By: Focus Training
The idea of bringing ones authentic self to their professional roles is a concept that is often talked about, but what does that look like in reality? This week on the blog, Liz Poeschl sits down with Isioma Nwabuzor, Senior Vice President and Associate General Counsel at Baird, to talk about her experiences being her authentic self at work and in other professional roles.
By: Daniel Stewart, President & Executive Consultant
It can be easy to unintentionally find oneself living in a “bubble”—surrounded by people who share your opinions, perspectives, and outlook. It is the norm for most neighborhoods and houses of worship as like often attracts like. Social media exacerbates this further by prioritizing content that their algorithm has determined you are more likely to interact with.
Leaders know they must make an intentional effort to include and surround themselves with a variety of different voices; staying in an “echo chamber” isn’t an option. Prioritizing inclusive leadership is a business imperative - it’s critical for leaders to pull in new and different perspectives to ensure that various ideas and viewpoints are taken into account. Fresh thinking that challenges old ideas is vital to any organization's long-term health and success.
One way to encourage new ways of thinking is for leaders to actively work on developing an inclusive mindset. Here are three choices you can make that will promote the growth of an inclusive mindset:
Whatever the conversation is, reflect on who is involved, who isn’t, and who should be. What perspectives are you missing? Who would bring those perspectives to the table? If possible, pause the conversation—even in the middle—and invite those voices in. Make a note of who to include in the future, and be proactive about asking those voices to sit at the table. Finally, be intentional in amplifying the ideas and perspectives that add particular value to the conversation. Recent research suggests that magnifying voices can help raise the status of underrepresented groups and bring additional attention to new perspectives.
Everyone has a set of filters and perspectives shaped by our own experiences, values, and beliefs. Ask yourself what other viewpoints you can take as you consider your current problem, challenge, circumstance, or opportunity. Actively challenge your perspectives with new ones. Psychologist Adam Grant suggests “thinking like a scientist.” In scientist mode, Grant suggests, “you look for reasons why you might be wrong, not just reasons you must be right.”
We tend to fall into relationships with people who think as we do in both our work and personal lives. Cultivating relationships outside of your usual circles requires work, but it’s essential work that can help you expand your thinking. Actively look for relationships with people who are not necessarily like you. Get outside your department, function, or community. Ask questions and encourage conversations that help you understand their perspectives.
Remember, challenging your thinking doesn’t require you to change your mind—only to open it. When you look at other perspectives and hear other voices with curiosity and humility, you will be able to honestly examine and consider options, ideas, and solutions. As you invite these different perspectives into your thinking and encourage others to do the same, you will help everyone in leadership develop a more inclusive mindset.
Training for the sake of training is not a good investment of the time, energy or money we put into the creation of a training program. It is important to measure the outcomes of training, but it can be challenging to find the most effective way to do so. Read on to discover the best approach to take when measuring the success of your programs.
Consider the training type
If your training was designed to teach learners how to effectively use a policy or procedure, measuring outcomes can be a relatively straightforward process- you can simply compare compliance or error rates after training to the rates before training. When doing this, be sure to analyze an extended period of time to account for any initial drop off in retention. Looking at an extended period of time provides additional opportunities for coaching and reinforcement by the trainer or leader of learners.
If your training is focused on tactical skills rather than technical skills, success metrics can be a little bit muddier. Consider incorporating a pre-assessment into your program, asking learners to self-assess their ability to utilize skills covered in the class. Pre-assessments provide a baseline for learning and allow facilitators to measure change while administering post-assessments. Post-assessment questions should focus both on confidence in the learner’s abilities in addition to knowledge of the types of tools available to support them outside of the classroom environment. (Pro tip: For even more robust analysis, include the perspective of the learner's direct supervisor or manager in pre- and post-assessments.)
Go beyond “smile sheets”
As important as it is to know that learners enjoy the programs we facilitate, it is better to build post-program evaluations that allow learners time to reflect on their key takeaways from the session. Consider including a combination of closed and open-ended questions to provide the broadest perspective and minimize survey fatigue. Closed ended questions could include asking participants to rank their happiness with the program and their confidence in applying program objectives in their daily work. Open-ended questions could ask participants specific things they enjoyed about the program, opportunities for improvement, and how they will apply the program in their daily work.
By more closely analyzing the type of training outcomes you are hoping to achieve, you can better align your post-program assessments to truly measure what matters. Using assessments and data analysis in a more efficient and effective way will provide a higher likelihood that your participants will provide more detailed feedback, giving you more valuable information to improve and refine your programs moving forward.
By Genevieve Daniels, VP Finance
Our Chapter is starting off the year in a position of financial strength. Over the past couple of years, we have been working toward financial sustainability, measured by the key performance indicator of our operating reserve, which we have now grown to 110% of annual revenue. This is fantastic! It speaks to the:
Quality of our professional development & member experience
Generosity of our sponsors
Numerous volunteers who give of their time and talents
Event speakers/presenters who shared their expertise with us on a pro bono basis
Fewer in-person events, reducing venue/food/beverage expenses
The operating reserve also allowed our Chapter to stay strong and stable as we moved through the changing needs brought on by the health pandemic.
Once again, in 2022, we are taking a conservative approach to our revenue and expense expectations. We will do a mid-year check on this budget to ensure we have the right balance of investment in upskilling, belonging and leadership development for our Chapter members. We anticipate a slight uptick in expenses as we return to offering more in-person social and professional development events.
You may be curious about what some of these expense categories include. For example:
Office of the President covers volunteer recognition, marketing, Board conference fees and national dues
Operations expenses cover bank and credit card charges and Board insurance,
Administration includes our fees to pay our chapter administrator, MDS. MDS handles many responsibilities that keep our chapter running smoothly, such as: member support, member database, annual renewals, and financial & accounting services.
As stewards of our funds, we typically complete a review and contract for our chapter administration needs every three years, with 2022 being a review year. This is important because these administration needs are our highest expense item, and as our needs change, we want to make sure we are getting the highest value while ensuring quality of services. A committee has formed to examine and revise our requirements, and then will work with the Board to evaluate our current administrator and other vendors. The result will be contracting with the partner who can best help us meet our financial stewardship & sustainability needs.
Why is this important to you? Because the process helps us explore new ways to add value for membership, and align even more effectively to our three strategic pillars.
The committee will be hard at work this spring; stay tuned for a summer update!
On behalf of the board of directors, we are so glad you are part of our chapter! Our top priority is you and the value of your membership. With your input, we have identified 3 strategic pillars to which we will anchor our 2022 efforts.
1) Talent Development (TD) Upskilling
The Professional learning events are the top rated aspect of SEWI-ATD membership. For 2022, we will deliver a balanced offering of in-person and virtual events, along with advanced notice of what’s coming. Leveraging ATD’s Capability model, we mapped out a year of monthly professional development focus areas. In addition to helping us guide programming, these themes help drive newsletter and website content. We will continue our focus on examining TD topics from the lens of equity and inclusion as well as attracting speakers from underrepresented groups. Check out our upcoming events and invite a friend!
2) Professional Belonging & Community
You enjoy connecting with other members, and who can blame you? You asked for more social events, and ways to get onboarded and engaged in this community of professionals. Look for the launch of Member Orientation – which will be a fun way to learn about the chapter while meeting your fellow members. Whether you’re one of our long-term members, a brand new member, or even a curious prospective member, you’re all welcome! The first session is being held as a virtual coffee hour Wednesday, March 23rd and is being facilitated by our own Nathan Sheets, VP of Membership and Tami Martin, VP of Digital Experience.
3) Opportunity to Lead
The sustainability of a vibrant chapter requires your involvement. Where can you plug in? This is a place where you can stretch yourself and learn while making friends. Bonus - you build a strong resume, expand your professional network, and support your fellow members. We know you are amazing, and we want our chapter to benefit from your teachable spirit, hidden talents, or rockstar status, whatever the case may be.
You can contribute and lead in a variety of ways based on your interests and capacity. Options include coordinating programs, building community relationships, welcoming members, designing graphics, promoting events, or supporting the chapter’s website and technology. I encourage you to connect with me (on LinkedIn or drop me a note) or any of my fellow board members to explore ways to contribute or to share your ideas, suggestions, insights or concerns.
Looking forward to our year ahead together!
By: Kristin Derwinski - Executive Coach & Consultant
For several years, the business world has been buzzing with the term “digital transformation.” In 2020, during the great remote work pivot triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies saw their transformations leap forward as employees were required to move many of their operations and functions entirely online. It felt like the digital transformation found us—that whether we wanted to be or not, we were all subject to the newly digitized world.
But digital transformation is much more than just better technology tools and a move to cloud apps. True digital transformation involves changes that ripple through an entire organization and impact the culture. If leaders don’t understand the full ramifications of digital transformation, their companies will fail to make lasting changes that propel growth.
Here are five misconceptions leaders have about digital transformation—and why they matter when looking at long-term growth:
Certainly, adopting tools that improve productivity can be one aspect of digital transformation or one project within an overall initiative. But limiting the concept of digital transformation to productivity tools doesn’t allow for lasting change. Simply adopting productivity tools without emphasizing culture and engagement could communicate the wrong thing—that employees aren’t productive enough, perhaps, or that the company wants to replace certain functions with technology tools. Instead, combine your adoption of digital tools with efforts to engage employees, and create robust conversations about improving productivity both with and without digital tools.
If your digital transformation doesn’t affect your customer experience, you’re doing it wrong. Even if your project isn’t directly focused on improving customer experience, it should still affect interactions with people outside the organization. Employees should be more responsive or happier in their interactions with others, and your digital initiatives should at least provide a foundation for improved customer experience.
While implementing a new technology solution can improve employee or customer experience, there’s much more to digital transformation than new technology. Without training and strong communication about the purpose and intent behind the new tools, team members may resist adopting them, and it’s possible to end up with another piece of technology that no one uses.
4. DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION CAN BE DONE PIECEMEAL WITHOUT AN OVERALL STRATEGY
A successful digital transformation will be undertaken with forethought and focused on long-term goals. Many companies indeed had to quickly pivot to new digital tools in 2020, but emergencies are not a model for long-term strategy. Start by developing an overarching strategy and let the strategy guide the smaller initiatives you need to complete to achieve your goal.
5. WE DON'T NEED TO WORRY ABOUT COMPANY CULTURE; EVERYONE WILL ADAPT EVENTUALLY
This idea may be the biggest misconception about digital transformation. Your strategy must include conversations with employees and leaders across functions, roles, and levels to ensure success. While final decisions take place at the top, it’s essential to involve voices throughout the organization to assess pain points, obstacles, challenges, and the basic needs of everyone involved. By including those voices throughout your process and focusing on creating a digital culture, your initiatives will have a much more significant impact on the company’s overall success.
Pursuing digital transformation is an important step in propelling your organization forward, staying competitive in an increasingly digital marketplace, and positioning for long-term growth. But without attention to culture, employees, and customers, those initiatives may end up hurting more than helping.
To make your digital transformation a success, engage your employees in the conversation, and look for opportunities to get feedback from customers about what would improve their experiences. Involve the “analog” world in your process to successfully merge your digital initiatives with real-world users. A company that focuses as much on the people using the digital tools as they do on developing them will experience the transformation they set to achieve.
FOCUS Training's very own Leadership Trainer Matt Mueleners offers up some sage advice on how we can grow new capabilities and frame up learning so that it makes sense for the moment.
By: John Parker Stewart and Daniel Stewart
A simple haiku from the 18th-century Japanese poet Kobayashi Issa captures the essence of becoming a great leader:
O snailClimb Mount FujiBut slowly, slowly!
Leaders who experience the greatest success are not those who achieve a single stunning breakthrough but rather those who strive to improve just a little bit each day. It takes patient, persistent effort over time to see and experience gains in one’s ability to lead. In other words, like climbing Mt Fuji, it takes action, discipline, and consistent habits to become a great leader.
Our work on the LEAD NOW! Leadership Development Model, which was built on the assumption that leaders must achieve aligned and positive results from four perspectives (their people, their business, their marketplace, and their organization), has shown that leaders learn by doing — a little bit at a time. Here are a few examples of what we mean.
In his bestselling book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg introduces a neurological loop at the core of every habit that consists of three parts: a cue, a routine and a reward. Cues trigger the start of a Routine, the completion of which results in a Reward. Changing a bad habit or developing a new one requires adjusting at least one element of the loop.
All leaders have habits that impact their performance. Taking the time to identify the habits that work against you, or those that you need to develop can make a significant change in overall leadership performance. For example, an executive we know had a habit of responding to challenging questions from her peers by backpedaling, refusing to commit to an answer, and promising to follow up later. This behavior let her save face and feel on top of things, but this habit held her back. Once she identified the cue (hard questions), she started working on being more open to feedback. This insight helped the executive focus on changing one small thing, and she successfully changed the habit loop.
There’s a story about a physician in Scotland who had an idea to accelerate the recovery time of knee replacement surgery patients. To test the theory, researchers divided patients into two groups. Each group received the standard information and tools given to all knee replacement patients, but one had additional instructions. Each week these patients developed a personal recovery plan that identified the specific actions they would undertake at the times they anticipated the greatest pain, such as getting out of a chair.
The results of this experiment astounded researchers. The group who completed the booklets started walking twice as fast and were in and out of their chairs without assistance nearly three times faster than those in the control group.
As you strive to grow as a leader, take the time to develop an action plan. Like the patients in the study, identify the moments of greatest pain, opportunity, and key inflection points. Seek out an outside perspective to help identify things you may have missed. Review your routines and identify hallmark moments that will generate momentum.
Part of what makes leadership development challenging is how multifaceted and complex the role of leading others is. Organizations expect leaders to deliver business results while also achieving people results. They want leaders who identify the vision, communicate it effectively, and develop and execute a winning strategy. Simultaneously, leaders are called upon to develop themselves and others so the business can harness the talents of each employee, and we want leaders who create, champion, and lead change efforts that benefit the organization.
The LEAD NOW! Leadership Development Model provides a clear set of proven leadership dimensions that define both what great leadership looks like and how to achieve it. Based on the four critical relationships that each leader has: boss, direct reports, peers, and customers, it provides a clear path to strengthen these relationships, action planning processes to do it, and the expectations that make up a complete leader.
Whether you, like the snail in the poem, are striving to climb Mount Fuji or preparing for an uncomfortable conversation with someone on your team, selecting one leadership skill or habit at a time will elevate your leadership potential for future success!
John Parker Stewart is an internationally recognized award-winning author, coach, and speaker. He and his Stewart Leadership team provide coaching, training, and consulting services to clients globally on change management, leadership development, talent management, and team performance.
Daniel Stewart is a sought-after talent management and leadership development consultant and coach with proven experience advising senior leaders, leading change, and designing leadership-rich organizations. He is the co-author of LEAD NOW! A Personal Leadership Coaching Guide for Results-Driven Leaders and he leads Stewart Leadership’s extensive consulting practice, business development, and international partnerships.
By Gina Arinyanontakoon
Talent Acquisition Director, The CARA Group
I recently met a consultant who shared a very profound statement with me. She said someone once told her, “I can meet you in the middle, but we can’t stay here.” In a world of constant change and turbulence, that statement made me realize that no matter what the change is, whether it is on a professional or personal level, we all need to work together to drive towards a future that makes sense and works for that situation.
“We all know as learning professionals that adoption of new skills/behaviors does not happen overnight and that training programs incorporating change management will ultimately achieve long lasting results.”
As we begin 2022, we continue to hear about the growing skills gap and shortage of labor occurring in the workforce. Looking at this from the perspective of professional development, now is a great time to focus on reskilling and upskilling the core (hard or functional skills needed to accomplish a job) and power (soft or people skills needed for interpersonal relationships) skills. Employers should take this time to offer opportunities for employees to strengthen or gain both core and power skills. On the other hand, employees should not only look at development opportunities being offered by their employers, but also take control of their own development.
As an employee, you should:
For example, as a learning professional, maybe you are looking to enhance your eLearning skills. Why not check out Tim Slade’s eLearning Designer Academy? He offers an 8-week guided program including cohorts, hands-on activities, and more. Or perhaps you are looking at complimentary skills such as change management; check out Prosci. We all know as learning professionals that adoption of new skills/behaviors does not happen overnight and that training programs incorporating change management will ultimately achieve long lasting results.
From my personal perspective, I stepped into a new role in 2021, and was not prepared to take on a direct report or to build out a new function. While my employer provides me with tools, resources, and coaching, I also need to take charge of my own development path and look for ways to help me achieve these goals. So, we are meeting each other half-way to move forward down a path that will be mutually beneficial.
Technology will continue to change and the way we work will too. As employers and employees, why not work together to ensure we all continue to move forward from the middle?
Source: eLearning Academy
Our fields faces many challenges, from the ongoing pandemic to the “Great Resignation.” In the midst of these challenges, our chapter is stronger than ever.
I am extremely proud of the work of our chapter volunteers and board members. Over the last year, our accomplishments include:
In our annual member survey, you gave us a 76% net promoter score, which is a world class score according to most benchmarks. You cited our monthly PD events, networking opportunities, and learning about industry best practices as the top benefits of your membership.
We will continue to strengthen our member experience. With our pillar to provide world-class talent development upskilling, we are exploring how to improve our professional development opportunities. And we are committed to making our professional community feel even more inclusive, in line with our pillar to create a feeling of belonging in our community.
As we look into the new year, we appreciate your feedback on how to offer professional development opportunities. We were forced to deliver all virtual programming from the start of the pandemic into October of 2021. Going forward, you shared that you would like us to provide a relatively even mix of in-person and virtual events.
We also heard your feedback about event times. Some of you expressed a desire to return to our traditional Friday AM sessions, while others requested a wider variety of schedules. In the upcoming year, we will attempt to meet everyone’s needs by offering events at various times, while including many events in the Friday AM timeslot.
None of these successes would be possible without the amazing people leading the chapter. I am thrilled to welcome Patrick Aleshire, Kristin Derwinski, Lora Haines, and Camille Parham to our board. I also want to thank our departing board members for their service: Annette Caraulia, Matt Meuleners, Rebecca Reindl, and Eric Waters. Finally, I want to thank all of the chapter committee members, PDN leaders, and other volunteers who have helped us thrive under these challenging conditions.
I want to give special recognition to two people who have had an outsized impact on our chapter’s success. Matt Meuleners, our departing Past President, did an amazing job in leading our chapter through the transition to virtual programming in 2020 and has continued to support the chapter this year by organizing our chapter socials, setting up a mentoring program for board members, coordinating logistics for our annual Talent Development Forum, and too many other things to name.
Nikki Palmer-Quade, our incoming President, likewise was active in every facet of the chapter, from spearheading our Talent Development Forum to supporting our sponsors to recruiting board members and building relationships with our community partners. This chapter would not be as strong as it is today without their leadership.
Our chapter is in great hands. With our incoming board members, our current volunteers, and Nikki Palmer-Quade stepping into the President role, I know this chapter will continue to thrive.
It has been an honor serving as your chapter president. Let's continue to make a world where people can do their best work!
Colin J. Hahn, Ph.D.
2021 SEWI-ATD President
Contact Usadmin@sewi-atd.orgPhone: 608-204-9815Association ManagersSeth TrickelHeather L. Dyer, CAE