Simplify to Win in Corporate Training: Interview with ManpowerGroup

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Robin Silverman, a Senior Consultant with Right Management. Robin has over 20 years of experience researching, designing, developing and facilitating customized programs that deepen employee engagement with business strategy. She was kind of enough to share her expert insights into employee training and engagement.

In this interview, Robin speaks to Training Station about agility, learning technologies, where she envisions the future of corporate training and more!

Keep reading for ManpowerGroup and Right Management’s employee training industry tips and best practices.

Training Station: Please tell us a bit about yourself and your role at ManpowerGroup.

Robin Silverman: I am a Senior Consultant with Right Management.  I work in Talent Management; my practice is focused primarily on Leadership Development, High-Performing Teams, Change Management and Executive Coaching.  I have a special interest in multiculturalism and diversity.

Training Station: ManpowerGroup recently published research entitled, Simplify to Win in the Human Age. In what ways can the training process be simplified?

Robin Silverman: The goal of simplification is agility.  

At this point in time, organizations need their talent to be nimble and able to respond to both external and internal challenges.  Skills that are static or that don’t translate into collaborative environments really are outdated.  

Training programs need to keep pace by simplifying the essence of what they teach down to two or three core concepts that are easily remembered and translated into action on the job.  In addition, simplification can mean learning how to teach and train anywhere, using the normal and changing work conditions faced by employees. 

Simple training programs are nimble, engaging and–most importantly–memorable and impactful.  

Training Station:  This paper recommends integrating technologies that simplify work process. Are there any training technologies that you can recommend to simplify and speed up training?

Robin Silverman: Many of our clients now use virtual classrooms. 

These are not webinars. 

Webinars oftentimes have a bad reputation because people multi-task during them, and research has shown that it is impossible for the human brain to think two thoughts at once.   So what they’re really doing is mini-tasking, which impacts both their productivity and effectiveness. 

Virtual classrooms are different.  They use a balanced combination of large group dialogue, collaborations on white boards, polls and small group dialogue in break-out rooms to keep participants wholly engaged throughout the learning process.  They are an effective way to teach and practice skills in a limited amount of time, and are much simpler and more cost effective to organize and run than face-to-face training sessions.

Training Station: ManpowerGroup/ Right Management interacts with many professionals leaving positions and looking for new opportunities. What training challenges do your clients face after being placed in new positions?

Robin Silverman: The training challenges faced by our clients differ depending on the organizations they join.  Many companies have excellent onboarding programs, and our clients thrive within them. 

Others do not, and the challenges depend on how welcoming the host talent is to newcomers and how complicated the internal systems of the company are. 

There can be other challenges, too–the larger and more matrixed the organization, the more challenging onboarding can be.  And this is why our new leader assimilation coaching programs are so important – to really help the new leader accelerate his/her effectiveness in the new job as quickly as possible.   

Training Station: How do you recommend that they overcome these training difficulties?

Robin Silverman: The best way to join a new organization or move up in your present one is to create a simple plan with goals for the first 30, 60 and 90 days in the new job. 

You want to set yourself up for success, learn the culture, identify and build key relationships quickly, and achieve some quick wins to help build your brand and reputation with your new stakeholders.  Right Management offers onboarding and new leader coaching, which has been proven to be of enormous help; there are also several excellent books on the market that can provide guidance.

Training Station: In what ways do you think training can be improved upon?

Robin Silverman: Training that is tied to a Strategic Workforce Plan will likely be much more engaging and successful than one that is not.  

No company can afford to waste any of its talent these days; it’s critical to have every employee working to his/her full and future potential.   When training is tied to the business strategy, employees know that the time and effort they put in has real value to the organization and makes them a better fit for the company and their individual job.  Training tied to the business strategy is also a lot more exciting, because employees can see the connection between what they learn and the business results.   Doing so leads to brighter futures and more satisfying careers.

Training Station: What do you think of the training process you underwent at ManpowerGroup/Right Management?

Robin Silverman: In consulting, it is your career experience and education that “trains” you, however when I joined Right Management, I was mentored by a Senior Consultant who taught me everything I needed to know about working within the organization.  She retired two years ago, and we are still good friends.

Training Station: If you could imagine any tool that would help simplify and speed up training, what would this tool do?

Robin Silverman: The reason why so many training programs are less effective than they could be is because employees have a hard time imagining themselves succeeding with the new skills.   In other words, they can’t see themselves doing it, and because they can’t, they move forward incrementally. 

I would love to see a tool that takes the employee’s image and makes a movie of him/her in the new role or succeeding with the new skill.  Holograms are about to burst into our communication world, so creating this movie as a hologram (think of Star Wars, when Princess Leia makes a plea to Obie Wan Kanobe through R2D2’s projected hologram) would enable employees to see and possibly experience themselves in 3D in the new state.

Training Station: How do you envision training and learning in the workplace changing over the next 5 years? 10 years?

Robin Silverman: As I said above, I think holograms will be in use, so it will be possible for a trainer in, say, NY to project him/herself to Tokyo and “be” in the classroom without having to get on a plane or use videoconferencing (which is only marginally better than teleconferencing since people have to remain static around a table). 

I also think we’ll see more use of Avatars in training–we are already using these at Right Management.   It’s also possible that within 10 years, we might be using more telepathy and intuitive practices to boost collaboration.  

Training is also taking a turn towards integrating more life-balance skills, like mindfulness meditation, energetics and wellness. 

Finally, I think that training programs will start integrating more of peoples’ life experiences, and not just their job experiences, into the mix. 

Training Station: There are many training professionals reading this interview. If you had one tip for them, what would it be?

Robin Silverman: Work with your C-Suite to ensure that your programs align with the business strategy and are helping the business keep pace with change and the uncertainty of the global marketplace.  

Just make sure that the learning is fun and engaging.

Training Station: How do you keep yourself happy in your professional life?

Robin Silverman: By staying happy and healthy in my private life, having a positive attitude and forging trusted working relationships with my colleagues and clients. 

I love engaging with people from all industries, and am constantly learning. 

Every day is an adventure! 

Training Station: Thank you, Robin.


Jason Silberman
Jason is the former Lead Author & Editor of TrainingStation Blog
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