• October 31, 2018 4:58 AM | Anonymous

    Written by SEWI-ATD Guest Blogger Tresha Lovell Program Manager at Johnson Controls.

    The demands made upon training professionals to help organizations become successful are steadily increasing. Many are having to balance multiple projects, while both learning and improving their skills in talent development areas of expertise, and in ‘non-traditional’ areas like project management. This is often occurring as learning professionals are assisting senior business leaders, new hires and high potentials to develop the skills needed for managing, leading and coaching others within the organization. 

    To maintain this balancing act and excel, highly developed Emotional Intelligence (EI) is a necessity. According to Fast Company, “90% of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in pressurized situations in order to remain calm and in control” (Thygesen, “Why Emotional Intelligence is More Important to Hiring Thank You Think”). Although a core requisite for job performance, Emotional Intelligence is rarely the focus of development in traditional certification and degree programs for learning professionals. In this article, we’re going to explore how growth in Emotional Intelligence can improve the performance of training professionals in the areas of communications, motivating learners and coaching. As learning professionals develop their Emotional Intelligence, they are better equipped to help organizations become more successful.

    Emotional Intelligence (EI) is defined as the ability to “recognize, understand and manage our own emotions” and to “recognize, understand and influence the emotions of others” (Institute for Health and Human Potential). EI aims to help people become “aware that emotions can drive our behavior and impact people (positively and negatively), and [learn] how to manage those emotions – both our own and others – especially when we are under pressure” (Institute for Health and Human Potential). To develop EI in others, Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves state that you must understand your own “Personal Competence,” which is comprised of “your own self-awareness and self-management skills” (Bradberry & Graves, pp 23.) When your emotions are triggered, how do you react to different situations and circumstances? Self-awareness is a skill that directly correlates to success: “83% of people that are high in self-awareness are top performers” (Bradberry & Graves, pp 26). This is also the starting point for emotional intelligence development. By understanding oneself and actively working on those areas in which gaps exist, learning professionals can begin growing in Emotional Intelligence and help others to do the same (Thygesen, “Why Emotional Intelligence Is More Important To Hiring Than You Think”).

    The two remaining areas of Emotional Intelligence are Social Awareness and Relationship Management (Bradberry & Graves pp 38 -50). Social awareness is the “ability to accurately pick up on emotions in other people and understand what is really going on with them,’ while Relationship Management focuses on “[using] your awareness of your own emotions and those of others to manage interactions successfully” (pp 38, 44). A core function of a learning professional is working effectively with others. Stakeholders, project team members, other learning professionals and vendors are those commonly collaborated with when uncovering learning needs and developing learning solutions for organizations. Solid communications skills are essential for team building, conflict resolution and needs analysis. Being able to meet people where they are and build professional relationships increases effectiveness when working with stakeholders, creating relevant learning solutions, and delivering those solutions to learner audiences. Therefore, Emotional Intelligence development are the foundations for job success.

    In addition to communications, coaching and motivation are other areas that can also improve as a direct result of Emotional Development growth. As a result of understanding themselves and others better, training professionals can uncover motivation drivers in others at a faster rate than those with lower Emotional Intelligence (Administrate “The Importance of Emotional Intelligence in Training”). In addition, highly developed Emotional Intelligence also develops empathy, creating the impression of being approachable, and equips you to coach others, helping you to identify areas of strengths and opportunities to grow to them “to rise to the level” of their potential (Administrate “The Importance of Emotional Intelligence in Training).

    As organizations continue to look for ways to improve employee performance, company leaders must realize the necessity to invest in Emotional Intelligence development for their learning professionals. These critical skills, coupled with traditional talent development competencies, will ensure your learning team is prepared with the skills necessary to take your organization to the next level.


    - Bradberry, Travis and Jean Greaves. Emotional Intelligence 2.0. TalentSmart, 2009.

    - “What is Emotional Intelligence?” Institute for Health and Human Potential, ihhp.com/meaning-of-emotional-intelligence.

    - “The Importance of Emotional Intelligence in Training.” Administrate, Administrate Limited, 7, July 2014, getadministrate.com/blog/the-importance-of-emotional-intelligence-in-training/.

    - Thygesen, Kes. “Why Emotional Intelligence Is More Important To Hiring Than You Think.” FastCompany, FastCompany, 21, April 2014, fastcompany.com/3029306/why-you-should-make-emotional-intelligence-the-cornerstone-of-your-hiring-strategy.


    About the Author

    Tresha Lovell is a Talent Development professional with over 7 years of  corporate learning experience. After starting her career in IT and business development, Tresha transitioned into training and development and has used her ability to design and implement learning solutions in various organizations, including Johnson Controls, Northwestern Mutual and SoftwareONE. Tresha's experience includes delivering training for complex technology solutions, systems, and consultative sales methodologies. A proven communicator and presenter, Tresha's passion is to equip both individuals and business leaders with the skills needed to uncover and fulfill their purpose.

  • October 30, 2018 5:09 AM | Anonymous

    Written by SEWI-ATD Guest Blogger Tresha Lovell Program Manager at Johnson Controls.

    As sales organizations experience growth, in both size and revenue, many companies invest in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions with the intentions of: standardizing sales processes, increasing efficiency and productivity, and to ultimately increase the organization’s revenue.  Depending on the size of the organization, CRM implementations typically require a project team and significant capital and human resource investments for system design, implementation and adoption. Although many CRM projects are funded and approved, it is estimated that 33% of all CRM implementations fail (Tabor from “What to Do When Your CRM Project Fails”). According to Faye Business Systems Group, failure can result from a variety of root causes, including: lack of clear objectives for the project, poor planning or project management, insufficient training & support and incomplete, erroneous or bogus data in the new Software. (Faye Business Systems Group).

    Once ‘Vesuvius’ metaphorically erupts, the following questions may emerge: “Is there a way to turn a failing project around?” Or, “how can we prevent this from happening again?” (Tabor). In this article, we’re going to explore key areas that are directly ‘owned’ or ‘impacted’ by Learning and Development in CRM implementations, and the need for project teams to both fund and effectively engage Learning and Development over the course of the project. By understanding the Learning team’s scope of work, providing the needed resources required to execute the training project plan, and engaging Learning and Development throughout the project, the project team will provide Learning with the tools and support needed to influence the project’s success.

    Understanding the Role of Learning and Development

    With any new system implementation, Learning and Development has vital roles to play over the course of the project to: help teach learners how to effectively use new resources, “[empower] users to make changes on their own,” motivate learners to become change advocates and “[arm] them with the tools needed to be successful” (Rinke from “Training Can Influence the Success of Your CRM Implementation”). Key areas of responsibility for Learning may include: creating and executing the learning strategy, leading or co-leading change management efforts, learning deployment, end-user support, and measuring the effectiveness of the training and/or change management strategies.

    For these core tasks to be performed effectively, the project team must understand the value of the Learning function and include Learning and Change Management in the project charter and as a part of the project team at the onset of the initiative. “Far too often businesses will dismiss training as a superfluous line item that isn’t tied to the success of a project,” (Rinke). TJ Coyle, the Chief Learning Officer of Alphanumeric, states the importance of including training throughout various area of the project life cycle:

    “Which comes first, the end user training plan or the software roll-out plan? This is not a chicken/egg question. Consider buying a piece of assemble-it-yourself furniture. Open the box; throw away the assembly instructions. Helpful? No. Yet that is the attitude you radiate to everyone on a project when you don’t have the complete scope and sequence of an end user training plan in place as you work through the software roll-out checklist” (Coyle from “How to Develop an End User Training Plan Before Software Roll Out).

    Engaging Learning early (and often throughout the project) helps to mitigate risks associated with low user adoption and possible failure of the implementation. It is essential to the implementation for project sponsors and managers to understand the Learning function, it’s value, and to include the team early in the implementation process.

    Does Learning and Development Have the Tools Needed to Be Successful?

    For Learning to meet the expectations of the stakeholders, the team must be given the resources required to execute the training strategy for the project. Although this list is not comprehensive, it does provide key point considerations when creating a training plan:

    1. Has the business goals for the project been clearly stated? According to the Faye Business Systems Group, this is one key reason why CRM implementations fail: “Not defining clear objectives for the software implementation is a commonly cited contributing factor associated with failed implementations. “A successful project is one that attains its objectives, but it is amazing how many business entities undertake a CRM solution with vague, unidentified, immeasurable goals” (Faye Business Systems Group). Clear project goals enable training professionals to align learning objectives to the project and create accurate metrics to measure success.

    2. Is Change Management included in the project plan? It is true that CRM roll-outs include process changes; however, “it is actually the employees of your organization who have to ultimately change how they do their jobs. If these individuals are unsuccessful in their personal transitions and they don’t embrace and learn a new way of working, the initiative will fail” (Prosci).

    3. Has a budget been allocated to training that provides sufficient funding to execute the training plan? Given the scope of work for the project and the expectations held by the business, Training must have access to the resources that are needed. If a budget has not been allocated for either function, training and change leaders will need to assess their ability to provide the expected deliverable given budgetary constraints and communicate any concerns to the project team ahead of time. “CIO magazine did a study and found that a good training program should account for 10 to 13 percent of the project spend. From my experience of having done this for more than 28 years, very few projects invest anywhere near this figure, and suffer the results. Successful training is highly correlated to CRM software adoption, software utilization and technology payback. Plan accordingly” (Schaeffer from “CRM Software Training Best Practices).

    4. Has the processes for using the ‘old system’ and the new CRM been provided? How do these processes differ and how impactful is the change to each user group? To create training that is tailored to each user’s experience, processes need to be documented, understood and provided to the training team prior to content design. “Training should flow according to role-based business processes, not software screens. Users learn best when training is presented as part of their daily context…emphasize end to end business process efficiencies and effectiveness – and how staff can do their jobs easier and better” (Schaeffer).

    Support from project team and access to the required resources needed to execute the learning strategy are essential to the success of the training strategy. Without it, the effectiveness of the Learning and Development team will become minimal, leading to the potential marginalization of the team members and possible failure of the overall project.


    - Tabor, David. “What to Do When Your CRM Project Fails.” CIO by IDG, IDG Communications, 18 Sept. 2017, cio.com/article/2381909/customer-relationship-management/what-to-do-when-your-crm-project-fails.html.

    - Faye Business Systems Group. “Top 10 Reasons Why Software Implementations Fail.” Faye Business Systems Group, FBSG Inc, 17 Oct. 2016, fayebsg.com/2016/10/the-top-10-reasons-why-software-implementations-fail/.

    - Rinke, Linus. “Training Can Influence the Success of Your CRM Implementation.” Upcurve Cloud, Upcurve Cloud, 24 Mar. 2016, upcurvecloud.com/blog/how-training-and-change-management-influence-the-success-of-your-crm-implementation/.

    - Prosci. “Thought Leadership Articles: What is Change Management?” Prosci, Prosci Inc, prosci.com/resources/articles/what-is-change-management.

    - Schaeffer, Chuck. “CRM Software Training Best Practices.” CRMSearch, CRMSearch, crmsearch.com/crm-training-best-practices.ph.

    - Coyle, TJ. “How to Develop an End User Training Plan Before Software Roll Out.” Alphanumeric Systems Inc, Alphanumeric System Inc, info.alphanumeric.com/blog/develop-end-user-training-plan-before-software-roll-out.

    About the Author

    Tresha Lovell is a Talent Development professional with over 7 years of  corporate learning experience. After starting her career in IT and business development, Tresha transitioned into training and development and has used her ability to design and implement learning solutions in various organizations, including Johnson Controls, Northwestern Mutual and SoftwareONE. Tresha's experience includes delivering training for complex technology solutions, systems, and consultative sales methodologies. A proven communicator and presenter, Tresha's passion is to equip both individuals and business leaders with the skills needed to uncover and fulfill their purpose.

  • October 17, 2018 9:32 AM | Anonymous

    Written by SEWI-ATD Guest Blogger, Mark Brewer, Senior Organizational Development Manager at Milwaukee Tool, and SEWI-ATD VP of Special Projects.

    In the first quarter of this year I urged anyone who waded through my first three paragraphs to help managers do what we can’t do for them:  have ongoing performance conversations with their employees in everyday interactions, model giving and receiving feedback, and focusing on the future, the only place where growth and development happens.  All of that was fixed on the end-of-year performance review process, traditionally celebrated some three months after the end of the actual year.

    Also, I made some murky references to the dental profession.

    Well, this isn’t about performance reviews, but it does involve the impending year-end.  And the dental profession.

    When I was a kid my dentist had a yellowing placard taped to his wall that read The Dentist cannot undo what the Patient won’t do.”

    I couldn’t have been more than nine years old, and my dentist was older then than I am now, so it’s doubtful I saw that little sign more than two or three times.  Yet it so captured my imagination that the memory of it has withstood the ravages of time (and the 70’s) to remain a lasting image in what remains of my long-term memory.

    Having chosen to spend half of his adult life poking around inside other peoples’ foul mouths, this little bit wit and wisdom obviously held special meaning for him.  Not to mention that it was the only adornment on the walls of his offices.

    But we could replace “Dentist” and “Patient” with a lot of other identities and the wisdom would hold up.  (Maybe not “Cats” and “Dogs” perhaps, but that does make you think, doesn’t it?)

    As trainers and designers of training we might not see our role as “undoing” anything for our learners, though they may come to us with bad habits aplenty.  However, we know too well that our best efforts cannot do for the learner what she/he will not do on their own, on the job, every day. You know this: if they won’t practice what we teach, we might as well have filled the classroom with bags of potatoes.

    What our learners do and don’t do on the job – what they choose to put into practice from our exquisite training – may be partly due to their willingness.  We all know employees who are deeply committed to owning their success, and to the development investment that supports it.  Beyond those twelve people though lies a population hostage to a great force for decay (another dental reference).

    I’m talking about their managers.  Yes, those hapless individuals on whom the organization has placed the burden of employee productivity and engagement.  Those poor beasts who, through no fault of their own, find themselves responsible for other people getting the job done, stripped of their own ability to do it themselves.

    For better or worse they are the models for rewarded behavior in every team, every organization.  They are the purveyors of company culture (no, not those pretty posters, pamphlets, screensavers, coffee mugs, breath mints and pens).  Their actions are the signals that guide employee work practices.  When our training and development efforts are out of synch with those signals, it’s only natural to expect employees’ practices to gravitate toward their manager’s model (or dictate, as the case may be).

    If you’ve read this far you’re thinking “Tell me something I didn’t know” or “So what?”

    So what?  So we are focused on the wrong employees!!  I’m not kidding.  We and our training and development programs might touch an employee for barely one-half of one percent of their work year.  Their managers, on the other hand, touch them far more than that, figuratively speaking of course.

    We all know the 70-20-10 “rule.” In reality that “rule” plays out more like 95-4.9-0.1.  You know this too: 99.9% of the average employee’s professional learning and development takes place beyond the reach of our development interventions. We are the dentists who our patients might see a few times a year.

    So what can we do to make sure everyone’s brushing at home?  Connect with the managers.  Make them an active part of the development programs and processes.  You probably do much of it already:

    • Do managers know when their employees are spending time in training or other development activities?
    • Do managers know what’s in that training? (do you know what’s in that “granola” bar you’re eating?)
    • Do managers know how to support that training and reinforce it on the job?
    • If we can ask the learner to “evaluate” their learning experience, we can ask managers to do the same: evaluate how the learning translates into observed behavior change on the job.
    • For every learning activity, tell managers “what to watch for” in their employees
    • Conduct learning activities with intact teams, in which managers are visible participants.
    • Provide managers with a single easy-to-use follow-up coaching question – just one -- aligned with every class or learning activity

    Why is all this pertinent to year-end?  It’s not!  It’s year-long.  It’s every day.  And if the year’s gone by without it, better now than later. Like, performance reviews. Help managers make their most valuable contribution to the organization:  developing people. It’s more their job than ours.

    A little regular flossing probably wouldn’t hurt either.

    About the Author

    Mark Brewer is a Talent Development professional with over 25 years of corporate experience. After a short career as a high school English teacher Mark earned a master’s degree in Instructional Design at Florida State University and began his corporate career at Arthur Andersen designing operational and interpersonal skills training for the Audit practice. By the time he moved to Motorola University his focus had turned primarily to Management and Leadership development. With Kohl’s Department Stores Mark was engaged in management training, performance management process, talent management and succession planning strategy, and executive coaching and development.

    Currently Mark serves as an adjunct instructor for UW’s Center for Professional and Executive Development and a Senior Organizational Development Manager with Milwaukee Tool. His professional passion is helping business leaders become more confident and more proficient in developing their organizations’ talent.

  • July 27, 2018 7:44 AM | Anonymous

    Written by SEWI-ATD Guest Blogger, Colin J Hahn, Director of Talent Development  for Leadership Ecademy.

    One of the greatest challenges that L&D professionals face is creating programs that cause our participants to change their behaviors. We have direct control over what happens in our classrooms, so we know that we can deliver knowledge. But, having participants translate that knowledge into new behaviors, and then adopting those new behaviors in the workplace, is something that we can only influence indirectly.

    Many L&D professionals struggle to measure behavioral change—level 3 in the Kirkpatrick model of training evaluation. But, the more fundamental problem is that causing behavioral change is hard. A typical estimate is that only 30-40% of learners implement soft skill behaviors they learn in training, forming what is known as the “transfer gap.” Because the gap is so wide, improving the rate of behavioral change is one of the highest leverage improvements that we can make to our training programs.

    L&D professionals have long known how important it is to change behaviors, but we are under increasing pressure to deliver on that goal. Compared to five years ago, business leaders more frequently stress the need for employees to adapt, innovate, and embrace rapid change. With a tightening labor market, employers are under pressure to grow the skills of their workforce on the job.

    Both of these trends are increasing the stakes for L&D professionals. If we are successful at changing behaviors, we can have a dramatic impact on business results. But, if we can’t deliver, then our budgets can be on the chopping block as companies look to trim services that don’t contribute to the bottom line.

    At Leadership Ecademy, we realized that reliably changing behavior is a critical outcome for talent development, and we focused on developing techniques that consistently produced positive behavioral changes in the workplace. We identified three primary reasons why training programs fail to change behaviors. By targeting those three challenges, we achieved a 93% success rate in our participants demonstrating behavioral changes as a result of our training.

    Challenge #1: Conducting fire talks vs fire drills

    One of my mentors, Gary Klugiewicz, frequently says, “There’s a reason we conduct fire drills and not fire talks.” When you are under stress, you don’t think clearly, you experience tunnel vision, and your motor skills are impaired. During a fire is the worst possible time to try a psychomotor skill for the first time, which is why it is so important to practice when the stakes are low. When you are trying to walk out of the correct exit for a fire—or when temperatures are rising between team members and you’re trying to remember the next step in a de-escalation sequence—you are liable to make mistakes unless you’ve rehearsed the skill beforehand.

    Most training and development programs are more fire talk than fire drill. The participants will spend most of their time listening to the facilitator present or discussing the topic in small groups. As L&D professionals, we proudly point to the interactive elements of our sessions: role plays, simulations, and small group discussions. But, it’s rare for these activities to make up more than 30% of our training time. Even when we do incorporate non-lecture activities, they often serve the role of content delivery rather than practice and implementation.

    Below are some of the techniques we adopted in order to conduct more fire drills.

    1. Plan the time. If we truly believe that practice is a priority, then the training schedule should reflect that. At Leadership Ecademy, we set an expectation that 50% of classroom time should be devoted to practice. Content delivery, discussion, and housekeeping tasks all had to fit within the remaining 50%.

    2. Set outcomes for class activities. We defined specific outcomes for each component of our training sessions. We found that group discussions benefited tremendously from that level of detail. Before, a typical discussion prompt might sound like, “Can you think of other trust-building behaviors?” It was common for discussions to meander; while the discussions were intellectually stimulating, they had little practical impact. When we forced ourselves to define outcomes for a discussion (e.g., participants will identify examples of trust-building behaviors from their own experience), we noted that the discussions were more focused, the quality of the discussions improved, and we were able to wrap up the discussions sooner.

    3. Create more “at bats.” When we first conducted role plays, we spent close to five minutes going through a scenario and then debriefing it. A lot of that time was low-impact, as participants were improvising further and further away from the core skill. We reformulated the activity with a tighter script and more concise directions, and we reduced the time to run through the role play to 30 seconds. In that same five minute period, we were able to get six practice attempts and a debrief. When the participants had more at bats, their fluency increased and they felt more comfortable with the skill. As a bonus, the increased pace also kept the participants more engaged in the class.

    Challenge #2: Adapting to the situational snowflake

    One of the fundamental realities of behavioral change is that no two situations are the same. Like the proverbial snowflakes, there are always differences between the scenarios we practice in class and the situations our participants face back at the workplace.

    These differences pose significant barriers for participants attempting to use their new skills. When the participants can’t figure out how to work through the unique elements of their situation, they are much less likely to attempt the skill—let alone succeed. In one of our conflict management classes, for instance, one participant was paralyzed because her conflict was with her boss, and none of our examples explicitly showed how to adjust for the power differential in that situation. Another participant struggled to apply the technique of establishing a mutual purpose because his situation was extremely challenging (he was required to fire someone the week before Christmas, and there was no flexibility in the timeline because of other organizational constraints).

    The snowflake syndrome—when a participant sees their situation as unique and therefore struggles to apply the skill—is a common reason why training doesn’t result in behavioral change. Being able to adapt a skill to novel circumstances requires a high level of proficiency. By definition, someone who is learning a new skill lacks that level of proficiency. While a beginner can stick to a script relatively well, it’s easy for them to get thrown off by unique situational details precisely because they haven’t internalized the skill to the point where they have mastered the general principles and can adapt those principles to meet the demands of the moment.

    Our Team at Leadership Ecademy spent a lot of time working on how to overcome the snowflake syndrome. Some of the techniques we used included:

    1. Present extreme examples. We found that many adaptation barriers stemmed from a participant’s perception that their situation was more challenging than anything we had discussed. So, we began to incorporate more extreme examples into our case studies in order to show the techniques under more difficult circumstances. For instance, we used a case study that pitted police officers charged with enforcing protest ordinances against Occupy Wall Street protesters who were willing to be arrested as an illustration of how to find a mutual purpose in a discussion.

    2. Practice adapting. Sometimes participants just need to put some thought into how a skill would work in their situation. We built practice time for participants to adapt the skill by identifying what could work without change and what elements of the situation needed to be addressed in a different manner. We found pair sharing and small group formats to work well for this component of training.

    3. Coach the adaptation. We developed a training model in which participants worked one-on-one with a coach to implement their skills, and one of the biggest benefits to this approach was that the coach could work with their participant on how to adapt the skill. Providing coaches to all your training participants may be too much of an ask, but consider if there are ways that you can set up participants with mentors or peer role models to provide some of that individualized support.

    Challenge #3: Getting lost in the whirlwind

    In The 4 Disciplines of Execution, Chris McChesney introduces the concept of the whirlwind as all the everyday stuff that comes up and distracts people from making change stick. We found this concept captured the experience of many of our training participants. We knew that participants left our classroom excited about what they had learned and eager to put their skills to use. But, when they got back to their desk, the whirlwind of daily activity undercut their efforts.

    For some participants, just seeing their overflowing inbox was enough to convince them that they didn’t have time to try the new behaviors. Other participants would try once or twice, but if they struggled—which they usually did, because these were new skills—they retreated to their old practices since they at least knew what to expect. Several participants described giving up in frustration because their manager didn’t know what they had learned and couldn’t support them.

    Overcoming the whirlwind required us to think about training as a method of change management. It wasn’t enough for us to have a solution. We needed to support that solution so that others were convinced to implement it.

    To get that support, we worked with decision-makers and influencers within our clients’ organizations. There was no magic bullet that solved this challenge. But, we found that the following behaviors made a difference in helping our training transfer to the workplace:

    1. Action plans instead of takeaways. We eliminated the end-of-day sharing about what participants would take away from the class because we realized those ideas didn’t translate to behaviors. Instead, we used the time to have participants write an action plan for what they would do as a result of the training.

    2. Prepare for success. We also gave the participants time to plan how they would prepare for their action plan. We used techniques like identifying critical moments and vital behaviors to make the action plan concrete, as well as gathering support resources such as scripts or peer accountability partners.

    3. Follow up and create accountability. Because our participants worked one-on-one with a coach, we had our coaches follow up with their participants after a few weeks to debrief their action plan results. If you can’t conduct a coaching call with each participant, consider following up with email reminders, using peer groups to review progress, or debriefing action plans in a future face-to-face setting.

    4. Transfer to the manager. The participant’s manager will have more influence on what people do in the office than your training facilitator, so bring the manager into the loop. We emailed the managers before the class to set their expectations of what participants would be able to do afterwards. We encouraged participants to share what they learned with their managers and provided conversational templates so the participants could ask for assignments that would enable them to continue practicing their new skills, and we followed up with managers to verify that they saw the participants successfully using their new skills. You can also provide class summaries and discussion prompts to managers, require participants to share their action plans with their managers, or even ask managers to provide feedback on their direct reports’ learning experiences.

    Designing for Behavioral Change

    Designing training programs that reliably change behaviors is the critical missing link between L&D and business results. When we focus on creating training that impacts workplace behavior, we can directly contribute to the success of our organizations.

    When change management professionals plan their efforts, they think about “overdetermining” change. Instead of asking what is the minimum they need to do to make change possible, they strategize how to tap as many sources of influence as possible in order to overcome resistance.

    L&D professionals should adopt the same mindset. Just like change leaders, we can only indirectly influence the behaviors that occur after participants leave our classes. We need to identify the reasons for resistance—that the participants spend most of their time attending fire talks, overlook the situational snowflake, and get lost in the whirlwind—and marshal a variety of techniques to overcome those points of resistance. Hopefully the techniques in this article can help you start thinking about ways that you can improve the rate of behavior change in your programs.

    About the Author

    Colin J. Hahn is passionate about helping people master new skills and has built his career around helping organizations solving their talent development challenges. As Director of Talent Development for Leadership Ecademy, he is responsible for creating training experiences that produce measurable behavioral changes. Hahn's past clients include Naval Air Systems Command, Walmart, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, and Goodwill of North Central Wisconsin.

    Hahn holds a Ph.D. in philosophy, as well as an M.A. in philosophy, from Marquette University. He earned his bachelor's degree in philosophy and political science from Gonzaga University.

  • June 20, 2018 8:19 AM | Anonymous

    Informal learning is a pervasive ongoing phenomenon of learning via participation or learning via knowledge creation, in contrast with the traditional view of teacher-centered learning via knowledge acquisition. 

    Check out an article by Meica Hatters on Managing Organizational  Informal Learning


  • May 14, 2018 9:48 AM | Anonymous

    Written by SEWI-ATD Guest Blogger, Rhonda Sharpe, Instructional Designer at Educators Credit Union.

                             They say…

    It’s not WHAT you say, but HOW you say it.

    They are wrong – It is what you say AND how you say it.

    You may have a very important message; however, if the delivery fails, nothing has been gained.

    As trainers, our job is not to put the audience to sleep (usually) but to engage and excite them into action. Active listening is a key communication skill – but what happens on the other end? Don’t you find yourself having difficulty actively listening to someone speaking in monotone?

    We spend a considerable amount of time selecting the best font styles, the best activities, engaging scenarios when developing our training courses. But how much time or effort do we invest attending to our own vocal skills?

     For many, the answer is not a lot. Speaking comes naturally and most of us in the training field have a lot to say. Have you ever wondered what your audience hears (and perceives) when you present?

    Your voice is an important tool and it deserves to be trained properly. What is it worth to you to have your message and your vocal abilities in sync? Join ATD on Friday, May 18th and invest in your voice!

    About the Author

    Rhonda Sharpe is currently an Instructional Designer with Educators Credit Union. She has a variety of experiences as a  student, project manager, e-merchandising specialist and educator. This has allowed her to develop and maintain collaborative partnerships with diverse audiences in business, non-profit and higher education settings. She applies adult learning theories and project management concepts to ensure timely and accurate completion of  all her projects/presentations/training programs. She is committed to all learners at every level.

  • March 27, 2018 3:51 PM | Anonymous

    Written by SEWI-ATD Guest Blogger, Mark Brewer, Senior Organizational Development Manager at Milwaukee Tool, and SEWI-ATD VP of Special Projects.

    This is generally a good time of year to talk about Performance Management. More specifically, performance reviews/appraisals. Often we are called upon in our profession to develop the training and/or communications for an organization's performance management process, a process traditionally conducted once annually like a Polar Bear Plunge, but with all the anticipation of a trip to the dentist. Our focus – whether training or communication or both – can sometimes be heavy on process, policy and system: how and when to complete the necessary steps to be in compliance with the organization's expectations. In others words: how to fill out that d@#$%d form, and when.

    When we try to quantify something that is inherently subjective we are only being human, but we all know it's a flawed exercise. Assigning a numerical value to measure the relative value of human activity? Don’t think for a minute there’s anyone who doesn’t see the folly in that. But for most organizations it is a "necessary evil."

    In spite of this we hold in our hands the power to influence a constructive mindset about performance management. We can help managers and employees rise above perceptions of the administrative nature of the beast they see and not let that drag them down into a sense of meaninglessness. We can influence them to think bigger, to view this annual event as punctuation on a year-long continuous conversation about development and performance.

    And it isn’t necessary to change or get rid of a cumbersome system in order to help managers and employees think differently about what they are doing and why. The once-a-year performance management process and an everyday performance management mindset are not incompatible. (Anyone who says “I can’t because the system doesn’t allow…” is just making excuses.) There’s always room for introducing and reinforcing the behaviors that make the difference between the dread of a long-deferred visit to the dentist and a happy healthy smile.

    Consider three simple practices:

    1. Everyday conversation

    2. Focus on future

    3. Modeling feedback

    Everyday conversation. Label it “everyday coaching” if you wish but let’s help managers and employees alike recognize that there is an organic interaction taking place with others every minute of every day. No one operates in isolation. Often, performance is a part of that interaction whether it is deliberate or not. Deformalize performance discussions and feedback by persuading employees to see that it is already a part of everyday conversation.

    I hear you: "they aren’t having those conversations." But they are! In subtle, nuanced and completely unintentional ways performance is being discussed every day on the job. We can help people see it. We don’t need to design a training program to help managers have conversations with their employees! (We do, of course, because that’s what we do. How’s that working out for you so far?)

    Show them how to recognize those conversations where they live already, and to “leverage” them. Talking about performance with an employee – positively and constructively – should NOT be a planned event! It can be, sure. But if that’s the only way we view it, it will never become the meaningful continuous performance discussion we all dream of.

    Focus on future. In every conversation, in all feedback, in every performance review, stop focusing on what cannot be changed (the past) and start focusing on what CAN be changed – the future. Yes, it’s intuitive. But performance management processes often force us to look back because the organization must evaluate performance. Past performance.

    We can shift the balance. The only reason for examining the past is to inform the future, to change behaviors that haven’t happened yet. Is it not the goal of every manager, every leader, to

    IMPROVE performance? You can’t improve yesterday, only tomorrow. We can cultivate this thinking in just about every sort of training and communication we create. We have the power to influence this.

    Modeling feedback. We’ve all heard it by now: the phrase “I have some feedback for you” seems to trigger the same primitive fight or flight response in our brains that we experienced when the Sabre-Toothed Tiger roared outside our ancestors’ caves. Why? Because we’re trained to assume feedback is bad. Why? Because we seem to get “feedback” only when we’ve screwed up. Instead of training mangers to give better feedback, lets help managers (and employees) MODEL good feedback. Not just in the giving of it, but in the receiving.

    Giving feedback becomes easier and more natural when the receiver encourages it, asks for it, looks forward to it. Managers can create that environment by modeling a positive, constructive attitude about soliciting and receiving feedback themselves. Picture a hypothetical manager saying “See? That wasn’t so bad was it? Now you do it.”

    There’s much we can do from our talent development platform that can call out and reinforce these sorts of behaviors in the workplace, and it doesn’t always have to be in the form of formal training or process. That it bubbles up most often during the annual performance review spectacle isn’t a bad thing. Think of it not as a reminder of what we haven’t been able to do, but as a reminder of what we can do.

    About the Author

    Mark Brewer is a Talent Development professional with over 25 years of corporate experience. After a short career as a high school English teacher Mark earned a master’s degree in Instructional Design at Florida State University and began his corporate career at Arthur Andersen designing operational and interpersonal skills training for the Audit practice. By the time he moved to Motorola University his focus had turned primarily to Management and Leadership development. With Kohl’s Department Stores Mark was engaged in management training, performance management process, talent management and succession planning strategy, and executive coaching and development.

    Currently Mark serves as an adjunct instructor for UW’s Center for Professional and Executive Development and a Senior Organizational Development Manager with Milwaukee Tool. His professional passion is helping business leaders become more confident and more proficient in developing their organizations’ talent.

  • January 29, 2018 4:00 PM | Anonymous

    Written by SEWI-ATD Guest Blogger, Matthew Meuleners, Leadership Trainer and Consultant at FOCUS Training, and SEWI-ATD VP of Community Relations.

    Career development planning is a hard concept for many employees to wrap their heads around - and the execution of that plan can be even more 
    daunting. As Talent leaders, it often falls to us to coach employees (or their leaders) through the process of reflection and consequently creating the vision required to position someone for next steps. One simple idea I go back to again and again, is the Personal Brand Story.

    What is a Personal Brand?

    It is the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands. ... Personal branding is essentially the ongoing process of establishing a prescribed image or impression in the mind of others about an individual, group, or organization.

    In most instances, when it’s time to hire or fill a leadership position, we don’t tend to choose the mysterious stranger. Our risk-averse brains tell us to lean towards the familiar, a person to whom we can relate. Not only do we want to understand what we are getting, but we also want to know their story and what to expect – a personal brand offers a shortcut for these choices.

    Image, reputation, brand…whatever you choose to call it, the impression that others in your professional sphere have of you can be a key driver of how they respond to you. But a powerful brand is more than a list of features. It tells a story.

    As a Talent Professional, here are a few tips you can share with employees and their leaders in your organization:

    Crafting your brand story

    • Reflect for value: Think back about each of your significant professional experiences. Where did you start your professional journey? Because of the roles that you filled along your journey, what can you now do? What do you know? What have you seen?
    • Differentiate yourself: What sets you apart from the rest of those who are pursuing the same goals and career? It doesn’t have to be unique to the world, just unique to the competitive space.
    • Transition with intention: Be prepared to discuss the space between experiences. What led you from one job to the next? Why did you make this career move at this time?
    • Project forward momentum: Your story doesn’t end today. Describe where you are headed next from a professional growth perspective. What are you hoping to learn or achieve?

    These best practices can help build a brand story that is both engaging and authentic. 

    Also consider how to use tools like LinkedIn to document your story in real time. Investing a little time in reflecting and updating every few months can save you from the arduous task of trying to remember years of work at a time - typically under a deadline because you are only thinking about this in response to an opportunity that just popped up.

    So, next time you find yourself coaching someone through their next career step, ask them to tell you a story!

    About the Author

    Matt Meuleners has more than 18 years of experience as a Talent Development professional. He is a leadership trainer who is known for his ability to drill into an organization’s challenges. As Executive Partner with FOCUS Training, Matt focuses on corporate leadership and new product development. His specialties are: Training program design and delivery, consulting on leadership development and training, development of corporate mentoring programs, training audits, presentation skills coaching.

    Matt holds an MBA from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, School of Business Administration.

  • November 21, 2017 3:00 PM | Anonymous

    Written by SEWI-ATD Guest Blogger, Andy Marris, Learning & Development Manager at MRA, and SEWI-ATD President

    Brainstorming imageWhen someone uses the word “brainstorm,” what comes to mind? The Google Dictionary gives an idealistic definition… “a spontaneous group discussion to produce ideas and ways of solving problems.” If one truly considers the reality of how this “group discussion,” typically plays itself out, however, one is much more likely to have the perception that brainstorming is a well-intentioned ideation session that instead degenerates into one of dominance, condescension, and ironically, very few good ideas. Once again, the age-old axiom is proven true… “The road to hell is paved by good intentions.”

    Comments such as, “That will never work,” “That’s a stupid idea,” or “We tried that already,” are commonplace in brainstorming sessions. Comments like these unfortunately lead to some of the best ideas remaining between the ears of previously scolded participants. Moreover, introverted contributors may have wonderful ideas, but are often overshadowed and even dominated by the most boisterous participants in the room, as well. These issues end up leading to a few, rapidly-offered ideas, that were not necessarily well-thought through, and the group ends up going with a mediocre idea because it was the best one of a bad lot. Sound familiar? There is a better way!

    The Nominal Group Technique (NGL) is not new, but it is astonishing how many business professionals are unaware of the concept. In MRA’s Supervision Fundamentals series, NGL is repackaged as the “Circle Six” technique (the number doesn’t actually matter—MRA Minnesota classrooms have six chair tables, and when read aloud, it sounds like an alliteration, hence, “Circle Six”). It is the best way to capture a large about of terrific ideas, and as the famous scientist, Linus Pauling once said, “The best way to get a great idea, is to have lots of ideas.” Here are the simple (yet profound), steps…

    1. Leader appoints someone in the group to capture the ideas on a notepad, flipchart, or marker board (the scribe)

    2. Leader posts the question to be solved (such as “How can we generate more revenue in 2018?”)

    3. Leader gives all participants 2 minutes to ponder the question and write down all ideas that come to mind – with a few rules…

    a. No talking; Just thinking and writing as the ideas come

    b. No self-deprecation; Write all ideas no matter how silly they may seem

    c. Take the full 120 seconds; sometimes the best ideas come when there is no pressure to perform (think Archimedes in his bathtub… Eureka!)

    4. Once time is up, the leader asks each participant to simply read the top line item on his/her page, thanks them, and moves to the next participant – with a few more rules…

    a. No commenting in any way (positive or negative) or face removal from the group – Even a positive “Good idea,” comment tells other participants who didn’t hear such praise that their idea was not as good-which defeats the purpose of the exercise.

    b. Leader only thanks participant for his/her contribution, being careful not to comment, either

    c. Leader contributes last each time around the circle, so as to not encourage “group think”

    5. Scribe captures all ideas in writing

    6. Leader goes around the circle until everyone is out of ideas on their lists and all “pass”

    7. Leader reads scribe’s list to group, so it hears the ideas a second time

    8. Leader gives group 2 more minutes to think and write down any additional ideas that were triggered by the list – Sometimes the best ideas come as a piggy-back to another one (even one that would have been labeled a “stupid idea” on its face)

    9. Leader and scribe repeat steps 4-7, continuing the moratorium on comments

    10. Group then multi-votes on what they think the best ideas are, giving a 5 to the best idea, a 3 to the second best, and finally a 1 to the third best idea

    11. When the votes are tallied, great ideas rise like cream to the top, and often the participants are excited and engage on how many great ideas were generated

    There are several reasons NGT works so well. First, it truly values everyone’s ideas and contributions. It also eliminates the killer phrases that shut down well-intentioned brainstorming sessions. People that need time to process, have it, and those with a quick answer are still allowed to do so, writing the idea instead of blurting it out. Giving the process a second round usually produces less total answers than the first round, but it often produces some of the best ideas the group is able to generate. At a recent training filled with analytical engineers, the group went from one mediocre idea to 47 outstanding ones, just by implementing the NGT technique.

    Famous comedians often get the request from a well-meaning fan to “say something funny.” Without a prepared response, they often fail at the request. Seasoned comedians have a comment ready when the request invariably comes again. In a similar way, the NGT allows people to have the time and the freedom to come up with great ideas, without the risk of being put on the spot or insulted. Try it at your next “brainstorm,” and you’ll be amazed at what the team uncovers.

    About the Author

    Photo of Andy MarrisWith more than 15 years of business management, marketing, and leadership experience in the sports broadcasting, financial services, health care, information technology, and human resources industries, Andy Marris draws on his knowledge and experiences to help managers sharpen their leadership skills and business acumen. As a former graduate- and undergraduate-level business and marketing instructor, Andy discovered his passion for adult learning through fun, interactive, “real world” education. Andy's love of leadership development led him to his current role as a full-time talent development instructor in MRA—The Management Association's Institute of Management. Whether he is working with first-time supervisors, or seasoned leaders seeking continuous skill-set improvement, Andy makes the learning experience one that is measurable, memorable, and motivational.         

    Andy holds a masters in business administration and a bachelors in organizational communication.

  • October 31, 2017 12:29 PM | Laura Chartier

    On November 1st, R.W. Baird, in collaboration with SEWI-ATD, will host an exciting event: Bite-sized Micro-learning . In this article by Asha Pandy, you'll discover 5 great examples of using microlearning-based training effectively.

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