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Learning

Actively Engage Participants in Their Learning: 5 Quick Activities to Use

By | Learning | No Comments

Consider these instructor scenarios:

  • “I feel like I’m pulling teeth to get my students to actively participate in their learning or remember the key points I just presented.”
  • “At the end of the session, I feel like all I did was talk, talk, talk and they just nodded in agreement.”
  • “ I want to do something to make changes to the class so they participate more, but the reality is, I just don’t have time!

As a consultant, I have found my clients experience these scenarios because, often, the instructor is the Subject Matter Expert (SME). While there are advantages of having the SME as the instructor, there can also be some challenges such as not having facilitation experience or the ability/time to develop activities to incorporate interactivity into the session.

Recently, I came across the book, Training from the BACK of the Room! 65 Ways to Step Aside and Let Them Learn (Sharon L. Bowman). The book details 65 activities/techniques to actively involve participants in their learning and divides them into 4 Cs:

  1. Connections – helps participants connect to the content
  2. Concepts – helps participants learn the training concepts
  3. Concrete Practice – helps participants apply what they learned via concrete practice
  4. Conclusions – helps participants conclude/summarize the key learnings/concepts presented in the session

As I read it, I realized I had incorporated many of the activities as an instructor and found them to be very successful. This book seemed to be a perfect tool for my SME instructor client, so I approached the client with the idea of conducting a Lunch & Learn Session to demonstrate some of these activities and provide a development opportunity for the instructors.

Five Activities to Use

In preparation for the session, I chose five activities because they are quick to complete, easy for the instructor to implement in their existing training materials and require little to NO preparation on their part . I felt the instructors could be successful in implementing these activities if I demonstrated how easy they were to use, how little time it takes to prepare to use them and then practice using each activity. The five activities (Concepts & Conclusion) are:

  1. Rapid Response
  2. Concept Clinic/Mind Map
  3. Paired Teach-Backs
  4. Fact or Myth
  5. Improv Teach-Backs

I presented the 90-minute Lunch & Learn session explaining each activity type, providing examples of the group size appropriate for the activity and when/how it could be implemented during the session (i.e., end of the day, beginning of the day, after an activity, at the end of a module, etc.). Instructors then practiced each activity by using general company content.

For example, when instructors practiced Concept Clinic/Mind Map, flipcharts displayed around the room were labeled, Tools, Safety, Performance Tools, etc. so each instructor could fully participate in the activity since each has his/her own specific content area.

After each activity, I conducted a debrief with my co-facilitator, a current SME instructor, who successfully incorporated these techniques into his existing training sessions. He shared his experience, how engaged the students were and how using follow-up questioning techniques and building off the students’ responses helped draw more information/key concepts from the students and engage them even more in their learning.

The first Lunch & Learn session (12 instructors) was so successful, that I presented three additional sessions to other departments. Each instructor left the session with the tools needed to implement these activities. These tools included a copy of the book, pack of index cards, flipchart markers, pad of flipchart paper, the PowerPoint presentation I used and one set of prepared flipcharts as a give-away.

Summary

Presenting the Lunch & Learn sessions was a huge success with my client. The instructors are now implementing the techniques, seeing the positive results and realizing how easy they are to implement.

I had the opportunity to get feedback from the students who practiced the paired teach-backs and they raved about it. They said they liked being involved in the learning and having to re-read the materials and prepare a presentation helped them retain the content.

Taking the initiative to present the Lunch & Learn was a win for my client because it helped develop their instructors. As a consultant, it was a win because it strengthened the consultant/client relationship. Just like the instructors, we consultants don’t typically “have the time” to create additional materials/training for our clients. However, in this case the good-will it established was priceless.

 

Source: Training from the BACK of the Room! 65 Ways to Step Aside and Let Them Learn by Sharon L. Bowman ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0787996628

 

Now is the Time to Reskill and Upskill. Tips for Employers and Employees.

By | Change Management, Learning | No Comments

I recently met a consultant who shared a very profound statement with me. She said someone once told her, “I can meet you in the middle, but we can’t stay here.” In a world of constant change and turbulence, that statement made me realize that no matter what the change is, whether it is on a professional or personal level, we all need to work together to drive towards a future that makes sense and works for that situation.

“We all know as learning professionals that adoption of new skills/behaviors does not happen overnight and that training programs incorporating change management will ultimately achieve long lasting results.”

As we approach the end of 2021, we continue to hear about the growing skills gap and shortage of labor occurring in the workforce. Looking at this from the perspective of professional development, now is a great time to focus on reskilling and upskilling the core (hard or functional skills needed to accomplish a job) and power (soft or people skills needed for interpersonal relationships) skills. Employers should take this time to offer opportunities for employees to strengthen or gain both core and power skills. On the other hand, employees should not only look at development opportunities being offered by their employers, but also take control of their own development.

Employers should:

  • Understand the gap in core and power skills within their organization at all levels.
  • Create a strategy that will address upskilling or, perhaps, reskilling their existing employees.
  • Design and implement a plan that will have immediate impact as well as address future gaps.
  • Continually evaluate and adjust the plan over time. Don’t let your strategy become stagnant. It needs to shift as technology and the way we do business continues to change.

As an employee, you should:

  • Assess and determine what skills you would like to develop whether it is related to your current role (upskilling) or for a different role (reskilling).
  • Take advantage of what your employer has to offer. Have conversations with your manager/employer to ensure you are all on the same page with your goals.
  • Not rely only on what your employer is providing. Research and look for your own development opportunities. Whether that is taking classes, attending conferences, taking on projects, etc. Not only will it help you enhance the skills needed for your current role, it may also offer you an opportunity to take on stretch assignments or move into a new career path.

For example, as a learning professional, maybe you are looking to enhance your eLearning skills. Why not check out Tim Slade’s eLearning Designer Academy? He offers an 8-week guided program including cohorts, hands-on activities, and more. Or perhaps you are looking at complimentary skills such as change management; check out Prosci. We all know as learning professionals that adoption of new skills/behaviors does not happen overnight and that training programs incorporating change management will ultimately achieve long lasting results.

From my personal perspective, I recently stepped into a new role, and I was not prepared to take on a direct report or to build out a new function. While my employer will provide me with tools, resources, and coaching, I also need to take charge of my own development path and look for ways to help me achieve these goals. So, we are meeting each other half-way to move forward down a path that will be mutually beneficial.

Technology will continue to change and the way we work will too. So as employers and employees, why not work together to ensure we all continue to move forward from the middle?

Source: eLearning Academy

What I Learned: 10 Microsoft Accessibility Tips

By | Communications, Learning, Uncategorized | No Comments

Companies are committing to diversity, equity, and inclusion as they develop and design their learning and documentation. I have learned a great deal about accessibility in learning and documentation since my journey began a couple of years ago and it has been exciting for me. I have learned so much and wanted to share with you what I have learned. I also want to be clear that I do not know everything (not even close!), but I found these 10 tips most helpful and hope you do, too.

Overview

Working on my first client accessibility project presented a daunting challenge.

The web is rich with guidelines, tools, and tips, but it is inundating without a roadmap and I could not find one. For example, there are dozens of features to resolve several types of issues related to disabilities in MSFT Office. I was truly overwhelmed. Fortunately, I worked with a knowledgeable and very patient client team that pointed me in the right direction.

First, and without a doubt, THE most important tool is Microsoft Accessibility Checker. You will find Accessibility Checker in any MSFT Office Product. “Check Accessibility” is in the Review toolbar and will provide you with a list of issues and recommendations on how to fix them. To make the checking process easier, you can set Accessibility Checker to run in the background while you work on your files. You can learn more about Accessibility Checker by clicking here.

“First, and without a doubt, THE most important tool is Microsoft Accessibility Checker. … [and] I found that starting at the task level worked best for me.”

How to Begin – 10 Tips

I found that starting at the task level worked best for me. Here are what I consider to be ten tips for those who do not know how to start when developing for accessibility in learning, documents, worksheets, and even email.

  1. Use more than color to convey the message: Screen readers do not read color information aloud. Do not be afraid of color, but use text, symbols, and texture to represent the messages being conveyed.
  2. Use Alternative (Alt) Text: Using Alt Text provides screen readers with a description of an image you use in your document. In all Microsoft products, right-click any image, select Edit Alt Text from the drop-down and enter a brief description of your image in the text box provided.
  3. Use good contrast: Contrast is the measure of brightness between two colors placed on top of or next to each other. Strong contrast makes it much easier to distinguish text from background color. Use a contrast ratio of at least 5:1, including black or dark blue on white.
  4. Use captions with videos: Videos can be challenging for those with low vision or who are visually impaired. Captions for video are available in the Microsoft 365 apps. Due to specific formatting requirements, captions can be tricky and will likely take a few attempts before you get it just right. More information on creating and inserting captions can be found by clicking here.
  5. Use built-in Headings and Styles: Built-in headings and styles follow screen reader tab order and make it easier for screen reader users to go through your documents, as screen readers are programmed to read in the order of the numbered headings. Apply built-in headings, styles, and bulleted lists in most 365 products, and screen readers will read the files correctly.
  6. Clean up Excel worksheets: Screen readers read the tabs of the worksheets in Excel, letting the user know the contents of the tab. Make your tab names clear and unique so the user can distinguish between what can be many sheets in an Excel workbook. Remove blank tabs as screen readers stop on all tabs, blank or not, and the user will not know if it is an extra, a blank, or missing a label. By using unique names and removing blanks, the screen reader can better read the sheet names to the user.
  7. Use simple table structures in Excel: Design worksheets and tables so that information can be located and read properly by a screen reader. Screen readers use header information to identify rows and columns and identify their location in a table by counting table cells. If a table is nested within another table or if a cell is merged or split, the screen reader loses count and cannot provide helpful information about the table after that point.
  8. Ensure slide contents are read in order: In PowerPoint (PPT), screen readers read the elements of a slide in the order they were added to the slide, which might be different from the order in which things should be read or appear. Use the Accessibility Checker and the Reading Order pane to set the order in which the screen readers read the slide contents.
  9. Use accessible templates in PPT: If you are working in PPT, just type “Templates” in the search box on any PPT screen and you will be taken to the template screen. The Template Search bar will appear. Type “Accessible templates” in the new search box and dozens of accessible templates will appear. These are templates that are highly compatible with screen readers and other accessibility tools and contain fixed headings and other settings that you will not have to create from scratch.
  10. Make your meetings accessible: Ask the participants which type of accessibility they need. Share material in advance and include live captions in Teams meetings.

I’m learning more each day and will leave you with your first assignment: open any Microsoft 365 app and familiarize yourself with Accessibility Checker. In my opinion, it is truly the best place to start!

Sources: Microsoft Accessibility website, Enable-the Microsoft Accessibility YouTube Channel, American Foundation for the Blind

Click here to access the Microsoft Accessibility website

Click here to access Enable, the Microsoft Accessibility YouTube Channel

Click here to access Screen Readers referenced above: American Foundation for the Blind

Click here to access Alt Text referenced above: American Foundation for the Blind

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Collaborating and Solving Problems Together: CARA’s Consultant Connect

By | Change Management, Learning | No Comments

My vision has always been to build a community within CARA where our consultants could learn from and connect with each other. I believed from the start that this kind of community would help them to develop the skills that were important and relevant in our changing business landscape. I knew that dream would need to be realized by taking baby steps along the way. Here is the story of how we began, where we are today, and lessons learned along the way.

“How do we build a true community within our talent community? How do we engage with them and provide them the opportunity to engage between and among themselves?”

 

The first step we took was to ask ourselves “How do we build a true community within our talent community? How do we engage with them and provide them the opportunity to engage between and among themselves?”

The answer to that question was to initiate our Change, Learn, Grow program in 2017. We offered webinars on relevant topics that our consultants needed to learn about and found interesting. In 2019 we held a weeklong event with the culmination being a full day of in-person learning and growing. We were on track to do the same in 2020 but the pandemic forced us to change our plans. The webinars continued during the week but, obviously, no in person event was held.

At the end of 2020, I decided I wanted to shift gears a little bit and add another approach to how our community could learn about interesting topics. The idea was to put the focus on bringing our brilliant consultants together to learn from each other.

CARA Consultant Connect

The result is what we call CARA Consultant Connect, introduced in 2021. The model is a very interactive, virtual information sharing and ‘networking’ session. The concept involves, first, selecting a relevant topic, then providing a bit of researched information to the participants, and then proactively using most of the time for breakouts. We break out and throw our collective consultant brain trust against challenges that are currently happening all around us.

We have now held three Consultant Connects. It’s been so fun to see things unfold!

The three topics we have tackled this year:

  • Q1- Success in a virtual environment.
  • Q2- The Return to the workplace challenge.
  • Q3- Hybrid is here to stay: What can we do to remain effective in our new hybrid world?

It’s funny to see how our topics this year have mirrored our hopes and expectations for what we thought was to come, however, as is life, there is so much out of our control, and we are all just riding this wave.

So, what did we talk about in our most recent session?

Here are some of the most relevant points discussed:

  • Ambiguity is part of life and change. Most of us are fixers when it comes to how we respond and a good reminder is that you can’t control what happens to you but it’s healthier to focus on what we DO have control over, which is our own reactions.
  • What are the positives that have come out of the hybrid work model?
    • Personal flexibility of time
    • More movement opportunities like walking the dog mid-day
    • Remote collaboration CAN work and be super effective
    • Less commuting, convenience, and congestion
    • Greater freedom but the need to communicate and set boundaries better
    • People of all ages are now more technically astute
  • What are some unintended consequences?
    • Loss of natural time barriers (when are we NOT “at work”)
    • Fostering relationships can be more difficult
    • Mentoring for early career workers is not as easy when not in an office
    • Hard to make and develop a social network and make friends
    • Businesses that have relied upon office workers or traveling consultants, e.g., airlines, rental cars, restaurants, have not returned to normal
  • What are your predictions for the skills you will need to add or sharpen?
    • Technology skills, communication, and writing
    • Listening and emotional intelligence
    • Developing a stronger camera presence
    • Running a ‘focused’ meeting
    • Building relationships in a non-traditional way
    • Time management
    • Ending meetings on a positive note as a way of continuing to work on culture
Lessons Learned Along the Way

As always, our consultants brought such wonderful and diverse perspectives to things that we are all encountering on the daily.

We have learned a lot since Q1, but one thing has stayed the same: we have the best team of consultants and it is energizing to come together, connect and brainstorm to solve problems.

What’s up next? I’ll keep you posted.

I would love to hear your thoughts. Please share your comments with me. And if you are interested in joining CARA’s Talent Community, check out our current openings.

Reflections on International Women’s Day 2021

By | Change Management, Communications, Learning | No Comments

Reflecting on International Women’s Day, the #ChoosetoChallenge theme, and Women’s History month overall, I am proud of how CARA continues to evolve and strengthen our commitment to diversity and inclusion. As I look back to when we founded our firm in 2002, and where we are today, women have consistently held leadership positions at CARA, mirroring the industry statistics. According to an article on trainingindustry.com, Women Lead the Way in Learning and Development, by Taryn Oesch, CPTM, nearly 60% of leaders across change management, learning, and communications are women. However, there is still an inherent gender bias resulting in a pay gap ranging from 6% to 20%, depending on which practice a woman works in and what age a woman enters the workforce. Whether bias is implicit or explicit, we need to continuously challenge our own policies and procedures against inequities in hiring and pay. CARA’s current leadership team is vigilant about workforce equity, and regularly benchmarks our talent pay scales against industry standards.

One of the decisions I am most proud of was in 2018 when CARA’s Board of Directors unanimously decided to appoint our first woman President and CEO, Michelle Reid-Powell. Michelle was the right person to strategically lead our organization and be the standard bearer of our values that drive how we do business. With Michelle’s appointment, CARA earned its certification as a woman owned business under the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). With support from the WBENC, CARA continues to #ChoosetoChallenge the status quo and do our part to ensure equity for women in the workforce.

I am honored to have founded CARA and remain its co-owner. As CARA focuses on enabling the workforce of the future, I know we will recognize and celebrate the achievements of women beyond this one day. To our clients, our consultants and our staff – all my CARA friends – happy Women’s Day!

 

 

 

 

Three Reasons Leaders Need Learning Now

By | Learning | No Comments

Sharing a point of view by one of our consultants, Nicole De Falco.

“Training is the universal donor.”

Said an HR manager to a very wet-behind-the-ears Nicole, when she tried to find out his training budget for 1992. Unbeknownst to naïve college senior, me, we were in a recession. This frustrated manager was schooling me on a reality of business life: when times are tough, the training budget gets diverted to more “essential” business needs. I know many of you are facing the same dilemma today. Here are three reasons NOT to “donate” those learning and development dollars to other areas of the business.

Hungry for Connection

I’m working with organizations that continue to provide learning for their leaders around the world. Especially for virtual facilitated experiences, we are seeing record attendance rates and high levels of active participation. We’re noticing a lot of lingering long after the session formally ends. People are hungry for connection. These learning experiences are a way to see others and be seen. Even if only for a couple of hours, well-designed learning is a way to interact formally and informally, share vulnerably and pursue mutual goals.

Hungry for Ideas

Leaders are eager to explore new and different ways to navigate their organization through unchartered territories. When it comes to leading today, no one is a seasoned leader. We are trying to find our bearing without a contextual compass. There’s no past to draw upon for reference, no rule book, no case study, no sage’s feet to sit at for wisdom. It’s a greenfield moment for all. I see learning looking very different than it has up to this moment. Typically, learning is about knowledge transfer, shaping proven attitudes, developing known skills, and embedding desired behaviors as habits. But, now there are no subject matter experts, role models, or track records to base learning upon. Instead, learning experiences need to be times of personal and collective discovery. Learning is a means of innovation. Design learning that looks more like a lab – a way for leaders to experiment, create, and tell the world what they find.

Hungry for Meaning

We share new lingo. “Unprecedented times.” “Social distancing.” and my favorite, “Silver linings.” Our communal consciousness yearns to find the goodness – the meaning in the madness. People happily report enjoying once impossible but now routine daytime meals with their kids. Dogs are being walked for miles on end. Stacks of books are being read. Every day new ways to leverage Zoom are invented. People’s schedules and priorities are shifting. Where learning and development fought for mindshare, we now have their attention. Leaders have time and are willing to make time for things that bring meaning and hope. Learning is a font of optimism in a world worn out from worry and cynicism.

Speaking of hope… mine is that you now realize how essential learning is for leaders. If you continue to invest in your leaders, they will be better equipped to make sound decisions and take courageous action in this time of ambiguity and uncertainty.

 

How to Equip Leaders to Be More Inclusive: Overcoming Individual and Organizational Ghosts

By | Change Management, Learning | No Comments

Inclusion may not be rocket science, but it is human science. And, in today’s environment, it is non-negotiable. Inclusion is imperative for leaders to drive up innovation and drive out institutional racism. A Deloitte Insights article by Juliet Bourke and Bernadette Dillon, “The diversity and inclusion revolution: Eight powerful truths,” reveals that organizations with inclusive cultures are eight times as likely to achieve better business outcomes and six times more likely to be innovative and agile.

Daniel Sanchez Reina, Senior Director Analyst for Gartner, in the article Diversity and Inclusion Build High-Performance Teams, notes that diversity and innovation are correlated, “but inclusion is the key to leveraging diversity.” And, leaders are the linchpins to inclusion. In the Deloitte Insights article, Bourke and Dillon highlight what they call the “power of a leader’s shadow.” Leadership behaviors can “drive up to 70 percentage points of difference between the proportion of employees who feel highly included and the proportion of those who do not.”

Individual Ghosts
But, for many leaders, exactly how to be inclusive is elusive. In an HBR article, The Key to Inclusive Leadership, Juliet Bourke and Andrea Titus cite their research indicating “only one in three leaders holds an accurate view about their inclusive leadership capabilities.”
Every leader has the potential to be radically inclusive; creating a culture where people feel safe, valued, and a sense of belonging. Inclusive leadership is everyday actions done with eyes open and ears engaged. Inclusion happens when leaders know and treat each person like the unique and valuable human they are.

“Inclusion happens when leaders know and treat each person like the unique and valuable human they are.”

A truly inclusive culture begins with leaders with truly inclusive habits. Organizations can move the needle on inclusion by equipping leaders to act inclusively as part of their routine interactions with employees. Most people are just not aware of the biases that get in their way. It’s like being tripped up by invisible ghosts – you’re stumbling and just not sure why. This is where the human science comes into play.

Neuroscience in Action
Neuroscientist Beau Lotto in his book Deviate: The Science of Seeing Differently teaches us that “Every decision you make in the future will remain grounded in history.” We draw on experiences to inform our actions and decisions today. How we treat others may be the result of perceptions formed by past events. Lotto’s research provides insight into how we can “use our brains to change our brains” by re-writing our past perceptions, so we make better decisions in the future.

The first step for leaders looking to act more inclusively is learning to surface, question, and recognize the impact of assumptions and biases on their behavior in certain situations or with particular people. Seeing the implications of assumptions and biases kick starts an intrinsic drive; motivating leaders to ask questions like “what else might be true?” to replace unproductive perceptions with possibility thinking. They have formed a “new past” to reference when faced with these situations or groups.

With potentially limiting assumptions neutralized or replaced, leaders now need to get comfortable selecting and tailoring inclusive actions to fit their situations and the unique humans in their care.
Finally, leaders need methods and practice in the formation of habits to promote daily use of these inclusive intentional actions. To ensure habits stay ingrained, organizations are wise to design requiring environments rich with accountability and recognition for inclusive leadership.

Institutional Ghosts
Which brings us to the organization itself. Just as leaders desiring to behave inclusively bump into personal ghosts, organizations are haunted by the institutional ghosts of historic and systemic racism. In her Forbes post, Four Strategies For Moving Diversity, Equity, Inclusion And Belonging Beyond Lip Service, L’Wana Harris explains, “It’s your responsibility to reimagine and redesign your organization to create an environment where all of your employees can thrive. We must go beyond simple “inclusion” work and venture into the work that reforms and disrupts. Conduct an enterprise-wide audit for bias and discrimination.”

Organizations must identify and address the myriad causes of imbalance among employee groups. The key question to go after is, what are the business practices, systems, and processes tripping up the progress, engagement, and productivity of people of color, women, people with disabilities, and other underrepresented employee groups in our organization? Organizations with an inclusive culture spearheaded by inclusive leaders unlock the power of diversity to drive innovation needed for market success and for identifying and unseating inequitable business practices.

Sources

“The Diversity and Inclusion Revolution: Eight powerful truths by Juliet Bourke and Bernadette Dillon, Deloitte Review, Issue 22
Diversity and Inclusion Build High Performance Teams, Gartner, IT Leadership, September 2019
Deviate: The Science of Seeing Differently by Beau Lotto
www. hbr.org/2019/03/why-inclusive-leaders-are-good-for-organizations-and-how-to-become-one
www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2019/09/06/four-strategies-for-moving-diversity-equity-inclusion-and-belonging-beyond-lip-service/

 

Attention Learning Leaders! Do your eLearning programs use Flash?

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Adobe is Retiring Flash on December 31, 2020

As if 2020 hasn’t brought us enough challenges and disruptions, Adobe is ending support of the Flash Player at the end of the year. If your eLearning programs were built before 2016 or rely on old versions of authoring tools, they probably contain Flash elements. After December 31, 2020, Microsoft will not allow Flash to operate on supported versions of Windows.

Opportunity Knocks: Transform Rather Than Redevelop!

A traditional approach would be to replace all the Flash elements with HTML5 or redevelop using one of today’s popular eLearning authoring tools. This approach will work and allow you to check off the box on your to-do list that says, “make sure all your programs don’t blow up.” You will maintain your quality standard, but as a Learning Leader, is this enough? Shouldn’t you take a more strategic approach?

Transform Mission Critical Courses

Get started by thinking about this activity as a project, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Create a goal, determine your timeline, and get moving! Here is a jump start on what you have to do.

  1. Identify the mission-critical courses in your eLearning portfolio that leverage Flash. Don’t over analyze this determination. You know which programs the business cares about. If you are not sure, talk to your executive sponsors.
  2. Look at each course and determine if the goals and objectives are still valid, the content is accurate and complete, and the examples continue to be relevant. You may need to partner with a Subject Matter Expert (SME) to conduct this exercise.
  3. Once you and your SME agree on the course status, you are ready to transform your courses into modern day learning experiences. Rather than fix the old “page turner” with a few simple animations, videos and branching activities, you can design a truly modern learning experience with a multitude of options, which can all be delivered to the learner’s desktop, phone or tablet. (see diagram below)
  4. Now that you have a design plan, you can develop and deploy your program using agile design and development methods.

 

MODERN LEARNING METHODS

Retire or Redevelop Non-Critical Courses

So now you have a plan to address your mission critical eLearning programs. Great! But you also need to have a plan for the rest of your programs. What should you do? As with everything, you have several options. Here are two for you to consider:

  1. Retire Non-Critical Courses– In today’s incredibly fast-paced world, do you have the resources to carry non-critical content in your learning portfolio? Programs sitting on an LMS carry overhead, such as internal support allocations, system testing, and administrative time. Are these nice-to-haves, i.e., topics that were important in the past but are no longer relevant? Training on out-of-date content? Ask yourself: “What would happen if these courses disappeared? Would anyone even notice?”
  2. Redevelop “as is” using a supported authoring tool – At first, this approach may seem like the easiest way to go. Nothing is lost, the curriculum remains intact, and learning stays under the radar. But think about it for a moment. Say you have 50 non-critical one-hour courses to redevelop. If each course takes 100 hours to redevelop and test, this project could keep a team of four to five developers busy for over six months! Add to that the fact that a SME would probably need to review and sign off on each course (and want to make some “small” tweaks). A project like this could take the better part of a year. All focused on non-critical courses! Is that how your team should be spending their time?

As a Learning Leader, we know you are dealing with huge challenges right now. Hopefully, this blog stimulated some ideas and will help you strategize your plan for dealing with your Flash issue.

Want to learn more about transforming your Flash eLearning? Need help with transforming your Flash eLearning? We’d love to connect. Contact us at marketing@thecaragroup.com

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How Partnering with SMEs and Creative Communications Led to a Successful Workday Implementation

By | Change Management, Communications, Learning | No Comments

What is Workday?

Workday is a cloud-based solution that brings people and financial data together into a one-stop shop. With one source for financial, people, and operational data, everyone can access real-time information when and how they need it. It allows for better reporting and analytics and for data to be smart which allows companies to make better business decisions.

The Workday platform enhances the firm’s ability to streamline and improve processes, workflow, communications, and notifications. Workday also provides additional reporting and dashboard capabilities. As Workday states on their website: “We build on a flexible foundation that enables us to continually broaden our technology platform. From machine learning and extensible frameworks to analytics and more, we are working to bring you increasing intelligent and personalized experiences.” [i]

What did implementing Workday mean for the company?

My first experience with the Workday program was as a CARA consultant working with a global professional services client. I was a Communications/Organizational Change Management (OCM) Specialist for the client’s global Phase I implementation of Workday. Moving to this platform was a HUGE change, but a much-needed change to stay up to date on the most current technology and to offer their customers the most modern and efficient experiences.

And with change comes fear, excitement, anxiety, and a lot of other emotions for the staff that will be using it. The implementation of Workday at this client brought about many thoughts and questions.

The employees were right to ask these questions, because Workday would change how they did their jobs. It was the job of the OCM, Communications, Training, and many other teams to positively relieve some of the anxiety and fears.

One of the biggest changes for the client was decommissioning seven programs and SharePoint sites that hundreds of people worked in and used every day. These sites/programs were managed by different members of the various departments at the client, i.e. Finance, HR, Accounting, Training, etc. Workday’s capabilities would replace, or in some cases, combine, the information in these legacy programs and convert the data to an easier and more accessible way.

Image of woman asking questions of how workday would change her job
Source: J. Hojnacki

“… if you remember that your SMEs are your partners and you are creative in your communications, you can make any project successful.”

Who helped with decommisioning the legacy programs/sites?

The decommissioning of these programs/sites was a HUGE & DELICATE undertaking. As you can imagine, when you work with programs day-in and day-out you become very efficient and comfortable with how you do your work, but where does growth, opportunity, and challenge come in when you are in a stagnant environment like this for a long period of time?

That is what my team had to learn by working with the subject matter experts of each of the discontinued programs/sites. Working with SMEs can be a very delicate and savvy process, but if you remember these 10 tips, you will be successful…


Source: J. Hojnacki

How did the team communicate about Workday?

In my experience, anytime a company wants to make large impactful changes, it is important to focus the communications on the EMPLOYEE…really hone in on the WIIFM (What’s in it for me). This project was different, in that we had to create very specialized and separate communications for all the different business units who would be working in Workday. For instance, the HR staff didn’t need to know where, how or when to pull certain financial reports and the Financial team didn’t need to know about onboarding and training. So, our communications plan was HUGE and very detailed. But it was the holy grail to keep all the messaging in order and on time. We worked hand-in-hand with the Training department on this implementation, because in many cases, the training was customized per business unit, as well. We had to ensure that the communication and the dates correlated correctly with what training was being offered to whom, when and where. The SMEs played a key role when it came to communications, as well. They were part of the communication review process to ensure the context of the messages were correct and going to the right groups of people. These communications were imperative to the success of the rollout of Phase I of Workday, but how did we keep staff interested in messages about this new program… VARIETY! We had to keep the communication pieces short, concise, engaging, and different, so the audience would pay attention to them. We utilized several different communication methods and vehicles…

  • Emails
  • Intranet articles on internal website
  • Workday SharePoint site
  • Videos (Leadership messages, animated short stories, how-to videos, etc.)
  • Infographics
  • Electronic Newsletters
  • Surveys/Results
  • Webcasts
  • Podcasts
  • Interactive PowerPoints

Getting the right methods and vehicles was just one piece of the work that had to be done, we also had to make the messages ease the anxieties of this systemwide change, get the staff excited about Workday, highlight the benefits of this new program from a personal and professional point of view and motivate them to want to learn and embrace this new way of working. Workday was an enormous investment that the client made to enhance the services that they offer to their clients, but also, how they could make the work easier, more efficient and collaborative for the staff.

I have worked on many large systemwide initiatives like this in my career of 20+ years, and I find that if you remember that your SMEs are your partners and you are creative in your communications, you can make any project successful!

[i] Workday website: https://www.workday.com/en-us/why-workday/our-technology/core-technology.html?wdid=enus_ws_itov_wdrcard2_wd_wd_web_17.1574

Four Drastic Executive Behavior Changes Required in the Time of COVID-19

By | Change Management, Learning | No Comments

As a talent development professional, and self-declared talent trend geek, I have read countless books, white papers, articles, and research summaries on the art and science of leadership and employee engagement. But even my favorite podcast pearls and TedEx titans can’t keep up with what we are seeing in the world of work today.

In this era of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, what it means to live, work, lead and contribute as part of the business community has been fundamentally, perhaps permanently altered. Since March 2020, businesses, large and small, have been closed or limited in their operations, and even the remaining essential workers have had to radically adjust to new protocols.

“…what does returning to work [in this new environment] mean for executives, managers and their teams learning to function in a dramatically changed environment? If they are like many leaders …they are exploring and experimenting…blending creative imagination with technical know-how.”

 

Now, as each state cautiously rolls out a phased return to public life, businesses are spending countless hours figuring out how to implement what the U.S. Chamber of Commerce calls a National Return to Work Plan. They, along with local governments are exploring the major implications of returning to work in this environment. They are grappling with workplace safety, employee rights and wellbeing, liability concerns, and continued revenue disruptions, just to name a few.

What does this mean for executives, managers and their teams learning to function in a dramatically changed environment? If they are like the many leaders I have been speaking with, they are deeply entrenched in what Walt Disney called Imagineering. They are exploring and experimenting…blending creative imagination with technical know-how.

On the technical front, an abundance of resources is emerging to help business owners/stakeholders untangle the web of considerations. It’s a little like looking at a computer motherboard. Every decision affects another circuit in the system. I, for instance, read the CDC’s May 2020 Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to Coronavirus Disease. While it only took me 30 minutes to read the online page itself, it contained 77 hyperlinks and 1500 reference documents. All this before leading me to the CDC’s Resuming Business Toolkit – another 86-bulleted checklist.

Given the likelihood that leaders are referencing equivalent online guidelines from other national and industry sources, I think there is no doubt, the first drastic behavior change for leaders is: Redefining Control.

Just as the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health aims to control hazards to protect workers, leaders may need to redefine their own hierarchies of control from a management perspective.

I can imagine re-defining some of the CDC controls in these ways

  • Elimination: Remove everything but the priority focus areas.
  • Substitution: Replace old management habits that don’t work anymore.
  • Engineering: Reimagine systems for the new normal.
  • Administrative: Change people processes.
  • Personal: Learn to Influence in new and different ways.

With all the variables in play for leaders and employees, the whole idea of Resiliency will take on a new meaning. Clearly it is resiliency to manage the business framework, as Ernst & Young suggests. But it’s also resiliency with people. What are teams experiencing in this new era?

Just one of many examples is the impact current and future remote work has on employees. A recent Bloomberg study showed that U.S. remote workers have logged on for an additional three hours per day compared to patterns seen before March 11 — a 40% jump. Everyone reacts differently to this kind of workplace upheaval. We respond based on our work styles, available social support, financial situation, health, living environment, and many other factors. This is where Disney’s call for creative imagination comes into play. How managers model and build resiliency into the new cadences of work will determine their success in creating a viable, post Covid19 workplace.

Along those same lines is the manner in which leaders show up as crisis managers. New variables such as health checks, social distancing, confidentiality, or even stigma, are all driving leaders to revisit their principles in a world where, as Korn Ferry puts it, “perform” becomes “survive”. The way in which leaders address concerns around personal comfort, information and procedural implementation is not just a matter of preference. It is a choice that stands to drive what their business culture looks and feels like in a pandemic-changed world.

As with most calls for leader behavior change, once principles and processes are in place, it all comes back to communication. This time requires all leaders to take a radical look at their presence, language, transparency in thought and practice. Never has it been more important to show up “the right way, at the right time, with the right information”, as a Bain & Company article puts it. Reflecting on the book Leadership in Turbulent Times, by Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, the Bain brief suggests that communicating with a combination of deep-seated purpose and authenticity will give managers the ability to lead through times of fracture and fear.

In the frenzy of policies, procedures, toolkits and checklists, I’m rooting for every leader to find the space to develop the human outreachplan that will make all the difference for themselves and the teams they lead.

 

Sources:

  1. Image: How are organizations around the world responding to COVID-19?: People Matters: May 2020: https://www.peoplemattersglobal.com/article/c-suite/how-are-organizations-around-the-world-responding-to-covid-19-25072
  2. US Chamber of Commerce: Implementing a National Return to Work Plan; Memo from Suzanne Clark, President, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, April 13, 2020; https://www.uschamber.com/coronavirus/implementing-national-return-to-work-plan
  3. Quotetab: Walt Disney http://quotetab.com/quote/by-walt-disney/theres-really-no-secret-about-our-approach-we-keep-moving-forward-opening-up?source=opening-up
  4. CDC: Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), May 2020; https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html
  5. CDC: Resuming Business Toolkit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/resuming-business-toolkit.html
  6. NIOSH: Hierarchy of Control https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/hierarchy/default.html
  7. EY COVID-19 Enterprise Resilience Framework: https://www.ey.com/en_us/covid-19
  8. Bloomberg: Working From Home Means Working Longer Hours for Many https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-23/working-from-home-means-working-longer-hours-for-many-chart
  9. Korn Ferry: Leading in a Crisis: https://www.kornferry.com/content/dam/kornferry/docs/pdfs/covid_leading-in-a-crisis.pdf
  10. Bain & Company: Coronavirus: How to Be the Leader Your People Need Right Now https://www.bain.com/insights/coronavirus-how-to-be-the-leader-your-people-need-right-now
  11. The Stark Solution, Radical Behavior Change in the Era of Covid19., June 2020