Game-based training refers to learning experienced by playing a game, including a video game.
In the context of a video game, game based training integrates course content propelled by an engaging narrative within an attractive video game in order to motivate the learner to complete the course.
Game-based training is distinguished because:
1. Learning takes place through player involvement in engaging and immersive scenarios
2. Learning happens as the player overcomes different challenges
3. Learning is a positive and interesting experience, positively reinforced by game-like features such as prizes and scoreboards.
Consequently, game-based training products result in higher student completion rates.
In order to deliver effective, experiential learning, Gamelearn game-based training products are built using a complex simulator, which creates an interactive environment allowing students to put skills into practice. This experiential learning, in turn, increases retention of the subject matter being learned since the student is able to apply what is being taught.
Game based training incorporates gamification elements. Gamification elements, by themselves however, are not the same as game-based training. Gamification refers to the different elements that gamify the course, like badges, scores, levels, competition, and prizes; while game-based learning refers to the complete experience, including the game itself and its narrative features.
Well done game-based learning can address a variable of subjects, including soft skills training. Because of their complex nature, soft skills are best learned by doing and not based on theory alone. Before the existence of game-base training products addressing soft skills learning, soft skills were traditionally acquired through in-class room training where instructors conducted participant role plays. Through role play, instructors provided personalized feedback to participations so as to ensure the soft skill was practiced and learnt.
Through the use of an online video game, a complex simulator allows the player to engage in the learned skill and get instantaneous and personalized feedback, in much the same way that a class instructor would. The advantage, however, is the simulator interacts only with one player and therefore the feedback happens more directly and often.
Additionally, because there are no physical classroom limitations, game based video training allows for an efficient scalable learning solution. Competing strongly with the learning quality of in-class room training, but at a fraction of the cost.
Corporate training is facing major challenges. Employees are no longer engaging with traditional forms of training including e-learning, finding the whole experience unexciting and boring. Compounding this situation is the growing numbers of ‘millennials’ entering the workforce.
The workforce is changing
The X generation, close to its retirement is being replaced for a new workforce generation called the ""Millennials"". They have new common traits that define the way they face their job and processes. Millennials are those individuals born between the early 1980s to the early 2000s. They have grown up in a time where information has become available instantly. Millennials are creating a change in how work gets done, as they work more in teams and use more technology. Millennials are well educated, skilled in technology, very self-confident, able to multi-task, and have plenty of energy. They have high expectations for themselves, and prefer to work in teams, rather than as individuals. Millennials grown up in the video game era, an era with constant stimuli and dynamism. Some facts about the use of videogames are the following:
- 58% of the population play video games
- Average age of players is 30 years old
- By age of 18, 90% of population have played video games (an average of 10,000 hours)
- Millennials are 30 % of the today's workforce and in 10 years they will be the 75%
GBL - Game-based learning
GBL is a new training methodology in which contents are presented in a videogame format. GBL is challenging, interesting and engaging. The learning process is more effective, games improve knowledge acquisition and retention. With games, students are able to put into practice the theory, so they learn by doing, in a zero risk environment.
GBL improves problem-solving, creativity, risk assessment, and risk taking. GBL ensures learning, students have to learn the theory in order to progress in the game. So when they finish the course they are ready to put the skills into practice in a real situation.
While e-learning traditional courses are boring and not engaging, GBL is a dynamic, interactive and efficient way that responds to the needs of a new workforce, the Milennials.
Gamification, which has become a favored buzz word, is being introduced in different areas and ways by companies. In marketing for example gamification has being used in loyalty programs with different client cards depending the points gathered flying with a particular airline.
Gamification has become also an important element in corporate training as a way deployed by instructors to increase participant motivation during the learning process.
In online training formats, the use of gamification elements is getting increasingly common place. By incorporating gamification (or game-like) elements in a virtual learning environment, content designers seek to ensure participants will progress through the learning experience or course.
Gamification, in brief, makes the learning process more motivating and engaging. By itself, however, the use of gamification has nothing to do with the appearance and structure of the course. If the course is built around poor learning content, such as the use of non-interactive PowerPoint formats, then the benefits of gamification elements are wasted and have little impact on the ability of students to learn.
In order to optimize the benefits of gamification, companies have integrated these elements in video game formats or courses. In this video game medium, the impact of gamification elements and, accordingly, the positive attitude created in students to complete a course is put to full use. Along with gamification elements, video games used for learning purposes include a story that engages students so they learn the subject matter content and also have an opportunity to interact with the game and practice what is being learned.
In a new era of corporate training, frequently concepts like gamification and game-based learning are used as synonyms. While both enhance motivation and engagement, only the game-based learning aspect is linked to the cognitive-improvement area of the course where the learning and development happens; gamification simply refers to the techniques used to increase motivation, make training fun, engage students and improve completion rates. In brief, the quality of game-based learning courses depends on the quality of the course content and on the level of interaction that allow students to practice and learn.
Soft skills are personal attributes which enable effective individual interactions and, accordingly, enhance career prospects and job performance. Game-based learning products are especially suited to soft skills training because of the way soft skills are developed. Specifically, soft skills have to be practiced in order to be learned. In traditional instructor-led training, the instructor would have participants engage in role play and other activities so as to practice and learn soft skills. With the advent of online game-based learning, students are able to do the same in a virtual world unharnessed by physical limitations like a classroom.
In the context of a video game, game based learning refers to the combination of a video game, a story line and a simulator. The video game and the storyline make the course more engaging, and the simulator facilitates the interaction between the course and the student.
Game-based learning ensures skills learning because students are able to put skills into practice and learning from their own situations, decisions, and mistakes. Improving soft skills, like communicating skills is really hard to do by, or example, just reading a manual. Readers learn the techniques do not actually acquire the skill itself. In a game-based learning format students overcome different game levels and, through this process, the game ensures each level of delivered educational content is actually learned. In short, the student learns the skill by practicing and improving, so at the end of the course he will be able to put the skill into practice in a real situation.
Game based learning ensures not only skills learning but also build self confidence. During the game, which by its one-to-one nature is “safe”, a player understand how to use the skills and how to apply them in the different situations created by the simulator.
By creating their own responses to the game, students acquire new knowledge in the same way that they would do in real world but in a safe and zero risk environment.
Serious games or educational games, are games designed for a primary purpose other than pure entertainment. Originally serious games were designed for technical skills development, in sectors like medicine, military or aviation. The use of serious games in corporate training is relatively recent, however it is forecasted to be one of the fastest growing sectors of the training industry.
Well-designed serious (educational) games make learning fun, challenging and rewarding. Learners don’t realize they are learning when engaged in a game. Serious games are used to train adults in a variety of subjects. Despite the fact that it is a relatively new term in the training industry, the results have already been very positive. Serious games enhance knowledge acquisition and skills development by introducing the learner to different situations, challenges and problems and therefore makes it possible to learning to occur.
In the context of a video game, serious games are the result of the use of a game-based methodology in a video game format. Serious games through video games create real situations in a virtual world so skills can be trained in a zero risk and secure environment.
The use of serious games in corporate training is increasingly focused on soft skills training. Soft skills have to be practiced in order to improve or be developed; there is no way of learning soft skills if they are not practiced.
In corporate training, soft skills development are an especially important and complex area. Before the development of serious games, classroom training was the only way to develop soft skills since traditional e-learning and its reliance on one way slide shows and videos was too theoretical, lacked the necessary interaction to train employees in skills like communication, leadership, negotiation, which require practice to develop.
Corporate training has changed dramatically since the appearance of online or e-learning products. In-class room training has inherent disadvantages, including being time consuming (participants have to block off large amounts of time), hard to coordinate, and logistically unavailable for teams spread across geographies. Because of these disadvantages, e-learning has become a preferred, cheaper alternative that companies increasingly include in their training plans.
Although e-learning courses are easier, faster and cheaper to implement, their quality, however, is generally poor and not comparable with in-class room training in terms of the learning delivered. In particular, the lack of interaction and feedback, makes e-learning products less effective. Students are mostly exposed to theoretical content through the form of non-interactive slide shows or videos, which conclude with a test to evaluate knowledge acquisition. Completion rates for e-learning, not surprisingly, are very poor and often well below fifty percent (50%).
Despite cost advantages, traditional e-learning courses have not delivered quality education or training. Online game-based learning (GBL) products, in this regard, deliver the best of both worlds for learning- and cost-effective corporate training. Game based learning is engaging, educational and motivating. Game-based learning (GBL) gives the students the chance to put their new skills into practice at the same time they receive a personalized feedback; all without the costly need for an instructor. As proof of this proposition, game-based learning (GBL) products deliver better completion rates and higher levels of employee satisfaction.
Games, including video games, are an amazing tool for learning. Online simulators have being used to teach technical skills for many years, but only recently have companies considered using video games in corporate training for non-technical and soft skills development of their employees.
In addition to the quality of learning delivered, employees view game-based learning as an engaging learning experience. A learning experience that is also familiar as younger-generation employees grew up playing video games. Crucially, game-based learning works and results in increased skill development and knowledge retention.
Negotiation skills training or development is very difficult. The theory of negotiation can be understood with a book, but in order to develop the skills is important to practice in as real an environment as possible. Developing negotiation skills requires constant and personalized feedback that enables students to correct mistakes and increase mastery.
Traditionally, negotiation skills (as with other soft skills) are trained or developed in classroom, with an instructor presenting the theory and correcting students through role-plays and group dynamics exercises. Because of the time commitment needed and associated high costs, however, classroom instruction is less prevalent.
Distance online training or e-learning, allows for easier implementation of training courses within companies. In the context of soft skills development, this format is very limited. Aware of such limitations, many companies have implemented courses where gamification elements and simulation and, thereby, convert e-learning into high quality, practical and motivating learning experience.
Gamification, is becoming a frequent term in HR and training departments, however, its definition is still not clear. Gamification, regardless of how it is deployed, refers to the use of one or more of the following elements:
- The existence of goals and challenges, which are used to motivate and, if those goals are also an opportunity to win something, even more motivation
- The ability to attain different levels, which fosters participation and competitiveness between users
- Scores, which show the progress through the game
- Rankings, which indicate the relative position of the players and foster competition
- Rewards, which track the progress of players and recognize their efforts
- Gamification also implies the presentation of all these elements in a visually attractive way
In Gamelearn, gamification is not just an element crafted onto negotiation training. Most important is the simulator the one that permits the skills being learned be practiced; gamification, in this context, motivates and engages, which is very important, but not the central feature, which is the game-based learning.
The study “Empowering Educators: Supporting Student Progress in the Classroom with Digital Games” developed by Jan Plass in NYU and Barry Fishman of Michigan University, affirms that more than half of the teachers (57%) use digital games weekly or frequently in learning and 18% use them daily.
Despite this data, the perception of video games in classrooms is not always positive. Many teachers are afraid to be substituted by digital avatars. However this is not the objective of educational game developers or pro-tech educators. Most of them want to create a tool to help education professionals to make their work easier and with higher impact.
However many people are still worried about the use of technology as a cost reduction process of automation. Maybe this fear is not absurd. According to the American education researcher Diane Ravitch, initiatives as the privatization of public schools to offer more possibilities, can end turning into potential problems like perceiving education as a business or an industry and teachers as factory workers.
The impact that Ed Techs and education technology specialists may have in our kids, when we mistakenly prioritize in the high impact at low cost can be a bit alarming . This criteria should not have more weight than other factors that guarantee the education. The economic scalability of game-based learning is not the only one advantage.
Game-based learning uses interactive simulation to combine the content and the context, in a way that students do not just learn with the facts, but also with the way they apply the facts with other people and in a specific environment.
Games, make easier strengthen the power of the game and the creativity, the creation of a teaching methodology based on learning by discovering (exploration) instead of direct learning (class, Conferences...)
This study, shows evidence that game-based learning offers the possibility of a better learning evaluation. This means that it also helps to make easier in-classroom interactions, traditionally the basis of good learning. It is important to keep in mind that is not a matter of choosing between online and in classroom learning, but in an effective combination of both.
When selecting the technology to implement in training, e-learning is the most frequent choice. Half of schools use e-learning software and online homework portals and 29% is planning to include or modernize the one that they are using.
Game-based learning and mobile apps for training have found their place in 4 out of 10 classrooms, 3 are planing to step up the use of apps in learning and 2 have the intention of fostering gaming in the classroom.
The recent report developed by the CompTIA, (the association that represents the technology and information industry) “The fast changing classroom: students and educators perspectives about the role of technology” studies the previous and further results of a poll made last September to around 400 educators and learning centers administrators in USA.
Based on the results of the study, as large is the learning center, higher is the implementation of technology. For example, the report exposes that from the schools with more than 1000 students 52% use some kind of social media; meanwhile just 1/3 of the schools with between 500-999 students use social platforms.
Despite most of the centers (57%) saying that they do not use social media, the ones who use it prefer Facebook, specially for school communities, communication with parents and student communities.
MOOC's or flipped classrooms are also more common in the bigger size centers. In general, however, just 23% of those centers confirm they have flipped classrooms and 17% answered they were still testing MOOC's.
The implementation of technology is not usually decided by educators but administrators (directors and sub-directors), or the school committee and the IT organization. Based on the report, most of the primary and secondary school teachers say that they are moderated influencers in the process. While parents have very little influence.
The report offers advice to education technology companies to improve their selling approach to the center. Therefore, the technology influencers in the centers will be able to understand better the academic advantages of being able to follow up the students learning process through software that gather data which can be analyzed afterwards.
This is an option that is in the shopping list of 60% of the teachers, based on the answers. Two more topics appear in those selling conversations: teachers have to be able to participate in documents with the others, the parents and other school systems.; e-learning has to be used to foster a closer contact with students. Both lines were named as attractive benefits for 56% and 52% of the respondents, respectively, specially for those who work in the centers with greater size.
“These tools make easier online homework’s, help to the absent students and make easier the communication between students and teachers”, said Carolyn April, CompTIA industry research manager. “In many senses, the process of training is reflected in the way companies perform in America: remote access, mobility of teachers and students and 24h availability environment every day".
1. Avoid excessive planning
Planning is important to organize the start of our working day and avoid stress at the very beginning. But too much planning takes time to do the tasks we propose. The best way to have a good starting is trying to shorten our "To-Day List" and therefore make our day less stressful.
2. Organize yourself
The key to make our daily work easier begins with a good organization. Put in order everything, from your desk to your email inbox, through meetings schedules to interactions with colleagues. Use apps for effective meetings such as "Brilliant Meeting", which helps you to set goals and make decisions during meetings to end the wasting hours.
3. Focus on your most important tasks
Focus on the most “profitable” tasks for you, the ones that bring more benefits and avoid time-consuming ones for which you get no reward. Learn to ignore –or draw the line- for those interruptions that only distract and waste your time.
4. Say “no”
In addition to shorten your “To-Day List”, saying “no” is vital to set your priorities and concentrate on the really productive tasks.
5. Learn to manage your E-mail
Emails is one of the things that we spend the longest time in our work. Hence, if we learn to manage it correctly, half of the job is done. This is basic in any time management course. We can start by shorten the answers, and still transmit the complete message.
Tons of tasks? Delegate. This way you can focus on the most important issues for you while you allow other employees to learn new tasks. Delegate smartly: choose the right people for each tasks that you leave in their hands.
7. Take time out and recharge your batteries
It is impossible to keep the same level of energy throughout the day, so we need to pause and get some downtime. This does not mean wasting time or lower our guard. Making things right is important, getting obsessed with perfection just increases difficulty. So give yourself permission to slow down in order to keep up the pace.
This kind of suggestions to improve our productivity are the base of most efficiency programs for many businesses. Among the most innovative programs we can find the time management simulators like Triskelion, that besides the simulation incorporates the gamification element. The game-based learning is the ultimate trend not only for business training but among anyone who decides to invest in a course to enrich their professional and personal life. Why make an online course where you can have fun with a simulator? Through the so-called serious games you learn and most important: you practice. Plan, organize, say no... in sum: prioritize and achieve balance to give the most of every minute. What are your "tricks" to improve productivity? If you have more tips which you find useful, feel free to share.
In the world of e-Learning, a growing trend, well-known by online training experts, predominates. This involves “serious games,” the cornerstone of “gamification” and the engine of many training programs for companies and businesses.
Most serious games are RPGs (Role Play Games), which means that there are users who adopt the roles of “invisible actors” who take actions based on the decisions of the person playing the game. The basic tool kit of these serious games contains four elements: learning (content and teaching), a story (with characters, scenes and a narrative), a game and a user experience.
E-Learning programs based on the “learn by doing” are a dream come true for business people frustrated by lackluster performance on the part of their employees. How can they be made to involve themselves in online training? Very simple: through the characters in a serious game. Experts say that telling a story is a way of activating certain parts of the brain so that listeners get engaged in the experience, and grasp ideas and concepts. Why are these forms of learning effective? Let's just think about the narrative form of our daily conversations or how we tell something to a friend. It is calculated that 65% of our conversations are stories.
In the learning environment, a plot captures the student's attention and helps the person retain the concepts being learned better and for longer. The story is the creative and entertaining component of gamified training, and the student feels like a hero who has solved a problem through the characters, roles, challenges and dilemmas presented.
Besides the story, serious games also have their educational content, of course, that the student is willing to assimilate to improve his or her professional and personal abilities. The goal is to balance the fun part with the training functions; this learning is simply “encapsulated” in an entertainment format. Beyond the artistic aspect, what “serious games” like Merchants or Triskelion do in reality is to build a story around a real problem—and this is where science comes in. In the case of Merchants, the first video game released by Gamelearn on negotiation, the student adopts the character of Carlo Vecchio, a trader in fifteenth century Venice. The user must use his or her intelligence and creativity to reach win-win agreements. In Triskelion, the time-management course, the student becomes Robert Wise, a History professor who searches for clues to find a treasure while managing his agenda, organizing tasks, attending meetings, etc.
The users of these simulators practice and test their knowledge through settings and characters as if they were having a first-hand experience. In addition, the best “serious games” on the market offer specific and descriptive feedback that helps students reinforce this learning and leads them to personal and professional success.
Monday morning. We sit down in front of the computer with a cup of coffee and open our mail. We're almost ready to start answering e-mails and begin our workday when suddenly the telephone rings. In the middle of the call, our boss comes over and assigns us a task. We get to work on it immediately, but in another minute we have to be in a meeting. Before we know it, the day's over. What happened? Simply the everyday story of many professionals who frequently feel overwhelmed by the daily vortex. This habit of jumping from task to task not only causes stress but also has a cost.
Some studies show that we lose more than 30 working weeks each year due to multi-tasking. If we do the math, that's half a year. And the fact is that multi-tasking is incompatible with efficiency. How many times do we ask ourselves "Now, where was I?" before getting back to something? The fact is that we are not multi-tasking: we can't think simultaneously about two or more things at the same time; what we're doing is switching from one to another and really only working on one task at a time. Changing activities too frequently can lead to mental blocks that translate into hours, days and weeks of time wasted.
Plus, we often make errors that we wouldn't if we were concentrated on just one task. The reality is that so-called “multi-tasking” not only wears us out but also makes the quality of our work much worse. In the United States alone, multi-tasking costs the economy around 500 billion dollars a year. Other studies suggest that doing many tasks at the same time reduces our IQ by up to 15 points.
The good news for companies is that prioritizing tasks dramatically reduces this cost in lost productivity associated with multi-tasking. Time-management courses like Triskelion teach us techniques that help us be more efficient. How? Through a simulator that guides and advises us on how to concentrate on just one task at a time, making us much more productive.
The benefits of prioritization are especially noticeable during meetings. To get an idea, in America some 25 million meetings take place daily, so seems logical that we would also try to prioritize tasks in the meetings themselves. Over 90% of people admit to falling into multi-tasking during face-to-face meetings, and 16% do it frequently. There are applications to improve the management of meetings, such as Brilliant Meeting, which focus on generating discussions and action plans during meetings. The average employee wastes 31 hours each month in inefficient meetings, the total cost of which exceeds 800 billion euros annually.
The greatest danger of multi-tasking is that we can learn to live with it. We're accustomed to having ten browser tabs open, to looking at our cell phone while we read a document, to answering an e-mail while we're in a meeting... With these habits, we only make ourselves more tired and lose productivity. Follow the advice of time-management experts and start being more effective.
That's what the following behaviors communicate:
1. Saying yes to everything. If we say "yes" to everything people ask of us, we hold up our priorities in response to anything that crosses out path. Saying "no" is a skill successful people use to achieve their goals.
2. Letting people interrupt you. We set aside anything at the first interruption. Telephone calls, e-mails, or the people who continually slow us down. Put a stop to interruptions: close the door, unplug the phone, close your e-mail and preserve some period of calm during your workday.
3. Always being available. If we always answer the phone or e-mail immediately, people get used to this type of behavior. There's no reason to always be available: we need to attend only to the people and tasks that fit our priorities. The telephone exists to make our lives easier, not to make us slaves.
4. Letting meetings drag on. If we allow appointments or meetings to go on forever, they can take up our entire day. Use apps like Brilliant Meeting to make meetings end on time.
5. Accepting lateness. If you consider it acceptable for people to be 10 minutes late systematically, this will end up becoming the rule. Oblige yourself and others to be on time. If other people arrive late, reschedule the appointment for a time that's convenient for you.
Value your time and make sure you're not sending the message that your time isn't important to you. If you'd like to give us some of your time and leave a comment, you can do so here.
1. Gamification doesn't work
Of course there are gamification programs that don't work, but that doesn't mean the concept is intrinsically flawed. When programs are implemented properly, companies find that the effectiveness of gamification is no myth.
2. Gamification is dead
Saying that gamification is dead is an exaggeration. This dramatic statement is nothing more than an alarmist headline: gamification is still a force, although it may not be a trend precisely. Gamification is not only not a new thing, it has almost always been used in contexts like education to make learning more appealing. Even Mary Poppins sang about this idea long before the term was coined. The reality is that gamification has evolved over time and now it's viewed differently in the new digital world. The concept will remain, and its effects will continue to be noted in industries and companies for years to come.
3. Gamification is a game
Games are meant to entertain the user. Normally there is a story or plot (for example: finding a treasure), elaborate graphics, a winner, etc. Although gamification may share some features with games, the true distinction lies in the differences. Gamification takes advantage of our favorable predisposition towards rewards and competition, and uses this to change people's habits.
4. Gamification is the same as game-based learning
Gamification is an element oriented towards helping (not training) in which the mechanics of the game are used to motivate users. When the game is capable of training the user-player on its own, then we are looking at game-based learning: the student can put the content into practice and receive feedback on his or her learning. They're never synonymous.
Getting through your daily To-Do List isn't easy. But then, when you're done, another task gets added on top. Another one? Think about it: one extra step each day adds up to 365 tasks completed by the end of the year that you didn't have on your initial list.
Just one extra task each day can make a difference. We'd all like to think that we're special, but in reality most of us are just “part of the crowd.” We should ask ourselves what we're doing to stand out from the rest and improve our productivity. Average is what everybody does. If we want to be successful, we have to go beyond that, try to swim against the tide. Don't be satisfied with average.
One task a day, no matter how small, can help us to achieve a big objective. This extra effort can mean that we're always one step ahead (in our work, in our life). Before the day's over, if we manage to complete this extra task, which might only take a few minutes, will put us at the head of the pack.
It's always more intelligent to negotiate looking for common interest and building long-term relationships than to turn the process into a mere contest. If we're capable of working with the other negotiator to satisfy the interests of both parties, it's more likely we'll find solutions that work for both of us.
There are people who insist on seeing negotiation as a competitive game in which the main objective is to win more than the other side, regardless of the interests at stake. This type of negotiator is elementary and not very sophisticated. It's not a question of deceiving the other party but of managing to satisfy our interests. Trying to destabilize the other party will only damage the relationship and trust, and we'll be destroying any possible future relationship.
In the Merchants negotiation simulator, the user learns to negotiate by building bridges, not by tearing them down. Plus, this course on negotiation and conflict resolution prevents the negotiator from using destructive techniques, to be avoided, like the following:
This serious game developed by Gamelearn shows people how to recognize these types of practices to teach them about win-win negotiation oriented towards building long-term relationships. The interesting part of this video game on negotiation is the game-based learning format that allows the user to practice in a risk-free scenario while receiving continuous and personalized feedback to learn about decisions, strategies and errors, as if it were a negotiation with a real person. Merchants is a perfect example of gamification applied to skills development.
The best way of learning is by doing. The more we do something, the better we get at it. How often do students finishing their long years of university study feel lost when facing their new professional challenge, which, in the end, they end up mastering thanks to practice? The key is in praxis: the more we practice, the more we perfect our skill.
This same idea is perfectly applicable to the development of soft skills, the skills that strengthen our personal and professional development and, therefore, the ones that differentiate us from everyone else, above and beyond our technical expertise. The greatest risk involved in learning management skills is the chance of making a mistake. However, error is part of the day-to-day work of any learning process. So, how is it possible to learn without risk? Through the use of simulators.
There are already simulators on the market for developing soft skills, like Merchants (a negotiation course) and Triskelion (a time management simulator), that allow the user to learn without risk in a scenario that emulates real situations. The development of management skills requires them to be put into practice. With simulators, the ground-zero of serious games, students receive personalized feedback and constant evaluation, ensuring that they learn.
Without the “simulator” effect, the exercise of management skills through video games would not be possible. We learn the most when we set goals for ourselves, beyond grades. If we find applicability in the material, appealing content, and we eliminate the fear of failure related to the training aspect, the result of skills practice through simulators is very positive. When we find ourselves under these conditions, we are looking at g-learning, in other words, the trend of learning by doing.
To be truly productive and avoid everyday distractions it is essential to detect what is important in your life (professional and personal). Eliminate from your life anything that is superfluous, that does not bring you anything positive and that does not contribute to your goals.
The best and most effective tool we have is probably to say “no”. Learn to say “no” to yourself and to others. Say “no” assertively. And say “no” a lot! Don’t start working on projects that you cannot finish, don’t try to take on more than you can, avoid taking part in activities that are not important.
Be realistic about the time that it takes to do things, don’t overestimate your time and don’t ask yourself to do more than you can. We cannot do everything! We just don't have the time or energy, so we need to choose: choose to do what's important. You're asked to do some task when you have already got a lot of important work to do. So how do you say “no”? Many time management courses can teach us how to say "no".
A good time manager decides at every moment in time what she wants to do and not what the circumstances force her to do. A good time manager is totally aware that she is able to decide what she wants to do and when.
If you are watching TV because you arrived home, tired, and you turned on the TV because of the inertia, you are not managing your time well. If you got home and consciously decided that watching television was the way you wanted to spend your time, you are managing your time correctly.
If you are reading a magazine because it was the only one available in the waiting room, then you are not managing your time well. If you are reading a magazine because you have consciously decided to read it, it might be that you are managing your time well.
If you are in a meeting because you have been asked to attend and to which you are not contributing, then you are not managing your time well. If you decide to go to a meeting because you think it is important for you, then you might be managing your time appropriately. And why do we say “might”? Because to correctly manage our time we don’t only need to make conscious decisions but we also need to make the right decisions.
A good time manager will always dedicate her time to important matters. What are important matters then? They are those that will help her reach her professional and personal goals. If one of your aims is to feel healthy; then go for a walk, exercise, rest sufficiently, or relax using different techniques…these are important things. If one of your goals is to increase the number of sales then calling and visiting clients is important. People set themselves objectives in different areas of their lives. These include the family, the personal and the professional areas.
Good time management does not mean “producing” at every hour of the day. It does not necessarily mean doing a lot either. Good time management means doing the most important thing at any given moment. Never forget that time management does not mean to do a lot but to to do what helps reach our goals in the different areas of our lives. To summarize, a good time manager is conscious of the value of his time, decides consciously what to do with it and spends it efficiently by doing things that are important.
Good leaders share a series of qualities that make them the best people to head teams. They know how to ask for advice, have a high degree of emotional intelligence, act with fairness and empathy, take risks. These are just some of the essential features that define good leadership:
1. Surround yourself with people smarter than you are
Good leaders achieve success when they're surrounded by teams of people who are experts in their areas, and even who are smarter than the manager that hired them. Good leaders let their team work and innovate. In exchange, teams with a good leader make it so this leader feels comfortable and prepared for the challenge of creating good work.
2. Be transparent
A team that feels like something is being hidden from it is mistrustful. The group has to know what's going so that everyone rows in the same direction. If you hide information, you'll lose the trust of your team, because they'll believe that you aren't taking them into account and turn their backs on you. If you tell them what's happening, you head off possible fears and at the same time inject a healthy dose of motivation.
3. Show empathy
When someone brings up a problem or concern, a good leader tries to understand the problem and the point of view of the person. Showing empathy is proof that the leader has listened. Your response must address the concerns the other person has brought up, even it's not always the response this person was hoping for.
4. Be altruistic
Your taking an interest in the well-being of others will make the teams work better and give back better results. Making room for emotions helps you get to know your people, and them you, it connects you on a personal level. It's not a question of being “best buddies” but rather of making the relationship more human. Asking “how are you?” in the morning, or taking an interest from time to time in family members or hobbies, helps close the gap between “bosses” and “employees”.
5. Be responsible
Leadership is also a responsibility. Effective leaders are aware of their responsibility for the team they head, and that's their biggest concern. If you ever lose your empathy with or dedication to the people you're leading, you're not being a good leader.
6. Involve them in your vision
Be as transparent as you can with your team. The more they know, the more they'll share the same dream and the harder they'll work to reach the goal as a team. Share your passion.
7. Have a clear vision and communicate it to the team
Have a clear and convincing vision of the future of your project and communicate it to your team. This will motivate and center the group. Act as if the vision were a reality and share it with the others so that they can also visualize this idea and do everything necessary to achieve it.
8. Develop the management skills of your team
A solid leader is one of the pillars of success of any company. People, however, aren't born with leadership skills. In other words, a leader isn't born, a leader is made. The people in an organization must be trained and have the tools, resources and development necessary to assume leadership.
9. Earn their respect
Leaders with character have no need to pull rank to get results: they get them by generating trust and respect, that's why they're more effective. They don't need to impose rules or micro-manage to get their teams to complete their tasks.
10. Be optimistic and show curiosity
Optimistic leaders inspire and motivate teams. If you show curiosity, you'll learn and collaborate with the team. This closeness avoids unnecessary conflicts that can grow out of lack of understanding and indifference. Curiosity will allow you to get closer to people and rise to the challenge of leadership in new times.
Some of these qualities have traditionally been seen as weaknesses, but the truth is that these aptitudes can become powerful tools for business people and future leaders who are willing to develop leadership skills. What advice can you contribute?
Good morning! Starting the day productively is easy if we know how. What do you typically do when you wake up? Some people go directly to the kitchen to make the first cup of coffee of the day, others prefer to take a shower, and others check their e-mail or social networks even before getting out of bed.
Establishing a good routine in the morning is essential for creating a good plan that impacts our productivity throughout the day. If you waste the morning, you'll probably also waste the rest of the day.
The best thing we can do is start with our most important task. If we start by taking care of our priorities, we'll have accomplished the hardest part first and feel like everything else just falls into place. Doing the most important thing first, and making this a habit, is the best way to ensure that we'll be successful. The harder it is for you to get going in the morning, the better it is for you to plan your agenda and start off the right foot.
Some tips for starting off your day right:
- Eat breakfast. Make it habit to eat a complete and balanced breakfast; numerous studies point to the importance of the first meal of the day. A good breakfast improves our attention span and mood. A cup of coffee or tea is a great morning ally.
- The most difficult part is taking the first step. Our day should start by writing out a To-Day list with our priority tasks, when no one is bothering us. Ask yourself: “what do I have to get done today?”. When you find it difficult to define your tasks, the best thing is just to dive in.
- Talk to your loved ones, strengthen your personal relationships before leaving the house, say "good morning", eat breakfast with other people if you can.
- Take a deep breath, remind yourself what your purpose it, why you do what you do. You might listen to an upbeat song, turn on the radio, watch a motivational video on YouTube.
- Inform yourself. Get up to date with information about your business, consult news you've set aside for later, take a look at a website you find interesting. This is just a quick look that doesn't take much time, just enough to keep yourself in the loop.
- Get some exercise. You don't have to go out for a run at dawn, but starting out the day with a quick aerobic routine (jumps, stretches) will help your body pick up energy.
- Take advantage of the first hour. When you get to work, don't waste time at the coffee machine or gossiping with co-workers. Say "good morning" and get to work as soon as possible to make the most of the productivity peak we tend to experience first thing in the morning, when it's easier to focus your energies on what's important because your mind is clear. You'll have time to take a break and relax later.
- Avoid meetings first thing in the morning. It's better to schedule meetings for low-energy times (before lunch or in mid-afternoon) so that we can reserve our attention in the earliest hours for our priorities.
Why do we avoid delegating?
Leadership and delegation go hand in hand. For some people, delegating is easy. For others, leaving even the most trivial task in other people's hands is practically mission impossible. Many claim that it's more efficient if they do the work themselves. People's instinct is to do everything themselves, which has made “task delegation” one of the most underutilized management skills in companies.
The fear of leaving something in the hands of subordinates, organizational culture, fear of being replaceable or a misplaced sense of guilt at handing off our work to others, makes delegation an uphill battle.
Why is delegating important?
Accepting that you can't do everything yourself is the first step towards delegating. It's not a question of the more delegation, the better—which could lead to loss of control—but rather the challenge of delegating properly and effectively those tasks that we want to and can delegate.
We will have time and energy for doing more important things
Delegating things you don't need to do personally frees up time that could be valuable for other tasks that require your experience and energy. Delegating increases your work capacity strategically and leaves time for planning, which will improve organizational systems.
You'll make your team grow
Looking to other people to do tasks helps them develop their capacities and makes them feel valued. You increase the job satisfaction of your team by sharing responsibility. Delegating to someone offers that person the opportunity to excel and be successful, and by extension you'll make your business prosper.
You foster creativity and efficiency
Delegating promotes teamwork and brings in different points of view on how to approach things, which translates into increased efficiency and productivity.
It's the best form of training
If you delegate to members of your organization from time to time, this can be a good way of training them for a day when you're not in the company. You're making sure that other people know how to do things.
It strengthens the organization
Delegating encourages commitment within the organization. Employees accept your authority and commit themselves to being accountable for the task assigned.
In the next post, we'll look at the best way of delegating. And you, do you delegate?
How does one delegate properly?
We've already shared some good reasons why you should learn to delegate. So, now, how do you do it properly? Success in delegating is not measured by how many times we do it; it's not just a question of transferring tasks to co-workers. Take note of these tips for mastering the art of delegating:
Find out where your time goes and what things you can delegate to other people. You'll discover what you can hand off to other people or even eliminate from your business. Study your priorities and ask yourself a few questions: Does this task need to be done right now? Can someone else take care of it?
You should leave the task you delegate in the hands of the best person for the job. You will have decided who this person is after listening and observing; it's not enough to just delegate things to the person with the most time on their hands (or the least expensive one), but rather that you have to choose people with the right knowledge to do the job and sufficient motivation to do it well.
Before delegating, you should document the knowledge and procedures that make your business work like a well-oiled machine. Having clear, complete and accessible documentation is essential for delegating effectively, and it lets other members of your team pick up where you left off. Establish a deadline for having the task done and a system for following up to check progress.
You should be thinking about how to assign, control and manage the delegated work. There are effective applications and programs for delegating tasks. If you have a team that's spread out geographically, that's even more reason you need technology that makes it as if you were all in the same room and facilitates information exchange and collaboration between departments. Use applications like Brilliant Meeting in your task planning meetings.
Communication has to be especially clear, concise and consistent. Each member of the team must have access to the same information. To ensure that the work is done properly, give clear instructions. You can take a minute to remember how it felt when you were learning.
Trusting others is one of the most important aspects of delegation. Trust has to be a two-way street: the members of the team have to trust their boss and the information they use to do the work, and the boss has to trust his or her team and promise them support. Once the task is delegated, offer your trust and let them do the work their own way.
What tasks do you typically delegate? What tools do use to do this? Let us know!
A good negotiator is a good “listener”. God gave us two ears but only one mouth so that we listen twice as much as we talk.
We should do it with interest. And actively. Negotiations tend to unfold in the following manner: A presents its position, B is so busy thinking what to say that it does not actually listen. B presents its position, A thinks B did not respond to what it said and wonders how to repeat it. B also concludes that A did not listen as it should have and thus repeats its position, and so on, creating a dialogue between deaf people.
Listening is not the same as hearing. It implies the use of ears, eyes and heart to perceive the intention, the emotion and the feelings of the opponent. Effective listening is not valued culturally. More frequently the speaker is valued more than the listener. There is the false notion that the one who speaks the most, knows the most… but it should not be forgotten that the one who speaks most also makes the most mistakes.
Listening is the most economic concession you can make to your opponent. We all have a deep urge to be understood. When we satisfy this need, we create an opportunity to change the course of the negotiation. Listening allows opponents to air their thoughts, thus making them more willing to listen to you.
These are some recommendations:
- To be able to listen properly, you should first admit the fact that the others also think that they are right.
- The first thing that must be done is: be quiet.
- Secondly, you should not prepare a response while listening; try to understand the opponent in the same manner the opponents see themselves. Do not interrupt.
- Take notes. It is important. It helps gain time for thinking, it transmits your interest and avoids confusions, misunderstandings and important oversights.
- Maintain visual contact, write the questions that need to be answered, use body language to show attentiveness. Do not be distracted.
- Paraphrase. Show that you do understand.
- Acknowledge the opponent's point of view. This does not necessarily mean you agree with the other person, but that you accept that their point of view is equally as valid as others and it implies the following: “I understand how you see things”. Also acknowledge his/her emotions. Do not ignore them.
- It is better to ask than to affirm. Affirmations tend to provoke resistance. Questions allow the other party to explain their needs and wishes. The moment you begin to share their feelings and impressions, you start closing in on the result.
What other recommendations do you have?
Do feel like your commute is wasted time? For many of us, the work week doesn't just cover our 40 hours at work but also the time it takes us to get there and back. The minutes we spend waiting for the train, in different forms of transportation and even walking to the office don't all have to be wasted. Take advantage of them!
Make note of the following tips that can change your way of seeing the daily trips that eat up several hours of your time each week. Ten minutes on foot, nearly an hour on the bus... no matter how long or short your commute is, you can make the most of the time.
Organizing your day is essential for doing your best and getting the most out of the day. Take advantage of your travel time to make a list of the things you have to do and to prioritize your tasks. You can write them down on paper or use applications; most of these will be able to synchronize your mobile device and your computer, and they'll let you monitor what you're getting done, as well as deadlines. Evernote is a good example of one such application, and time-management courses like Triskelion will show you how to put these techniques into practice. Are you a driver and do you want to use the time you spend moving from one traffic light to the next? You can use the free Dragon Dictation application to dictate the note you would otherwise write.
Imagine getting to the office and having your e-mail inbox clean. What a time-saver! It's not a question of starting work early but rather of eliminating the trash e-mails that land in our inbox and waste our time first thing in the morning, precisely the period when we're at our most productive.
Reviewing long-term goals is necessary for orienting our actions. Make the most of those minutes you have in the morning on the way to work to review your goals regularly and ensure that the actions you're taking to reach them are on target. Besides getting yourself up to date, it's a good way to keep yourself motivated.
If you'd rather not be looking at a screen all the time while you're on the road, you have the option of listening to a podcast or an audio-book, or you can makes lists with your favorite audio files. Reading is also a good way to make the trip more enjoyable and productive, whether it's a good book or documents from the office that you need to look over.
Get up to date with some reading you've been putting off; the road to work is the perfect time to read your favorite blog or the day's news before starting the workday. If social networks are a temptation for you during working hours, take the chance now to give them a quick look and you'll avoid distracting yourself later, because you already know that the first hour is the most productive one for working.
Listen to music, play a game on your Smartphone or tablet... and, why not, talk on the phone. On the way to work we can take the opportunity to return a phone call or even contact a family member. It may be early, but people appreciate knowing that you remember them and, besides, it will make the ride more enjoyable.
Before getting to the office, you can dedicate a few minutes to setting up the meetings and conference calls you want to hold during the workday. Remember that scheduling meetings for first thing in the morning isn't a good idea, but it is a good time to notify people ahead of time so they can plan better. Use applications like Brilliant Meeting to invite the attendees.
What do you do to make the most of your commute?
Putting things off for no reason is a habit that not only harms our productivity but also our happiness. When we put off a task over and over again, we should ask ourselves why we’re doing it: Do we lack abilities we thought we had? Could it be that we don’t want (or don’t know how) to accomplish this task and that’s why we keep putting it off?
How to avoid procrastinating?
Have a positive attitude
Banish the excuses running through your head like “I’m not in the mood”, “I don’t have time”; “I can’t do this.” Replace expressions like “I should” and “I have to” with active voices like “I’m going to”... These positive attitudes will help you get into action.
Find out what makes you put things off
Ask yourself how you use your time when you put off an important task. Surfing the Internet, spending a long time answering e-mails instead of writing the report or working on your project? Once you’ve detected these behaviors, you’ll be able to take the necessary measures to change how you act. Write down what you have to get done and set aside time in your schedule to do it.
Focus on the most important thing
Saying yes to everything is another way of procrastinating, because you’ll never be able to do everything you commit to and you’ll just end up with no energy to focus on what’s really important to you. Over time, this will encourage projects and tasks to drag on. Identify what’s important and focus on that; you’ll see how your focus and motivation improve.
Set personal and professional objectives
It’s hard to get motivated if we have no idea of what we want to achieve. Set goals that help you think in the long and short term, specific, measurable and realistic objectives with defined deadlines. Review your objectives regularly and modify them if you need to.
Talk about your projects
Comment on your projects to colleagues, friends and family members. Sharing your professional plans will help you to visualize the objective and to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Get in touch with someone who has achieved something similar and can lend you a hand or give you advice.
Once you’ve defined and prioritized your objectives, divide them into smaller actions. Sometimes we procrastinate because a project seems enormous and overwhelming. Don’t let a feeling of being overburdened paralyze you: define small, specific actions so you know where to begin and then start by taking the first step.
Doing several things at the same time not only harms your productivity but the false belief that we can do several things simultaneously also undermines the results of your work. In reality, what we are doing is skipping from one activity to another, which causes fatigue and mental blocks. Stop wasting time trying to multitask.
Enjoy the payoff
As you complete the small goals you’ve set for yourself, find a way of rewarding yourself to keep yourself motivated. For example, if you want to see a movie, do it after completing a pending task: the act of watching the movie will turn into a reward and give you an immediate sense of accomplishment. Write down what you’ve achieved At the end of the day, write down on a piece of paper everything you’ve achieved. This will serve you as a reward and a source of motivation to continue completing your tasks.
Take a time-management course
If, despite these tips, you think that you’re destined to procrastinate, sign up for a time-management course. Everyone uses a system to organize themselves, you should too. Developing skills, especially time management, will help you grow personally and professionally. Plus, if you use serious games, learning can be easy and fun. The Triskelion video game is an example of this philosophy that’s within everybody’s reach.
What ideas do you have for avoiding procrastination?