When Sexual Harassment is Tolerated – We All Suffer.

What is Harassment?
Harassment is defined as a “course of conduct directed at a specific person, that causes substantial emotional distress in such a person, and serves no legitimate purpose.” Sexual harassment is specifically harassment of a sexual nature, and this sort of behavior is often seen in the workplace. Disrespectful or offensive behavior by supervisors, employees, co-workers, students, or third parties is inappropriate; and in some cases, may be an abuse of authority. When abusive and demeaning behavior is tolerated in our workplace, or on campus, we all suffer.

Get our Free “Sexual Harassment Prevention” whitepaper today [pdf]: http://www.learnsmartsystems.com/corporate/010/

Sexual harassment is a behavior, and adults are responsible for their own behavior… and its consequences. This whitepaper will help define the boundaries of appropriate behavior, to help prevent harassment in the workplace.

How Harassment Begins
We each have the responsibility to treat others with respect, and an obligation to maintain a workplace that’s respectful for all. If you stay aware of your responsibility, and conduct yourself in a professional manner, you will have taken an important step toward eliminating sexual harassment. But changing behavior requires more than just knowledge. You need to recognize the likely consequences of negative behavior, and base your actions accordingly.

The balance of risks and rewards is heavily stacked against offenders. Many people have lost their jobs, faced disciplinary action, and ruined their careers by engaging in sexual harassment. To prevent such incidents from occurring, it is important to recognize and avoid behaviors that are not acceptable in today’s workplace, to know what to do if you encounter unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature at work, and how to respond if you become aware of such behavior occurring within the organization.

How Common is Sexual Harassment?
On-the-job sexual harassment is not a recent problem, although legal liability for it is. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. Yet the American court system did not decide the first sexual harassment case under Title VII until 1976. The problem’s scope came to national attention in 1991, when the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on Anita Hill’s charges against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. Sexual harassment is common throughout workplaces; in all occupations and professions; educational backgrounds; age, racial and ethnic groups; and income levels. While the majority of reported cases involve a male harassing a female, such cases can also involve a female harassing a male, or either men or women harassing members of their own sex.

In 1976, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia resolved the first Title VII sexual harassment case. That same year, a Redbook magazine poll found that 9 out of 10 women said they had been subjected to unwanted sexual advances at work. And according to a report issued by the Government Accountability Office, 42 percent of female government employees stated they had experienced some form of work-related sexual harassment. That same report stated that 15 percent of male federal employees reported being sexually harassed as well. Surveys done in the private sector revealed similar results.

As high as those numbers are, they may not even begin to tell the whole story. In 2010, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reported that almost 12,000 cases of sexual harassment reached their office. Yet the EEOC believes that this total represents only 5 to 15 percent of actual incidents. The rest go unreported, or no formal complaint is filed. Based on those statistics, there may actually have been a staggering two million cases of sexual harassment in the United States in 2010. In the federal government’s first sexual harassment survey, it discovered that – between 1978 and 1980 – the government lost $189 million from the effects of sexual harassment. In its next survey, covering 1985 to 1987, those losses jumped to $267 million – even though the rate of sexual harassment had not changed. Today, a typical Fortune 500 corporation can expect to lose $6.7 million dollars annually due to sexual harassment. That figure includes losses that result from absenteeism, lower productivity, increased health-care costs, poor morale, and employee turnover. These losses do not include litigation costs or court-awarded damages. Nor do they include damage to a company’s image, which can cost a business not only its reputation, but also customers and revenue.

In recent years, the number of sexual harassment cases filed with the EEOC, as well as in federal and state courts, has climbed dramatically. In 1992, for example, the number of cases jumped 50 percent over the previous year. Complaints about sexual harassment have ranged from the fostering of a hostile work environment to demands for prostitution. So how common is sexual harassment in the workplace? It can be summed up in the remarks of Alex Kozinski, justice in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Kozinski said, “It is a sobering revelation that every woman — every woman — who has spent time in the workforce in the last two decades can tell at least one story about being the object of sexual harassment.”

Protect your employees and your organization with LearnSmart’s 45 page guide to Sexual Harassment Prevention. This in-depth whitepaper defines Sexual Harassment, how to identify a “hostile” work environment and the legal implications of harassment. Protect yourself from individuals’ irresponsible actions. Get the free whitepaper today [pdf]: http://www.learnsmartsystems.com/corporate/010/

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LearnSmart New Releases Update for November 2013

Find out the latest courses available in our Knowledge Libraries. Our newest releases include courses that instruct you on how to compose and edit professional-quality documents and videos using Microsoft and Adobe products, as well as teach you about excelling as a new manager.

Excel 2013Microsoft Office 2013 Series
Everyone is familiar with Microsoft’s Office suite of products. Microsoft introduces the 2013 suite to help professional, the family, and the student take their files with them anywhere, and learn how to access their Office programs remotely. In the 2013 suite, you’ll find the features you’re comfortable with in a clean, new interface. These products from Microsoft efficiently and seamlessly integrate work, Web, and world to create projects that meet your various projects. Explore the most popular programs like Word, PowerPoint, and Excel to compile documents that meet your needs and have a professional appearance.

Word 2013 Series
Learn the basics of this Office product covering how to navigate in a document, use the toolbars, and create a document. You’ll find instruction on how to create and manage documents; format text, paragraphs, and sections; and how to create tables and lists, as well as insert and format objects. You will also go over how to create special types of documents from templates. Altogether, the lessons will build on concepts and ideas so that students have a thorough understanding of the software. This series prepares students to sit for the Microsoft Word 2013 Exam 77-418.

PowerPoint 2013 Series
It’s more powerful, more stable, and has additional features. Explore all there is to know about PowerPoint 2013 through this series. Specifically, you will learn how to create and manage presentations, insert and format shapes and slides, and apply transitions and animations. Plus, see how to manage multiple presentations, and follow instruction on how to protect and share important data. You will also look at features like Slide Master, SmartArt, and Styles to craft presentations with enhanced visuals. Overall, the topics covered will prepare you to sit for the Microsoft PowerPoint Exam 77-422.

Excel 2013 Series
Excel is built for mass efficiency and speed. It’s more flexible, more dynamic, and easier to use. This version update offers you more functions in the math and trigonometry, statistical, engineering, date and time, lookup and reference, and text function categories. Explore how to use these functions and all many other features that Excel 2013 has to offer. You are also provided with instructions on applying VLOOKUP and conditional logic, working with what-if scenarios and financial formulas, and formatting data, text, and tables. This series will help you study and prepare to take Microsoft’s Excel 77-420 Certification exam.

Moving into ManageMoving into Managementment Series
Geared towards new managers, this series provides them with techniques, scenarios, and advice to succeed as a manager even with all the added responsibilities and authority. Take a look at managerial basics by studying what it means to be a manager, and how to communicate and lead effectively. Delve into the ways that you can make an impact in your company’s future by developing a corporate strategy and corporate plan. You will also go over how to fully embrace the new responsibilities and overcome your fears to experience success as a new manager.

Intro to Management
Introduction to Management is designed to help new managers learn what is expected of them. This course identifies the core functions of management, including what roles managers have to fulfill and the duties they must perform; explain the demands on a new manager and the seven steps to the management decision-making process; identify the challenges that come with company culture, and how to overcome them; create suggestions for making sure managers have time for personal development; prioritize tasks; and identify the different learning styles managers should keep in mind when communicating with employees.

Leading and Communicating as a Manager
Leading and Communicating as a Manager is designed to help new managers learn to be leaders and to communicate effectively with employees, fellow managers, and senior executives. This course identifies the five primary leadership roles that managers serve in business; discuss how to lead teams; how to know when your team is being effective; and the different stages of team development. You’ll be given a look at effective delegation and the four key benefits of effectively delegating tasks; how to use SMART objectives when delegating; and how to know what should and should not be delegated.

Making an Impact as a Manager
Making an Impact as a Manager is designed to help new managers lead their employees and companies on to bigger and better things. This course defines corporate strategy and identify exactly what it does; explain how to use a SWOT analysis to shape the company’s culture; the importance of doing a STEP analysis to provide a framework for addressing obstacles that face the business; talk about ways to improve operations; and the three E’s to examine when measuring and improving performance.

Taking Control as a Manager
Taking Control as a Manager is designed to help new managers understand how to relate to fellow managers and other employees and how to deal with the pressures that come with the position. This course looks at the seven aspects of management to invest in and different things you can do as a new manager to help win your team over; discusses performance management and using budget as a tool of control; identifies steps you can take to help employees overcome their insecurities and feel more comfortable on the job; and identifies the common causes of managerial stress and strategies to overcome them.

Premiere Pro CS6 SeriesPremiere Pro CS6
Gain an understanding of how to effectively use the new Premiere Pro CS6 software. Premiere Pro CS6 is an Adobe product that allows you to edit video and audio more effectively and efficiently. In this series, you will specifically study explanations on how to execute the production process covering conceptualization, preproduction, production, and postproduction procedures; getting started in Premiere Pro CS6; editing projects; and how to enhance and finalize projects for export. With all the capabilities and features offered in this Adobe software, it is impossible to make less-than quality videos that meet your needs.

To learn more about these offerings and LearnSmart Knowledge Libraries, contact a LearnSmart Sales Representative today at 1-800-418-6789.

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Knowledge vs. Performance: Getting More Out of Your Training Investment

It has been said that “anything worth doing is worth doing well.” And while there’s no question that employee training is something that’s worth doing – via online tutorials, in-person lectures or eLearning courses – it’s not entirely clear just how well employees are being trained.

This is not pointing out a flaw in the training itself, but rather a failing on the part of the organizations who arrange for it. After all, what’s the point of training employees if you don’t have an effective means of discerning how useful the training was, or if the employees aren’t applying the practical knowledge gained to help improve on-the-job performance?

Think about how you were taught in school: Information was presented, and you were tested on it. Then, subsequent lessons would build upon what you’d already learned, thereby reinforcing that knowledge. Tests were devised by the teacher, and evaluated not only what you’d learned, but also how well you learned it, and your ability to put that knowledge to use.

How can you be sure that employees are absorbing what they’re watching on video, or hearing in class? Well-structured online classes often provide the benefit of quizzes and labs to test student knowledge throughout, but what can companies do to make sure their employees are truly learning – no matter what training method they use?

The solution lies in the evaluation forms you use. All too often, evaluation forms ask about the training presentation – Did the presenter make his/her points well? Did the course move along at an effective pace? – rather than the training content. It doesn’t matter, however, that participants like a training course if they don’t learn anything. And ultimately, companies buy training courses to teach their employees, not amuse or entertain them for a few hours.

An effective evaluation – also known as a Level 2 evaluation – can be structured to help determine if learning actually occurred. In many online courses, students must pass a Level 2 evaluation in order to receive a certificate of completion. It is during this final exam that companies can determine whether students have the required skills and knowledge, and a mastery of the material, or if they need additional instruction.

Companies can then extrapolate this information – which already indicates problem areas – to ascertain why some people are “getting it” and others aren’t. This approach is a key part of the well-known Kirkpatrick Model – a system developed in 1954 as a means of measuring the business value of training programs.

Here are three steps for ensuring that training and evaluations are truly serving their purpose:

1. Figure out exactly what the goal is. Determine what the training is supposed to accomplish, who needs to know the results from the evaluations, and what the next step – modifying the training, personnel decisions, etc. – might be.

2. Make a distinction between “knowledge” and “performance,” and make sure that your training and evaluations do the same. Just because someone has the necessary knowledge, it doesn’t mean that person is able to put it to practical use. To that end, you need to tailor the training, based on whether you want your people to know something, or be able to perform certain tasks. The former can be handled with standard quiz-style testing, while the later requires performance-based activity, such as labs, role playing or demonstrations. Performance evaluation also requires a customized metric, such as a behavior checklist, or anchored rating scale.

3. Validate the results. You’ve got your test, you’ve got your evaluations. The question is, do they accurately measure what you want them to measure? The best way to determine this is to compare results; the percentage of “passing” scores, and the scores of stronger candidates vs. weaker ones should remain consistent (within an acceptable margin of error) each time people take the test.

Ultimately, there’s no reason that training shouldn’t accomplish exactly what you want – for your employees, and your company. It merely starts by figuring out exactly what that is.

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LearnSmart New Releases Update for October 2013

Our new releases include courses to help you configure connections on a network, begin mastering Windows Server 2012, and manage the human resources and procurement processes within your projects. All of these courses are available in our Knowledge Libraries.

CCNA Routing & Switching Series
Learn all the networking concepts involved in becoming a Cisco Certified Network Associate. The Routing and Switching series of seven courses prepares you for Cisco’s composite exam 200-120 as well as ICND1/ICND2. This certification assesses entry-level IT professionals with 1-3 years of networking experience in their ability to install, configure, operate, and troubleshoot networks. In preparation, concentrate on the advances in networking knowledge and skills. In this series, you are provided with professional training that serves as a way to increase your understanding of switches and routers. You will study the skills required to plan, configure, verify, and troubleshoot switches and routers as they are implemented into networking solutions. When working with network connectivity, it’s important to know the difference between IPv4 and IPv6, WAN technologies and their functionality, how IP data networks operate, and the ways security is implemented. As a network administrator, you must also know basic network management techniques. Overall, you will strengthen your understanding of network connectivity and how to resolve connectivity issues.

Windows Server 2012
Windows Server 2012 is part of the Microsoft server family, and is the primary focus of the MCSE certification. This certification is for new and experienced IT professionals who are looking to increase their skills and knowledge on cloud technology. It encompasses a number of exams depending on the certification type that is pursued. But first, there are three foundational exams that all administrators must take to begin: 70-410, 70-411, and 70-412. LearnSmart will cover each of these exams as a series of six courses closely detailing the concepts assessed within that certification exam. The recently released series focus on Microsoft’s 70-410 and 70-411 certification exams.

Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012 Series
Windows Server 2012 has many capabilities that will aid network administrators in managing networks. But before you can work with these new features, Server 2012 has to be installed and configured on the network. This series containing six courses focuses on the processes, components, and techniques used to install the server. One server component that you will study is Group Policy, its role in distributing permissions, and how to set it up. Along with Group Policy, you will learn about Active Directory focusing on its installation and administration to make accessing network resources even more simple and secure. It’s important to also solidify your knowledge of the crucial functions of server roles and features as in NTFS, the Print and Document Services role, and Remote Desktop. Using these functions will enable you to easily execute tasks across the network. Equally important for a network administrator to know about is virtualization, virtualized machines, and how to store files and folders in a virtualized environment. Deepen your understanding of how communication occurs across the network. You can cement those networking concepts by following discussions on core network services. With the knowledge you’ve gained in this course, you will be able to install, configure, and provide dynamic levels of administration for a Windows Server 2012 server.

Administering Windows Server 2012 Series
Prepare for your MCSE certification exam by exploring content from these six courses concentrated on the 70-411 exam. Learn how to manage Windows Server 2012 through the configuration of network access and services like DNS and Direct Access. Study the deployment, maintenance, and monitoring processes that are required when using Windows Server 2012 network infrastructure. Doing this will solidify that knowledge and develop a strong knowledge foundation in NPS and its different functionalities for a Remote Access infrastructure. You will go through the advanced File Services that are part of the File Server role. These services enable you to appropriately assign access rights to users, securely track access to resources, as well as provide up to date and efficient access to network resources. Active Directory Domain Services also plays a part in accessing network resources. AD DS is an important server role that serves as the foundation for the client/server domain model that the vast majority of organizations use. Branching from Active Directory, you will find Group Policy—the Microsoft implementation of configuration management in Active Directory—to be greatly impactful in applying individual settings. NPS, Active Directory, and Group Policy are all equally important to ongoing administration in Windows Server 2012 servers.

Project Human Resources Management Series
Within a project, project managers work at balancing time, cost, and quality to deliver the final project product under budget and on time. One element that can adversely impact each of those areas is improper staffing. LearnSmart’s Project Human Resources Management series offers two courses to help project managers learn the important skills and processes to manage human resources, while earning contact hours for their Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification. Learn the essentials of effectively planning, developing, and managing human resources.

Planning Projects for Human Resources
As a project manager, you will take on a variety of activities to ensure the successful completion of the project. Among the most important activities that you will undertake is the management of project resources that are necessary to accomplish project tasks. Typically resources come in two forms: raw materials that are developed into components of a project and human resources that will perform the development work upon the raw materials. LearnSmart’s Planning Project Human Resources course will take you through the processes pertaining to the Project Human Resource Management knowledge area, which include the processes of identifying and detailing roles and responsibilities, skills, and relationships within the project.

Managing Projects for Human Resources
The strength of a project is dependent on the resources acquired. The Planning Process Group allows project managers to determine resource requirements for each activity within the project. It also ensures that the delivery of raw materials, along with the people to develop those raw materials, is sequenced according to project schedule timelines. These activities fall into the first two processes in the Human Resource Management Knowledge Area: Develop the Project Team and Manage the Project Team. LearnSmart’s Managing Projects for Human Resources covers the processes, inputs, and tools and techniques involved in developing and managing the project team. Furthermore, this course emphasizes the principles and best practices used by project managers to establish a solid team capable of producing project deliverables on time and within budget.

Project Procurement Management Series
During a project, project managers require raw materials and resources created internally and externally. While partnering with external suppliers, organizations utilize contracts to gain items from their suppliers. Study the important skills and processes that have proven to help project managers obtain the necessary goods and services to develop the final product in thevProject Procurement Management series. In these two courses, you’ll learn valuable procurement knowledge and earn contact hours applicable to your application for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam.

Planning Procurement for Your Project
As a project manager, your role will be to facilitate, or you might even say orchestrate, all activities that pertain to developing the final product of a project. In doing so, you’ll be gathering information, communicating with stakeholders and developing plans that the project team will use throughout the project lifecycle. Part of those plans and directions pertain to the purchase of goods and services needed within the project. This describes the Project Procurement Management knowledge area. Within Planning Procurement for Your Project, you will learn the definition of procurement and the value of procurement processes to project activities. You will also cover procurement contracts to understand the different types of contracts that exist, why there are different types of contracts, and who benefits by the stipulations inherent to a specific type of contract. Upon completion, students will be well-versed in procurement as it pertains to project management, along with the Plan Procurement Management processes identified within this knowledge area.

Managing Procurement during Your Project
Managing Procurement during Your Project course serves as a fundamental introduction to project procurement processing. It covers the process inputs relevant to managing procurements, conducting procurements, controlling procurement activities, and closing procurement work within a project. It also covers techniques for selecting sellers that will participate in project activities. It shows how a project manager can develop a pool of prospective sellers and illustrates activities based upon procurement scenarios. Some of the procurement tools and techniques covered include bitter conferences, proposal evaluations, independent estimates, advertising, and negotiation. Find details pertaining to procurement documentation and artifacts as in contracts between buyers and sellers that will be used to acquire both resources and raw materials to develop project components. Equally important to the contractual agreement and type of agreement that a project team would enter into, is the administration of the contract once the agreement has been reviewed, finalized, and approved. Students will gain a comprehensive foundation in managing procurement activities that pertain to project management in the Conduct Procurements process.

To learn more about these offerings and LearnSmart Knowledge Libraries, contact your LearnSmart Sales Representative today at 1-800-418-6789.

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Benefits of Proper Course Evaluation

Proper Course Evaluation Helps Ensure Maximum Benefit

When it comes to training employees, online tutorials, in-person lectures and video courses are all practical options that effectively lay the foundation for exceptional achievement. And successful executives agree that training doesn’t stop when the class is over. But why, then, do so many organizations operate as if it does – thereby preventing their employees from fully profiting from the instruction?

Imagine that you’re a supervisor who shelled out thousands of dollars for a video training course that all of your employees have taken. Now take a moment to consider the purported benefits of training courses:

  • Training employees on an ongoing basis helps companies keep pace with their competition.
  • Training keeps employees motivated via the new skills and knowledge they glean from the material.
  • Training clarifies what employers expect from their employees.
  • Training is cost effective; it’s cheaper to train existing employees than to recruit new ones.
  • Training helps employees become more efficient.

With those benefits in mind, ask yourself this: Did the training work? In other words, did the employees get everything out of the training that they could have? And, more to the point, how can you tell? Surprisingly, the answer to those all-important questions has less to do with the training itself than the people who called for it. Sure, there are subpar classes and videos out there, but ultimately, the responsibility of making sure that training sticks falls on the people who footed the bill – that is, managers like you. It’s like the mother who wonders why her son isn’t getting any better at playing the piano, despite weekly lessons. It’s easy to blame the teacher, but if the child doesn’t practice between lessons, whose fault is that?

Evaluation issues

Some training courses include evaluation forms that employees are encouraged to fill out, providing a snapshot of their learning experience. Managers might also make up such questionnaires – again, to determine just what their employees got out of the training. Unfortunately, what most evaluations fail to cover is the gap between the teaching and the doing. That’s because evaluations – in their 1-to-5 rating scheme, with 1 being “not at all helpful” and 5 being “extremely helpful” – only identify what people thought of the training. The true benefit can’t be seen until some time afterward, when information from the class, video or online tutorial is converted into practical application. That doesn’t bode well for managers, who may find themselves in the awkward position of having paid for a training course that their employees enjoyed – perhaps the presenter was highly entertaining – but got very little out of, in terms of knowledge that they could apply in their day-to-day cube life.

One potential solution is reworking your evaluation methods to provide a better idea of the effectiveness of training. Instead of a relatively meaningless summary of who liked the course and who didn’t, evaluations should offer substantive information you can use to assess the usefulness of the training. This approach is a key part of the well-known Kirkpatrick Model – a system developed in 1954 as a means of measuring the business value of training programs.

So before you bring in another instructor or pop in a DVD, consider these tips for making the most out of a course evaluation:

  • Determine the purpose of the training. You may be tempted to file this one under obvious: “My employees need to know this stuff. Duh.” But why do they need to know it? And have you shared those reasons with them? Giving employees concrete, practical reasons to learn can be a great motivator – one that will likely improve overall retention of the material.
  • Make sure that the evaluation matches the training. Standard forms might as well be labeled “sub-standard,” because one size does not fit all. Every question on the form should be applicable to the specific course. Might that mean a little more work for you? Of course, but your effort will be rewarded with more cogent feedback, and greater consideration of the material.
  • Use closed-ended questions. This is not the time to call for essays from your employees. While there may be some insight to be gained from lengthy responses, for your purposes, you want to use some kind of quantitative measure – the old 1-to-5 scale works perfectly well if the questions are worded effectively. If you want people to elaborate on their feelings, leave room for comments at the end.
  • Don’t accentuate the positive. In order to get the most out of the evaluations, you want the good, the bad and the ugly. Don’t ask for likes without dislikes, or compliments without criticisms. A balanced set of questions elicits more informative evaluations.
  • Look ahead. When do you expect to see the benefits of training manifest? Immediately upon completion of the course, or some time later, when employees have had the opportunity to apply the knowledge they’ve gained? The evaluation questions should reflect an attempt to put the training in perspective, and should ask about the potential impact of the material. Sample questions might be:
  1. What, if anything, will make it difficult for you to use your new skills on the job?
  2. Will your manager be able to help you with your new skills?
  3. How confident are you that you will be able to use your new skills on the job?
  4. How do you expect your job to change as a result of using these new skills?
  • Give it time. Asking for immediate responses puts unnecessary pressure on employees. Instead of mulling over the training, and thinking about how what they’ve learned will affect them, they’re dashing off answers to your questions – creating a disconnect between the material and employees’ feelings about it. Allow enough time for people to give you well-thought-out responses.
  • Last things first. There’s nothing that says that you have to wait until after the training to hand out evaluation forms. By handing them out at the beginning, you give employees “thinking points” – items to consider as they come up in the training, adding heft to the information, and making it more likely to be memorable.

Training courses are designed to impart information; it’s up to you and your employees to turn that information into practical knowledge. Evaluating the course effectively can be a great place to start.


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Developing a Core to Champion Your Training (Part Two)

In this series, we’re covering strategies your company can use to identify and empower a group of committed people to support your eLearning programs. The goal of this series is to help your company cultivate a group of people who care about the outcomes of the training program. In Part One, we introduced the concept of a core learning group and discussed the roles that need to be filled. In Part Two, we’ll continue with discussion about the responsibilities of the core learning group and communication strategies.

What should a core learning group be responsible for? This is a group of champions, not necessarily a group of tacticians. At the heart of the group’s training related activities should be tasks that further the company’s learning objectives. Simply put, the core group should be comprised of people that are up to date on learning activities and doing things to make sure they stay successful.

Holly Huntley, Global Chief Learning Officer for CSC, a technical services company in Falls Church, Virginia, has a Top Ten list for learning leaders.

1. Make other people successful: be a trusted advisor.
2. Have a point of view: thought leadership is everything.
3. Don’t get seduced by the “goodness” of learning (and avoid learning jargon).
4. Recognize that learning is a social construct; be a connecter of talent.
5. One size does not fit all, so provide performance support tools.
6. Be at the center of the change agenda: understand how your corporate culture impacts performance.
7. Model the way for others (eat your own dog food).
8. Brand from the inside out (this is the age of talent after all).
9. Guide executives to become good sponsors (if you don’t have real sponsorship don’t bother).
10. Align learning programs with strategic roles: invest where it counts the most.

The core learning group should be filled with excellent communicators. The group will need to communicate with each other to make sure that thoughts, ideas and concerns are shared and that mutual expectations are being met. Additionally, the group will want to communicate with the tacticians of the learning program to gather feedback and evaluate progress. There is no prescribed manner for engaging in this communication. The lesson to be learned by the group is to do what it takes to be aware and informed about the learning activities of the company. That may involve quick emails, personal interviews or perhaps even daily scrum meetings to take the pulse of the learning program.

Huntley feels that the chief learning group should be communicating with all areas of the business. “I sponsor a CLO council at CSC,” says Huntley, “where each major business unit elects a CLO to serve as a dotted line into the enterprise learning and talent development function.” It should be the goal of a learning group to make sure to communicate with a representative group of voices at the company.

Talking Points

  • What tasks would you like to see your core learning group performing? 
  • What form of communication would work for a core learning group at your company?
  • What information would be valuable for the core learning group to know? 
  • What accountability would you expect from your core learning group?


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Developing a Core to Champion Your Training (Part One)

Committing human resources to an eLearning program is one of the more critical investments a company must make in order to be successful. Identifying, assigning and empowering a core group of learning champions can help ensure the aggressive pursuit of excellence and value in terms of training. In this series we look at some strategies your company can employ to establish a core group of learning champions.

Abstract: To help support the adoption of training at your company, it’s effective to have a core cadre of key staff members that fully understand the value of training and champion its use. Through needs analysis and planning, companies can identify and fill those key staff roles to create a self-sustaining support system for the corporate training program.

Audience: Corporate strategy officers and administrators for businesses that are seeking to implement or improve an eLearning program

There is strength in numbers
Your company may have an LMS administrator, but does it have a core learning champion? It’s common for companies to have an overwhelmed HR coordinator who is overloaded with work and intermittently gets interrupted with questions about the learning system. More mature companies, however, have a selection of “learning leaders” who are invested in the positive outcomes that come from a successful learning program. Even if your company has bought in to the values of a learning program, if the program isn’t properly staffed it will have difficulty getting off the ground.

What is a core learning group?
A core learning group is a core of people who are entrusted with the care and feeding of an eLearning program at your company. This kind of a group can help learning become part of your corporate language. This group can be as formal as a Learning and Development Department or can take the form of a loosely organized committee of managers and executives. The key is to have people who are close enough to the ground to be able to communicate and understand the staff, yet influential enough to enact change when necessary. Along the same lines, some companies go as far as to expand the core learning group to an entire learning and development department headed by a Chief Learning Officer.

The Core Learning Group can meet on regular occasions to evaluate the global performance of training, new training initiatives and to review feedback from employees during one-on-one training meetings. Three important aspects to consider when implementing a core group of learning leaders are the roles that must be filled, the responsibilities of the leadership group, and the target results for the group.

The Roles
Chief Learning Officer/Learning Leader
Not every organization will employ a c-level professional who is dedicated to learning initiatives. However, it is wise to empower a member of the management team with responsibility for training activities, and to provide that individual with the resources and support to follow through. Once this responsibility is assigned, the learning leader can recruit more members and the core learning group can build from the inside and form organically.

The Journal of Executive Education published their “Recommended Practices for New Corporate Learning Leaders” and indicated the most important challenges to tackle when enacting a program with a new learning leader.

  • Assess the current state of the company’s knowledge and skills.
  • Establish a Corporate Learning Steering Committee.
  • Define the desired future state for knowledge and skills (with learning goals). Ensure alignment of the learning goals with corporate goals.
  • Develop and communicate a learning plan for one year and for three years.
  • Create a Marketing program for the learning plan (and each major initiative).
  • Design and build your team.
  • Develop a team gap analysis and an ambitious plan for closing the gaps.
  • Select, train, and implement learning tools and methods (for formal and informal learning).
  • Develop an execution plan (deliverables; people; process; technology; and marketing/communications).
  • Present learning plan to clients, the Learning Steering Committee and the Executive Steering Committee.
  • Develop and publish an approved Learning Plan.
  • Form teams and initiate projects based on the Learning Plan.
  • Quickly complete the first high visibility, high value initiative (small in scale if possible).

So what are the other roles will need to be filled in a corporate learning group? Some experts feel that the makeup of the learning team should mirror the overall makeup of the company with a few key differences.

“One could argue that there is little difference between the team a CLO should build to ensure success and the team of any other leader in an organization;” said Jonathan M. Kayes, Chief Learning Officer for the CIA. “While that is generally true, I believe it’s worth distinguishing both the common and unique factors of a CLO’s vs. other executive teams.”

Ultimately, the roles in the group will be determined by your corporate environment. However, others’ examples may help focus your thinking. Martha Soehren, CLO for Comcast recommends the involvement of “C-Suite partners and champions, as well as team members skilled in communications and project management.” The c-list champions are particularly important because of their ability to generate buy-in among the staff. About team members, Kayes said “overall, I want empowered team members with excellent communication skills. They should be tied into the goals of the business and personally invested in the power that learning has to improve any workforce.”

Roles in your core learning group shouldn’t be limited to internal personnel. Soehren recommends leveraging external partners, including your LMS and training provider as well as your customers who have a stake in your company’s abilities. “Know your business partners,” Soehren said. “Stay connected to them; ask what they think and know what they need. Then, deliver on expectations.” Soehren recommends that learning leaders serve as primary contact with your LMS provider as opposed to less invested departments such as I.T.

Talking Points

  • Who are some candidates at your company for the learning leader role? What makes them good candidates?
  • What resources do you think will be required for your core learning group?
  • What label do you think fits your company’s learning group best? 
    • Core learning cadre
    • Corporate Learning Steering Committee
    • Learning Development Department
    • Other
  • What benefits do you see from a core learning group? Detriments?
Join us again as we discuss the responsibilities you should expect your core group of learning champions to meet. And for further information about human resource learning support strategies, please contact LearnSmart at 1-800-418-6789.
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Supporting Your eLearning Program (Part Three): Communication

Strategy Three: Mentor, Communicate and Follow Up with Your Employees
Follow up is among the more critical activities your company can do to support eLearning. Starting any new system without support is very risky. That’s especially true with an LMS. It happens very frequently that organization simply send out a username and password and expect learning to occur. Where’s the followup? Developing a follow up strategy that fits your culture is something that can only be done by your company. Here are some proactive and reactive follow up and communication methods to consider.

Employee Counseling
Scheduling time with employees on a rotating basis to review and evaluate performance based on an employee plan is a very effective way to determine if training is effective. These meetings can help establish the learner’s concerns and solutions can be reached. The learner can be involved in determining the objectives that he or she will meet and can take ownership of the development process.

Help Desk
A responsive and available help desk for eLearning provides a reactive method for communication. The help desk resource needs to be someone who knows the training and how it aligns with the company vision in order to provide feedback that satisfies the learner and the organization.

Team Leads and Learning Mentors
Studies suggest that collaborative learning has positive benefits. Your company can tap into that by creating learning teams and assigning senior team leads. In addition, senior learning mentors can be added to the group to provide knowledge both on the subject at hand, but also the larger corporate goals that are being solved with eLearning.

Thought Provokers

Continue the conversation about following up on your eLearning program

  • What do you feel is important about eLearning follow up (if anything)?
  • What questions would you want your learners to answer?
  • What specific follow up strategies do you think will work well at your company?

Supporting the eLearning program through alignment with your corporate culture, dedicated resources and effective followup guarantees better results than simple LMS provision. However, your company shouldn’t have to bear all of the burden. Your LMS vendor can provide a wealth of information, best practices and strategy suggestions to help you support your eLearning. The number of your LMS vendor representative should be handy for any questions about eLearning support.

If you have any questions about initiating a training plan or supporting an existing plan, contact LearnSmart today at 1-800-418-6789.

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eLearning Support Strategies Part Two: Dedicating Resources

Too often companies will employ a new learning management system without clearly defining responsibilities for followup, communication and administration. If after two weeks, your company finds itself asking “who is supposed to be taking care of this anyway?” you may be in for some diminished results.

Part two of our eLearning Support Strategy series discusses the principle of dedicating company resources in order to facilitate eLearning. Although “dedicating resources” may lead one to think about money, in reality it’s human resources that are most effective. In short, your company will be more successful with a core group of people who are assigned the responsibility of ensuring the success of your eLearning program.

Strategy Two: Dedicate Resources (People and Time) to the Learning Cause
It’s not unreasonable for an organization to go on the defensive when it’s recommended they dedicate resources to support their eLearning. “We’ve already dedicated resources. Look at how much we’ve spent for this LMS!” However, as has been discussed, an LMS is not intended to be a turnkey solution for an organizations’s entire training program. Resources should be allotted to support the learning management system. The most effective resources to allocate for support are time and attention. The time and attention of key staff members can go a long way in supporting the adoption and success of your company training program.

Cadre/Core of Learning Staff
A core group of people who are entrusted with the care and feeding of an eLearning program will help learning become part of the corporate language. This group can be as formal as a Learning and Development Committee or can take the form of a loosely organized group of managers and executives. The key is to have people who are close enough to the ground to be able to communicate and understand the staff, yet influential enough to enact change when necessary. Along the same lines, your company may wish to go as far as naming a Chief Learning Officer, in either a literal or figurative role.

The Core Learning Group can meet on regular occasions to evaluate the global performance of training, new training initiatives and to review feedback from employees during one-on-one training meetings.

Time and Facilitation
Dedicating resources doesn’t just mean throwing money at learning. An organization has a great deal of latitude when it comes to facilitating training. Company sponsored learning times and company provided technology are low cost ways to support learning initiatives. According to ASTD (American Society for Training & Development) research “many times employees face significant difficulties to arrange their attendance to e-learning courses during working hours. Heavy work duties, noise, frequent interruptions, and telephones hinder the smooth and unobstructed training activity. Moreover, those demanding conditions contribute negatively to the intrinsic motivation of learners.” Eliminating those distractions is a very valuable accommodation that can have terrific benefits.

Thought Provokers
Stir up some conversation about dedicating resources to support your eLearning

  • Which person or department in your company would be best suited for the Chief Learning Officer role?
  • What’s the next step you need to take in order to establish a core of learning officers in your company?
  • What is the ideal time to allow for employees to train? Think about some creative solutions that are specific to your campus or in your area.
Next time we’ll discuss using communication as a method for supporting your eLearning programs. You’ll learn strategies for mobilizing the human resources you’ve dedicated to eLearning and the communication plans that really work. For more information about corporate training and eLearning, contact LearnSmart today at 1-800-418-6789.
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LearnSmart New Releases Update for August 19, 2013

Our new releases this week include courses to help you manage the costs of your projects, use state of the art publishing software, and effectively manage highly-skilled technical professionals. All of these courses are available in LearnSmart Knowledge Libraries.

Project Cost Management Series
Project management often requires a juggling act of the the three components of the triple constraint; time, cost and quality. No project has an unlimited budget, so project managers must be able to effectively make ends meet. LearnSmart’s Project Cost Management series includes two courses to help project managers learn the important skills and processes that have proven to help projects come in on budget. With these courses, you’ll learn valuable project cost management knowledge and earn contact hours you can apply to your application for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam.

Estimating and Budgeting Project Cost
Project Cost Management is perhaps the most comprehensive knowledge area in regard to determining the scope of a project, how it will be funded, and the steps that will be taken to ensure that funds appropriated for the project are managed and used correctly. Essential to every good plan are the thoughts and processes that will enable the plan to proceed. Cost management drives project deliverables in line with project constraints. For example, if project costs are limited, a project manager may have to scale back on subject matter experts. If the cost of quality is higher than expected, the project manager needs to realign project deliverables to ensure the level of quality delivers against requirements. This course provides an in-depth of the processes associated with cost management.

Controlling Costs
Cost management is one of the most integral components of the project management process. LearnSmart’s Controlling Costs course shows how the project manager assumes full responsibility for cost oversight and delivery of the project within budgetary constraints. Financial tools and analysis enable the project manager to oversee activities and the cost associated with delivering the project’s product. Control Costs is the process of monitoring your project status to ensure that your budget is up to date that the project’s value is being delivered to meet expectations.

Adobe InDesign CS6
If you want to become a publishing professional in today’s workforce, having a working knowledge of Adobe InDesign is critical. This InDesign CS6 course taught by an Adobe Certified Expert instructor will prepare you to design page layouts for both print and screens. Learn the basics of the program and interface and then gradually move onto more advanced and complex aspects of the software. This exciting new course will teach you how to perform repetitive layout tasks efficiently using convenient tools and on-object controls. Plus, learn how to use formatting tools to produce high-quality documents in no time.

Managing Technical Professionals
In LearnSmart’s Managing Technical Professionals course, we’ll give you a thorough overview of how to effectively manage technical professionals. Technical professionals are a highly talented group of individuals who work in complex management structures and play a critical role in the success or failure of a business. Effective managers have a good understanding of how factors like personal characteristics, environment and organizational structure can affect employee performance, motivation and job satisfaction. In this course, you will learn why and how they differ from other professionals, and how to establish and maintain credibility with your technical workforce. This course will provide you with valuable insight into effective management strategies that will help you create high-performing teams among your technical workforce. You will also discover several performance evaluation tools and career management techniques.

To learn more about these offerings and LearnSmart Knowledge Libraries, contact your LearnSmart Sales Representative today at 1-800-418-6789.

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