In April, members of the Milwaukee Tech Hub coalition shared with our chapter why their businesses see reskilling as a critical need.
On June 28th, we continued that conversation. SEWI members Celeste Cuffie, Colin J. Hahn, and Camille Parham presented to the Reskilling Commitee of the Milwaukee Tech Hub on "Closing the Skills Gap": how their businesses can best leverage their talent professionals to address this pressing challenge.
If you missed the conversation, we hope that these highlights can help you collaborate within your organization to close your skills gaps.
Thank you to Milwaukee Tech Hub and Laura Schmidt for leading this collaborative series of conversations with the SEWI-ATD chapter, and to Celeste Cuffie and Camille Parham for sharing their experience with the Tech Hub coalition.
This is a critical challenge for our organizations, so please reach out if you have suggestions for how to advance these discussions or resources to share!
By: Cheryl Lucas-DeBerry
Diversity is becoming one of the fastest growing focal points for companies. Each company is at a different stage of the journey and not every company has the same goals or desired outcomes. Regardless, all companies with a focus on DE&I need the support of leaders to make it successful. This includes leaders at all levels, from top executives to employees with strong personalities. Building that leadership does not happen through wishful thinking and takes time, effort, and stamina. Cheryl Lucas DeBerry, Learning and Development Instructor at MRA, offers tips on how companies can develop culturally competent leaders.
Q: Define what culturally competent leadership means.
A: This includes a lot of things, but primarily it is about leaders being lifelong learners. It requires being able to openly admit mistakes and wanting to engage in training and learning. It is also critical for culturally competent leaders to have the ability to understand people from different cultural, ethnic, and sexually oriented backgrounds and to be able to treat everyone the same. This may involve stepping out of comfort zones to figure out how and when to talk to people about topics while understanding how to be empathic to their needs. It means adjusting and communicating with people from their perspective and a having a willingness to be uncomfortable engaging in those courageous conversations.
Q: How can employers influence their employees’ understanding of what diversity means in the organization so everyone is on the same page?
A: It helps for companies to have an open line of communication with employees about the goals and initiatives that are in place. Start by making sure the company’s objectives are known and communicated. For example, include a company statement written into the DE&I policy or widely communicate a separate commitment statement. Make sure it is not just created, but that it is known and communicated. From there, make sure it is modeled at all levels within the organization. Make it part of the strategic plan and include accountability at all levels.
Q: Who should be the key players involved in the effort?
A: The senior team should be involved, but also include a cross-section of employees that are not afraid to say “this is what we need” and recognize what it means to be a culturally competent leader. The key players will, ideally, represent different departments and levels of the organization, from individual contributors to senior management, and provide another layer of diversity within the group.
Q: Do you have tips for how to create continuity for communication within an organization?
A: Again, this starts at the top. Work with leadership to create a statement related to DE&I and how it applies to the organization. It should include statements addressing what the company stands for and how leadership envisions DE&I will be exemplified within the organization. Make everyone responsible for communicating the message.
Q: Are there any tips for coaching leaders who express an understanding of diversity but struggle to emulate it?
A: The best thing is to find a way to communicate the disconnect to that leader. It is important for leaders to understand their own cultural biases and stereotypes. These situations provide HR and other leaders an opportunity to engage in those courageous conversations and practice becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable. Other tips include:
Q: Once you have developed a DE&I program, what is the best way to encourage continuous involvement?
A: Keep it at the forefront of each meeting or include some aspect of it in every meeting so it doesn’t begin to seem like a flavor-of-the-day conversation. Take steps toward making sure it becomes engrained in every aspect of the organization and isn’t going away. It is important for organizations to understand that change doesn’t happen overnight. Gradual incremental changes will help this effort be more successful. Be patient, have realistic goals, and don’t be afraid to have those uncomfortable conversations. Understand that it is not a quick training, but instead a long-term effort that provides long-term results.
By: Daniel Stewart - President & Executive Consultant
When most companies start, leadership development probably isn’t a huge priority. As companies find customers and grow the business, allocating resources to development may not seem necessary.
But in every organization’s development, there may be a time when putting time and money into developing leaders starts to make sense. Perhaps the company is experiencing growing pains or a gap between lower-level managers and senior managers. You may find it’s time to define a strategy for long-term development, but where do you begin?
Here are six steps to take as you design a leadership development strategy:
Launching into a leadership development strategy without a clear sense of purpose is like setting out on a road trip without a destination in mind. It may be fun for a while, but eventually, you will want to know why you’re driving and where you will end up.
Why are you starting a leadership development strategy? Are you looking to improve your talent pool or improve alignment between leadership and company goals? By defining your purpose, you’ll be able to plan your approach.
Somewhat related to purpose, clarifying your goals will help you select the right programs and approaches to fulfilling the purpose of your leadership development strategy. If your goal is to prepare mid-level leaders for senior leadership positions, you will want a different approach than if your goal is to create more cohesion on the senior leadership team. By clarifying goals, you’ll avoid a scattershot approach that may develop leaders individually but may not result in the business outcomes you expect.
As you define your purpose and goals, keep in mind the business outcomes you’re looking for. Your organizational initiatives should always connect back to the business. For example, if your organization is struggling with employee engagement, how can your leadership development strategy tie back to that challenge?
For some development initiatives, the candidates may be obvious, but for others, it will make sense to select candidates for targeted learning and development. These candidates don’t necessarily have to be your “high potential” people; in fact, there is great value in expanding development opportunities to everyone.
Once you have a clear idea of the purpose, desired outcomes, and candidates for your leadership development strategy, then it’s time to find the right program. Programs can vary widely in approach and learning journey, among other factors, and the right program for one goal may be entirely wrong for another.
Think of your leadership development strategy as something like building a house. There is a specific order and process to construction, and doing things out of order creates chaos. You would never erect walls before building a solid foundation, and no one would suggest doing plumbing or electrical work after drywall and paint were complete.
For your development plans, focus on long-term solutions. Create a solid foundation of good leaders, and expand your development plans across the organization. Once you’ve executed an initial program for one group, keep moving. Start looking at your upcoming priorities and select candidates who can meet those needs.
Engaging Leadership to Enable Change: Questions to Ask and Tools to Adopt
By Steve MacGill, Consultant Advisory Board Member, The CARA Group
“Leadership engagement is complex, has many moving parts, and involves more than just the current project.”
We talk a lot about how leadership must be engaged for change to occur, but such engagement happens less than we would like or need. Why is that you might ask?
it is because leadership’s value in the change process hasn’t been tied to measures of success
these measures don’t exist
they don’t understand their role and what they are accountable for in managing change
they don’t understand the impact / value of their role on the project
they don’t understand the value of the project to the organization
they don’t understand the impact of the change on their people
they don’t understand OCM
they don’t have the time (real or perceived) and they don’t see it as a priority
Wow! That’s a lot of “Maybes”.
How can we reduce this list a bit and target potential fixes to increase leadership’s engagement in the change process?
Answering the following questions can provide a good start.
INTRODUCTORY LEADERSHIP ENGAGEMENT ASSESSMENT QUESTIONS
Does leadership understand the timeline of the project and where the most significant human element risks are?
Does leadership understand where the points of user resistance are likely to occur? Do they understand what form these points of resistance are likely to take? How to spot these points of resistance?
Does leadership understand how their [leadership] behaviors need to change?
Does leadership understand their role in communications? Who pulls together messaging for their communications? Is it connected to the business case? The business strategy?
Does leadership understand the importance of their role in setting expectations during deployment?
Does leadership understand their role in driving key performance behaviors and how these behaviors will be tracked and managed?
Is leadership willing to adopt the business plans into their business plans for the next year and beyond?
So now what? While you may now better understand some of the underlying causes of leadership’s lack of engagement and the questions to ask to assess engagement, how do we increase engagement and ensure sustainable change among leadership? Let’s look at some of the more common solutions.
Ensure that any external consultant you hire is fully committed to educating and engaging leaders in every phase of the project.
Ensure that key documents are developed to serve multiple audiences and provide both project management and leadership with an early warning system that identifies points of resistance, go/no-go progress, and risks.
During the consultant selection process, ask the external consultants specifically how they engage and educate leadership.
Treat leadership as a partner rather than a customer.
Ensure the project team involves leadership in the development of the OCM measures of success.
Involve leadership in a transparent and active governance process that includes a multi-step go/no-go sign off process.
Ensure communication with leadership that includes a discussion of risk.
As part of the consultant selection process, ensure that external consultants have a track record of “straight talk” to leadership.
Ensure governance meetings are short, have repeatable agendas, and, most importantly, include transparent discussions and recommendations.
Define specific and measurable roles and responsibilities for leadership in managing change. Ensure these roles and responsibilities are updated as the project matures.
Understand the timing and ranking of leadership’s competing priorities.
Develop a leadership calendar to ensure the team understands the priorities and the availability of each leader.
Involve leadership in the process to ensure their initiatives are integrated at the “desk level”.
Resist the urge to provide leadership with mere talking points as the fulfillment of their communication responsibilities.
Prepare leadership with context to understand the impacts and timing of the changes to their teams.
I hope that this blog serves as a practical guide in how to ensure the active engagement of leadership throughout the change process.
Leadership engagement is complex, has many moving parts, and involves more than just the current project.
And while we can use tools (like the ones outlined here) to guide us, they are simply tools. They help us combine our experience with an understanding of the specifics of your organization’s changes. They define and focus our efforts. In addition, external consultants have limitations that require them to uniquely partner with internal resources e.g., Corporate Communications, HR, leadership, and internal change resources to name a few.
Calling for Volunteers to Support United Way!
For nine years, SEWI-ATD members have shared their talents by coaching United Way speakers. Be part of this tradition by volunteering this year!
We are looking for 4-6 volunteers for each of the following dates:
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By: Daniel Stewart - President & Executive Consultant, Stewart Leadership
How can you make your merger, acquisition, or reorganization go smoothly? How can you optimize the value of the deal through an effective integration? A recent Deloitte survey found that 76% of executives think cultural alignment is important to effective integration, but 1 in 3 said that it was not done effectively.
Culture misalignment is one of the primary reasons why most organizational integrations fail. Understanding the culture of each team or organization is a critical first step in your efforts to create a culture that will optimize deal value by identifying issues early and preventing culture and talent challenges down the road.
Use the Eight Dimensions of Culture to highlight similarities and differences from the start so you can develop effective strategies that bring everyone together. These Eight Dimensions of Culture, developed with our partners at Illumyx, provide you a behavioral snapshot of your culture using a series of continuums to describe how groups get work done.
Each continuum consists of polar opposite approaches. Your organization will fall somewhere in the middle of the two extremes on each culture dimension. Except for the engagement dimension, there is no one right answer for each culture dimension. The point is to understand where your culture currently is along each dimension, ensure that your culture is aligned to accomplish your strategic focus, and reshape your culture as needed especially where there are possible friction points with a merging organization.
Together, these dimensions provide a picture of the workplace culture experienced by groups within your organization. The following is a general description of behaviors associated with each dimension. Score your team on each dimension in order to understand the culture you bring to the merger, and have the other team do the same.
Relationship oriented cultures prioritize and value strong relationships. As they work, they give priority to interpersonal issues and value people for their unique perspective. When assessing change, relationship-oriented cultures focus on the impact on others and the feelings associated with change.
Task-oriented cultures prioritize and value productivity and efficiency. These groups like to get right down to business and reward people for what they do, often on an individual basis. When assessing change, these cultures primarily focus on the impact on processes and business results
Team-focused cultures reward the entire team for hitting a goal. They emphasize skill-sharing and cross-training and approach problems through collaboration and peer-to-peer performance feedback.
Cultures oriented around individuals prefer clear divisions of labor and approach problems through individual research and reflection. Performance feedback is leader-driven and performance metrics are tracked individually.
In an empowered culture, decision making is delegated to those closest to the issue. Leaders coach employees to make better decisions and when faced with uncertainty, employees make a decision and discuss it with the leader later. Leaders facilitate discussions resulting in team decisions. In empowered cultures, decision making can be slower but tends to have greater buy-in.
In a directive culture, leaders make most decisions and override employees’ decisions when it is deemed necessary. Most leaders in directive cultures ask for input but make the final decision themselves. When faced with uncertainty, employees will not make a decision without approval from a leader. Decision making can be quick, but it is dependent on leaders having availability and bandwidth.
Responsive cultures quickly jump to action and value being able to adapt to anything while making adjustments as the need arises.
Planning cultures value being prepared for anything. They are methodical and detailed and make adjustments at planned intervals.
Cultures oriented to short-term horizons focus on tasks and meeting near-term objectives. Teams are motivated with a series of quick wins.
In long-term oriented cultures, each decision is weighed with the long-term consequences in mind, and the team is motivated by moving toward the larger vision.
End-Results cultures value scrappiness and flexibility, doing what it takes to get the job done. Autonomy is emphasized and employees have freedom in their approach. The focus is on the “what” rather than the “how.”
In a process-oriented culture, reliability is valued. Compliance is emphasized and teams follow set processes to deliver consistent outcomes.
Change oriented cultures rely on new innovations to achieve success. They value those who avoid stagnation and strive for transformational improvements. These cultures are comfortable with ambiguity.
Stability-oriented cultures rely on a strong foundation to achieve success. They value team members who avoid unnecessary risks and strive for incremental improvements. They prefer predictability.
This is the one cultural dimension that has a desired answer--committed. When organizations have an indifferent culture, there needs to be a strong effort to shift to a more engaged culture.
In committed cultures, employees strive to exceed expectations. Teams give discretionary effort and show high productivity. Employees display excitement for meeting company goals and actively engage in crucial conversations, personal developments, and refer others for employment.
In indifferent cultures, employees meet minimum expectations, arrive late, leave early, and miss work more often. They avoid openly and constructively addressing issues and engage in gossip, blame, and victimhood. Employees are indifferent or condescending toward company goals, and generally exhibit signs of unresolved tension.
Where people are involved in a merger or reorganization, the culture must be taken into account in order to achieve success. By scoring your cultures against the eight dimensions, you can start the process of combining cultures by highlighting and emphasizing what you have in common while approaching differences using a shared language.
By: Matt Meuleners, Focus Training
A consulting partnership is a relationship and, like any relationship, it relies on a few key factors to be successful. In this week’s blog post, Matt Meuleners talks through some of these factors and offers advice on what to look for when selecting your next (or first) consultant partner.
What Does a Consulting Partnership Look Like?
By Allyson Carter, Senior Vice President of Talent, The CARA Group
Is your organizational learning strategy keeping pace with agile business strategy?
As a business leader, you have heard the buzz, “The Big Quit” … “The Great Reshuffle” …” Hybrid Workforce”, etc. As we headed into 2020, business and learning leaders were preparing for mass upskilling to enable the workforce of the future for digital transformation. Strategies were prepared and plans were made. And then came COVID-19.
“… what is your approach to ensuring your organizational learning strategy is appropriate for today’s business realities? Are you leading learning from a strategic point of view or from a to-do list?”
Fast forward two years as we implement our 2022 business and learning strategies: we still have a need to upskill and reskill for ongoing digital transformation, in addition to adjusting to new ways of working and fast changing market and consumer conditions. We are seeing businesses both merge and split. We are seeing rapid growth and the impact of the health crisis on employment.
So, what is your approach to ensuring your organizational learning strategy is appropriate for today’s business realities? Are you leading learning from a strategic point of view or from a to do list?
In a CARA August 2019 blog “The 10 Elements of Organizational Learning Strategy” we said: “A well-crafted and rigorously executed organizational learning strategy can ensure that your learning and development organization supports the business in achieving the strategic goals set forth by senior leaders. Without a clear strategy, learning and development organizations tend to lose focus and effectiveness.” This holds true today.
Strategic Framework for Creating an Agile Learning and Development Strategy
Continue reading here
For our first in person event of the year, SEWI ATD partnered with Milwaukee Tech Hub for a panel discussion on the Business Need for Reskilling on April 22, 2022.
Laura Schmidt, Chief Talent Development Officer of the Milwaukee Tech Hub Coalition, moderated the discussion with Sarah Dollhausen-Clark, Lead Program Manager in the Office of the CIO/Technology Strategy and Transformation at Northwestern Mutual, Amanda Saenz, IT Delivery Manager at West Bend Mutual and Cynthia Sternard, Director of Technology Advancement & Outreach at Associated Bank providing insights.
Laura started the discussion with some key employment statistics on the tech field across Southeast WI region:
The discussion then moved to the experiences and challenges of each panelist. The discussion covered some key areas.
Technology skill development and retention –
Creating learning paths –
Non-traditional pipeline of talent –
Talent Development as a partner
Thank you to all who ventured out on a rainy Friday morning in April!
If you were fortunate enough to attend our virtual event last Wednesday, April 27th, Getting Real about DEI in Learning & Development, you were treated to a fantastic evening. NAAAHR-Milwaukee's Board Members were kind enough to share their experiences and recommendations in how to improve organizational training and build an inclusive culture. Joining the panel were subject matter experts: Dorlisa Marshall, Jamesha Carter, Scott Cross, Cheryl Lucas-DeBerry, LaShonda Hill and Alvin Hill.
There were many highlights throughout. When asked what are some things L & D professionals do right when they are effective with DEI efforts, a couple responses included meeting people where they are at and help employees to be successful. Another response mentioned that some leaders often stereotype, assuming because an employee may not have technology at home that they are unfamiliar with said technology.
A key topic was looking at what certain talent development practices occur that signal a community is not welcome. This conversation covered a wide range of points were made, such as intentionality, representation, language used in conversations, engagement in and out of the workplace, and what professionalism means from one person to the next, to name a few. The responses to the previous topic allowed a segue way into asking how do we work towards creating an environment that is open and transparent? Conversation from the previous question offered some great tips: clearly define what you mean by equity and inclusion; allow yourself to get uncomfortable; ask for feedback and be willing to accept it, as a few examples.
Overall, it was a very rewarding experience covering a significant and meaningful topic. SEWI-ATD was fortunate to have such a warm and receptive panel. Not only did the Board members provide insight, but they offered encouragement, feedback, and all-around helpful ways to further move the needle in the right direction when it comes to understanding.
Contact Usadmin@sewi-atd.orgPhone: 608-204-9815Association ManagersMaria Peot, CMPHeather L. Dyer, CAE