Learning on the (eLearning) Job

Hello again! I know it’s been quite awhile since I’ve shared my thoughts here. About a year ago I took on a new role that has kept me constantly learning…which is a good thing. 🙂

Although I’ve dabbled in eLearning production in previous positions, this is my first experience as a full-time eLearning Designer, and it’s been fantastic! I’ve beefed up my PowerPoint skills and have learned how to use Articulate. Recently, I had to build several practice interactions in Captivate, and that really stretched me. I am lucky to have a mentor (a senior eD) assigned to me to help me over the rough patches, so I benefit from his experience.

Having been in learning and development for over 25 years, I have developed more than my share of courses. I have a passion for instructional design and so I figured this eLearning thing would be a cake walk. <Gulp> I find it interesting that the learner-centered approach I have always taken in my classroom training seems to be a struggle for me in this medium. I forget to keep the learner at the center of all that I do…what is WITH that? In my haste to show off a fun graphic or use a cool tool, I neglect my learner. Thank goodness I have Ezra to bring me back on track. Whew!

I have just published a course that I feel proud of, unlike my first one…real progress. I feel more like a “real”eLearning Designer each day and I will share with you my learnings as I grow.

I would love to hear about your journey through you L&D career…won’t you please share?



Lessons of a Twitter Virgin

Okay, I’m about to reveal something about myself…I’m a Twitter newbie. No longer a virgin, since I’ve actually posted some Tweets. I signed up for a Twitter account about four years ago, during one of my active job searches, at the urging of my technology mentor. Honestly, I wasn’t sure why I needed a Twitter account, but for some reason didn’t want to ask. Silly girl.

I’m currently reading “The New Social Learning: A Guide to Transforming Organizations through Social Media,” written by Tony Bingham and Marcia Connor. I am finally understanding! The book details various examples of how organizations are using social media tools to facilitate learning and knowledge management…and it is BRILLIANT! I am so motivated that I logged into Twitter and have begun tweeting. I sent an email to my manager, who oversees technology for our company’s learning organization, volunteering to be involved in any steering committees or advisory councils that my organization may create as it tiptoes into the Social Media Forest.

I admit it…I’m a geek wannabe and I can now see the inherent value of using social media tools in my chosen profession. The future is so bright, I gotta wear shades!

Performance Consulting: The New Training Paradigm

Recently, one of my trainers received a request from one of her client unit managers to deliver a training class on a topic that she has trained numerous times before to the same learner population. The learners continue to struggle with a function that is critical to the unit’s customer satisfaction score, and there is also a financial implication to the company if the work is not done correcty.

In the past, she would have simply said “when do you want to begin?” However, this year our department has been focusing on developing a core competency of performance consulting, and so my trainer, whom I’ll call Maribel (I just love that name!), responded differently to the request.

Maribel met with the client and explained that she had reason to believe that the performance problem is not due to a skill or knowledge gap, as she had observed many of the employees exhibit behavior that contributed to the problem. Realizing that she needed data to support her theory, she negotiated with the client to perform a root cause analysis to determine the underlying issue. Maribel has established credibility with her clients, and so the manager agreed.

Maribel is performing formal observation of the employees in the unit, asking them to conduct three transactions of the type in question and explain to her their reasoning for following the series of steps they use. This observation takes approximately 20 minutes per employee, and although she has not completed all observations yet, she has already gathered enough data to determine the root cause of the problem is NOT a lack of knowledge or skill. The employees have clearly documented procedures to follow – and, when questioned, indicated they knew where to find the documentation and how to perform the steps… they simply choose not to follow them because they state that the steps dictated take too long. Period. So, obviously, bringing them all into class for several hours to show them the steps would not result in better performance, because they would continue to choose not to follow the procedures.

As Maribel works with her client, she will need to focus on helping them shift from the mindset that every performance issue can be solved by training. She is building a case to demonstrate that there is a behavioral issue that needs to be managed. There is no skill or knowledge gap, and so training is not the appropriate solution.

Maribel will help her clients see that taking their employees off of production to go to training will be expensive and will still not produce the behavioral change needed. The appropriate solution in this case is performance management – set clear expectations for employees that they need to follow the documented procedure and monitor their performance to determine compliance. Of course, this will require quite a bit of effort and accountability from the managers. It would be so much easier for them if we just delivered training to their employees. But then…that would still leave them with the performance problem, so we cannot, in good conscience, do what we’ve done in the past.

Performance consulting is challenging…not just for the clients, but for the trainers as well. It takes courage to push back and help clients to see that training is not always the answer. But we know that not everything that is worthwhile is easy…right?  🙂

The Power of Influence

One of the things I love most about my job is the opportunity it gives me to influence others. I influence others by my behavior…leading by example. I influence others by my words – those chosen in haste can never be unsaid. I influence others by what I leave undone – unfulfilled promises speak volumes about one’s character. It’s an awesome responsibility that I typically do not take lightly, although I have, on occasion, not measured up to my own standards. <sigh> Such it is to be human.

However, I do strive to behave in ways that align with my values, and I find that helps deepen my relationships and build my credibility. Acting with integrity is a key component to having influence. It is amazing what people observe when we think no one is watching! I always keep in mind that people may forget what I said, or even what I did, but will always remember how I made them feel. That is the power of influence. And it is a mighty sword, my friend…I advise you to wield it carefully, and hope that I remember this advice myself.

The Strength to Endure

We’ve all heard the expression, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade”…but has anyone felt the overwhelming urge to choke the living daylights out of the person who said it? Or, is that just me….

Truly, though we all at one time have had days where we’d rather not get out of bed, somehow…we do. Somehow, we endure. Somehow, we survive. Even on the darkest of days, a small voice inside tells us to persevere, things will indeed get better…and they always do. By revealing our true selves to others and reaching out of the darkness to grasp loving hands, we pull through the sad, lonely, heartbreaking times and find ourselves eventually back in the sun.

Wow, heavy stuff. Can you tell I’ve been doing a fair amount of soul-searching as of late? <grin> All I can say is…I thank the powers-that-be every day for the grand people in my life…it is only through their generous love that I am here today, basking in the warmth of the sunshine.  Thanks to you all…you know who you are.

Shari 🙂

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Back in the Blog-Saddle Again…

My goodness! It has been forever since I’ve shared my thoughts in this forum. Did you miss me? <grin>

I have been focusing the last six months on surviving and thriving…in that order. Before one can thrive and grow, one must get through the rough times intact. And when one emerges from the other side, the light brings warmth and the sun brings hope. It is amazing!

So, yes…I am back. I’ll be sharing my thoughts here once again about training and personal development, and look for you to share a thought or two along with me. Shall we dance?

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Pain: The Great Facilitator

Yes, you heard me correctly. Pain, as I have found recently, is the great facilitator: of change, of growth, of learning. Oh, yes, my friends..it is the pain that leads to the learning, and the learning that leads to the healing. I have recently experienced a severe loss and am here to tell you – if you are open to it, the learning is vast and inspiring. I have learned more about the good in people, and in myself, than I would ever have believed. I have learned that the sun will not only shine again but beats directly down on me. I have learned that I am stronger than I ever imagined. I have learned that although some people can be terribly unkind to others, they are the minority.

I have learned that pain, although not pleasant, is necessary to a certain extent. One comes to appreciate more the light only after one has experienced the darkness. I certainly feel the sweetness of life has been enhanced by the pain that engulfed me…now that I have broken free from it.

Take heart, my friends…goodness and light shall surround you if you invite them. Even though the shadow of pain is cast upon you – reach out to family and friends…their love will be a beacon for you, as it has been for me.

Someone said to me: “the greatest revenge is to survive.” I propose that the greatest revenge is to thrive. I thank all of you who have helped me to do just that – you know who you are.

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