Heading to #ATD2016 this month?

2016-ATD-International-Conference-and-Expo

It’s May – are you heading to Denver for ATD’s International Conference & Expo (ICE) this month? I am – and I couldn’t be more excited! ICE is the biggest event of the year for L&D folks, and I’m ready to absorb every possible idea or nugget of wisdom along with 10,000+ of my fellow colleagues. Plus, I’m on the docket to present this year, which is such a tremendous privilege. 

I'm-speaking-at-ATD-ICE-2016

If this is your first time attending ICE, you should know that this is not an event you just show up at, sans-plan. With so many session options, it’s important to map out some options ahead of time. I’ve been working on my game plan for the past few days. While it is definitely subject to change, here are a few of the sessions I’m considering:

Sunday, May 22

8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. – Chapter Leader Breakfast, Chapter Leader Day

1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. – (SU205) Flip & Drip Approach to Leadership Development: Accelerating Learning Transfer

3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. – (SU314) The LeaderShift: How to Engage & Develop the Next Generation of Leaders

4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. – (SU408) Keys to a (Really) Successful New Supervisor Training Program

Evening – ATD-Central Indiana Member Meetup!

Monday, May 23

8:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. – (General Session) Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Come Together and Others Don’t

2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Chapter Leader Power Hour

3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. – (M212) Cracking the Code for Kirkpatrick Levels 3 & 4

4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. – (M3318) Creating and Launching Sales Onboarding in 90 Days or Less 

Evening – TBD

Tuesday, May 24

1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m – (TU200) Redefining the Future of L&D with 70-20-10 and Beyond 

4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. – (TU416) 70-20-10 Onboarding: How to Engage, Empower & Develop New Employees (My session – join me!)

Evening – TBD

Wednesday, May 25

10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. – (W201) Keeping Learning Alive Through Social Media & Learning Communities

1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. – (W304) Ending the ROI Void: What You Should Measure Come Monday

There are still several open spots on my agenda…this is why careful planning is necessary! There are so many intriguing sessions being offered, it’s tough to play the Sophie’s Choice game to decide which to attend. I’ll be narrowing the list over the next week or so, but I still fully expect to call a few audibles here and there.

First time at ICE?

Fear not! The conference website has a handy session planning tool that will let you review the session lineup and bookmark your favorites. Some folks in the L&D blogging community have also shared their own tips for a successful ICE experience. Here’s a great one by JD Dillon – 5 Tips for Making the Most of #ATD2016. He’s also shared his #ATD2016 schedule – check it out!

Will I see you there?

What’s on your must-see list while at ICE? Share your can’t-miss sessions in the comments below! 

Looking for some good conversation while you’re in Denver? Let’s catch up and talk shop over a cup of coffee! Drop me a note – let’s meet up!

When does onboarding become too much of a good thing?

paris-love-locks
Ah, c’est l’amour.

For several years, countless tourists in love made a pilgrimage to the Pont des Arts bridge in Paris to pledge their undying devotion by attaching a padlock, a “love lock,” to the metal grating on the bridge.

So. Many. Locks. 

The love lock tradition has spread to a number of other cities around the world. Like the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City:
love-locks-brooklyn-bridge
I saw the Brooklyn Bridge locks last summer when I was in New York with the family. Even enterprising street vendors were trying to capitalize on bridge-crossers in loooove by selling padlocks along the bridge. It’s definitely a thing.

The idea of love locks has brought mixed reactions among Parisian tourists and locals. Some saw it as a romantic gesture, an homage to everlasting love….others, including preservationists and city officials, saw it as a cluttered mess, ruining an otherwise historic landmark. Last year, an estimated one million locks were cut from the Pont des Arts bridge, thus ending the Love Locks tradition.

What started out as good intentions – a sweet gesture – quickly spun out of control.

If we’re not careful, the same thing can happen with our onboarding programs. We invest time, energy and resources into creating a memorable experience for our newly-hired employees – but without proper management, even a great “idea” can go awry.

Be aware of these red flags…does your onboarding program:

  • Focus on training, rather than on performance?  Spending too much time “teaching to the test,” or mastering hypothetical, simulated content, instead of preparation for real-world experience can be risky. Ensure that your content is aligned to the true working environment, and that there are ample opportunities for application and assessment.
  • Have too much show, but not enough substance?  We want our Orientation and onboarding experiences to be pleasant. We want our new employees to enjoy themselves and have them walk away feeling they made the right decision in joining our organizations. Free lunch! Scavenger hunt! More swag! All good things. Just ensure that the fun elements have purpose. 
  • Set unrealistic expectations of how amazing your organization is? Onboarding is a process that bridges the gap between the sometimes-idyllic first impressions set during the recruitment and pre-boarding process and the reality of everyday life in the company. If your new employees are pinching themselves because things are just too perfect, beware. Showcase your organization’s strengths, but keep it realistic.
  • Encourage long-term reliance on a training facilitator, rather than a supervisor, peers and resources?  In cases where “new employee training” lasts several days or even weeks, training participants often look up to their primary training instructor and view him/her as an expert. While that may be true, it is important for the primary focus to shift away from the training environment and move toward the job environment. Make an effort to enable new employees to utilize self-directed learning resources, leverage peer coaching, participate in on-the-job training and (most importantly) build a solid relationship with his/her direct supervisor.

Having a hand in the new employee experience is a privilege. Creating an experience that balances learning, engagement, immersion, relationship building and yes, fun, requires thoughtful planning and ongoing attention. Just like the locks prevented visitors from experiencing the beauty of the bridge, don’t let your organization’s heavy “locks” outweigh the value your program adds.

Your turn: What are you doing to make that experience a memorable one in your organization? Share your tips in the comments below!

10 Things You Learned in Kindergarten That Will Make You a Better Facilitator

10-things-you-learned-in-kindergarten-that-will-make-you-a-better-facilitator

Do you remember the book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten? Recently, I came across a copy of Robert Fulghum’s inspirational collection of essays and remembered a high school teacher had a poster with excerpts from this book in her classroom. While I recall looking at the poster, and even reading the simplistic statements…I was a teenager, desperately trying to be seen as a young adult, so any suggestion that I should revert to things I learned as a 5-year old didn’t interest me at the time.

But now, looking back at this idyllic book with a grown-up pair of eyes and perspective, I see how much truth lies in its simplicity. It reminds me of how unnecessarily complicated we tend to make things. Yes, in life. But also in career.

I flipped through the book, first in a general sense, but again as a learning professional. How could we revolutionize our interactions with training participants, with organizational stakeholders, with clients or our own teams if we followed Fulghum’s advice?

Thinking as a facilitator for the purposes of this post, here are 10 lessons we learned in Kindergarten, based on Fulghum’s book, that could make us more effective:

1. Share everything.

Transparency is key. Use your platform as a facilitator to encourage a collaborative environment. Share best practices. Discuss real-world scenarios and struggles. Celebrate wins. Be all in with your participants.

 

2. Play fair.

Maintain a level playing field throughout your sessions. Ensure that your content is relevant. Set learners up for success, not defeat or frustration.

 

3. Clean up your own mess.

Both literally and figuratively. Set house rules that allow for exploration, but also for accountability.

 

4. Take a nap every afternoon.

(I wish.)

Never underestimate the importance of taking a break. Your participants – and YOU – need time to recharge your batteries, get some fresh air, or take care of work issues that may arise. Building breaks into your agenda will also help ensure that your participants stick with you during the content.

 

5. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

Okay, this book was first written in 1988, long before things like “lactose intolerance” and “gluten-free” entered our mainstream vocabulary. But the lesson I take from this statement is that little details make a big difference. Go above and beyond to create a positive environment and make your participants feel special. Warm cookies and cold milk are certainly a nice touch…even if you have to provide a healthy alternative.

 

6. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.

Provide support opportunities after the session – whether through online resources, discussion forums, social media or other channels that work for your organization. Encourage participants to network and share with one another to continue the learning long after the lights go out in the training room.

 

7. Live a balanced life – learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work every day some.

As a facilitator, I interpret this as accommodating a variety of methods and learning styles into your session. Balance heavier content with lighter, interactive methods. Don’t rely on stale, wordy PowerPoint. Avoid lecturing for hours on end. Leverage group discussions and other engaging exercises to keep your participants moving throughout the day.

 

8. It doesn’t matter what you say you believe – it only matters what you do.

I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said, “Less talk, more walk.” That’s really what it’s all about. Live and facilitate with conviction, friends. Be an advocate for learning in your organization not only by what you say in meetings, but how you interact with peers, subordinates, stakeholders and bosses.

 

9. It wasn’t in books. It wasn’t in church. What I needed to know was out there in the world.

Amen to that. The most effective learning takes place through practical means – on the job, in the real world. Recognize that, and design your formal instructional time in a way that sets learners up for real-world application.

 

10. You may never have proof of your importance, but you are more important than you think. There are always those who couldn’t do without you. The rub is that you don’t always know who.

A self-aware facilitator understands that it truly is all about the participant, not about the facilitator. Yes, even those of us who have a flair for the dramatic and like to dazzle the crowd. But friends, please remember what a privilege it is to bring learning experiences to the workplace. You are in a unique position to add value to your organization – even though sometimes, on days when “everything is a training issue,” it can feel like a thankless, after-thought of a job. And my goodness, how rewarding does it feel to see the proverbial light bulbs switch on during a session, or to see tangible business results after a big learning project was implemented?

So, in a way, it can be **a little bit** about us once in awhile…

 

Your turn: What childhood lessons do you follow, when designing, delivering or managing the learning function in your organization? How have those lessons helped you throughout your career? I’d love to see your insights in the comments!

 

Know of someone who would appreciate this post? Be kind and share it!

Six Ideas for Getting Started with Blended Learning

getting-started-with-blended-learning

The idea of lecture-heavy, “sage on the stage” classroom training has been an antiquated notion in workplace learning for quite some time, particularly in a global organization. Images of snoozing, daydreaming, multi-tasking attendees (because they really aren’t “participants” at that point, are they?) come to mind, and any shred of intended value or applicable learning flies right out the window (likely the same window the attendees are staring out of, wishing they were anywhere but in training).

Does that mean classroom training is dead? Not at all.

Depending on the organization, classroom-based training is very much alive and still has its place in workplace learning. It can be an incredibly effective method, when implemented appropriately. That said…

“Appropriately” doesn’t mean a trainer, standing idly at the front of the room, reading wordy PowerPoint slides.

“Appropriately” doesn’t mean unleashing the “training by firehose” approach.

“Appropriately” doesn’t mean cramming three days of content into one day for the sake of saving a buck.

“Appropriately” doesn’t mean letting a rogue employee “dial in” to a full-day classroom session to simply listen over the phone…and assuming they “learned” something.

“Appropriately” doesn’t mean a one-size-fits-all audience.

“Appropriately” doesn’t mean butts-in-seats.

Appropriate classroom training means leveraging the face-to-face time to set participants up for success where it really counts – on the job.

Employing a blended learning approach can help learning teams implement effective strategies, both in and out of the classroom. If you utilize classroom-based training in your organization, consider these 6 ideas for getting started with blended learning:

  1. Incorporate a variety of self-guided resources to supplement the classroom experience – Online courses, articles, videos or even internal wikis, blogs or FAQs can be a great way for participants to continue learning at their own pace following the classroom session.
  2. Flip the classroom – What can participants do prior to the training session to prepare them to fully immerse themselves in the classroom? Provide an on-topic pre-reading selection, assign an online course or share a relevant video. Doing a little homework ahead of time should provide a successful start on the learning journey.
  3. Get people talking – Leverage social and collaboration tools, either through your LMS or an enterprise platform like Yammer, SharePoint, Socialcast or Chatter, to start the discussion prior to training, and continue after the session ends. Ask for feedback, let the participants share questions and answers with each other, commit to action plans, encourage them to share how they are using the content on the job.
  4. Show-and-tell – Can participants apply what they’ve learned in the classroom by mentoring new employees as they join the team? It can be as simple as doing a “teach-back” for others on the team when they return from training…give them opportunities to use what they’ve learned in a real, practical way.
  5. “Chunk” it up – Break a full classroom course into bite-sized, on-demand content that is easily accessed. Participants can easily access or review the content they need, exactly when they need it.
  6. Involve the managers – According to a study by Broad and Newstrom, the most critical key to making sure training sticks is to get the participants’ immediate supervisors involved. How can they help their employees prepare for training, or apply what they’ve learned after training? Remember, coaching is part of the “20%” of the 70-20-10 model…don’t underestimate its value!

 

Integrating a blended approach to learning programs doesn’t have to be complicated. All it takes is some mindful planning to provide the most effective solution for creating an environment that is conducive for relevant, meaningful learning.

Your turn: Are you using a blended learning approach? How did you get started? What benefits have you seen as a result? Use the comments section below to share your thoughts!

The Secret to Connecting With Training Participants

the secret to connecting with training participants

Waaaaaaay back in 1992, right about the time I was sporting my Hypercolor sweatshirt and teasing some very tall bangs, there was a study by Broad and Newstrom about training transfer. While some many elements of the workplace learning industry have changed – technology has certainly commanded much of that – there are still a number of things that hold true now, more than twenty years later. This study is a good example.

The Broad and Newstrom study looked at the 3 primary stakeholders in a training session – the facilitator, the participant and the participant’s manager. The involvement of these stakeholders is evaluated at 3 distinct points during the learning process: before training, during training and after training. In a simple grid, these roles are plotted and ranked, according to the impact on learning transfer (the lowest number indicates the highest level of impact):

2015-02-25 13_11_07-The Transfer of Training « elegantlearning

Unless you are completely new to the concept of training transfer (and if you are, I realize this is a very crude explanation), it’s probably no secret that the manager plays a key role in whether or not a participant is able to apply the skills and knowledge s/he acquires in a training session. As you can see from the grid above, the #1 and #3 most important components are tied to manager support.

So, the secret to connecting with training participants during a session?

Involve their managers.

Here are 10 – count ’em, 10 – creative ways to involve even the busiest manager:

1. Share the agenda with the manager ahead of time – be clear with the objectives so s/he knows exactly how the session will impact the participant’s job performance.

2. Provide talking points to the manager to use as a conversation starter when the participant returns from training.

3. Create an infographic with success stories/testimonials, stats and other interesting nuggets about the subject matter and its impact on the organization.

4. Survey managers about how the training will address specific performance gaps…then follow up.

5. Invite the manager to attend a portion of the training to observe and/or participate alongside their employee.

6. Offer a brief overview to all participants’ managers prior to the session – tell them what the participants can expect, how they can support their employee, and answer the managers’ questions.

7. Send a digest of links to supporting documents, articles, blogs and other resources for managers to read more about the topic or to share with their employee post-training to continue the learning.

8. Host a discussion forum for managers about their role in the learning transfer process, using the social features of your LMS, internal social platform (like Yammer, Socialcast, etc), or even a Twitter chat, if it works for your organization/culture.

9. Encourage participants to lead a “teach-back” when they get back to the job, to summarize their learning directly with their manager.

10. Utilize action planning for participants to create a plan – how they will apply what they learned and how they will involve their managers. Send a copy to the manager!

There you have it: 10 ways to engage managers – before, during or after a training session. The next time you’re implementing a training session, give one (or more!) of these strategies a try…and see if your connection to participants goes up a bit!

 

Your turn: How do you engage training participants’ managers to encourage or increase learning transfer? Use the comments section below to share your tried-and-true methods!

Know of someone who would appreciate this post? Please be kind and share it!

Madonna, Snapchat, and the Art of Knowing Your Audience

madonna-snapchat-and-the-art-of-knowing-your-audience

There was some interesting news in the music and tech industries this past week: Madonna previewed her new Living for Love video. Via Snapchat.

Now, depending on your musical tastes, demographics and social media preferences, you may or may not have paid any attention to this headline.

As one who is snugly nestled in that little generation between Baby Boomer and Millenial, I was intrigued by this. Partially because I have adored Madonna for as long as I can remember – I’m laughing while remembering the time I got in trouble for singing the lyrics to Papa Don’t Preach a little too loud-and-clear in front of my conservative dad – I was about 11 years old at the time and really didn’t understand what the song was about. If you remember that song, chances are you’re laughing at why it made my dad so uncomfortable!

And now, here we are in 2015 – where I am in equal parts awed and jealous that she is so ridiculously fit for a 56-year old woman (do you *see* those arms in that photo above? Holy biceps, Batman.)

I’m also awed that she continues to put herself out there, blazing trails and being just so….Madonna.

So, that brings us to last week’s video release. The decision to release her video via Snapchat was met with mixed reviews. Are you on Snapchat?

Me neither. But my kids are.

Do my kids care about Madonna’s newest video? Probably not. In fact, I don’t know that my 13-year old even knows who that is. So, releasing the new video through that channel was an interesting call.

Did it convert other Boomers and Gen Xers to join Snapchat? Did it entice current Snapchat users to watch the video to see who this Madonna person was? Well, as I was learning about this, I caught wind of this tweet, sent from the Twitter account of the Material Girl herself. It made me laugh:

madonna-snapchat-tech-support

So, there must have been some feedback from people who had no idea how to use the app, so Madonna took it upon herself to act like Snapchat Tech Support and help them locate and launch the video. This tweet got me thinking about the situation, and reminded me how important it is to know our audiences when we develop and deliver workshops, training classes and other sessions.

Friends, one of the most important parts of what we do is to ensure relevance, so our participants can carve out a meaningful learning experience to help them be more effective in their job today…or prepare them for wherever their career might take them in the future. To set the stage in our sessions (the 10% of 70-20-10!) for participants to carry the content out to the job, so they can apply it in the real world (the 70%!) and work with others to master the content and build context (the 20%!).

Was the decision for an artist with primarily a non-Millenial fan base to release a video through a Millenial-heavy channel a risky one? Sure. Did it pay off? I think the jury is still out on that. Am I going to start Snapchatting now? Nah. But I can certainly appreciate the fact that technology is changing the way we do things and the way we learn.

As learning professionals, we need to remember that – and like Madonna, blaze our own trails, continuously evolve, and shatter the status quo in our organizations.

 

Your turn: What are your thoughts on how Madonna launched her new video? In your opinion, was it a hit or a miss? Share your comments below!

Know of someone who would appreciate this post? Be kind and share it!

 

Watching 70-20-10 Come Alive in an Unlikely Place

watching 70-20-10 come alive in an unlikely place

Unless you are in the L&D/Training/Talent Development world, the title of this post will probably leave you scratching your head. Who am I kidding – it’s probably leaving many L&D people confused…

If you’re not familiar with the 70-20-10 concept, let’s break it down:

Simply put, 70-20-10 is a methodology implying that the most effective learning takes place through practical means.

Approximately 70% of what we learn occurs through practical application – on the job training, applying what you learned in a training setting, or as Nike would say, “Just Do It.”

Approximately 20% of what we learn comes through building relationships, such as coaching or mentoring.

That leaves 10% – yes, only 10% – of what we learn happens through formal training.

(What the what??)

I know those of us who lead formal training sessions on the regular might be inclined to squirm a bit when 70-20-10 is brought up. After all, for many L&D practitioners, facilitating training is what. we. do. So, someone is now telling us that only 10% of what people learn occurs this way?

Well, good news: the 10% isn’t going anywhere, kids. #jobsecurity

#yesIjustusedahashtaginanonTwitterenvironment

#stopme

The key is to leverage the 10% to make the 90% even more effective. What are you doing in a formal setting to set your participants up for success, whether building relationships with peers or a manager, or making things happen on the job?

As the title of this post indicates, I recently witnessed this approach in action in an unlikely place. At my friendly, neighborhood nail salon. Yeah, not exactly a place you would immediately think about 70-20-10, but bear with me.

When I was waiting for my appointment, I couldn’t help but notice the salon owner’s daughter was sitting next to one of the manicurists, whose “customer” was actually another salon employee. The daughter was observing and asking questions. I have been going to this salon for several years and am used to seeing this young lady around the salon. I thought for a moment that she is probably a little older than my own daughter, and then noticed that she and the manicurist traded places – SHE picked up where the manicurist left off, being watched closely by her more experienced peer.

Ahh – she is “in training” – so naturally, my curiosity was piqued.

She finished what she was doing, and they carried on a conversation throughout. Unfortunately, I couldn’t understand them; they are a Vietnamese family and don’t speak much English. But here’s what I did know:

The 70% was represented – she was learning on the job.

The 20% was represented – the experienced manicurist was coaching her, guiding her and answering her questions along the way.

When I sat down in my chair for my appointment, I asked about it. I learned that she is 19 years old and wants to join the family business, so she is an apprentice. She is doing the necessary training so she can get her state license (hello, 10%!). I was impressed.

Bottom line: They don’t need a big training program, or a dedicated L&D team, or a Chief Learning Officer, to know that learning is most effective when it’s relevant and practical. They know what she needs to learn to be successful in her role and to add value to their family business. Sometimes, we (organizations) make things incredibly complex – but maybe if we go back to basics and consider learners’ needs, we’ll find that we can make 70-20-10 come alive in our own organizations.

Your turn: Is your team modeling the 70-20-10 approach (or a variation of it) in your learning programs? If so, how do you help your stakeholders, employees and company leaders understand the concept? Share your successful practices and tips in the comments!

Would your network appreciate this post? Be kind and share it!

Welcome, new followers!

Whether I met you last week at ATD’s TechKnowledge 2015 in Las Vegas, or you just stumbled upon this blog, thanks for following! Let’s connect on Twitter or LinkedIn!