Training is NOT Snakeoil

After reflecting upon the recent topic of Snakeoil for a while I have decided that it simply does not jive with the facts. Laurie Bassi’s research shows that organizations that make large investments in training do much better than others. This is because training has both a direct and indirect effect upon the organization: Her research is so powerful, that it actually shows that organizations that make large investments in training return 16.3% per year, compared with 10.7 for the S&P 500 index. In the Human Equation, Jeffery Pfeffer writes that “Virtually all descriptions of high performance management practices emphasize training, and the amount of training provided by commitment as opposed to control-orientated management is substantial” (p85). On the very next page Pfeffer writes that in times of economic stringency, many U.S. organizations reduce training to make profit goals. Why? Because if we as trainers have no faith, then why should the decision-makers? Yet training works! It is one of the best predictors of organizational success! So why do we on the inside, who perhaps should know better, bash training just as readily as those on the outside? Perhaps because we deal with the most complicated organization of matter in the known universe — the human brain. The brain struggling to understand the brain is society trying to explain itself. – Colin Blakemore Training works…but not as we always predict…and the reason we cannot always predict it is because we are trying to get a set number of neurons in the human brain to light up at exactly the right time…yet we are not quite sure which neurons actually need to light up…a complicated thing training is indeed…yet for the most part, we do quite well…thats pretty good since we are learning ourselves…and the most exciting part is that we are not there yet…we are still learning…

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Top Human Capital Blogs in 2015

What do talent development professionals in human capital care about? Do you see any themes? Here are the top 10 blog articles from ATD’s Human Capital Community: In 2015 we learned that harvesting an organization with a strong learning culture to support high performance starts with its leaders. When a leader values learning, it becomes contagious for the people around to strive for more. Redefining and understanding a new path to performance management, as well as adopting a positive workplace and the neurological connection, also were top priorities for organizations in 2015. Look out for more articles and content on improving your work culture and managing talent next year. Leave a comment with other topics you’d like to see covered as well next year! If you haven’t already or you’re still thinking about how to start the 2016, take a look at the ATD Talent Management Handbookfor an overview of these topics and more.

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The Public Manager Featured on the Radio

In a post last week, I mentioned that the winter 2010 issue of The Public Manager was ginning up some excellent media coverage, including a nice article in the Washington Post. Today I’m sharing the link to an interview on FedNews Radio with one of the contributors, Alan Balutis. Click here to listen to the interview. The winter issue of The Public Manager spotlights the personnel and performance management agenda of the Obama administration. Eleven articles in the Forum series examine a broad range of topics and are written by a team of experts who contributed to the journal in late 2007 and early 2008 analyzing the wide array of challenges that awaited the incoming president. Topics covered in the current issue of The Public Manager include: a review of what is currently happening in the reform efforts; human capital; telework; management implications of the future workforce; the emerging technology agenda; the debate within the acquisition community; government direction on performance management; intergovernmental cooperation; a review of how the administration’s team is trying to reshape the way government works; and recommendations to achieve transformation.

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Talent Software Market Expands Despite Economy

Despite the sluggish economy, the talent management software market has enjoyed an active summer and fall. Leading vendors Taleo and SuccessFactors sought to broaden their horizons, while other software providers introduced new features as companies continued to purchase the products. While growth rates are less than what was projected a year ago, the talent management market as a whole is growing by about 15 percent and should reach $2.5 billion this year, says Josh Bersin, head of research firm Bersin & Associates. Far from shriveling amid the recession, the talent management software field is expanding as business-services giants IBM, Accenture, Mercer and Hewitt build strategies to deliver a combination of talent management software, consulting and outsourcing, Bersin says. Talent management software refers to applications that help organizations with key HR tasks such as recruiting, employee performance management and compensation.

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Strategic Sales Training

It’s time for some new thinking in sales training. Clearly, there is a need for more comprehensive approaches to increasing individual competency and building sales capacity. The current approach just isn’t working. Let’s look at some of the newest trends in sales and sales management, and how they can help: Talent management. Studies have shown that a deliberate approach to talent management, including the recruitment, selection, orientation, engagement, and retention of top sales performers, results in annual sales force turnover of less than 10 percent (BPT Partners). Top sales organizations focus keenly on the proper identification and selection of new sales team members who have the best fit for building the sales team. That means they fit withing the sales culture, selling system, and types of products being sold. S kills development. Training is conducted with the purpose of helping salespeople increase their knowledge of the business and developing higher level skills, not just focusing on one element of the sales training mix such as product knowledge. Sales leaders coach and develop their team members. Sales process execution. Once equipped with the appropriate knowledge and skills, salespeople must be free to use them. They must be permitted – and expected – to take initiative, use good judgment, and make ethical decisions. Yet, 81 percent of sales organizations say that they don’t have a consultative sales process or are not following the one they have. Foundational selling skills. Skills such as presentation skills, speaking, closing, and follow-up – seem to be less important in today’s selling climate. Don’t get me wrong, salespeople do believe that addressing tough customer requirements, leveraging industry knowledge, and troubleshooting complex business problems provide the right customized experience for the buyer. Salespeople can provide value to buyers through a collaborative approach that co-creates a solution through a complex sales cycle. These approaches require salespeople to develop a wide variety of skills to keep pace with the increasing sophistication of the market and of their offerings. A competency model can help to define and guide that development. A competency model. A sales competency model can serve as an objective foundational starting point that can help to forecast and address knowledge and skills issues that arise due to the changes in markets and demographics. Consider the impact of a younger workforce: Will the only gap be one of turning knowledge into skill? How will companies turn the raw, undeveloped abilities of these younger players into consistently applied talent? What resources do we have for the bright, knowledgeable sales-team member who lacks the interpersonal skills to form lasting relationships with customers? And how will we address the loss of accumulated knowledge and years of experience when our most senior salespeople retire – many of them within the next five to ten years? If the experience of maturing workers is important to a company’s success, how can that experience and expertise be captured and transferred to younger, less experienced workers? Sales trainers, sales managers, and company executives must be more concerned with providing a holistic learning and development progression rather than relying on ad-hoc sales training activities. Furthermore, management must take a more proactive role in promoting the importance of this development and supplying adequate resources. Right now, many companies’ leaders are getting in the way of their sales teams’ success: In response to the ASTD survey, 44 percent said that there was a lack of management buy-in to sales training in their organizations, and 42 percent said that management’s short-sighted focus on results was an obstacle to successful sales training. To engineer world-class sales performance, sales team development must be holistic, all-encompassing, and proactive. There must be a paradigm shift in thinking, from “sales training” to “sales development and performance.” Sales training must quickly and deliberately evolve from a sometime activity by sales managers to an intentional, qualified effort that is directly tied to business strategy and measured according to business outcomes. Its practitioners must be knowledgeable, dedicated, and guided by a competency-based approach. A quantum shift to sales development and performance will bring sales team members together with professional sales trainers to create positive, progressive change by balancing human, ethical, technological, and operational considerations. A competency-based approach can help organizations attain business outcomes and results by focusing on sales-team member knowledge, skills, values, attitudes, and actions in relation to the workplace environment. For example, a competency-based approach allows sales development and performance professionals to work with a hiring manager to select new employees who demonstrate the agreed-upon competencies and expertise required to be successful in the position. These competencies then become part of the performance management system to monitor and evaluate the individual’s performance on the job. Finally, these competencies serve as the basis for guiding future development. A competency-based approach applied to the sales organization can provide a firm foundation by which sales team members can develop. With this approach, development efforts aimed at helping sales team members gain basic skills, technology skills, or even management skills are designed to be immediately applicable. Salespeople must continually develop new skills in order to contribute to the growth of their companies. The only way for companies to grow and compete in a rapidly changing global business environment is to have a skilled sales team that is innovative, understands the economic environment and marketplace, and is driven to excel within their industry. This requires the right people, with the right skills, at the right time. The tools and systems created by a competency-based approach to sales-team development can help organizations overcome many of the barriers cited here and maximize the potential of their sales force.

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Marcus Buckingham Webcast

Have you seen the special event posted on the ASTD website? Marcus Buckingham will be delivering a webcast on “The Performance Multiplier: How to Use the Four Principles of Social Networking to Reinvent Performance Management”. During this webcast, you’ll learn how to harness the power of an organization’s strengths by creating an intense focus on performance and matching people with the right opportunities to play to their strengths. Whether you are responsible for performance management in your organization, management of a team, or contributing on a team, this webcast is for you. The Performance Multiplier: How to Use the Four Principles of Social Networking to Reinvent Performance Management Wednesday, September 9 at 2 p.m. ET Capacity is limited, so be sure to act quickly. For a full description of the webcast and for instructions on how to sign up, please follow this link:

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Keeping Federal Employees Motivated

(From Human Resource Executive Online) — Continued and repeated proposals to change federal pay and benefits will ultimately have an impact on recruitment and retention efforts, says Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry. “We are not at the edge of the cliff yet, but I do not know where the edge is, and we are in the fog,” Berry said during the Federal Managers Association training conference. “My hope is that people with goodwill and good reason will proceed with caution.” Berry said it is important to step back and assess what impact the current pay freeze for federal employees and revisions to retirement benefits for new employees will have on recruitment and retention before making further changes. “If we do this haphazardly … or try to do it all at once, we will obviously go over the cliff,” he said. Berry also said it is more important than ever to ensure employees feel connected to their agency’s mission. Federal viewpoint survey results show that federal employees are motivated by the work they do, he says in a follow-up interview. So, as part of efforts to improve performance management and employee morale, agencies should set clear goals that are connected to the agency’s mission so employees understand how they contribute. Read more.

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Jeffrey Russell Author Chat May 16 at 2010 ASTD International Conference and Exposition

ASTD is excited to remind you of Jeff Russell’s author chat! Join him in the ASTD bookstore in Chicago on Sunday, May 16 from 12:00-1:15 pm to hear him discuss employee-centered performance reviews at his author chat. Jeff will also be signing his 2009 ASTD Press book, Ultimate Performance Management, after his chat, so don’t miss it! Haven’t registered for this year’s International Conference and Exposition yet? Do it now! Stay updated on more ICE news and events on the ICE Twitter page.

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Free Webinar on Maximizing Sales Training ROI!

Effective sales results are critical to growth, and outmoded training and development approaches represent a very real barrier to that growth. Adopting a holistic, strategic, competency-based approach to sales training and development will help tear down that barrier. From Functional Support to Strategic Business Partner: Maximizing Sales Training ROI leverages the Sales Profession Competency Model, providing best practices on how to maximize impact in Architecting and Facilitating Sales Force Learning and Coaching to dramatically improve the return-on-investment that companies obtain for their sales training dollars. In terms of what to focus on, here’s what presenter Mark Myette has to say. “The number one area that impacts sales performance is expectations, feedback, and information. That means that roles and performance expectations are clearly defined, clear and accurate guides are used, and that performance management systems guide the sales team towards the proper development So if we’re focusing on just that area, chances are you’ll have a positive impact on sales performance.” Register to view today!

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Excellence in Practice

Could partnering with your Senior VP of Sales allow you to see improvements in your sales team? Maybe hiring a professional training manager could provide you with a fresh perspective. How would your sales team improve if you found a more effective coaching platform? IBM, Knology, Inc., and MetLife have all developed award winning sales programs in the fields of (respectively) career development, workplace learning and performance, and workplace learning and development. Read how three winning programs of the Excellence in Practice award have helped these companies to find success as they seek to develop better sales teams. IBM Sales Learning Armonk, New York Class: Sales Eminence Over the last 100 years, IBM has transformed its workforce many times, often creating a leading workforce within the technology industry. Through its Sales Eminence partnership, the learning team joined with the senior vice president of sales to transform its sales force, increase client value by setting the agenda for client’s ever-changing needs, and ensuring IBM’s continued leadership in the market. The partnership focuses on enhancing the skills and expertise of sales professionals and a sales career model that simplifies jobs into three career paths: industry, solution, and technical. Knology, Inc. West Point, Georgia Class: Call Center Frontline Leadership Development At Knology’s customer care centers, frontline supervisors often gained their positions through superior technical capabilities, but they were frequently ineffectual due to a lack of leadership skills. Recognizing this developmental gap, the executive director hired a professional training manager who created a four-stage program addressing the vital areas of essentials of leadership, effective team building, performance management, and coaching for top performance. Training focused on classroom academics, between-class activities, and manager coaching interventions. Subsequently, frontline performance has significantly improved, both representatives and supervisors exhibit more positive attitudes, and everyone is working more effectively and efficiently – directly increasing the bottom line. Metlife El Segundo, California Class: Sales Coaching Excellence Program The Sales Coaching Excellence Program was developed to provide a comprehensive, consistent, and effective coaching platform for MetLife’s Annuity Product Wholesaling Sales Desk and Field Development function. The goal of the program is to offer sales coaching strategies, tactics, and tools to the Sales Desk Managers to improve the performance of all inside sales reps. Managers are trained on conducting high-impact sales meetings, conducting monthly goal-setting meetings, delivering performance feedback, and conducting sit-along coaching. Direct results of implementation have been impressive. In less than eight months the program has had a direct impact on the company’s sales results, employee productivity, and business growth. So, what are you doing to improve your sales training programs? Are your learning and performance solutions worthy of recognition? If you think you have an award winning program, submit here.

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Evolution of E-Learning

I feel a need to chime in. I think the whole e-learning space has gone through an evolution in the last 4-5 years, and we’ve created a four-stage taxonomy to describe it (www.bersin.com/stages). In stage 1 ( Getting Started) organizations adopt e-learning to save money. And yes, e-learning does reduce the cost per delivery of instructional hour. But we now have data to prove that in reality e-learning does not save money, it increase reach and range. Costs which were variable (instructors) become fixed (LMS and infrastructure), allowing greater reach – but total costs dont go down. Most organizations spend a year or two in this phase and they often start with catalog programs. In stage 2 ( Expansion) organizations expand, they build lots of custom programs (beyond the typical catalog content) and start implementing blended programs. They realize they need an LMS, so they bite the bullet and implement something. Yes, the LMS market is evolving and LMS systems do not do everything, but they do manage learning programs well. Here they find that the demand for online content far outweighs capacity and organizations start to realize that much of what they build is not being consumed. This leads to stage 3: ( Integrate and Align). In this stage the organization now realizes they have so much content available that it has grown out of hand, and they spend time on competency-based learning, more focused job-related content, integration with the performance management process, and perhaps the implementation of an enterprise-wide LMS. This is the toughest stage, and I think most mature organizations are here today. At this stage organizations realize that their e-learning programs are more than programs, they are “content” which can be reused and repurposed for many uses. They also realize that the traditional concept of an online course must be complemented by communities of practice, coaching, and other forms of online support. We call Stage 4 Learning on Demand. This is the stage which vendors like to write about but few organizations have yet reached. At this stage companies have to build or buy a true content management system and they develop standards for content development. These standards enable searchable learning and the deployment of small pieces of content, rather than complete courses. The problem most organizations have today is that they are locked in stage 2 or 3 and find that it will take 2-3 years to “unlock” their content to get to stage 4. Nevertheless I believe this is inevitable, and we talk with many organizations working hard right now to implement an on-demand learning model. Throughout these stages, vendors tend to try to fit their products and solutions. Some vendors try to stay true to the market they serve, others try to create visions of reaching across all four stages. For each stage there are challenges and opportunities, and frankly I have not found any organization that can jump from Stage 1 to Stage 4 in less than 3-4 years. I recommend anyone trying to understand all these trends to read our report, it is designed simply to help people understand this complex space and form a basis for making decisions.

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DDI: Best-Practices in Building the Leadership Pipeline

Organizational focus on succession management will continue to grow as a result by the limited and narrowing skilled labor market, according to recent research by Aberdeen Group, a Harte-Hanks Company (NYSE: HHS), underwritten by Development Dimensions International (DDI). How Best-in-Class organizations address the pressures of a tightened labor market, as well as the results they’ve achieved by doing so, are highlighted in the new benchmark report by Aberdeen Group, Succession Management: Addressing the Leadership Development Challenge. Aberdeen revealed that the foundation of an effective succession management program lies in a solid competency framework as well as a standardized performance management process. In fact, organizations that achieved Aberdeen’s Best-in-Class designation for this study are 45% more likely than all other organizations to have clearly defined success profiles (knowledge, experience, competencies and personal attitudes) for key positions. “When it comes to identifying high-potential talent, it is critical to evaluate their performance equally,” said Jayson Saba, senior research associate, human capital management at Aberdeen. “Viewing succession candidates through the same looking glass allows organizations to compare apples to apples and make better decisions for selecting leadership candidates.” Moreover, this research highlights the importance of establishing accountability at the management ranks for ensuring a qualified leadership pipeline. To this point, Best-in-Class organizations are 62% more likely than Laggard organizations to have a systematic process where senior managers regularly review the performance and progress of high-potentials enrolled in development programs. According to Kevin Martin, Aberdeen’s vice president and principal analyst for human capital management, “this research compliments and reinforces research we’ve conducted across other elements of talent management, specifically performance management and learning and development, where we see Best-in-Class organizations view employee development more as a collective effort rather than an individual’s sole responsibility”. The research also found that integrating succession data with other talent management elements has yielded great benefits in terms of workforce knowledge management. Best-in-Class organizations are more than twice as likely as Laggards to integrate succession data with performance management and learning and development applications. Saba added, “Integrating talent management data provides organizations more visibility into the development of high-potentials and improves their decision-making ability when it comes to determining promotion readiness.” Read more.

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DDI Announces Online Assessment System Manager Ready

Development Dimensions International (DDI) announces the launch of Manager ReadySM, an online frontline leader assessment that combines the efficiency of a technology-driven process with insights of live assessors-leading to a realistic participant experience and in-depth insight into leadership capability and performance. This real world simulation provides organizations with critical information used to make decisions about who is ready for frontline leader roles and how people can develop in those roles to be more effective. Through the use of a computer-based simulation that utilizes streaming audio and video, candidates experience a ‘day-in-the-life’ of a frontline leader and are given the opportunity to respond to problems and inquiries presented through open-ended emails, video voicemails, planning activities and problem-solving exercises. These various data points contribute to a high-quality diagnosis of an individual’s leadership capabilities, giving companies more than 900 participant performance data points that roll up to 9 critical core leadership competencies that determine how a global leader will perform on the job. “Frontline leaders are more critical today than ever. They make the day-to-day decisions that make or break the business,” Scott Erker, Senior Vice President of Selection Solutions at DDI said. “We hear more and more that they’re not ready for the job the organizations needs them to do. Our goal, with this innovation, is to identify the gaps between what skills leaders have-and what skills they need to be successful.” Manager Ready incorporates the high-touch method of extracting real behaviors through simulations and trained assessors scoring those behaviors. In the past, this type of information would require a significant investment-Manager Ready provides high-value diagnosis at a fraction of the cost. Unlike multiple choice tests where participants choose actions from a static list, Manager Ready participants respond in open-ended formats, allowing candidates to reply exactly as they would on the job. The advantage is that it is more realistic to participants and the responses are more reflective of how they handle challenges in the real world. “This data has some teeth, which in an organization like ours is hugely important,” said Tim Toterhi, senior director of global organizational design for Quintiles. “Part of the reason we like Manager Ready is that it gives us robust, fact-based data to help enhance the decision-making process for selecting people-either for promotions or for hiring them into the organization.” Manager Ready participants are scored on how they resolve conflicts with customers and coworkers or how they coach a direct report through a difficult situation. In turn, organizations receive insight into how the candidates perform in these tasks, and measure a participant’s readiness for leadership across nine critical managerial competencies: Coaching for Success, Coaching for Improvement, Managing Relationships, Guiding Interactions, Problem Analysis, Judgment, Delegation & Empowerment, Gaining Commitment, and Planning & Organizing. These competencies were chosen based on more than 700 frontline leader job analysis studies conducted by DDI across the world as well as the millions of leaders trained and assessed by DDI over the last 40 years. “Manager Ready gives organizations deeper insight into the strengths and development needs of their current and future frontline leaders, ensuring better hiring and promotion decisions and improved diagnosis for accelerating development,” Erker said. “The bottom line is that organizations need to find leaders who are ready to take-on the challenges of the new economy.” About DDI Founded in 1970, Development Dimensions International, a global talent management expert, works with organizations worldwide to apply best practices to hiring/promotion, leadership development, performance management and succession management. With 1,000 associates in 42 offices in 26 countries, the firm advises half of the Fortune 500. For more information about DDI visit http://www.ddiworld.com/aboutddi

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Canada: FuelCell Energy Charges up High-Potentials

Ottawa, Canada ( PRWEB) April 24, 2009 — FuelCell Energy Inc., the global leader in clean stationary electric power, implemented Halogen Software’s talent management suite globally in just six weeks, and within one appraisal cycle created a high-performance culture. The organization improved the integrity and value of its employee performance data, aligned its rapidly growing workforce around a common set of goals, and ensured its high-potential employees were recognized and nurtured. The demands of the current economic climate are putting pressure on organizations globally to quickly gain a better understanding of their workforce and align, communicate with and motivate their top performers. FuelCell recognized that, especially during this difficult economic downturn, maximizing the performance of its human capital was essential. Understanding where to allocate scarce resources and how to strategically develop talent to meet business needs is an urgent necessity for companies of all sizes. FuelCell Energy is a clear example of how quickly organizations can achieve these goals and strengthen their competitive position in the process. By automating its talent management processes FuelCell helped strengthen and streamline its rapid global expansion- growing from 150 to over 500 employees in four years. Before implementing Halogen’s solution, the organization faced a number of challenges in their performance management system, including a lack of consistency, accountability, and employee engagement with the existing process. As a result, performance reviews were not considered a valuable tool for the organization as a whole. “The HR team found the system and process painful for everyone involved and looked to overhaul it and implement an automated system,” said Sandra Mauro, HR Manager with FuelCell Energy. “Once we had decided to invest in Halogen, things began to improve quickly. We were live within six weeks of training. It was awesome. I have done a lot of software implementations in my career and I know how painful they can be. Getting Halogen up and running was painless.” Halogen Software is able to consistently implement its suite for customers under very tight deadlines, even for those with global operations, because the solution is so flexible and easily configured. This enables customers to have the Halogen applications adapt to their processes and forms-rather than the other way around. Once Halogen’s suite had been successfully implemented, FuelCell was able to address its business problems almost immediately. Availability of information and a methodology toward a high performance culture began to evolve and improve with each review process. Accountability for goals and alignment around performance is now the norm for its global workforce. The company fosters greater recognition of high performance, and nurtures employee growth via development planning and ongoing feedback. The intelligence gained through the performance appraisal process is now readily accessible and is therefore actionable, unlike with the paper-based process, which was impractical to aggregate and report on. The shift is an exciting one for the HR team. “I recommend Halogen to pretty much anyone who will listen. I talk about it all the time,” says Mauro. “We use the employee performance management system to drive a higher level of accountability. As a high-growth company, we have many employees who join our team from different companies and corporate cultures. The new system enables us to standardize performance expectations and unify our corporate culture.” (Read the entire article at Canadian Business Online.) Learn more about Halogen Software here: http://www.halogensoftware.com/

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A Business Case Built to Last: The GREAT Pyramid of Training

Building a Business Case: Your Final Answer. Building a business case is a sales competency of the ASTD World Class Sales Competency Model. Designing a business case can be a useful management tool that is pivotal to an organization’s success. It is used in supporting the overall planning and decision making for both operational and financial decision making that surrounds company products, services and solutions. Build Cross Functional Learning Systems As a Sales Trainer and Sales Learning Professional , developing a firm understanding of business operations and cross functional relationships will help you collaborate with others who work with you.A Sales Trainer can teach many things to the sales team to help build sales competencies. Show Proven and Tested Methodologies Learn to teach proven approaches and closing techniques that establish the business value of your proposal with credibility and impact. Sales Trainers can design practical training modules in business case selling. Use a business case to help decision makers follow a predetermined process or format to cover all factors being considered. This would include showing complex data that proves your case and helps justify the decision to close even when there may be several decision makers involved to review the case. A strong business case can also be used as a performance management tool to identify sales and strategic opportunities, and manage best practices. It can turn sales data into action oriented intelligence to drive engagement, measurement, and accountability to drive business value. Sales Leaders can help the team set goals and measure progress more accurately. The Sales Team can collaborate more effectively by following the process mapping which will improve their ability to compete. Using sales training methods and key performance indicators that follow the ASTD Sales Training Competency Model framework, you will be able to provide ways to help Sales Leaders to gain insight make better decisions and take more effective action using real time Key Performance Indicators (KPI) to better track and manage the sales process – getting to the root cause of a particular sales issue.

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E-Learning Is So Yesterday: How Onboarding New Managers Just Got Personal (SU400)

New managers are expected to get up to speed on the company’s management processes quickly. Processes such as hiring, compensation, performance management, and dealing with employee exits come with policies and procedures that are critical to execute. New managers must be ready to take action on these processes at the right time. Full-day sessions to learn these processes in one sitting don’t work, with most of any learning forgotten by the time employees need to apply it. This session shows a…

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Recruiting and Retaining Call Center Employees (In Action Case Study Series)

What’s your strategy to remain competitive? Trainers realize that recruiting the right people with the right skills and providing them with great training is key to creating a great business. With the arrival of measurement and return-on-investment calculations for these key business activities comes the realization from business professionals that performance management does make a difference in profits, sales, and customer satisfaction. With a company’s need to recruit and keep the best talent, performance management is its best strategy for remaining competitive in the global marketplace in which employees have more choices than ever before. Performance management is used to improve both personal and organizational skills . Recruiting and Retaining Call Center Employees illustrates the various ways employees can reach their potential and thereby contribute to the bottom line, made all the more profitable by creating stronger and more stable companies that can offer higher wages and excellent benefit packages. Combining theory with practical advice on training, recruiting, and evaluating programs, this book provides the trainer with practical models and guides. Plus, cases on process and technology provide a full range of solutions in creating a call center that is well ahead of the competition.

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Measuring Return On Investment Vol. 3 (In Action Case Study Series)

Measuring Return on Investment, Volume 3, presents a variety of approaches to evaluating training and performance improvement programs in HRD. Most of the cases focus on evaluation at the ultimate levelROI. Collectively, the cases offer a wide range of settings, methods, techniques, strategies, and approaches. Although most of the programs focus on training and development, others include organization development and performance management. As a group, these cases represent a rich source of information about the strategies of some of the best practitioners, consultants, and researchers in the field.

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How HR (Human Resources) Function Can Save Time by Automating Routine Tasks

Most of the tasks that the HR function does are routine and repetitive and hence, can be automated. With the automation of the recruitment activities through the use of AI and Analytics, the HR staff can save much time and use the saved time and resources to focus on higher value-adding activities. Apart from this, the HR function can also automate the other tasks such as Payroll and some Performance Management tasks. This article examines these themes with an analysis of how automation creates value for organizations.

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2014 Pulse of Profession

Project Management Institute’s annual global outlook finds that the high cost of low performance remains a threat to organizational strategic initiatives. The keys to success are: developing people through training; improving project, program and portfolio management capabilities; and establishing benchmarks and metrics for project outcomes.

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Topic Teasers Vol. 83: Does This Metric Make Me Look Fat?

Question: Ah, the dreaded new boss! This organization works through other vendors to deliver our international training services. My team reviews them for longevity, education and certification of instructors, stability of organizational structure, quality and content of their materials, publicity and webpage honesty, and similar traits found in a high-value partner. The new boss has no background or understanding of our industry or training in general, and immediately wants to impose strict metrics to evaluate my team and me. This doesn’t seem like a good idea. Am I missing something?

A. Metrics or concrete, short-term data about the performance of each person working for an organization are crucial to make sure that team members are not slacking off and occupying a position someone else could use to bring the company more value.

B. The new boss is trying to make his or her mark by introducing the new metrics to have something concrete to show. These statistics will prove to not be a good idea over time, so let the organization figure it out for itself. Collecting them is the equivalent of the lion’s roar to mark this territory to all within earshot.

C. Only people who are fearful of what the data will show will object to having it collected, formed into charts and submitted to management. In fact, since you know what is being gathered you can change your daily performance to be sure you look good in these new metrics regardless of whether or not it is the best use of your time.

D. An organization should look at the need for and value received from any metrics gathered and used. Unless they are collecting data that is meaningful and will lead to better results, they are a waste of company time and resources, may be misleading and may be discouraging for the team.

Pick your answer then Test Your Knowledge!

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Executive Report August 2005

Welcome to ProjectsAtWork’s Executive Report (Vol. 1, No. 8), the newsletter for professionals engaged in high-level, enterprisewide project leadership. In this issue, we explore the key findings from an organizational project management study, including the link between process maturity and project results … outline a 10-step approach to developing meaningful project performance measures … and offer tips for monitoring and measuring the impact of your change initiatives. Also: a case study from MKS on a major bank’s push to standardization.

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Topic Teasers Vol. 12: Killing the Project

Question: I have been fairly successful with past projects, but the one I’m leading now deserves to die. I don’t think it’s just that I’m discouraged with my team’s performance; it doesn’t seem to me like there is much to be gained by the work we are doing. What do I do now?

A. While you probably do not have the authority to decide whether or not the project continues, you have a responsibility to convey your thoughts to management.

B. Keep cashing the checks. Although this may not be your most successful project, in this economy as long as you and your team are employed–just keep working away.

C. Since project managers can’t see the overall strategic plan for the organization, they are in a poor position to know whether or not this project has a place. It may have been constructed as a tax write-off and will save more money on taxes than a traditional project would earn.

D. Tell your manager that you and your team would like to be reassigned, that you have met, and all agree that there is no value to the organization in completing it.

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Unleashing the Power of the PMO

When a project management office (PMO) is leveraged to its full potential, it can foster strategic alignment, improve project performance, develop future project leaders and support the success of the entire organization. But if the same PMO is left to languish without leadership and support, it can become a burden on the bottom line. This article examines how a successful PMO can be the difference between an average and a world-class organization. In doing so, it reports the results of a 2012 survey conducted by The Hackett Group, showing that of 200 large global organizations those with high PMO use had higher IT costs and failed to deliver projects with higher ROI. It describes the challenges facing organizations including implementing a PMO as well as implementing a PMO that works. It defines a successful PMO as one that works toward delivering concrete strategic benefits to the organization. The article discusses how engaging with business owners to ensure the PMO’s work aligns with the organization’s strategic goals and reviews how leaders need to outline the standards, processes and practices that projects across the organization will follow. It notes how to measure a PMO’s effectiveness and discusses how measurement and accountability are the primary drivers of an effective PMO. It also notes how top-performing organizations invest in the training and development of their project talent, which can help increase an organization’s project management maturity and boost its bottom line.

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Tool Shop: KeyedIn

By integrating real-time project data with decision-making tools, organizations gain better insight into portfolio performance and resource needs. Here is a look at one online PPM tool that supports budgeting, forecasting and resource management, providing detailed portfolio status at a glance.

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Standing Up to Stakeholders

Stakeholder management is a key part of any project–yet stakeholders are not always the easiest people to manage. The solution would appear to be simple–manage the performance of our stakeholders so that they better support the needs of the project. Yet we tend to be a little gun-shy. But guess what? There’s no reason for PMs to be scared of stakeholders.

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Keeping Score

Is your organization using the Balanced Scorecard to measure the success of strategic initiatives and processes? A 2007 book takes on the popular management-by-metrics methodology, deeming it antiquated and insufficient. Here, one of the book’s authors puts forward six reasons to consider using a real-time approach, the Performance Power Grid.

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The Blame Game: It’s Not Always the Project Manager’s Fault

The factors that can push a project toward failure are almost limitless. An unrealistic schedule, budget shortfalls, scope creep, even internal politics can wreak havoc on a project. Sorting out the root cause of the problem amid the wreckage of a failed project isn’t always easy, though, and oftentimes the finger of blame gets pointed at the most convenient scapegoat: the project manager. This article discusses how to find the true source of project failure. In doing so, it examines the role of the project manager, executive management and the project sponsor, noting that the latter two are responsible for ensuring that the project manager has the necessary resources, tools and policies to do the job. It then overviews two steps to take after a mistake or failure occurs. Next, the article lists four clear signals that a project manager may be letting things slip on a troubled project. It then examines a course of corrective action when the project manager is at fault. Finally, the article identifies a positive sign for a project manager’s future performance: the project manager voluntarily takes the blame for project failure.

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Proving the PMO

Many companies struggle with justifying the need to maintain a project management office after it is established. But the onus is on the PMO itself. Here are five key performance indicators that PMOs should use to measure effectiveness and ensure alignment with the needs of the organization.

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A Measure of Time

For on-time delivery, project managers must accurately assess schedule performance. Earned Schedule, a new twist on earned value management, uses quantitative analysis to establish overall progress or lack thereof. Here is a real-world primer, supported by helpful utilities, on Earned Schedule, what it reveals about overall schedule performance, and how specific tasks can affect it.

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Impact of Revenue Recognition Methods in Project Cost Control Through Earned Value

One of the inputs earned value management (EVM) uses to obtain an indicator about the cost performance of projects is the cost incurred by the project until a certain date. Typically, such information is provided by finance departments. This paper reviews the different methods used by finance departments to calculate and measure the incurred costs in projects, and how these methods may impact the way the project manager applies the EVM to measure, control, and track the status of his or her project.

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PM Space Invaders

Gamification of project management practices can potentially do two things better than traditional approaches: engage teams by making tasks fun and improve performance by recognizing achievement on a regular basis. Skeptics abound, but shouldn’t we embrace gaming tactics that work? It’s not such an alien concept anymore.

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It’s the Team, Stupid (Part 1)

Project performance is ultimately determined by the project team. Our project management experience and training mainly focuses on the technical aspects of project control, yet we struggle hardest to manage the people dimension of our projects. Like every project, each project team has a unique dynamic. Project managers have a limited ability to influence that dynamic among team member interactions using formal methods. But these methods are limited in their effectiveness in enhancing project team performance.

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Building Risk Tolerance

Technical and programmatic disruptions in project plans don’t have to negatively impact cost, performance or schedule metrics. But traditional approaches to planning are not an adequate defense. In the third and final article in this risk management series, the author outlines the six steps for building a risk-tolerant schedule.

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Topic Teasers Vol. 13: The ScrumMaster Role

Question: I’ve just been chosen as ScrumMaster for my agile team. I know I “remove obstacles”, but I’m concerned about what I can do on a daily basis and what is overstepping my role and moving back to traditional project management. How can I make this a better team?

A. The ScrumMaster role is non-technical, which is a reward for outstanding technical performance in the past. In essence, you retire at full salary.

B. The ScrumMaster has a key role in improving team performance, so find your own way to structure the team processes and to facilitate team development.

C. Since the team is self-directed, wait until team members present obstacles at daily scrum meetings and then tell a manager to remove them.

D. Find an experienced ScrumMaster in the organization and ask if you can shadow them for two days a week. Then, follow their directions so that all the agile teams are working alike.

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Read All About It…

Here’s our March 2010 roundup of recently published books recommended by and for project management professionals, including the latest thinking on leadership … a primer on earned scheduling performance … guides to business process improvement initiatives and preparing for PMI certifications … a business analysis glossary … and more.

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Topic Teasers Vol. 87: Comparing Project Managers

Question: I think I’m doing okay as a project manager and my company is pretty successful using my projects and those of our other project managers. But although I can compare myself to my own colleagues, I’d love to know how I am doing—and how we are doing as an organization—against some wider statistics. Is that crazy to say?

A. It is helpful for us all to know how we are doing when rated next to a larger group of project managers. It’s also good to know if there are places where our organizations are missing out on key improvements that would increase return on investment. Measure yourself and your company and pass along any places where your statistical performance could be improved.

B. Comparing yourself to others is an odd desire. There is no way to see if you have the same training, certifications and experience, so any comparisons would be meaningless. Plus, should someone at your company see that there are other higher performers out there, your job might be at risk.

C. Organizations, especially management levels, want to believe that they are the best at everything they do. If you should find places where other businesses, especially competitors, are doing things better than within your workplace, it is important to keep that data to yourself. You don’t want to be blamed for the poor project performance shown in the statistics.

D. It’s not about how you do projects, or even the outcome, that matters. Each and every place of business is so unique that it is impossible to compare them to each other. However, study any statistics you can find through PMI and on the internet. Places that have higher ratings may be better places for you to look for a job.

Pick your answer then Test Your Knowledge!

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Effectively Handling Project Issues, Risks, and Actions

The effective handling of all project issues, risks, and actions by a project manager and/or project management office (PMO) is one of the more important daily responsibilities. Good performance in this regard is a critical PMO success factor. The author proposes some “best practices” for conducting review sessions to collect, record, and address these issues, risks, and actions.

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Projects That Pay

Recovery or no recovery, if organizations don’t choose the right projects and bring them to fruition, they’ll continue to suffer. And that selection process must include capturing ideas and leveraging the resources you already have. The author of a new book on strategic portfolio management summarizes 10 steps to revitalize PPM processes and improve performance.

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Don’t Outsource Oversight

Even with a great deal of planning, outsourced projects require constant management and coordination. You can assume nothing. Common vendor-related problems include highly variable performance and information hoarding. Here are recommendations for detecting and responding to outsourcing risks before they bring down your project.

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Hungry for Feedback

Communication allows us to exchange ideas, solve problems and reach our intended goals. Yet one kind of interaction makes us all sweat, even though it’s a necessity in project management: providing feedback to team members. This article discusses how to make providing constructive criticism easier to swallow. It examines the popular 1990s management-training model called the “feedback sandwich,” and identifies its three components: base bread, filling and top bread. Then it discusses a newer model named for the communication tool’s three middle layers, all beginning with the letter “F”–the “F3 Burger.” The article explains how the F3 burger is based on layering information that’s effective and easy to digest and discusses how it captures both positive and negative. It then lists the layers of the F3 burger: base bun; facts (meat); feelings (cheese); future performance (vegetables); and top bun.

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Anders Gronstedt

An interview with Anders Gronstedt, President, The Gronstedt Group Inc. Anders Gronstedt is an established management consultant and speaker whose global firm specializes in improving frontline performance through the use of customized simulations, podcasting, Second Life virtual experiences, and other innovative learning solutions.

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Why Strengths Matter in Training

(From Gallup Management Journal) — Companies spend millions training and developing their employees. But does it really pay off? Sure, such investments can enhance skills and boost effectiveness and innovation. But far too often, leaders and managers overlook a crucial element: complementing employees’ knowledge, skills, and experience by maximizing the power of their innate talents. Toward a strengths-based solution Not everyone can excel at a particular task, regardless of training and effort. Though training can help people improve, most employees won’t achieve excellence performing a task unless their talents make them naturally inclined to perform that task at excellence in the first place. Gallup research shows that people who know and use their strengths — and the companies they work for — tend to be better performers. In a study of 65,672 employees, Gallup found that workers who received strengths feedback had turnover rates that were 14.9% lower than for employees who received no feedback (controlling for job type and tenure). Moreover, a study of 530 work units with productivity data found that teams with managers who received strengths feedback showed 12.5% greater productivity post-intervention than teams with managers who received no feedback. And a Gallup study of 469 business units ranging from retail stores to large manufacturing facilities found that units with managers who received strengths feedback showed 8.9% greater profitability post-intervention relative to units in which the manager received no feedback. Companies that want to boost productivity and innovation must help employees apply their natural abilities to the day-to-day requirements of their role. Implementing a strengths-based approach often demands a fresh mindset; the old ways won’t do. The questions below can help employees figure out how they can best apply their talents in their role — and can help managers and leaders learn how to use a strengths-based approach to boost company performance. Read more.

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What’s different about mobile learning?

As the doors open to a new era of mobile learning and performance support, it’s a good time to step back and think about the new mindset required when designing for mobile. Although a mobile pedagogy will continue to evolve, we already know quite a bit about how people use mobile devices and some of the advantages of mobile learning. Mobile is Supportive It doesn’t take much deep thought to realize that mobile devices are an ideal medium for supporting performance at work. When an employee runs into an unsolvable problem, requires information to complete a task or needs step-by-step advice, this type of need can often be filled through mobile performance support. Mobile is Collaborative Learning and support at work can be provided through one’s network of professional colleagues, both internal and external to the workplace. Using mobile devices, the geographically dispersed workforce can help each other solve problems and make decisions in real time when the desktop is isn’t convenient. And of course, mobile devices can also be used for voice communication. That’s an old-fashioned and highly collaborative approach. Mobile is Gestural The gestural user interface (UI) for interacting with a smartphone or tablet seems like another universe when compared to one-finger clicking on a mouse. The gestural UI removes the intermediary device (mouse, pen, etc.) so that users can directly manipulate objects on the screen. Objects are programmed to move and respond with the physics of the “real world.” This opens up a new world of design possibilities for creative imaginations. Mobile is Learner-centric Learner-centric experiences occur when a person seeks the answer to an internal question. At this moment of need, the individual is highly motivated to learn and remember. When this occurs, it circumvents the need for extrinsic motivational techniques. Instead, it demands more effective information design, to provide quick and searchable access to content. Mobile is Informal Although there are bound to be an increasing number of Learning Management Systems that track mobile learning events, the mobile medium seems better suited to informal learning. Because mobile devices are often ubiquitous as well as always connected, they are ideal for learning in a variety of ways to fit a particular time and place. Mobile is Contextual Unlike other types of learning, mobile learning on a smartphone or tablet can occur in context. Only 3D simulations come close to this. Mobile learning may be initiated in the context of a situation, such as a few minutes of instruction prior to a sales call or quickly looking up a technical term at a meeting. Mobile learning may be initiated in the context of a location, such as augmented reality to learn about a place while traveling or getting directions to the next technical service call. And if employees “check in” to a location-based site, they can find each other anywhere around the world. Mobile is User-Generated By taking advantage of smartphone and tablet hardware, users can generate content by taking photographs and recording video and audio. Through these multimedia capabilities, your workforce can send and receive information from the field. A healthcare worker in a rural area can send photos of a patient’s skin condition and ask for help with a diagnosis. An agricultural expert can create a photo album for farmers, showing conditions that indicate soil erosion. Rather than take notes, a trainer can voice record his or her thoughts on how to improve a workshop. Then use this recording back at the office. Mobile is Fun The most popular apps in iTunes are games. With mobile devices, games don’t need to be limited to the phone. They can take in the larger world and be situational. For example, at a call center technicians receive digital badges through a mobile app for every satisfied caller. Badges are cashed in for various rewards. Think about ways to improve performance through challenges, team competitions and gamification. Mobile is Sensitive and Connected Take advantage of the hardware features of mobile devices. They have sensors for detecting touch, motion and device orientation. There is hardware for connecting through your carrier’s network, and through WiFi and Bluetooth. Some mobile devices can be used for tethering, which involves connecting the phone to a laptop with a cable and using the carrier as a modem to connect to the Internet. Mobile devices are also beginning to use Near Field Communications (NFC), so that devices can transmit information by touching them or coming into close proximity. Conclusion How can we leverage all that’s unique about mobile devices and their use and at the same time, avoid the pitfalls? It will take time, thought and a high-level strategy to get it right. Your thoughts? Connie Malamed (@elearningcoach) publishes The eLearning Coach, a website with articles, resources, reviews and tips for learning professionals. She is the author of Visual Language for Designers and the Instructional Design Guru iPhone app.

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Welcome to the ASTD Books blog!

Hi, and welcome to the ASTD Press books blog! I am sure you want to know a bit more about this blog, so I got some time to sit down and interview myself and try to answer some of your questions. TE: Hi, thanks for taking the time to give me this interview. Why a blog about ASTD Press books? TE: You’re welcome. I think of this blog as an opportunity to connect the ASTD Press audience a little more closely and personally with what we do at the Press. I’d to talk about what we are doing, the books and Infolines that we are working on and have published, what’s going on with some of our authors, and perhaps a little something about what’s going on in publishing in general. I’d also like to get the chance to hear a bit more from the ASTD books audience. What kinds of books would they like to see? What do they think about some of the books that we have published and why? Also, what are their opinions about certain controversial and/or high-profile topics in the field of workplace learning and performance? For instance, expect a post in the near future that talks about the differences between ASTD’s definition of talent management and Larry Israelite’s definition. (ASTD Press will be publishing Larry’s book on the topic in January 2010.) TE: What is ASTD Press? TE: ASTD Press is the American Society for Training & Development’s publishing department, and we publish 18-24 books and 12 Infolines per year. We are a team of nine great people who find interesting and talented authors and topics; work with these authors to hone their books and Infolines; manage publishing projects, which involves editing, proofreading, working with designers on text and cover designs, and working with printers; and disseminate books through a wide variety of channels. (There’s more to it, but I could probably go on all day.) Our work ranges from the big-picture scale of book ideas and content that will be meaningful and valuable to our audience to the itty-bitty details of widows, orphans, and misplaced commas that mean the difference between quality we can be proud of and, well, something not so high in quality. TE: Who am I? TE: My name is Tora Estep. I am a senior associate editor with ASTD Press, and I have been with ASTD for almost seven years. I’ve worked as the editor of Infoline, written some (I think) funny articles for T+D, and managed book projects. My proudest accomplishment at ASTD was working as project manager with Elaine Biech on The ASTD Handbook for Workplace Learning Professionals, to which I also contributed two chapters. The quality of this book is phenomenal, from the content to the package. In working on this book, I probably read the whole thing at least three times (it’s 928 pages so that took a chunk out of my day) and was amazed again and again at the incisiveness of the content and the consistency of the themes that emerged from so many disparate writers. That’s a real tribute to Elaine as well as the 60 authors who contributed to the book.

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Washington Press Corps Veteran Ilyse Veron Takes Helm of The Public Manager

The Public Manager, a quarterly journal about empowering government and developing leaders, announces an editorial change in the Spring 2011 issue. Washington press corps veteran Ilyse Veron will take over as editor, according to the journal’s publisher Carrie Blustin, while longtime editor Warren Master will assume a new role as Editor-at-Large. “For eleven years Warren Master kept readers on the leading-edge with innovative public management articles,” said Blustin. “We look forward to his continued contributions as Editor-at-Large, anchoring interviews for the journal’s new podcast series, sharing insights in his blog, Agile Bureaucracy, and presenting at our events.” “This change brings new opportunities to provide more timely content and perspective,” Ms. Blustin continued. “Ilyse Veron brings years of award-winning experience covering media, technology, and public affairs, including actions of every federal department and agendas of multiple presidents. And, she’s done it for CQ and The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, among others.” Master’s final spring issue centers on public managers’ preparations for climate change. Ms. Veron’s first issue, due out in June, will offer a forum on 21st century government – its technology, performance, and talent management. The summer issue of the journal will launch Ms. Veron’s new column, Editorial Perspective, and other features. Ms. Veron joined The Public Manager after years of producing events, programs, and reports with MacNeil-Lehrer Productions, and she has already begun blogging and podcasting along with Mr. Master on management issues at www.thepublicmanager.org. Ms. Veron’s career began at The Brookings Institution, followed by years at Congressional Quarterly. In the mid-90s, she served as principal researcher on The System, a book by David Broder and Haynes Johnson. From 1995-2002 she reported for the NewsHour on national and business news, earning an Emmy award for coverage of the Justice Department’s case against Microsoft and recognition from the UCLA Anderson School of Management. Since 2002 Ms. Veron has specialized in outreach and project management, working on citizen events and broadcasts such as PBS’ By the People and “Bernanke on the Record,” and she has developed content on various media platforms for nonpartisan nonprofits with a federal focus. Her freelance bylines have run on Scripps Howard Wire Service, Wired.com, Foxnews.com, and elsewhere, most recently in Education Week’s Digital Directions magazine. About The Public Manager The Public Manager is a unique, editorially independent quarterly journal about government leadership that works. Focused on empowering and developing leaders, it publishes ideas of experienced professionals about critical public management issues including budgeting and accountability, technology and innovation, and the people who make it happen. Additionally, with events and web postings, it fosters a community for current, former and future managers to share best practices and resources regarding federal challenges and professional development. The Public Manager allies with the Partnership for Public Service, GovLoop, Young Government Leaders, the Graduate School, the American Society for Public Administration, and others who serve career public servants. The Public Manager is published by The Bureaucrat, Inc., a nonprofit controlled affiliate of the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD). ASTD is the world’s largest association dedicated to the training and development field whose members work in thousands of public and private sector organizations. The Bureaucrat, Inc. maintains its own corporate officer and Board of Director structure to guide The Public Manager.

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Washington Post Features Winter Issue of The Public Manager

In today’s issue of The Washington Post, Federal Diary writer Joe Davidson calls out some content from the forthcoming issue of The Public Manager in his reporting about the Obama administration’s personnel efforts. The article “Obama personnel policies draw generally high marks” contains the following quote: “It’s about that time when performance evaluations of Barack Obama’s first year as boss-in-chief begin coming in. It helps when the evaluators are a nonpartisan group of experts who know something about the area on which they judge the president. Fortunately, that’s the case with several articles on Obama’s management agenda — written by a team of analysts, including industry and former government executives — that appear in the winter 2010 issue of the Public Manager, which will be available Friday at http://www.thepublicmanager.org. This quarterly journal is published by the (sic) Bureaucrat Inc., which describes itself as “a not-for-profit organization chartered and devoted to furthering knowledge and best practice at all levels of government. The authors don’t have a dog — or a donkey or an elephant — in the fight over Obama’s reputation. They’re Democrats and Republicans who push a good-government agenda.” The winter issue of The Public Manager will be released tomorrow, January 15. An Interview on Federal News Radio’s show “In Depth with Francis Rose” will also be tomorrow. For more information on The Public Manager, go to the website www.thepublicmanager.org.

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Walt McFarland Named Chair-Elect of ASTD Board of Directors

Walt McFarland, Founder of Windmill Human Performance, LLC, and former executive at Booz Allen Hamilton, will serve as the 2012 Chair-Elect of the ASTD Board of Directors and will assume the role of Board Chair in 2013. Mr. McFarland created Windmill Human Performance after completing a one year sabbatical during which he studied human and organizational performance, multi-cultural talent management, and organizational change at several institutions and organizations including Oxford and Harvard universities and three Fortune 300 organizations. Prior to taking his sabbatical, Mr. McFarland built a $125 million Human Resource (HR) and Learning consulting business in the federal market for Booz Allen Hamilton. He has consulted for the Internal Revenue Service, Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, Department of Defense, and National Institutes of Health among others. Prior to joining Booz Allen, Mr. McFarland led the HR and Change Management business of Hay Management Consultants where his clients included the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, Marriott, and the Federal Reserve System. He served as an employee of the Federal Government, with his last role as a Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense.

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Top the 7 myths about the sales profession

Top the 7 myths about the sales profession Selling is the most complicated profession in the world. Many people believe they know what the profession entails…many myths have continued throughout time due to these misperceptions, despite the sales and marketing statistics that show otherwise. Here are some of my favorite myths about selling. Myth 1: Marketing and Selling are the Same Thing! One of my professors I had while taking my Master’s Degree once told me that you can only do one of three things in business: make it, sell it, or count it. The problem is the definition of “selling it” comprises two divergent but inextricably entwined functions — sales and marketing. The more appropriate elements (especially in today’s world) should be, in business you can only: make it, grow it, or count it. I say grow it, for two reasons. One reason is the marketing department and the other reason is the sales department. The problem with the two professions is each of believe that their occupation is the dominant half of the pair. Marketers generally think of salespeople as golf-playing monkeys or pushy placement professionals whose sole purpose is to repeat the same sales pitch (that they have developed) over-and-over again to new prospects. Salespeople generally think of marketers as lazy liberal arts graduates who use the words “focus groups” and “corporate brand” to describe activities that is nothing but “a colossal waste of money.” Ultimately each function needs the other if the company is to GROW. To that end, sales and marketing are separate but equal professions from a business perspective. What’s less obvious is how we should all work together. Marketers believe that marketing should play the dominant role. After all, marketing defines the product, articulates the positioning, and creates all the sales tools (ranging from glowing CEO profiles in “Fortune” magazine to the ubiquitous corporate logo wear that serves as the de facto currency of the modern professional). All salespeople have to do is to follow orders, right? Salespeople believe that selling should play the dominant role. After all, selling is where the rubber meets the road, where the tough get going, where everyone gives 110 percent, and where slogans reign supreme. Salespeople bring home the bacon. All marketers do is provide brochures and take all the credit. The truth is more complicated but more rewarding. Suffice it to say, let’s just say that selling and marketing are NOT the same thing. What both departments SHOULD agree on is the need to stay focused on what the client’s and customers want, in an effort to provide them value. Can’t we just stay focused on that? That’s another book too. Myth 2: Selling is about Winning Over Your Customer! Selling isn’t about winning over anyone. It’s about helping your customer win. If you think of making a sale as “winning”, that means someone has to lose. If you are winning and your customer’s are losing, you’ll be selling a very, very short amount of time. It’s about both you and your customer winning. Enough said. I just wish that prospects and buyers thought that all the time too! Myth 3: Selling isn’t a Real Profession! If you’re embarrassed about being in selling, this is the myth you’re subscribing to. You have to be proud of being in selling in order to be successful. One way to do this is to realize the important people you’ll be working with on a daily basis. When sales professionals sell, they are often sitting across the table from the following formalized professions: Chief Financial Officer (formalized by the American Finance Association) Legal Counsel (formalized American Bar Association) Project Manager (formalized by the Project Management Institute) Marketing Professional (formalized by the American Marketing Association) Information Technology Professional (formalized by numerous associations and organizations) Procurement Professional (formalized by the Institute of Supply Management and the National Association of Purchasing Management) The question is, what exactly is a “formal” profession? Myth 4: Selling isn’t That Hard! Anyone Can Do It! Selling is a hard profession to master. It’s one of the most complicated professions in the world. Where else do you have to understand organizations and individuals with such depth and clarity? Where else do you have to build rapport with so many different types of people, in so many different locations, buildings, or business types? On top of this complexity is the reality that Selling is one of the few real pay-for-performance professions, with over of the compensation “at risk” or based on commission. A lot of sales professionals feel stress in their jobs. In the engineering profession, stress results from the application of a constant force to an immovable object. In selling, the force is your “quota” and the immovable object is your customer’s expectations. If you guess, you stress. It’s that simple. Selling is about taking the guess work out of what the future will hold. True, it isn’t as much as it sounds for real sales professionals. The key is to learn about the truth of the sales profession and banish the myths. When you accomplish this, you will find selling concepts that make sense that can immediately put into practice. Above all else, you will persevere when so many others will quit, and that’s what will make the difference to your company’s bottom line. Myth 5: Selling is a “Numbers Game”! Undoubtedly, you will hear this one within your first week of selling: “Selling is a numbers game.” Make the calls, make the presentations, and work your way through enough people, and eventually you will make a sale. You’ll hear it within three hours of being on your first job in Sales. Someone will say “it’s a number game” I guarantee it. It goes something like this. The more phone calls you make, the more sales you will make. “So, make 100 phone calls” someone will say. “Of those 100, send 10 proposals. And of those 10, you will close 2. The more numbers you have the more you will sell. Now, there’s your phone. Good luck!” Remember this always! Quality supersedes quantity. Your goal in selling must be to find prospects that have a propensity and a motive to buy your product or services. If they don’t want to buy or need to buy your product or service, then I don’t care about the numbers! I would rather make two phone calls and close two sales than make 100 like our example above, wouldn’t you? If someone is tracking your progress, how do they know you are calling the right people, with a want and a need? I know of a large insurance sales organization, which provided sales reps with contact lists for life insurance and investments. The only problem was most prospects lived in a low income area and were highly unlikely to buy any life insurance because they didn’t need, or want it. I don’t care if you call 1,000 people that don’t fit the profile. You’re still wasting your time. Quality over quantity. Rather than buying into the myth that selling is a numbers game, think of a game of darts. By aiming your effort (the dart) at a clearly defined target (your pre-qualified prospect on the dart board) your chances for hitting the mark (a sale) are greatly enhanced. Contrast that mindset with a pure numbers game, where you stand outside and try to get hit by lighting or crossing your fingers multiple times with the hope of attaining good luck. Myth 6: You Must Like Rejection! Many sales courses, sales books, and sales training will tell you to keep a very stiff upper lip when you get “rejected.” A rejection can occur when you are rebuffed on the phone, not granted an appointment, or simply told “no.” These courses will also tell you not to let a “no” get you down. The problem with this approach is the fact that once you accept the simple proposition that you have been rejected in the first place, you have given up the psychological high ground and put your self-esteem into retreat! Simply put, your sales team needs to reject the notion of rejection. Once salespeople understand that all they are doing is helping people, every outcome should be the same. If prospects don’t want your help or choose not to deal with your company for whatever reason, it is not your salesperson’s problem. He or she simply has to locate another prospect that needs your company’s products or services. Regardless of the response prospects give, the salesperson is still the same person with the same amount of product knowledge, experience, and competence. When you teach your team to stop actually linking their activity to a prospect’s response (no matter how subtly), selling ceases to be hard work and instead becomes a game. In general, the healthiest mindset for you to teach is: “You, Mr./Ms. Prospect, have made a decision to move forward without my services. I’ll be here when you come to your senses and change your mind. It’s not my responsibility to straighten you or your company out.” Myth 7: Selling is a Dead End Job! Did you know that 85 percent of the company leaders and entrepreneurs in America today were once salespeople? They carried sample cases, made cold calls, dialed for dollars, did product demonstrations and handled objections. Today, they’re the majority of corporate presidents, CEOs and the like. Selling is a dead-end job all right–especially when you consider that the end may be at the very top of an organization!

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Tools for Your Success

ASTD is always looking for the next big topic in the field of learning and performance. We are constantly working to prove the value of learning, to get ahead of challenges related to talent management and the skills gap, and to define competencies for learning professionals to use as guides in their careers. Having the right skill set is imperative to your overall effectiveness in the learning field. ASTD wants you to have all of the information, data, research, tools, and resources you need to possess a strong knowledge of training design and delivery, business essentials for learning professionals, and management skills for running the learning function sin your business. Listen to Jennifer and John.

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The Imaginary War for Talent

(From Human Resource Executive Online) — Much is currently being made in the media of the “war for talent”, particularly in technical fields. Everyone from high-tech start-ups to industrial giants is supposedly suffering from a dire shortage of technical talent and is going to extremes to lure talented candidates. However, evidence on the ground of this supposed “war” is scant. If your organization is feeling a talent shortage, that may reveal more about your organization than about the current labor market for skills. I recently visited a small market-research firm. It was located in a run-down building in a grimy industrial park. Most of the space was devoted to dozens of telemarketers talking simultaneously on the phone. When I asked the firm’s manager about her technical talent needs, she casually mentioned that she had on hand a full team of statisticians, all with Ph.D.s. We hear so much about the “war for talent” across the media, from NPR and The New York Times to The Economist. Yet, how is it that glamorous Silicon Valley start-ups on the cutting edge of data mining claim they can’t find the technical talent they need, while the manager of a local market-research firm has secured an entire team of Ph.D.-level statisticians? Perhaps her statisticians are of inferior quality? There is a perennial debate as to whether sustainable business success comes from extraordinary talent, or from more mundane factors such as cooperation, teamwork, motivation, and good team management. Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, said, “Someone who is exceptional in their role is not just a little better than someone who is pretty good. They are 100 times better.” Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape and now a well-known venture capitalist in Silicon Valley, expressed a similar notion: “Five great programmers can completely outperform 1,000 mediocre programmers.” Meanwhile, Bill Taylor, co-founder of Fast Company magazine, argued in the Harvard Business Review, “There is more to long-term performance than the excellence of your individual players. … Winning teams are more than just a collection of talented individuals.” Your organization’s approach to talent acquisition is influenced by this debate. What side do you favor? Read more.

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The Economic Downturn: Learning’s Time to Shine

How can there be light during a downturn? By using their expertise, workplace learning and performance (WLP) professionals have been given a torch, to help their organization survive the downturn and allow them to emerge in a stronger competitive position when the economy recovers. In the current economic downturn, organizations have been forced to use cost cutting strategies. Departmental budgets are being trimmed, with the learning function being no exception. Learning and development functions are not only being pushed to economize spending on learning activities, but to simultaneously continue to build critical skills and knowledge. A new report by ASTD and i4cp, Learning in Tough Economic Times, indicates that between a fifth and a quarter of respondents said that, to a high or very high extent, the down economy has had a negative impact on each of the following: However, there has been a benefit which WLP professionals need to monopolize, with nearly four-in-ten respondents saying that their firm placed a stronger emphasis on learning during this downturn than previous downturns. Organizations that place a stronger emphasis on learning were also more likely to point to higher market performance, highlighting the bottom-line benefit. Conversely, reducing learning resources during tough economic times was associated with poor market performance. Organizations appear to be learning from previous experiences and realize that eliminating learning opportunities can be crippling for an organization. One respondent to the survey used an impactful analogy to describe this from a previous experience: “turning off the educational tap leaves a company dehydrated with no ability to grow – no way to give the company nutrients”. Experts agree that during these economically difficult times, learning professionals have the opportunity to show the strategic business value of workplace learning and performance. Talent management has never been more important than during this economic downturn, and learning professionals have a significant influence over its success, with expertise in competency management, skills assessment, and organizational development. Thus, the onus is on WLP professionals to demonstrate learning’s effect on developing talent in organizations by ensuring there are processes in place to find, hire, and keep talent. WLP professionals need to partner and collaborate with organizational leaders to demonstrate how learning can positively impact corporate performance and ensure survival through the economic downturn and allow them to emerge in a strong competitive position when the economy recovers. Learning needs to focus on what impacts the bottom line and is business crucial, and a direct cause-and-effect relationship needs to be evident between learning initiatives and results. Source: Learning in Tough Economic Times (ASTD/i4cp) Click here to learn more about ASTD Research.

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Survey: How Small Companies Respond to Recession

SAN LEANDRO, Calif.–( BUSINESS WIRE)–As the U.S. recession deepens and monthly job losses reach historic highs, a recent survey of more than 400 white-collar small businesses is shining a light on how small employers are evolving their human capital management practices in a down economy, and how employer practices are directly influenced by whether the small business owner is considered an “economic optimist” or an “economic pessimist.” Conducted by TriNet, a leading provider of human resources outsourcing and consulting services to small businesses, the TriNet Recession Practices Survey polled businesses in the technology, financial and professional services fields. The survey found that nearly half of the respondents fall in the category of being “economic optimists” and saw market conditions as least as good as in 2008. Of the economic pessimists, 34 percent viewed the economy as worse and 18 percent viewed it as much worse than 2008. When it comes to hiring and talent acquisition practices for white-collar small businesses, the survey found that hiring plans are still on the table, but are being scaled back overall, with more than half of respondents saying they will hire fewer employees in 2009. Just as consumer confidence influences the performance of the market, employer confidence influences their business’s response to it . Specifically, 28 percent of economic optimists are planning to hire more employees in 2009 than the previous year and only 4 percent of economic pessimists are planning to hire more in 2009. ( Read the entire release.)

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Survey: 86% of Americans See Parallel Between Bad Bosses and Bailed Out Failed Firms

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.–( BUSINESS WIRE)–Recent headlines of corporate misdeeds, poor performance and bailouts may be just the tip of the iceberg of a widespread lack of confidence in bosses, suggests a new national study. Eighty-six percent of U.S. adults feel that highly visible corporate calamities are similar to the much less conspicuous – but more far-reaching, ill-advised daily actions of managers that go unnoticed until it is too late. “Bosses are expected to be accountable in any economy, but against the backdrop of a downturn and lean workforce, there seems to be less tolerance for poor decision making,” said Lynn Taylor, an expert on workplace issues and CEO of Lynn Taylor Consulting. Taylor’s management consulting firm commissioned the national telephone survey of 1,002 adults, conducted by a global independent research firm. “An ounce of accountability seems to be worth a pound of cure today, not only for high profile corporations, but also for bosses everywhere,” noted Taylor, author of the forthcoming book, Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant (TOT); How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job (John Wiley & Sons, July 2009). ( Read the entire survey.)

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Strategic Workplace Learning in the Public Sector – Part II

My last post on this blog highlighted two recent public sector training efforts that demonstrated strategic alignment with priority agency outcomes – both in the US Department of Defense ( http://community.thepublicmanager.org/cs/blogs/agile_bureaucracy/archive/2010/03/29/strategic-workplace-learning-in-the-public-sector.aspx): enabling success in Afghanistan by building cultural expertise at the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) creating a collaborative culture at DIA through an effective onboarding program in which employees learn that knowledge sharing is their own personal responsibility Other Public Sector Case Illustrations Here are brief highlights from other government training efforts that tackle a wider array of challenges – many of which will be featured as articles in the summer 2010 issue of The Public Manager and presented at the American Society for Training and Development’s (ASTD’s) 2010 International Conference & Exposition to be held in Chicago, Illinois, May 16-19 ( http://www.astdconference.org/): Business Analysis Center of Excellence: NY State Office of the State Comptroller This case illustration explores the New York State Office of the State Comptroller’s intensive, cross-agency learning experience aimed at more effectively aligning business analysis with management initiatives. With the assistance of an outside management consulting group (ESI International – www.esi-intl.com), the state organization developed key strategies – including coaching and mentoring programs complemented by skills assessments and other learning programs that continue to refine business analysis (BA) best practices. Education Transformation for Results: Sandia National Laboratories This case study at Sandia, one of the US Department of Energy’s prestigious national labs, demonstrates an approach to begin the process of transforming corporate education into an effective education partnership between an organization’s executive and line management and its HR organization. Sandia Labs’ focus on fostering a learning culture drove its transformation of the Labs’ education process to enhance individual capabilities and behaviors that produce tangible results. It offers a blueprint of how a line management and human resources team, commissioned by the organization’s leader, can create a charter, establish a plan, gather and analyze data, prepare and present recommendations to executive management for action. Practical concepts, checklists, and tools are explained as application opportunities, and innovative approaches to obtain and sustain executive engagement and partnering early in the transformational education process are identified as essential success factors. Pushing Management’s Buttons to Improve Performance at the US Coast Guard This case study highlights several of the most powerful, but under-utilized, approaches to improve workplace performance. The old maxim: “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” rings true in the workforce performance field. If all you have is a training solution, then everything is a skills-and-knowledge problem. Yet, research and common sense have demonstrated that oftentimes the performance problem isn’t with the people in the organization, but with the organization itself. This experience brings focus to many of the areas the organization’s leadership should examine before assuming a problem will be solved through training. It includes real-world examples and case studies from the US Coast Guard on how a true performance perspective results in quantifiable and cost-effective returns in individual and organizational performance. Share Your Observations I’ll continue sharing examples of how government organizations at all levels are aligning training efforts with strategic agency goals. If you know of others that align workplace learning efforts with priority mission and management challenges, please let me hear from you.

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Strategic Workplace Learning in the Public Sector

Strategic Workplace Learning in the Public Sector A little less than two years ago on this blog, I entered a curmudgeonly post on “The Non-Strategic State of Workplace Learning” (See Agile Bureaucracy, June 16, 2008 – http://community.thepublicmanager.org/cs/blogs/agile_bureaucracy/archive/2008/06/16/the-non-strategic-state-of-workplace.aspx ). My snarky premise was that even though since the mid-90s government at all levels had begun requiring strategic goals, measurable outcomes and periodic reporting on results, “this shift (hadn’t) yet made a noticeable dent” in aligning training and development investments with agency mission or management priorities. For example, I noted, “In a post-silo organizational culture, Chief Human Capital Officers (CHCOs) would be fully involved in the organization’s strategic planning and management systems (and such T&D) activities would be (integrated) to meet priority challenges.” Designing Strategic Leaning Efforts I also speculated that indicators of this integration might appropriately include the training community’s involvement in designing learning efforts to: foster an organization-wide performance culture improve oversight and accountability behavior recruit, engage and retain young professionals – among other priority HR challenges help IT professionals and non-technologists alike keep pace with expanding E-expectations help managers transcend boundaries of federal, state and local governments and foster collaboration among public, private, and nonprofit sectors assure that transparency becomes an organization-wide value help agency managers plan to share responsibility for achieving results – with other governmental levels, internationally and the private sector prepare managers for and respond more collaboratively to catastrophic disasters Again, the unflattering picture I painted two years ago didn’t include much evidence that the T&D community even had a seat at the table on these matters. To be sure, some of the feedback (and blowback) I received suggested that I had painted too bleak a picture. (After all, even the Dutch Masters included a few swatches of thick, white oil paint on their invariably dark canvases.) Nevertheless, few colleagues – trainers, HR leaders, and other public management professionals – could point to instances where training figured as an integral part of strategic public sector initiatives. Strategic Workplace Learning Observed Well, in searching for such illuminating examples, I’m beginning to see some light. In fact, the theme of the summer 2010 issue of The Public Manager is strategic workplace learning – with likely articles featuring case illustrations from such government organizations as: the US Departments of Defense, Energy, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Transportation, and Veterans Affairs; and New York State, among others. Moreover, many of these public sector workplace learning innovations will be presented in interactive or workshop-style sessions at the American Society for Training and Development’s (ASTD’s) 2010 International Conference & Exposition to be held in Chicago, Illinois, May 16-19 ( http://www.astdconference.org/ ). Here are brief highlights from just two of these training efforts – both involving the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA): Enabling Success in Afghanistan: Building Cultural Expertise at the US Department of Defense As the United States geared up to send thousands of troops into Afghanistan, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) faced the challenge of preparing hundreds of intelligence analysts to enter the country knowing something of the history, culture, politics, and governance of the region. The Afghanistan-Pakistan Regional Expertise Training Program was developed to deliver cultural expertise training to intelligence professionals and operations personnel across the Intelligence Community and US Department of Defense. This case study considers how the DIA responded to a time-critical, far-reaching problem that crossed agency and coalition lines. It examines how to meet the need for an immediate solution while addressing questions of funding, format, location, and ideal content – in effect, how to create and evaluate a sustainable model for preparing employees to operate in a range of countries and cultures. Creating a Collaborative Culture at the Defense Intelligence Agency After the terrorist attacks of September 2001, the members of the Intelligence Community (IC) needed to transform from a stove-piped culture, where employees viewed knowledge as power, to a collaborative culture, where employees saw knowledge sharing as their personal responsibility. Creating such a culture begins with an effective onboarding program. In 2004, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) leadership directed the development of an orientation and acculturation program to bring together all junior-level, professional-grade employees, regardless of job responsibilities. The 5-week program develops an understanding of how all elements of the DIA work together to support US National Security objectives and Department of Defense operations, and to collaborate with other Intelligence Community (IC) members. This program is innovative among IC onboarding courses by its attendance policy, the length of the course, the curriculum, and the instructional methodology. DIA recognized that new employees could be effective change agents and designed its onboarding program to help establish a knowledge sharing culture. The recitation examines training techniques DIA has used to foster a culture of collaboration across organizational lines, explores the challenges within organizations that inhibit collaboration, and identifies the role of senior leadership in transforming the culture and the onboarding process. Share Your Observations In subsequent posts, I’ll be sharing more examples of how government organizations are aligning training efforts with strategic agency goals. If you know of other examples of how public sector organizations have begun to align workplace learning efforts with priority mission and management challenges, please let me hear from you. Better still, encourage trainers and managers in these organizations to comment on this blog directly and weigh in with their own best practice T&D stories. I’ll make sure to share these examples with a larger audience.

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Sometime I Feel Like a Dine-Oh-Saur

I remember my Dad’s buddy Tony who – aside from a stint as my Father’s shipmate in the Pacific during the Big One – had spent most of his working life in a Pittsburgh steel mill before he was laid off forever. He kept telling my Dad he was too old to change and “…felt like one of them Dine-oh-saurs” I feel like that sometimes lately. I feel like that when I talk to people who develop ‘learning’ programs or even when I read some of these blogs. I guess what I’m realizing is that the way things used to be done, is done. Every now and again you read a piece by someone and you say “Spot on!”, or whatever you say when that person hits an emotional mark, somewhere deep inside you. Here’s what I read by Dr Allison Rossett, San Diego State University, Professor, Department of Educational Technology. She writes about the evolution of training: “In the good old days, we wrote courses. We scheduled them. We taught them, or found somebody good to do it. Maybe we made a video or bought one. Maybe we evaluated the classes. Mostly we didn’t. Everything is different today. US Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan put it this way, “Human skills are subject to obsolescence at a rate unparalleled in American history.” Effective organizations are running at warp speed in a global and fiercely competitive environment. New software, new products, new customers, new competition, and new possibilities demand our attention. If employees do not feel well served by us, they can reach beyond us to online classes, communities, modules and e-coaches, no matter the physical locations. Technology thus presents tasty opportunities for workforce learning and support. Consider blended approaches, online assessments and self-assessments, performance support, informal learning, knowledge management, communities of practice, and captology. What are some of these intriguing possibilities and how do they change what’s possible for employees and what’s expected of us?” Indeed, I can only echo what she wonders when she asks ‘what are some of these intriguing possibilities, how do they change what’s possible for employees and what’s expected of us?’. Sometimes I think everything I’ve learned about learning needs to be relearned. Sometimes I feel like a dine-oh-saur. Do you ever feel like a dine-oh-saur? Maybe it’s time you should … let me know.

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Snake Oil Revisited

The Great Snake Oil Post Here’s one of the most popular posts ever posted on LCB. Reposted with the Blogger’s permission. My hat’s off to the Author Sam Adkins. Two years later and it’s still a wake-up call… We are the Problem: We are selling Snake Oil I read these long tortuous posts bewailing the malaise of our educational systems. The problem is not “out there”. We are the problem. We are selling snake oil. We now have ample data to show that: Training does not work. eLearning does not work. Blending Learning does not work. Knowledge Management does not work. Yet we collectively reify our denial and project the root of the problem out to an external institutional framework. We are the source of the problem because we are selling snake oil. It doesn’t work but there is still plenty of money in it. Caveat: My data relates solely to the corporate market. In the corporate world performance is rated on whether you save or make money (or both) for the company. Your value as “intellectual capital” rests exclusively on that. Training does not work. The data is mounting that very little of training makes it back to the workplace. The noise inherent in the knowledge transfer to learning transfer process obliterates up to 80-90% of any usefulness of the training on the job. Less than 30 percent of what people learn is actually transferred to the job in a way that enhances performance. (Robinson and Robinson) “85-90% of a person’s job knowledge is learned on the job and only 10-15% is learned in formal training events”. (Raybould) We have known for 20 years that classroom training only produces very high results for only 2% of the students (Bloom). The famous 2 Sigma variance accomplished with Intelligent Tutoring systems confirms that only individualized mentoring produces effective knowledge transfer. Only in the government has this data been openly communicated. “About 20 years ago, research by Prof. Benjamin Bloom and others demonstrated that students who receive one-on-one instruction perform two standard deviations better than students in traditional classrooms. (Stottler Henke Associates, Intelligent Tutoring Systems: Using AI to Improve Training Performance and ROI, 2003). We spend about $65 billion every year in the US for training that has a dismal knowledge transfer ratio (2%), a dismal learning transfer rate (20-30%) and only accounts for 10% of the way we acquire knowledge. What’s wrong with this picture? eLearning does not work. We have been in denial about this for about two years. The drop-out, no-show rate is peaking at 70-80% and we continue to ignore this. Users hate it because it is a learning product that is fundamentally incompatible with the workplace. “Just-in-time” really means “do-it-in-your-own-time”. Work always trumps any other activity. First-generation elearning is snake oil. Snake oil vending machines (LMS and LCMS) work perfectly. The snake oil cures nothing, the snake oil vending machines work flawlessly. There are now (at least) six learning form factors that co-exist in the corporate market: Text is experiencing a resurgence due to XML and fusing it directly into workflow (see Safari, Outsell and Books24x7 ROI studies). Even when elearning courses are accessed, they are being used as reference. Elliott calls this “successful non-completion”. eBooks are selling like hotcakes in what DCLabs calls “stealth mode”. In the first half of 2002, eBook sales revenues were up by 30% and unit sales up by 40% over the same period in 2002. This compares to an annual growth rate of just about 5% in traditional print publishing. (Open eBook Forum, OeBF). Contextual Collaboration is hot. Cisco buys Latitude. Microsoft buys Placeware (now called Office Live Meeting). Macromedia buys Presedia (Now called Breeze). Why would any worker voluntarily suffer through an elearning course when they can get access to an expert via IM, chat, web-conferencing, expertise mining or presence awareness? Prior to Microsoft’s acquisition, Placeware indicated that 70% of their customers used the technology for training. The data shows that about 40-50% of knowledge needed by workers to perform tasks resides in another human’s head. (Lotus & Delphi Group). Simulation is hot. The high-end industry is booming. The value of the VizSim/VR industry in 2002 was $36.2 billion; over 308,000 VizSim/VR systems were sold in 2002; the most valuable applications in terms of industry revenue are: Energy exploration and productions, Psychotherapy research, Other Medical Research, and Computer Science research (CyberEdge). Simulation tools are now “sexy” compared to courseware authoring tools. Macromedia buys eHelp. Microsoft is working on Sparkle, a Flash killer. SVG is primitive but maturing fast as an XML-native simulation technology. XStream now sells an SVG authoring tool. Visio 2003 supports XML and SVG. Gartner says by 2006 over 70% of elearning will include some type of simulation. So why would we call it elearning then? At what point when you dilute a substance does it cease to become that substance? Simulation is still the only viable way to deal with the affective learning domain. SimuLearn’s Virtual Leader is in a class by itself. Simulation is also the only ethical way to provide experience in hazardous activities (flight training, truck driving, nuclear waste, mining, lumber mills, etc). Wireless is very hot. Even the academic markets are adopting this very fast. The world is changing fast. Our minds are not. Sales Force automation, augmented reality, field-force workflow are selling extremely well. Burst learning is embedded into the real-time workflow. Microvision sells 4,500 Nomad systems to Honda. Mechanics complete tasks on average 50% faster using the hands-free augmented reality systems. Paper-based medical systems generate an average of 40% error rates (39% at prescription, 12% at transcription and 11% at dispensing). Handheld support technology virtually eradicates this error rate. Workflow Learning is brand new and flying off the shelves. Knowledge Products grew by 70% last year and went from $15 million to $25 million in revenues (during a recession and IT spending slowdown). PeopleSoft’s OEM deal with Knowledge Products just took Workflow Learning mainstream to 11,000 PeopleSoft customers. RWD, Epiance, Ultimus, Lombardi all experiencing 40-70% revenue growth. These products across the board are being used to eliminate training altogether. They generate cost savings, productivity increases, and lower cost of ownership by an average of 50%. Microsoft’s InfoPath 2003 now brings bottom-up workflow authoring to 400 million Office users. Hmmm. Must be a fad, huh? Why would customers want learning products that save money, save time, eliminate training, and increase quality and productivity? Courseware is experiencing negative growth and is under siege from low customer demand and the outsourcing trend (See Paul Harris’s stuff in ASTD, IDC, Gartner). Yet we blame it on the economy. Like it will come back next year, huh? The big training outsourcers are winning larger and larger contracts. They take centralized training departments and immediately wean companies off of low-yield, low-margin, high-cost form factors such as classroom or courseware-based elearning. No emotional attachment to legacy training formats, just effectiveness and profitability (Smelling salts to those in denial). Blended Learning does not work. How could it? If snake oil does not work, how could bottling it in a variety of different containers increase its effectiveness? Look at the messaging of any vendor using the term “Blended Learning”. It is a thinly veiled effort to sidestep any complaint over a specific form factor. Customer complains about one and the conversations shifts to another. Clever. Knowledge Management does not work. File management systems work. Content management systems work. Knowledge is not housed in hardware or software. It is a product of wetware. The industry is still hot in Europe but imploding in the US. Vendors are rapidly migrating their products to expertise management, social networking, advanced data visualization and enterprise content management. All of the new second-generation products are very sophisticated (Autonomy, Tacit, AskMe, Insight Experience, Inxight, et al). KM and elearning will never merge. It is too late and doomed to failure. KM is now anathema to customers and elearning is being replaced by collaboration, simulation and real-time workflow products. Merging two mythical creatures just gets you a hybrid mythical creature (shades of Chimera). One final caveat. The vending machines (LMS & LCMS) can easily replace conventional snake oil inventory with these new forms of products. It would be a mistake to equate the failure of training and elearning with a forecasted demise of the learning technology industry. At the June 2003 eLearning forum with all the major LMS vendors, none of them would touch the drop-out problem. “Not our problem” was coming across loud and clear. (Actually, one vendor said to me, “content, what do we care about content?”) Reblogged with permission from original posting by Sam Adkins

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Selling Sleuth? The Secrets of Gathering Intelligence

Gathering Intelligence – An Insightful Sales Competency Business is an intelligent game and to win you have to gather intelligence about the marketplace. As a Sales Trainer, you will teach the sales team gathering intelligence as a sales competency. Your sales training program will present them how to define, analyze and learn about competitors, products, customers, distributors, industries, technologies and field research. Much of this teaching analysis should integrate and accentuate your sales management curriculum. It will also show how environmental and macroeconomic intelligence data is used to make financial decisions. Talent management and organizational development strategies are also linked to business intelligence when teaching sales strategies. According to Sales Training Drivers, once you acquire intelligence, you can: So, what do you do once you have gathered the intelligence and want to use it in the classroom? Keep your Competition Close In sales, gathering intelligence will be a big asset to assessing prospect problems. First you can isolate the data to come up with qualifying questions that give you answers to pain challenges and budget constraints. Use the data to create a behavioral question interview that will help you keep the prospect engaged in objective conversation to uncover weaknesses that you can solve with your product or service. Now, you are on a real fact finding mission with your prospect! Implement action oriented blended learning tools into your teach back that keeps the class motivated on isolating and organizing the business resources effectively. The best way to keep the class on their heels is to turn the learning function into a real world test role play! Establish ROI with all sales data points Another hard line sales management learning objective would be to use the intelligence to teach the class how to design an ROI analysis report that will sell a Decision Maker. That will always get the class up and moving! Focus on gathering business intelligence that is of interest to the decision makers you are calling on. For example, look at all the companies in your selling market that have had a sales decrease, but could really benefit from your product or service in terms of making or saving money. Why are they experiencing a sales decrease? Formulate a short ROI analysis outline using resourced intelligence to raise an eyebrow based on what you think you can do for that prospect to increase their revenue, productivity and performance.

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Sales Training: Why it Fades and How to Avoid Wasting Your Time

This month, our webinar is on sustainable sales training. We took a moment to catch up with the speaker, Michelle Teel of Vantage Point Performance, to discuss what experiences make her enthusiastic about this subject, what trainers can do to reinforce learning, and whose responsibility it really is to ensure learning sticks. Michelle has over 26 years of experience in the sales performance arena. During that time, even when she was working with some of the best and brightest clients, she noticed that companies would spend millions of dollars on training efforts only to have little or nothing to show for it. After noticing the pattern, she began looking into what the reasons could be. Why Sales Training Fades As it turns out, Michelle learned that one of the main reasons why sales training fades is due to a lack of reinforcement. Does this mean that sales trainers should focus even more on materials that sales teams can use after the initial session? Michelle had this to say: “By reinforcement, we don’t mean online training modules designed to reinforce the content. That has been tried again and again with little to no return. When we say reinforcement, we mean execution with the client in the field where the job occurs.” This means that in order for sales training to really stick, the training needs to be applied on-the-job in addition to the classroom we’ve echoed in our blog before). Michelle believes that a way that sales trainers can accomplish this is by spending some time gaining sales experience. To speak sales team language, Michelle says, sales trainers need to make sales calls, attend strategy sessions, and go after prospects. This will help them translate their training into something the sales team can relate to. So Whose Responsibility is it to Ensure Learning Sticks? The question of who’s responsible for learning may not have an easy answer, but is it something that trainers should worry about? Here’s what Michelle thinks. “It is almost never the trainer’s responsibility. Training is only a small portion of an overall change effort. The stickiness of the training will depend upon the alignment between the reinforcement and the sales person.” In other words, passing the buck to any one individual isn’t going to work. If you want to cause a worthwhile change in sales behavior, that change has to be echoed throughout the whole team. That means that the sales management, the sales trainers, and the sales reps all have to work together and do their part to make sure that training doesn’t end in more headaches and less solutions. Michelle Teel’s complimentary webinar, ” Sustainable Sales Training: Oxymoron or Achievable Goal?” will be hosted on Tuesday November 30 at 1 PM EST. The presentation will explore the common traps and assumptions companies make when they enter into a sales performance improvement effort and examine why these assumptions lead to misdirected allocation of resources as well as dashed expectations. Register today!

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