By Omodele Adigun
Bankers need the right skills to perform exceptional services that will raise the earnings of their banks. But most times, they are either not trained on those soft skills or trained the wrong way. “If people do not know better, they can’t do better”, says the CEO of ACE Lifestyle Africa, Mr Demola Aderibigbe, also known as Coach Lala, the business humourist, in the corporate world.
In this interview, Lala, a strategist and gamefied fun-learning specialist, who has trained many bankers and staff of over 200 corporate organizations, using humour and games to improve their productivity and performance, explained that, by creating a scenario where people put themselves in the shoes of their customers, he has been able to make bankers, and staffers of corporate organisations, understand why it is necessary to show empathy towards their customers.
As a gamefied fun-learning specialist, what I do is that I use humour and games as media of teaching professionals and business executives on how to improve productivity and performance.
You will agree with me that, right now, the education space, whether within the university, whether within the corporate world, has become somewhat boring; people do not like the concept of learning because they assumed that they are going to be bored. What a business humourist does is to ensure that learning becomes interesting; learning becomes exciting; and as you are able to do that, learning becomes much more engaging. And the participants are willing, and they are interested in learning. And at the end of the day, it enables them recall; It is not the function of àgbérùgbésò (regurgitation). It is the function of the fact that these people enjoy the process of learning; and they are able to internalise their learning and aspire to take action on what was learnt.
Beyond just immediate impact of whether people enjoy the process of learning; remember and recall what was learnt, we also use questionnaire to get feedback on the spot. We also have what we call the three-week; three-month; six- month and nine-month-feedback. What we do is this, we go back to the organisation where we deploy our solutions and find out three weeks after: How much do these people remember? How much are they putting into practice? We don’t just ask from them, we ask from their uplines; we ask from their downlines and we ask from their colleagues.It has shown that there is, at least a 30 per cent increase in recall and practice from our own solutions compared to other solutions. For instance, a lot of us that went to the typical university can’t remember the bulk of what we were taught. This is because what we did was what they call ’àgbérùgbéso (regurgitation). We just used it to pass exam. But our own approach is not just to give information to people in order to just pass exam; it is just for them to live a life and bring it to their business. We don’t just engage you by talking to you; we engage you in such a way called kinaesthetic engagement; you are involved in the process. And that is why the game comes in. We bring games that enable people internalise what is that you want to learn. For instance, if we want to teach trust in leadership, upline and downline, we ask a leader to be blindfolded by a subordinate and ask the subordinate to lead him from the 6th floor to third.
The rule of the game is that when the boss is blindfolded and he’s being led by the subordinate, he must not hold on to anything, but only to his surbodinate leading him. The leader would say no, I don’t trust him. And we say okay. And you want them to trust you as their leader? Instead of teaching them trust, we just show them that. So that is how we use gamefication to ensure that we deepen learning. We don’t just show you slide and say this is it. We use games , bring game-based mechanics for you to internalise your learning.
And the difference is always clear. Because what we have done, everybody in the organization said we have been taught about communication before; we have been taught about leadership before; we have been taught about sales before; but this approach to it is the best we have experienced.
You know I said over time, based on survey, we realised that there was a minimum of 30 per cent increase in not just the recall, but the practice of what people have leant. It is experiential; people leanrt by doing . I will give you an example of what we did for a microfinance bank. They recruited new sales people. And these people have never worked before; they were just fresh from NYSC. And they asked us to train them on salesmanship. Can you believe that, for that year, among all the sales people in the organisation, the best sales people came from that class we trained. Themethodology of engagement was totally different from what they leant in the university because it is tangible experiential learning. Working in the corporate world in itself is stressful. Learning should not be stressful.The only way to improve somebody’s productivity and performance is through learning. And if the person considers learning to be too stressful again, how do you expect the person to show interest in learning? Since we know learning is stressful; work is stressful. Learning should not be stressful. We should make learning such that it is a fun to boost productivity. Learning must also be inspiring, because when people learn, at the end of the day, they must be inspired to take action on those thing they have learnt. What we have been able to do is to infuse gamefication and humour into corporate learning to achieve corporate education. If people do not know better, they cant do better.
Most times, when it comes to training people on emotional intelligence, people always want to teach it on the book knowledge. Our approach to teaching emotional intelligence is to create scenarios that allow those emotions we want to talk about become triggered in the individuals. For instance, if we want to talk about sadness and how to manage it. We can only talk about it from the book knowledge of how to manage sadness. However, if you can create a scenario where people can feel that emotion of sadness either by using images or create room play where sadness is felt, we can put in some pictures and videos that people can watch, and sadness is triggered. We then ask people how can we deal with it because all of us are experiencing it. It is easier to talk to somebody how to manage anger. But when the person is actually angry, the person would not remember anything you said. What we do is that we create scenario that trigger the emotion we want to manage. So the person learn to manage it on the spot, I told you earlier about blindfolding people.In that situation, a lot of emotions is triggered. We then ask people how to manage them. For instance, you want your colleagues to trust you more. Now that we know that they don’t trust you, what are the things that you have to do? That means that you have to ensure that when you give them information, it must be right because people can not take action on an incorrect or false information. And at the end of the day, it now becomes detrimental to them.If you are leading a blindfolded person a flight of stairs and you told him it was two whereas it was four, then trust issue arises. Another scenario is that we can put people into teams and make them face one another in a particular task. You discover that emotions would be so high, we now begin the strategy to manage the emotions on the spot. That was what we did with the training on emotional intelligence with the bank.
The scenario we create in the training is such that we put the staff in the position of the customers. Because the kind of emotion the customers feel is what the staff feel when we play these scenarios. Now when they feel these emotions, we tell them, now you are feeling this way, you are annoyed already, what is the best way to handle it? Do you think meeting you and say “if you want to get annoyed, get annoyed,” will solve the problem? They would say “no, I am angry already. The best way to handle me is to say sorry, please come and have a seat ; let me resolve the issue on your behalf.” We put them in the position of the customer to feel what the customer feel. Most times, a lot of staff of organisations don’t feel what customers feel; they don’t feel the pain points of the customers. And that is why they treat customers shabbily. So when we put them in the shoes of the customer and say ooh, I now see how the customer feel if I am a banker and my child is sent away from school while at work, just because I couldn’t transfer school fees as a result of network problem. I cant concentrate on the work myself. They now understand why it is necessary to manage the emotions of the customers and show empathy. If they have never been in that position before, they would never understand how to crate strategy to manage it.
Corporate Nigeria says our people are our most important assets. However, in the real sense of it, when you look at your budget, what you budget for in a year, you know what your most important asset is. A lot of organisations rather prefer to spend so much money on marketing, PR, brand awareness, advertising than spending on building capacity of their people. Some people believe that even if you train them, they would leave. When somebody is really good, they would be poached by another organisation. However, what we say is that if you don’t train them, you will feel the impact; they would do more damage to the brand.
Some of them would say we have spent so much money on training and they are not seeing the result. So what we ask them is that what is the methodology?. Somebody went to university and didn’t learnt anything, what they did was ’gbérùgbéso because they wanted to pass exam. You still bring the same method to them in the corporate world. He will not bring to the fore in the work that he does for your business. That is why our approach of engaging them is different. So far so good, we have been able to touch at least top four brands in every sector. Generally, wehave been able to touch over 200 brands as business humourist. Right now, I am moving to become Africa’s premier business humourist. We have done so well for ourselves in the Nigerian space. Interestingly I will have my first international engagement in Dubai in February as a business humourist. We are also looking forward to go to Rwanda, sometimes next year.