New training and L&D products reviewed

As Old as You Feel – Promoting age diversity at work
Format: DVD package, guide and training notes
Price: £499 purchase; £199 rental, streaming licence also available

I approached this quirky little product with some trepidation. It is an animated short film that aims to take a light-hearted look at age discrimination in the workplace and how a manager can get it right.

Its declared intention is – to highlight the classic quote from US actress Billie Burke – that “age doesn’t matter unless you’re a cheese”.

My main fear was that the film would trivialise a subject with which many organisations are still struggling to get to grips – for example, a recent study by the University of Surrey and the British Psychological Society found that even HR managers are failing to offer training opportunities to older employees.

However, I am pleased to report that this is a successful venture. The cartoon people – who have been designed with a ‘retro’ feel – are appropriately diverse in terms of age, gender, race and disability, and I came round to thinking that deploying animation was a clever technique for creating a universal appeal.

The second successful element is the voiceover from radio presenter Jenni Murray, who strikes an appropriate balance of gravitas and approachability in dealing with age awareness, equal opportunities and management skills.

The cartoon only lasts 10 minutes but I felt that it gave a practical and rounded view of the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations and the implications for a manager’s job.

This product would be suitable for group training sessions and age-awareness workshops.

It is suitably complemented by detailed training notes and presentation slides, which could lead to effective discussions with the proviso that whoever is leading the session is well-prepared or versed in the subject so that the session is not dominated by the winsome animation techniques.

Relevance? Four out of five
Interactivity? Three out of five
Value for money? Four out of five

The Essential Guide to Managing Talent: How top companies recruit, train and retain the best employees
Authors: Kaye Thorne and Andy Pellant
Price: £18.99
Kogan Page
ISBN 10079444630

I was instantly impressed by the multi-dimensional quality of this book. Not only does it look at creating a climate where talent can flourish but also at what blocks its release.

It contains a set of case studies that the authors use to identify a series of practical steps, including defining talent and how to future-proof the organisation. One of the most useful of these is an interview piece on the Universal Music Group, where head of management and training Mairin Gannon discusses how to manage the ongoing expectations of talented people.

I feel the authors really dig deep into effective HR practice as they explore how to set up the right environment for talent to thrive in, and there are plenty of references to current and admired thinking on competencies and emotional intelligence.

Action plans, such as how to create a development scheme for talented individuals, are substantial and could form the basis of a self-assessment approach for these talented people to run on their own without input from the training manager.

I found this a useful, but slightly pricey, book that the buyer could read in a week or just dip into.

Useful? Four out of five stars
Well-written? Four out of five stars
Value for money? Four out of five stars

The Manager’s Coaching Toolkit: Fast and simple solutions for busy managers
Author: Dr David Allamby
Price: £14.99
Prentice Hall Business
ISBN: 027370831

Exciting claims are made in the publicity for this book. Allegedly, within 15 minutes of opening it, managers will be able to start coaching, and by the time they’ve finished they will be equipped to coach through every situation and get their team on track to achieve their potential.

I was so impressed by these claims that I put them to the test with a line manager I know. Unfortunately, we didn’t feel the book could offer the fast and focused coaching skills it promised. This is not the fault of the content but of the media – a book can’t convey the complexities and nuances of coaching conversations. The scenarios read like scripts in need of actors to bring them to life. As I read through some sections I felt nostalgic for a powerful role-play or a training film.

The line manager and I were also irritated by the icons that were set out to illustrate key points throughout the chapters – for example ,a spanner symbol depicts “how to apply the [coaching] tool in a real world situation”. Even when we had mastered the symbols we found this device tiresome.

In the book’s defence, it also refers the reader to a website of downloadable template guides, which could be used to plan or manage a coaching conversation. The templates are a good idea but are no substitute for spending time on nurturing the manager as coach and instilling confidence.

Useful? Four out of five
Well-written? Two out of five
Relevance? Two out of five


Comments are closed.