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The Fourth Wave

20 May

Digital Age: The Fourth Wave of Technology

How to study

11 May

Recently my son had to study for up coming exams. I realised that he didn’t know where to start. So I put together this simple and practical infographic.

Great thingsto do with just

VET FEE HELP … is THE PARTY OVER?

9 Jan

vet feeI’ve been involved in vocational education and training now for over 20 years initially entering the sector by pure chance. I started with TAFE and found that my real experience in business and in a number of industries was key. In other words I wasn’t just a teacher.

Over time I worked in the not for profit sector managing the NEIS program for small business entrepreneurs, worked as a trainer/assessor for international colleges, became an instructional designer because of the lack of or poor quality of training materials, became experienced in the online environment and then worked for VET FEE providers.

With VET FEE – I started with face to face and suddenly found myself in classrooms with diverse people (many of whom didn’t want to be there.)

I’m a skilled and entertaining trainer so I was able to gain the respect of the students and turn the focus around. In one particular group I had a mix of an 18 year old right up to a 60 + . We had fun and they learned.

In the online sphere I worked as a course coordinator/program advisor/training manager while also developing learning materials designed to tell realistic stories around workplaces making the experience valid and interesting.

Online can be a lonely place so I worked with a team of mentors who managed students/learners to assist with progression and motivation. I quickly found out that just because your online, it doesn’t mean that you can’t be treated personally. I worked directly with learners and found that they were tremendously happy to have some help that transcended a downloadable pdf with too much information (or not enough) and a few distended assessment tasks.

Working with and managing mentors and trainers/assessors has also been interesting. I found that for the most part they are hard working, dedicated and creative if they are given the opportunity and the leadership.

So it’s still people to people: online or off.

Yes. There have been changes and it seems that the money tree has lost its leaves. There are more hurdles to jump for providers and brokers and this will see a downsizing of the industry as it’s no longer viable to employ vast numbers of employees to service the learners.

It will also be harder for RTO’s to sign up students and there are so many other hurdles (LLN etc) it’s looking like a steeplechase.

But one thing hasn’t changed. People still need to be trained. They still need qualifications on their CV’s.

CUT YOUR OVERHEADS NOT THE QUALITY. 

My advice to RTO’s who are scratching their heads … have a small but dedicated team who know what they are doing. Make the content interesting and current by discontinuing/limiting off the shelf content and providing other content.

One good trainer and a small team of mentors who understand the content can train and progress your learners … and they’ll be happy.

Australia in a state of change…so what’s new.

Industries grow and shrink but my family had a business that started in 1933 (midst of the great depression), and operated for 70 years.

How did we do that?

By keeping our eye on the ball, changing when trends changed, offering personalised service and our own unique products + promoting our brand personality.

Skilled operators will keep operating and make money.

Contact me and redefine your business model.

 

 

 

The politics of great coffee

30 Jan

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My cousin is a coffee nut. She’s an aficionado. Coffee is important to her. She appreciates good coffee.

What I mean is, when she forks out between $3.50 – $4.50 for a takeaway coffee she hopes it’s going to be well made.

The problem is that you can count on your hand the number of places where the coffee is properly made. Where there’s a trained barista working the ‘piano.’ Where the taste and the blend, the colour and thickness of the froth are just as important as the silly leaf pattern.

She can be embarrassing too, this cousin of mine. It’s pretty confronting going to get a coffee with her. You know why? She speaks her mind. She tells them if the coffee is not up to her standards. She tells them and I back slowly away.

I’m tainted with that english politeness. Here in Australia, we were colonised by the British and that’s one of the hangovers. Politeness. We tend to seethe not speak up. We vote with our feet.

Is that good? NO.

Last week my cuz was in her local cafe (she lives out of Sydney.) She happened to compliment the young lady making the coffee. It was good. Up to her standards. The owner overheard this and exclaimed … ‘Oh. Coffee politics!’

No it’s not coffee politics at all. If you run a cafe, you make coffee. The coffee is supposed to be good at a cafe, hence the name … cafe.

Is it strange to expect your customers to not care about the coffee you serve?

Go on. Invest in your self, your staff.

Train them up. Give them the goal to make prize winning coffee. Make them proud!

And, get out of the kitchen if you can’t stand the heat.

Anger = no training

14 Jan

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This is a true story. The names have been changed to protect the protagonists …

Just recently, while staying at a friends house while they travelled, I had to wait for a new pool pump to be installed (the old one had broken down under warranty.)

Days went by and there was no communication from the company involved.

Meanwhile the pool was getting greener and the weather hotter.

My 12 year old son was waiting to have a swim but couldn’t because of the state of the pool.

I rang the company and spoke to the owner. She seemed quite cranky when i asked her what was happening to the pump.

After much to and fro-ing, the guy finally arrived to install the new (replacement) pump. As the guy was fitting it, he discovered another problem with a valve. He told me that he would ensure the owner of the business would call me re fitting the extra valve. By 11.00 am the following morning there had been no call so I rang them.

When I expressed my frustration, the owner lost her temper.

I told he that I wrote training packages on customer service, but she kept right on talking.

I said ‘but I’m the customer!’

She didn’t hear me but finished up by saying “we’ve gone out of our way for you.” She clearly hadn’t. She then hung the phone up and I was left feeling a little bit (not a lot) unhappy. Because I train in these areas I thought about how she must have felt. Stressed, unappreciated and just plain angry.

Dealing with difficult customers is something all business people need to do with the one aim of keeping the customer happy, because every angry customer tells another 10 people and so on.

Try this:

Depersonalise and strategise

Listen

Come up with solutions

Make a friend of an enemy …

and they will tell 10 people how great you are.

The issue is that many people in business don’t have any training in these areas.

They do take things personally.

Things go wrong. That’s natural.

But if you handle the situation calmly and strategically you make many friends.

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Merry Christmas 2013

24 Dec

Merry Christmas 2013

Merry Christmas 2013 to all my clients, contacts, friends and family.

And not necessarily in that order.

Have a happy and safe Christmas.

Simon Rodie

I just want to be a useful little engine

22 Nov

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I do love being a dad. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had. I especially used to love watching the kids shows with my son when he was a bit younger. He’s on his way to becoming a teenager so we’ll see … but he’s still my boy.

We used to watch a lot of shows together like Fireman Sam, Postman Pat and of course Thomas the Tank Engine. What I really enjoyed was the cosy atmosphere of the small villages where these shows are set. Some are in Wales and feature the beautiful lilting Welsh accent (it’s not a burr is it?) Tight knit communities where everyone seemed to be looking after each other. The characters are warm and friendly and … sweet.

Which brings me to Thomas and his oft heard catch cry “I just want to be a useful little engine!” Sometimes the Fat Controller gave Thomas a real job to do and off he’d go with his smile beaming.

There are lots of people in businesses and organisations everywhere that just want the same thing. They do their job and put something extra in and sometimes, even often, they are overlooked. Why? Because some other engines aren’t so humble. They roar around and make sure they’re seen.

I work with a Thomas. It’s a she actually. She’s a front line customer service/technical support for a medical business and she does a great job. You only have to hear her on the phone to notice the goodwill she spreads. Nothing is a problem and she not only sells, but advises and counsels. It’s all part of the job for this lady.

She’s a useful little engine!

Where would we be without them?

Take time to notice all the useful little engines at your workplace. Get them to train up or mentor other little engines. make it best practice and … reward them!

Love makes the business world go round.

Still life with customer service

19 Nov

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I love art. What else is there in life? It ranks up there with love. Our reason for living.

But what’s art go to do with customer service? A lot really, especially when it’s a still life.

Let’s look at the terminology: Customer service is not really correct. It’s neat but limiting. Great customer service is pre, present and post service.

Still life studies in customer service abound. Pop into a retail establishment and the CS person is on the phone; or writing a first draft of the novel on the computer, or better still, updating Facebook. The point is that they aren’t busy. Yes they greet you with great warmth but there’s as much life in that place as there is in a cemetery. Beautiful surroundings and very calm.

I like to think I was trained by the best of them.

My family was in retail for over 70 years. One of my first jobs was working in a bookstore with an old hand at book retailing.

These people taught me to be busy! Do things. Rearrange the stock. Change the promotions around. Take care of the displays (visual merchandising in today speak.)

Once at the bookstore, this man, who was well into his 60’s was out the front moving the remaindered discount books around. I asked him what he was doing. He replied with just a touch of failed Shakespearean actor:

‘People are sticky beaks. They love to see what’s going on!”

What he meant was that action breeds action.

When people start buying there’s an energy in the room. It’s palpable. Everybody’s up. It’s the makings of a shark feeding frenzy.

Product knowledge is great, but boredom shows.

Don’t have your customer service as a still life work of art. 

Icons of Style and Style Guides

12 Nov

ImageCary Grant was a movie star when movie stars were stars if you get my drift. He’s probably not relevant to the Gen X. Y’s and Z’s (are they here yet?) but he had style, and talent did old Archie Leach … that was his real name. Cary Grant was a branded product for the Hollywood studio system and no-one did better business than those factories.

Stars like George Clooney owe a lot to Cary Grant an icon of style!

Now I’m not writing about movie stars here. I’m writing about the importance of Style Guides to content developers, whether they are building, writing, or video-ing content. Whether they are designing training programs or sending out email marketing campaigns > it’s nice to have guides in place for look and feel purposes, branding, version control, recurring text like copyright, fonts, colours and more.

Style guides should be global and accessible.

Style guides formats should be usable to those that need to use them.

Style guides should be simple, uncluttered and not a graphic designers view of how they should present and be used.

Most importantly, Style Guides should be communicated and adopted by all in the business or organisation.

I’m creative and I like to break the mould sometimes and add personality but I appreciate when Style Guides and Templates are used when it makes the project clearer and easier to format.

Develop Style Guides and Templates then manage projects. 

I said just follow the lesson plan

17 Sep

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I’ve been a trainer/teacher for quite some time. I’m also an instructional designer which is a fancy, schmancy way of saying I write training courses.

I work online (Learning Management Systems) and in the classroom. I find both interesting and sometimes exciting. Sometimes I leave a training session and I feel alive, electric.

And I must also say that I get great feedback on my training sessions. If I don’t beat my own drum who else is going to?

Now I respect lesson plans and facilitator guides > I write quite a few. But do I follow them? Sometimes yes and sometimes no.

Like everything in life it’s vital to get a message across. How? With humour. Surprise. Coming out of left field (that must be a baseball expression?)

Once I caught myself rambling on … one of the participants eyes blinked too many times. Someone up the back stifled a yawn.

‘Blah, blah, blah, blah.’ I said that out aloud. ‘Blah, blah, blah, blah. Is that what I’m beginning to sound like?’ I already knew the answer.

When your delivering training … keep them interested. In the palm of your hand. Like they don’t know what’s coming next.

But always bring it back to your objective … teaching people.