Talent Development 49 Curating Instructional Content

August 2, 2021

Curating Instructional Content is very important for any Talent Development Professional. Section 2.5 in the CPTD Certification Program for ATD is Knowledge Management. Section A reads, “Skill in creating instructional content, tools, and resources, for example researching, evaluating, selecting, and/or assembling publicly available online courseware.”

For any application there is an optimal set of learning tools that can be applied to help people learn. Thankfully, we do not need to invent each part of every course from scratch. In fact, there are so many resources, it becomes mind-numbing with the variety of options available. 

Some of the resources are available for a fee or royalty, but many of them are in the public domain.  You can start with a simple search online by entering the topic areas on Google or other search service.  You will be quickly overwhelmed by the mountain of options to consider.

Existing Tools

Thankfully, ATD has already done the screening process for you and provides templates for suggested resources on the site of the ATD Talent Capability Model. If you go to this site, https://www.td.org/capability-model/about  you can see a short tutorial about the model and how to use it.

The model has three Domains and 23 Capability Areas. You, or your client, can take a self-assessment to determine which items are already areas of strength and which ones are areas for potential development.  The instrument is easy to use and covers the broad spectrum of capabilities that are required.

The software guides you through a process to develop a personal profile for your own development and then gives a listing of resources (some free and some for a fee) that can take you on a journey of self-development.

I have found the structure and ease of use of the ATD Capability Model to be extremely helpful in a number of ways.  Explore the model on your own and take the assessment. You will come away with ideas and resources that can allow a significant step forward in your career.

You can also use this tool for guiding others on their path to improved capability. We are blessed that ATD has done the leg work to take the drudgery out of researching the best tools from the myriad of options available.

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust.  He is the author of: The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind, and Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change.  Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations. 


Talent Development 48 The Perfect Storm

July 26, 2021

Section 3.8 in the CPTD Certification program for ATD is Future Readiness. Section B states, “Knowledge of internal and external factors that influence talent development, for example organizational/business strategies, availability of labor, developments in other industries, social trends, and technological advances.”

The world learned some amazing lessons on future readiness in 2020 that the framers of the ATD Certification Program could not have dreamed would converge on all of us at the same time. Through incredible personal and corporate struggles, we learned that survival requires us to be nimble and react very quickly to the forces that are around us.

I will describe some of the forces of change as I observed them. Recognize these forces were all external at the start but quickly became internal as organizations tried to invent their way around the obstacles. Let’s take a look at the major forces that impacted 2020 and the first half of 2021.

The COVID 19 Pandemic

At the start, the pandemic looked like a minor blip on the scale having to do with the health of a few workers. As the number of people in Intensive Care reached the capacity of our hospitals, we realized that the pandemic was real, and it would be the most disruptive force impacting every single organization in the world.

Groups needed to pivot to a configuration where all jobs that could be done from home would be done from home, and jobs that required a person be in attendance had to find ways to change operations to allow protective gear and social distancing. The magnitude of the change was exacerbated by the speed with which all this change needed to be done.

Many organizations went from an in-person environment to a working-from-home model over the span of just one weekend: March 13-15, 2020. As we crawl out of the lockdown, it is still unclear what the ultimate configuration will be. Some hybrid form of operation is expected to continue for many years. It also affects the labor force in many ways. For example, many industries are not able to find enough workers to operate.

In addition, the pandemic caused global supply chain interruptions that created shortages that are ongoing. Many organizations were unable to perform their function because they simply could not get the required parts or supplies. The economic impact of these disruptions is immense and ongoing.

Extreme Social Unrest

The death of George Floyd on Memorial Day, 2020 started an avalanche of protests and marches that is still in evidence, and the fallout is likely to be felt for decades into the future. Our society woke up to recognize that the kind of racial biases that have been the model for hundreds of years were not only unfair but intolerable. Yet, to disentangle the society norms and practices that did not allow true Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is going to take many decades of concerted work and patience on the part of us all.

The ongoing outcome of all this social unrest is that the world is a lot more dangerous for everyone. Homicides have shy rocketed this year, and it will be many years of work and expense to get back to a safer environment. Couple that reality with many new laws and actions that are making it more difficult for the police and less secure for businesses, so the trend is for less rather than more safety.

To have all this confusion dumped onto the society at the exact time when we were vulnerable due to the pandemic was breathtaking.

Environmental Disasters

A third element we had to deal with at the same time was a string of disasters long in the making due to our inability to recognize we have damaged our spaceship to the point that it may be unrepairable. The California wild fires were just one piece of evidence that we are currently out of control and slipping badly. We need to anticipate things getting much worse before they get better. 

At least in this area you can see more signs of leaders paying attention and trying to make the necessary changes.  It is hard to be optimistic that we can change quickly enough to have a livable world over the next few decades.

Out of Control Political Situations

Simultaneously piled on top of the first three disasters, we have witnessed a melt down of our systems of orderly transition of power the likes of which we have never seen before. I am not going to get political here, but just recognize that the system is seriously broken and in need of some major repair.

Widespread Power and Internet Failures

We have endured wide-spread power and internet interruptions throughout the period. The root cause is twofold. First, since all resources are stretched thin or not allocated in a balanced way, critical infrastructure is bound to suffer lower reliability. Second, cyber criminals have become more sophisticated, so the internet as a place to do business is much more problematical. Ransomware, hacking, and denial of service attacks are bringing down major online service providers and vendors.

Conclusion

For Talent Development professionals to operate in this environment is like trying to navigate in the midst of five tornadoes at the same time. It takes a strong hand and incredible wisdom and patience to do the right things under these conditions, yet we have no choice but to do that.

The worst may be behind us, but it will take decades to unscramble the messes we now have before us. We will never forget the pain and helplessness we all experienced over the past couple years.

 

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust.  He is the author of: The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind, and Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change.  Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations


Talent Development 47 Use of Models

July 19, 2021

Section 2.2 in the CPTD Certification program for ATD is Instructional Design. Section C states, “Skill in designing blueprints, schematics, and/or other visualization representations of learning and development solutions, for example wireframes, storyboards, and mock-ups.”

I do not use wireframes or storyboards in my work, but I do make heavy use of physical models because they help the concepts permeate into the brain much deeper. I will share a few examples of how I use physical models to spice up the training. 

Trust Barometer

I specialize in teaching leaders how to build higher trust.  In part of my material, I want to emphasize how trust is built usually in small steps, but it can be destroyed easily in large steps.  It start out by describing a ratchet that goes one way with a series of clicks, but once the pawl is disengaged all the progress can be lost very quickly.

I actually built a “Trust Barometer” to demonstrate the phenomenon. Here is a link to a three-minute video of me giving the demonstration. The physical model along with the panic scream really helps people visualize my key point about trust.

Brain

When describing how the brain functions and how Emotional Intelligence can be enhanced, I use a full-size rubber model of the human brain that can be separated into the two cerebral cortices. Doing this allows me to describe the function of the Corpus Callosum, which is a band of fibers that connects the right side of the brain (where we deal with emotions) to the left side (where we deal with the consequences of possible actions).

The different parts of the brain are colored in bright colors to make them stand out. By engaging in training on Emotional Intelligence, we train the brain to be very efficient at transmitting signals from the right side to the left side.  This prevents us from lashing out at people when dealing with an emotional hit.

I AM RIGHT Button

One of my most powerful demonstrations is a 3-inch button with the words I AM RIGHT on it.  I start by explaining that all leaders wear the button at all times.  This means, they are convinced that the thing they just said or did is the right thing to do at that moment.  If not, they would do or say something else. 

In other words, leaders feel totally justified in their actions.  When someone challenges the rightness of something the leader is advocating, the leader instinctively becomes defensive because he or she was convinced of the rightness of the action. 

The leader punishes the individual for sharing an alternate view, and this action destroys trust, because people feel a lack of psychological safety. I then reveal the “cure” for the problem. 

I hand everyone in the class one of the buttons.  Now I explain to the leaders that when someone is candid with them and shares an alternate point of view, they are not automatically wrong because the leader now knows they are wearing the (invisible) button too.

The buttons become a prop that each participant in my class can take home and have fun with. They love the fun part, but the message about not punishing people who share their candor sinks in deeply. I believe that reinforcing candor (which means creating psychological safety) is the most important tool leaders can use to create higher trust.

Conclusion

These are just three examples of physical props I use to liven up my classes and make them more enjoyable and memorable. I have many more props and also intersperse magic illusions that relate to the topics being discussed. These activities keep the class time active and fun for the participants.

 

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust.  He is the author of: The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind, and Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change.  Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations. 


Talent Development 46 Outcome Statements

July 12, 2021

Section 2.2 in the CPTD Certification program for ATD is Instructional Design. Section B states, “Skill in developing learning and behavioral outcome statements.”

An outcome statement is intended to identify how the participants will be changed as a result of the training. They will have a different perspective from before the event and have a new life skill they can use in the future.

This section is rather straight forward.  You must be able to articulate what participants in the training will be able to do following the training.  The challenge here seems simple enough, but there are a few precautions and opportunities we need to address here. 

For this article, I will use a live example of a training program I once did on how to improve the creativity level for a professional group. A similar analysis could be done for any proposed training program. In this specific case, I was doing a training event for a team of 12 technically-oriented trainers.

Starting From Different Backgrounds

Each person was starting from a different perspective relative to creativity. A couple of individuals had specific training on creativity in their post-college courses.  There was one person who was a professional artist on the side. Another individual worked in a “think tank” environment for over 12 years.  Two people had patents to their name. Three of the individuals had no formal background in creativity at all.

For this class, I advertised that an outcome statement was to make participants familiar with how to use brainstorming techniques to improve the creativity of their solutions.  There was also a second outcome statement that I did not reveal until later in the day.

Creative Methods

As a group, this team liked to use what I call “busy hand” toys as a way to enhance their learning and have some creative fun.  We used about 10 different toys from small puzzles to pipe cleaners and “Lego® Bricks.”  The idea was to augment the intellectual learning with physical manipulative activities as a way to increase enjoyment and allow the creativity to blossom.

At one point, I split the group up into two teams. I gave each team an identical set of Tinker Toys®.  The challenge I set out for the teams was to “build the highest freestanding structure they could with the materials given.” As the teams began to brainstorm how they would approach the challenge they gained significant enthusiasm. They became excited as they discussed different ways to construct a tower. They started building their towers; one group worked from the floor and the other from a table top. 

Once they had reached the maximum height, I measured each tower with a tape measure.  One group beat out the other by over six inches. I then asked the group if they had accomplished the objective of the exercise.

They looked puzzled, so I pointed to the chart where I had written the instructions for all to read during the exercise: “build the highest freestanding structure you can with the materials given.”

They thought that they had accomplished the task well until I revealed the second outcome. Nowhere in the instructions was it stated that the teams could not pool their materials together and work as a larger team.  They just assumed that they were confined to the teams as originally selected.

Outcome Statement

Before the exercise, I had created two outcome statements. The second one was that I wanted everyone in the room to learn to attack a particular challenge with fresh eyes, and not be constrained by conventional thinking.  Once they were able to let go of their self-imposed constraint and pool the materials, the entire group was able to assemble a structure nearly two feet higher than either of the teams originally did.

This exercise served to illustrate how creativity is often stifled by self-imposed limitations, and if those limitations can be exposed it leads to much better outcomes. The entire class learned some valuable lessons that day. First, they learned how to get creative with Tinker Toys and build some towers. Second, and much more important, they learned that sometimes silo thinking makes groups work in competition when there is an alternative to get a better result by working together.

Sometimes you can generate more enthusiasm if the entire Outcome Statement is not  revealed in advance.  As was the case in this example, when the group discovered and stumbled on the most important message, it led to some significant learning that will be long remembered by the group.

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust.  He is the author of: The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind, and Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change.  Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations. 


Talent Development 45 Communications Strategy

July 5, 2021

Section 3.4 in the CPTD Certification program for ATD is Talent Strategy and Management. Section F states, “Skill in designing and implementing communication strategy in order to drive talent management objectives.”

All strategy needs to start with some fundamentals, and that is true for a communication strategy for talent management.  We need to start with a clear vision of where we are going.  Without that, we will flail around like a flag in a hurricane.

Knowing exactly where we are going with the talent development effort is always the first step.  Second, we need to create logical steps to get from our current position to the vision. 

It is essential to understand the gaps so people can visualize how our path will help us arrive at our objective in a finite period of time.  That specific plan is what we need to communicate to everyone involved. 

Sometimes we have the luxury of time to develop and communicate the plan in a logical manner, and sometimes we are forced to do it with blinding speed.

A Classic Example

For many groups, the date of March 13, 2020 sticks out as a prime example where speed was required. In numerous organizations, people went home from their work that Friday, and by Monday, March 16, the entire operation needed to be recast to allow people to work virtually. The pivot to pull off that feat required a kind of communication effort that few people could imagine just a few days earlier. 

That weekend was a scramble few people will ever forget. 

For the Talent Development professionals, the situation was just as chaotic. I recall teaching my leadership class live on Friday morning and having to retool my entire program over the weekend to be totally virtual. When there is no choice, it is amazing how quickly things can happen.

For most leaders, the need to retool how they communicated with people in the entire organization was just as abrupt.  Some people needed to upgrade their systems or borrow a laptop from work to allow a constancy of communication that was vital in those frantic days. The need for accurate information being given was even higher than before Covid hit. 

The Bar is Being Raised Even More

In his Trust Barometer, Richard Edelman described a shift that is ongoing.  When asked, “How many times to you need to hear something about an organization to believe it is true?” the answer used to be once or twice.  Currently the answer for most people is three to five times.

The need to be creative and frame up important communication in several different ways is a skill many leaders have not mastered yet. A simple “town hall” meeting is no longer adequate to convey important or complex information. Here is an idea of the steps needed to be sure information is conveyed accurately.

  1. Send out a meeting notice with the essence of the message to be conveyed.
  2. Have a meeting to convey the message in person or virtually.
  3. Ask the participants what they just heard (to verify the message).
  4. Follow up with an email explaining the message and the rationale.
  5. A week later, ask some people what they recall the announcement was.

Conclusion

The ability to communicate important concepts, like talent management objectives, is a lot more complex in the current environment than it was a few years ago.  I suspect the higher bar will be with us always, so we need to adjust our communication patterns accordingly.

 

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust.  He is the author of: The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind, and Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change.  Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations. 


Talent Development 44 Develop Performance Improvement Solutions

June 28, 2021

Section 3.5 in the CPTD Certification program for ATD is Performance Improvement. Section B states, “Skill in designing and developing performance improvement solutions to address performance gaps.”

To develop solutions to address performance gaps, first of all you need to know precisely what those gaps are. You must measure current performance against some kind of ideal in order to identify the gaps accurately.

In my leadership work, I do this through a set of instruments that measure the gaps in numerous areas to identify which ones are most critical to improve. I have a series of 10 different surveys that I will apply (sparingly) depending on the specific group I am attempting to help.  I never use more than two surveys to avoid survey fatigue. 

The two most frequently used surveys are the CEO and HR Manager Evaluation and the Trust Survey. I will describe each of these instruments and tell how I use them. 

CEO and HR Manager

This survey contains about 100 different areas of leadership. The individual skills are divided into the following categories.

  • Leadership Topics (including Trust)
  • Planning for Growth and Change
  • Critical Political Skills
  • Developing People and Teams
  • Building Improvement Skills
  • Techniques of Outstanding Communication
  • Creating Balance at Work and Your Life

Under each topic area I have listed eight to 14 specific leadership skills.

To identify the most important gaps, I ask the entire leadership team to rate each item on the following scale:

  • 0 = no need
  • 1 = Low need – maintenance item
  • 2 = Medium need – important
  • 3 = High need – urgent

 That process gives me a numerical score when I combine the collective input. From that scan, I can identify the most critical needs for improvement very quickly. I then match the profile of needs with a set of training modules I have already developed in order to create a proposal that will match the most critical gaps for that particular group.

Trust Survey

A second instrument is a measure of the areas where managers are doing well or poorly on developing trust within the organization. It starts with a few demographic questions. The most important of these is the level in the organization. 

It turns out that most senior leaders have a much rosier estimate of the trust levels than do the lower levels of management.  I like to check the covariance by level.

Then I ask each person to rate the level of trust for the entire organization on a scale of 1-10.  This is followed by two sections designed to highlight which areas of trust need the most work.

I do this by giving 16 positive statements (like “managers here are highly ethical.”) Using a seven-step Likert Scale, I determine what areas are strong and what ones are weak.

I then reverse the Likert Scale and ask 14 negative statements (like “Managers and Supervisors here play favorites.”) The reversed scale allows me to, once again, determine areas of strength or weakness.

I usually administer the trust survey across the entire population that is contemplating some development work. 

Pinpoint Gaps

Using these two instruments, I can assess performance gaps quickly and turn around a training proposal in just a few days. Managers are astonished at how accurately the report identifies the most urgent needs.

For example, in most organizations the area of holding people accountable properly scores very low, so I often include a module on that aspect of leadership in my training.

These are just two examples of how I go about identifying the critical gaps in skills in order to ensure my training programs have the maximum impact without spending time on needless topics. That is a part of delivering high impact to my clients.

 

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust.  He is the author of: The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind, and Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change.  Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations. 


Talent Development 43 Marketing Strategy

June 21, 2021

Section 3.4 in the CPTD Certification program for ATD is Talent Strategy & Management. Section E states, “Skill in establishing and executing a marketing strategy to promote talent development.”

You can have the most effective and complete training curriculum, but if most people in the organization are not aware of it or how to obtain the training, it will lead to disappointing results.

It takes energy and skill to pull together a professional marketing strategy for promoting the program. This short article will discuss the process.

Business Case

First of all, there must be a business case. The training will improve the skills of the people attending, but what is the total payoff for the organization?

For example, if training in “Lean Production Concepts” is projected to boost productivity by 15% and reduce waste by 10%, then managers can verify that those numbers more than offset the training cost.

Often, the training program is for the ultimate development of the people involved, and the payback will be in the form of lower turnover and recruiting costs.

Sometimes a training program will be for purposes of pursuing a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion plan. If so, include that fact in the promotional material.

Whatever the impact on the return for the organization, estimate it so that managers can test the validity of the assumptions.

Promotion of the Training

Once we understand the business case, we can promote the training program by including it in daily briefing meetings.

When managers appoint people for the training, the rationale will provide the basis for discussion.

Include the training program in an overall training strategy and present it to the shareholders as well as the general public.

Add the training effort to the Learning Management System for the organization as part of the overall plan.

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of: The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind, and Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations.


Talent Development 42 Identify Constraints

June 14, 2021

Section 3.4 in the CPTD Certification program for ATD is Talent Strategy & Management. Section D states, “Skill in identifying anticipated constraints or problems affecting talent development initiatives, for example resource deficiencies or lack of support.”

These two items are common problems with training initiatives, and I will discuss each of these in this article. Equally important are unanticipated constraints that can become stumbling blocks. I will give some examples of these.


Resource Deficiencies
Every training effort must be staffed properly to be effective. The number of people to be trained needs to be clear as well as the cohort size and pattern of classes. In addition, the resources of available rooms and supplies, like projectors and chart paper, must match the anticipated load.


If the training is going to be virtual or partially virtual, all participants must have the proper hardware, software, and bandwidth to support the load. The participants must also be trained on how to use the equipment that is provided.

In addition to the resources just mentioned, administration resources need to be considered so that people can register for the course and attend the sessions. For simple programs, the administration load should be light, but for highly complex programs the administration load can be very significant.

The most important resources will be the facilitators of the training. These people need to be in sufficient quantity to get the job done, and they must be located where the work will be done. They also must have excellent facilitation skills.

Lack of Support

One category of constraints is the lack of full support by the organization. Often the training program is approved at the top without knowing the details of how the program might disrupt business as usual. When push comes to shove, managers will cancel training classes in an effort to keep production rolling.

Sometimes managers give lip service to the required financial support. When the operation gets behind on targeted earnings, often leaders will pull the plug on talent development efforts. The training is frequently considered a discretionary program.

If one plant is behind on performance goals, the training may get delayed until that group can catch up on production.

Unanticipated Problems

The things mentioned thus far in this article are typical constraints that come up frequently. The existence of surprise problems can be just as deadly, and they hit hard because there was no way to plan how to mitigate the disruption. There could be hundreds of different situations. I will mention just a few possibilities here, for the sake of brevity.

Unexpected Travel

A person who is scheduled for vital training may find him or herself on the road with a client issue. Also, a person may choose to take vacation to handle a family emergency and have to miss class.

Sometimes there is a way to have the absent person join a different cohort to make up the training, but that is not always possible.

Instructor Missing

The scheduled instructor may have an unavoidable conflict for any number of reasons. In this case, the training is usually postponed, but sometimes it just gets cancelled.

If the operation is well staffed, then there may be a way to flex other instructors to bridge the void. Usually such a luxury is not available.

Major Weather-Related Incident

There could be a flood or snow-related emergency that makes it impossible for people to attend the training. There may or may not be a provision to make up the lost training time.

There could be an electrical outage due to a heavy storm. A hurricane or tornado would likely disrupt the training as well as operations in general.

As we learned in 2020, there may be some kind of pandemic or other health issue that creates the need to flex to a different model for training.

The best advice is to anticipate that there will be some problems and have various ways to flex in order to accomplish the training.


Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of: The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind, and Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations.


Talent Development 41 Communicate Benefits

June 7, 2021

Section 3.4 in the CPTD Certification program for ATD is Talent Strategy & Management. Section G reads “Skill in communicating how talent development strategies and solutions support the achievement of targeted business/organizational results.”

In this article, I will describe the importance of tying developmental strategies to the goals of the organization.

At the start of any course, it is a good idea to state the specific skills that will be taught. Lay out the objectives clearly so that all participants know what they are about to learn. Share the actual course outline so that people understand the topics to be covered and the order.

Any developmental activity will benefit both the employees involved and the organization as a whole. In framing up the benefits, make sure to identify the specific new skills that the employees will have as a result of the training.

It is imperative that the skills be demonstrated during the training and not be just good intentions on the part of the trainer. Most talent development activities have skill tests to verify that the training has translated into the desired behaviors.

In many courses, role play exercises are used to allow employees to demonstrate newly-acquired skills. These activities are popular with participants because they break up the content acquisition process and are often enjoyable.

If the course is a long one, it is a good idea to summarize the information in groups so that the people being trained know the sequence and can measure their own progress.

Every course should have a feedback survey at the end so that the trainer knows what parts of the course went well and what areas need improvement for the future.

I like to hold a debrief meeting with management after a major training series. This gives me the opportunity to review the objectives of the training and show that the objectives were met. I can also stress at this time how the training contributed to achievement of the organization’s goals.

It is also a good idea to have a follow-on activity a few weeks after a major training event so that people have a refresher of the key concepts covered. I use a series of brief videos to help participants remember key concepts from the training.


Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of: The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind, and Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations.


Talent Development 40 Monitor Progress

May 30, 2021

Section 1.5 in the CPTD Certification program for ATD is Project Management. Section B reads “Skill in establishing, monitoring, and communicating progress toward the achievement of goals, objectives, and milestones.”

In this article, I will describe some simple and effective methods of keeping track and communicating progress.

The first rule of thumb is to use the familiar “SMART” Goals, as described by George T. Doran in Management Review. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, and Time Bound. Having project goals that meet these criteria allows a simple tracking system to show progress toward the goals.

Another common technique is to break up the project into several steps with each one having a milestone achievement that leads to the next phase of the project.

Having finite steps of a large project allows the team to celebrate the accomplishment of each step, which leads to higher engagement and encouragement as you embark on the next step.

It is a good idea to have visible ways to show project against the goals. A simple “thermometer” chart is an effective way to demonstrate status against the goal.

The charts should be visible to the entire team, so that people all have the needed information. It is important to keep the published charts current, and when updating the chart, make sure all posted copies are suitably updated.

It is also a good idea to review progress against stated goals at periodic management review meetings. This practice gives leaders a chance to reinforce the good work going on and also gives the project managers some air time to highlight any specific points of pride or precautions that would be important to know.

One practice that often is omitted is to have a closure ceremony at the completion of a major project. People appreciate the formality of a closure meeting and celebration. The practice also makes sure everyone in the organization is aware that the milestones were met and the project is now closed.

Monitoring the progress of a talent development project is not rocket science at all. However, if the steps outlined above are done poorly or skipped, the effectiveness of the project will be significantly impacted.


Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of: The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind, and Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations.