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.
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.
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?
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!
Career Development Framework
Video: ATD's Stackable Credentials
Article: ATD Career Development Framework: Where Do You Want to Go?
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.
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:
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)
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.
Images 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
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:
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.
Come with an objective. Do you want to …
Set some goals. For example, by the end of the evening, I will have ...
If setting goals is overwhelming, make it fun by setting amusing goals like… I will talk to 6 different people:
If attending with a friend or a group:
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
What is the Executive Advisory Council?
The ATD RMC Executive Advisory Council will convene between seven and thirteen Denver-area talent development leaders. We will meet on a quarterly basis to discuss strategic talent development issues affecting organizations. The Council will identify important issues and recommend possible solutions to the ATD RMC Board of Directors. These recommendations will help ATD RMC deliver programming and other content that add value for organizations by directly addressing the issues that talent management leaders face today.
What was the “ah-ha” moment that inspired you to create the Council?
I was at the ATD Chapter Leaders Conference in Washington D.C. last October. I was listening to another chapter leader’s presentation and remember thinking "Well why wouldn't we just ask talent development leaders to sit in a room with us and discuss what they really need?" The more I thought about it, the more excited I became by the prospect. Shortly thereafter, laid out the idea and why it could be great to the other RMC Board members. It resonated with them and we agreed that it made sense for me to develop the idea further.
My background in nonprofit governance set me up to flesh out the structure of the Council to the point where others could really see its value. Once I had a workable Terms of Reference and Competency Profile (based on ATD's competency model of course!) the idea started to pick up momentum. I have spoken to quite a few executives to socialize the idea and it seems like the Council will meet an unserved need in our professional community.
Who can serve on the Council?
We are seeking thought leaders in the talent development space. They might be decision makers at large organizations or consulting practice leads that help organizations improve their talent development function. A strategic mindset is perhaps the most important qualification, but we also need people that are out there making decisions that directly affect employee development and organizational effectiveness. For more detailed info you can view the Council Competency Profile, which lays out the general characteristics and specific talent development competencies we are looking for.
How will the Council benefit the Talent Development Community?
The Council will be the voice of the Denver-area talent development market. Talent development issues exist in all organizations. As more and more leaders realize that employee talent is their best source of competitive advantage, they are looking for ways to engage, develop and retain top-notch talent. ATD RMC is uniquely positioned to help organizations identify and address those challenges. Through ATD national we have access to a huge network of thought leaders and experts, an enormous library of research and an array of certifications that can help organizations meet their challenges. However, we can't go to the market with a message of "We have this great stuff, what do you want?" We must have our finger on the pulse of talent management leaders so that we can partner with them to deliver meaningful solutions.
Advisory Council Members will have the opportunity to convey their most pressing, most challenging issues to ATD RMC, a nonprofit organization equipped to collaborate with organizations of all sizes to address those issues. I would love to see the Council build momentum by delivering real value to the Denver-area talent development market. From what we understand, this Council is the first of its kind in the talent development space, at the very least in the ATD community. It would be amazing to see it become a trendsetter and lead to other similar groups across the country.
What is the one outcome you are most looking forward to?
When ATD RMC enters its first collaboration agreement with a local business to solve a talent management issue. This will mean that the council has met, discussed ideas, made a recommendation to ATD RMC and together we have come up with a solution that creates value for that business. This is what I want most from the Council – that Dever-area leaders look to us to help them strategize and launch talent management solutions that benefit their organizations.
Nate Singsen, VP of Community Relations
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