Could you run a sales training class without talking about selling skills, products, features, or benefits? John J. McCarthy, author of an influential article in Trusts & Estates magazine, says you should. And I couldn't agree more.
The best way for learning professionals to demonstrate their influence and get a seat at the table is to think like a CEO — or at the very least, understand the business leaders' goals and put learning programs in place to help achieve those goals. And one way to learn about what CEOs care about is to read books by CEOs.
Although many learning professionals talk about the importance of conducting return on investment (ROI) analysis of training programs, few actually do it. Many reasons are given for not conducting this level of analysis. One reason is that time and resources are limited and learning professionals have many other programs to deliver. Fair enough. However, the question is not whether an ROI analysis should be conducted, but how time and resources can be freed up so it can be done.
We learning leaders often spend too much time trying to educate stakeholders on the language of training and development — and merely hoping that if our CEOs better understood what we do and how we do it, they would be more willing to allow us to do what we do. However, if we are going to properly service our stakeholders, it would be wise to learn their language. If we learn what is important to our constiuents, we can design and deliver training programs that will directly help them achieve their goals.
Fewer than half of all employees are satisfied with their current job -- yet 70 percent or more say they do not plan to look for another job in the near future. I'm not sure if this is good or bad, but it's safe to assume that when the economy turns around, many of those unsatisfied employees will seek work elsewhere, leaving an enormous skill and experience gap in many organizations. We all know that's bad -- so what role does learning and development play in preventing this potential exodus of talented employees?
If you do any research on sales training, most of what you will find is focused on sales approaches and methods and not how people actually, like, learn selling skills. In other words, there are plenty of good — even great — sales methodologies and schools of thought, but a surprising dearth of practical, applicable training methods. Moreover, if you investigated this list of the top 20 sales training companies, you'll find they put a lot more emphasis selling their "proven" methodology, rather than on the specific techniques used to ensure your sales team actually learns and develops life-long, invaluable skills.
So I'm giving a presentation at the California Society of Association Executives' annual conference later this month, and I want to deliver something a little different from just about all of the presentations I'm used to seeing these days — in which a speaker simply talks through a series of slides. For starters, I want my presentation to tell a story — and put the audience in the center of that story. To help me do that, I picked up a copy of Nancy Duarte's book, Resonate. Although this is not a book review, I must say that this is a great book, and I highly recommend it to anyone who needs to at least give their presentation a pulse.
The workplace learning space tends to split into two camps. The first camp believes that learning hasn’t changed fundamentally, only the tools and technologies used to enable learning. The second camp believes that learning has completely changed and that we must embrace a new fast-paced, social, mobile, and learning 2.0 world. In fact, the second camp would say we are being held captive as a profession by outdated tools that are just plain ineffective — tools such as ADDIE, learning objectives, instruction, and a top-down, centralized model for developing and delivering training. Although I’m squarely in the second camp, I'll admit that my first impulse when our team receives a training request is to start on a full-scale needs analysis and proceed through the process of analyzing, planning, and designing the "right and instructionally sound" program. But things are moving so fast in our business that we don’t always have the time or resources to work that way. For example, in the past few months I’ve had tight deadlines to develop an enormous amount of training, like many learning teams do. Instead of asking for more resources or prioritizing what needs to get done first, we’ve decided to embrace the changing world and attempt to suspend a lot of what we have been trained to do in our profession. A few critical lessons I’ve learned along the way:
Most startups these days recognize the critical importance of collaboration tools and other Web apps that can deliver huge value to an organization at minimal cost. But they're the exception, still, not the rule, in the wider business universe, where breakthrough apps and tools are still uncharted -- and often confusing -- territory for decision makers. What Pepperdine University launched recently for its business school holds some insights for managers and execs looking to break through tough barriers. Here's a brief look:
You know the expression -- "We only hear what we want to hear." I usually attribute this phrase to others, but I admit that last week at the ASTD TechKnowledge 2011 Conference, I only heard what I wanted to hear -- all about e-learning practices in organizations. Perhaps the other explanation is that so many speakers were talking about e-learning, I couldn't help but hear a constant echo.