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  • Wednesday, July 11, 2018 8:17 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Heather Lovell

    It is well known that you never get a second chance to leave a first impression. In the business world, this is hammered into candidates and new hires, yet often companies and hiring managers fail in one important area—a new hire’s first day of work. Companies work very hard to create a culture that entices and engages their employees and the first real taste an employee will get of that culture is their first day on the job.

    Most of us can remember our best first day or our worst. I vividly remember my worst when I showed up, filled out some HR paperwork, was escorted to a newly added back cubicle and left to wait there for an IT guy to bring me a computer. My first impression of my new company was being left alone in a cube staring at the walls with no supplies, no computer, nada. One of my managers stopped by for 2 minutes on his way to a meeting. I got a tour from a facilities manager. I ate lunch alone in my cube, thankful I had brought one because no one offered me other options. It was horrible.

    In looking back, that first day clearly reflected the culture at that company. A lot of disjointed processes, no personal interest in employees, and lackluster employee engagement. The way you craft (or don’t craft) the first day of your new employee speaks volumes about your culture. A new job is an important transition for a new employee and one that will stick out in their memory—as an employer you can make that memory wonderful or terrible. In The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath, they describe four characteristics of powerfully memorable moments—Elevation, Insight, Pride, and Connection. As a hiring manager or HR leader, you have the opportunity to craft a moment that reflects your culture and that your new employee raves about.

    Thinking through the Heath’s lens, here are some tips about how to set-up new employees’ first day right.

    • Elevation—make the day special. This can be as easy as a small welcoming gift like a company coffee cup, fresh flowers, homemade cookies and a handwritten welcome note on their desk. Our company sends out special First Day boxes with a variety of gifts inside.

    • Insight—help new employees see how they will grow, stretch and learn in the new role—preparing them for self-insight. Maybe this is a laid-out training plan, a set of KPI’s that they will soon be prepared to reach, or a summary in the impact you expect them to make in the first 60 days.

    • Pride—your new employees were hired for a reason so share that with the team. When introducing them to others, let the team know what the new hire has expertise in and how they will be a valued addition.  

    • Connection—this one is easy! When new employees join your team, they need to feel like they belong.

    • Set up a lunch for them to get to know other team members.

    • Have the first day planned so they sit with different people who are prepared to train them, rather than having them shadow someone that found out 5 minutes prior they were coming and are annoyed at fitting them into their schedule.

    • Make sure the manager welcomes each new employee—if not in person, over the phone or with a handwritten note.

    A new hire’s first day is an artifact of your company's culture--a translation of your company’s values into action (or inaction—in the case of my terrible first day). Not only is it a reflection of the culture, the first day also sets their expectations of working at your company. Should they expect a place where connection and collaboration are valued or where training is a merely some boxes to be checked? That first day creates a perception and expectation of what is to come. With a little preparation, you can make the milestone one that they remember fondly and highlights all the best things about your company culture. Don’t make a bad first impression!

    Heather is the Client Success Manager at Agile Partnering where she specializes in matching fantastic candidates with the company where they are meant to work. A native of Colorado, but world traveler, she lives near Boulder with her husband, two boys, and two crazy black labs.

  • Monday, June 11, 2018 6:06 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Mike Faber, M.S., Zoom Video Communications Sales Trainer

    Having spent most of the last quarter-century (I started when I was three years old), coaching and training leaders in a variety of industries, three significant misconceptions about the role of managers within organizations have become apparent. Here are some general observations about those conflicts between leadership’s understanding and reality.

    Managers manage and leaders lead
    In some far-off land where companies have oodles of money and recruiting is perfect, this may be the case. Here on earth, managers must embrace their role as encouraging coaches, leaders who inspire, experts who mentor, and innovators who train. The four functions of a manager (coach, leader, mentor, trainer) often get muddled, which contributes to a second misconception.

    Performance management is coaching
    Not exactly. In fact, not even close. Coaching is a collaborative approach to employee development where the onus for identifying a goal, and the path to get there, rests with the employee. Telling me what I’m doing wrong, and then telling me how to “fix” the problem is performance management. Employees who have been on the receiving end of this confusing definition leads to a third misconception.

    Some employees are un-coachable
    Nope. If they were hired, they can be coached. The “un-coachable” employee doesn’t see the value in being coached; they’ve yet to make the connection between intrinsic motivation, and personal growth. Perhaps they’ve experienced performance management under the guise of being “coached”. From CEO’s to front-line employees, none of us are compensated for maintaining the status quo. An employee in denial about their need to improve current skills, or gain new skills, is in denial about their worth to colleagues, customers, and the company.

    So what can learning professionals do to combat these misconceptions? Here are three steps you can take right away.

    • Socialize the concept of the four roles of a manager with internal influencers, and determine how each role impacts a manager’s success.

    • Ask managers how they identify and prioritize their current responsibilities, and seek to understand their current perspective on their role as coaches.

    • Help managers formulate thought-provoking questions to ask employees previously identified as “un-coachable” to help uncover their motivation.

    Great leaders (and trainers!) create and nurture an environment that encourages the pursuit of excellence. Managers are the linchpin to that environment’s growth. When employees are clear about how their direct manager impacts their individual success, they’re more open to coaching, more receptive of performance management designed to help correct mistakes, and eager to take on new challenges.

    Mike Faber is a member of the Sales Enablement team at Zoom Video Communications, specializing in sales training, leadership development, and coaching. Mike holds a Masters Degree from CSU-Global in Organizational Leadership, and is the author of numerous articles, blog posts, and two books on the topics of sales, leadership, and coaching.

  • Thursday, May 17, 2018 5:57 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Kelly Hancock

    Most of us are inundated with daily information and often times lead hectic and busy lives. When we learn something new, it can be very challenging to retain the information we’ve just brought into our brains. We may think we’ve got it, but then a little time goes by and when we’re ready to use what we’ve learned, we’ve forgotten vital information. It’s exhausting!

    I am a Public Training Specialist for the Colorado Department of Revenue (CDOR) and my role is to support the Colorado taxpayers in understanding the actions necessary to be compliant with Colorado tax laws. I remind myself regularly of the challenges we all face when it comes to retaining information and I strive to focus on training methods that can be repeated in that moment of need. “Moment of Need” is a learning term that characterizes an instance of a need for information, which could be when learning something for the first time or when trying to remember something previously learned in support of performing a task. Providing training or instruction information exactly when needed is key to success. Making vital resources and information taxpayers need available via the education portion of our website is what we strive to do, in hopes of meeting that moment of need. For example we recently linked to three of our most popular videos addressing customer’s common issues directly from our Revenue Online free filing site and saw a significant increase in views year over year, just by making them more convenient to access!   

    We currently have several frequently watched videos that help to explain how to file sales taxes either using our free Revenue Online system, or using paper filing forms. In the near future we will be holding webinars on key tax topics that will be recorded and posted to a library on our website for easy access. We also use quick reference information like 1-pagers reviewing common mistakes and errors to avoid when filing. We of course know that many individual situations taxpayers are dealing with require calling into our call center or visiting or service centers to speak directly with a tax examiner, or calling on a tax professional for support, but many times even those taxpayers can get a good basis of information by visiting Colorado.gov/Tax/Education.

    We may all wish we could hear something once and retain it in our mental filing cabinet for just when we need it, but the reality is we really need training that includes resources we can go back to when we can’t recall everything we’ve previously learned. In today’s world with information coming at us endlessly, we can all appreciate training that considers that all important moment of need!

    Kelly works for the State of Colorado, Department of Revenue, as a Public Training Specialist, administering, developing, delivering and overseeing external/public training of taxpayers, tax professionals, businesses and professional groups on Colorado’s state tax laws. 

  • Friday, April 20, 2018 4:06 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    By Heather Lovell A healthy company culture is instrumental in retaining great talent, and a toxic culture is a leading culprit when great people leave a company. How do you create action items to improve your culture when ‘company culture’ is such an abstract concept?  One helpful trick that we have found is to think of culture through the lens of ‘artifacts.’

    Think of it like this—an artifact is a memorable object, event, or even procedure created by someone in the company, and they are instrumental in helping shape a culture. In our company we define culture, as “the ongoing expression of a company’s values through its artifacts.” Using this framework makes it easier to influence culture because artifacts that reflect the company values can be easily conceptualized, created, and infused in a company making the culture a more authentic depiction of the values that guide it.

    We view each day as a translation effort—translating our values every day into artifacts. I am charged with intentionally building some of these artifacts. What a fun and powerful task! For example, one of our company values is Love so I get to find ways for us to show love to our team, our talent, and our clients. My brainstorming list included a board with pictures of candidates we’ve found jobs for, flying out to a client in Florida to celebrate our anniversary of working together, bringing an employee’s spouse to a celebration of his work, and the list went on.

    When you start with values and envision ways you can exhibit those values daily, you can start infusing artifacts into the culture, making it stronger. Some artifacts are physical like a bulletin board reminding us about the candidates we love, and some are more procedural like taking time and money to celebrate milestones with clients. Being deliberate about translating your company values into concrete actions helps to bring those values to life, rather than simply being a list in the handbook or a poster on the wall.

    Unfortunately, not all artifacts are created equal.  While every employee in a company can create artifacts, some weigh more than others. Artifacts created by the CEO are longer-lasting and more public than those created by the new employee, but all employees leave a fingerprint on the culture of a company. As a leader, whether you manage an entire company or a smaller team, you have the influence to create artifacts that can quickly affect major change.

    If you want to create, defend, or scale your culture, try thinking about it through the lens of creating artifacts. Start by identifying your company values and then ask yourself, “what artifacts would I need to start creating today that express these values?”  You have the power to intentionally change the culture of your company or team, one artifact at a time.

    Heather is the Client Success Manager at Agile Partnering where she specializes in matching fantastic candidates with the company where they are meant to work. A native of Colorado, but world traveler, she lives near Boulder with her husband, two boys, and two crazy black labs.

  • Sunday, February 11, 2018 12:38 PM | Anonymous member

    By Shannon Wzientek

    Exploring the possibility of earning a certification in the talent development field?  If so, you are probably wondering: What’s out there? What’s the best fit for me? What are the benefits? What does the process entail?

    There are many benefits of earning a certification, including validation of your knowledge and skills in the industry, being a differentiator, and expanding career opportunities.  In addition, you will gain the confidence that goes along with earning a widely recognized and prestigious credential.

    ATD now offers two certifications, as well as new ways to leverage involvement in prior programs.  If you are early in your career and looking for a way to stand out amongst your peers, consider the Associate Professional in Talent Development (APTD).  If you have extensive talent development experience and are looking to obtain the industry’s premier certification, explore the Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) Requirements and the ATD Areas of Expertise covered within each are below.

    APTD and CPLP Information

    ATD has also introduced a progressive model, called the Career Development Stack.  This design enables professionals to grow their knowledge, skills, and abilities in a structured and cumulative way, as the model allows for the knowledge and skills gained in one stack to be applied toward other stacks—saving time and money.  Stacks include the Master Series, APTD, and the CPLP, with successful completion of each component feeding into the next level, waiving certain requirements for each.

    Specifically, APTD candidates may test out of one knowledge exam area if having successfully completed a qualifying Master Series and this applies to CPLP candidates as well.  Additionally, if a CPLP candidate holds the APTD certification they may test out of three areas on the knowledge exam.

    When experience or other qualification requirements are a factor, this stacking model enables education to run in parallel with experience, allowing professionals to reach their career development goals as quickly as possible.  Become familiar with this model and the associated opportunities when exploring your development path!

    To learn more about the certifications and the Career Development Stack review these resources:

    Career Development Framework

    Video: ATD's Stackable Credentials

    Article: ATD Career Development Framework: Where Do You Want to Go?

  • Tuesday, November 28, 2017 3:11 PM | Anonymous member

    by Susan Mitnick

    Change. It’s a must for any business. Whether your organization is following a 4, 5, or 7 step business lifecycle model, change probably feels like a constant as you are executing the move from one stage to the next, or even solidifying the company’s place within a given stage.

    I recently had the pleasure of facilitating a discussion around change with a group of learning professionals with the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Association of Talent Development, and I was intrigued by the passion around this topic. Everyone present had stories about the change they were experiencing, and there were some central themes that came to light during our conversation, the most interesting focusing around people and culture.

    We started by talking about the need for executive/leader buy-in when it comes to change, as this is a common principle in change management methodology. From my experience, getting leader buy-in goes far beyond getting key executives to say that they support the change initiative at hand, but an up front commitment, and the long term patience, to the time needed to fully imbed the change into the organization. This is where so many initiatives die, as attention spans dwindle, and some other initiative takes over as the latest priority. How many change initiatives have you seen come and go, replaced by the next great idea that also comes and goes?

    This in itself can be a defining element of your company’s culture. When employees smirk at the release of the next great initiative, and then sit on their hands waiting to see how long this one will last, it won’t matter how great your change management processes are. Your people, who are the embodiment of your culture, will kill it. As the great business management guru Peter Drucker said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Yes indeed.

    Resistance to change isn’t solely a reflection of the organization’s commitment to fully execute initiatives, but is also reliant on your employees’ capacity and stamina for change. If you’re in an ever-changing environment, where changes to policies, processes, products and even desired behaviors are coming from every direction, these factors needs to be considered.

    Think about how your company begins each fiscal year. Most likely it’s with a slue of new programs and initiatives to set the stage to achieve your annual business objectives. They are rolled out with much enthusiasm and fan fare. But how long does that initial enthusiasm last? Do your employees have the capacity to keep focused on mass quantities of new initiatives, while doing their daily jobs, or is the end result like buying that gym membership on January 1st? Lots of energy to get to the gym for the first month, but by mid-February your hitting the snooze button a few more times.

    Every initiative is competing for your employees’ mindshare. Competing against their work and competing against the other initiatives. If you fail to take a measured approach throughout the year, at some point, your people will run out of stamina for change.

    The moral of the story is that change can’t happen without your employees. With this in mind, the philosophy of less is more should be a constant consideration. Having the discipline to focus on the most critical initiatives that will provide the most gain for the company will net better results than a laundry list of low impact projects. 

  • Sunday, October 29, 2017 10:40 AM | Anonymous member

    This past October, five of our board members attended the ATD Chapter Leaders Conference (ALC) in Arlington, Virginia. The conference is for chapter leaders, allowing the opportunity to connect with peers, share best practices and gather resources to help effectively lead our ATD Rocky Mountain Chapter. Additionally, all sessions at ALC are peer-led and our president, Yvonne Bogard and VP of CPLP Study Groups, Shannon Wzientek led a session on CPLP virtual study groups.

    Here are some highlights of what we learned at ALC and what we’re working on implementing:

    • First, consider the experience of a member and make it as impactful as possible. Second, if you have an idea, take action! With these takeaways in mind, we plan to explore ways to further support our CPLP efforts by promoting the Stackable Career Development Framework offered by ATD National and also, by developing a specific way to recognize all of our CPLP members.
    • Barry Atland, author of Engaging the Head, Heart and Hands of a Volunteer, discussed a six step approach to lead and engage volunteers: 
    1. Demonstrate Leadership Presence (seek) 
    2. Interact with others (touch)
    3. Determine potential interest in involvement (tune-in)
    4. Ask open-ended questions to discover intrinsic motivators (flip)
    5. Explore possibilities with volunteer (listen/learn)
    6. Invite, introduce, connect and follow up (next steps)
    • Based a session hosted by the ATD Nebraska Chapter, we are formalizing the process for marketing, communication, and job posting requests. Our hope is to make the communication process more streamlined so our members receive the information they need, when the need it. 


    Yvonne Bogard (President), Jean Eckhoff (President Elect), Shannon Wzientek, (VP of CPLP Study Groups), Ginger Nichols (VP of Technology), and Stephanie Lang (VP of Communications) 

  • Monday, July 17, 2017 4:09 PM | Anonymous member

    Microlearning. Agile. Gamification. API. Cafeteria style learning. Content curation. Augmented reality.  The list of new talent development design elements goes on and on and continuously grows…and can often feel overwhelming. With each new approach, similar questions start to surface: How can I integrate this?   Does everything need to be overhauled? Does this require new skills and resources?  How will I get up to speed?  How much does this cost?

    When exploring whatever the latest approach may be, a comment that a colleague once shared with me often comes to mind: “The arena of instructional design is very similar to fashion design; they are both always changing.”  This is so true!  There are always trends, the latest thing that’s hot, and, frequently, the pressure to incorporate it instantaneously.

    Fast,Talent,DevelopmentImages by Gigabit and Stitchfix 

    When taking a deep dive to further analyze this comparison, the similarities continue.  However, this gives me comfort.  For example, each has timeless pieces that will always be our staples, regardless of what the new season brings.  Whether it is the little black dress or instructor led training, a jean jacket or evaluation, we will always have our “go-tos” to fall back on.  The secret is to marry the two, like adding a trendy accessory to a plain white tee and jeans or adding a microlearning module post-event activity as Gagne’s ninth event of instruction.   Weaving everything together makes things manageable and spares us from purchasing an entirely new wardrobe each year or continuously re-designing each and every piece of curriculum. 

    This balance also helps us to satisfy one of our primary goals as talent development professionals: providing the best and most impactful experience possible for our learners.  If it doesn’t meet their needs, it doesn’t matter how cutting-edge the approach may be, or how much time and money was spent to incorporate something new and different.  Again, reflecting on the world of fashion, if you aren’t dressed for the event, regardless of how fashion forward you are, it’s likely you will still feel uncomfortable.

    The next time you are intimidated by a daunting list of talent development trends look at it from a different perspective and determine that pieces that you can incorporate rather than feeling overwhelmed.    After all, it’s really no different than looking into your closet and determining if there are new garments worth purchasing for the season.  Soon you’ll find that this approach makes it all seem much more manageable.

    Posted by Shannon Wzientek, CPLP 

    ATD RMC Vice President of CPLP Study Group

  • Monday, June 12, 2017 11:22 AM | Anonymous member

    Perhaps the most intimidating thing in the world is to go up to people and introduce yourself. Here are three things you can remember that may help take some of the networking stress away:

    1. Others are often nervous talking to new people.
    2. Networking is simply a matter of building relationships!
    3. Try Volunteering! It's a fantastic way to open the door to conversations and it gives you something to do. 

    If you already love to network, that is great, too! You are the one who makes everyone feel at ease! We have put together some guidelines that will help you have the most effective networking evening.

    Be Prepared

    Come with an objective. Do you want to …

    • Develop your career by finding someone to help you stay current in your industry?
    • Find a mentor? 
    • Find referrals or sales leads? 
    • Explore a new career possibility? 
    • Find someone who is facing the same challenge as you and discuss solutions? 

    Set some goals. For example, by the end of the evening, I will have ... 

    • Met three new people. 
    • Set two follow up meetings. 
    • Practiced my elevator speech with three different people. 

    If setting goals is overwhelming, make it fun by setting amusing goals like… I will talk to 6 different people: 

    • Two who are wearing glasses. 
    • Two who are wearing red. 
    • Two who are wearing brown shoes. 

    If attending with a friend or a group:

    • Agree before the event to introduce each other to new people. 
    • Build your colleagues’ credibility by introducing them with interesting successes they've had. 

    Say Hi!

    • Be bold! Say ‘hi’ first!
    • Start with someone you know. 
    • Find someone who is alone. 
    • Join a group. 

    Tips for Great Conversations

    • Ask people about themselves. Be interested in them instead of interesting. 
    • Ask about hobbies, free-time activities, vacations. 
    • Find common ground – either through work or outside interests. 
    • Offer to help someone with their challenge and then follow up. 
    • Ask for a follow up meeting to continue your conversation; set a date and time. 
    • Exchange business cards: Write something on the card that will help you remember her or him. Note the date and time of the meeting you have set. Follow up with sending an Outlook or Google invite the next day. 

    The Break Away

    • Grab some food: “I’m going to get something to eat or drink.”
    • Make an introduction: “Let me introduce you to Susan, the head of HR at Mindboggle Inc.”
    • Ask for an introduction: “Would you be able to introduce me to your colleague?”
    • Make arrangements to continue the conversation: “Thank you for your time…perhaps we can arrange a meeting so that we can continue talking.”

    Hope everyone enjoys the Summer Networking Bash! 

    Your ATD RMC Board 

  • Wednesday, May 03, 2017 9:46 PM | Anonymous member

    When interviewing with Toco Warranty, they asked: “as the first person hired in the Denver office, how are you going to create a culture where people enjoy coming to work?” I knew that for some small companies the culture reflects the values of the CEO and it’s Reagan economics trickle-down theory from there. Now, a year later, I have some thoughts about influencing culture from the ground floor. The secret is mindfulness.

    When building a new office, there is entropy, opportunities, growing pains – and the pace is fast. In the beginning, our three-person Talent Development team’s priorities included: hiring a sales floor, standardizing the two-week sales foundation program, developing the leadership program and establishing the Ethos Council, a committee to ensure the office lives our core values. This required lots of hard and rewarding work. In the first eight months, I admit that at times I was stressed.  My manager saw my stress and shared, “As a leader, people look to us for emotional cues. If you’re stressed, it signals to others that it’s okay to freak out. Thus, the key is to be steady and calm.”

    Triggering my memory, I realized I’ve seen this role-modeled before. In 2014, the Wall Street Journal published an exposé, Gender Bias Alleged at UCLA’s Anderson Business School. Shortly after the article was published, I met with Dean Judy Olian to understand what was happening and she was as calm as savasana. She shared the work she was doing, which included being part of The White House Summit on Working Families and implementing an implicit bias program, similar to the one Lazlo Bock implemented at Google. In essence, because she was calm and grounded, it allowed her to catalyze change that UCLA Anderson and other business schools across the country desperately needed. 

    This is the secret sauce in influencing culture. Once a company has decided on the culture it wants and the whole executive team is bought in, they share “the why.” Then, all leaders model the culture. However, there is a missing piece. When starting a new venture, in the midst of chaos, sometimes people believe in the culture, but the stress or being caught up in a current roadblock prevent them from modeling the culture. This is where mindfulness is key.

    Mindfulness is when “we become aware that we’re aware.”* To become aware, I began meditating daily and improving my mental performance by practicing yoga regularly and getting a full eight hours of sleep. Practicing mindfulness has allowed me to be aware of my thoughts, choose my perspective and thus, choose my actions. For example, it’s the difference between “I have to organize a recruiting event, how will I find the time to do this?” versus “I get to organize a recruiting event – how cool, I’ve never done this before!” By being gracious of the opportunity, the energy transfers, creating a positive feedback cycle among others in the office.

    There are many benefits of mindfulness in the workforce. If you are interested in learning more, I recommend reading Arianna Huffington’s work, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success.

    Image by @lastnightoutfit

    *Arianna Huffington, Thrive (New York: Harmony Books, 2014), 184. 

    Posted by Stephanie Lang, ATD RMC VP of Communications

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