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  • Thursday, November 15, 2018 12:36 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Mike Faber, MS

    The year-end presents an opportunity for training professionals to further cement their role as a valued business partner. Whether you’re working with an organization as a consultant, contract trainer, or as an employee, the chance to play a significant role in planning for 2019 and beyond can boost your profile far beyond being “the training lady/guy”. Here are three ways to make an impact outside of keeping the permanent markers away from the dry erase board!

    1. Volunteer to take on a facilitator role in business planning sessions. Your value is as an independent “third party” who can use questions to help the group break through old ways of thinking and “we’ve tried that before” obstacles. Even if your participation is limited to taking notes on a flipchart, you’ll be able to read the room and better determine how to interact with decision-makers in the months ahead.
    2. Schedule 1:1 or small group meetings to act as a sounding board for frontline reps and managers. Oftentimes their insight provides the best prompts for training initiatives that are needed in the new year. While those individuals may be reticent to share their true feelings with leadership about competency gaps, your position as a listener rather than a judge can help break down those barriers. If possible, schedule these interactions off-site to remove distractions, potential interruptions, and to demonstrate that you value this input enough to make their agenda paramount.
    3. While traveling around the holidays can be a nuisance, this is a great time of year to get “face time” with locations outside of your local office. You’ll be surprised at how welcome the “training team” is in places that don’t normally get such visits. Remote workers can harbor resentment about headquarter employees getting all the perks, and there’s some truth to that. Now is a great time to visit with a listening agenda, learning games, and some swag from the home office. If you can’t make it in person, leverage a resource like Zoom* to make it feel as intimate as possible.

    Learning and Development is a 365-day/year necessity in organizations large and small. We know that L&D is key to top performer retention, employee engagement, and recruiting. Gallup’s 2016** study found that 2/3rds of workers are disengaged or actively disengaged, so your leaders need you to be doubly engaged in their careers and the careers of their direct reports. Demonstrating that value on a consistent basis outside of the formal training realm means you’re more likely to be engaged, more likely to be called upon for guidance, and more likely to be seen as invaluable to the organization.

    *There are multiple platforms for video collaboration, Zoom is one option.


    Mike Faber is a Sales Trainer with Zoom Video Communications. He holds a BS in communications from Ithaca College, and a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Colorado State University – Global Campus. 

  • Sunday, October 07, 2018 4:31 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Kristen Wall

    How many times have you attended a training and been more impressed by the caliber of the donuts than the content you sat through? How often do you attend a training and find the presenter engaging and entertaining, but a week later you don’t remember a single point they were trying to make? Learning and development professionals spend a lot of time thinking about how to deliver content effectively in a way that ultimately changes behavior, but too much of the time we are focused on head knowledge. We spend so much time measuring how much they’ve learned, we don’t consider the possibility they might be transformed. In order to experience transformation, we have to have space for emotional engagement and critical reflection. 

    Emotional engagement doesn’t mean bringing the whole room to tears or causing your participants to question their very existence. It just means bringing a level of awareness to how your feelings and assumptions change. How often do we present a difficult subject and breeze through it as if this was an informational seminar and not a possibly emotionally disruptive situation?  What if we acknowledged participant feelings and affirmed that, as trainers, it’s difficult for us as well?  If we can acknowledge that the conversation is hard without making the conversation all about our own feelings, we develop trust between us and the participants. 

    One aspect of emotional intelligence is developing empathy.  As we prepare our learning activities, is it possible to take a few minutes to review the material from the perspective of 3-4 people/role types that you know will be participating?  Is there information that potentially changes their job?  Has an impact on their workflow?  Are there opportunities for participants to go through a similar exercise of trying to imagine the impact of the training from others’ perspectives? 

    Another aspect of emotional intelligence is becoming aware of feelings.  Are there points in the learning activity where you can ask participants how they are feeling and how those feelings are manifesting in their bodies?  The question doesn’t need to be answered aloud, but it does permit people time to stop and check in with themselves, potentially de-escalating the intensity of their feelings and making space for critical reflection. 

    Are there points in the learning activity where it would be appropriate for participants to engage in critical reflection and talk about how our assumptions have changed as a result of the experience?  Too often we walk into a learning activity (literally or figuratively) and assume we already know the content that will be presented.  A good learning experience has the potential to cause participants to recognize their assumptions and filter them through the learning experience to see if those assumptions are still correct and serve the person well.  Finish a learning experience by giving participants the opportunity to share what they believed before the experience, how their assumptions changed, why their old beliefs were not helpful any longer, and what they believe now.  Going through that process creates fertile ground for new beliefs and ideas, but it also empowers the participants to look through other experiences with fresh eyes and creates opportunities for more conversation. 

    We live in a time where people are demanding more emotional intelligence and critical reflection from their leaders.  Creating learning activities where participants are given the freedom to develop these important skills contributes to the health and learning of our organizations.

    Kristen Jensen Wall is a Learning and Development Professional with almost 20 years of experience in Higher Education.

  • Wednesday, September 12, 2018 7:53 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Mike Faber

    While I’m not a great cook, I do have my specialties. Macaroni and cheese, salads, Buffalo-style chicken wings, and the occasional loaf of banana bread. Recently I created a breakout recipe that served as a good reminder for those of us who make our living in the learning and development space. The combination of ketchup and oatmeal turned out to be a real crowd-pleaser.

    Perhaps that last line deserves some explanation. While volunteering for our local food task force, I was stationed outside a grocery store for several hours collecting food donations to help feed the hungry. My initial pitch sounded like this; “Hi, here’s a quick look at what your local food bank can use to help feed those less fortunate.” Handing out slips of pre-printed requests produced some good results, but the volume of collections was lagging after my first 30 minutes.

    Like any self-aware salesperson, lackluster returns meant it was time to adjust my approach. Tailoring my message to the audience (for seniors, “We’re collecting donations to help needy seniors in the community.” For families, “We’re looking for food donations to help feed hungry kids and parents in the community.”) produced better results. Then I started asking for specific donations, in this case, bottles of ketchup and boxes of instant oatmeal. That’s when the contributions started to really roll in.

    What’s the lesson? For starters, as L&D professionals, it’s critical for us to specify what we want out of a training, budget, or meeting with a stakeholder. Just like the food bank, we have particular objectives to achieve, and we depend on collaboration with others to succeed. Ask yourself, just as you ask those who you serve, what will make that next interaction a “win-win” for each party? How will you judge whether those mutual needs have been met?

    Asking for the order and being specific about what you want isn’t the purview of used-car sales pros, it’s an expression of your professionalism. The recipe for asking what you want includes a handful of determination, a dollop of specific benefit to the person you’re asking, and a dose of data to make a compelling business case for your proposal.

    The Parker Task Force and Food Bank has been serving the Colorado communities of Parker, Elizabeth, and Franktown for more than a quarter-century. To learn more, or to donate, contact http://www.parkertaskforce.org/ or call (303) 841-3460.

    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.

  • Tuesday, August 14, 2018 8:13 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    By Kristen Wall

    The practice of mindfulness is getting its day in the sun, and it seems like there is a new headline every day promoting its uses.  The articles often describe the benefits an individual can experience – less anxiety, better sleep, sharper focus, and improved memory, to name a few.  However, researchers are now investigating the power of mindfulness for teams.  Will individual mindfulness practices result in better team performance?

    One of the more famous examples of mindfulness and teamwork comes from the Phil Jackson-Michael Jordan era Chicago Bulls.  Jackson introduced mindfulness to help reduce tension and unite the team. The concept has since spread to corporations, such as Google and Nike, as leaders use mindfulness to improve productivity and reduce interpersonal conflict.

    Yu and Zellmer-Bruhm (2018) defined team mindfulness as situations where members committed to keeping their attention focused on the present and by “experiential, nonjudgmental processing of team experiences”.  In other words, “team mindfulness emerges as team members develop similar perceptions about their interactions”, namely, that they stayed focused on the present during interactions and they engaged in “nonjudgmental processing of team experiences” (p. 325).  Yu and Zellmer-Bruhm determined these commitments created an environment where team members were less reactive, could process experiences in nonjudgmental ways, and allowed members to take things less personally.  In other words, the team members were less likely to get their feelings hurt and more likely to see nuance in what other team members were saying.  Other benefits to teams include an assumption of positive intent during conflict, better attention on the task in spite of the conflict, and team members that are less likely to get defensive. 

    If you are interested in the benefits of mindfulness for your team, how do you get started? 

    • First, start practicing it yourself.  There are many resources to help you learn basic techniques.  Goleman and Lippincott (2017) describe a senior leader who started using mindfulness techniques to manage his impulsivity and his employees stopped turning around to walk the other way when they saw him coming down the hall!  This is an extreme example, but experience has taught us that people will be more interested in a new initiative if they see the benefits someone else is experiencing.  
    • Second, don’t make it mandatory.  Allow for opportunities throughout the week for your team to take a few minutes to engage in mindfulness if they choose to. 
    • Last, allow your team the opportunity to talk about their experiences with mindfulness, good and bad, without judgement.  Don’t overwhelm them with techniques to try. Give team members space and time to adopt the practice, or not.  I know from my personal experience that it took a couple of attempts before I started to see the benefits.  Remember that mindfulness will look different for everyone—for instance, yoga and tai chi are mindfulness activities that may be difficult to practice at work, so you may not know that your team members are already doing it. 

    As our discussions at work increasingly focus on improving mental health, increasing productivity, and emotional intelligence, mindfulness has become one of the tools we can use to achieve our goals.  If you want to learn more about using mindfulness with your team, Coursera offers a module called “Building High Performance Teams:  Mindfulness Strategies”


    Goleman, D. & Lippincott, M. (2017, September 8) Without emotional intelligence, mindfulness doesn’t work. Retrieved from www.hbr.org

    Yu, L. & Zellmer-Bruin, M. (2018). Introducing team mindfulness and considering its safeguard role against conflict transformation and social undermining.  Academy of Management Journal, 61(1), 324-347.

    Kristen Jensen Wall is a Learning and Development Professional with almost 20 years of experience in Higher Education.



  • 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. 

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