A New Tool to Help You Decide how to Spend Professional Development Dollars

Budget season has descended upon my organization. While we try frantically to meet the deadlines set forth by the finance department, we’re also trying to pay for as many 2015 expenses as possible by spending 2014 funds prior to December 31.

If you happen to be in the same boat, I spent some time this weekend inventing a cool new tool (at least I think it’s cool) to help you decide how to spend some of your “leftover” 2014 funds.

I’m assuming most readers of the Train Like A Champion blog are in the training or human resources field, which explains the limited nature of this tool. If you have 3 minutes, go ahead and check it out. Let me know what you think in the comment section below.

Cover Page

Click here to launch the “How-to-Spend-Your-Professional-Development-Dollars” wizard.

If you know of someone in the training or human resources fields who might need to spend down their professional development dollars by the end of this year, please pass this along to them!

Clubbin’ with HR

Clubbin with HR

Imagine you’re standing in the rope line, waiting for a while but still excited about the prospects of getting in to a club so exclusive that few of your friends and classmates have ever been able to get in. Then the moment arrives. The bouncer points his finger at you. “Come with me,” he says, plucking you out of the line, escorting you past a bunch of other people and into the club.

The music is thumping. A few heads turn to look at you. One or two even say “hello”. Most ignore you. Should you go to the bar and order a drink? Hit the dance floor? Find a table? Decisions, decisions.

At the bar you try your smoothest move to get the bar tender’s attention, but he ignores you. The patrons around you laugh. “You’re not doing it right,” says another club goer, then walks away.

Maybe the dance floor will be a better place to start.

You quickly realize that the type of dancing – while it seems to be working for the folks on the dance floor – is like no dance you’ve ever seen. You give it a whirl, but your moves turn out more like Elaine’s spazz dance from Seinfeld. Being out of sync with everyone else means you’re stepping on toes and knocking people’s drinks out of their hands all night.

It’s not fun. But you come back the next night. And every night for months.

Eventually you start to get the hang of it, though it would have been nice if someone had taught you the secret to ordering drinks on that first night. It would have been much less embarrassing and much more fun for everyone if someone had practiced a few of this club’s proprietary dance steps with you from the beginning.

This scenario plays out every day in companies across the country and around the world. Your organization is a bit like an exclusive club. You carefully craft your recruitment and hiring process. You spend countless hours interviewing and meeting to decide which candidate to pull out of the “rope line” and invite into your club.

And then what?

The big questions that too many organizations don’t answer adequately are:

  • How do we effectively orient new employees to the organization during the first days and weeks?
  • How do we effectively integrate new employees into their roles and the organization’s culture over their first weeks and months?

Seriously, click the link below and download this book

Michelle Baker of Phase(Two)Learning helps HR professionals and hiring managers answer these questions with a new ebook entitled: Onboarding Tools for Hiring Managers: Tips, Tools & Rules to Set Your New Employees Up for Success. If you’re a hiring manager or responsible for the onboarding of new staff, I strongly recommend taking a look at this short book for two reasons:

  1. It helps answer the above questions in a short, succinct and easy-to-digest format, and
  2. It provides space for you to reflect on key points and to identify where your orientation and onboarding processes may have holes.

Onboarding Tools for Hiring Managers: Tips, Tools & Rules to Set Your New Employees Up for Success is part book, part workbook and (for the time being) completely free. So there’s nothing to lose.

If you want to squeeze every last bit of value out of your employees, then you need to begin on Day 1 with high quality, engaging and meaningful orientation and onboarding processes.

Have you found an orientation or onboarding strategy that’s particularly meaningful? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section below.

Know someone responsible for orientation or onboarding? Pass this link 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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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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A new employee can never be “just one more thing”

Before you read further, you should consider checking out the two part case study about revitalizing new hire orientations: An New Employee Orientation Overhaul and The Exciting Conclusion: What Happens When A New Hire Orientation Becomes a Game.

You’re busy. Deadlines are coming up. Your Outlook calendar is packed. Reports are due. And yet one more thing is coming up next week: you have a new employee starting.

Except, a new employee isn’t “just one more thing.”

Even though you’ve walked the halls of your office for years, and even though you’ve seen plenty of employees come and go during your tenure, it’ll be the first time your new employee will have experienced your office. When that new employee begins next week, his life will have changed. He stopped doing something else – whether he left a job or he just graduated college – in order to begin working for you. He prepared for a series of interviews. He stayed up nights wondering if he was going to get the offer. He’s talked with his wife and children about the excitement he’s feeling for a new beginning. His excitement for the new challenge and new co-workers and new health plan and new boss will keep him up late the night before he begins.

His orientation may seem like a hassle to you, but it’s a big deal for him.

While the onboarding of a new employee is a process that can span weeks and months, the new hire orientation featuring an introduction to the organization and some HR stuff and forms and policies and procedures should be an experience worthy of all the excitement and anticipation and life-changing expectations that your new hire is expecting.

Earlier I wrote about the idea of giving a new employee a Professional Development Plan (PDP) from day 1 of employment. Perhaps that idea won’t fly in every organization. Following is a link to another idea you may find helpful:

Click here to download a sample new hire orientation note-taking packet.

The intent behind this sample document is to give your new hire a clue as to what he (or she) should be paying attention to during his meetings with people across the organization.

What are you doing to make sure the life-changing first day of a new hire with your organization is a welcoming and productive experience?

5 People to Follow on Twitter if You’re a Learning Professional

I resisted signing up for Twitter for a long time. How much can you actually get out of a series of 140-character messages? I’m starting to change my tune on this.

I’ve found that if you’re following the right people, it can be a pretty amazing professional development tool. The following five people are doing a lot of the legwork for me when it comes to finding articles and resources on training, learning, elearning, general human resources and professional development:

General Human Resources

Warren White posts about general human resources information, particularly from a recruiter (and job seeker) perspective.

New Hire Orientation and Onboarding

Michelle Baker shares articles (including content from her blog) focused on increasing employee engagement and how to put together a rockin’ new hire orientation and onboarding program.

E-learning

Nicole Legault began blogging about e-learning several years ago and now posts a ton of content specific to Articulate Storyline. Whether you’re using Storyline or just looking for some good ideas on creating engaging elearning programs, you’ll get some great stuff.

E-learning (and a smattering of traditional learning, too)

Cathy Moore has some amazing ideas about how to design engaging learning experiences – mostly elearning but there are a lot of concepts that will improve traditional classroom-based learning as well.

Gaming

“Gamification” is a trendy topic in the learning world these days. Jane McGonigal is the queen of all things game-related. I don’t think she likes the term “gamification”, but if you’d like to learn more about game design and how it can make a real-world impact, she’s an amazing resource.

If you’re on Twitter, I encourage you to follow them for these reasons:

  1. They post links to really interesting content.
  2. If you’re in the HR or learning and development field, their posts will often lead to resources that can solve a problem.
  3. They won’t overwhelm your Twitter feed with a million posts each day.

Are you following someone that posts good L&D content? Please share in the comments section!

The Train Like A Champion Blog is published Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  If you think someone else might find this interesting, please pass it along.  If you don’t want to miss a single, brilliant post, be sure to click “Follow”!  And now you can find sporadic, 140-character messages from me on Twitter @flipchartguy.

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?

PowerPoint vs. Storyline (aka: Telling vs. Experiencing)

I imagine most training professionals and instructional designers are quite familiar with the old proverb: “Tell me and I forget, show me and I remember, involve me and I understand.” Why, then, do so many elearning modules continue to tell content at the learners?

I recently posed this question to several training program managers from large, Seattle-area tech companies. Their answers made a lot of business sense: with so many training modules that need to be created in such a short amount of time, it’s faster and easier to put the content into a PowerPoint presentation, convert it to a click-through elearning module and make the content available to the intended audience. And the program managers report that they’re generally content with the results.

Still, I wonder: just because you can tell your content to thousands of employees around the world  via a PowerPoint-based elearning module, is that what training departments should do?

I decided to conduct my own, not-so-scientific test of this theory.  While I was in an airport on a layover, I gave myself 45 minutes to create a PowerPoint-based elearning module, and then I gave myself 45 minutes to create an elearning module using Articulate Storyline.

The Results

PowerPoint:

I put together the PowerPoint module in less than 45 minutes.  I probably could have spent a little more time on the actual graphic design of the module, but you’ll get the point.  Slideshare is my make-shift LMS for this…

Storyline:

I took just over 45 minutes to put this together.  I’m not an expert at Storyline by any means, but I’ve found it incredibly easy to transfer my PowerPoint knowledge into Storyline proficiency.  Here are several screen captures of the module:

Storyline1

Storyline2

Storyline3

Exit Question

It doesn’t take much more technical savvy to use Storyline than it does to use PowerPoint. It doesn’t have to take much more time to create something in Storyline than in PowerPoint. And while you can tell and show people using PowerPoint, Storyline adds a dimension allowing learners to be involved.

Going back to the old proverb: would you rather have your learners forget by telling?  Would you rather have your learners remember by showing? Or would you rather have your learners understand by involving?

When SMEs Go Rogue

How do you prepare a pediatric anesthesiologist for his first encounter with a set of concerned parents and a scared child?  Perhaps you could bring a few parents into his new hire orientation to talk about their past experiences.

Unless the parents go rogue.

A parent may offer a 6-minute biography even though she was asked to give a simple, 30-second introduction.  A parent may share 10 minutes of his daughter’s case history even though he was asked to simply share the questions he had for the anesthesiologist.

When a former classmate and I got together recently we spoke about this very situation.  She coordinates new hire orientation at a child-centered hospital and her sessions feature a panel of parents.  She was concerned that she only had 60 minutes to cover a broad range of topics, but sometimes the parents would take their stories too far which would occasionally take up time allocated for other topics.

I offered two suggestions:

  1. Advanced Warning.  In advance of the session, send a 3-sentence example of the stories parents would be asked to share.  This would provide parents a template and they would have clear expectations of how much to      share.  Having time to think about and practice their brief story in advance could make sure parents are prepared and focused on the day of the training.
  2. Visual Cues. During introductions (which sometimes went on too long and often went astray), post a flipchart in front of the room stating precisely the information each parent should share in order to introduce themselves and      a little about the reason they volunteered to participate in this orientation session.

Though the parents were well-intentioned and certainly had many experiences to share, this was not designed to be a counseling session for them to de-brief their experiences. It was designed to give new anesthesiologists a brief sampling of parents’ thoughts and concerns and how to address them.

Whether working with parents or any other subject matter expert, pre-session preparation and in-class visual cues can help to keep a lesson on track and on-time.  What strategies have you found helpful when working with SMEs?

The Train Like A Champion Blog is published Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  If you think someone else might find this interesting, please pass it along.  If you don’t want to miss a single, brilliant post, be sure to click “Follow”!  And now you can find sporadic, 140-character messages from me on Twitter @flipchartguy.

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.