CIPD L&D Show 2018: highlights from day two

From meaningful millennials to misplaced bias training, the main takeaways from the biggest date in the learning calendar

Gamification can be a game changer

Gamification has dropped in and out of fashion as a learning tool, but unleashing your inner child can often be the best way to encourage your workforce to learn, said Jez Light, L&D manager at communications agency drp.

“As a child, you learn by playing games,” he explained. “If you do something in a fun way, you are more likely to remember it, and gamification can create a culture of learning.”

Light’s presentation aimed to show that employers could make learning fun for staff. He used examples from his time working at Superdry, which had “very little retail training” when he arrived. Light created a system of games, on limited resources, aimed at training staff on Superdry’s core values, products and customer service. 

Employee product knowledge at the retailer increased by 46 per cent and team retention went up 3.9 per cent, which Light attributed to the more immersive training on offer.

Blended, gamified L&D initiatives could also help make seemingly dry topics more accessible, said Light – giving the example of a Who Wants to Be a Millionaire-style quiz on the GDPR.

Improving leadership and coaching begins with a mindset shift 

Mindset is one of the most neglected aspects of leadership programmes, but should be a key focus of anyone trying to drive change in their organisation, Emma Smythe (pictured), head of learning at BAE Systems, told delegates. 

Speaking in a session on ‘Developing coaching and mentoring skills in managers to support people performance’, she said changing the perception of coaching in business meant recognising that many leadership qualities are the same regardless of industry and specialisation. 

“Particularly in large organisations, it’s very easy for learning and coaching to take place across silos,” she said. 

“There was a real perception in our organisation that ‘if I’m a leader in this business and function, my job is different from their job’. Breaking out of those paradigms meant managers were able to learn from each other across departments.” 

For long-serving managers, a changed mindset also means adopting new habits, such as learning to regularly give and receive feedback, manage conflict and focus on the different behavioural patterns of staff. 

Bias training isn’t hitting the mark 

“Doing a three-hour session on inclusion isn’t going change who you are or the way you’re hardwired,” said Stephen Frost, author and former head of diversity and inclusion at KPMG and the London 2012 Olympics.

In fact, he added, forcing people onto bias training often “makes things worse” by persuading them they have dealt with the problem: “With some people – particularly with senior men, I’m afraid – they can think they now have moral licence to carry on exactly as before.”

A better way to help leaders grasp the inclusion agenda, said Frost, is to intervene over a longer period, with a series of nudges along the way to help them subtly alter their behaviour.

A good way to start is to ask leaders to name their five closest colleagues, five best friends and their partner. Looking at how diverse (or otherwise) this ‘in group’ of key influencers is can force them to think about inclusion.

“We need to reframe inclusion as a leadership competency,” said Frost. “If you want to be a better leader, you really need to get this agenda.” 

Future-proof your organisation for generation Y 

At the rate generation Y (more commonly known as millennials) are changing jobs, they will pass through 15 employers throughout their professional working lives, Adam Kingl – executive director of thought leadership, executive education, at London Business School – told delegates. 

Creating workplaces that allow for this transient generation – which, he said, would bring about a professional revolution – means understanding that they possess a completely different set of professional priorities to their parents. Research from Princeton University found more than 85 per cent of young people claim the number one thing they look for in a job is ‘meaning, a sense of purpose’. 

“This generation wants help managing their intangible assets – skills, competencies and networks,” said Kingl. 

“I’m optimistic about the future – they are pioneers without role models. They may be less loyal, but they are more global, more connected, and the organisations that allow their employees to bring their gifts to work will be the most successful. These are things you can't mandate – creativity, personality, innovation. Bureaucracy kills them."