Why (and How) I #GuildChat

Over the past year, I’ve written several articles about the joys and benefits of Tweet chatting (here is a quick primer if you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a Tweet chat).

As my to-do list at work has grown longer (with shorter turn-around times), I was able to join in on fewer and fewer Twitter conversations. Last week, however, I got excited to see that the eLearning Guild’s weekly #GuildChat topic would be onboarding.

I’m in the midst of helping overhaul my organization’s onboarding programs, I’ve been looking for some good ideas, so this seemed quite timely.

Normally, to participate in a Tweet chat, I’ll sit by myself at my desk, kind of hoping nobody else walks by and thinks it’s ok to interrupt me because I’m “just doing Twitter.” Last week, I switched this routine up a bit. Continue reading

What’s Missing from ATD ICE?

Searching (Blank Face)

ATD’s annual international conference and expo began yesterday, and I have a feeling it’s missing something (and I’m not necessarily talking about me… although really, what good is a conference without me?).

I’ve been to several ATD conferences and a SHRM Talent Development conference over the past few years and they all seem to be missing something.

The crowds I’ve encountered at the ATD conferences have primarily included instructional designers, training program managers, classroom instructors and some independent consultants. The SHRM conference was primarily HR professionals – business partners, generalists, department heads and consultants.

I imagine it’s similar at major conferences for professionals in coaching or organizational development. On the one hand, it’s to be expected. These conferences, after all, are for specialized segments of the greater human performance field. On the other hand, none of these initiatives can be successful if professionals from across the human performance spectrum don’t have opportunities to cross-pollinate.

Recently, as I got involved in my local ATD chapter, I was given an opportunity to work on an annual program called the Allied Professionals Event, which will take place on June 9th in Seattle. I’m looking forward to it because it is the one night of the year when people from across these specialized areas – learning & development, human resources, coaching and organizational development – can all come together, spend some time networking and discussing what’s on their minds, and then listen to some of the region’s rock star executives in both HR and business operations speak to the impact of human performance initiatives on the people within their organizations.

If you’re in the Seattle area, I’d like to invite you to attend (here is the registration information) and I’d love to hear what you’re working on. If you’re someplace else in this world, I’d love to hear from you – have you found similar opportunities to engage with your counterparts from other areas of the human performance spectrum?

While I know large national conferences are organized for specialized groups that make up their membership, are they completely serving their members’ best interests with such a narrow focus across all conference programming?

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Let’s hear it in the Comment section.

Know someone who might be interested in this type of initiative, please pass this along!

5 things pink eye and training have in common

Last week I spent an afternoon at home with my 3-year-old. He couldn’t go to school because he had come down with pink eye. As we found ways to keep ourselves busy, I couldn’t help but to think that pink eye and training have a lot in common. Here are five ways:

1) Nobody wants to be diagnosed with it

For many people, being told you have pink eye might even be preferable to being told it’s time for annual compliance training (or time to fulfill CME or CLE or other professional education credits).

2) It won’t get better unless you do something about it

Pink eye requires quarantining the patient and applying medicine. Presentation skills require continual attention and care and development and rehearsing and trying new things in order to get better.

3) Bad habits just make it worse

Rubbing and scratching an infected eye only leads to a longer recovery time. Not washing hands regularly can even help spread the infection to others. Along similar lines, bad habits such as developing presenter-centered (as opposed to learner-centered) training, the propensity to just “wing it” (as opposed to preparing and rehearsing) and hastily thrown together slide decks will lead to boring presentations. It’s been my experience that organizations that tolerate boring presentations allow poor presentation skills to infect entire workforces.

4) A little lava makes everything better

When my son and I went to the local park and ran around, we of course spent time imagining the wood chips at the bottom of the slide was a lava field (don’t touch the ground or your feet will burn up!). Having some time to get out of the house and play just seemed to raise his spirits. Similarly, presenters that can incorporate a sense of play into their training sessions seem to more effectively engage their audiences.

5) Follow-up is essential

In order for pink eye to go away, you can’t just use the eye drops one time. They need consistent, regular application (every six hours!). Training is the same way. It can’t simply be a one-time thing. It requires consistent and regular reinforcement.

Interested in other parallels between parenting and training? You may enjoy these other posts:

Know someone else who might appreciate the parallels between family life and learning and development? Please pass this link along!

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These 140 characters tell you everything you need to know about effective learning & development

It begins with the learner. It’s about connecting with the audience. It’s about changing forever. #presentationskills #learning #development

Know someone who might be able to benefit from this succinct summary of the essence of every effective learning program that has ever existed in the history of mankind? Pass this post along (or better yet, just copy the above text and tweet it).

5 Questions to Ask before Sending Someone to Training

I’m going to share a dirty little secret with you. Please don’t tell my colleagues in the training field that I shared this with you. I’m a training professional. When people need training, I have job security.

The secret is this: training isn’t the solution to every performance problem or skills gap. There are time – a lot of times actually – when training is not an appropriate solution.

How can you know when training might be appropriate? Below, you will find a link to a series of five questions. A complex algorithm will then calculate the probability that training will be an appropriate solution.

Here is a preview of what you’ll find when you click the link (note: the following photos are just sample screen shots; if you’d like to find out if training is the right solution for you, you must click on the link below):

Is Training The Right Solution

Is Training The Right Solution Q5

Click here to find out if training is the right solution for you.

Know someone who might need some help deciding if training is the right solution? Pass this post along.

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Two Things Every New Hire Orientation Must Have

Do you remember the night before starting a new job?  What was going through your mind? Do any of these comments (ripped straight from actual Tweets) resonate with you?

Excited1

Excited2

Excited3

Then do you remember how you felt sitting through new hire orientation, listening to someone talk (or perhaps watching videos or even completing a series of elearning segments) about all the mandatory HR requirements (employee handbook, sexual harassment, OSHA, etc.)?  Do any of these comments (again, from actual Tweets) resonate with you?

New Hire Orientation 1

New Hire Orientation 2

New Hire Orientation 3

New Hire Orientation 4

New Hire Orientation 5

The importance of bringing new employees up to speed as quickly as possible on things such as organizational culture, company policies and their actual role cannot be understated. In The Lean Startup – a book about operating an organization as efficiently as possible – entrepreneur Eric Ries writes: “Without a [training] program, new employees will make mistakes while in their learning curve that will require assistance and intervention from other team members, slowing everyone down.”

You should also check out the two part case study about revitalizing a new hire orientations: An New Employee Orientation Overhaul and The Exciting Conclusion: What Happens When A New Hire Orientation Becomes a Game.

What kind of content should go into new hire orientation? That will depend on your organization’s goals and objectives when it comes to new hire orientation. If you’re looking for suggestions, the MindTickle blog has phenomenal new hire orientation tips and strategies.

New hire orientation that doesn’t snuff out the excitement and enthusiasm that new hires feel on the night before they start their new jobs really boils down to two questions:

  1. Two months from now, will the new hire remember most of what was presented (and know where to go to find other information they may have forgotten)?
  2. Did the person designing the orientation respect the new hires enough to ensure they will be engaged throughout every topic that will be covered (ie: they will not be sitting as people or videos or computers bestow tons of forgettable information upon them)?

When your new hires begin tweeting something two hours into their first day, what do you think their 140 characters will say about your orientation program?

Making New Hire Orientation Mean Something

Congratulations!  You beat out 128 other applicants for this position and today is your first day on the new job.   Right away you realize it’s not going to be a snoozer of a new hire orientation.  Your manager and someone from HR greet you with a document as soon as you walk through the door.  You’ve been on the job 38 seconds and you realize you’ve already been given a professional development plan (PDP).

What would happen if all new hires began day #1 of their employment with a PDP, a development plan containing specific goals for which they’d be held accountable over their first month of work?  It sure would be memorable for the employee.  And it should serve to help a manager better target specifically what should be covered (and what should be eliminated) during new hire orientation.

I’ve sat through many new hire orientations, and I can’t really remember much about any of them – other than the fact I’ve spent the day filling out forms and sitting through a number of (forgettable) presentations.  I’ve also presented at a number of new hire orientations, sharing a brief overview of my department to new colleagues who have been drinking from an information-laden fire hose all day.  Is this the best use of a new hire’s time?  Is this the best use of the various presenters’ time?

Recently I’ve had a number of conversations with colleagues and several clients who were all looking to speed the time to competence for new hires.  Losing a day (or in some cases a week) to presentations for new employees is not a way to speed time to competence.  From a new employee’s standpoint, he often doesn’t know which parts of these presentations are important or will impact his job.  And too often the presenters use the same canned presentation for a new employee regardless of the employee’s responsibilities.

Training – including new hire orientation – just won’t stick unless a manager holds an employee accountable for using (or remembering) what he’s learned. Giving a new employee a PDP from day 1 could be just the tool that a manager and a new employee need to have a meaningful new hire experience and speed time to competency.

You should also check out the two part case study about revitalizing a new hire orientations: An New Employee Orientation Overhaul and The Exciting Conclusion: What Happens When A New Hire Orientation Becomes a Game.