Posts Tagged ‘training

15
Nov
16

Building a board strategy

dean-west

Dean West, president/founder, Association Laboratory Inc.

Good leadership requires vision. Strategic vision. Goal-oriented thinking. A team mindset.

And nowhere is this more important than in nonprofits – or for that matter, in any organization in which boards of directors make decisions.

“When working on complex engagements like strategic planning or developing membership value propositions, the ability of the board of directors to think and, through the staff, act strategically has consistently resulted in superior decisions,” said Dean West, president and founder of Association Laboratory Inc. “Superior decisions mean superior outcomes.”

Association Laboratory recently released a whitepaper (scroll down to download) on how associations can build strategic boards.

In its research, the company surveyed 25 chief staff officers and senior association leaders. In summary, there is a finite set of characteristics that define strategic boards:

  • Future focused — A strategic board understands and values the necessity of informed, future-focused strategic discussions.
  • Establishes, prioritizes and monitors goals and interim measurement standards — A strategic board values establishing strategic goals and the corresponding standards or criteria relevant to overseeing implementation of strategies to achieve these goals.
  • Models strategic decision making competencies — A strategic board models critical thinking skills, objective analysis and decision making. It challenges existing assumptions regarding the association’s future role and corresponding business strategy within the industry or profession.
  • Promotes accountability within the board and in the board/staff relationship — A strategic board values and supports an objective, accountable partnership with association management.

All this said, it’s not always easy to find and/or develop those characteristics, Association Laboratory warns.

company higher consil

Photo by Svilen Milev, freeimages.com

For starters, board members are often influenced by professional or personal interests, which may not align with those of the association. And so an ethical battle ensues.

In addition, often board roles aren’t clearly defined so members struggle with expectations. Some of that is because associations often don’t invest proper resources in training and orientation.

So what’s the key to building a strategic board of directors?

According to those surveyed:

  • Associations need to implement volunteer identification, recruitment and development strategies that ensure a funnel of high-quality leadership into the association.
  • Associations need to develop strategies to orient all volunteers to their role and the unique characteristics and corresponding expectations of a peer-to-peer decision making environment.
  • Associations need to be led by a chief staff officer and management team that understands and models strategic thinking and can apply these competencies to their support of the board.
  • The business processes of the association need to support the board’s ability to make decisions within a strategic framework.
  • Associations need to create and support a culture of personal and organizational accountability and continuous improvement.

“As competition for the time, attention and interest of our community’s best leaders grows more intense, the ability of an association to develop a compelling leadership funnel becomes a long-term strategic priority necessary for successfully achieving mission-based and business goals,” Association Laboratory said. “Modern associations and their leaders will create intentional, thoughtful strategies to foster a leadership experience that is attractive to the best and brightest of our professions and industries and will consider the support of these strategies an essential organizational core competency.”

08
Nov
16

No more learning silos

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Photo courtesy of Skillsoft via Facebook

I’m a self-professed word nerd. In college, I loved leaving classes with a new nugget of information. And now that I’m a working professional, I get giddy at the thought of attending conferences.

 

And, even better: My employers not only encourage professional development, but expect it.

Why? Because they know educated employees drive success.

According to Kieran King, vice president, global customer insight, at Skillsoft, currently there’s a “war for talent.” And many HR departments are losing.

Some HR departments have been pretty lax in encouraging professional development and education, because, quite frankly, it wasn’t deemed important. But with workplace dynamics changing and younger, better-educated professionals coming on board, that’s no longer the case.

“The demographic shifts, revamped business models, digitization of products, rise in big data analytics and new forms of competition require organizations to fuel perpetual skill upgrades,” King said in her new whitepaper. “HR must evolve to apply new paradigms toward talent attraction, mine for unrealized capability, build rapid development tactics, implement highly effective engagement strategies and unveil succession pathways with far more innovation than they have demonstrated to date. Old assumptions and stale practices need to be abandoned. Organizations that successfully compete for talent will exploit technology to achieve a smarter way, build a healthier culture and develop a more resilient workforce.”

How?

Break down the silos between talent management and learning.

Training employees, especially with an event-centric approach, isn’t enough, King said. Instead, companies should create an environment that fosters learning and employee development. It’s about much more than setting up educational programming in an LMS and conducting performance reviews. It requires HR to adapt new roles.

kieran-king

Kieran King

“Achieving this type of symbiotic relationship between talent and learning not only dissolves silos, it also creates competitive differentiation,” King said. “Organizations that apply this modern approach build superior employer brands, entice a higher level of talent to join their ranks and optimize the existing workforce in new ways.”

 

Enter a self-developing organization.

A self-developing organization allows individuals to control their own personal development and career trajectories, King explains. This involves making information available and actionable and connecting employees with the appropriate resources.

And it starts with the top. Leaders of self-developing organizations establish and monitor goals and stay abreast of industry trends and opportunities, passing that knowledge on to their staff.

However, King said, that’s only possible by leveraging smart technology – technology that customizes individual employee needs and delivers recommendations.

In short, in a self-developing organization:

  • Learning and talent management efforts and technologies should be coupled together.
  • High-quality, curated content delivered in the context of job performance is essential.
  • Fluid talent mobility is key to keeping employees engaged and it is a competitive lever.
  • Ubiquitous access to learning – delivery at the time and place of need – is critical to knowledge acceleration.
  • The user experience must be frictionless and compelling.
  • Technology provides the ability to manage talent and deliver learning in innovative ways.
  • The power of analytics provides insights that can predict demand and serve-up hyper-personalized experiences.

“Organizations that apply higher levels of talent and learning maturity will be better able to respond to business change and will be better positioned to innovate,” King said. “Their HR direction is highly purpose-driven, with clear objectives and multi-faceted strategy. They will be undoubtedly more successful in handling dynamics that will affect adaptation and ultimately, organizational competitiveness.”

Do you have questions for Kieran King? Connect with her on Twitter.

26
Jul
16

Improving knowledge transfer in your organization in 3 stages

 

Karla

Karla Gutierrez, marketing manager and digital strategist, Aura Interactiva

The following guest blog post is adapted from a recent blog post by Karla Gutierrez on SHIFT’s e-Learning blog.

 

Learning transfer is challenging because it’s difficult to predict how each person will respond to a course.

The most powerful reason learning transfer is ineffective, as was revealed during the ATD International Conference & Exposition 2016, is that 90 percent of training is designed without a well-defined strategy that facilitates it.

As a training manager and an e-learning designer, you have to provide a comprehensive learning experience, in all stages of learning transfer: before, during and after training.

You can facilitate a glitch-free learning and transfer process by adopting these measures even before the training program starts.

Before the training

1) Carry out a thorough training needs analysis.

A comprehensive training needs analysis exercise with the trainees will help you assess what skills and knowledge they need to excel in their job responsibilities and the gaps in their existing knowledge and skill sets. The insights you gain from a training needs assessment will help you design e-learning courses with relevant content that helps learners perform well in their jobs.

2) Identify the purpose (the what’s in-it-for-me information) of training.

Identify the training goals and learning objectives before you start designing the course. This ensures all team members are on the same page, work towards a common goal and focus their efforts to achieve similar objectives.

3) Align learning outcomes with business goals and on-job tasks.

Establish a clear association between company business goals and the skills learners will develop by the time they complete the course.

4) Plan to provide just-in-time learning using the most appropriate delivery method.

To ensure your training has the maximum impact on learners, provide training just when they need it. For instance, sales reps need to access a course on the last update on a product when they are at the store in front of the client.

5) Meet the learners.

To motivate your audience of learners, managers must ensure they meet at least some of them before the training and tell them about the significance of the material. Managers, meanwhile, should realize the significance of the learning and understand how they can facilitate the learning process for their team members and create opportunities for them to apply the knowledge.

before-during-and-after-training2During the training

You have to ensure the e-learning course communicates meaning efficiently and creates a memorable learning experience.

1) State the “what’s-in-it-for-me” information at the beginning.

The astute learner wants to know, “What’s in it for me?” The onus is on the e-learning designer to provide a satisfactory and credible answer to this question.

2) Chunk content to prioritize and eliminate clutter.

Chunking and prioritizing content ensure your course is clutter free and relevant. Adult learners are short on time; they appreciate a course that cuts to the chase right away.

3) Draw upon the learner’s prior knowledge to create associations.

We learn best by associations. It’s easy to comprehend, remember and retain new concepts when we can connect the dots and discover underlying patterns. Try to help your learners draw upon their prior knowledge or experience to understand, discover similarities and make sense of a new concept.

4) Use instructional strategies that establish relevance.

The adult learner is motivated to apply his newly-acquired knowledge only if he or she is confident it will help him or her tackle real-life challenges.

5) Align content with real-life job roles and responsibilities.

Create scenarios or stories that demonstrate positive outcomes. Incorporate case studies and video testimonials to add legitimacy. Use these media to explain how the learner can improve his or her on-job performance, as the people in the case studies and videos have done, after taking the course.

6) Keep an eye on the learning objectives while you design the course.

Whether you’re writing a scenario or planning an activity, continue reviewing the learning objectives. This ensures your content is relevant and there is no information that does not directly relate to the overarching goals of the course.

7) Divide the program into modules.

There are several advantages of spacing out and delivering your course in modules, but most importantly it has to do with the transfer of learning. When learners return to work after completing each module, they get an opportunity to apply their newly-acquired knowledge.

8) Provide action plans to retain and improve motivation.

Help learners prepare action plans to guide them when they are back to work. These action plans lay out the guidelines that will assist learners to apply what they have learned during the training.

boosting-business-performance-with-a-knowledge-transfer-partnership-sme-event-98_3-Knowledge transferAfter the training

The learning process continues long after the training is over.

1) Supplement the training with “social learning.”

We all learn best when we have examples to follow, friends to share our successes with, buddies to learn from and mentors in our midst. In-person meetings, chat groups, forums and videos of trainees sharing their stories are effective ways to incorporate social learning in the learning process.

2) Provide refresher courses.

Trainees often report being unable to retain key learning points after the training is over or recall these concepts when needed. A refresher course can improve recall. The course should be simple and provide just a crisp and coherent summary of the key learning concepts.

3) Arrange post-training follow-up sessions.

Reflection is one of the most efficient ways to cement the knowledge, identify gaps in training and identify the barrier(s) to a strong transfer of learning. You can send follow-up emails to trainees after about a month to reinforce key learning points. You can arrange post-training follow-up sessions to provide supplementary lessons or use these opportunities to let trainees practice their skills or discuss their experiences as they try to apply their knowledge on the job.

4) Create opportunities for practice. 

Multiple research studies have emphasized the importance of repeated practice to cement one’s newly-acquired skills. Employees should be provided ample opportunities at the workplace to practice the skills they have learned from the training program.

 

19
Apr
16

Would Mother Earth approve of ‘green’ venues?

Earth-DayOn Friday, we’ll celebrate Mother Nature’s finest creations. Spring is finally here in Michigan and as robins chirp and flowers start to bloom, it’s the perfect time for Earth Day.

Friday is Earth Day, so in anticipation of all things sustainability, let’s take a look at the Green Venue Report 2015, produced by Greenview and Twirl Management.

In the second annual survey, 30 convention centers, representing more than 57 million square feet of space, responded.

According to the report, there are seven best practices among environmentally friendly venues:

  • 83 percent have achieved a sustainability-related certification.
  • 80 percent donate excess food to local charities on an ongoing basis.
  • 85 percent participate in sustainability programs or initiatives led by their city.
  • 77 percent have an employee green team or sustainability committee.
  • 70 percent have a dedicated sustainability coordinator or sustainability manager on staff.
  • 87 percent have secure bike parking for staff.
  • 72 percent can provide event planners a specific waste diversion report for their event.

As for physical attributes, some venues have a green roof, which means it’s partially or all covered with vegetation. Green roofs reduce building energy use, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, beekeeping seems to be an increasing trend, with some venues practicing it on their green roofs.

Another emerging trend: onsite gardening. About one-third of venues produce food onsite from their gardens.

In addition to bolstering accessibility options for guests, an increasing number of venues offer transportation options for their employees. Fewer cars on the road means fewer emissions, so 63 percent of venues offer alternative transportation, or incentives for using public transportation, while 64 percent of venues offer electric car parking and charging.

The report states that while having someone lead efforts is key to fostering venue-wide sustainability, it’s challenging to keep employees engaged. Managers report they spend significant time training staff on environmental stewardship to help them understand the “why,” not just the “how.”

In fact, some organizations hold incentive programs for employees who are the most dedicated to reducing environmental footprints, hosting things such as luncheons.

global_sustainability-green-integrationAnd, of course, efforts would be remiss without effective communications. At the foundation of communications should be a clear sustainability policy that’s shared with all audiences. In the survey, 97 percent of venues reported having an internal sustainability policy and 64 percent said their policy is publicly available. At the same time, 45 percent of venues produce an annual sustainability report.

All efforts aside, Greenview found there’s confusion about terminology and measurement of practices. Data aren’t consistent and standards are lacking.

From the report:

“If these numbers are telling us that convention centers and planners are actually discussing sustainability, yet planners are still not taking advantage of sustainability programs, then perhaps this misstep in communication highlights a significant problem in the way we talk about sustainability in general. Perhaps there is an opportunity for centers to change the way they communicate their programs. Event sustainability conversations can’t be focused on additional costs and impact reports. Conversations need to happen in a way where planners better understand how utilizing the sustainable programs in place will enable them to create a unique and powerful event experience. An event that can be a showcase of organizational brand values, that has the potential to enhance attendee experience, demonstrate leadership, potentially reduce costs and is more efficient and less wasteful.”

So take some time on Friday and think about how your organization practices sustainability. And the next time you’re booking a venue, ask about its sustainability practices.

We’re all in this together. We only have one Earth, so let’s take care of it!

08
Dec
15

One slice is enough

info-overload-21-300x300Most moms are multitaskers. For example, we can cook dinner, help our kids with their homework and check our email….until dinner burns or the kids cry because while trying to reply to an email you forgot how to perform the “new” way of division.

Sound familiar? Yeah…maybe mom multitasking is a farce. Or least overrated.

And the kids? Why can they only do one thing at a time? Isn’t it possible to pick up their shoes while on their way to the shower?

Maybe not. Maybe it’s a case of brain overload.

There is a ton of research on how the brain works and how we learn. Some educational and training professionals tout the benefits of “chunking” information into small segments while others, like learning company Rapid Learning Institute, believe focusing on one concept may be the most effective learning strategy.

In a video that was recently pitched to me, Stephen Meyer, CEO of RLI, discusses single-concept learning.

Single-Concept Learning Online Training Technique_Page_1“We start small by isolating a single, compelling concept – we call it a thin slice – and we build a short module around that concept,” Meyer said.

“Thin slicing” is a psychological concept. It refers to the brain’s ability to digest thin slices of information in narrow windows of learning. By doing so, learners draw conclusions from this limited information and come away with a powerful learning experience.

Why?

Since learners have a specific learning objective, they’re less overwhelmed and therefore more enthusiastic about diving in.

Secondly, thin slicing avoids brain overload. So, remember that chaos in the kitchen I referenced above…yeah, that doesn’t happen. Meyer calls it “cognitive noise,” which sounds about right.

And finally, thin slicing only requires learners to remember just one idea – an idea that is well fleshed out, focused and specific.

“With thin slicing, learners are less likely to disengage because everything they encounter on their learning journey is directly related to one concept,” Meyer said. “So knowledge retention, which is the Holy Grail in training, is much more likely to be high as well.”

slice-of-pieThe thin-slice approach to learning can be a game-changer for managers, Meyer said. Like their pupils, managers are less likely to become overwhelmed and can focus solely on training.

So, the next time you’re planning a learning program, think about offering just a thin slice of the pie, rather than the whole pie.

Remember the Nov. 24 blog post about trimming the fat? Sounds like that theory aligns well with thin-slice learning.

 

 

20
Oct
15

Training truths be told

Can the color of a marker really make a difference in how we learn?

Yes, according to research.

But it’s not necessarily the color. Instead, it’s choosing the color.

“Research shows that giving learners choices – even seemingly trivial ones – can improve performance,” said Stephen Meyer, president and CEO of Rapid Learning Institute. “Bottom line: Embed choices into the learning process, even if they don’t seem meaningful. It’s easy to assume these choices don’t matter, but they engage learners and cost nothing.”

He recently released an e-book, “10 Truths about Workplace Training…that just ain’t so,” which debunks myths surrounding workplace training. Such training, Meyer says, correlates with the ways in which humans learn and the ways in which our brains are wired.

Back to markers (read: choice). Meyer lists four training recommendations regarding choice: Even small choices, like choosing time and location of a training session, will produce results; allow learners to personalize their approach to training; have fun – let trainees choose the kind of candy they get as a reward; and be careful – providing too much choice will backfire.

My other favorite “myth:” Not everything you’ve learned is forever etched in your brain. Case in point: I struggle to help my eighth grader with geometry!

Meyer points to research by neuroscientists about “encoding,” in which the brain decides what’s important enough to retain. And so, when it comes to training, your pupils’ brains will decide what sticks and what doesn’t. According to researchers there are four important cues: social context, activity, connection to existing knowledge and repetition. As such, trainers should integrate these strategies into their methods and curricula.

What does this mean?

Social – Human beings are social creatures, so by creating social situations – rather than just giving lectures and presentations – people are more apt to retain information. So…try role-playing.

Active learning – Rather than expecting your participants to simply memorize and recite lists, put them through a sample exercise.

Existing knowledge – Tie new ideas into familiar concepts and language.

Repetition – While no one wants to beat a dead horse, repetition is important. So, after you teach a lesson, incorporate key messages into following lessons.

training_1The eight other truths:

  • Assessments aren’t just for scoring; they motivate people to learn.
  • Complex concepts can be taught in small bites.
  • Learners who struggle remember more.
  • Sometimes people remember and learn more by watching trainers do things incorrectly.
  • You can train people to perform – and learn – under pressure.
  • People will change their minds if you get them to see the truth. Visuals, such as charts and graphs, work well.
  • Mental rehearsal works just as well as physical performance.
  • Reinforce concepts. Don’t let learners forget.

“When it comes to learning, there are a lot of misconceptions,” Meyer said. “People have different learning styles. Not exactly. Learners are either ‘right brain’ or ‘left brain.’ Nope. We sometimes forget stuff because we only use 10 percent of our brains, right? Wrong. A mix of myth and antiquated science leads us to believe a whole lot about learning that just isn’t accurate.”

At Event Garde, we educate ourselves on how people learn so we can effectively teach. If you’ve got other research to share, please email Kristen at Kristen@eventgarde.com.

20
Jan
15

Learning plans for the New Year

January has nearly come and gone. It’s hard to believe. Just this week my chiropractor reminded me that 2015 is about 1/12 over. It seems like only yesterday I was gearing up for the hustle and bustle of the holidays: decorations, cards, presents, baking, parties and the like.

10888186_10102314760568285_1634678307_nAnd then New Year’s Eve passed us by in the blink of any eye, too. In fact, my friends and I caught the official countdown on TV just moments before midnight. I suppose that’s a testament to the good food, good conversation and good company.

But the twinkling lights and the glittery decorations are now safely packed away for another year. As I drive down the icy, snow-lined streets, dotted with discarded Christmas trees, it seems that the magic is indeed gone – at least temporarily.

As always, I spent some down time over the holidays contemplating my 2015 resolutions. Getting fit tops my list again this year (though my motivation is challenged by the early sunsets and the freezing temperatures), in addition to reconnecting with friends and family.

Also on my mind is the professional development of both my staff and me. I had the opportunity to participate in ATD’s Master Instructional Designer Program in December and I’ve already gained a new client as a result of that experience.

GoalAreasFor me, the power of intentionally setting goals (both big and small) to advance the success of an individual, team and organization should not be underestimated.

While goal setting often occurs during an annual performance appraisal, the start of a new calendar year also lends itself to reevaluating learning plans for the development of skills, competencies and content expertise. Otherwise, time passes (quickly) and you discover that little has been accomplished or achieved.

At Event Garde, in addition to professional development plans specific to each team member (focused on anything from CMP preparation to enhanced writing skills), we are committed to attending at least one webinar a month focused on the latest industry trends and research.

To determine what should comprise a learning plan for you or your team, consider the following three-step approach:

  1. Organizational Analysis
    1. What do we want to achieve as an organization?
  2. Performance Analysis
    1. How does individual performance tie in?
    2. What are the required performance levels for key tasks and competencies?
    3. What are the required knowledge and skills to be successful?
    4. What performance gaps exist?
  3. Learning Needs and Evaluation
    1. What training and possible alternatives will best support learners?
    2. How will we know if our learning is effective?

Examples of specific activities that might support these learning plans include mentoring, networking, training, education and project exploration. As always, establishing anticipated outcomes and target dates lends credibility and urgency to the process.

Following each learning activity, encourage the staff to identify key takeaways and how it will implement them on the job. Additionally, set aside time during staff meetings for the team to share its experiences for all to benefit. If appropriate, record highlights either digitally or physically for all to see and reference.

No matter where you start, be sure to take a fresh look this month at how both you and your team will learn and grow in the New Year. Don’t let another month pass you by without identifying learning needs and then establishing a plan to tackle them head-on.




meet aaron

Association learning strategist & meetings coach. Founder & president of Event Garde. Passionate about cooking, running, blogging, old homes, unclehood & pet parenting (thanks to Lillie the pup).

meet kristen

Writer, editor, public relations professional. Digital content manager. Proud mom of three. Total word geek. Spartan for life.

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