How your training program can turn skeptics into your number one evangelists

Let’s call it what it is, employee on-boarding is just another fancy schmancy name for new hire orientation.

Though the term has been re-coined and spun to sound like it’s something new, it’s the same old process through which new employees are recruited, processed and trained. A typical on boarding program should include inviting an applicant for interview, and end with an offer letter and confirmation of start date. However, once new employees start their first week, this process changes drastically by organization.

The biggest question to answer when planning an on-boarding program: Who is responsible for the new people? Is it HR? Their manager? Their Trainer?

The answer is simple: All of the above.

HR, Managers and Trainers must each be held equally as accountable for the development of new employees. However, while it is the responsibility of HR and Managers to determine the correct processes and systems important to the success of each employee, it is the Trainer’s responsibility to ensure they are developed and taught to each employee.

So even though, new hire orientation is not a new concept, the definition of on-boarding should be expanded to:

The acts through which employees gain knowledge, and the necessary skills and behaviors to develop into successful and productive employees

With this in mind, a successful on-boarding process should be at least 6- 12 months long.

Before an official on-boarding program is created, employers (HR, Managers, Trainers, and Organization Leaders) should take the time to answer these questions:

Studies show that more than 80% of the highest performing organizations have an on-boarding process that starts before the first day on the job. Are you apart of that statistic? If not, here are some ways to welcome your new hires with style and class-

  • Create a new hire portal and share it with your new employee once the ink has dried on the offer letter. Examples of what each employee should find in the portal:
  • Other things to include in portal:
    • Letter/Video from their new manager welcoming them to the team
    • Content designed to engage prepare them for the first day
    • Pictures, videos of the team and team activities
    • Glossary of most frequent terms used by employees

A tip on creating content:

Video is always better.

Now it’s time for the first day. Going into this as an employer, there are a few things you should know and commit to memory as an unchangeable truth.

Your new hire is not 100% sure they want to stay at your company long term. Your new employee is not even 50% sure at this time. It is your duty to make sure that by the end of the on-boarding process, your new employee has been converted. What you do on the first day of the on-boarding process goes a long way to ensure your new employee’s loyalty.

The purpose of Day 1 is twofold. HR needs to align new employees with the objectives of their new position, trainers need both set and communicate expectations and managers need to reinforce both objectives and expectations. This is the only day you will have to impress and leave a lasting impression on your new employee, by Day 2, it’s already too late.


If your employee goes home unsure about the people or the organization, that feeling may become subdued, but it does not go away.

Social interaction is also crucial on Day 1. New employees need to be able to mingle and build rapport with their team, as well as, the leaders of the organization. This sends the message he/she is important and that company leaders care about each employee. Allowing opportunities for social interaction among other employees, also gives them a chance to start orienting themselves to the culture of the organization.

Humans want to belong, we seek opportunities to become a part of a greater whole, it is a survival mechanism, and one of the reasons why groves of people move major metropolitan areas each year. New employees need the opportunity to socially negotiate their status within an organization’s culture and giving them the chance to interact socially, does just that.

A few things need to happen at the one month mark:

  1. HR needs to step in as well as managers to ensure that the employee is comfortable, happy and well-adjusted. HR must determine if all their needs are met and discuss any feedback the new employee may have thus far.
  2. Managers must also take the time to meet with each new employee at the end of the first month to realign he/she to company objectives and the expectations established on Day 1.

At the 3 – 6 month mark, HR should make an effort to check back in with the new employee. At this point, the employee should be fully acclimated to the organization and this meeting helps to get any additional necessary paperwork completed. Benefits should be reviewed at this meeting, as well as, a temperature gauge taken to determine if the employee has any issues with fitting in to the organization culture. The purpose here is to show the employee that he/she is not just a warm seat, and that his/her happiness is important to the organization.

The success of your new employee can be causally related to how he/she feels about the job and whether or not he/she feels they are just a number or an integral part of the organization.

During this time frame, the trainer should be phased out and the manager should be working more closely with the new employee to further coaching and development.

At the one year mark, barring any gross and unacceptable behaviors of the new employee, you should be able to determine whether or not the employee will be a success in the position. It’s important to note that most organizations rarely extend the on-boarding process this long, but depending on the position this should be more necessary than not.

How can you tell? Well ask yourself, how multifaceted are the duties of the position? Is it as simple as moving the robot, or does the employee need to understand several moving parts as well as perform them in order to be successful? The more complex the position is, the longer the on-boarding process should be.

At the end of the first year, the on-boarding process should transition to an employee retention and satisfaction program and as you will see in my next post, even that should have its own coaching and development program. Instead of start to finish, to turn skeptic employees to evangelists, your on-boarding process must be seamless from “start to continuous development.”

So how SHOULD you end the conversation after the first year? Simple.

Start with…

“So, let’s talk about compensation…”aaeaaqaaaaaaaadkaaaajdkwodq3n2fjlta4ymutngi5my05ztk1lwfizdkzzmflntiwza


Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers and Challengers- Alexander Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur (Book Review)

A business model is defined in this book as the rationale of how an organization creates, delivers and captures value. This, ‘business model’ has to be a simple and relevant document that details how your business plan to create value.

The business canvas is a design tool (sometimes even a drawing) that represents the shared language used to describe, assess and even change an existing business model. According to this book, there are 9 building blocks that essentially build the business model canvas. These 9 blocks are;

1.) Customer Segments – who is your target market? – do you understand the different needs of the segments that exist within your market and the different channels available to reach out to them, or, is there a specific segment you are targeting?

2.) Value Proposition- what value are you providing to your customers? Are you offering your customers, design value, customization value, ‘getting the job done’ value, brand value, performance value, price value (lower pricing points), risk reduction value, or accessibility?

3.) Channels- what channels do you need to use to reach out to your customers?- how will you market your product/service/platform?

4.) Customer Relationships- the method of communication between you and your customer will depend on the stage your business is in. You need to ask yourself whether you are in the customer acquisition stage, the customer retention stage or the up-sell stage.

5.) Revenue Streams- how will you make money?- Are you selling a physical product, are you offering a service for a subscription, are you offering something for free (freemium) and offering additional features /premium features for a fee (or are you solely relying on advertising revenues- if you have a web-based business this will depend largely on the amount of traffic you have, the engagement rate of your user base and how much time they spend on your site), brokerage fees, leasing fees, or licensing fees?

6.) Key Resources- these are important things that you will need for your business to work.

7.) Key Activities- these are the important things that must be one to make your business to work.

8.) Key partnerships- there are the alliances you need to make for your business to work (suppliers, competitors, joint ventures or strategic alliances).

9.) Cost Structure- these are the important costs you will incur in order to make your business work.


This book lists 5 examples of traditional and, ‘new economy’ business model canvas patterns followed by businesses;

  • Unbundling Model- According to this model, there are 3 types of businesses; customer relations businesses (businesses focused on the acquisition of customers and building customer relations- for example, Ebay), product innovative businesses (businesses focused on developing new and attractive products- for example, Apple) and Infrastructure businesses (businesses focused on building and managing platforms for high volume repetitive tasks- for example, General Motor). These 3 can exist within one organization, but it is advisable that such companies separate them into 3 entities.
  • Long Tail- Under this model, the business offers a large number of niche products that do not sell much on their own, but collectively amount to a large amount of sales. Examples of this model include and Youtube.
  • Multi-sided Platform- Under this model, the business has 2 distinct, but interdependent groups of customers. The business grows in value through what is known as the, ‘network effect’- the more users the platform gains, the more valuable it becomes (examples include; Amazon, Google, Wii, Playstation and Xbox).
  • Freemium- Under the freemium model, the business offers its services free of charge. Nonpaying customers are financed either by another part of the business model (upselling certain services), by advertising revenues, or by another, paying customer segment (examples include Flickr, Twitter and Facebook).
  • Open Business Model- Under this model, the business collaborates with outside partners by opening up its platform (examples include Tor and RedHat).


Under this section, the book delves into the techniques available to design a business canvas. According to this book, there are six techniques, these are;

  • Customer Insights- businesses need to understand that customer insight goes beyond asking customers what they want. Apple had a deep understanding of its customer’s behavior and understood that people where not interested in digital media players per se, Apple believed people wanted a seamless way to search, find, download and listen to music (this was against the prevailing trend- illegal downloading), this is how Apple came up with the Ipod.
  • Ideation- It is difficult for established businesses to innovate because the systems designed to make an established business more effective (financial projections, job descriptions and anything promoting predictability) work against the innovative process (that requires systematic chaos). According to the ideation process there must be a brainstorming of business ideas (with people from all sectors of the business), the best ideas must then be isolated, elaborated and developed further.
  • Visual Thinking- according to this process pictures deliver messages more effectively than words and pictures often need to be used to communicate ideas and concept (post it notes, power-point presentations and anything that is visually stimulating).
  • Prototyping- According to this process you have to avoid falling in love with any one idea you have, the idea must be prototyped, tested and there has to be an exploration of different directions in which the business model could go.
  • Storytelling- You must be able to use real life stories that people can relate to, describe your business model and your value proposition. This storytelling will help you communicate your business to possible investors, your customers and your employees. You have to ask yourself what your business narrative is.
  • Scenario- Scenario planning helps businesses better understand that the business model might have to evolve under certain, future conditions. Imagining future scenarios helps develop business models in more innovative ways by understanding future conditions that may exist within your market you will better understand how to draft your business model in a manner that allows it to be more adaptive.



Business model strategy involves understanding the environment the business operates within (the key trends- regulatory, technological, societal and socio-economic, the industry forces, the market forces and the macro-economic forces- global market conditions and economic infrastructure), the design drivers underlying the business model and the constraints the business is likely to face.

You have to understand that today’s market conditions may very well be outdated tomorrow and you must be able to improve on your business model to suit changing conditions (ask yourself what measures you have in place to ensure your business model remains competitive). Amazon for example, retains its competitive edge by keeping its profit margins very low ensuring that no competitor could price its products lower. Jeff Bezos also understood that these low margins (at one point Amazon posted a 4.2% net margin) where Amazon’s financial weakness, to address this issue Jeff Bezos broadened Amazon’s business model by offering other web services.

One strategy that deserves a little extra attention mentioned in this book is the Blue Ocean Strategy. According to this strategy businesses must focus on creating new, uncontested market spaces. An example of a business that pursued the, ‘blue ocean strategy’ would be Wii, instead of focusing on developing a console with state of the art performance (which was what Playstation and Xbox brought to the market), Nintendo choose to develop a more, ‘social’ game console designed for the casual gamer.


There are 5 stages in the business process stage; mobilization, understanding, design, implementation and managing. The mobilization step involves preparing the business model for success, this includes setting up all the elements that are needed to ensure the business model is successful and describing the motivation and value proposition underlying a business. The understanding phase is a stage where research and analysis is carried out. This involves immersing yourself in industry relevant knowledge. The designing phase is where the business model is generated and tested (by questioning the validity of the business models and the underlying axioms). The Implementation phase is where the business prototypes are tested in real life situations and the Management phase is where the business model is adapted and modified to suit current and future, foreseeable market conditions.

Motivate Adult Learners with Game-based Learning


It’s a usual day at work, and you are waiting for the trainer to come in and begin his boring, dreary training session. As he moves through his slides, you look quickly at your watch, wishing time would pass by faster, just so you can go home sooner.

To your surprise, he suddenly dims the classroom light, and puts up a slide that reads “Begin the game” with a website link projected on-screen. Your colleagues (who had not dozed off yet) start to take out their laptops and devices, and begin loading the website link stated on the projector screen. There was a sudden buzz, and you realise the trainer is introducing a learning game for the class to “play”.

With a tinge of curiosity, you do the same by accessing the same website link, and put on your earphones. In 5 minutes, everyone was drawn into the learning game – excited, engaged, and motivated. Half an hour later, the class was chattering away about who had completed the mission and how they had done it so quickly with the highest scores.

Without realising it, all of them had learnt through a game-based scenario the application of certain concepts, where high scorers were learners who had picked up a deeper understanding of the underlying concepts infused into the game design. This is e-Learning – specifically, game-based learning.

What then is the difference between classroom training and interactive, game-based learning?

Let us take a quick walk through 5 advantages of using game-based learning.

1.       Higher engagement level

With high-definition visuals, audio effects and interactive programming, game-based learning captivates learners’ attention and keeps them engaged with a sensory learning experience. Did you know that 83% of learning occurs visually? Games are highly visual, auditory, and kinaesthetic, catering to the majority of learners – where they can learn by seeing, learn by hearing, and learn by doing. In addition, games can tap on emotional engagement through controversial game situations, familiar memories, and real-life experiences.

2.       Learning through mistakes

Games provide learners the freedom to fail, start over, fail, and try again until they succeed. Henry Roediger started a learning experiment by dividing his students into 2 groups – group A and B. Group A studied natural sciences paper for 4 sessions, while Group B studied the same paper for one session and was tested on it three times. A week later, students from Group B performed 50% better than Group A, although they had studied the paper less. This experiment clearly shows that learners who practise and learn hands-on generally have higher learning outcomes.

Game Over

3.       Providing the real-life context

Ever learnt something and wondered why you need to learn it, or how it is relevant at your workplace? Through virtual reality games, a real-life setting can be simulated for learners to immerse in realistic situations and pick up relevant skills or knowledge within the actual context.

4.       Extrinsic motivation 

Game-based learning often includes game enhancements such as reward points, badges, leaderboard, level-ups and more. These are extrinsic motivators that encourage the players (aka learners) to achieve a certain game task or target – which ultimately determines the accomplishment of learning objectives.

5.       Intrinsic motivation

Yet, it isn’t one-off results or task accomplishments that will last, but the intrinsic motivation from growth that will keep your learners going in the long run. When your learner achieves a game target or mission, this essentially means that he or she has understood a concept or know-how to be able to climb up to that target or mission level.

You know the feeling when you have worked real hard for an exam, and finally ace the paper? It ascertains you on your individual growth in the area of study. Games work this way too. It ascertains the player that he or she learnt something right and this spurs him or her to keep learning. To quote the CEO of Three Learning, Mr. Tan Wee Shen, “the highest intrinsic motivation that you can give to a learner is when the learner realises he or she is learning and gaining through knowledge.”

Being on Time: Simply the Right Thing to Do!

Vince Lombardi is the famous football coach, known for a number of amazing accomplishments as well as always being on time, if not early, it’s the being on time part of what he’s known for that we’ll be covering in today’s customer service lesson.

Lombardi used to tell his players that they needed to show up to practice 15 minutes early. Otherwise, they were considered late. His fifteen minutes early concept came to be known as Lombardi Time. This was so well known that on July 20, 2012 a new clock was erected at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, WI that was permanently set 15 minutes ahead of the actual time. Lombardi’s belief was that being on time wasn’t enough.

I was twelve years old when I started my first business, a magic show birthday party business. My first show was for 20 six-year-old kids. I did a good enough show that the parents were willing to recommend me to their friends. Before I knew it, I was doing magic shows every week.

My parents taught me some valuable business lessons back then. Without even knowing it, they were teaching me about customer service. One of the most important lessons I learned was about time, specifically being on time.

When I performed my magic shows, there was minimal set-up time. I could walk into the home, the parents would point to the place I was going to perform, and five minutes later I was ready to go. So, for a twelve year old kid, being on time was arriving five minutes early and ready to go by the time the parents expected me to perform.

My dad had a different take on this. He asked me, “Let’s say your show is supposed to start at 1:00. At what point do you think the parents are going to start looking at their watches and wondering what time the magician is going to show up?”

Even at twelve years old, I knew where he was going with the question. All of a sudden I realized that five minutes early wasn’t early enough. I embarrassingly told him probably about 15 minutes before the show. And, by the way, this was long before Lombardi Time was in vogue!

He agreed and told me that from that point forward, whatever the time the show was supposed to start, if I didn’t arrive at least 15 minutes early, I would be late. So, I made it my practice to be at least 20 minutes early.

Maybe you’re meeting a friend or work colleague for lunch and you show up five minutes late. Big deal. It’s just five minutes, and you’re just meeting a friend. What’s five minutes? My belief is that five minutes late, or even just one minute late is a sign of disrespect. The message you’re sending is that your time is more important than theirs.

Show up one minute late to a job interview and you may not get hired. Show up one minute late to a flight and the plane may already be taxiing out to the runway. Keep your customer waiting and you may not make the sale. Late is late. And as mentioned, it’s disrespectful.

But being a minute or two early, and in some cases fifteen minutes early, is really more than just being on time. It shows dependability. It creates confidence. And be it for a personal meeting or something work related, it’s simply the right thing to do.

Microlearning: The elearning trend for 2016



There is a huge difference between passively watching a professor’s one hour online lecture and watching 12 short, five-minute videos spaced over a period of a week.

This second mode of learning is the newly dubbed ‘Microlearning’. Microlearning is an emerging popular learning format designed to be short and to the point. Microlearning doesn’t rely on you to process a large amount of information before breaking it down.

Instead, the basic building blocks of a topic are broken down into ‘microcontent’.

Microcontent is made up of small chunks of information that are broken down to their most easily digestible form.

These small pieces of information are known as ‘knowledge nuggets’ and are taught using the ‘Spacing Effect’ — taught progressively over extended periods of time — to avoid overloading people with an amount of information that cannot be feasibly retained.

This new concept in learning dramatically enhances the way we learn because it is quite effective in helping the mind retain information.

Microcontent to improve employee performance

Microlearning is emerging as a better fit for teaching today’s employee. Today’s millennial generation have grown up scrolling through small bits of unrelated news and status updates on Facebook/Twitter social media platforms.

They’re used to seeing embedded content, from pictures and memes, to automatically-playing videos, to short Snapchat stories and Vines. They can easily take in multiple sources of information at once, and in fact, many prefer to do so. On the flip side, they may find themselves disinterested by long lectures or videos that lack the fast pace millennials have adapted to.

Microcontent is made up of small chunks of information that are broken down to their most easily digestible form.

For busy employees, microlearning is a useful way to improve performance. They can learn without breaking their flow and losing focus on the task at hand. Furthermore, they can take in a small amount of information continually throughout the day.

This kind of learning is easier to retain and is an extremely efficient method for performance improvement. Employees can microlearn as they work, taking in byte size information. And for smooth onboarding of new employees, the benefits are incomparable.

Microcontent pushed to your mobile

Over the past few years, ‘push technology’ (the ability to ‘push’ notifications through a server as opposed to downloading existing information) has become one of the most efficient ways to communicate. Microlearning can be combined with push technology to allow an employer to send relevant informational updates to his employees, allowing them to quickly process new information as it is relevant.

With the proliferation of accompanying mobile apps, even brief bus commutes can be turned into learning opportunities. This can be as simple as setting a daily routine of learning on the bus/train, or setting in-app push notifications on your phone to schedule a few short spaced learning sessions throughout the day.

As long as the ultimate goal and vision is kept in mind, microlearning can be a really fun and effective way to learn.

Microcontent pushed through online guidance platforms

In addition to mobile, employers can push microcontent to their employees through online guidance platforms. Many large companies incorporate microlearning concepts by using step-by-step walkthroughs to educate and guide their employees.

When employees are learning how to use a website or new software program, online guidance platforms present small bursts of context-sensitive information to help them along the way. Instead of showing an unwieldy block of data and forcing an employee to pick and choose the relevant pieces, these systems show you an easily-digestible data point.

Microlearning is undoubtedly the wave of the future. The human brain is much more receptive to spaced-out learning delivered in smaller, easily digestible nuggets. This is especially true for the millennial generation who have notoriously limited attention spans.

Generational trends have dramatically changed the nature of online knowledge consumption. For these reasons, microlearning has a very realistic chance of shaping how education and the Internet will come together in the decades to come.

Now, for those readers who have read this until the end, I’d like to share with you a cause that is very close to my heart — the blind movement for people who are visually impaired. The NGO called LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired is doing great work to promote the equality and self-reliance of people who are blind or visually impaired through rehabilitation training, employment placement, Enchanted Hills Camp and other services. If you’re interested, check them out and see how you can help.

Originally published at on January 25, 2016.