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Soft Skills: Key To Success. Hard To Master

Soft Skills: Key To Success. Hard To Master | 21C Learning Innovation | Scoop.it
People don't underperform because they lack technical skills. People underperform because they lack soft skills.

 

"A few years ago, a senior engineering executive at a high-tech Silicon Valley company asked me to teach a two-hour course on assessing "soft skills". His company had mastered the art of judging candidates' technical skills. It conducted day-long interviews focused on programming languages, server skills, and data analysis. Then, in the final 45 minutes, the hiring manager would turn his attention to the soft skills. If felt like an afterthought, perhaps because it was.

 

...His immediate response was a stunned silence; the expanse and impact of a candidate's soft skills had perhaps not occurred to him before. I think he realized quite quickly that 45 minutes tacked on the end of an all-day interview was not enough."

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More On Happiness

More On Happiness | 21C Learning Innovation | Scoop.it

Two centuries ago, the United States was founded on the ideal that the pursuit of happiness is a human right. The Statue of Liberty with its torch held high perhaps best symbolizes this enduring aspiration for those seeking the American Dream, even now during a global economic crisis. In The How of Happiness, Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky explores the relation between intentional activity and happiness. Research shows there are simple and proven ongoing ways to enhance happiness. These include counting one’s blessings, performing kind acts, and seeing negative situations in a positive light. Circumstantial happiness in contrast is dependent on external factors, which often we have no direct control over as recent events sadly show.


The idea of intentional happiness is similar to the ‘broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions’ first formulated by Dr. Barbara Fredrickson in 1998. This holds that positive emotions and intentions help broaden awareness. And this helps encourage new exploration, creativity, and social bonds. Positive emotions are seen as expansive and inclusive. Negative emotions are linked directly to narrow survival-oriented behaviours such as flight or fight.

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New Study: Cute Animal Pics & Productivty

New Study: Cute Animal Pics & Productivty | 21C Learning Innovation | Scoop.it

"Japanese researcher Hiroshi Nittono just made the Internet's day. According to a new study lead by Nittono for Hiroshima University, looking at pictures of puppies and panda cams and grumpy, grumpy cat videos at work doesn't just improve your mood, it can also increase your productivity.

 

Results show that participants performed tasks requiring focused attention more carefully after viewing cute images. This is interpreted as the result of a narrowed attentional focus induced by the cuteness-triggered positive emotion that is associated with approach motivation and the tendency toward systematic processing.

 

Published online last week in the journal PlosOne, the Japanese research paper, entitled "The Power of Kawaii: Viewing Cute Images Promotes a Careful Behavior and Narrows Attentional Focus," concluded that looking at cute images at work can boost attention to detail and overall performance."

In Japan "kawaii" (Japanese for cute) is a cultural phenomenon (think, the Hello Kitty craze). With their large heads and eyes, these type of images are thought to stir positive feelings because they resemble babies, according to LiveScience.com.

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GPY2015: The Global Partnership for Youth

GPY2015: The Global Partnership for Youth | 21C Learning Innovation | Scoop.it

As consultations on the post-2015 development agenda move forward, expectations among youth organisations around the world in particular, have been expressed and raised through numerous fora, online and offline consultations. It is now important to build on the results of these consultations, amplify young people’s voices and advocate for their priorities to be reflected as concrete commitments in the post-2015 agenda.

 

On 18 February 2014, the President of the General Assembly will launch a Global Partnership on Youth in the Post-2015 Development Agenda facilitated by the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth to bring together a wide spectrum of stakeholders to be a unified voice for youth priorities in the post-2015 development agenda. The Partnership will aim to create an inclusive platform for young people to formulate concrete ideas that can be proposed for the inter-governmental deliberations, including:

 

The High Level Event on “Contributions of Women, the Young and Civil Society to the Post-2015 Development Agenda” organized by the President of the General Assembly in March 2014;The third ECOSOC Youth Forum from 3 to 4 June 2014 that will contribute to its Annual Ministerial Review in July 2014 on the theme of “Addressing on-going and emerging challenges for meeting the Millennium Development Goals in 2015 and for sustaining development gains in the future”;The Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals.

 

As a first step, a crowdsourcing platform will be launched to consolidate the outcomes of national, regional, global and online consultations into concrete proposals for the post-2015 development framework. These proposals will be informed by the latest available data and reports, including those from the United Nations and the High Level Panel on Post-2015.

 

The exercise will also build on consensus emerging from youth-led organizations and networks, including the Major Group on Children and Youth, the International Coordination Meeting of Youth Organizations, the Youth Advocacy Group for the Global Education First Initiative, amongst others. It will build on the framework of the top priorities that have emerged for young voters of the MyWorld2015 survey: Education, Employment and Entrepreneurship, Health, Good Governance and Peace and Stability.

 

Moderated by experts from the United Nations, youth-led organizations and academia, the exercise will result in a document, “Youth Voices” that will contain the consolidated proposals that the Partnership will advocate for in the post-2015 discussions. The partnership can potentially also monitor the implementation of youth priorities in the future development agenda.

 

The crowdsourcing platform will also serve as a space for online discussions in the lead up to each one of the PGA’s Thematic High Level Events (except the first one).

 

The partnership is supported by International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the UN Millennium Campaign, the Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development and Crowdicity.

 

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Healthcare & Virtual Teams

Healthcare & Virtual Teams | 21C Learning Innovation | Scoop.it

Not surprisingly, virtual teams are finding increasing use in healthcare as in every other sector. “The literature indicates that a virtual community in health care as a group of people using telecommunication with the purposes of delivering health care and education, and/or providing support, covers a wide range of clinical specialties, technologies and stakeholders. Examples include peer-to-peer networks, virtual health care delivery and research teams” (www.orcatech.org/papers/home_monitoring/06_Demiris_diffusion_of_virtual_community.pdf).

 

The following study is representative: “This chapter describes an in-depth analysis of the methods to increase the effectiveness of virtual teams in health care using the Northern Alliance Hospital Admission Risk Program (HARP) Chronic Disease Management (CDM) Program as the test case. A conceptual framework of the specific components required for virtual team effectiveness and a survey tool to examine a team’s performance (based on virtual team member perception) with each of these components is presented. The proposed conceptual framework of virtual team effectiveness categorises the determinants influencing the effectiveness of virtual teams into four key frames of leadership, team components, organisational culture, and technology. An empirical survey of 38 virtual team members within the Northern Alliance HARP CDM Program demonstrates high levels of agreement with leadership and some team components, however, limited agreement with the organisational culture and technology components” (four key frames of leadership, team components, organisational culture, and technology. An empirical survey of 38 virtual team members within the Northern Alliance HARP CDM Program demonstrates high levels of agreement with leadership and some team components, however, limited agreement with the organisational culture and technology components” (Chapter X Virtual Teams in Health Care: Maximising Team Effectiveness / www.igi-global.com/chapter/virtual-teams-health-care/23638).

 

Also indicative of this growing healthcare trend is the study “Using Virtual Teams to Improve Chronic Disease Management in Primary Care: An Overview of Two Models of Virtual Team Care” (http://www.carecontinuumalliance.org).

 

The Brighten Project stands for “Bridging the Resources of an Interdisciplinary Gero‐mental Health Team via Electronic Networking”. This virtual program provides an “alternative approach to the identification, assessment and treatment of depression in older adults”. The Brighten Virtual Team consists of a: Geropsychiatrist, Geropsychologist, Social Worker, Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Nutritionist, Psychiatric Nurse, Pharmacist, Chaplain and Primary Care Physician. Together this interdisciplinary team of health professionals makes up a “virtual team of supporting disciplines who review the in‐person assessment and offer collaborative and unique intervention strategies using commonly available technologies” (ibid).

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Virtual Relationships Test

Virtual Relationships Test | 21C Learning Innovation | Scoop.it

Rate The Strength Of Your Virtual Working Relationships. Do you have good relationships with others on your virtual team? Perhaps you do, but how can you be sure? You need to evaluate yourself from their perspective. 

 

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Mapping Virtual Team Use Across Sectors

Mapping Virtual Team Use Across Sectors | 21C Learning Innovation | Scoop.it

Five broad spheres of activity have been identified that make use of virtual teams: Business/Industry, Education, Military, Healthcare, and Non Profit Voluntary Organizations. All basically share the same fundamental challenges and opportunities associated with virtual teaming generally. That is, how can ostensible virtual strangers become high functioning collaborators without ever meeting face-to-face?

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New Virtual Learning Environments

New Virtual Learning Environments | 21C Learning Innovation | Scoop.it

From:  2014 Corporate Learning Factbook


"We see significant growth in new virtual learning environments: companies like GE, Motorola, Philips , and others are extending their training budget to reach 2-3 times the audience through the use of easy to use training portals and virtual learning experiences. While most big companies still have a lot of work rationalizing their training spend, the adoption of technology in training has accelerated."

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Prelude for Virtual Teams

Prelude for Virtual Teams | 21C Learning Innovation | Scoop.it

Prelude for Virtual Teams 1.0 is launching this February. Seeking pioneering spirits to pilot. Online training and facilitation provided. Sign up at http://lnkd.in/dc2RfhT

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Virtual Teams: The Gap Between Expectation & Performance

Virtual Teams: The Gap Between Expectation & Performance | 21C Learning Innovation | Scoop.it

There’s an immense gap between management expectations and actual outcomes. In one global study, 27% of virtual teams were found to be not fully performing![i] Another study revealed that only 18% of seventy global business virtual teams were found to be highly successful![ii] Essentially, 80% of virtual teams are performing significantly below capacity. The financial cost is enormous due to lost productivity, missed deadlines, declining morale, and failure to innovate. There are several related causes including; lack of virtual team leadership training, interpersonal and cultural dissonance, and technological constraints.

 

Unsurprisingly, 19 out of 20 “executives say they have experienced difficulty in managing virtual teams”.”[iii] One challenge is due to technology constraints, for example sporadic Internet availability.  Global time zone differences can be another challenge, for example, the 15 hours between Tokyo and Winnipeg. However, the greatest challenge stems from human miscommunication and misunderstanding, both interpersonal and cultural.

 

From White Paper: Virtual Teams Creating Trust Creatively

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New White Paper: Virtual Teams Creating Trust Creatively

New White Paper: Virtual Teams Creating Trust Creatively | 21C Learning Innovation | Scoop.it

This white paper examines the relation between virtual team effectiveness and the level of trust between its members. More specifically, it examines the vital role social and emotional intelligence plays in developing team trust and how creativity as well as serious games can help. The paper draws from a wide range of online sources including corporate website content, training program material, and academic work such as graduate theses and applied research studies. 

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Virtual Teams: 40% Believe They're Underperforming

Virtual Teams: 40% Believe They're Underperforming | 21C Learning Innovation | Scoop.it

"According to a 2010 survey by RW3, 80 percent of corporate managers work virtually at least part of the time. But a surprising proportion of virtual team members — 40 percent — believe their groups are underperforming.

The study (pdf) is quite broad, delving into many areas, including this graph, which shows unequivocally that almost everything is more challenging in virtual teams:

Any of these alone would be worrisome, but the cost benefits of virtual teams have won the day, so management will simply have to invest time and energy into countering the problems that come along with virtual work.

94 percent of those surveyed said the greatest problem with virtual teams is an inability to read nonverbal cues, the single greatest difference from face-to-face interaction. A higher reliance on video communication is the likely counter to that, as the authors reported:

When asked how they would make their virtual teams more successful, some respondents expressed a need for more time. Others cited the need for a common language, time zone, and currency. These comments, however, constituted only a fraction of the total. The largest number of comments cited a need for more frequent face‐to‐ face contact to cement better relationships among team members. In a related vein, many participants identified a need for better communication, and they frequently suggested the use of better collaborative technologies – especially video‐conferencing.

Clearly, management isn’t inclined to let these virtual workers meet on a regular basis:

I think it’s a shame that the authors did not break out how many of the respondents use video, and did not cross tabulate that with the questions regarding difficulties.

The other dimension not covered in this study are the collaboration tools used by the virtual teams. Having relied on work media for my work in the past decade, I know that these tools can decrease the barriers inherent in virtual work, especially after protocols and etiquette about their use is learned by team members. As the authors relate

There also were numerous comments that only can be interpreted as expressions of frustration about poor project management – usually evidenced by a lack of organization or a clear understanding of shared objectives and responsibilities. Finally, comments about the lack of initiative, cooperation, and meeting etiquette among team members pointed to a need for more careful selection of virtual team members.

My bet is that virtual teams fall into three general groups, based on the level of capabilities of the tools that they use:

No Fidelity — Virtual teams that rely on a weak collection of minimal work tools, like telephone, email, and paper-based communication. This leads individuals to contrive their own ways of tracking critical information, expectations, goals and so on. These pre-web work situations are likely — I believe — to have the greatest problems with the social side of virtual work, as well.

Low Fidelity — Teams that have adopted early web-based solutions, like online document repositories, chat, portals and  intranets, are making their business processes more streamlined, but are largely lacking shared ways to track work socially. And they particularly fall short on the possibilities of social interaction that we see on the open web today.

High Fidelity — Virtual teams can adopt the best that today’s web has to offer and at a very low-cost: video/audio conferencing and advanced work media tools can bridge the social gap inherent in virtual work. These go beyond just patterning business processes: they support the deepening of social interaction — the creation of social density — which makes groups more productive and satisfied with their work. Video is an essential aspect of this, especially solutions that emulate team meetings.

The benefits of gaining even 5% improvement in virtual team performance is gigantic. My sense is that the right combination of communication and social tools — high fidelity work experience — can tap this huge productivity potential of underperforming virtual teams, and there is no other answer aside from lots of pricy and time-consuming travel. I expect that the adoption of work media tools is growing to a large degree because of this need: to make virtual teams more productive, by making them more social."

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Americans Say Teach "Soft" Skills

Americans Say Teach "Soft" Skills | 21C Learning Innovation | Scoop.it

Most Americans believe that today's schools should teach "soft skills." More than three in four adults "strongly agree" that K-12 schools should teach critical thinking and communication to children. And 64% of respondents strongly agree that goal setting should be taught, while 61% strongly agree schools should know how to motivate students. A majority also strongly agree that things like creativity and collaboration are also meaningful teacher targets.

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Les Howard's curator insight, March 12, 2014 8:27 AM

Important information about what matters

 

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On Happiness

On Happiness | 21C Learning Innovation | Scoop.it

A T-shirt design from zaazle.com archly proclaims, “Happiness is a fragment of your imagination!” Happiness today is defined as a “a state of well being characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy” [http://wordnet.princeton.edu]. Our original understanding was more complex, nuanced, and pragmatic.

 

For example, ‘Hap’ in the Old English of the 1300s meant ‘fortune or chance’. This basic link between happiness and luck is found in most northern European languages of that time. Yet, happiness was also associated with two other related emotional states – beatitude and blitheness….

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Virtual Teams & The Military

Virtual Teams & The Military | 21C Learning Innovation | Scoop.it

As in practically every other sector, the militaries of various nations, such as the USA, are increasingly invested in the development of virtual teaming. The following are extracts from typical studies vis-à-vis.

 

“The U.S. and its allies work together in virtual teams to put out small “fires” around the world. Such multi-national “fires” are known by many monikers, including small- scale operations, Operations Other Than War (OOTW), or complex emergencies, depending on the background and culture of the organizations involved. The U.S. military is particularly interested in the successful implementation of virtual teams to support its participation in an increasing number of joint and coalition operations, to provide alternatives for a downsized force and to serve as a testbed for exploring alternative techniques for command and control (C2), particularly in the area of network-centric warfare” (Working Together Virtually: The Care and Feeding of Global Virtual Teams (http://www.dodccrp.org/events/5th_ICCRTS/papers/Track4/009.pdf)

 

“Successful leadership requires clear communication between team members, yet globalization of our society has introduced the reality of directing teams who are often not co-located. In the military environment, distributed teams are increasingly common. However, the current research is primarily directed at such teams in corporate environments. Additionally, senior Army leaders typically have, at best, a passing knowledge of technology and virtual teaming” (Virtual Team Communication and Collaboration in Army and Corporate Applications”  (http://www.dtic.mil/get-tr-doc/pdf?AD=ADA502091).

 

“Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers in the ROTC program at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater trained on core leadership skills using the Virtual Battlespace 2 (VBS2) Friday (Feb. 8) at the University Center. The program allowed Soldiers to test their tactical and leadership skills in a sophisticated virtual environment, and “replay” the exercise to review their performance. Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs photo by Vaughn R. Larson” (http://dma.wi.gov/dma/news/2013News/13019.asp).

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Education & Virtual Teaming

Education & Virtual Teaming | 21C Learning Innovation | Scoop.it

There are a significant number of universities involved in virtual team research, development, and training. This stands to reason given that the field is still emerging.  Typical is an academic paper from Harvard Business School: Virtual Team Learning: Reflecting and Acting, Alone or With Others (2009).

 

In another vein, MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) have proliferated in the past few years. Millions of students globally are now participating through the aegis of top universities like Stanford, MIT, and Harvard. However, recent research indicates the attrition rate is very high. “It has been observed that only 7% of the people signing up for the courses end up completing it” (http://yourstory.com/2013/08/going-beyond-mooc-novoed-brings-entrepreneurship-education-from-babson-university-online-for-the-global-audience/). NovoED is a new Stanford based initiative that hopes to redress this alarming drop out rate by helping online students collaborate more effectively through virtual team formation (https://novoed.com).

 

Estimates vary as to the number of K12 students enrolled in virtual schools. It may be as high as 1 million and as low as 250,000. While the actual number may be in question, it’s evident that many virtual students work on projects virtually. (http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/virtual-schools-annual-2013, http://virtualschoolmooc.wikispaces.com/history)

 

The following is a typical example: “Imagine students at four different high schools working collaboratively and in real time on a project to create a mechanically-fed birdhouse monitored via the Internet. The bird feeder automatically refills itself, based on a preset schedule. One school team acts as project manager, while another is responsible for aesthetic design. The third school handles computer programming for refilling the bird seed. The fourth school determines the type and amount of bird seed used” (http://www.hivelocitymedia.com/innovationnews/virtualcollaborativelearningenvironment051712.aspx)

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The Heliotropic Effect

The Heliotropic Effect | 21C Learning Innovation | Scoop.it

Appreciative Inquiry [AI] is the theory and practice of organizational transformation developed by D. Cooperrider and S. Srivastva in 1992 at Case Western University. AI focuses on what works well for people as opposed to what doesn’t. During the process, members of an organization co-create a picture of the positive future organization they imagine using images and words. Research shows that this helps people to actualize what they envision. The AI founders called this the Heliotropic Effect. The concept, borrowed from botany, refers to the tendency of certain plants to continually turn towards sunlight. “Like a plant that grows in the direction of the light source, individuals and groups strive to grow towards the positive image they hold” [D. Cooperrider, 1990: appreciativeinquiry. org].  As Dr. Kim Cameron notes in ‘The Heliotropic Effect of Abundance’, “all living systems are inclined toward that which gives life” (Making the Impossible Possible: Leading Extraordinary Performance: The Rocky Flats Story, 2006).

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Virtual Volunteerism

Virtual Volunteerism | 21C Learning Innovation | Scoop.it

Virtual Volunteerism has been practiced since the early 1990s. For example, the Virtual Volunteering Guidebook by Susan J. Ellis and Jayne Cravens was introduced in 2000. In 2004, virtual team volunteering was also the topic of a graduate thesis at Antioch University in Seattle by Andrew Wong entitled “Leading and motivating virtual teams in volunteer organizations”.

 

“Virtual volunteering means volunteer tasks completed, in whole or in part, via the Internet and a home or work computer. It’s also known as online volunteering, cyber service, online mentoring, teletutoring and various other names. Virtual volunteering allows agencies to expand the benefits of their volunteer programs, by allowing for more volunteers to participate, and by utilizing volunteers in new areas” (Virtual Volunteering Resources | Serviceleader.org).

 

Idealist.org discusses how to “create a virtual global team of Idealists who support one another’s efforts to do good wherever they are in the world”. The United Health Group is even more specific and focused. “There are many opportunities for virtual teams to make an important difference in the lives of others while also instilling the importance of team spirit and the value of teamwork. By pulling together to create volunteer projects, you’ll find you are better able to leverage your resources and increase the overall impact of your efforts…. Team members may be co-located with or in the same vicinity as employees from other United Health Group business units. They may be able to join in company-sponsored events, beyond the team”  (www.unitedhealthgroup.com/‎;).

 

Save the Children International consists of 30 member organisations working in 120 countries. The organization makes significant use of virtual team volunteers as explained in the following report from the Economist Intelligence Unit “Managing virtual teams: Taking a more strategic approach”:

 

“People at Save the Children are heavily reliant on virtual teams to get their work done. The London-based charity has offices in over 50 countries and is part of an international alliance of almost 30 Save the Children organisations that fight to protect and promote children’s rights…. The charity’s health team, for example, is made up of researchers and policy advisers in London, as well as project managers and incountry policy advisers in each of the countries in which the charity operates. The charity recently launched its biggest global campaign to date, EVERY ONE. Virtual teams around the globe ensured that branding, messaging, policy calls, information materials, fundraising and campaigning activities were synchronised and launched on time. Virtual teamwork has made Save the Children much more operationally efficient. For example, the speed and reach of new communications mean that project designs, policy strategies or media reports that have worked in one country can easily be shared with another” (http://graphics.eiu.com/upload/eb/NEC_Managing_virtual_teams_WEB.pdf).

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Universal Design for a Global Village

Universal Design for a Global Village | 21C Learning Innovation | Scoop.it

Marshall McLuhan, a most quintessential Canadian, coined the famous phrase, ‘The Global Village’. It's conjectured he may have been influenced by the ancient Vedic concept of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” which means, “The world is one family”.  Every group that plays Prelude creates its own unique set of iStars, iTags, weTags, and allTags. When these stages, from individual to whole group work, are laid out diagrammatically in an aerial overview, an overall image emerges. This is arrayed like a Mandala, the ancient model still used for meditation today. In Sanskrit, Mandala means, “partaking of essence in the circle”. A mandala is a visual design symbolizing the cosmos. It traditionally features a radial symmetry around four cardinal points. Mandalas have been used as meditation aids within Hindu and Buddhist spiritual practice for thousands of years to the present. Tibetan Buddhism avers that a mandala consists of five facets including teacher, message, audience, site, and time..

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Overcoming Mobbing: A Recovery Guide for Workplace Aggression & Bullying

Overcoming Mobbing: A Recovery Guide for Workplace Aggression & Bullying | 21C Learning Innovation | Scoop.it

"In Overcoming Mobbing: A Recovery Guide for Workplace Aggression and Bullying, authors Duffy and Sperry list these... forms of unethical communication : 

- Rumors

- False information

- Failure to correct false information

- Ridicule, belittling, and humiliation

- Leaks of personal and confidential information

- Failure to stop dissemination of unethical communicationIsolation and/or ignoring of target/victim (i.e., shunning)

- Cold shoulder

- Target/victim shut out of workplace information loops

- Secret meetings"

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Coaching For Life & Work: A $2B Industry

Coaching For Life & Work: A $2B Industry | 21C Learning Innovation | Scoop.it

"Coaching is a nearly $2 billion industry worldwide, according to a 2012 study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers for the Intrnational Coach Federation.....Coaching includes two broad categories. There are executive and leadership coaches — they train people to be better at business — and life coaches, like Ms. Beck, who talk about leadership in one’s own life, from the home to the office and everywhere in between. There is often tension between the two, with executive coaches tending to disdain the sometimes exuberant spiritual sides of life coaches. But they often tread the same territory: how to move forward, make a change, get past an obstacle.....There are now about 45,000 coaches operating worldwide."

 

 

 

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Virtual Teams: Emotional Intelligence & Trust

Virtual Teams: Emotional Intelligence & Trust | 21C Learning Innovation | Scoop.it

“Research on virtual teams … only began emerging in the 1980s … with a large increase in empirical research emerging in the 1990s that focused on trust, communication, leadership, and performance.”[i]

 

Over the past decade plus, it’s become very evident that trust between virtual team members is the optimal solution to bridge the gap between high expectation and low performance. “But usually there is not much time to build it little by little because often the teams are short-lived in projects.”[ii]

 

From White Paper: Virtual Teams Creating Trust Creatively

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OECD Better Life Index

OECD Better Life Index | 21C Learning Innovation | Scoop.it

There is more to life than the cold numbers of GDP and economic statistics – This Index allows you to compare well-being across countries, based on 11 topics the OECD has identified as essential, in the areas of material living conditions and quality of life.

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Happiness & Rewarding Work

Happiness & Rewarding Work | 21C Learning Innovation | Scoop.it

HAPPINESS has traditionally been considered an elusive and evanescent thing. To some, even trying to achieve it is an exercise in futility. It has been said that “happiness is as a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”

 

Social scientists have caught the butterfly. After 40 years of research, they attribute happiness to three major sources: genes, events and values. Armed with this knowledge and a few simple rules, we can improve our lives and the lives of those around us. We can even construct a system that fulfills our founders’ promises and empowers all Americans to pursue happiness.

 

Psychologists and economists have studied happiness for decades. They begin simply enough — by asking people how happy they are.

The richest data available to social scientists is the University of Chicago’s General Social Survey, a survey of Americans conducted since 1972. This widely used resource is considered the scholarly gold standard for understanding social phenomena. The numbers on happiness from the survey are surprisingly consistent. Every other year for four decades, roughly a third of Americans have said they’re “very happy,” and about half report being “pretty happy.” Only about 10 to 15 percent typically say they’re “not too happy.” Psychologists have used sophisticated techniques to verify these responses, and such survey results have proved accurate.

 

Beneath these averages are some demographic differences. For many years, researchers found that women were happier than men, although recent studies contend that the gap has narrowed or may even have been reversed. Political junkies might be interested to learn that conservative women are particularly blissful: about 40 percent say they are very happy. That makes them slightly happier than conservative men and significantly happier than liberal women. The unhappiest of all are liberal men; only about a fifth consider themselves very happy.

 

But even demographically identical people vary in their happiness. What explains this?"

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