Meeting next-generation workforce, learner, and L&D delivery system needs.
With the youngest generation in the workforce even larger than the Baby Boomer generation, companies have a lot to do to keep up. According to population estimates released in April 2016 by the U.S. Census Bureau, Millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest living generation. Millennials, defined as those ages 18 to 34 in 2015, now number 75.4 million, surpassing the 74.9 million Baby Boomers (ages 51 to 69).
These young people are “digital natives,” who don’t remember a world without personal computers in nearly every home, mobile communications such as smartphones, and the Internet. The youngest employees in the coming years won’t even remember a world without social media. Forward-thinking companies are planning and even beginning to roll out programs and technology targeted at this digitally fluent generation.
L&D Growing With Coming Employees
Many companies don’t have to wait to experience an influx of young employees. Training Top 125er Guckenheimer is one such company. “Guckenheimer has experienced amazing growth over the last few years, and there is every indication this trend will continue,” say Senior Director, Training and Development Mark Lenahan, and Regional Trainer Mary Gregg. “This means an increase in our labor force and new systems and resources to support that growth. As much as we can, we look out several years to ensure that the coursework, or system, we are considering won’t be obsolete before it is fully implemented.”
The company has invested in three major systems to support future learning and development needs:
- Human Resources Information System (HRIS): This provides employee data that will be used to identify training opportunities.
- Learning management system (LMS): “This changed the learning culture at Guckenheimer,” say Lenahan and Gregg. “Not only do we have a central repository for all things training, we now have given employees, and their managers, more control over their career development than they’ve ever had before.”
- Mentoring Software System: “We are in the process of implementing a mentoring system that will address three different audiences— career development (existing employees who need help on a specific skill such as leadership, time management, etc.); high potentials (employees who are being groomed for the next level); and orientation (partnering new managers with seasoned employees who can help them get up to speed and guide them through their first 60 to 90 days),” Lenahan and Gregg explain.
As the company beefs up its learning technology, it keeps in mind the different mindset Millennials may bring to their jobs. “We already have seen a shift in the importance of on-the-job learning. Today’s workforce, especially the Millennials, won’t necessarily sit in a classroom for four hours,” say Lenahan and Gregg. “They’ve grown up with instant access to information, so providing micro-learning modules is important. They want small chunks of training on a specific topic, delivered on a handheld device, which will give them just the information they need at the right time.”
Investing in learning technology that allows for employee flexibility, and the ability for each to blaze his or her own path at the company, is worth it, findings from a recent PwC report suggest. According to Work-Life 3.0: Understanding How We’ll Work Next, some two-thirds of employees believe future career paths will be determined by workers themselves, not by their companies, and 63 percent believe the eight-hour workday will become obsolete. Read More
6 THINGS MILLENNIALS WANT FROM THE PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT PROCESS
Every performance management process should be fluid and adaptable. Gradually working toward a working environment that makes the most out of employees’ strengths is the best way to excel in the long term.
By the year 2030, Millennials will comprise roughly 75 percent of the workforce. To understand what they want from an effective performance management system, it is essential that we get to know them on a fundamental level: what they aspire to, what they prioritize, how they think, and how they are motivated. This ultimately will have a massive impact on engagement, retention, and recruitment.
What is important to understand is that Millennials are generally well-educated, confident, and adept with technology. They prefer flat management structures. They are skilled multi-taskers, and flexibility is a significant motivator in respect to their work life. By using this knowledge, as well as existing studies, we can deduce exactly what Millennials are looking for from their performance management systems and from their organizations in general.
Regular and Effective Communication
Millennials have grown up in an age of real-time feedback. Advice and opinions are solicited and readily given in their private lives, and this is equally expected regarding their professional lives. This is great news, as such frequent communication ensures that colleagues remain knowledgeable about current issues, changes, and successes within the company. Providing open channels for communication both horizontally and vertically results in a more engaged and motivated workforce. Modern performance management software incorporates this need for constant communication by providing a social media-like platform that permits instant feedback between coworkers.
Frequent, Quality Feedback, Rather Than Ratings
Millennials seek regular feedback from their managers. Annual reviews are no longer sufficient. This move toward continuous performance management keeps the lines of communication between employee and manager open, allows for the exchange of ideas and information, and provides opportunity for reward and recognition. Importantly, it also gives managers a chance to immediately address behavioral issues.
With regards to feedback, Millennials want precise, helpful information detailing what they are doing right, what they are doing wrong, and how they can improve. This is the only way they can excel at their jobs. There should be no room for misunderstanding, and each employee should have a clear idea of his or her set goals and objectives.
Millennials prefer qualitative feedback, rather than quantitative feedback. Numerical ratings, made famous by companies such as General Electric (GE), are not appealing to this new dynamic generation. In fact, even GE has overhauled its performance management system and removed performance ratings. GE’s head of HR, Susan Peters, confirmed that these moves were in part due to the way in which Millennials react to feedback. She reiterated their need for feedback to be frequent, fast, and mobile-enabled. Read More
HOW TO ALIGN PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT WITH YOUR BUSINESS GOALS
A cascaded framework can help large organizations make better professional development decisions, leading to continuous improvement and highly trained employees.
As you may know, increasing business growth and employee performance begins with the assessment and continuous improvement of your professional development (PD) programs. But organizations face many challenges on the PD path to a good-to-great transformation. Resistance to change, appropriate time allocation for training, and PD offerings ill-suited to employees are a few obstacles decision-makers are likely to encounter when implementing PD programs.
Just like corporations, large academic institutions are striving for continuous improvement. Businesses seek to engage employees and universities strive to boost student engagement and learning. Teaching and learning excellence are constant priorities in academia, whereas the quality of a company’s professional development programs is a top concern for business.
In fact, many of the same principles that help academic institutions further teaching and learning excellence are relevant within a corporate context. Here, we will look at research findings in academia that apply to professional development assessment in a corporate context.
Improving Professional Development Programs
The University of Toronto (U of T) is home to more than 80,000 students and 20,658 faculty and staff across three campuses. As such, the university needs a robust system that can satisfy both administrators and instructors by seeking student feedback on teaching and learning priorities. With no available solution to meet its needs, U of T developed its own evidence-based framework, evalUT, over a period of four years.
The core of the evalUT framework is based on a cascading concept, which allows for a balance between standardization and customization to assess teaching, taking into consideration individual and organizational priorities. It addresses assessment challenges, such as diverse teaching needs, goals, and timelines.
The data received enables university stakeholders to focus more directly on areas of improvement and align these improvements to the university’s overall goals. Instead of having 33 assessment tools across all divisions, including online and paper evaluations, the University of Toronto has been implementing a centralized system that provides both standardization and flexibility while engaging key stakeholders in the assessment process.
Several universities already have adopted evaluUT. eXplorance, provider of Learning Experience Management solutions, saw the framework’s positive impact on its clients’ efforts and decided to make theevalUT framework available to its global client base, comprising academic institutions and businesses.
Below are some of the key ways in which the processes guiding a framework like evalUT can help businesses’ PD programs stay aligned with their goals.
Understanding PD Needs
In order to determine which PD programs would be most beneficial for your company and employees, communication is important before and throughout the professional development process. Naturally, in larger organizations, clear and constant internal communication can be a challenge. The goal of PD is to build on employees’ existing knowledge and support their ongoing desire to engage in continuous learning.
A framework such as evalUT offers useful tools to ensure that smooth communication occurs between different stakeholders of different departments and units across the university. As such, it facilitates ongoing consultation, clarifying needs and goals. This way, employees don’t lose sight of individual priorities as they keep the main organizational goals in mind.
Managing PD Changes and Resistance to Change
Some employees or managers might not want to participate in proposed professional development activities. How do you overcome or reduce resistance? When a large organization undertakes sizeable professional development changes, a solid foundation of shared priorities aligned with common/individualized goals is essential to successful implementation. Read More
3 BEST PRACTICES FOR ENHANCING CORPORATE TRAINING PROGRAMS
Training programs must be evaluated regularly and adapt to industry trends and participants’ changing behaviors (and preferences) in order to truly be effective.
Corporate training programs are a core—and critical—part of an enterprise’s business. This professional development empowers employees and partners to regularly improve performance and sharpen their skills, while also helping the organization to maintain a competitive edge. It’s no surprise, then, that the industry continues to flourish, with Technavio expecting the corporate training market in the U.S. to grow at a compound annual growth rate of almost 8 percent from 2015 to 2019.
Yet these programs must not become stale or they risk being ineffective. They must be evaluated regularly and adapt to industry trends and participants’ changing behaviors (and preferences) in order to truly be effective. In recent years, we have seen many trends emerge, from the rise of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to flipped classrooms. We’ve also seen behaviors change drastically, particularly with the rise of the mobile device, which has enabled the workforce to be productive outside of the office and on their own time.
As new approaches and perspectives come on the scene, the challenge for enterprises with long-established programs is to determine what new strategies will work best for them and where investments—of both time and money—should be focused. Since cutting through the corporate training noise can be time-consuming and almost overwhelming, here are three best practices all enterprises should keep in mind when it comes to enhancing their corporate training programs:
1. Embrace Blended Learning
While blended learning, or the combination of instructor-led with technology-based training, has been around for decades, we’ve seen tremendous traction over the last few years for good reason. The combination of online and classroom-based training provides students with more flexibility to learn on their own schedule and at their own pace. In addition to added convenience, it’s more cost effective for organizations and better ensures the usage of the most up-to-date content. Plus, the way we work has evolved significantly over the last two decades with the adoption of mobile, cloud computing, and software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications, among other technology innovations. Maintaining the same classroom-only training could alienate today’s workforce, which expects flexibility and mobility. Corporate training programs that adapt to behaviors and preferences will, in turn, lead to more engaged participants and greater retention.
2. Recognize the Millennials’ Impact
Millennials make up approximately one-fourth of the U.S. population, roughly 77 million people (Nielsen), so it’s no surprise that they will make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025 (Deloitte Millennial (Generation Y) Survey). The implications of this are vast for corporate training programs. For instance, more than 85 percent of Millennials in the U.S. own a smartphone (Nielsen) and interact with them around 45 times a day (SDL). This mobile-dependent generation is used to consuming information on the smallest of screens on their own schedule. They use search engines to instantly find answers to any questions they may have. The combination of these and other factors has led to the transformation of modern learning, switching from marathon classroom sessions to shorter classes with video and online accompaniments, for example. Recognizing the change in the way people are consuming information, particularly Millennials who soon will dominate the workforce, and making adjustments to the corporate learning program is critical. However, it is important to keep in mind that not all industries are the same and some are more technically savvy than others. In order to create a successful program, it is important to take the industry into consideration before deciding to incorporate a new technology into the training plan. Mixing up the format of training sessions, including breakout sessions or videos, also can help keep participants engaged and connected.
3. Extend Reach through Partnerships
Partnering with industry organizations and educational institutions provides a mutually beneficial opportunity, enabling corporations to enhance their existing corporate training programs, extend the reach of its content, and reinforce its expertise across the industry and beyond. Read More
ON BECOMING A LEADER—THE VALUE PROPOSITION
The first step of any leadership development process is to focus on creating a suitable code of conduct that provides the foundation for all future leadership development training initiatives and leader actions. During this initial step, the individual identifies the “leader” values.
“Behavior is the proxy measure for an individual’s values,” I note in my book, The Road to Self-Leadership Development: Busting Out of Your Comfort Zone, (Emerald Group Publishing, 2015). If we deem particular behaviors as evidence of a leader or someone with leadership potential, that person must be exhibiting the requisite “leader” values. Values represent an individual’s beliefs in something. Beliefs help individuals identify acceptable options, select an option (make a decision), and implement the option.
Behavior is guided by an individual’s code of conduct. This code represents the individual’s effort to organize his or her values systematically to guide his or her behavior and actions. An individual’s code of conduct evolves over time, more as a consequence of day-to-day life; few individuals are pro-active in designing their personal code of conduct. Leaders and those aspiring to become leaders are more likely to proactively develop their code of conduct.
The code functions as an individual’s personal navigation system. The navigation system is instrumental in influencing all of the actions an individual pursues throughout his or her life. A leader’s navigation system develops through proactive initiatives and reactively to situations the individual experiences. Consider proactive and reactive as two ends of a continuum. Leaders and those who aspire to be leaders fall on the proactive side of the continuum. A code of conduct and leadership development represents two sides of the same coin. Individuals seeking to become leaders learn they can and must exert control over the leadership development process. This insight enables the individual to influence his or her personal leadership development process.
The first step of any leadership development process is to focus on creating a suitable code of conduct that provides the foundation for all future leadership development training initiatives and leader actions. During this initial step, the individual identifies the “leader” values. I use the plural because leaders demonstrate a variety of values encapsulated in their personal code of conduct. The individual might already possess some of these values, but the values require additional development to strengthen the individual’s code. Other relevant values need to be acquired.
Setting SMART Goals
The next logical step an individual or organization needs to consider in developing a code during the process of designing a leadership development training program is to identify the behaviors linked to specific “leader” values. After this step, the individual needs to identify situations that require these behaviors. For example, we often associate concern for subordinates with successful leaders. An individual can practice concern for others by initiating active assistance with co-workers, superiors, and subordinates. Another example is focus. Individuals can set goals for themselves. The best type of goals is SMART goals (i.e., Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Limited). SMART goals aid the individual in being realistic, assess progress, feel good if successful, and create a sense of urgency that prioritizes the importance and necessity to stay focused. Read More
COMPANY CULTURE AND BUSINESS EVOLUTION
6 tips to get you started crafting an organizational culture that makes employees feel respected, empowered, and humanized by company leadership.
When it comes to business growth, a major key to success is the viability of your company culture. Not only is culture a huge consideration for potential new hires—with nearly 80% of Millennials reporting they are looking for a great culture match with employers—but it also can make a difference in your bottom line. How much of a difference? Researchers found that revenue growth for companies with performance-enhancing cultures was, on average, about 516% more than their counterparts.
How can companies create or improve upon their culture? One important thing to understand is how business culture has changed in recent years from what it always has been. Historically, most businesses operated under more of a “dictator” model, with directives coming from the top down and employees simply expected to deliver results.
As our culture as a whole has evolved, however, this model became antiquated and essentially unacceptable. Employees want—and more than ever expect—to feel respected, empowered, and humanized by company leadership. Basically, we all want to believe we matter, and today’s workers won’t stick around long at a company where their worth isn’t made abundantly clear.
Crafting Your Company Culture—The Right Way
You know you need it, now you’re ready to get to work creating it, or transforming what you have into something better. Here are some essential tips to get you started.
- Model strong, clear, approachable leadership. All great company cultures start from the top down. As a leader who is passionate and excited about your work, you have a better chance of attracting and retaining others who share your enthusiasm. The other key piece here is to realize that the energy of your team begins with you. For example, if you are stressed out all the time and unapproachable, your team will feel isolated from you and less driven to succeed.
- Know your people. Again, employees want to know they matter to you. Ask them how their vacation went. Smile, look people in the eye, and greet them when you see them. Invest your caring in your people and they will invest their caring in your company.
- Problem solving as a team. Working through business challenges together empowers the entire team to be part of the solution. Get together for an all-day brainstorming session. Post your challenges on the wall and let the ideas pour in. You will be surprised at the creative solutions your team can offer. Giving everyone a hand in making the workplace a more pleasant and effective place to be encourages participation and support. Read More