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Corporate Training and a Twitter Feed Walk into a Bar

By Michael Croft This is a punch line you’re going to love – effective and engaging corporate…
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Learning! 100

Learning! 100 Award Finalists Revealed

The Top 100 Learning Organization Rankings to be Revealed August 27th The Elearning! Media Group… Read more...

8th Annual Learning! 100 Award Application Deadline…

Award Honors Top Learning Organizations for Innovation, Collaboration and High Performance… Read more...

8th Annual Learning! 100 Award Call for Applications Opens

Award Program Recognizes Top 100 Global Learning Organizations Elearning! Media Group, publishers… Read more...

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Learning! 100 Award Finalists Revealed

The Top 100 Learning Organization Rankings to be Revealed August 27th The Elearning! Media Group revealed the Learning! 100 top learning organizations finalists for 2018. The final rankings will be… Read more...

Diversity & Learning Lab Launched

Diversity, inclusion, and belonging are unique areas of both challenge and opportunity for learning professionals. To address these topics, Elliott Masie has partnered with international learning… Read more...

Learning! 100 Call for Applications

The annual Learning! 100 award program honors public and private sector organizations for innovation, collaboration and learning culture that drives performance. Applications can be submitted at:… Read more...

Learning Ovations, Digital Promise, UCI, and MDRC were awarded U.S. Department of Education EIR Grants to scale personalized literacy instruction for United2Read Project. The five-year expansion grant aims to have 90% or more of students reading at grade level by third grade, and to improve district, school, and teacher capacity.

Published in Latest News

Seven of the top 10 strategic corporate initiatives require HR involvement.  HR must play a strategic role in the future success of organizations in an increasingly competitive market for skills and talent, according to HR Realities 2017-18 Study.

“There is a great opportunity for HR to extend its influence right now. But, with a decrease in headcount and rise in HR technology spend, the need to innovate and be agile is vital,” says David Wilson, CEO of Fosway Group.

Forward thinking organizations are already looking at:

>>  Video based recruiting (84%),

>>  Continuous employee appreciation (82%)

>>  Social recruitment (77%).

Sadly, only 12% of organizations use artificial intelligence currently. But, the rate of innovation is only going to accelerate with increased adoption. “Those that are early adopters of technology will see the benefits,” concludes Wilson.

Download complimentary infographic summarizing findings of this U.K study at: http://bit.ly/2izhHte

Published in Latest News

The CEO of Mastercard told an audience in Saudi Arabia that “data could be as effective as oil as a means of generating wealth.” Is he right?

“Companies today handle more data than ever before and it’s having a profound effect on the way governments, businesses and technologies evolve,” says data scientist Justhy Deva Prasad, author of “The Billion Dollar Byte: Turn Big Data into Good Profits, The Datapreneur Way.

Non-digital companies may be doomed. “You cannot halt the digital revolution and if companies don’t build a boat that embraces the coming data tsunami, they’re not going to be able to compete with those who do,” says Prasad.

Traditional legacy companies need a framework for making data strategy central to their business models in the same way that the newer Digital Native companies have. The framework should provide concrete models for creating smart data infrastructures, accurately weighing the value of data and data systems, investing in the right technologies, hiring entrepreneurial people with tech skills, leveraging the full value of data, and much more. It aims to help companies align their data strategy with their business model.

Published in Latest News

The buzz was all about artificial intelligence (A.I.) at this year’s HR Technology Conference. No surprise, as the size of the global market for artificial intelligence for enterprise applications is worth around $360 million according to statistics.

A.I. HR implementations are seen in talent, recruitment and succession planning.  IBM Talent showcased some applications.  Several other companies displayed Alexa-customized solutions like Paradox, which is a branded A.I. coach. It claims to “build human-powered A.I. to engage, empower and understand large groups of people.” Oracle will be infusing its Cloud applications with artificial intelligence. “A.I. should be an enabler,” says Gretchen Alarcon of Oracle.

Published in Latest News

Learners in today’s workforce don’t want to be taught to, but expect to be able to learn. Millennials especially cite learning as the most desirable benefit a job can offer. They expect learning opportunities to be personal, accessible and flexible. That’s the heart of modern professional learning.

To be able compete in the war for workplace talent, organizations need to personalize the professional learning experience and empower employees to lead their own learning.

“It’s not just about the pay as it is about the whole experience of working for a business,” says Shane Sutherland, founder and chief designer at portfolio and personal learning platform company PebblePad, a D2L partner.

HOW TO PERSONALIZE LEARNING

There are four ways organizations can personalize professional learning.

1. CREATE PERSONALIZED LEARNING PATHWAYS

Enabling employees to create and keep online learning portfolios is a great way for organizations to pave personalized learning pathways. Online portfolios are a space where employees can build up evidence of their learning, reflect on their experiences, and share those reflections if they wish. In that way, they can make employees active actors in their own learning.

They can be transferable from job to job, so employees can tell the story of who they are, what they’ve learned, and the skills they’ve developed — a key consideration in the quickly growing gig economy.

Portfolios can be particularly effective when embedded into well-thought-out learning designs via an online learner engagement platform that presents learning to employees in specific contexts. Modern learning platforms can provide employees with easy access to their portfolios and other learning materials as needed — things like “just-in-time” social, mobile and video learning content, or content that they can access at their own pace after completing certain tasks or reaching different milestones.

2. PROVIDE OPPORTUNITIES FOR SOCIAL LEARNING

Conversation can be a crucial driver of personalized employee learning. Coaches, mentors and peers can all help employees to extract insights out of a learning experience, which can be something as simple as a discussion by the office coffee machine.

According to an October 2015 survey by the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies, 88 percent of people believe knowledge sharing within a team is essential for workplace learning. Group research projects are a great tool in that regard— they empower people to seek out new knowledge, make sense of it, and share what they learn with their peers.

Manager-led learning, where managers act more like a coach or mentor and give people opportunities to learn through things like projects, can also drive social learning. Creating custom templates can give managers a framework for facilitating effective conversations around projects and performance: What 10 words would you use to describe your performance? What did you find most challenging? What do you feel you achieved?

3MAKE LEARNING MOBILE, AVAILABLE ANYTIME, ANYWHERE

Workplace learners expect to be able to access learning experiences anywhere, at any time, and on multiple devices.

According to Google, when it comes to search, 80 percent use a smartphone and 57 percent use more than one type of device. Gartner says that consumers will own and use three to four devices by 2018. And according to a study by Global Workplace Analytics, 80 percent to 90 percent of people in the U.S. workforce say they would like to telework at least part time, and Fortune 1000 companies around the globe are entirely revamping their space around the fact that employees are already mobile. That’s why it’s become increasingly incumbent on organizations to enable mobile learning.

4. ENCOURAGE EMPLOYEES TO TAKE OWNERSHIP OF THEIR OWN LEARNING

Empowering employees to learn outside the office is a great way to get them to take ownership of their own learning. They can learn a lot through online sharing with their own professional and social networks, and independently researching on the Internet — be it through Google, YouTube videos, or LinkedIn.

There are also many learning opportunities available out in the real world, too. Professional events, volunteering, hobbies and personal interests, and community engagement are also great opportunities for professional learning and development.

At the end of the day, personalizing employee learning is about more than simply modernizing learning and development. It’s also about providing learning that’s beyond the bounds of the work they must do.

—Jon Paul is Content Manager for D2L.

Published in Ideas

WHAT, EXACTLY, ARE COMPETENCIES?

Competencies are abilities, behaviors, knowledge and skills that impact the success of employees and organizations. They can include general skills (like communication skills), role-specific skills, leadership skills and others. The common theme is that a competency can be analyzed and broken down into a set of specific behaviors that tell employees what is expected of them and that management can measure.

The idea is that these competencies should be well-defined across the organization. The definition is not enough by itself, however. It needs to be paired with specific behaviors or tasks that are expected of the employee. These will be different depending on the role of the employee in question Once competencies are defined, you can create a competency model: a set of 7 to 10 core competencies that are aligned with your company’s business goals.

Once you have a model, you can begin defining tasks for each competency for given roles. You can then use them to assess potential employees for different positions. You can also easily and consistently communicate your expectations, as well as measure competencies as part of your performance reviews. Finally, you can grow your training opportunities for employees to improve upon the competencies.

WHY INCORPORATE COMPETENCIES?

Competency modeling is now a mainstay in the most successful businesses. In one study by Development Dimensions International (DDI), 89 percent of best-in-class organizations had core competencies defined for all their roles, compared to a mere 48 percent for all other companies.

A separate report, the Top Companies for Leaders report done in conjunction with Fortune and Aon Hewitt, found that a full 100 percent of companies making the global top companies list use a well-defined competency model.

There’s ample evidence that using competencies does help businesses. For example, companies that manage their people well with regard to skills, knowledge, commitment and abilities are 30 percent to 40 percent more productive than average. The issue isn’t whether the model works. The issue is how to get started using the model.

FIRST STEPS

Here are six steps for getting started with competencies:

1. Start small.

Don’t re-invent the wheel. Work to identify just a handful of competencies — no more than five or six — for your organization. Once you’ve incorporated a select few and shown success, then you can build on these.

2. Decide on consistent terminology to be used.

This includes the names and definitions of the competencies themselves. To make them memorable, you can use the first letter of the names of each competency to spell out a word, like GROW or STEAM.

3. Think in terms of specific, concrete tasks.

Think about the tasks or behaviors that demonstrate the competencies you have chosen. Also think about tasks and behaviors that fail to demonstrate them so you can incorporate into your performance review process.

4. Work your new terminology into job descriptions, and use it when advertising positions. 

When it comes to describing job positions or roles, and when looking for people to fill those roles, use the language you adopted when talking about your competencies.

5. Research how competencies can be measured in your assessments.

Both assessment questionnaires and 360 surveys can be tuned to uncover evidence of competencies in your employees.

6. Craft training around those competencies.

Find content (or a training partner like ej4) that speaks to your competencies, and create courses that can help both your leaders and your front-line employees grow in those areas.

Use of competency learning tracks in the learning management system, like Thinkzoom by ej4, is just one way to incorporate competencies into their learning. Ready to get started? Visit us online at ej4.com.

Published in Ideas

With so many things to incorporate into your training program, how do you know where to focus your efforts? A successful program requires many factors working together, but it all starts with a program manager dedicated to impacting business results and employees’ development. We work with those training champions every day, and through our partnerships with them, we’ve identified nine key areas to focus on for building highly successful employee training programs.

STRONG PROGRAM MANAGEMENT

Titles of training program managers may vary, but they all share a commitment to continually develop and improve their programs. Ideal program managers are curious, openminded, motivated, and interested in helping others develop their skills.

ASSESSING TRAINING NEEDS

Performing a needs assessment through internal surveys, interviews and research will help determine who needs to be trained and on what skills. Understanding these training needs forms the foundation of what makes your training program integral to the company’s successes.

ALIGNMENT WITH BUSINESS INITIATIVES

To see the strongest results from training, look at how training needs you’ve identified are tied into organizational initiatives. Help employees and leaders see how training and development contributes to the goals of the overall company goals.

4 CREATING GOALS  AND METRICS

When training and business needs are aligned, create goals that show the steps for how to achieve those results. Make sure these goals are achievable in a reasonable amount of time, and that they’re specific to the outcomes desired.

5 LEADERSHIP BUY-IN

Your leadership team’s support of the program is critical to seeing success. Once you’ve identified the needs, aligned them to organizational initiatives, and created strong goals, you can show senior leaders the impact of training on the bottom line. This opens all sorts of doors for a bigger budget, higher utilization and engagement, and the ability to build a learning culture in your company.

6 RELEVANCY OF CONTENT

The training content you provide to learners must be relevant for them to be engaged and really learn from it. Curating content for specific needs allows them to find information quicker and view your program as a valuable source for personal and professional development.

7  INFUSING CREATIVITY

Inviting creative ideas into your program helps grow engagement and a more positive attitude toward training. Collaborating and brainstorming fun ideas delights employees with training that is enjoyable and helps them get hooked on developing their skills.

8 ONGOING MARKETING

This is an area where many program managers struggle to maintain momentum. A successful marketing plan encapsulates initial launch activities, along with strong ongoing efforts throughout the program. Training communication sent to employees should always include the “why” and what’s in it for them. The goal of marketing is to increase utilization and engagement, so to do that, you’ll need to continually show employees how they’ll benefit from the available training.

9. POST-TRAINING REINFORCEMENT

Training is only effective if it’s remembered, so counteracting the brain’s natural forgetfulness is a critical part of seeing results from your training program, since 70 percent of training is forgotten within 24 hours. Providing opportunities for learners to recall what they were trained will help them commit it to long-term memory. Send follow-up questions and provide a space for discussions in order to see positive and impactful results from your training program.

—As a content marketing specialist with BizLibrary, the author researches and writes relevant and helpful content for the HR and L&D community. She manages blog posts, press releases, social media, and creates resources that educate and motivate the BizLibrary audience to take action and improve employee training in their organizations. Contact Brubaker at (636) 205-0354 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  .

Published in Ideas

"Great managers aren’t born — they’re trained.”

That’s the message Scott Blanchard, principal and EVP with The Ken Blanchard Companies, is sharing with audiences as he speaks to groups of leadership, learning and talent-development professionals.

Blanchard points to research that shows most managers don’t receive that necessary training, however, until they are about 10 years into their managerial career.

“The effects are damaging at both an individual and organizational level,” says Blanchard. “More than 60 percent of new managers underperform or fail in their first two years. And those who survive without managerial training often find themselves with negative habits that are hard to break — which can hold them back for years to come.”

With more than two million new people stepping up to leadership for the first time each year in the U.S. alone, Blanchard believes organizations need to take management training a lot more seriously.

“It is very important that those responsible for organizational training put together an effective curriculum for developing people into trusted professional managers. As a professional manager, you are responsible for what your direct reports do, and to some degree, how they feel — especially the emotional connection they establish with their job and the company.

While some people’s influence and communication skills come naturally, every manager can learn and develop the skills they need regardless of their starting point, says Blanchard.

“Some people naturally understand how to work with others collaboratively and how to build rapport, while others come to leadership from a less developed starting point. But you still need a system if you are going to succeed as a manager. It’s something everyone can benefit from."

According to Blanchard, all great managers do four things:

“Great managers begin by establishing clarity for their people through clear goals, accountability and personal responsibility. Second, they intervene appropriately when things are going well — and when things aren’t going well. Third, they adapt their leadership style to what is needed by appropriately identifying a direct report’s development level on a task and then modifying their style to best serve the direct report at that stage.

“Finally, great managers know how to create long-term, long-lasting relationships that are evidenced by trust and engagement over time. This results in people who stay with the organization, talk positively about the organization to others, and perform at high levels in a collaborative manner.”

Blanchard explains that effective managers connect the dots between the work of the person, the work of the unit, and the work of the organization as a whole. They understand the correlation of action, motivation and commitment. They successfully manage both performance and employee satisfaction.

“Great managers help people see the bigger picture from whatever seat they occupy,” says Blanchard, “and that can be a challenge. People’s careers rise and fall and managers need to be there with coaching skills to help people through the ups and downs — even when there isn’t a clear path forward.

“These powerful skills almost always have to be developed through training — and once learned, they can help people focus and find a way forward in any situation.”

Published in Insights

Every business has its challenges when it comes to training employees, but there are three issues in particular that plague companies trying to improve their training programs. All three of those issues result in low ROI and negative views of training when they’re not addressed.

Effective training looks much different today than it did 30, 15, even 5 years ago. We have more access to data and scientific evidence that proves traditional approaches to training aren’t as effective as they could be if modern methods were incorporated.

Your employees have become accustomed to constant connection through various devices. They have access to media that’s relevant to whatever they’re looking for — whether it’s learning how to complete a task, being entertained, hearing about current events, etc. They expect their training experience to be up-to-date with the technology they’re using daily, and to deliver the information they need to be successful in their job.

In a 2017 report, Execu|Search found that 76 percent of Millennials rank professional development opportunities as one of the most important elements of a company’s culture. Considering that they are already making up about half of the American workforce, paying attention to the learning needs and preferences rising from Millennials’ development is crucial for a company to see any return on its training investment.

So, what are the needs and preferences of modern learners? Short content that delivers the message without overloading the brain’s natural capacity to take in information. Video based content with high production value. Reinforcement of training to move important information to long-term memory. If your training is too long, unengaging, and lacking reinforcement opportunities, it’s time to make some changes.

CREATE A MICROLEARNING HABIT

When you’re taking employees off the job for training or having them sit through hour-long courses, you’re missing the opportunity to help them become better at learning. With packed schedules and endless to-do lists, your employees need the ability to learn relevant information whenever and wherever they need it. This means they need short bursts of training (less than 10 minutes) that can be in-corporated into each day, a.k.a. microlearning.

Utilizing microlearning not only decreases cognitive load and allows for a higher percentage of the information to be absorbed, but it creates a habit of learning every day — which is a foundation of innovative and agile organizations.

QUALITY MATTERS: IS YOUR TRAINING A BLAST FROM THE PAST?

One of the biggest complaints from employees about their employer-provided training programs is that the content is out of date. Training videos from the 1980s are hard to take seriously when you’re distracted by the wardrobe choices and the inferiority of the technology. Video is the most popular and most effective format for a wide variety of training topics, but learners today will have a hard time engaging with anything that doesn’t have high production value or clearly demonstrate that it’s relevant to their job today.

HOW TO PREVENT TRAINING FROM BEING FORGOTTEN

The third and most critical issue has nothing to do with what happens during training. It’s all about what happens afterward. Our brains are wired to forget things that they deem unimportant, and they do so at a stunningly rapid rate. Within 24 hours of a training event, your employees will have forgotten 70 percent of what they learned — unless you counteract this natural forgetfulness with post-training reinforcement.

Making training memorable means using spaced repetition to help short-term memory transfer to long-term. Using quizzes right away promotes the first stage of recall, and then spacing out follow up questions (multiple choice, short answer, polls, etc.) signals to the brain that this information needs to be used, therefore it should be moved to long-term memory. Whether learners answer follow-up questions correctly isn’t important. Provide them with the correct answer, and the benefits of forced recall still stand.

To see greater engagement and ROI in your employee training program, try incorporating modern microlearning with post-training reinforcement.

Published in Insights

I recently had the privilege of training 25 companies on mindfulness practices. Part of our session was on corporate culture. It's a topic that I love to speak about, because most companies have a candy coating to their true corporate culture. My favorite definition of culture comes from the Harvard Business Review. It refers to culture as "consistent, observable patterns of behavior in organizations."

The problem with corporate culture is often the difference between internal public relations (P.R.) and reality. The P.R. view is usually consistent across big companies. It goes something like, "Working here is amazing, fun, a growth opportunity where everyone loves each other and treats each other wonderfully. Best. Place. Ever. Oh, and snacks."

The truth tends to be a different story. Most attendees share a list of common challenges in the corporate world including:

>>  Doing more with less (faster, cheaper)

>>  Disconnected management

>>  Offshoring

>>  Technology challenges

>>  Offshoring innovation (sending employees the wrong message)

>>  Risky competition

>>  Increasing injury rates

>>  Absenteeism and presenteeism on the rise

We had 12 industries in the room, including real estate, technology, automotive, banking, consulting and consumer products. All agreed the challenges were universal -- the norm. If this list is the norm, then by definition, it's part of your company culture; the consistent, observable patterns of behavior in your organization. You don't have to talk about it; it just happens.

We then turned our attention to disruption. Every company has normal challenges. But we also have disruptive forces that ebb and flow, making the challenges even more difficult to work with. We started with basic disruption, the kind of global phenomenon we're all sadly getting used to: terrorism, politics, technology espionage/theft.

I challenged the group to think about smaller disruptive forces. The ones we don't talk about, but are massively damaging in the aggregate. For most companies, this includes:

>>  One-third of your employees suffers from insomnia. They show up unable to perform at their best.

>>  Four generations of employees must work together for the first time ever. And guess what? They hate each other! But few companies address the language, expectation and cultural divides that cause daily tension.

>>  Employees aren't taught focus and awareness skills. Injury rates are on the rise, and 91 percent of work accidents are caused by human error. The average company has 3.2 injuries for every 100 employees, at a cost of $38,000 each. If you're in a 10-percent margin industry, you have to make $380,000 just to cover injuries for every 100 employees. Do the math.

>>  83 percent of employees name work as their biggest source of stress and anxiety.

>>  Gallup estimates 70 percent of employees are disengaged at work, and 18 percent are actively disengaged, including toxic employees intentionally looking to avoid work.

The group agreed that disruption is the norm. It's part of your company culture; the consistent, observable patterns of behavior in your organization.

When it comes to company culture, the big question is this: Do you recognize the challenges and disruptive forces in running your business? Do you feel they'll get worse in the next 10 to 15 years? Are you equipping your employees to be resilient in the face of increasing disruption and modern business requirements?

If you're not addressing these, you might more realistically describe your culture as, "We demand faster, cheaper and ignore systemic market forces in the face of increased evidence that people don’t like it here. And we have good snacks." If your culture is just taking disruption as the norm vs. actively working to address it, you may have a culture problem that a P.R. spin won't help.

Here are some ways to solve that problem:

>>  Invest in the stress resiliency, mental well-being and coping skills of your employees. Mindfulness training has the benefit of helping the individual, while also opening him or her up to having more empathy and compassion toward one another.

>>  Look for more opportunities for employees to come together to create community. Whether it's monthly happy hours, celebrating big wins with team karaoke or team "offsites," a team in with which the individuals bond with one another will build a culture that is imperative to the functioning of the company.

>>  Add mental well-being to your quarterly staff surveys. When in doubt, ask. Check in on the level of stress in an open and transparent way with the intention of opening up the conversation instead of ignoring it. Ignoring it is resulting in 46 percent turnover for the average company in the U.S.

>>  Start small. Rome wasn't built in a day. Find what the biggest issue is first, and focus on that for a quarter. Then move onto the next big thing. Just like habits, you need to focus on each aspect of a company's culture one at a time to make real change happen.

>>  Don't let employee well-being slip, no matter what. When things get busy, the first thing that goes is that we forget to take care of ourselves. The same happens in business. Little do a lot of companies understand how much work suffers at the hands of poor well-being.

No company is perfect. But there are a lot of ways and resources to improve the inner workings of any organization.

-- Joe Burton is CEO of Whil, Inc, a recognized authority on employee wellbeing, author and speaker.

Published in Insights
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