My First 90 days #first90 – A repost from linkedin

I wrote this piece a couple of days ago on Linkedin and thought I would share it hear as well.

http://www.linkedin.com/pulse/my-first-90-days-just-yourself-first90-paul-rasmussen

 

#First90

It is really tempting I think whenever you are starting a new role to want to show yourself in the best light, to be the best person you can be, to try and really fit and become part of the company culture. The problem is that sometimes what we end up doing is giving people a false impression of what we are like, of how to approach us and of how we work.

My single biggest piece of advice is that from day one follow just one simple rule

Be Yourself

Why? You are either going to fit or you are not, and the company hired you so they must have at least thought there was a good chance you were going to fit and in the long run if it is not going to work out for either you or the organisation would not it be better if everyone realised it as early on as possible when everyone can cut there losses with the minimum of damage.

There is also another much stronger reason for adopting this simple rule as well. You just might find that your job becomes far more than that, it becomes some where where get to enjoy what you do, form strong relationships and most of all actually have one.

 

Why I work here.

It is that time of year where everyone thinks about the year ahead and what they want to do and achieve, but sometimes amongst all of these thoughts and plans it is easy to forget the why behind the things that we do.  I was reminded of that today by a post by a friend on LinkedIn.  We talk about compliance and standards, about how to improve the things that we do, about best practice, trends and new technologies.  We talk about training needs and delivery processes, how to fund and manage learning.  We talk about policy and theory and academic positions and theories, informal and formal learning, elearning, mlearning and all of the things we would like to do or try it we had the time and the resources.   While this is all fine it is very easy to lose sight of the simple facts about the sector that we all work in, it is about the participants and more importantly every single day this sector changes people’s lives. Not just the lives of individuals but of their families, those around them and their communities.

We need to remember the person who failed at school but who has learnt new skills through a well structured adult learning program

We need to remember the staff who through the things that we provide are able to life their careers and their lives to heights they never thought possible

We need to remember the clients and stakeholders who get better quality of service and outcomes and walk away happy rather than disgruntled and take that happiness into other parts of their lives

And most importantly we need to remember that working in this sector more than many others gives us such an opportunity to have a real and lasting effect on the lives of others.

And I for one and grateful to have such a wonderful opportunity.

Creating a High Impact Learning Culture

2013 ASTD State of the Industry Report

So as many of you know I am an avid consumer of the ASTD’s yearly State of the industry Report and guess what, the 2013 edition is now available.

So what does it have to save about the world of L&D this year. Well it is interesting, there is not a lot of change from last years report.  We see that spending on L&D globally was about $164.2 Billion with an average direct expenditure per employee of about $1,195.  In terms of Average Direct Expenditure, this represents a very small ($13) increase over last year.

Again however Learning hours used per employee stuck at around the 30 hours mark, 30.3 this years to be exact.  On suggestion for this stalling over the last four years in the increase in usage of non-traditional instructor led training and the more informal, workplace, just in time learning which is much harder to track and quantify.  We also see that Direct expenditure as percentage of payroll rise only slightly to 3.6% as has the Direct expenditure of percentage of revenue rising slightly to 1.32%.

There has also been little or no change in the percentage of expenditure taken up by internal costs which remains steady at 61.5%, lower that 2009 (62.4%) but higher than last year (60.5%).  There has however, been a not insignificant (5%) drop in the number of employees per L&D staff member which now sits at 299:1, there is an even more startling drop of  around 40%, in this number in the ASTD BEST organisations, taking the number there from 288:1 down to 178:1.

The cost of learning has also gone up both in terms of the cost of providing one hour of training to one employee, rising to $89 and the overall cost of developing one hours training rising to  $1,772, a rise of 20% over the last 4 years.  Some reasons suggested for this increase if the up front costs of technology and the reduction in the ratio of employees to L&D staff members.

Managerial and Supervisory training makes up the largest content area for Learning programs, closely followed by mandatory and compliance training, business process and practices, and industry specific training with these four areas taking up just of 40% of all the learning programs delivered.  How these programs were delivered tells what I think is an interesting story however, while yet again, instructor led classroom delivery dropped (5% down to 54.28) and technology based learning rose slightly to 39.20% which is not unexpected.  What I find interesting is that  All Online delivery has remained around the same percentage, (27.29% this year) since 2008.  When you pair this with the fact that instructor lead training (either classroom or online/remote) accounted for some 70% of all training delivered, it seems to suggest, at least in my opinion that participants like to have instructors to interact with even when utilising online training.  The other final thing I find interesting about the content and delivery data is that while there was a big jump in the percentage of hours used in terms of mobile technologies between 2009 and 2010, this usage has flattened out of the last three years remaining at 1.51%

So what does all this data mean?  A couple of comments I would make would be that

  1. Instructor led learning is still the preferred method of delivery for a large amount of participants,
  2. New technologies may have had a quite significant effect on the overall cost of the development of training,
  3. Mobile learning is not the powerhouse, game changing, way of the future that everyone keeps suggesting it is.

I would be interested to know what others think of the data and what it means for the industry.

Primary, Secondary, Tertiary and VET education

Is Education Snobbery still alive and well in Australia?

As some of you might know one of my first posts on this blog was about Academic snobbery and the perceived value of VET qualifications, where I talked about the ‘I have a degree, why would I want a workplace (VET) qualification?’ and what it said about the perception of the value of VET sector qualifications.

This whole idea of the VET and organisational learning sectors, not being as professional, rigorous, or just plain good, as the ‘Teaching and Academic sectors’ has risen up in a number of conversations I have had with people recently.  This time however it has been the ‘But that just training’ or ‘They are just a trainer, I’m a teacher/lecturer’  commentary.  What I find really interesting about this is that I almost never here this language from people in the organisational learning and VET sectors only from those in the teaching and university sectors.  The other thing that I find interesting is this (and I am going to generalise here so beware);

Teachers are experts in practice of teaching, they are not for the most part subject matter experts;

Lecturers and Academics are subject matter experts, and not for the most part experts in the practice of teaching;

VET and organisation learning practitioners are expected to be both, they must have subject matter knowledge and expertise and they must hold training qualifications.

Now don’t get me wrong here, I am not saying that practitioners in the VET and organisational learning sector are better or more qualified than those in other sectors.   I have known over the years outstanding teacher, lecturers and trainers, I have also known some, in all three sectors, that were downright awful and made me wonder how they managed to continue to be employed.

So  lets stop this petty bickering about who or what sector is best, applaud great talent where we find it and work together to ensure that the people we educate get the best outcomes they can regardless of the sector they are in.

Learning to Change and Changing to Learn or BBQing the scared cows

 Why is it so hard to people to accept change?

 Sorry for the lack of posts recently the world of work was very busy over the last couple of weeks, which has amongst other things prompted my thinking around change in the workplace, changing how we learn and how we deliver learning and change management in general.

Organisational change is a difficult and sometimes messy beast, but there is a lot I think we can learn by changing and by thinking about how to change.  Over the past few months I have been involved heavily in assisting an organisation through a process of change around how a core piece of their training.  This is a total revamp of the package, content packaging, delivery, even the outcomes of the training and its structure to achieve those outcomes.  We really were BBQing sacred cows with this change and there in lies the issues I wanted to touch on today.  The concept of changing something in order to learn and people and organisations learning how to change.

To paint a little bit of a picture, there had been for about 12 months or so prior to this change been a level of discontent in some quarters about the training that was being delivered, particularly around how it was delivered and what the outcomes were, it was frankly, starting to show its age.  That is not to say that it was fatally flawed, just ideas about delivery and content had moved on as had the landscape into which its outcomes fell.

As a result a project was put together to look over the entire package of the training and see what could be done to make it better fit the outcomes that were needed.  Now it was made clear at the start of the project that there really wasn’t any part of the training that was out of scope, if something needed to be changed and there was good justification to change it and it was going to fit the outcomes better, then there was an ongoing commitment to change.

So after about 6 months of consultation and work the team started to talk about and show parts of the new package to stakeholders and this is where an interesting thing happened, a lot of the people who had been critical of the original training program, did not like what they were seeing and we heard things like,

“Why did you change that?”

“That’s not how we do things around here.”

“You have changed everything, it’s not the same course.”

People who had previously complained about the program were now defending it and a lot of the issues seemed to be around the fact that things had actually changed,  the Powerpoint hadn’t just been updated, the actual material, how it was being presented and the outcomes had all be reimagined.  It drove home to me the fact that a lot of the time people don’t actually want change or at least not real change, they want superficial change, so that they can still feel safe and comfortable in what they know.

It really strikes me as a shame though we as individuals and organisations learn so much through change, if everything stayed the same why would we need to learn anything new, how would we grow and become better at what we do.  In fact some of my strongest learning come out of the most confronting of changes.  Now I know that individuals and organisations have vested interests in staying where they are, in not changing, but not changing is an evolutionary dead-end, it goes nowhere.

Both as individuals and os organisations we really need to Learn to change and change to learn.

The value of Coaching for an Organisation

What is the Value to an Organisation for having an embedded coaching program?

I and a number of my colleagues have been involved over the past 10 months or so in a coaching accreditation program designed to provide us with the skill and competencies to be good or better coaches.   It has involved us being coach/mentored while coaching other staff members and has been an interested experience for both us and the staff we are coaching.  More importantly perhaps it has made us look at the place that coaching has within the organisation and what is  and where does the value in a program like this sit.

Interestingly I think that perhaps when we considered this kind of program we saw the value sitting with those people being coached.  So in providing an opportunity for the staff being coached to grow and develop and become better, more fully engaged and capable members of the organisation.  This thinking has shifted, and while it is still the case that there is value and significant value sometimes for the people being coached, it seems that there is far greater value in the process of coaching and becoming a coach.  So the real value that exists is that by becoming coaches, coaching staff members and being mentored to be a better coach, we have significantly improved the capacity of our senior management cohort as well as its ability to link and communicate with our staff, which to my mind is much more substantial win than we had expected.  The value we are seeing is such that we are seriously considering ‘encouraging’ all of our senior management to become involved in the process of being a coach and being mentored through the process.

I would love to hear other people’s experience of organisational coaching, its effects and where you think the value lies.

Effectively Funding Organisational Learning

How do organisations fund their learning?

I have spoken about this in other ways in previous posts, but I thought it was worthwhile raising the subject again both as a means of thinking through it for myself an hopefully to get some thoughts from everyone else about how they do it and what is most effective.

I guess from my thinking there seems to be a couple of models that seem to be the most prevalent in terms of funding L&D functions as follows;

  1. 100% Funded by Organisation –   0% charge to business units,
  2. ?% Funded by Organisation –   ?% charge to business units,
  3. 0% Funded by Organisation –   100% charge to business units.

Each of these structures have their own challenges, but I think by far the biggest challenge for all of them is around equity of delivery of service.  In the 100% funded model, some business units who have high need for the delivery of mandatory or compliance based training are going to take up a large proportion of the delivery hours.  In the 100% charge model there are issues around who has training budgets and the size of those budgets as well as the issue of regulatory need.  The problem of course with a mixed model is what should the mix be and how can it be made to be fair and equitable.

Some parts of the organisation will need low-cost training for a large number of people while other units will require only small numbers to be trained by the costs associated with the training may be much higher, then  when you add the management and procurement of  external specialist training for particular business areas the situation gets increasingly more complex.

I tend to lean towards the 100% funded model, simple because it is easer to manage a ‘cost centre’ delivery unit than one that relies on the business ‘buying’ internal training.  It also makes sense in terms of centralising of procurement and administration which is I think more difficult to fund and manage under a charge to business model.

I would be interested to hear what other people think on the subject.

Executive Education – Is it really all about the name?

I was talking with a couple of fellow L&D folk the other day about programs such as those offered by the Harvard Business School and  the University of Queensland Executive Business School  and what it was that made executive education such a lucrative and high end business and what it was that people actually got from attending one of the prestigious schools of excellence.

After the conversation I was left wondering whether in essence Executive Education is far less about learning things and far more about creating networks and being able to put a prestigious program on your resume.  Now I know that this sounds may sound cynical, but it is not actually meant to be.  We are generally talking here about people with wide experience, already with high level qualifications, for whom learning has, at least in my experience become incrimental, a good idea, piece of knowledge, or a new framework, which extends their mindset and model fo the world, rather than the rapid expansion of knowledge and skills we tend to find with earlier career education.

Given that this is the case it does seem to be the case, it does seem that the networking aspect of these programs is at least as important as the education one.  But what makes certain programs better therefore, is the quality of the participants just as important as the quality of the facilitators?  If this is the case then are what we really paying for the ability to network and ‘work’ with individuals with whom we may not have been able to in any other setting.

I would be interested in other peoples opinions.

%d bloggers like this: