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News You May Want to Know

The Rise of the Listening Guru
Financial Times (07/18/07) ; Stern, Stefan

Coaching has come from the shadows into its own, with several trade organizations developing their own codes of ethics and professional guidelines. These groups help coaches understand their ethical obligations to clients and provide them with direction in the business relationships. Not only has the industry stepped up, but also executives are more forthright about their coaching experiences. The International Coaching Federation estimates coaches across the globe generate $1.5 billion in revenues, with 50 percent of that coming from the United States.

When executives seek coaches they are looking for someone who is a good listener and will help them achieve their personal and professional goals. The mark of a good coach is a distinct ability to listen carefully to the questions and concerns of the client, ask clear questions about how the client thinks they can improve, and hold clients accountable for reaching or not reaching specific goals after six months or a year.

Companies increasingly turn to coaches to smooth out transitions within a firm or get new CEOs up to speed on various aspects of their positions, but some firms engage in the creation of a coaching culture for all workers to foster worker improvement and productivity. Experts note that coaches that intimidate, quickly decide on a plan of action without asking questions about a given situation, try to make themselves the crux of an individuals decision-making process, or betray confidences are not the best tool for executives or workers.

Training the Mind/Mind the Training
IT Business Canada (06/25/07) ; Arellano, Nestor

Rather than have human resource personnel handle training programs, Pink Elephant Consultant Jack Probst recommends companies hire or appoint a specific training administrator or team. Moreover, he indicates many firms make the mistake of only offering training to workers when new software, applications, or machines are introduced into their operations. Training administrators will first want to conduct assessments of all workers' skills, strengths, and weaknesses before designing the program, which should be tailored to the needs of the workforce as well as meet the strategic expectations of the firm. Assessments can help trainers determine what information needs to be included, what portions of the training need to be emphasized, where classes should be held, and how they should be conducted.

To properly quantify the return on investment for training programs, Symantec Corp. Director of Education Bob Yang indicates firms need to create a road map of what training programs are expected to achieve. Once goals are set, trainers then need to determine the best method for teaching students based upon their level of engagement, the course material, and the budget allocation. Probst warns new tools should be explained to workers in terms of how they can improve their daily jobs to ensure workers are receptive to the training program and the use of a new tool.

Get in the Game -- and Get the Job
Toronto Globe & Mail (07/14/07) , P. B17; Immen, Wallace

Companies are placing greater value on workers who are well-versed in Internet games, states IBM's Institute for Business Value associate partner in human capital management Eric Lesser, whose company sponsored a study on the issue. He explains that businesses are becoming internationally distributed, the pace of change is quicker, and there is additional data to handle, which are all challenges Internet gamers have to meet to help their virtual teams succeed. Lesser adds that the leadership characteristics that make individuals successful in gaming make them successful in heading business groups. Such qualities include: being able to bring a big number of people together in a highly sophisticated network for the purpose of a goal; self-direction and interest in acquiring new skills and espousing new roles; openness in taking risks and learning from mistakes; collaboration skills and the ability to influence other people on the team; ability to locate strengths and drawbacks in the company; and communication skills.

The study considered the expertise of 214 American professionals who play video games, 137 of whom are part of an association that connects players to large, multiplayer, Internet role-playing games. In these games, the player functions as a character who moves through a virtual environment, interacting with other players and devising collaborative tactics to meet an objective or combat computer-operated foes. Fifty percent of the respondents stated their game-playing has upgraded their real-life leadership. In addition, of the 66 respondents who have managed Internet gaming teams, 61 percent have employed their skills to head business project teams, with 45 claiming they have headed over five teams.

Training is Virtually a Mouse Click Away (07/09/07) ; Rosenthal, Steve

Online training or e-learning can improve the talent base of most companies, while reducing expenses, increasing productivity, and improving the firms' abilities to compete in the marketplace. Colleges and universities were ensnared by online training early on, but now even small firms are adopting the inexpensive tool to train workers, managers, and others. Bersin & Associates reports that training budgets at many firms rose 7 percent in 2006, as companies continue to be faced with talent shortages in a number of industries. These talent and skills shortages are impressing upon executives that talent cultivation, recruitment, employee performance improvement, leadership development, and succession planning are essential to the hiring process. Workers are able to learn new skills and roles, as well as take refresher courses, from the comfort of their offices or homes, so long as Internet access is available. Employees garner a more personalized experience from online training programs, and can learn at their own pace.


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