How to be Thankful for Change

how-to-be-thankful-for-change

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. A day to spend with loved ones, eating all kinds of deliciousness, and simply taking time to reflect on what matters most. I can’t think of anything better!

This year, I’ve been particularly astute to the idea of change. Whether professional or personal, it seems that change has been swirling about in my life and in the lives of many others that I know. Some changes have been wonderful. Other changes, a little more stressful. I know that not everyone is crazy about change, particularly the stressful changes.

How do we embrace change and even – be thankful for it? Is that even possible?  I think yes.

Here are a few ideas:

1. Don’t just do something…sit there! (see what I did there?)

It’s a crazy time. We are in perpetual motion, whether physically, mentally or technologically. It seems that when change occurs, we jump to react – and sometimes, when we follow that knee-jerk reaction, we don’t take the appropriate time to consider the change and its impact on the situation, job, or our life. Take a moment. Reflect. Consider your questions. Talk to someone. Or maybe just sleep on it.

2. Don’t just sit there…do something! (see what I did *there*?)

Once you’ve reflected, once you’ve done your due diligence, once you’ve made a pro/con list – once you’ve done whatever you do to process the change…get to work! Make a plan to implement the change. By accepting the change and incorporating it into your routine, the sooner you will get used to it.

Learning nerd sidenote: This lends itself to the 70% of 70-20-10, don’t you think? It’s not enough to learn it conceptually….apply it practically.

3. Ask why. Often.

Connect with people you respect to ask questions and discuss the change. Sometimes it takes an unbiased opinion to put a situation in perspective or to provide context. Once you have perspective and context, often you’ll see the situation in a different light…which often makes change easier to digest.

4. Make change your competitive advantage.

Since many people are averse to change, be the person who gets on board. Look for the positive opportunities that come with change. Look at that half-full glass and use the situation (whether personal or professional) to your advantage!

Recently, I read this quote that stuck with me:

There is no growth without pain. Change for the better always requires letting loose of a certain degree of status quo. You realize then that the pain of moving ahead … the trials, the frustrations, the disappointments, and the failures … are always better than the situation you once found yourself in and accepted. Change won’t begin until you seize the courage and mental discipline to immerse yourself in a certain amount of pain and disillusionment concerning where you are in the present.

(source unknown)

I know this quote naturally lends itself to stressful, negative change. But to me, this speaks to positive changes as well. Change is all about moving past the status quo. And for that – for better or worse – I’m thankful. If your 2014 has been full of changes, know that I’m rooting for you as we move into this holiday season and bring this year to a close. I’m hoping something positive has come from those changes!

Finally – to you, Phase(Two)Nation, I’m thankful for you. For your continued readership. For your likes and comments. For your shares and subscribes. For your passion for and dedication to progressive, meaningful workplace learning.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Your turn: What are you most thankful for – personally or professionally? Please take a moment to share in the comments!

 

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Learning Professional = Change Agent

learning-professionals-are-change-agents

Did you happen to catch the big announcement from ASTD yesterday?

ASTD, the American Society for Training & Development, is getting a new name and logo! The organization will now be known as Association for Talent Development (ATD). You can learn all about the change here.

One of the hats I wear is sitting on my local ASTD (umm, ATD…that’s going to take some getting used to!) board as Director of Social Media, so I was tuned into the live stream of the announcement so I could share the big news on our chapter’s social channels. As I soaked in the news and followed the stream of reactions through the #ASTD2014 and #ASTDnews, it made me think about change.

This new name, the new logo and branding, it really confirms something we already knew: It’s not just about the training. The organization is remaining true to its roots, recognizing that training is still an important part of developing people…but there’s so much more to it than that. We are in the business of developing people. Of communicating. Of collaborating. Of learning.

(By the way…what a privilege, amiright?)

ASTD – the American Society of Training & Development – was founded over 70 years ago. Think of how many changes our industry has seen in that time, how businesses have changed, how communication has changed – heck, how the WORLD has changed. Naturally, our largest association (and each of us) must embrace those changes and evolve as well.

This timely change is a great opportunity for each of us to pause and reflect upon our roles with the organizations we support. How are we acting as change agents for the businesses we support? How can we immerse ourselves to truly understand organizational change and use our platform to influence others?

Take a moment and think about how you can embrace change and support progress within your organization – whether progress at the organizational level, with your team or even personally. Be the change, friends!

Your turn: I’m curious about your thoughts about ASTD/ATD’s name change…please take a moment and answer the poll below, and then share your thoughts about this change and the evolution of workplace learning in the comments below!

 

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Create a Culture of Learning

be-the-change-in-your-organization

I see this quote often. On motivational posters. On coffee mugs. And certainly on various social media sites. As true and as relevant as Ghandi’s words are, I’m probably not alone when I say I’ve become a little desensitized toward this quote. But let’s think about it from a learning perspective for a moment…

Learning has evolved significantly over the past several years. Once upon a time, learning consisted of a classroom, an instructor, and possibly some visual aids.  Today, we have eLearning, mobile learning, social learning, coaching, mentoring, job aids, social learning, gamification, and yes, of course, instructor-led training.

Just because we understand these concepts doesn’t mean our stakeholders do.

It is our responsibility to be ambassadors of this global learning (r)evolution and discover ways to support the workplaces we represent. To understand the needs of our stakeholders. To engage employees. To enhance performance. To move the needle. Three things to remember:

Speak the language of your sponsors.

What are your organizational objectives? How can learning align to impact the business? That’s what your executives want to know. Get them on your side.

One size does not fit all.

Consider your audience – experience, organizational level, even geography matters. Keep it real and relevant. If employees can relate, they will be more likely to be engaged.

Market the heck out of it.

Yes, we are learning professionals, but we are also marketers. We need to know our audience…and just like a well-placed commercial or magazine ad, our programs need to scratch the itch. Provide the solution. Bridge the learning gap.

There are so many conversations we could have on each of these three items. If you’re ever in Indy, give me a shout and we’ll discuss over some Starbucks. Or check out my Connect page and reach out online and we’ll chat there!

Friends, I’m in the culture changing business. Are you?

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The Lunchbox Evolution

Strawberry Shortcake Lunchbox

This was my lunchbox when I was in the first grade.  Well, not this EXACT lunchbox, but the one I faithfully carried to school each day looked exactly like this one. I used it to my pack my typical PB&J on Wonder Bread (cut into triangles!), carrot sticks and Twinkie (Rest in Peace, Hostess)…sometimes soup in the thermos when it was cold outside.  This was lunch, circa 1980.

I loved that Strawberry Shortcake lunchbox.  Rust spots and all.

My mom probably figured I needed a tetanus shot carrying that rusty thing around, so when it was school shopping time the next year, I got a new lunchbox that looked like this:

care bears lunchbox
Yep, those are Care Bears. Holla!

I loved my Care Bears lunchbox too. But another metal lunchbox yielded the same rusty results.  I’m sure that around this time, the lunch box people were realizing that there had to be a better way. Kids all over America were toting around rusty lunchboxes – expensive to manufacture, and quite frankly, they were disgusting.  So by the third or fourth grade, my lunchbox looked like this:

shirt tales lunchbox
Awww yeah. Shirt Tales, baby.

Enter the plastic lunchbox.  The rust problem was eliminated, as were the squeaky hinges and the awful clanking sound when the thermos would roll around the empty box on the way home from school.  Not to mention, from a business perspective (something that was entirely beyond my 8-year old comprehension) plastic was much more cost-effective to produce than their metal counterparts.

See where we’re going with this?  The lunchbox has evolved over time.  The lunchbox people couldn’t just rest on their laurels with the metal lunchbox.  Did it get the job done?  Sure.  Was it a cooler product than the lame brown bag?  Heck yeah.  But was there a better, more efficient, cost-effective alternative?  Absolutely.

L&D brethren, we need to manage our learning and development programs with the same mindset.

Maybe your training programs are solid.  Maybe your smile sheets are consistently…well, smiley.  That doesn’t mean you should leave well enough alone.  You should regularly audit your programs and take inventory of your materials, resources and even instructors.

If you’re wondering why you should be doing this, here are three things to consider:

1. Business objectives change.

If your business or departmental goals and priorities have evolved throughout the year, then you should be aware of those goals.  Partner with leadership and subject-matter experts to identify learning opportunities for employees. Be involved. If you don’t have a seat at the proverbial table, see that your boss does.

2. Job descriptions, tasks, and systems change.

Whether you are responsible for the learning function over a department or an organization, it is important to be mindful of what skills and knowledge your employees are responsible for knowing.  COPC recommends annual refresher training, as long as duties have not changed; otherwise, training should occur whenever job responsibilities change.  There are other theories and recommendations…but you know your business best. Stay close to processes and systems.

3. People, whether they are your trainers, employees, or SMEs, change.

As the human landscape of your organization evolves, your training program will be impacted as well.  Managing the transition of legacy knowledge when veteran employees leave. Ramping up new employees during a peak-season hiring frenzy.  Even the evolution of your own staff can be a factor…keep your instructors informed, prepared and perpetually developed.

I say this often: Change is inevitable.  It’s going to happen.  Businesses, at least the successful ones, don’t stay in one place.  They are constantly striving to be the best.  The most efficient.  The most profitable.  The most customer-centric.  What is your business striving to become (or remain)?  I’ll betcha my Strawberry Shortcake lunchbox that it isn’t “average” or “mediocre”.  As learning professionals, we need to find our sweet spot in our organizations, where we provide value and contribute to whatever “The Best” means in our worlds.

And the lunchbox people?  Well, look at lunchboxes today.  My 11-year old has a lunchbox that is not metal, nor hard plastic.  It’s a soft, insulated bag that zips.  He can pack his PB&J, carrot sticks, Nutter Butters (his current fave), and a juice box that will stay cold until lunchtime.  It’s lightweight. At the end of the day, he can easily shove it into his backpack. It’s a far superior product than even the coolest Gen X lunchbox from his old momma’s generation.

It’s just a lunchbox.  But it’s still evolving, still changing, still getting better.

And so should we, don’t ya think?.

Your turn:  Just for fun, I’d love to know what kind of lunchbox you carried to school when you were young! Was it Dukes of Hazzard?  The Fonz?  Smurfs?  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? ‘Fess up, kids.

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On Being a Pilgrim

pilgrim

In the spirit of the holiday, a Thanksgiving-themed post…

When it comes to my profession, I am a pilgrim.  A wayfarer.  A wanderer.  And yes, a bit of a rule-breaker.

In the United States, when we think of pilgrims, our thoughts generally go to the early settlers who fled England on the Mayflower to establish the Plymouth colony.  They, too, were rule-breakers.  Wayfarers.  Seeking opportunity and a new way of doing things.  In our technology-rich world nearly 400 years later, we are still seeking opportunity and a new way of doing things.

As I manage onboarding programs, develop learning content, deliver workshops, or even contribute to this little blog, I refuse to box myself into one way of thinking because “that’s how we’ve always done it” or because of an unwritten rule that tells me how something is “supposed” to be done.  Change is inevitable.  Circumstances and fast-paced workplaces (heck, fast-paced lives) constantly challenge us to make our processes better. Faster. More Effective.  It’s a cycle of continuous improvement.  And guess what?  Embracing that is our competitive edge.

So, my advice to you, dear ones…don’t get too comfortable.  Stock up your Mayflower and set sail, come what may.

I’m truly grateful for the opportunity to explore topics that I’m passionate about with each of you.  It’s such a gift to get your feedback, thoughts and ideas.  Thank you!

To those of you who will be celebrating Thanksgiving this week, I wish you a blessed holiday, surrounded with love, warmth and happy memories!

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