human resources

5 takeaways from the Target job-aid lawsuit

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I read this story this morning about the lawsuit filed against Target for what appears to be an ill-designed job aid or memo.  Here are my thoughts, for what it’s worth.

1. The company was quick to distance itself from the training document stating “…the instructional guide wasn't part of any “formal or company-wide training”.  Here’s a takeaway for you, ANY instructional materials used at the distribution center SHOULD have been reviewed and approved by the training department.  At one former employer, any document that went out with any of the company’s logos, trademarks, or the like was first and foremost reviewed and approved for distribution by the brand management team.  If marketing is afforded this opportunity to review appropriate uses of a company’s logo, training should be afforded an equal opportunity to ensure that any job aids communicating appropriate behavior (a key component of your culture) is aligned with the company’s values.  

2. One of the Plaintiffs claims that he complained to human resources, and his supervisors retaliated for it.  Said Plaintiff claims his manager "began using more racial epithets” and made attempts to humiliate him amongst his colleagues.  HR needs to conduct a solid investigation into this incident and this Manager, and should PROACTIVELY evaluate practices at its distribution centers and if it hasn’t already done so- provide diversity training to its management ranks.  

3. There appears to be some dissonance between the company’s values, and their policies and procedures.  This is both a cultural issue as well as a risk management issue.  In this era of social media and transparency―what a company and its agents DO carries much more weight than any written values in a memo or displayed somewhere.  Organizations struggle daily with developing their cultures, and incidents like these (if confirmed) set those efforts back immensely.  

4. If the manager’s actions in this case are confirmed, HR at Target should re-evaluate their procedures for preventing retaliation.  

5. Finally, instructional designers everywhere should rejoice, for none of us would ever instruct a learner to “…note differences among Hispanic employees” in a job aid or training course as alleged in this complaint.  How do I know?  It’s not a measurable behavior!

Alex Santos

Alex is a co-founder and Managing Member of Collabor8 Learning, LLC, an instructional design and performance management consultancy. His firm collaborates with organizations to enhance the way they develop  and train their people. To learn more about Collabor8 Learning, click here.

Alex can be reached at 786-512-1069, alex@collabor8learning.com or via Twitter@collabor8alex.

 

Who moved my corporate training cheese?

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Technology and the demands of digital natives are disrupting the corporate training market as never before.  I had this belief further crystallized this morning upon reading this article in the HBR blog network. I highly recommend if you are in the learning and development field, you devote a few minutes today to reading it.  Kinda reminded me of that oldie but goodie Spencer Johnson book for some reason, maybe because- "if you do not change, you will become extinct!"

Though the piece mentions massive, open, online courses (or, MOOCs) as the technology driving the disruption in the educational market, it’s not just MOOCs that are disrupting the corporate training sector.  The advancement in cloud technologies, collaboration software, and the advent of easily available social networking and learning management tools are all changing the business of corporate training.  Technology is fundamentally altering the way we receive information.  Everything from how we receive information, who or what delivers it, and how we measure and track what information was exchanged is changing.  With the release of the Tin Can API, you could even argue that “big data” is finally coming to corporate training.  Think about it, integrated with your HR and talent management systems, you can build a pretty complete picture of all of the learning and development experiences of your best performers.

Speaking of your best performers, many of them are what Marc Prensky described as digital natives.  These new workers and their demands are having a huge impact not just in HR, but throughout your organization.  They are servicing your clients via social networking channels – maybe even collaborating with them after hours, driving your IT department to open up your network to their devices, and altering how your HR people attract, recruit, hire, train and develop them.  The nerve!  You must get a grip on this one fact- your workers are networked, connected, and mobile. 

If you’re a corporate training executive, this is a curve you want to get ahead of before you find yourself unemployed and with a skill set that could best be described as “expired”.  What can you do, you ask?  Start by taking an online course; there are literally thousands available for free that you can take at your own leisure.  Don’t know her start, visit the Khan  Academy, Lynda.com, or Coursera.  Take this revolution out for a spin.  You’ll be surprised at how much you can learn.   

The idea of ‘digital mentors’ has been used successfully by many organizations, if not within the confines of your own organization – reach out to other training professionals via local chapters of organizations such as the e-Learning Guild, the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD),  the Society for Applied Learning Technology (SALT), and the International Society for Performance Improvement ( ISPI) and discuss with your peers how these technologies are being used in their corporate environments. 

Ready to talk about e-learning? 

Alex Santos

Alex is a co-founder and Managing Member of Collabor8 Learning, LLC, an instructional design and performance management consultancy. His firm collaborates with organizations to enhance the way they develop  and train their people. To learn more about Collabor8 Learning, click here.

Alex can be reached at 786-512-1069, alex@collabor8learning.com or via Twitter@collabor8alex.

 

Social learning can energize your Employee Wellness Plan

Many trainers and instructional designers operate under the umbrella of a human resources team, and as such should always be looking to support HR initiatives.  One initiative that is growing in popularity as companies look for ways to reduce the costs of health insurance for their workforce are employee wellness plans.  How can you contribute to an employee wellness plan in a meaningful, measurable way?

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One idea by John Andrews and Ted Rubin I recently came across can really have a huge impact not only on your company’s bottom-line, but in your employees’ (i.e. customers) waistlines.  Here’s the thought, Nike has gamified fitness with its Nike+ Fuel Band, Nike+ Connect and accompanying iPhone app (Android app coming soon)- why don’t you set up a little friendly competition in your workplace with badges or prizes for your customers reaching fitness milestones?  The milestones could be as simple as number of pounds lost, inches off the waistline, or simply consecutive days meeting a fitness goal.  You could even have teams within your company competing for prizes.  Also, don’t limit yourself to Nike’s product line if your company is more of an Android shop.   There are competing products already on the market such as fitbit, JAWBONE’s Up product, LarkLife, Amiigo, and other activity tracking wearables are entering this space as well. 

Yes, this initiative will require an initial investment in your employees but it pales in comparison to the social learning that will take place once your employees’ are more aware of the impact of their daily habits.  Measured properly, you may even be able to track cost savings in conjunction with your group benefits coordinator on the HR team.  This is a really powerful social learning strategy which can pay big dividends to your company and you should seriously consider bring it up at your next human resources meeting. 

Alex Santos

Alex is a co-founder and Managing Member of Collabor8 Learning, LLC, an instructional design and performance management consultancy. His firm collaborates with organizations to enhance the way they develop  and train their people. To learn more about Collabor8 Learning, click here.

Alex can be reached at 786-512-1069, alex@collabor8learning.com or via Twitter@collabor8alex.

Training as a competitive advantage

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After reading this post by Pam Woldow, I believe the legal profession might just be on the cusp of ushering in a new trend.  How long until your clients demand to know how you are cultivating young employees who can perform capably and cost-effectively and not using their projects as “basic training”?  During these difficult times, I hear anecdotally of many firms reducing their training budgets.  Though I don’t have any research on this (actually would welcome any on L&D/ Training budgets during this economic malaise), nothing drives demand like customers. It appears in this instance Kia Motors has taken it upon itself to vet the associates of its outside counsel.  Kia is doing this as a measure of how efficiently its legal vendors are providing legal services to the company.  This has enormous implications for companies that don’t invest in the on-going development of their people.  Using online skill/ competency assessment tools like Questionmark, your client may be looking at your staff before hiring you in the very near future in an effort to assess the value your employees add to a project and gives them another comparison point between your company and your competition.   Training records and competency audits will be used as differentiators when evaluating your proposals and your service/ product.

If you’re thinking- not in my industry, we’re too many points in the supply chain away from the end user.  You’re missing the point.

In today’s hyper-competitive and increasingly transparent global marketplace, firms who skimp on employee training will be found out and punished by the market.  And don’t be surprised if social media plays a part in ostracizing these firms and labeling them as second-rate players in their industry.  No longer will companies be able to get away with not developing their people and not face the consequences of their actions.  More importantly however, is the response by stronger companies to this move by Kia Motors.  HR leaders at the top of their game and playing a strategic role with a seat at the proverbial table will use these results by Kia Motors as another reason to double-down on their company’s investment in training.  And then, they will publicize that their people are the most skilled and knowledgeable in their niche and use it as a competitive advantage to gain even more clients in their market.

The choice is yours and the consequences stark for companies who do not choose wisely.  How is training viewed in your organization― is it an expense, an investment, or a competitive advantage?

Alex Santos
Alex is a co-founder and Managing Member of Collabor8 Learning, LLC, an instructional design and performance management consultancy. His firm collaborates with organizations to enhance the way they develop  and train their people. To learn more about Collabor8 Learning, click here.

Alex can be reached at 786-512-1069, alex@collabor8learning.com or via Twitter@collabor8alex.

Is negativity poisoning your company culture's well?

I recently went to a dinner at the South Florida chapter of the American Society of Training and Development (So. Fla. ASTD) that featured a speaker from O.C. Tanner speaking on The Carrot Principal. O.C. Tanner participated in research that focused on what employees want. More than money, more than job security they want recognition and praise. I have to say this was one of the best presentations I have been to in a while.

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But really, people want praise? To me this seems obvious. I think the real question that we need to ask is: Do people know how to give praise? It seems simple but people are far better at giving criticism than praise. So many reality shows seem to prove this point.

Why are we so negative? We all have heard since Sunday school that you attract more bees with honey than vinegar, yet it seems human nature prefers to spread the vinegar. So how do we get our organization past that natural behavior and promote honey? There is only one way to overcome this natural behavior and that is through creating a corporate culture that only allows the positive to flow. These are often forced early in the process as people move from the taste of vinegar to honey but once it gains adoption it works well. A positive environment creates positive employees which translates in to increased employee satisfaction which is what employees want.

There seems to be an exception to this negative trend and that is within a social network.  Negativity is the exception rather than the rule and people are far more likely to give a “great idea” or a “+1” to someone online.  Have you noticed how difficult it is to "dislike" or give someone a "-1" on a public social network?  So what does this say about human nature?  We tend to be negative face to face or in groups but when provided some separation from others we tend to be more positive.  A much different psychology is in play.  As the corporate world and the online network converge we will need to find new ways to promote a more positive work environment and give employees that feeling of worth.  The social network might just be the way.  In this environment people are more likely to support coworkers and join in on a discussion with valuable comments.  In turn people who use social networks are more likely to feel that their input is valued and their comments noticed, respected and affirmed.


-Steven Hornak

Steven is a co-founder and Managing Member of Collabor8 Learning, LLC, an instructional design and performance management consultancy.  His firm collaborates with organizations to enhance the way they develop their people. To learn more about Collabor8 Learning, click here.

Steven can be reached at 305-791-1764 , steve@collabor8learning.com or via Twitter @smhornak.-