Archive for the ‘Training and Facilitating’ Category

Career Conversation: Job Security through Expertise?

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

Expert      Go-to Person      Experienced         Seniority

These are terms we earn when we’ve mastered a subject, process, task, etc. This mastery comes through formal education, trial and error, practice as well as time-in-task. When this knowledge is valued (someone pays you money) you have job security.  Until….

Tragedy! New equipment is brought in that doesn’t use your expertise; the new business strategy drops your business unit (expertise); another business is acquired which has others with your expertise; you have a life-change event or new management requires knowledge sharing.

This can be maddening to learn that all your hard-earned knowledge is no longer valued or is to be handed off to someone who hasn’t learned like you did. So what can you do about it?  What are your choices (and their consequences)?

To put a positive spin on it, sharing your experience is another way to enhance your credibility and value with your employer. It could even propel you from your current job into another one.

Try this: list your know-how on individual cards or sticky notes.  Use them as puzzle pieces and move them around to create different (even weird) combinations.

Beyond the usual example of becoming an instructor, you could find yourself managing a new project or program based on your expertise and resources. Use this as a opportunity to create a legacy.  Leverage both your knowledge of tasks and process to create something new that intrigues and juices you.


A Crystal Ball – Skills for Now and the Future

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

A research report from Apollo Research Institute gives us a crystal ball for looking towards 2020.  “Future Work Skills 2020”

I like the way this report takes the major global trends and matches them with the skills workers need to thrive now and going forward. Its very useful for  the many people needing to re-skill, re-career and generally upgrade their skills to get good jobs.   Its also useful for HR/OD professionals working on reducing the skills gaps in your organizations. It can add richness to your competencies buffet. More than technical skills, these are the abilities to think, analyze, empathize; the willingness to seek different perspectives, use logic meshed with creativity, and use a variety of means to communicate.

There are six categories from the report:

  • Transdisciplinarity: ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines.
  • Virtual collaboration: ability to work productively, drive engagement, and demonstrate presence as a member of a virtual team.
  • Sense-making: ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed.
  • Social intelligence: ability to connect to others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions.
  • Cross-cultural competency: ability to operate in different cultural settings.
  • Cognitive load management: ability to discriminate and filter information for importance, and to understand how to maximize cognitive functioning using a variety of tools and techniques.
  • Novel and adaptive thinking: proficiency at thinking and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule-based
  • Computational thinking: ability to translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts and to understand data-based reasoning
  • New media literacy: ability to critically assess and develop content that uses new media forms, and to leverage these media for persuasive communication
  • Design mindset: ability to represent and develop tasks and work processes for desired outcome

This is not only a great read, but full of food for thought.

“Future-Proof” Employee

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

In IBM’s report from interviewing over 1700 CEOs around the world three main themes emerged for the most successful organizations. At the highest level, none are news to us. But going deeper there are some critical nuggets worth exploring. I’m focusing on “Build future-proof employees.”

Because emerging capabilities are hard to define, hiring and equipping employees with the skills to close the gap becomes a guessing game. CEOs look for people  who are collaborative, communicative, creative and flexible.  They create an environment where these traits develop more naturally through:
•     Create unconventional teams.Intentionally mix specialties and expertise
•     Broaden the range of situations and experiences that employees are exposed to in their normal work. Incorporate external influences — like customers and partners — wherever possible.
•     Encourage employees to develop a diverse and extensive network of contacts as both potential
collaborators and prospective customers.

How do you demonstrate that you are collaborative, communicative, creative and flexible?  What do you do as an individual to become ‘future proof?”

Book Review: “Real World Training Design” by Jenn Labin

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

When the initial flip through a new book stops you on a page that makes you burst out laughing – its gonna be a good read! Incredibly engaging graphics and illustrations! This handbook takes the classic instructional design process and brings it up-to-date with examples and tips. Labin provides succinct and helpful tools through-out the ISD process to reduce costs and time while maximizing learning and meeting business objectives. QCs provide background and additional resource links.

Time and cost constraints are the norm in the learning world. Yet quality cannot be sacrificed.  She provides hints and tips for all aspects of the project including getting and staying organized.  The checklists are the takeaways, but the stories (case examples) bring home the proof that they work.  With these tips and tools, you can discuss the process without using the training jargon that makes your clients’ eyes glaze over.

Real World Training Design by Jenn Labin

New Course for Career Professionals Working with Mature Job Seekers

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Marvin Adams and I have teamed up to create a professional development course for career professionals, “Winning Strategies for the Mature Job Seeker,” at CEUOnestop.  This self-paced, online course looks at the unique issues that older clients face as more and more people are looking for work. Career professionals will find information, resources and links to websites that provide insight and tips for dealing with the perceptions, myths and realities of being over 50 and looking for work today. ( 4 CEUs)

Many people feel that age is just a state of mind, so there really aren’t any new challenges for the older job seeker.  And Age discrimination is illegal. So what’s the problem?  For most people, of any age, a well-defined job search strategy is the key to finding a great job.  Yet, people who have lost jobs after 20+ years or working are quite lost when it comes to present-day job search tools and strategies.  Fold in the assumptions and biases that both older and younger workers hold about people nearing retirement and you have a recipe for conflict and angst.

Career professionals can look at these assumptions and the research that provides facts and data to create their own strategies for coaching older clients.  Remembering that “perceptions are real,” too many people operate on their own limited knowledge, experience or relationships with older people.  Several reputable organizations have published research dispelling assumptions about low energy, poor health, technology averse or out-of-date skills, to name a few. We can help our clients leverage the benefits of a long work experience by reframing them in terms that meet employer’s needs today.  We can probe for the transferable skills of unpaid activities that employers now crave.  We can coach them to counter age discriminatory beliefs by developing examples of their work ethic, dependability, problem-solving and their results-oriented focus. Through understanding this generation cohorts’ resiliency, we can help them overcome self-limiting beliefs, create tenacious job seeking strategies and become valuable assets of the workforce.                    

Keep that Phone ON during our Session

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

The first ground rule in meetings these days seems to be to turn off your cell/smart phones.  Its really annoying to be trying to present a concept and someone’s phone is ringing; or they are texting away, not really paying attention to the speaker.  Generally its the speaker that gets annoyed. Sometimes its annoying to others around to hear the clicking on the pad.

What if you used their technology to actually augment the meeting? If someone is updating their FB, ask them to check a fact for you, or help answer a question by doing a search or using an app.  Are you stuck on an idea or definition? Do a real-time Search for the answer you need.  Are you in heated argument? Check the facts, right now.  Need to poll a group, or check with a SME? Ask them now. (even if they don’t respond immediately, its still keeps the momentum going). Use the smart phone app to record the ideas and action steps and send it to others without delay.  It’s not about the Smartphone or Ipad, it’s about how you can use the technology to enhance the concept, or problem-solving.  People can work in groups and share with those who don’t have smartphones, or other technology.

Think of the chart paper (trees) we can save! Think of the fumes we won’t inhale from acetone white board or scented markers! Think of the powerpoint we can avoid! And most importantly, think of the time saved by not having to have another meeting after the research is completed!

Incoming calls are a different matter.  Most of us set the ring on “silent” or “vibrate” to avoid annoying others with the interruption. In my meetings I like to respect people’s judgment to handle the truly time sensitive things, not just FB breakfast updates.

How else can we use the technology to engage and reinforce learning?

Critical Skills for our Future

Friday, September 30th, 2011

The more I learn, the more I need to learn.  And it doesn’t all take place in a formal educational setting.  As I watch our global economy and read Freidman’s latest book, “That Used To Be Us,”    it is clear that the Knowledge Sets are shifting.  Employers need people with the technical skills to get the work done. They also need these people to have communication and innovation abilities. The “AMA Critical Skills Survey” shows that executives had begun placing emphasis on a new set of skills that is neither intuitive for most people nor taught in school. “The Four Cs,” and they consist of:

Critical thinking and problem solving-the ability to make decisions, solve problems, and take actions as appropriate;
Effective communication-the ability to synthesize and transmit your ideas both in written and oral forms;
Collaboration and team building-the ability to work effectively with others, including those from diverse groups and with opposing points of view;
Creativity and innovation-the ability to see what’s NOT there and make something happen

In yet another survey, “Critical Skills for Workforce 2020,” the Institute for Future teamed up with University of Phoenix Research Institute finding the following similar categories:

Sense-making – Determining deeper meaning or significance of what’s being expressed
Social intelligence – connecting to others and sensing and stimulation reactions
Novel and adaptive thinking – thinking and coming up with creative solutions
Cross-cultural competency – operating in different cultural settings
Computational thinking – translating vast amounts of data into abstract conceepts and understanding data-based reasoning
New media literacy – leveraging, critically assessing and developing content using new media forms
Transdisciplinarity – understanding concepts across multiple disciplines

Each of these is a topic of discussion for identifying examples, how to learn (teach) it and then how to demonstrate it.

Learn to Learn

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

When I keep doing what I always do, why do I think it will have a different result?

This bit of insanity applies to  many aspects of our lives. But let’s look at just one. We do our jobs well and manage the constant winds of change. Like a sailing a boat we know how to stay upright and navigate the personalities and glitches of the day.  But we often don’t see the storm clouds on the horizon until it’s too late.   A common competency found in most public and private sector organizations involves being able to see what knowledge and skills will be needed to handle the future storms of opportunity.  If we don’t learn new skills (not only technology, but those related to your organization’s work and mission) then we’re not ready to step up to the new challenges.  I worked with several organizations that  are shifting from mechanical to digital arenas.  This means that the skill sets of  people working with machines and parts will need to include computer skills. Look at automobile maintenance that now requires a computer read-out.  Even our money is now being printed digitally now.

Don’t wait until your next performance assessment to have a conversation with your boss.  Tell her what types of interests or aspirations you have for moving up or around in your organization.  Ask her what she sees as the most valuable skills your organization needs. If your boss isn’t available to have this conversation, step back and take a look at the hot issues impacting your organization or profession. For example, if the demographics of your customer base changing, you could learn a second (or third) language. Take a course or seminar; get some training to contribute solving these issues.  Volunteer for committees or task forces to practice your skills and knowledge so you don’t lose what you just learned.  Technology has made a lot or resources available to us that we just have to tickle the keyboard to find. And many are free or low cost.  Your organization may have a training or tuition reimbursement budget you can tap.

Derrick Dortch talks to federal workers encouraging them to get some training in order to advance in their careers and offering some places to start.


21st Century Skills for Boomers

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

Employers are managing costs by hiring people as contingent, temporary or project-based work. So they look to people who have both a breadth and depth of skills.

Boomers bring judgment and knowledge of how to get things done…especially when the computers are down.  But what Boomers may not have is the skills to be the most attractive contingent, or contract worker, to the employer. Much like being self-employed, the contingent candidate must have:

1) Excellent Customer Service Mindset and Skills.  As a contingent worker, your employer is your customer, as well as any of the internal functions and the service/product buying customers.  This comes through in how you respond, the initiative you take and how you resolve (or prevent) problems.

2) Contracting Savvy.  This is the business end of a good working relationship.  One key is to make explicit the expectations and boundaries without making demands.  Effective and good spirited negotiating and flexibility will help get the relationship off to a good start.  Determine who will be handling taxes (1099 or W-2?) and what company-provided perks are available to you.  Often they are very different than what employees have come to expect. ( Don’t assume you are invited to office social functions.)  It is up to you to have the required insurances and licenses.  Your state SBA or Tax/License offices can assist.

3) Courageous Communication. You must speak up to effectively provide feedback on meeting the expectations of your working relationship. Conversely, you must willingly receive feedback, no matter how badly it may be delivered, i.e., complaints, sarcasm, etc. Ask questions to clarify, not defend, then make the necessary corrections to stop, change, or start doing what’s needed from your Customer.

4) Time Management.  This is not only showing up on time and meeting deadlines, but also availability for handling the unexpected.  If you are juggling more than one project, it is ensuring that you’ve budgeted enough time that they don’t encroach on each other.

5) Integrity and Honesty. You are only as employable as your Customer trusts you.  Don’t skimp, take short cuts or do anything your employer can construe as unethical.  Be sure you know the workplace rules and policies. Then rise above the minimum expectation.

These things apply to many of the professions and 21st Labor needs. Whether you’re looking at the “hot” fields of  Health Care, Energy, Infra-Structure, Manufacturing, IT or Agriculture, boosting these skills can help you create and develop a stellar reputation.

Change at Work – Bring a friend

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Its  so much easier to do something different or scary if someone else does it too.  We used to dare each other to do something “dangerous.” But it wasn’t so bad if someone else did it first. Courage comes in many forms. Even as adults we often prefer to go somewhere new when we take a friend to explore with us.

When it comes to Change in the workplace, we often feel like we are alone in our fears. Leaders can encourage people to bring a colleague to the informational meetings, the training, and other change related events. Team up people for the training. Provide fun incentives for enrolling their friends.  When the going gets rough, encourage them to help each other, not compete, so everyone can get up the hill. As they see each others’ successes, a wedge of success is created. We reduce resistance the change when we experience success together. As others begin to see the success, they will be less resistant and join their friends.

How else can we build success in our Change projects?