload, the growing presence and influence of artificial intelligence and the rise of omnichannel pitching 1 mean the road to a successful pitch is increasingly complex. In this article, we consider the implications of these changes for salespeople seeking success.

Delivering a Winning Pitch

The key to successful in-person pitching continues to rest on three things:

1. Persuasion

Using the following techniques can create a persuasive message which is significantly more effective than stand-alone facts and figures:

  • Scarcity and urgency: create a sense of limited availability or time pressure to increase the perceived value or attractiveness of an option.
    • For example, offering a limited-time discount or bonus
  • Framing and anchoring: present or compare options in a meaningful way to influence how people perceive and evaluate information, options and outcomes.
    • Framing is the way you present information to emphasise its benefits. Such as framing your product as a solution to a specific problem that your prospect is facing.
    • Anchoring is the tendency to rely on the first piece of information as a reference point for subsequent judgments. For example you could set a high initial price for your product, which would make your prospect more likely to accept a lower price later on, or to perceive your product as more valuable.
  • Social proof: present a decision as one taken by others. This can be leveraged in persuasive language by incorporating testimonials, case studies, or highlighting the popularity of a product or service.
  • Reciprocity: tap into the human tendency to feel obliged or inclined to return a favour or gesture. For example, an effective sales technique might be to offer free samples, discounts or rewards, due to these gestures triggering reciprocity and encouraging the customer to return the ‘favour’.
  • Loss aversion: pitch an opportunity as loss-avoiding as an effective tool that taps into the human preference to avoid losses over acquiring gains.
    • People are twice as likely to be upset over losing something they already “own” than the pleasure they gain from getting something new.
    • Show the prospect how much money or time they are losing by sticking with their current situation and how your solution can help them avoid or reduce those losses.
  • Emotion: utilise emotional appeals, such as using positive language to evoke happiness or negative language to elicit fear, to significantly impact the persuasive power of a message.

2. Delivery

Not only does the language used in a pitch matter but, importantly, delivery excellence requires consideration of body language, facial expressions, presence and more:

  • Body language makes up for more than half of how other people perceive our presence. 2 And, our body language is even more powerful through its ability to change our minds and in-turn, our behaviour. For example, assuming a powerful pose before giving a presentation can increase confidence and thus performance.
  • Non-verbal communication cues, the way you listen, look, move and react, signal to the person with which you are communicating whether you care, you’re being truthful and how well you’re listening.3
  • Facial expressions are particularly important; some interesting recent research found positive associations between the facial expressions of CEOs and company profits, even after controlling for age, affect and attractiveness.4
  • Presence when giving a pitch is crucial. Connecting to the audience in a way that portrays full-attention without being overbearing is a careful balance. Patsy Rodenburg developed a concept known as the ‘circles of energy’ which explains how the optimal state is where the presenter is exchanging energy with the audience, without being overly introverted or extroverted. 5

3. Mindset

Finally, pitching must be approached with a growth mindset, motivated by a desire to learn and improve and to understand and manage own emotions as well as those of customers. This is two-fold: first, the ability to manage one’s own emotions when delivering a pitch and ensuring the right mindset ahead of pitching. Second, the ability to empathetically address the emotions of the customer, building rapport during the presentation and thus increasing their confidence in your ability to meet their needs and alleviate their concerns.

Firstly, it is essential to embrace the right mindset ahead of your pitch presentation by establishing a ritual that utilises your physiology and gets you into a relaxed and winning mentality.

This could include:

  • Movement, go for a walk or dance
  • Breathing techniques to help regulate your internal state
  • Practice your posture in front of a mirror, utilising a super hero pose to elevate confidence
  • Warming up your facial expressions

Secondly, a proven technique to help manage your emotions when faced with unexpected problems, is to seek out the positive in every situation.  As opposed to taking an ‘outside-in’ approach to determine your level of motivation, the key to staying motivated is to proactively decide, irrespective of what happens on the outside, that you will choose to feel good and resourceful on the inside. This is the ‘inside-out’ approach to motivation.

Rather than reacting emotionally to an obstacle, you can stay resourceful in difficult situations by using a simple process called E+R=O.

When confronted with a difficult external EVENT (E) it’s easy, in the heat of the moment, to take this personally, get defensive, lose control and then REACT (R) in a highly emotional way.  After such an outburst you’re left with a highly undesirable OUTCOME (O) where the problem remains unresolved, and you’ve damaged the relationship.

E+R=O Process

It is important to remember that you have zero control over the EVENT (E), so pause… Start with the OUTCOME (O) in mind and then ask yourself, what do you want to achieve in this situation and choose the most resourceful RESPONSE (R) to ensure you achieve your desired Outcome.

Customer Connection

The differentiating factor between a good and great sales pitch is the ability to connect with the customer – to build rapport and establish trust:
  • People are more inclined to buy from individuals or companies they perceive as trustworthy. 6
  • A recent study by Salesforce found that 79% of business buyers say it’s absolutely critical or very important to interact with a salesperson who is a trusted advisor.7
  • Harvard Business Review conducted a survey with over 1.5k managers and concluded that the key differentiator between a winning vs losing pitch, is chemistry – both as a pitching team and with the audience.8
Arcadia suggest three key methods for establishing trust and building rapport with a customer:
  1. Facetime: whilst data analytics and insights are important, it is the human touch that truly connects with clients and influences their decision-making process.9 Almost two-thirds of customers say they will only buy if they’ve met the sales representative in person at least once before, and over three-quarters say that face-to-face visits are sign of how much a supplier values a relationship.10
  2. Know your audience: it is critical to understand your audience. In today’s diverse workplace it is particularly important to appreciate cultural and generational differences, and to ensure pitches are tailored accordingly.
  3. Referrals: an effective mechanism for building rapport and establishing trust is through referrals – for example, 92% of respondents to a survey of over 28k consumers trusted referrals from people they knew (compared to e.g., 58% trust in branded websites).11Salespeople should not be hesitant to ask for referrals; evidence shows that such requests are seen as flattering by the client and actually strengthen relationships. 12

Changing Landscape

The road to a successful pitch is increasingly complex. The sales landscape is evolving, with:
  1. an increase in the number of channels through which a customer evaluates a potential supplier,
  2. the rise of artificial intelligence, and
  3. a new type of customer, who demands data-driven evidence and a longer sales cycle.

1. Omnichannel pitching

Gone are the days where a pitch is won solely face-to-face. According to McKinsey, a ‘rule of thirds’ has emerged where customers employ a roughly even mix of traditional face-to-face, remote (e.g. video conferencing and phone calls) and self-service (e.g., digital portals) at each stage of the sales process. In some instances, B2B customers are using up to 10 different channels to interact with suppliers.13

To support this shift to omnichannel selling and multi-experience buying, sales representatives need to effectively pitch in-person and virtually, and work with their wider organisation to ensure digital portals and the alike are attractive to buyers.

2. Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI)  is changing the ways in which sales representatives are trained and prepare pitches. A survey of hundreds of sales leaders revealed that representatives using conversation intelligence and AI-powered conversation guidance are more satisfied with their coaching.14 AI can be used to practise pitches, receive instant feedback and ultimately improve pitch quality. For example, Showpad’s ‘PitchAI’ analyses a seller’s pitch and provides direct feedback on four pitch characteristics: speed, body language, silences and enthusiasm. 15 AI can also be used to craft outreach to clients and to develop the pitch itself.

To stay competitive, sales representatives must be trained on how best to utilise AI in pitch preparation.

3. New Type of Customer

Finally, salespeople face a new type of customer: generationally diverse, ever more sceptical and increasingly informed. Millennials are generally sceptical of sales representatives and show preference for data-backed evidence. Even in the face of data, millennials will often do their own research, possibly as a result of growing up in the era of information abundance and reduced trust.16 Regardless of generation, customers have access more data and information than ever before, which can be overwhelming. Customers spend 15% of the buying cycle time deconflicting information, making sense of data from different sources.17  And finally, today’s buying groups are diverse; it is no longer the case that winning over a senior decision maker will equate to a sale. According to a Gartner survey, 75% of customers agreed that their purchase involved people from a variety of roles and locations.

The key to success amid these new demands is to take time to understand your customer and ensure information consistency: those who report consistency are roughly 4.5x more likely to successfully sell. 18

Conclusions

In the face of a changing sales landscape, the in-person pitch is even more important. Customers are better informed, more sceptical and face increased choice. Salespeople need to crank up the dial on tried and tested delivery methods, tools to build trust and rapport with customers and, finally, upskilling on how to successfully pitch using a variety of channels. Arcadia’s  Pitching to WIN solutions provide a proven methodology and specialist consulting services to teams and leaders who wish to increase the win rates of their new business pitches, helping them develop strategies for differentiation and providing tangible outcomes. In conclusion: for every pitch, there’s only ever one winner, how will you differentiate yourself to win more business, faster?

References

McKinsey B2B Sales: Omnichannel everywhere, every time – December 2021. https://www.mckinsey.com/capabilities/growth-marketing-and-sales/our-insights/b2b-sales-omnichannel-everywhere-every-time

2Allan Pease (1991) – Body Language: how to read others’ thoughts by their gestures. https://www.academia.edu/22610347/Allan_Pease_Body_Language?auto=download

3Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., Melinda Smith, M.A., Lawrence Robinson and Greg Boose – Noverbal Communication and Body Language. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/relationships-communication/nonverbal-communication.htm

4 Rule, N. O., & Ambady, N. (2008). The Face of Success: Inferences From Chief Executive Officers’ Appearance Predict Company Profits. Psychological Science, 19(2), 109–111. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02054.x

5 Patsy Rodenburg – https://patsyrodenburg.co.uk/courses/discovering/

6 Leveleleven – The Importance of Trust in Sales (August 2018). https://leveleleven.com/2018/08/importance-trust-sales/

7 Salesforce – State of the Connected Customer 5th edition. https://www.salesforce.com/content/dam/web/en_us/www/documents/research/salesforce-state-of-the-connected-customer-fifth-ed.pdf

8 Harvard Business Review. What Makes a Great Pitch (May 2020). https://hbr.org/2020/05/what-makes-a-great-pitch

9 Lance Tyson, The Human Sales Factor (2022).

10 McKinsey B2B Sales: Omnichannel everywhere, every time – December 2021. https://www.mckinsey.com/capabilities/growth-marketing-and-sales/our-insights/b2b-sales-omnichannel-everywhere-every-time

11 Nielsen – Consumer Trust in Online Social and Mobile Advertising Grows (April 2012) https://www.nielsen.com/insights/2012/consumer-trust-in-online-social-and-mobile-advertising-grows/

12 How to Close the Referral Gap, Daniel Decker Texas Tech Today, 2018. https://today.ttu.edu/posts/2018/05/close-referral-gap

13 McKinsey B2B Sales: Omnichannel everywhere, every time – December 2021. https://www.mckinsey.com/capabilities/growth-marketing-and-sales/our-insights/b2b-sales-omnichannel-everywhere-every-time

14 Revenue.io – 3 Key Findings From the 2021 State of Sales Coaching. https://www.revenue.io/blog/3-key-findings-from-the-2021-state-of-sales-coaching

15 Showpad – How AI can make sales pitches more effective (May 2023) https://www.showpad.com/blog/how-ai-can-make-sales-pitches-more-effective/

16 Gartner What Sales Should Know About B2B Buyers In 2019 – https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/what-sales-should-know-about-b2b-buyers-in-2019

17 The Future of Sales 2025: A Gartner Trend Insight Report. https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/future-of-sales-2025-deliver-the-digital-options-b2b-buyers-demand

18 The Future of Sales 2025: A Gartner Trend Insight Report. https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/future-of-sales-2025-deliver-the-digital-options-b2b-buyers-demand

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The Science of Business Storytelling

The Science of Business Storytelling

Freya Owen

Freya Owen

Research Consultant

Oliver Woodhead

Oliver Woodhead

Global Consulting Director, Transformation Strategy

Throughout history, storytelling has been the most potent and enduring method of communication, transcending cultures, generations and technologies.

In the realm of business, the power of storytelling is no less remarkable. From engaging customers and inspiring employees to captivating investors, harnessing the art of storytelling can be a transformative force that propels businesses towards success.

In this article, we delve into the striking impact of business storytelling and explore how incorporating business storytelling strategies can foster alignment and collaboration across diverse workforces. We explain why stories are memorable and thus can facilitate effective knowledge transfer and communication, among other things.

Stories are Impactful, Aligning and Memorable

1. Stories have Impact

Stories tap into our emotions and imagination, triggering a profound cognitive response. Neuroimaging studies have shown that when we listen to a story, our brains engage multiple systems simultaneously, creating vivid mental images and boosting both focus and concentration. 1  Stories evoke the release of neurotransmitters such as adrenaline and dopamine, enhancing our attention. 2 Furthermore, as stories unfold, our brain’s default mode as a prediction machine comes into play, keeping us engaged and receptive to plot twists and surprises.

Implication for the workplace: Storytelling is a powerful tool for eliciting the attention of employees and sustaining their focus. Whatever the intention behind the story, increased attention and focus will lead to greater engagement, in-turn boosting productivity and producing business results.

2. Stories Foster Alignment

Humans are inherently social beings driven by a need for belonging, and stories satisfy this need by connecting individuals to a shared purpose within the business. Stories evoke the release of several hormones which are associated with increased trust, empathy and group cohesion. 3

The release of oxytocin enhances our inclination to promote our ‘in-group’, 4 which in the workplace means our colleagues. And endorphins, the principal hormone involved in social bonding, create feelings (among those listening) of safety, happiness and trust.5 Taken together, stories foster alignment, inspire collective action and powerfully elevate social bonding. 6

 

Implication for the workplace: Storytelling helps foster alignment through greater empathy and trust and greater commitment to shared goals. Stories enable the alignment of people around a vision and create a clear connection between the work of individuals and the bigger picture. Thus, storytelling plays an important role in building and maintaining a culture where employees are engaged, committed and united.

 

3. Stories are Memorable

The power of storytelling lies in how humans process and retain information. We consider why stories are quickly internalised and effortlessly remembered through the following lenses:

  • Psychology: By presenting information through stories, a shared experience is created; we identify with characters, empathize with their struggles and learn from their triumphs and failures. These emotions explain why stories are more likely to be internalised and remembered, as emotion is a key driver of learning and memory.
  • Anthropology: The human brain is naturally attuned to stories, a phenomenon honed over millions of years of evolution, making the process of storytelling effortless and engaging even at a subconscious level.
  • Neuroscience: Not only do stories tap into our explicit memory system through the evocation of emotion, but they also tap into our working and implicit memory systems. Information in the form of a narrative, rather than standalone facts or disjointed concepts is easier to process within our working memory 7 and a greater volume of information can be stored through our pattern-recognising implicit memory system.

 

Implication for the workplace: Storytelling helps foster alignment through an effective way to share information which needs to be learned and remembered. Stories are particularly helpful when tacit knowledge (that which is based on experience), intuition and judgement needs to be shared. Scripted and told correctly, stories are quickly internalised and effortlessly remembered.

 

Why Is This Important?

Business storytelling is particularly important today because:

  1. Information overload: In today’s era of information overload, it has become increasingly challenging to retain learning materials and messages. Stories provide a powerful antidote to this problem by capturing attention, engaging emotions and making information more memorable.
  2. Multicultural and multigenerational workplaces: With workplaces becoming more diverse, the transfer of implicit, cultural knowledge between individuals is crucial. Stories bridge cultural gaps, facilitate understanding and strengthen alignment among employees from different backgrounds; fostering a sense of unity and shared purpose.
  3. Transient workforce and knowledge transfer: Today’s workforce is characterized by frequent role changes and mobility. This poses challenges in terms of knowledge transfer, continuity and alignment. Stories become vital tools for effectively conveying knowledge, training new employees, and ensuring smooth succession planning.
  4. Organizational values and culture: To attract and retain top talent, companies must effectively communicate their values and culture. Stories offer a compelling and authentic means to convey these messages, allowing recruits to connect emotionally with the organization’s mission and vision.

Conclusions

In conclusion, the power of business storytelling cannot be overstated. Stories have a profound impact, align individuals around a common purpose and make information more memorable. By harnessing the art of storytelling, businesses can captivate their audience, inspire action and forge lasting connections in an increasingly fast-paced and information-saturated world.

if you’d like to learn more about StoryTrack, please book a 30-minute story insight session by clicking on the button below.

References

Sabatinelli, D., Lang, P. J., Bradley, M. M., & Flaisch, T. (2006). The neural basis of narrative imagery: Emotion and action. In Progress in Brain Research (Vol. 156, pp. 93–103). Elsevier. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0079-6123(06)56005-4

2 Zak, P. J. (2014, October 28). Why Your Brain Loves Good Storytelling. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2014/10/why-your-brain-loves-good-storytelling

3 Monarth, H. (2014). The irresistible power of storytelling as a strategic business tool. Harvard business review, 11, 250-256. https://ncwwi.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/The-Irresistible-Power-of-Storytelling-as-a-Strategic-Business-Tool.pdf

4 Stallen, M., De Dreu, C. K. W., Shalvi, S., Smidts, A., & Sanfey, A. G. (2012). The Herding Hormone: Oxytocin Stimulates In-Group Conformity. Psychological Science, 23(11), 1288–1292. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797612446026

5 Camilleri, T., Rockey, S., & Dunbar, R. (2023). The Social Brain: The Psychology of Successful Groups. Cornerstone Press.

6 Sousa, V. (2021). Storytelling and retromarketing: Strengthening brand communication. Redmarka. Revista de Marketing Aplicado, 25(2), 44–62. https://doi.org/10.17979/redma.2021.25.2.8752

7 Cowan, N. (2010). The Magical Mystery Four: How Is Working Memory Capacity Limited, and Why? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 19(1), 51–57. https://doi.org/10.1177/0963721409359277

If you would like further information on this topic please get in touch with us at hello@arcadiaconsulting.com.

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Growth Mindset & Motivation

Growth Mindset & Motivation

Success is no longer determined solely by talent or intelligence, instead by the mindset with which we chose to approach any given situation. This choice will ultimately determine the levels of success we have in relation to our goals.

Research has shown that people who possess a growth mindset and practice positive inner dialogue are more likely to achieve success than those who don’t.

In this article, we’ll explore what a growth mindset is, the importance of inner dialogue, and how to master motivation to achieve success.

What is a Growth Mindset?

A growth mindset is a belief that our abilities can be developed through hard work, dedication, and persistence. People with a growth mindset view challenges as opportunities to learn and grow, rather than as insurmountable obstacles. They believe that their intelligence and talents can be developed through effort and practice, rather than being fixed traits that cannot be changed as is found in the fixed mindset.

People with a fixed mindset believe that their abilities are predetermined and unchangeable. They view challenges as threats to their self-esteem and tend to give up easily when faced with difficulties.

Click on image to enlarge.

The simple message here is what we believe affects what we achieve, with those adopting a fixed mindset following a path of “I can’t” and therefore “I won’t” (inertia/ plateau), whereas those adopting the growth mindset setting themselves on a path of “I can” (with effort) therefore “I will” (opportunity/ continuous improvement).

The iceberg model (our core mindset model at Arcadia) is a way of visualising the idea that people often only see the tip of the iceberg of another person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, while a much larger part of that person’s internal world remains hidden, below the surface.

What is visible, the tip of the iceberg, represents a person’s observable behaviours, words, and actions that we can easily perceive. However, much of what drives these behaviors is hidden beneath the surface and is not readily apparent. These hidden elements include a person’s beliefs, attitudes, values, emotions, and past experiences and of course their MINDSET, which can significantly impact how they perceive and respond to the world around them. The mindset (growth or fixed) will drive how they feel about themselves and the world, this drives the quality of action that they take which in turn manifests in the results they get. 

How Can I Adopt a Growth Mindset?

Inner Dialogue: Inner dialogue refers to the conversations we have with ourselves in our heads. It is the voice that tells us what we can or can’t do, and shapes our perceptions of ourselves and the world around us. Inner dialogue can be both positive or negative. It is one of the main ways we can shape how we perceive ourselves, and the world around us.

People with a growth mindset tend to have a positive inner dialogue. They focus on their strengths and abilities, and view challenges as opportunities to learn and grow. They use positive self-talk to motivate themselves and maintain a sense of optimism, even in the face of setbacks.

Mastering Motivation: Motivation is the driving force behind our actions and behaviors. It’s what inspires us to set goals, work hard, and overcome obstacles. However, motivation can be elusive, and many people struggle to maintain it over the long term. Here are some tips for mastering motivation:

  • Set Goals: Setting clear and achievable goals is essential for maintaining motivation. Goals give us a sense of purpose and direction, and they provide a framework for measuring progress and success.
  • Focus on the Process: Rather than just focusing on the end result, it’s important to focus on the process of achieving our goals. This means breaking down our goals into smaller, more manageable steps, and celebrating our progress along the way.
  • Practice Positive Self-Talk: Positive self-talk can be a powerful motivator. By using positive affirmations and focusing on our strengths and abilities, we can maintain a sense of optimism and motivation, even in the face of setbacks.
  • Embrace Failure: Failure is an inevitable part of the learning process. Rather than seeing failure as a reflection of our abilities, we should view it as an opportunity to learn and grow. By embracing failure and using it as a learning experience, we can maintain our motivation and continue to make progress towards our goals.

Leading with a Growth Mindset

From a leadership perspective, growth mindset means adopting a belief that your team, colleagues and organisation can improve if they are enabled and given a safe environment in which to learn, receive constructive feedback and are not stigmatised when things don’t go to plan. Praising effort, innovation and work ethic whilst not just focussing on the end result is critical here.

Learn not lose – a fail only makes you a failure if you don’t learn and grow from it.

Growth Mindset = Business Success

Growth mindset is essential for business success because it encourages employees to take risks, learn from their mistakes, and strive for continuous improvement. It also helps to create a culture of collaboration and innovation, which are essential for any business to succeed. A growth mindset also helps to foster a positive attitude and resilience, which are key to overcoming challenges and achieving success. Finally, it helps to creates a culture of peak performance and success.

As leaders we need to allow space for people to improve and not always expect perfection first time around. Over praising only can create a dangerous fixed mindset culture that when things don’t go to plan, the strategy of ‘I’m a natural’ is unhelpful, whereas a strategy of “tenacity, curiosity and self-reflection” will be useful as a response when things go wrong.

Conclusion

A growth mindset, positive inner dialogue, and strong motivation are all essential for achieving success. By embracing a growth mindset, focusing on positive self-talk, and mastering motivation, we can overcome obstacles and achieve our goals. Remember, success is not determined solely by talent or intelligence. It’s the product of the mindset with which we approach our goals.

If you would like further information on this topic please get in touch with us at hello@arcadiaconsulting.com

Want to Learn More?

Growth Mindset & Motivation

Growth Mindset & Motivation

Success is no longer determined solely by talent or intelligence, instead by the mindset with which we chose to approach any given situation. This choice will ultimately determine the levels of success we have in relation to our goals.

Research has shown that people who possess a growth mindset and practice positive inner dialogue are more likely to achieve success than those who don’t.

In this article, we’ll explore what a growth mindset is, the importance of inner dialogue, and how to master motivation to achieve success.

What is a Growth Mindset?

A growth mindset is a belief that our abilities can be developed through hard work, dedication, and persistence. People with a growth mindset view challenges as opportunities to learn and grow, rather than as insurmountable obstacles. They believe that their intelligence and talents can be developed through effort and practice, rather than being fixed traits that cannot be changed as is found in the fixed mindset.

People with a fixed mindset believe that their abilities are predetermined and unchangeable. They view challenges as threats to their self-esteem and tend to give up easily when faced with difficulties.

Click on image to enlarge.

The simple message here is what we believe affects what we achieve, with those adopting a fixed mindset following a path of “I can’t” and therefore “I won’t” (inertia/ plateau), whereas those adopting the growth mindset setting themselves on a path of “I can” (with effort) therefore “I will” (opportunity/ continuous improvement).

The iceberg model (our core mindset model at Arcadia) is a way of visualising the idea that people often only see the tip of the iceberg of another person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, while a much larger part of that person’s internal world remains hidden, below the surface.

What is visible, the tip of the iceberg, represents a person’s observable behaviours, words, and actions that we can easily perceive. However, much of what drives these behaviors is hidden beneath the surface and is not readily apparent. These hidden elements include a person’s beliefs, attitudes, values, emotions, and past experiences and of course their MINDSET, which can significantly impact how they perceive and respond to the world around them. The mindset (growth or fixed) will drive how they feel about themselves and the world, this drives the quality of action that they take which in turn manifests in the results they get. 

How Can I Adopt a Growth Mindset?

Inner Dialogue: Inner dialogue refers to the conversations we have with ourselves in our heads. It is the voice that tells us what we can or can’t do, and shapes our perceptions of ourselves and the world around us. Inner dialogue can be both positive or negative. It is one of the main ways we can shape how we perceive ourselves, and the world around us.

People with a growth mindset tend to have a positive inner dialogue. They focus on their strengths and abilities, and view challenges as opportunities to learn and grow. They use positive self-talk to motivate themselves and maintain a sense of optimism, even in the face of setbacks.

Mastering Motivation: Motivation is the driving force behind our actions and behaviors. It’s what inspires us to set goals, work hard, and overcome obstacles. However, motivation can be elusive, and many people struggle to maintain it over the long term. Here are some tips for mastering motivation:

  • Set Goals: Setting clear and achievable goals is essential for maintaining motivation. Goals give us a sense of purpose and direction, and they provide a framework for measuring progress and success.
  • Focus on the Process: Rather than just focusing on the end result, it’s important to focus on the process of achieving our goals. This means breaking down our goals into smaller, more manageable steps, and celebrating our progress along the way.
  • Practice Positive Self-Talk: Positive self-talk can be a powerful motivator. By using positive affirmations and focusing on our strengths and abilities, we can maintain a sense of optimism and motivation, even in the face of setbacks.
  • Embrace Failure: Failure is an inevitable part of the learning process. Rather than seeing failure as a reflection of our abilities, we should view it as an opportunity to learn and grow. By embracing failure and using it as a learning experience, we can maintain our motivation and continue to make progress towards our goals.

Leading with a Growth Mindset

From a leadership perspective, growth mindset means adopting a belief that your team, colleagues and organisation can improve if they are enabled and given a safe environment in which to learn, receive constructive feedback and are not stigmatised when things don’t go to plan. Praising effort, innovation and work ethic whilst not just focussing on the end result is critical here.

Learn not lose – a fail only makes you a failure if you don’t learn and grow from it.

Growth Mindset = Business Success

Growth mindset is essential for business success because it encourages employees to take risks, learn from their mistakes, and strive for continuous improvement. It also helps to create a culture of collaboration and innovation, which are essential for any business to succeed. A growth mindset also helps to foster a positive attitude and resilience, which are key to overcoming challenges and achieving success. Finally, it helps to creates a culture of peak performance and success.

As leaders we need to allow space for people to improve and not always expect perfection first time around. Over praising only can create a dangerous fixed mindset culture that when things don’t go to plan, the strategy of ‘I’m a natural’ is unhelpful, whereas a strategy of “tenacity, curiosity and self-reflection” will be useful as a response when things go wrong.

Conclusion

A growth mindset, positive inner dialogue, and strong motivation are all essential for achieving success. By embracing a growth mindset, focusing on positive self-talk, and mastering motivation, we can overcome obstacles and achieve our goals. Remember, success is not determined solely by talent or intelligence. It’s the product of the mindset with which we approach our goals.

If you would like further information on this topic please get in touch with us at hello@arcadiaconsulting.com

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Leading Across Generations

Leading Across Generations

The world within which we grow up shapes us in fundamental ways. Whilst not the complete picture, understanding how historical moments shape generations will lead to a better appreciation of why an individual thinks, feels and behaves the way they do.

Harnessing this understanding will lead to a more inclusive and better managed workplace and will improve talent retention and recruitment.

Who are the different generations?

While categorizations vary across the globe l, it is generally understood that there are up to four generations in the workplace at present:

*Age in 2023

As of 2023, the majority of the global workforce is made up of Generation X and Millennials, demonstrated below by the workforces of the United Kingdom, United States, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Notes: US data – Bureau of Labor Statistics; generations split as follows: Baby Boomers (60+), Gen X (40-59), Millennials (25-39), Gen Z (16-24). UK data – ONS; Baby Boomers (65+), Gen X (50-65 plus half of workers aged 35-49), Millennials (25-34 plus half of workers aged 35-49), Gen Z (16-24). Hong Kong data – Census & Statistics Department; Baby Boomers (60+), Gen X (40-59), Millennials (25-39), Gen Z (15-24). Singapore data Ministry of Manpower; Baby Boomers (60+), Gen X (40-59), Millennials (25-39), Gen Z (15-24). 

The proportion of the workforce made up by Baby Boomers is enduring more so than previous generations. This is due to both medical advances enabling people to live healthier for longer, and workplace changes allowing people to work with greater ease i.e., remotely.

Meanwhile the proportion of the workforce made up by Generation Z is increasing, with PwC estimating Generation Z and Millennials will make up around 60% of the global workforce by 2030.2

And we can expect the emergence of Generation Alpha in the workforce in 2030, leading to the possibility of five generations in the workplace at one time.

Are generational differences not just down to age?

Difficulties in assessing generational differences are well-known.3 Some observed differences are due to differences between age-groups, rather than generations. For example, some studies suggest that Generation X, who are in middle adulthood, value work-life balance more than other generations do.4 This could simply be a result of differences in life stage, as Millennials might express similar sentiments when they reach middle adulthood. It is therefore important to distinguish between age-related and history-related influences; the latter being the defining influence across generations.5

Age-related influences are tied to chronological age and largely predictable, although there will be some variation across cultures. For example:

Understanding age-related influences is important in the workplace. For example, a young adult may be embarking on a journey into parenthood and in doing so, may need their employer to be more flexible and forgiving when work does not take priority.

Taking the time to understand and appreciate these life events is key to ensuring employees are able and willing to contribute to the best of their ability.

History-related influences explain how the time period in which we live, and the unique historical circumstances of that time affect our development. Economic shifts, social movements and wars are just some examples of historical influences. They are by nature less predictable and show significant variations across cultures.

Historical influences can be local to a neighbourhood, country, or continent; or global (either in nature or consequence). It is important to consider that global events can bring very different localized impacts due to co-existing cultural influences, as we have seen with the COVID-19 pandemic where economic, health and societal impacts have varied significantly across the globe. Regardless of localized differences, historical influences can shape entire generations by shaping the world in which individuals mature. 

In considering how history-related influences might shape your or other generations, we have brought together some key themes and events over the past 80 years. We hope they evoke curiosity: which historical events had the most impact on you? How might recent events be impacting younger generations and their approach to work?

Click image to enlarge and view details.

What do we know about each generation?


Generational research is difficult. Having surveyed the literature on generational differences, we have hand-picked some insights from reputable studies. These are not comprehensive but give a flavor of the observed differential characteristics of each generation. We have also included quotes from a short series of internal interviews conducted here at Arcadia in March 2023.

Baby Boomers

More than other generations, baby boomers are more likely to stay at jobs they do not enjoy due to their traditional attitudes.6 Baby boomers respect authority and tend to favor hierarchal leadership.7

Generation X

Generation X were the first generation to grow up in homes with two working parents – consequently they are often characterized as independent and self-sufficient.8 Generation X are thought to be the first generation to place work-life balance as the highest priority9 and they will typically work for several employers over the course of their career.

Millennials

Millennials are recognized for their social consciousness and open-mindedness. These characteristics are likely due to the exposure to widely available travel and social media, enabling encounters from an early age with diverse cultures and lifestyles.10 The result is that millennials value the world beyond their own spheres and prioritise diversity and inclusivity. Millennials look for these values in a workplace.11

Generation Z

Generation Z are adapted to life in a digital age and a world that operates at speed, scale and scope. They are pragmatic due to being accustomed to utilizing ever improving tools and technology. Generation Z, like Millennials, are especially drawn to companies that make positive social impact.12 Gen Z value flexibility, relevance, authenticity and non-hierarchical leadership.13

Spotlight on Generation Z

A large-scale study by Stanford conducted between 2017-2021 found the following attributes of Generation Z.13 Findings were based on interviews, focus groups and surveys of >2k adults aged between 18-25yrs (Generation Z) as well as the ‘iGen corpus’, a 70million item strong repository of spoken and written language of people aged 16-25yrs.

Generation Z…

  • Value flexibility, relevance, authenticity and non-hierarchical leadership.
  • Do not necessarily want to communicate via digital means (a common assumption) – nearly every Generation Z interviewed said their favorite form of communication was ‘in person’.
  • Often question rules and authority due to being so used to finding what they need on their own (e.g., through the internet). They can also become frustrated by what appears to them to be outdated and often irrelevant ways of doing things.
  • Have a greater appreciation for diversity and the importance of finding their own unique identities as a result of growing up in a world where it is easy to learn about/meet/experience different people and cultures from across the world.

Why is this important?

  1. Recruitment: Generation Z are either in education, entering the workforce or in the early stages of their career. As the generation of ‘sensibility’, wanting to solve humanity’s greatest issues, ‘unity’, seeking a better more equitable world, and of ‘truth’, craving authenticity in an era of fake news and information overload14; Generation Z have new requirements of the workplace. Understanding these and adapting recruitment strategies accordingly is key to successful talent acquisition.
  2. Retention: Understanding how to lead across generations is key to successfully motivating and retaining talent; and has been evidenced to promote cooperation and unity in the workplace.15 A failure to engage employees across all generations leads to inadequate working environments and can cause breakdowns in workplace relationships, leading to quiet or actual quitting.
  3. Training: As Generation Z become a greater proportion of the workforce, there are important implications for training in the workplace. Generation Z and Millennials, as generations of ‘choice’ growing up in a world of abundance, need to be persuaded of the value of training; they need the ‘why’ before they engage. Younger generations require instant gratification – training techniques need to capitalize on technological advances and they need to be fast and rewarding. Training strategies need to account for younger generations switching jobs more frequently, to ensure that training offers remain valuable to both the employee and employer. 
  4. Shift-change in leadership: As Baby Boomers gradually leave the workforce, leadership positions open for Generation X and Millennials to progress into. We expect over the coming decade a resulting shift-change in leadership, with implications for how employers handle the transition. Research shows that Generation Z value non-hierarchical leadership, at odds to what Baby Boomers value and Generation X have been accustomed to. This shift-change may offer opportunity for new leaders to change the structure of organisations accordingly.
  1. Opportunities: With increasing advances in technology, it is arguably vital for success to have an intergenerational workplace to harness opportunities created by artificial intelligence, data science and automation. Generation Z are considered ‘digitally fluent’16 and consequently, they are the most likely to be able to help navigate opportunities presented by exciting technological advances. Companies need Generation Z.

Can / should we generalise?

Understanding diversity in the workplace is paramount, whether diversity by generation, gender, culture, age or career stage.

“Appreciation of generational differences is simply another form of diversity in the workplace, and as such, should be prioritized to create the space for understanding those who have different experiences and perspectives.” – Generation X, Female, US

As described, there are historical influences which distinctly shape a generation, resulting in common tendencies distinct to that generation. These tendencies need to be understood and appreciated to enable successful talent recruitment, retention and training.

However, as with other diversity domains, generations are not necessarily homogeneous.17 There are age-related influences common across generations; and there are cultural factors which lead two individuals within the same generation to have different values and working preferences. There are also individual differences which lead to different motivations and attitudes in the workplace. It is important not to over-generalise: stereotypical beliefs can be problematic, they can get in the way of how people collaborate with their colleagues, and have troubling implications for how we people are managed and trained.18 The important thing is for employers to consider reasons for why an individual thinks, feels and behaves the way they do.

Conclusions

  1. Companies need to understand their workforce and the sub-groups within – these subgroups might not necessarily be by age or generation; the important thing is that the workplace is a safe and productive place for all.
  2. The workplace is becoming increasingly generationally diverse, with expectations of up to five generations in the workforce in 2030 and with Generation Z and Alpha demonstrating significant differences to older generations which need to be understood.
  3. It is important not to overgeneralise: stereotypes can interfere with workplace behaviour. Across generations, cultures and age groups, individual differences must always be considered.

We’d love to hear your perspectives on and experiences of leading and managing an intergenerational workplace. We have a range of training as well as seminar-style offerings on understanding generations which we’d love to discuss with you and, where relevant, tailor these to your company’s needs. Get in touch here: hello@arcadiaconsulting.com.

This article was written by a female Millennial and a male Baby Boomer, both members of Arcadia’s Research team.

References

1 In China, generations are considered by decade – for example, the ‘post 50s’ generation were born between 1950 and 1959.

2 PwC – How prepared are employers for Generation Z? August 2021 – (link).

3 Pew Research Center – The Whys and Hows of Generations Research. September 2015 –  (link).

4 Whitney Gibson, J., Greenwood, R. A., & Murphy, Jr., E. F. (2009). Generational Differences In The Workplace: Personal Values, Behaviors, And Popular Beliefs. Journal of Diversity Management (JDM), 4(3), 1–8. https://doi.org/10.19030/jdm.v4i3.4959

5 Kuther, T. L. (2022). Lifespan Development (3rd ed.). SAGE Publications US.

6 Abate, J., Schaefer, T., & Pavone, T. (2018). Understanding generational identity, job burnout, job satisfaction, job tenure and turnover intention. Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict22(1), 1-12.

7 Gursoy, D., Maier, T. A., & Chi, C. G. (2008). Generational differences: An examination of work values and generational gaps in the hospitality workforce. International journal of hospitality management27(3), 448-458.

8 Jiang, S (2019, April 2). The ABCs Of Generations X, Y and Z. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbeshumanresourcescouncil/2019/04/02/the-abcs-of-generations-x-y-and-z/?sh=4150bdfe672b

9 Gibson, J. W., Greenwood, R. A., & Murphy Jr, E. F. (2009). Generational differences in the workplace: Personal values, behaviors, and popular beliefs. Journal of Diversity Management (JDM)4(3), 1-8.

10 Pew Research Center (2010, February 24). Millennials: Confident. Connected. Open to Change. https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2010/02/24/millennials-confident-connected-open-to-change/

11 Smith, C and Turner, S (2015). The Radical Transformation of Diversity and Inclusion The Millennial Influence. Deloitte University. https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/us/Documents/about-deloitte/us-inclus-millennial-influence-120215.pdf

12 Deloitte (2022). Striving for balance, advocating for change – The Deloitte global 2022 Gen Z & Millennial survey. https://www.deloitte.com/global/en/issues/work/genzmillennialsurvey.html

13 Katz, R (2022) Gen Z, Explained: The Art of Living in a Digital Age (University of Chicago Press, 2021) – referenced here: https://news.stanford.edu/2022/01/03/know-gen-z/

14 Edelman – The Power of Gen Z – Trust & The Future Consumer, December 2021 (link).

15 Becton, J. B., Walker, H. J., & Jones‐Farmer, A. (2014). Generational differences in workplace behavior. Journal of Applied Social Psychology44(3), 175-189.

16 Leslie, B., Anderson, C., Bickham, C., Horman, J., Overly, A., Gentry, C., … & King, J. (2021). Generation Z perceptions of a positive workplace environment. Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal33, 171-187.

17 Rudolph, C. W., & Zacher, H. (2017). Considering generations from a lifespan developmental perspective. Work, Aging and Retirement3(2), 113-129.

18 Harvard Business Review – Just How Different Are Millennials, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers at Work? August 2019 – (link).

If you would like further information on this topic please get in touch with us at hello@arcadiaconsulting.com.

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Sales Success – The 3 Daily Habits that Make a Difference

Sales Success – The 3 Daily Habits that Make a Difference

Len Patane

Len Patane

Principal Consultant

When markets take a hit, it can be challenging for sales teams to make their numbers. Yet many do; how is that possible? They understand that success takes dedication and hard work. It’s not just about having the right product or the brightest idea, but also about developing daily habits that set them up for long-term success in any market condition. So which key habits are essential for sellers of all levels and disciplines during economic instability and volatility?

The difference between average salespeople and exceptional salespeople can often be boiled down to their daily habits. Exceptional salespeople tend to be more organised and methodical in their approach, setting aside time each day to make sure they are reaching goals and maximising their potential. They use this time to identify key areas of improvement, develop an actionable plan to take advantage of opportunities, and refine their communication skills. Not only do they have a keen eye for details and trends, but exceptional salespeople also have the discipline and focus to stay on task until all objectives have been met. Furthermore, they understand the power of networking and foster relationships with both clients and colleagues that are beneficial for mutual growth.

Average salespeople don’t necessarily lack ambition or motivation. They may be less organised in their approach, not taking the time to continually work on personal growth or strategic planning. They may also lack confidence in reaching out to peers or customers, which reduces opportunities for success.

Based on our experience working with thousands of sales professionals in multiple industries and geographies around the globe, we have identified 3 core daily habits that we believe drive sales success:

  • Building relationships with prospects, clients, and industry specialists.
  • Prioritising continuous self-improvement through research and study.
  • Maintaining an attitude of self-motivation.

Daily Habit One:

The “5 A Day” habit: Build relationships and sales fitness.

Connecting with stakeholders via LinkedIn is a great way to build relationships and open up new sales opportunities. As such, it is important to have a strategy for how you want to approach the connections you make. A mentor once introduced me to the “5 A Day” habit to build sales health. Just like consuming 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day is great for your physical health; identify and focus on cultivating five new business relationships each day.  That’s 25 new connections each week, 100 a month or 1,200 a year. If you were able to convert just 5% of these new connections to paying customers, that’s 60 new clients a year! 

When targeting these five relationships each day, make sure you do more than just send a connection request — personalise each message so that it speaks specifically to their interests and needs. Additionally, when connecting don’t just promote yourself., Instead provide them with value by engaging with their content, offer genuine compliments, and share valuable articles and thought leadership assets.  

Once you’ve nurtured a connection and want to open up the account, a great way to understand the dynamics of relationships within this connection’s organisation is by creating a Power Map. Building a Power Map  can be easily achieved with a simple three-step process that creates a visual representation of the decision-making landscape:  

a) Plot each stakeholder’s INFLUENCE in the decision-making process against their ATTITUDE to you and your organisation onto a four-quadrant model. Each quadrant categorises the stakeholder and describes how best leverage them to increase your chances of success.

Protestors – (Low Influence/Low Attitude) do not have much sway, yet can take up significant amounts of our time asking for additional information. Recommendation: Don’t ignore them, but be judicious with responses to their queries as they can be time thieves.

Enemies – (High Influence/Low Attitude) should raise red flags as they are not supporters yet have the power to award the business. Recommendation: Try to understand why they don’t want to support you, maybe they’re very happy with their existing supplier; were they burned by a bad past experience with your organisation? As a minimum, try to neutralise their attitude towards you with the help of a Friend or Ally whose opinion they value.

Friends – (Low Influence/High Attitude) can’t say yes to our proposal but they can open doors for us and provide valuable organisational and competitive intelligence. Recommendation: Make a point of getting to know the personal assistants of all the relevant senior executives in your accounts.

Allies – (High Influence/High Attitude) are your internal champions and most vocal mouthpieces for the promotion of you, your solution and organisation to the powers that be. Recommendation: Word up your Allies with everything they need to do an internal sale on your behalf.

Unknown Zone – If you’ve recently acquired a new account or proactively expanding into new business units within an existing account, there will more than likely be a number of stakeholders that you haven’t met yet. That’s totally fine, plot them onto the UNKNOWN zone and use the later stages of this exercise to plan how to best reach out and build a relationship.

Neutral Zone – Alternatively, you may have some fence sitters who don’t have a strong opinion about you or your company, they can be plotted in the NEUTRAL zone. This is a fantastic opportunity to get to know these stakeholders and their worlds, and then provide them with value and insight to move them into Friend or Ally territory.

b) After plotting each stakeholder, annotate each stakeholder with their role in the decision-making process. Role types are either:

  • Decision Maker – decisions don’t get made without their sign off
  • Key Influencer – This is someone who can change the mind of the decision maker/s
  • Influencer – their opinion is sought but would rarely change a decision
  • Supporter – Someone who likes you and is prepared to help with information and guide you. 

c) Then draw lines to visualise existing relationships by connecting stakeholders that know each other and value each other’s opinions. Now you know who to ask for introductions and who can put in a good word for you.

By mapping out these relationships, you will better understand each connection’s influence on your desired party and how best your efforts can be leveraged. This could be through leveraging Friends and Allies for introductions or providing influencers with content or services that will appeal to your target stakeholder. Additionally, if done correctly, it can give insight into potential weaknesses in relationships that need to be strengthened or new contacts that may need to be cultivated in order for certain objectives to be met.  

Remember that connections don’t always have to be professional in nature; look for common ground like your children’s schools, church groups, sporting and volunteering associations that you both may be a part of, as these are a great way to make a connection and quickly build rapport and start forging a relationship. 

Overall, building relationships with prospects, clients and specialists isn’t easy—but a Power Map can make it much simpler by helping you visualise complex connections between individuals in an organised manner. That way, you know exactly how best to use those relations for maximum impact. 

Daily Habit Two:

The Learning Hour Habit: Make time for self-improvement to build sales success.

Continuous self-improvement is essential for success in the modern business world. To stay ahead of the competition and build opportunities, salespeople must dedicate themselves to a regimen of research and learning. Block out an hour in your diary each day to read industry articles, complete online courses, or research. This simple habit will provide invaluable insights into industry and market trends, developments, and challenges which you can use with clients and prospects throughout the sales process. Not only does this practice allow sales professionals to keep up with market and industry advances, it also gives them the necessary knowledge they need to effectively understand the needs of their customers and provide innovative solutions that drive valuable outcomes. 

Self-improvement activities can help sales professionals gain valuable insights into customer behaviour and learn how they can create personalised experiences that align with the client’s unique needs. Through consistent research and learning, sales professionals can further refine their account strategies by learning about new resources available as well as any market changes that could influence their performance in a positive way.   

In today’s increasingly complex environment, continuous self-improvement has become an absolute necessity for those looking to succeed in sales. By taking an hour out of each day to conduct some kind of research or learning related activity, salespeople are not only able to improve their skills but build confidence in what they do and set themselves apart from the competition. With a commitment towards lifelong learning and development, sales professionals are able to better understand customer needs and create meaningful relationships that lead to long-term success in their field. 

Daily Habit Three:

The power of cultivating resourceful mindsets in sales.

When we say resourceful mindsets, we’re talking about how well we can endure and triumph over pressure. This is often what separates exceptional sales performers from the rest; it’s actually the difference that makes the difference! Exceptional sales performers have strong self-belief, determination, coping, focus – and above all else, demonstrate positivity and mental strength. In essence, exceptional performers consistently see the positive in every situation despite how bleak it might initially look.

What drives a mindset of resourcefulness? What makes you feel customer-obsessed, competitive and results-driven? Is it the things that happen around you, or does it come from somewhere else? 

There will always be things that could impact your behaviour and therefore your results. There will always be problems, failure, and rejection. If the events around you determine your level of motivation, we call that the ‘outside-in’ approach to motivation. The key to staying motivated is to proactively decide – irrespective of what happens on the outside – that you will choose to feel good and resourceful on the inside. This is the ‘inside-out’ approach to motivation.  

So how do you develop ‘inside out’ motivation? When it comes to challenging external events like not being shortlisted for an RFP or losing business to a competitor; we cannot control the event itself, we can however control our response to this event. What’s within our gift is how professional, calm, and resourceful we stay when we deal with the situation.  

Rather than reacting emotionally, you can stay resourceful in difficult situations by using this simple process developed by Jack Cranfield (Author of “Chicken Soup for the Soul”) called E+R=O

Imagine your client has requested an urgent meeting because there is a serious complaint she needs to share with you. When describing the situation, she becomes visibly agitated, she raises her voice and then starts aggressively pointing at you and proceeds to blame you for the situation. When confronted with such an external EVENT (E) it’s easy – in the heat of the moment – to take this personally, get defensive, lose control and then REACT (R) in a highly emotional way. In a worst-case scenario, this could result in you raising your voice at the client, bashing your fist on the table or even storming out of the room. After such an outburst you’re left with a highly undesirable OUTCOME (O) where the problem remains unresolved and you’ve damaged the client relationship. 

In the future, when confronted with a similar situation, why not try this approach? Before you do anything rash, remember you have zero control over the EVENT (E), so stop, take a big deep breath in and then: a) Start with the end in mind or the OUTCOME (O). Ask yourself, what is it that you want to achieve in this situation? Ideally understand more about the client’s complaint, try to fix it and ultimately, preserve the relationship b)Then go backwards to the RESPONSE (R). Think about what the most resourceful response would be to ensure you achieve your desired Outcome? Why not demonstrate some empathy by firstly acknowledging and apologising for the situation, and then requesting if you could ask some questions to help you better understand the issue so you can attempt to resolve it. This approach enables the client to vent her frustrations whilst diffusing any emotion as she sees you attentively listening and genuinely wanting to solve the issue resulting in a more collaborative and constructive conversation. Following this E+R=O process to totally own your R (which you have 100% control over) will help you to diffuse emotionally charged situations and collaboratively reach a solution by cultivating a more resourceful and positive mindset.

Finally, it’s useful to highlight the cyclic nature of the E+R=O formula as each OUTCOME (O) becomes the next EVENT (E). For example, if this meeting was an absolute disaster where both parties lost their cool, then the next time you connect with the client will probably be quite tense and uncomfortable. Alternatively, if the meeting ended positively with an acknowledgement of the complaint and an agreed way forward to solve it, such an outcome can have the effect of building an even stronger relationship, smoothing the way for more open, collaborative and trust based future meetings. 

In conclusion, it is evident that sales success requires more than just good intentions; those who truly want to thrive must be willing to put in extra effort each day by consistently practicing habits including nurturing their “5 A Day” relationships, allocating 1 hour each day to invest in self-improvement activities and learn something new as well as bouncing back from adversity by staying resourceful and self-motivated. 

So, in the words of James Clear (author of Atomic Habits), why not try introducing some, or all of these habits into your daily routine to help drive quality inputs and see what impact they could make on accelerating your outcomes and overall sales success! 

”The edge is in the inputs.

The person who consumes from better sources, gets better thoughts.

The person who asks better questions, gets better answers.

The person who builds better habits, gets better results.

It’s not the outcomes. It’s the inputs.”

James Clear, Author of Atomic Habits

If you would like further information on this topic please get in touch with Len at Len.patane@arcadiaconsulting.com.

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8 Strategies to Drive Employee Engagement

8 Strategies to Drive Employee Engagement

Steve Ellis

Steve Ellis

Partner

According to Gallup’s latest ‘State of the World Workplace 2022’ report:

  • 60% of people are emotionally detached at work and 19% are miserable.
  • 59% of these are stressed on a daily basis, 56% are worried, 33% are working with physical pain and 31% are angry
  • Only 21% of the workforce are engaged at work
  • 45% of employees said now is a good time to find a job, up slightly from last year, but less than the record 55% in 2019.
  • The regional outlier for this item is the United States and Canada, which leads the world at 71%, up 44 percentage points from the previous year. The next closest regions are Australia and New Zealand at 59% and South Asia at 50%.
  • The regions with the least promising job opportunities are the Commonwealth of Independent States (35%), MENA (28%) and East Asia (27%).

If you are struggling to attract and retain talent or if you are experiencing evidence of quiet quitting, then these 8 leadership strategies can help.

1. Onboarding shouldn't be boring

First impressions are crucial. Leaders need to build relationships and trust quickly with time spent building intimacy, empathy and understanding. Make the onboarding experience a personal one and ensure that they experience as much about the total company as possible and not just the division they have joined. New starters want to believe that their future is wide open with lots of choice and opportunities.

2. Lead with purpose

Leaders can inspire their team members with purpose beyond making profit. As Simon Sinek says, ‘start with why’. Leaders need to connect daily activities and outcomes to a bigger picture for customers, communities, the planet. When we see how our work contributes to that purpose, we get a huge sense of value and meaning.

3. Build fun into work

Work should be fun. Build fun into the work, the day, or week. Enable the team to create their own ‘fun.’ ‘Forced fun’ can be cringey and disengaging. Fun doesn’t just mean after work drinks but can mean games, competitions, activities, experiences, connect to society. Be prepared to spend money on having fun, it will save you money in the long run.

4. Show care and curiosity

‘I don’t care what you know until I know that you care.’ If we want our team to care for their work and care for their outcomes, then leaders must show they care for them. This interest and curiosity must extend beyond conversations about their performance and onto care for their lives.

Zenger Folkman identified 3 critical characteristics that was associated with colleagues being prepared to ‘go the extra mile’. Zenger Folkman analysts looked at 360 leadership assessments since 2020 and compared 13,000 employee ratings of 2,801 leaders who ‘balance getting results with a concern for other’s needs’, and the extent to which their ‘‘work environment is a place where people want to go the extra mile’. Those leaders with the rated highest on balancing results and relationships saw 62% of employees willing to go the extra mile and only 3% ‘quietly quitting’. The worst leaders had 14% of colleagues quietly quitting and only 22% willing to go the extra mile.

HBR Graph

5. Build trust

‘I couldn’t trust you as far as I could throw you!’ Trust binds people together. It makes them want to stay.

3 critical drivers of trust:

  1. Positive relationships. This means you look forward to connecting and enjoy talking to them. Common interests bind you together, while differences are stimulating. Some team members make it easy to have a positive relationship. Others are more challenging. This is often a result of differences (age, gender, ethnicity, or political orientation). Look for and discover common ground with these team members to build mutual trust.
  2. In addition to being totally honest, leaders need to deliver on what they promise. Most leaders believe they are more consistent than others perceive them.
  3. Do you know your job well? Are you out of date on any aspects of your work? Do others trust your opinions and your advice? Experts can bring clarity, a path forward, and clear insight to build trust. This is especially true in technical divisions such as IT, Finance, R&D, Engineering where technical expertise is given huge significance and attention.

6. Active and conscious inclusion - ABIDE

Leaders need to ensure Access, Belonging, Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity. Build a psychologically safe environment for everyone. A place where it is easy to express yourself. Most leaders believe themselves to be fair and unbiased. This may be true but ABIDE demands active and conscious inclusion i.e., working hard to bring people in is a different mindset to avoiding exclusion.

7. Inspire others

Leaders need to make the team feel feelings about their work, their company, and their career. Inspiring others includes making me feel proud of the company (its contribution to ESG, society, communities), feeling excited about the future (the company direction, vision, and strategy), challenged and passionate for innovation and new products, markets, and opportunities. Feeling involved in the future by feeling valued and part of the company’s future.

8. Grow others

There is a commercial exchange of value between employer and employee. The employee completes tasks between 9am and 5pm and the employer pays the employee a salary. But if the employee wants future growth in their salary, and the employer wants future value in their tasks, so both need to priorities growth, skill development, training, and responsibilities and opportunities where the employee can prove and improve themselves.

Quiet quitting is a real opportunity cost to the business. For leaders, it is not about getting employees to do more than contracted hours for nothing in return. It is about creating the right environment in which there is a ‘value-added’ exchange. The team member receives and experiences growth, development, empowerment to experiment, fun, loyalty, care, recognition, and joy. The company gets loyalty, ideas, innovation, discretionary effort, advocacy, and a collective culture that builds a reputation in the marketplace.

Leaders must lead and find their own passion for the engagement agenda. It does not just happen. Engagement demands conscious planning and execution.

If you would like further information on this topic please get in touch at hello@arcadiaconsulting.com.

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Trends in Learning and Development 2022

Trends in Learning and Development 2022

Vincent Romano

Vincent Romano

Executive Client Director

The training landscape in 2022 has been largely shaped by the effects of companies returning to the office following lowering of COVID-19 restrictions. Employees are mobile, both physically returning to the office and moving organisations as part of The Great Resignation, impacting training needs and the delivery format. Learning and development as a result is very much front of mind for business leader as they seek to engage and retain their employees.

This article sets out the main trends and themes we have observed during 2022, drawing upon feedback from our clients (either anecdotally or from our surveys), as well from our network of Associates, Partners, and Consultants.

Delivery Format

There has been some debate over in-person training versus virtual training, with the consensus being that in-person training generally is more impactful, while virtual training is more convenient.

In-person is particularly more effective for higher value topics, such as high potential development, leadership, and diversity & inclusion programs. Not only are skillsets enhanced but character is built, and closer, long-term relationships are formed. Employers also have observed the broader benefits of in-person training being able to help build company culture and embed purpose and inclusivity. As a result, in person training has become the default where possible, but for training involving individuals across wider geographies, virtual training can be more economical and accessible.

Companies can adapt digital training for purpose using technology to help digital learning be more engaging, however, there is a lag in what learners expect compared to what companies are offering.

Top 3 Reasons Why In-Person Training is Preferred

  • Reward and incentivize employees to return to the office.
  • Develop core company values and culture.
  • Enhance employee engagement and team building.

Top 3 Reasons Why Virtual Training is Not Working

  • Zoom fatigue and low engagement (not switching on cameras or microphone)
  • Technology difficulties and connectivity
  • Not fit for purpose (limitation of physical activities).

Impact of Technology

This takes us nicely to the subject of technology and its impact on learning and development.

We note that hybrid training can be an extremely tricky mode of learning with lack of equity between in-person learners who are typically more engaged and virtual learners who are often isolated. The solution has been the creation of dedicated hybrid training facilities, with Singapore seeing the opening of Catapult which is Southeast Asia’s first leadership training hub designed to groom Asia’s next-generation leaders through immersive, experiential, and impactful learning journeys. All training rooms are hybrid enabled with cameras tracking facilitators movements, while other facilities include recording suites, and 180-degree and 360-degree immersive studios.

Although they have been around for a while, it is worth while noting the growing popularity of online resources such as LinkedIn Learning, Coursera and Udemy where employees select courses and learn at their own pace. Gamification, meanwhile, can provide a wrapper around these resources to help engage learners by rewarding completion of programs with points, badges, or redeemable vouchers.

Furthermore, there is a move towards Digital Certification of learning where learners will receive accreditation of programs they have attended in a digital wallet, verified by blockchain technology. As the accreditation is unique and verifiable, learners can use the accreditation to help with reimbursement of training costs or demonstration of programme completion to new employers. At Arcadia, we are proud to be working with one of our key partners to co-create our own digital certification – watch this space!

Virtual Reality is also moving into the learning arena as well with VR environments such as such as Oculus where you are exposed to a fully immersive virtual experience. Training takes place on a more individual basis but can achieve high level of engagement which can be useful for getting a specific message across as well as for events such as Executive Away Days, or for energising an audience.

Learning Topics

With in-person training returning, the demand for learning topics has also changed, however, we continue to see several themes persisting which continue to be topical. With teams, particularly regional teams, being able to come together in the one location, we have seen a demand for in person training as part of either Leadership Offsites or Sales Kick Offs, with more engaging and energising topics being requested, particularly from our Communication Suite

High Performing Teams – as leadership teams come together, often for the very first time due to changes in management personnel, the need to understand and build relationships with peers has meant that High Performing Teams was in significant demand, as was shown in our Singapore survey earlier this year.

Presentation Skills – with the return to the office, there has been a return to face-to-face presentations and as such there has been a noticeable uptake in demand for presentation skills programmes, specifically from sales teams for Pitching Skills training.

Executive Presence – like Presentation Skills, with fewer meetings taking place virtually, Executive Presence skills has continued to prove to be in heavy demand, particularly as part of Leadership offsites as a motivational and engaging segment.

Strategic Thinking –demand for Strategic Thinking training in 2022 has been by the need for employees to focus on problem solving skills and increasing employee’s connection to strategy. However, we expect this programme to continue to be popular in 2023 as companies deal with the fall out of the anticipated global recession and the need for companies to implement strategies to survive.

Diversity – unsurprising Diversity, Inclusion and Unconscious Bias training continues to be popular amongst multinationals whether to address specific issues or as part of corporate strategies to present the company as employers of choice.

High Potential Leadership Programmes – this includes both First Time Manager Development Programmes and Female Leadership Development Programmes. There is a strong need to create and maintain a strong bench of talent, particularly following the Pandemic where several senior expatriate leaders returned to their home countries leaving gaps in senior leadership teams. Furthermore, the lack of women in leadership continues to raise its head as a key area to address.

Innovation – innovation has been a key business topic in 2022 and we have seen this translate into demand for training programmes at both the employee and leadership level. We also anticipate this need to grow in 2023 with the anticipated recession as companies seek new market opportunities. Consequently, Arcadia is in the process of building a Leading for Innovation programme which will be available from Q1 of 2023

Imposter Syndrome – this is another popular topic trending in the business world and a phrase guaranteed to be included in year end lists of new words and phrases appearing in our vocabularies. The need to define what this means for companies and how we address this has meant that this is another programme scheduled for release by Arcadia later in 2023.

Executive Coaching – coaching has been in high demand for 2022 and the reasons for this are many and varied. Often coaching assignments have been requested to help individuals prepare for the next rung on the leadership ladder, sometimes for specific presentations, townhalls or media interviews. Other times coaching has been selected as an additional resource for support for individuals experiencing high pressure situations.

The Road Ahead

Even before the world was waking up to the pandemic, back in January 2020, the World Economic Forum said that in the next two years – by 2022 – 42% of core skills required to perform existing jobs are expected to change. With the advent of the pandemic, change has accelerated this requirement even further (now 50% by 2025).

The demand for technological skills has mushroomed while younger generations are demanding not only training but practical opportunities to practice and demonstrate those skills. Throw in the current economic recovery providing massive opportunities in the job market for employees, companies are turning to learning more than ever to engage and retain employees (now potential Global downturn with a war for talent).

Organisations must be nimble and must listen to the demands and needs of its employees and learning is one of the main tools where organizations can deliver on those demands.

Summary

As companies struggle to retain and attract staff, training has had a renewed focus, after being somewhat neglected during the initial stages of the pandemic. Furthermore, training is key to companies reskilling as they innovate to survive in the post COVID business world, particularly with the anticipated Global Recession in 2023.

To conclude, there are four key trends organisation should consider:

  1. In-person Training – where possible, in-person training is the preference for companies, to engage employees and encourage face to face interactions. It is seen as having a higher value than prior to the pandemic and as a reward to employees.
  2. Virtual Training Convenience – as much as companies want in-person, the realisation is that people have got used to virtual formats and with the disparate APAC geography, virtual training is just easier and allows us to cover off larger amounts of participants.
  3. Technology – technology is always as at the forefront of training, and with immersive training options coming online, the possibilities for remote, engaging content are limitless.
  4. Leadership – the biggest demand we see continues to be for leadership programs – whether that be at Executive levels, for High Potentials/First Time Managers or for Women in Leadership and Asian Leaders Programs.

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