Friday, September 10, 2010

Improv....As a Training Tool

The world of improv is gaining steam as a accepted method of training in the workplace. Years ago, workplaces used to hesitate to use improv as a form of skills training because there was a stigma attached that anything fun and entertaining is not proper in the workplace. Just as games and simulations are becoming accepted and preferred training methods, improv is gaining in popularity.

A recent article highlighted two hotels--one in Chicago and one in New York--that were looking for a new, unconventional way to train employees. The hotels were looking for ways "to improve hosts’ communications skills, to help them read guests’ body language, and to establish an immediate rapport with guests," according to the article in The New York Times.

What new and innovations training methods have you or your staff used to make learning stick?

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Story Behind Employee Engagement

Check out the great article in Bloomberg Business Week this week on employee engagement. It delves into the issue of employee engagement, examining what it is, how managers need to approach the issue, and the definition of it. As Dov Seidman writes, "Employee engagement is a condition—manifested by the inspiration an employee unleashes in his or her work when he or she is deeply connected to a mission, purpose, and the values that connect us."

Do you have best practices for how you keep your employees engaged? How do you teach your managers to approach this workplace issue? And, why are so many workers disengaged?

Employee engagement is a hot topic today because the workplace is changing at lightning speed and if companies don't take the time to build a culture of engagement in their workplace, they will had a hard time retaining valuable employees.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Culture of Learning

I ran across an interesting article today that examines workplace cultures and asks the important question, "What are you doing to help the people who work for you or with you to be better?"

Have you ever taken the time to create your defiition of the perfect learning culture? What does it look like? What role do you, as learning professionals, play in that culture? Do you even know what a learning culture looks like? What tools, initiatives, and competencies does a learning culture need to sustain continuous learning?

These are important questions that need to be answered. I'd be very interested to hear your thoughts on this topic.

Friday, July 16, 2010

It’s Complicated: Organizational Risk Management

The biggest challenge in improving enterprise risk management is the complexity of implementation, according to 45.9 percent of respondents of a Deloitte online poll.

"Executives relying on conventional wisdom often miss the unconventional realities that can make risk management appear insurmountably complex," said Frederick Funston, a principal with Deloitte & Touche LLP and author of the recently released book, Surviving and Thriving in Uncertainty: Creating the Risk Intelligent Enterprise.

Respondents reported that most risk management initiatives spearheaded by senior leadership within organizations are focused on developing sustainable and repeatable skills, processes, and tools (29.7 percent) and improving the transparency of risk management for the board, employees, and other key stakeholders (17.9 percent).

Meanwhile, target areas for improvement include failure to challenge fundamental business assumptions (22 percent); inability to anticipate potential causes of business failure (15.6 percent); and failure to maintain constant vigilance for threats and opportunities (13.1 percent).

Funston recommends that executives and boards work toward risk intelligence as opposed to mere risk management. Methods he recommends include acting on knowledge on-hand, but being prepared to adapt; creating the tone at the top to incorporate risk intelligence into core business processes; leveraging the best of organizational culture, while improving cross-functional preparedness and coordination; focusing efforts on the few vital risks and opportunities, as opposed to ones that are trivial; and demanding discipline and accountability in execution by linking metrics to compensation and performance management.

The poll was taken during an April 2010 Deloitte webcast, which included more than 1,650 business professionals from the following industries: consumer and industrial products; financial services; technology, media, and telecommunications; and energy resources.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Recession Woes Change to Talent Management Worries

As the recession gradually wanes in its intensity, companies are growing increasingly concerned about key talent leaving. Sixty-four percent of companies are worried they may lose managers in a better job market, according to a survey of 262 companies by global talent management firm OI Partners, while 48 percent are worried they may lose executives.

Organizations may not be off base in their fears as more employees voluntarily quit their jobs in February, March, and April of 2010 than were laid off, based on information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. February 2010 marked the first time in 15 months (since October 2008) that this was the case.

"There is a lot of pent-up frustration among employees who have survived layoffs, cutbacks, salary freezes, and other givebacks," said Tim Schoonover, chairman of OI Partners. "Companies have to demonstrate to employees that they are valued by investing in their career development, or they may lose them.”

The costs of replacing employees at the managerial and senior levels are quite significant when considering recruitment and training of both the employee who leaves and the new worker, lost business, and severance pay and benefits. For an executive, these expenses would amount to two and a half times her salary, and for a manager, two times his salary.

To retain managers and executives, 44 percent of companies are offering better salaries and benefits, and 60 percent are using in-house trainers and coaches.

In addition, organizations are also paying closer attention to who they hire in the first place as hiring the wrong managers and executives has been reportedly tied to low employee morale (83 percent), decreased worker productivity (78 percent); lost business and market share (53 percent); and high employee turnover (54 percent).

“Companies need to adopt an effective talent management strategy to identify, develop, and retain top talent and ensure that employees are achieving their full potential,” says Schoonover. “The survey demonstrates that businesses need to focus on coaching executives and managers in motivating employees, engaging them in their jobs more fully, and promoting better teamwork.”

Monday, July 05, 2010

Matrix Management

1. Is the matrix structure increasing in your organization? Let us know if you are seeing a trend towards flatter reporting lines and increased emphasis on collaboration. How does this relate to the strategy? What are the implications for the training function?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Vetting the Veteran Hiring Process

While military veterans already have trouble translating their experience to the civilian job market, HR departments also overlook Department of Labor programs that identify military veterans who are seeking jobs.

Forty-eight percent of HR professionals polled said that transitioning from the hierarchy and structure of a military culture to the civilian workplace presents a challenge, according to a Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) report called “Employing Military Personnel and Recruiting Veterans - Attitudes and Practices.” Another 36 percent of respondents said that another hurdle is the amount of time it takes military vets to adapt to the civilian workplace.

The survey did show that 50 percent of organizations that hired veterans made a specific effort to hire these candidates, but raising this percentage is a necessary objective to assist in lowering veteran unemployment. Nearly 70 percent of HR professionals reported they are mostly unaware the Local Veterans’ Employment Representative (LVER) program while another 70 percent said they were unfamiliar with the DOL’s Disabled Veterans’ Outreach Program (DVOP).

“The high unemployment rate of military veterans is startling,” says SHRM President and CEO Laurence G. O’Neil. “SHRM is committed to working with federal agencies such as the Department of Labor and civilian HR professionals to create initiatives that get veterans hired.”

In fact, among the HR organizations that hired military employees, approximately 97 percent of HR professionals reported they bring a strong sense of responsibility to their work. In addition, other outstanding qualities reported included working well under pressure (96 percent); seeing a task through to completion (92 percent); strong leadership skills (91 percent); a high degree of professionalism (91 percent); and strong problem-solving skills (90 percent).

Good response on potential solutions explored to help hiring of military veterans by HR departments included instituting programs to train veterans with additional skills for the civilian workplace (39 percent); instituting programs to help veterans transition their existing skills to the civilian workplace (36 percent); and providing assistance in identifying and reaching out to qualified veterans (32 percent).

The survey sample included 429 randomly selected HR professionals from across different industries and the U.S.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Talent Glass Is Half Full

Executives believe in the possibilities of high-potential performers. Sixty-four percent of global leaders said they currently have or plan to implement high-potential talent management programs in 2010, according to the Pulse on Leaders survey from PDI Ninth House.

Respondents were leaders from 100 global organizations based in North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific.

High-potential leaders are defined as “those with the capability to take on significantly more responsibility and challenges—often in an accelerated timeframe—and to climb several levels beyond a current role.”

Focusing on exceptional talent for professional development programs can often have a significant return-on-investment. For example, one global technology organization that worked with PDI Ninth House on a program to help top employees lead important projects led to a 20 percent, or roughly $25 million increase, in revenues.

However, 26 percent of respondents reported they don’t have a high-potential program in place nor do they plan to implement one this year, and another 10 percent reported they don’t have the resources to institute a program.

PDI Ninth House recommends these programs because they focus on skills, values, and motives; they provide networking opportunities and relationship-building; and they enforce versatility, as well as providing intensive feedback, hands-on opportunities, action learning, and stretch assignments.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Getting Smart About Job Prospects

There may be a gap between the career outlook of the average American worker and his actual job qualifications as dependent on education level.

According to a survey conducted by, although three in four Americans who plan to work in 10 years report that they have the education to remain competitive, the U.S. Census Bureau would counter that fewer than 20 percent of Americans 25 years of age and older have a bachelor’s degree and fewer than 10 percent have an associate’s degree.

This means that many workers will not be able to stay competitive since 18 of the 30 fastest-growing job fields require at least an associate’s degree according to the Employment Projections Program (EPP) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The survey also found that 29 percent of Americans who do not have a college degree and do not plan on retiring before 2020 do not feel they have the education to remain competitive as compared to 20 percent who graduated from college who feel the same way.

In addition, more working women (31 percent) as compared to men (20 percent) do not think they have the education they need to be competitive in their field.

Roughly 40 percent of survey respondents possessed a college degree and real world training of some kind.

While some of these statistics may seem troubling, online education and distance learning programs do afford many adults lacking time, money, or both the opportunity to go back to school.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Formal Evaluations Get a Positive Report

The performance review might not be something that employers and employees look forward to with excitement, but this type of assessment still prove to be a useful appraisal tool. Ninety-one percent of respondents thought that formal evaluations are valuable in improving job performance, according to a recent OfficeTeam survey of human resource managers.

Their confidence is perhaps testament to the investment they put into this type of measurement. Sixty percent reported that they conduct these performance review meetings once a year, while 18 percent said they conduct reviews at least two to four times a year. Only 5 percent said they never conducted this type of assessment.

OfficeTeam offers tips for making performance reviews successful such as employees asking their managers for a copy of their assessment forms to seek clarification on any points of doubt; making review meetings a two-way conversation between employer and employee, especially in the form of sharing ideas for improvement; having employees showcase their accomplishments both as a reminder to themselves as well as their supervisors; and providing follow through on goals for the sake of accountability and progress.

The survey was based on phone interviews with more than 500 HR managers at companies with 20 or more employees.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Worldwide Jobs in Demand Are Still Skills, Sales, and Techs

Unemployment might have reached record highs within the past year, but global talent shortages still run amok. According to an annual survey from Manpower Inc. that polled 35,000 employees from across 36 countries, 31 percent of employers have difficulty filling key positions within their organization. In addition, the seats for jobs that have been in demand for four years running remain tough to fill.

The top jobs for 2010 are skilled trades, sales representatives, technicians, and engineers, which are exactly the same as in 2009.

“As the global economy slowly recovers, employers will remain focused on maintaining financial flexibility and doing more with less,” says Jeffrey A. Joerres, CEO and chairman of Manpower Inc. “Applying the same mindset to their workforce, employers have gotten more specific about the combination of skill sets that they are looking for, not only seeking technical capabilities in a training jobs, but holding out for the person that possesses the additional qualities above and beyond that will help drive their organization forward. This conundrum is upsetting to the ubiquitous job seeker, who will need to take more responsibility for his/her skills development in order to find ways to remain relevant to the market.”

A copy of the survey, including additional information on the specific job shortages in different global regions, and a whitepaper on how employers can address the talent mismatch are available at Manpower Inc.’s Research Center.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Disks That Flop: Implementation of New Technology Prevented by IT Understaffing

Does your company computer run slower with every passing day? You might just be one of many employees in the same predicament.

Sixty-four percent of chief information officers (CIOs) reported that understaffing in their company’s IT department at least partially interfered with their ability to implement innovative or emerging technologies, according to a survey by Robert Half Technology.

The company offers the following tips for companies that may be facing an IT staffing shortage: asking IT employees to provide workload updates to ensure that their to-do lists are manageable; getting other employees involved and brainstorming creative solutions and workarounds; taking stock of current skills to see if employees have the necessary ones to implement an emerging technology; and finally, considering reinforcements, in the form of cost-effective project professionals and other types of independent contractors.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Corporate Social Responsibility Is Alive and Well: Pepal’s Innovation in India Program

The freshest ideas in corporate social responsibility may come from uniting representatives from both the private and public sectors. At least, that’s what social enterprise Pepal believes. This past March, the organization launched its Innovation in India program, which offers a new take on executive development.

Innovation in India pairs private-sector professionals with senior staff from Indian non-profit organizations over a six month period to help create and execute community projects tackling problems such as HIV/AIDS, children’s health, youth unemployment, and women’s rights.

Partners will also receive joint training from London School of Economics Professor of Innovation and Management, Harry Barkema. This training will focus on two primary goals: how to build economically sustainable and scalable business models that address the needs of specific communities and exploring how building networks with partners (such as multinationals, local companies, NGOs, and governments) can create better business models.

"I expect this to be a life-changing journey for many of our private-sector participants. They will be working on challenging problems in new and often difficult circumstances," says Pepal’s Executive Director, Julie Saunders. She adds that it’s also equally beneficial for non-profit participants.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Younger People Have More Workplace Injuries

I found it ironic that while surfing the Internet I came across two articles that have more to do with each other than most people would think. The one article focused on OSHA's training compliance and the need to state that safety training should be conducted in a foreign language when there are people on the work site who do not speak or read English. And the second article examines workplace data that shows that younger people in America's workforce are twice as likely than older workers to suffer an injury on the job that requires treatment in an emergency room.

Younger Hispanic workers had a fatality rate (5.6 per 100,000) that was significantly higher than for non-Hispanic white workers (3.3 per 100,000), and also for non-Hispanic black workers (2.3 per 100,000).

This is a surprising fact because it seems logical that workers who are given safety training should be able to understand all of the training. Safe work sites save lives and money, so why is there such a disconnect between tailoring training to fit a student's language and education level?

Friday, April 09, 2010

What Would an Executive Do to Keep a Star Employee?

More than three-quarters of chief financial officers are willing to curry favor with their best employees to retain them once the recession dies down, according to a survey by Accountemps. In fact, 50 percent of CFOs plan to promote their top performers once the economy picks up while 48 percent plan to give raises.

These actions were chosen in response to the question: “Which of the following steps are you taking or do you plan to take to retain your employees as the economy improves?”

Other picks included increasing investment in professional development (41 percent); enhancing benefits (32 percent); and reinstating or increasing bonuses (26 percent). Only 24 percent of respondents chose “no steps.”

“Now is the time to re-recruit your standout employees,” says Max Messmer, CEO of Accountemps. "Let your top performers know they have a clear career path within the organization and re-evaluate compensation levels to make sure they're in line with what other firms in your industry are paying for similar positions."

What other measures do you think companies should take to keep high-performing employees?

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Disappearing Career Discussion

According to a recent survey by Right Management, more than one-third of all employees (37 percent) never discuss their career development with their managers and another 30 percent have that discussion just once a year.

Why are employees so hesitant to talk about their career aspirations with their managers? Is it because they are too busy to think about their future or do they lack the skills to ask the right questions?

Although individuals should take the responsibility to manage their own careers, managers should reach out to employees to discussion career objectives because that is a key step in keeping employees engaged in the workplace.

Are your managers equipped with the skills to discuss an employee's strengths, growth opportunities, and developmental needs? If not, do you have a strategy for how to teach those skills to your organization's managers?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Deloitte: The Future of Recruiting Is Social Media

Recruiting doesn’t have to be relegated to job fairs and visits to college campuses. Deloitte is taking a multifaceted digital approach to recruiting by using a blend of social networking resources and multimedia elements. A versatile introduction to their company is available at the click of a button.

The program integrates several interactive social media outlets including a micro-site, a Twitter feed, a Facebook page and LinkedIn group, and a YouTube channel.

The recruiting micro-site offers visitors an in-depth look into the lives of Deloitte’s Gen Y workers, by showcasing a series of profiles and short films about working in the company’s different practice areas. The site also highlights the personal and professional pursuits of its youngest workers such as hobbies, community activities, favorite music, and TV shows.

The "Life at Deloitte" Twitter feed, offers daily tweets with a different business leaders (that rotate weekly) about their day-to-day lives inside and outside of the organization. Followers can study what’s on a senior professional’s mind and gain an understanding of the company’s different practice areas and latest hot topics.

The “Your Future at Deloitte (U.S.)” Facebook page, displays up-to-date information on initiatives and developments in progress at the company. It also has event photos, videos, and interactive message boards where potential candidates can join in the discussion. Deloitte also has a campus-focused LinkedIn group to help connect college students with employees and recruiters.

Finally, the "Your Future at Deloitte" YouTube channel has video testimonies from employees on why they chose to work at Deloitte and what working there means to them. The videos follow employees’ day-to-day roles, including working on site at a technology client and participating in a sustainability project.

Deloitte was recently ranked first on BusinessWeek’s 2009 “Best Places to Intern” and “Best Places to Launch a Career” lists and is also included on the DiversityInc “Top 50 Companies for Diversity” as well as the Fortune “100 Best Companies to Work For” lists. The company plans to hire roughly 4,800 employees for both full-time employment and internship positions this year.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Employees Are Full of Feedback

If you have a suggestion to make in the workplace, do you make it or do you keep your mouth shut? Many people take advantage of their right to express themselves.

Fifty-seven percent of employees say they regularly make suggestions in the workplace, according to a survey by Right Management. In fact, 27 percent of employees report that they make more than 20 suggestions per year. Another 30 percent made at least 10 suggestions per year. Only 6 percent made no suggestions at all.

The poll, which was conducted on LinkedIn and included 614 participants from all over North America, found that the most vocal employees are those in management and C-level executives.

Other interesting findings were that number of suggestions does not vary by company size and sales people were the most likely to make suggestions at 50 percent followed by those in HR at 28 percent. In addition, workers ages 55 and over were more likely to make 10 or more suggestions at 76 percent as compared to their colleagues ages 25 to 34 at 51 percent. Women, at 61 percent, were also likely to make 10 or more suggestions as compared to men, at 46 percent.

"Our findings suggest a surprising number of employees go the extra mile by making suggestions in the workplace," says Deborah Schroeder-Saulnier, senior vice president of global solutions at Right Management. "At the same time, however, in our experience there is little evidence that companies really listen to employee suggestions—or, more important, try to benefit from their perspective and enthusiasm."

She advises that companies should not only listen to their employees, but make sure their ideas are acknowledged and acted upon.

Businesses need to remember that communication is a two-way street.

Friday, March 12, 2010

What Will the New Workplace Look Like?

The economy changed the face of the workplace in 2009. More boomers continued working, delaying their retirement; organizations focused on performance and efficiency, expecting workers to do more with less; and technology made more mobile, 24/7 employees.

Expectations for learning changed also. Workplace learning and performance professionals were charged with the task of getting employee skills up to date, finding the company's key competitive advantage, and keeping employees engaged.

What will the workplace look like when the economic recession ends? What efficiencies gained during this cost-cutting economic downturn will emerge as new ways to do business in learning and development?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Age Is Just a Number, Not a Title, Right?

How would you handle the fact that your boss is younger than you?

The question is one to ponder considering that 43 percent of workers ages 35 and older reported that they currently work for someone younger than them, according to a CareerBuilder survey.

Similar circumstances abound with different age groups. Fifty-three percent of workers ages 45 and older and 69 percent of workers ages 55 and older say their boss is younger than them.

Occasionally, this situation can create some friction between older and younger workers. Sixteen percent of workers ages 25 to 34 reported that they find it difficult to take direction from a boss younger than them.

However, the percentages go down as the ages go up. Only 13 percent of workers ages 35 to 44, 7 percent of workers 45 to 54, and a mere 5 percent of workers ages 55 and up agreed with the same statement.

Some of the reasons that were cited as creating tension between an older worker and a younger boss included micromanagement; playing favorites with younger workers; having a sense of entitlement; giving a lack of direction; and acting like they know more than the employee when, in fact, they don’t.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Visions of Better Vision

Employees may be thinking clearly about their work, but they may not be seeing quite as clearly. A WellPoint survey found that 40 percent of American workers have trouble with their eyesight while on the job. As a result, mistakes occur, and some of them are not caught right away and can cause unfortunate errors.

For example, 1 in 10 respondents reported sending emails to the wrong person or misreading a text message or a caller ID. According to the Vision Council of America, uncorrected vision can decrease employee performance by as much as 20 percent, and vision disorders can account for more than 8 billion dollars in lost productivity per year.

Making sure employees have the option of vision benefits so that they can get their vision checked regularly is a smart and easy way to manage this problem within the workplace.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Skills Gap

Does your organization have a skills gap? If so, you're not alone. In a recent American Society for Training & Development survey that was published in the new white paper Bridging the Skills Gap, 79.2 percent of organizations admitted that the skills of their current workforce did not match the changes in their business strategy.

The education system and organizations in the United States, along with the local, state, and federal government, bear equal responsibility in closing this skills gap. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 75 percent of the job growth in the future will come from three occupations: computer and math, healthcare practictioners and technical, and education, training, and library.

Have you assessed the skills and compentencies needed by your workforce now and in the future? Do you know how to bridge that gap?

There is no time to waste. Organizations will be left behind if they can't drive their business strategies forward.