Event Date: 08/05/2015 (2:00 pm EDT - 3:00 pm EDT)
SARAH SHAFER: Welcome to today’s webinar, Employee Development on a Shoestring: Developing Talent Outside the Classroom. Hosted by HRDQU and presented by Helelly Azulay. Today’s webinar will last around one hour. If you have any questions, you can always type them into the questions box. We will be answering these questions as a common live at the end of the presentation or as a follow-up by email if we happen to run out of time. My name is Sarah Shafer and I will moderate today’s webinar.
Helelly is a consultant, facilitator, speaker, and author with over 20 years of professional experience in the field of workplace learning and communication. She is the author of Employee Development on Shoestring. She is the president of TalentGrow, a consulting company focused on developing leaders and teams to improve the human side of work. Clients describe her approach as engaging, knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and inspiring. Welcome, and thank you for joining us today.
HELELLY AZULAY: Thank you for that introduction, Sarah, and welcome to everyone who is on the webinar. I’m happy to be with you today and to help you think about development for employees in a way that takes you outside of the classroom and expands and broadens your horizons. And this is based on the book that I wrote about the subject which was born out of the need that I saw in almost every client engagement. And every time that I met with leaders all around the world, and whenever I spoke at conferences or designed or delivered training workshops, people are often saying a very similar thing to me which is that they feel constrained. And so my intention is to help you lift that constraint and see a broader set of possibilities. I will say as a caveat that I’m expecting that as a seasoned professional you are on this call with a lot of knowledge already. And so what I do think is that I’m probably going to tell you things that you’ve never thought before or have never heard of before. But what I am going to do is hopefully help you think more creatively and more broadly and take more of the things that you already know and find a better and easier way to implement it within the budget and time constraints that you face daily.
What I wanted to talk about very, very quickly and also my assumption is that probably has a professional who is in the realm of HRDQ’s field of service and in our industry you might have heard of the 70-20-10 development rule, which I certainly did not invent and I also know people really love to debate and whether the numbers are right and it’s not my intention to make the numbers exactly right today. But I do want us to think about how do people actually learn what they need in order to function in their job. How do people actually learn what they need to be high performing? And if you think about even just your own career and what you know right now in order to be the high-performing individual that you are, where did you learn all that? Was it in a classroom? Probably not. You probably learn most of what you know on the job and through feedback and relationships with mentors and bosses and peers. And some part of it, you probably learned on the job. I mean learned in training right or in e-learning or in seminars. But that’s a very small slice from the overall pie in which development happens. And what I want us to think about is we have so much knowledge about how employee development happens, how people learn best and what people want and need to learn to be performing in their job to be high performers, and what we need to do is expand where we apply our knowledge and influence beyond just formal learning. And start to not only suggest but also guide and enhance all of the other kind of learning that’s happening whether we are there or not.
And this is my intention. So, when I said earlier I constantly talk to people who are leading in managers, supervisors, they are in training, they are in HR, they are just on the line, and they’ll tell me the same thing, I have to do more with less, I have so much pressure, there are so many things I’m expected to do and I don’t really have the time to send people to training. I don’t really have the knowledge of how to provide them with ample development opportunities. And I don’t have the resources. There are a lot of pressures that we all face and we probably all look like this lady right about 9:10, 9:15 a.m. In the morning, right? I mean there is so much going on. Economic constraints, we all face limited budgets. We are all probably facing limited ability for people to travel based on time availability, and budgets in order to get training or in order to develop their skills. So people have different expectations nowadays. The information changes so quickly. Our jobs change so quickly. Organizations change so quickly. Technology changes so quickly. Products and services change so quickly. And so when people need to learn something in order to function in their job, they can’t look at a catalog and say oh, I see it’s offered on October 26 I will sign up for that. No, they need it now. They need it yesterday. So, people need to be able to learn at the moment when they need that information. And they need to be able to do it where they are. So all of these constraints and pressures are really pushing us away from relying on formal training.
Now, I will tell you a little caveat, when I decided to write this book and to present about this topic to many people, in many places around the world, my husband said to me, okay help me understand the logic. What you’re going to do is you are going to teach people how to not need your help anymore. Of course that’s not the case. People still need my help. We still need to create formalized learning environments. And we still need to create strategic development programs within organizations, but we must think outside the classroom and expand what we offer, what we suggest, what we talk about, and we all INAUDIBLE how we add value. Other things that are pressures that add to this formula or to the situation is that the workforce is all over the place all around the globe even. People work from home, people are telecommuting, people are in truck somewhere on the road. They need to be able to learn where they are at. And then the last item on this slide is that when people are in organizations, they no longer park themselves in an organization forever. They are transient. They are moving. We have baby boomers leaving the workforce. We have people coming in who don’t know the organization and so a lot of the institutional knowledge gets lost when people leave and we have to be able to build backend ways to teach people things about the organization that support the growth of the organization. So this is where the idea of hey, employee development happens outside the classroom anyway. And, we can encourage this and we can support it.
So, I sat down with one of my mentors when I recognized this is a need that I could help serve in the marketplace. I could share some ideas. And we sat down and brainstormed so many ideas that I might be able to include in this book. And I know that you actually have a ton of ideas that you already are using or have heard of for ways that we could develop employees outside the classroom. So this is an opportunity for you to chime in. You can type into the question box and I’d love to see your ideas for what some of the ways that we could develop employees that don’t involve formal training or online learning program. What else outside the classroom can we do to develop employees? Let’s see some of your ideas and I will read them out because I don’t know if can see each other’s ideas. All right they are coming in. Project assignment, yes, that’s webinars, hello, we are doing one. Although that’s kind of a formal program. Scholarly research, yes, reading trade journals, perfect. Self-study, mentoring, practice leadership skills on the family. I love that one. And I try to do it, I don’t do it as well with my family. Helping people find mentors, job shadowing, lunch and learns, 360° feedback, job buddy, asking to be included in meetings that aren’t normally part of your role, I love that. Teamwork, peer observation, work on the board, cross training, teambuilding, oh there rolling in. I love it, you guys have great ideas. Boards, volunteer work, binders, manuals, and how-to guides. Oh, gotta love those, right? So that’s kind of self-directed learning. Tuition assistance, yes. Julie says develop learning games, perfect. Okay, good, your rolling in. So, you see how this goes? And you can sit here and brainstorm with your colleagues, with me, with your mentor, just like I did and you can come up with everything you need, right? You can hang up right now and you would be set for at least a few things you actually could implement. So there are so many different things that people could do. Pilgrimages, I love it. That I think is very similar to one of the ideas that I had.
So, here is what we came up with when we brainstormed. And we actually came up with a list much bigger than this, but we tried to put it into these categories that made sense for chapters and these are all the chapters in my book. Each chapter describes what this particular learning method is, how to use it, who is it good for, what are some of the challenges you might run into and how to overcome them, how to sell it, how to build it, some checklists, and so on. So, lots of it is described. We only have an hour, so I can’t teach you all of these things in this one hour. What I’d like to do is I would like to zoom in on three. And I chose these three relatively randomly because any of these are interesting and I want to teach you about all of them, but given the time I would choose ones that are maybe the least frequently talked about. And that way you can get some kind of new lightbulb ideas for things you can apply. But, to talk about the ones you’re not going to cover today really really briefly. Self-directed learning, that one is really self-explanatory and you all mentioned many things that fall into that category, but basically people like to learn in different ways so maybe they learn by reading, they learn by writing, they learn by watching something, they learn by listening, they learn by doing. And so you can tailor something that is self-directed to their learning preference and style. I’m going to skip volunteering with us for going to deep dive on that one.
Sabbaticals, we all have heard of sabbaticals but usually in the academic world. And very typically in the work world we don’t think about this a lot although it is on the rise. There are a lot more examples in my book. But the idea of sabbaticals is that it’s just time away from the job where you immerse yourself in some kind of learning. And it doesn’t have to be a year or six months or even three months or even a month. You could do a sabbatical for a week. You could do a sabbatical for a day. You could do a sabbatical for half a day where you narrowly immerse yourself into something that you need to learn and we could send employees on all kinds of very unique and interesting ways for them to learn something in and immersed way and then come back and imply that learning on the job. So, a quick example is if let’s say you’re expanding your company and opening an office in China. While they could read about China, they could take webinars about China, they could go to a learning class about China. But what if they went to China for three weeks and really immersed themselves both in the culture and the business environment and really learned a lot of things that think that the company will benefit from and then come back and teach people or use that information to create whatever the program is for rolling out the new China office. That’s an example. Another example is if you have a new technology system that you are thinking about employing, what if you took an employee and sent them to another company, maybe not a direct competitor, that is using that technology? And they could actually go there and shadow people for a week in that company. Kind of like an unpaid internship there. And observe and see how it works and come back and apply what they’ve learned. So, these are ideas of sabbaticals that are just on the tip of the fork really quickly to whet your appetite.
Mentoring, I think many people are very familiar with and one thing I’d like to say about mentoring is that we often don’t think about mentoring as a development opportunity for the mentor. We often think about the protégé or the mentee as the main recipient of the development. But, the mentor can also learn. They can learn coaching skills, they can learn leadership skills, listening skills, project management skills, a lot of different things that mentors could learn.
Rotational and stretch assignments allow people to become involved in some other job that’s not their regular job and then they could either come back to their job or they can sort of do it on the side. And there is a lot of ways to apply this and of course the benefit is to the organization that they work, they do things, they produce something, so there is a benefit to the organization. Not really a cost and they learn tons, right? Because it’s all on the job.
Special teams like tiger teams, workforce teams, product development teams, process improvement teams, there are a lot of different names for these kinds of special teams and usually people participate in them as something that’s outside an extra to their job. So, maybe they will go to like a one hour meeting twice a month where they work on a process improvement, but during this time may certainly develop certain skills or certain knowledge and so it’s a great opportunity to develop employees without just sending them to training.
Also, teaching others. People learn a great deal by teaching, right? This is actually one of the best ways to learn something is to teach others. So, it could be something they are already knowledgeable about or it could be something they want to be more knowledgeable about. And preparing to teach others about it will make them even better. So, somebody mentioned in the brainstorming lunch and learns. So, yeah, definitely, a lunch and learn is a perfect example of how instead of having someone whose job it is to teach or to train, why don’t you allow people to take this on as a challenge and you can make it as short as 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes so that they could get their feet wet without it being too overwhelming. And they can really learn whatever it is. They can learn about speaking, they could learn about training, or they could learn about the subject matter.
Games and contests are really popular now. People talk about gameification of learning all the time. But the idea is if you create a contest or a game or around something people will learn via participation and its way different than going to a training class and playing a game in a training class so that’s not what I mean here. And there are lots of ways for this to become a fabulous way to teach things that you want people to learn about the organization, about new system, about a change without sending them to training or webinars. We’re going to cover digital storytelling in greater depth. We’re going to cover innovation and creativity zones in greater depth. And then the last one on this list is social learning, which again I think it’s something that gets a lot of notoriety. People talk about it, there are tons of books written about it. And certainly, I’m not going to teach you everything you need to know about social learning, but the idea is that people can learn by joining in discussion boards, they can write and read wikis, which are internal to the organization or external. They could consume videos and audio products that are internal or external to learn and they can certainly learn by just by connecting with other people and having that social network and opportunity for a really rich group of other people who are experts. So, for example, now there is someone who might be completely across the world from them but is an expert on a particular topic from within your organization and they can totally get into that person’s brain. They could connect with them, they can comment on their blog posts and so on. It’s a really, really rich environment to learn.
Okay, so what I would like to do is to talk about one little soapbox item. I’m not going to get in too deep dive on this but before we talk about interesting development methods. So, in terms of goal setting you must be very wary of using anything of what I am suggesting as, oh, that something cool let’s try that on everyone. Or, oh, that sounds neat, let’s try that on Susan. Everything that relates to development, and we all know this, again I think it’s just a soapbox but I want to mention it. I don’t want to leave it implicit. Everything that relates to development has to flow from the actual development need of individuals in their own stage of development, and the needs that they have for development. Do they need to know something? Do they need to do something? Do they need to believe something? Do they need to actually become influenced to feel something? Based on what they need on what you want them to learn that is going to dictate in their own learning styles
I should say, or their preferences, and the time that’s available, and their own unique situation in their job, all of those things are going to dictate what development method makes sense for them. So we have to make sure that we put the horse before the cart. That we do this in the proper order. Flow from the development goal into the development method that fits it. Not the other way around. And of course many of us have heard of smart goals. It really just means that you need to make sure that development goals are measurable and specific and then when you use a specific method to develop people whatever it is, whether it’s sending them to training, or self-directed learning, or volunteering, or whatever the one you choose, you need to be able to measure the effect of that development method and whether they are meeting their development goal. Because otherwise we are playing a big charade and that doesn’t add to our credibility in the organization and it doesn’t add to the support that we will get for expanding our reach into helping people develop both within and outside the classroom.
All right, I’m getting off my soapbox. So back to the ideas that we had. And I would like to deep dive as I mentioned on volunteering, digital storytelling, and innovation and creativity zones. So these are the three we’re going to zoom into. I’m going to help you see what it is, who it might be for, a couple of tips on how to use it, and some examples.
So, we will start with volunteering. So, what is volunteering? Let me stop here for a second. So, volunteering. Everybody has heard of volunteering but usually the context for volunteering is more like a doing good for others, right? So it’s usually a benefit maybe an organization provides it as a benefit for people to kind of entice them to join the organization or make them happy to stay in the organization and you say, hey, you can get paid one day a year and go volunteer somewhere and don’t you feel so great about that? Which is nice. I’m not knocking it. We should keep doing that. Or, sometimes we do volunteering as a way of doing good will for the organization. So, like the organization looks good in the community because it supports the community or provides certain volunteers for certain efforts within the community or somewhere in the world. All of these are good things, but, what I’m suggesting is we shift the lens we look at volunteering to be one of development. And volunteering can be such a rich environment for people, for employees to build skills. And what’s cool about it is they are building skills by doing things that help them practice on someone else’s turf. And so the organization doesn’t experience any of the potential downsides of them being inexperienced or doing something they really don’t know how to do very well. And the organization doesn’t have to pay anything for this to happen but they learn the skills in and they bring them back on the job. And I would say that there are basically three key ways in which volunteering can be an employee development method. It can be job-related, it can be context changing, or it can be teaching or mentoring related. So, job-related means let’s say you have someone who is a tax accountant and they work in the finance department and your organization is fully staffed within that department. There really is no potential promotion opportunity in the near future and they want to extend their skills, but what they do on the job is maybe very narrow and they would like to learn other things. Well, they could volunteer to do taxes for maybe some kind of a community based organization. They can go and do something in that organization that expands their skill set that gives them a broader scope perhaps to practice within. Or it gives them an opportunity to practice on a different kind of tax preparation method. And, when they do that, they are obviously contributing to that organization and giving of their time, but they are picking up skills. And then when they come back to the job, they’ve got the skills and they could apply them when the time comes. This is something that could also happen for developing any other kind of skills. So, it could be infinite opportunities for any type of job to find a way to practice that or to expand that in some kind of volunteer capacity. So that’s the first one, job-related.
The second one is context changing which is to say that let’s say I got that tax accountant and they are fine with their tax accounting skills, their job-related skills, but they don’t need to volunteer in something that develops them in that way, but, let’s say the written communication skills could use some development, and that’s one of their development goals. Well, that person can join say the local chapter of their professional association or can join any other community-based organization that requires volunteers and they could write the newsletter. Or they could help write copy for the website. Or they could develop the copy for brochures or for handouts or any materials, right, so they could practice their writing skills in a volunteering role, get the skills, and bring them back to the job.
And the third I said was mentoring or teaching and I think you know what that means, but of course you can do that as a volunteer. You could go somewhere else. You can mentor, you could teach, you could pick up skills that relate to teaching, that relate to mentoring, and bring them back to the job.
So, as you can see, this can be used in a lot of different ways to develop employees. And, what basically is required is for the organization to be willing to let an employee volunteer during work hours or they could even do it on their own time, if the organization doesn’t support the use of volunteering as a development method during their own hours, but of course this will be limited by various employment laws and, here’s the key: It must be voluntary, right? Seems kind of obvious, but volunteering cannot be mandated. It has to be something the employee chooses to participate in. But when people do choose, and especially if they choose an organization that they care about or they understand that they are serving and helping people that they care a lot about, this is something that provides them with a ton of fuel and motivation to go after that opportunity and to really fully leverage it.
So, here’s a couple of questions for you to consider and you can you can chime in and the questions box if you want to.
What kind of competencies can you imagine that you could have someone develop in their development plan that they could use volunteering to develop those competencies? What competencies might volunteering help develop? Leadership, yes, I’m reading off of your input here. Team strengthening and leadership development, yes. Collaboration, teambuilding, personal skills, you guys are coming in with great ideas. Critical thinking, love that. Yes, organizational skills, teambuilding, conducting meetings, time management, interpersonal skills, management, problem solving, trust, delegating, problem solving, project management, challenging the process and efficiency, yes. Conflict resolution, great. Project management, looking out-of-the-box, good. So, this is the idea. You can really almost anything you can imagine there is some job or some organization that can allow the person to work for free to do it for them. Because none of the constraints of typical job search apply here. Basically, why would anybody to turn somebody away? They say hey you know I want somebody this for your organization. I want to do it for free. Of course of they will be like, sure, come on do it. Yes, people are chiming in some more. Webinars, creative problem-solving, overcome fear of new things, love that one. Social awareness, yes, you have it. So, who is the ideal candidate for this? Is there an ideal candidate for using volunteering as development? Anyone. You are right, I agree. It actually could be anyone. It could be someone who is very senior in your organization. It could be somebody who is totally new to the organization. It could be someone who has a lot of skills are that has very few skills. Here’s what it looks like Daniel may be, the names are cut off on my screen, said someone who is engaged. You’ve got this. You are on to something. Here’s the thing, it is really tricky to send someone outside your organization to go do something somewhere else if they are disengaged, right? I mean you can imagine the kind of mess that you could create by taking someone who is already not really a self-starter or not really engaged and then send them somewhere else. Now this doesn’t make sense so I would say it needs to be someone whose heart is in it, who is interested in developing, and you can trust that they are engaged enough or believe enough in this that they could go and do this somewhere else and gain benefits.
So that would be my little caveat, but I will tell you a second caveat that could cross that caveat off. If someone is disengaged might it be because they feel like they are not growing, not developing? And if you find the right role for them in an organization they care about this could actually turn them around. So, you could take the very thing that is a problem and make it into a benefit. So are there obstacles and challenges with this kind of development method? Yes, of course. Nothing is perfect, right? It may not be right for every organization or every employee. You have to be careful. But it is actually extremely flexible because, what would be the number one obstacle every time, every time, time, time, time somebody just typed that in, just like that. And that’s exactly it. Organizational commitment though I would say it’s a problem but it is not a showstopper. Because you could do this without organization-wide support because people can actually do this in a self way. Especially if they’re doing it on their own time. But, yeah, time management, the work-life balance, you guys are naming the right challenges so what would you need to do? Well first of all like I said earlier you’ve got to start the development goal first. The person has to be clear about what it is they are going to do. And then you need to talk about how much time do you want to spend on this? How will you make sure you don’t have INAUDIBLE? How do you make sure that you know if you’re actually achieving your goal or not? What can you do or what is your exit strategy for when you feel like you have achieved your goal? And maybe there is something we can talk about if we can do something to change the opportunity or the approach if we find that is not working for us.
Somebody says, at my work we volunteer on a community service trip where we chaperone an alternative spring break. We get one week to connect with our stakeholder students. I value this week hundred times more than any part of my job. Daniel said that. Yeah, I love that. Thank you for sharing it.
So, my quick example, that’s me on the right side of the screen. And these are some of the people that were volunteering as part of an organization we are all volunteering for the what was then the ASTD and is now ATD and in the local chapter in the DC area is where I was until just about four days ago. I just moved to the Los Angeles area after 32 years in DC. But, I was the president of the chapter of the DC chapter of ATD. And the woman in the middle, her name is Michelle, and she came on to interview for a board position we had open. And Michelle at that point didn’t have a lot of leadership experience and she really wanted to improve her leadership skills. And she was getting a lot of opportunities at her job, and the other challenge she had at her job was that she had recently changed careers. She went to a Masters program in instructional design, but her background was in project management and she was doing work in project management but she wanted to move into instructional design. She thought volunteering could help her get new skills and also get the credibility for her job to actually shift her over and to eventually promote her. And so she wasn’t a good fit for the particular job she was looking for because she didn’t have the skill set yet. But, being a volunteer on our organization we have the flexibility and we made up a board position for her. We could do that because it doesn’t take money. And she had a lot of technology skills and I said you know what, you can’t be on the board in that position, but for now, why don’t you be director of technology and we made that position for her just to get her involved and just to get her started. And I watched this woman bloom and blossom and grow her leadership skills by being on the board by practicing this is something she was doing in her spare time her supervisor, I think might have supported it, but her organization was not necessarily behind this, she just did it because she knew this was the way to develop her skills and to move in her career. So it’s an example of how you could do this without organizational support. So, basically, the short story is Michelle really did grow her leadership skills on this job. And she also got lots of access to instructional design related content and credibility and knowledge. She did in her job gets switched from the project management role into instructional design and then within the time she was on our board she was promoted to the manager of the instructional design team.
And this is because she had built her skills in a volunteer job, but her organization benefited from her building those skills. See you can totally do it. My suggestions for actually implementing this is make baby steps to start with one person or two people and really watch the scope to make sure that they are doing something that is doable and that you are monitoring how well they are doing by talking with them regularly or creating an opportunity for them to talk to their boss and just check in to see are you picking up the skills, is it working in your favor. This is a way for you to start collecting some success stories and then you scale it up from there.
So, I’m going really fast because we don’t have a lot of time, but I do want to introduce you to two other ways for you to think about employee development outside the classroom. Okay, so digital storytelling, when people say that they don’t always know what it means, so here’s my definition: It is the creation of video-and audio-based social learning content. Now, if you remember on my big list I did have social learning on that list separately from digital storytelling. Why? They are related. But social learning is usually about the consumer engaging with social content. Digital storytelling is not the consumption side of the story. It is the production side of the story. It is the creation of the content to be consumed. So, we often, maybe traditionally we all have experienced or many of us have experienced those awful video training products that you pay $795 to get some kind of a DVD with people with 80s style hair who you’re supposed to learn from. And who watches those things? None of us have the patience to watch a 20 minute video with actors acting stuff out. I mean we still do sometimes, but it’s not the main way. How do we learn stuff? We go on YouTube, we talk to our colleagues, we listen to podcasts, listen to audio files. And all of us are really used to consuming content that way, so, we don’t no longer need for the production value of content we consume on video and audio to be glib and glitzy and highly professional and very polished, and highly edited, and expensive or long. We are so used to watching things that are shot very cheaply. We all carry around video cameras in our pockets pretty much all of us do on our smart phones. Or we could borrow one from someone in the organization if we don’t have it, and all of us can create audio and video content very easily on-the-fly. So, why we watch that stuff if it it is not highly produced? Well, usually because it is highly relevant. Usually because it is available just in time. Usually it is because the person who created it knows something about it and we want to learn from them. And, even more, we can interact with them, because we can usually leave them comments, or we can click like or we can give them a star or some other way to engage with the content. We have so many people in our organization that are already either experts in consuming, their knowledge experts or subject matter experts or, they have the skills or want to develop the skills to learn about the content or to learn about the skills that are related to creating this kind of content.
And they already have the equipment or we can very inexpensively get them that equipment to help them produce this content. Now, of course the organization benefits from the consumption end of it, so it is a double-edged benefit, but, the creation of this content is something that is an amazingly valuable way to develop skills. So here is your chance to brainstorm again. What do you think a person could develop INAUDIBLE
Interviewing skills, all I love that, sharing experiences, process sharing, very good. So, yes, see you can actually create ways for people to develop a lot of different kinds of skills by using digital storytelling. Oh, handling and angry customer. Yes, so all right, let me tell you, you can absolutely, for example, you could think about interviewing the person can going to interview some of the VIPs and get some stories from them. One of the organizations I featured in the book had new employees going to interview the VIPs about how they do their 30-second elevator pitch about the company, so that they can learn from these people and of course the content is created and shared with others. You could interview customers about what they love best working with you or their product. You could actually take people who are on boarding and instead of giving them that big thick manual, here read about these departments and what they do, you could give them three names you can send them to go and interview those people, you could even give them the questions if you want, and they can come back with that content now that they’ve got connections so they have learned, they have built their networking skills, they have built their interviewing skills and their actually building knowledge about the organization through this method. And they can come back to the on boarding session and share their videos with the others which of course is that double-edged value.
So, absolutely lots of ways. So, who is the ideal candidate for this? And I would say here you you could think about, at least to start, you want somebody interested about learning this. And I would say maybe when you are just starting you could get somebody who is kind of technology savvy or, get this, you could get somebody who has a lot of organizational knowledge that is not tech savvy and take someone who is very new maybe two the organization that is tech savvy and pair them up and they could create this content together.
But when you first start out, get people who know some of the kinds of things they need to know for the technology so that they can create content quickly and you could add value. Just a quick example for digital storytelling is Tellus, which is one of the telecommunications companies in Canada, actually has people that are out on the truck fixing the power lines, fixing the cable lines, and they use their devices to film short how-to videos when they are actually fixing a problem, which is something you can send back into through the portal and other people can learn from it. Of course they could also use this to ask questions if they find something that trips them up. And they could do it in real time when they need that information and they can learn it right in real time. So, yeah somebody said tech savvy, a blend of tech and self-expression, or somebody needs to reach beyond the department, yeah. So I just wanted to give you lots of ideas. I don’t have time to go into all of them right now. Cross training, work on board, you’ve got it.
So, let’s look into the innovation and creativity zones. And this is kind of a long name but what that means is that people can learn a great deal by taking time away from their regular job to go work on something that interests them. It’s related to the organization but it isn’t part of their actual job. And they can do it for confined, constricted period of time that’s predefined by the organization. So they could do it alone or they can do in a group just like in this picture. So, one of the companies that I give as an example is actually an example I used by Daniel Ping in his book, drive, and INAUDIBLE in his TED video, so the idea INAUDIBLE has is they get everybody together, everybody powwows for 24 hours, they create new products, they create new ideas, and they get back together and share what they’ve done together with everyone else and think about how and what they want to implement. So, when they share those ideas, everyone learns, but of course through the actual creativity and innovation zone, what are some of the competencies that you think people can develop, will actually let me quickly give you another example. So, that example is a whole group working together. But, you might’ve heard of Google’s 20 percent time. You might have heard of Hackathons and even going back to the 30s and 40s the company that you all know maybe it’s 3M was using this kind of, they called it 15% time where people could spend a portion of their work week on things that are not really in their official job. And, a lot of new products and a lot of new ideas and, a lot of problems are solved and developed during this kind of time.
So, what could people develop when they are in this kind of a zone? What are some of the skills that people can develop? Critical thinking, yes, creative problem-solving, yes, cross functional teams, you guys are chiming in. Team-working skills, absolutely. And you could even develop yeah, innovation, of course. Creativity and innovation. Communication skills, presentation skills, for when you’re presenting what you have learned, collaboration, thinking outside the box, right brain, learning through breakthroughs, yes. You are on the right track, so you get how to work with this. Who is the ideal candidate? I would say here definitely you want someone who is a self-starter. You don’t want to give someone time off from their regular job to go work on something else if you think they’re going to go and sit in their office and paint their nails with now polish while they are you know, during that time, right? We don’t want to squander that time. So, it needs to be someone that is committed, but this is a great way to give people that opportunity to follow their ideas or follow their passions and contribute back to the organization, and develop all of those competencies you are all mentioning at the same time.
Learning from mistakes and failure, learn to live with polarity, collaboration, foresight, autonomous thinking, consensus building, new interest in discovering talent, wildly outrageous goals, yeah, you got it. These are great ideas. I was just reading some of them.
So, are there obstacles? Yes, of course. So, what are some of the obstacles? Well, if you want to do something like this, I would say there has to be some environment of trust. Because if there isn’t trust in the organization, the organization, the managers, the supervisors are not going to feel comfortable allowing people to use time independently with their own choosing. And employees are going to be afraid to make that time count because they won’t feel like they are fully supported. So I think it is something that is a prerequisite. If you have a low trust organization, I would probably choose some other things first, and then come back to this one. Someone is saying an obstacle is freedom of thought and expression. Yes, so maybe some people are, it’s too wild it’s too out there for them and they don’t feel comfortable. Or, maybe your organization is so conservative that it doesn’t take likely or well to new ideas. And that can become a challenge. So, these are not insurmountable challenges, but I say for every one of these development methods, you have to consider the pros and cons. You have to consider the organization’s specific situation, the person, the needs, but one thing I would say about this, it doesn’t have to be an organization-wide policy. A lot of times we think about it in all or nothing binary terms. And there could be lots of ways for you to apply this with just one person. With just two hours a month, right? Like maybe on the fourth Friday of every month they can do it for two hours or three hours. We can also use the word experiment or pilot. These are great words for any of these methods where you kind of create some safety for people who are concerned that it might not work to try it out, and then it gives them an out. Well, if it doesn’t work out, okay, I guess it didn’t work out, we can try something else.
So, before we wrap up I want you to take a moment and think about I give you a lot of ideas, you came up with a lot of ideas. I want you to walk away with something really specific and actionable that you are going to do. It might even be just starting a conversation with someone or might be having a brainstorming session, or it might be finding one person and finding a different method or way of developing something that you have been thinking about how to how do I develop this for this person? That takes you outside of looking at the training catalog or looking online for classes and takes you into a way for you develop them on a shoestring budget in a creative way completely customized, entirely tailored to their needs, and brings you closer to adding more value without adding more cost.
So, at this point I would like to throw it back to Sarah and see where you want to go next with it.
SARAH: All right, perfect, thank you so much, that was wonderful. And we do have about 10 minutes for those questions, so attendees, why don’t you go ahead and send those my way now. And while we wait, let me just share a little bit about how to keep in touch. Helelly of course has her book out Employee Development on a Shoestring, so you can go ahead and purchase that on her website or Amazon. And then also, if you would like to see any more free resources from her, please check out she has a weekly newsletter and I think also a podcast. So that should be really cool. And then of course, us, you can check us out on all social media, and don’t forget to register for our weekly webinar Wednesdays at HRDQU.com.
So, it looks like we have a number of questions coming in. I’m just going to go ahead and jump into the first one right now. And our first one is coming from Laura: I totally love these ideas. But I don’t think my organization is ready. What can I do?
HELELLY: Thanks for that question, Laura, that is a very common question and a very common concern. I don’t know a lot about your organization so it certainly can be extremely valid and there are some places are some organizations that are not going to go for it. But, my experience is that in most organizations there are ways for you to get started down this path and make baby steps. So, it depends on the particular method. It depends on your relationships, but I what I would do is I would start with like one experiment, sell it as an experiment, and make it contained and small and then take the success from that story and publicly share that success or share with the decision-makers and start to build social proof, start to build support by having success stories. So, this is a general way that works with a lot of them. And in my book I specifically help you with each of the methods more specifically tailored to how to overcome objections to it.
SARAH: All right, great, thank you so much. And our next question is coming from Sondra: Do you have any experience with what works best for administrative support staff?
HELELLY: I think that almost anything works with anyone, it depends on their needs, but I do think in the US at least I know there are some laws about their use of overtime and some concerns about them being exempt or nonexempt and so forth. So, certainly, you want to consult with experts on those areas and maybe your human resources before you apply anything. I would generally say though that volunteering can certainly work for anyone even in an admin role, so maybe they need to develop their program management skills, their project management skills, their presentation skills, or their written communication skills. They could do that through mentoring. They could do that through social learning. They could do that so many of the methods that I have shared could absolutely work for them as well.
SARAH: All right, thank you. And our next question is coming from Molly: I have a small company can this work for me?
HELELLY: Yes, Molly, because everything I’ve shared is completely scalable so I would say volunteering is a good example of something you could do because you don’t need a big company for someone to be able to think about how could they develop skills while volunteering. And you could make the scope fit for you. So how much time they spend or how they do it. So, I’ll give you an example I have a case study that I wrote about that Price Waterhouse Coopers is a huge consulting company with a huge budget and they take 200 people every summer to the country of Belize and they work on teams for five days to build financial literacy playgrounds. Now, in a small company no way can you do that. But, could you take your team and go and work on Habitat for Humanity on the weekend and build a house? Or go to a soup kitchen in your environment you could do with the team on the person could do it by themselves and the kinds of things that people develop on that kind of an engagement is teambuilding or communication skills or project management skills or problem-solving skills. So, again, you need to figure out what do they actually need to learn and then what method fits for it, but, I think that many of these ideas can be scaled with great ease to whatever size company you have.
SARAH: All right, great, thank you. Our next question is coming from Matt: How will I be able to measure if it’s working?
HELELLY: Because if you don’t measure if it’s working then all of this is a big charade, right? It actually helps to contribute to some of the bad rap we get in organizations. So, I agree that you need to measure it. Now, I do give specifics for each method that are tailored so of course there are some things that work for some methods and not for others. But in general what I would say is before you even start you need to engage with the employee, not only in that discussion about what is your development goal, and then this is the development method we’re going to try and use for this, but you’re actually going to talk together about how we’re going to measure it. So, some ideas might be qualitative measures, so you could have the person journal about what they are learning and reflect back on it. And you can come back together maybe of a weekly check in our monthly check in. And they could come in they could prepare a short report based on their journal of what they learned, right? And we could talk about it. Or, if it’s something real specific and measurable of the skillet they need to develop something specific and measurable, you could actually have them at maybe after a month or maybe after two months or three months or whatever the development plan is, you can have them go and actually demonstrate that skill and you can see if they have improved or not. So, there are a lot of ways that you can create measures for almost any kind of development program, but they won’t be like tick the box kinds of like a survey but I would even say you could send a survey to the team leader if they are on a rotational team. Or you can send a survey to the person who mentors or manages the person in their volunteer role and you can have that person assess their performance. So, think creatively. You can make that happen.
SARAH: All right, great, thanks. And our next question is coming from Jessica: What would be the best method for development of faculty?
HELELLY: Well, I don’t know what the faculty would like to develop, what skills, what competencies so, I think that it’s probably nothing that is one-size-fits-all. And I would say engage in a conversation about their development needs and then think about how one could develop that without going into the classroom. I’ll give you a really quick example though that’s completely outside the box. It’s something that I wrote about in my book as a case study, as an example. The skill of flexibility. Let’s say you have someone on your faculty that needs to build flexibility. That is a very, very fuzzy kind of competency. And I challenge you to find a class on flexibility. But you can create a very specific development plan where the person let’s say gets a couple of books about flexibility and then reads those and then comes back and reports about the books and what they learned from those books while they could journal about what they learned and talk to their supervisor about what they learned. And then maybe the phase 2, they could practice. Maybe the reason they need to develop flexibility is that they cut down dissenting ideas too quickly. Maybe they cut people off when they talk in meetings and people are afraid to talk around them. So maybe they need to be more flexible with other people’s ideas and letting people talk. So, they could actually create a way where they could practice in meetings that they never say their idea first, second, third. And everybody else says their idea before they speak. And they actually consciously practice doing it. And they could journal about their experience and they could come back and talk about it with their supervisors to see how well did that go what have you learned, how do you feel about this now? Do you feel like you have improved? Do we see a marked improvement? Can we do a 360 survey to see what people on your team think? So these are just a couple of ideas that take you outside of training and into developing competencies tailored to the person’s needs and not on the job completely.
SARAH: All right great, those were some great questions, so thank you for that and Helelly, would you just like to add any final thoughts before I go ahead and wrap up this session?
HELELLY: Yes, Sarah, thank you for moderating and to HRDQ for hosting this webinar. And thank you to everyone who attended. I hope that you value from it. I would love to get your feedback and your comments about what you learned and how I could even do it better. And I would love to keep in touch so connect with me on social media. Sign up for my biweekly newsletter. It’s very very short. It’s upbeat and fresh and it gives tips, and so that would be a great way for us to stay connected. And, of course, if you would check out my podcast. It’s free. It’s on iTunes, it’s on the website. And it’s focus on how to become the kind of leader people want to follow. So leadership and communication skills which is applicable for everyone.
SARAH: All right, perfect, thank you so much again and unfortunately that is all the time we have for today. If there are any and answered questions you will receive an email response probably mid next with those answered questions. So, we appreciate your time and we hope you found today’s webinar informative. Thank you.
With training budgets slashed and organizations struggling to do more with less, many employees as well as those responsible for their development are challenged to find ways to address employee development needs. While classroom and online training are popular development methods, they can be costly and complex, and often not readily available to match budgetary and other constraints. Even when training is available, it may not be the only or the best way to address learning needs.
In this one-hour webinar, join expert Halelly Azulay as she explore creative non-training ways to develop employees on a tight budget. Delve into three specific non-training employee development examples and begin to develop a strategy for implementing new employee development methods for your organization.
Participants Will Learn
- Identify and assess various employee development methods that can be applied outside the classroom and on a tight budget.
- Analyze three specific examples of non-training employee development methods.
- Develop an initial action plan for incorporating new development methods for your employees.
Who Should Attend
- Managers and team leaders
- Organization development professionals
- Talent Management
- Human resources managers
- Management consultants
Halelly Azulay is a consultant, facilitator, speaker and author with over 20 years of professional experience in the fields of workplace learning and communication. She is the author of Employee Development on a Shoestring, which offers hands-on tools and techniques for developing employees outside the classroom and on a budget. Halelly is the president of TalentGrow LLC, a consulting company focused on developing leaders and teams to improve the human side of work. TalentGrow specializes in leadership, communication skills, teambuilding, facilitation, coaching, and emotional intelligence. TalentGrow works with all organizational levels including C-level leaders, frontline managers and individual contributors. Clients describe Halelly’s approach as “engaging,” “knowledgeable,” “enthusiastic,” and “inspiring.”
Halelly is a sought after speaker at conferences and meetings such as the ATD International Conference and the Training Magazine International Conference and is a contributing author of numerous books, articles, and blogs. She earned a B.A. (cum laude) and an M.A. in Communication from the University of Maryland with a focus on training and development and intercultural/organizational communication. A life-long learner, Halelly also holds certifications in various personality, emotional intelligence, and leadership assessment instruments. She blogs talentgrow.com/blog and broadcasts The TalentGrow Show podcast.