by Shannon Herrera, Senior Instructional Designer
We often think about learning as what happens in the classroom, through e-learning, or with tangible just-in-time resources available on the job. However, we don’t always consider the social aspects of learning on the job—particularly mentoring. A good mentoring program can help employees become productive quicker, but more importantly, it can help individuals feel supported and cared for in their jobs. According to research conducted by the Association for Talent Development, mentoring programs can impact things like engagement, retention, growth, relationships, and collaboration. When I look back at my career, official or unofficial mentors were typically the difference between feeling supported in a job or feeling like I was floundering. These mentors are the people who, years later, I still consider my friends.
The biggest role a mentor can play for their mentee is an ear to listen and someone to throw around ideas with. A strong mentor can be key to helping new employees find their place in a company and feel like they have a voice.
Here are some tips to keep in mind while creating a mentoring program:
“Show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had real positive influences in his or her life. I don’t care what you do for a living—if you do it well I’m sure there was someone cheering you on or showing the way. A mentor.”
— Denzel Washington
by Lisa Jastremsky, Past Utah ATD Chapter President, CPLP, PHR, SHRM-CP
Lisa’s Journey to CPLP
“You down with CPLP? Yeah you know me!
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a rapper, as I loved to memorize lyrics of songs. I liked to rap songs as fast as I could. Then, I found I could write my own lyrics and that sparked my creativity. I know now that I was not meant to be a rapper. Today, I am a training and development professional. The talent development field may not be as glamorous as the music industry, but it does fuel the same things that motivated me as a kid. Learning and creativity are my biggest drivers and motivators in life, and I’m glad I discovered it early in life.
As I continued to enjoy my work in the field, I found a need to enhance my skill set, which is when I stumbled upon ATD and started attending meetings. It’s in those meetings that I discovered the CPLP (Certified Professional in Learning and Performance) credential. This really caught my attention and I had to do it. That was more than five years ago, and there is not a day that goes by that I’m not happy I did it and feel proud about my accomplishment. This credential was a challenge, and that’s how I know I grew as an individual from achieving it.”
"Here are what some fellow homies in the training game have to say about the credential."
"For about five years I was interested in the CPLP certification yet felt overwhelmed with the idea of the studying without a study group and time was limited for me. When I saw the APTD come available, I knew this was my time to commit and take that leap. I now feel as if the pursuit of my CPLP is achievable therefore I have set my sights on that as a next step.”
—Yolanda Brown, APTD
“I was fortunate to be in one of the first cohorts for the CPLP certification way back in 2008! I've re-certified every three years since and am currently certified through November 2020. The certification opened a number of professional opportunities for me that have expanded my horizons and provided deeper immersion into the Workplace Learning and Performance industry. In the last 12 years I have been contacted by half a dozen learning and development teams through the ATD Job Bank (seeking CPLPs) who have been seeking instructional design consulting expertise on many exciting initiatives. It's been great to make new connections as I've worked with them to create behavior-changing learning experiences. Over the last couple of years, I've had the experience of working with ATD CI (Certification Institute) on new certification assessments for the international learning community, and it's been amazing to rub shoulders with other CPLPs as we've collaborated to craft new and innovative tools! I also love the social connections in several online groups that have resulted in new friends and different ways of thinking.”
—Richard Vass, CPLP
Helpful CPLP Tips and Resources
“Since I earned my CPLP credential there has been a lot of changes, such as the way the CPLP requirements have changed and they have launched the entry certificate the APTD, which is a steppingstone to reach the CPLP.
This year ATD announced that they plan to, once again, change the criteria for earning the CPLP. This year’s cohorts will be the last ones to be considered under the current certificate requirements. So, if you have been thinking about earning yours, I would recommend looking into it now.
Here are some links to the current information on CPLP and APTD testing and prep: https://www.td.org/certification
Also, the Utah ATD Chapter partners with the Rocky Mountain Chapter based in Denver, that provides a virtual study group. As a sister chapter, our members can sign up for the same $50 fee offered to their chapter members. Please see the information here: Please visit the page to register: https://www.atdrmc.org/CPLP-Study-Group. The fee will be $50.
So now you know what’s up with the current credential process, there is no reason why you shouldn’t go out there and do what I know so many of you are motivated by, and that is to keep on learning.”
My name is Jason Sturges, and I have the pleasure of serving the talent development community, here in the great state of Utah, as President-Elect of the Utah ATD Chapter. There are many hands that help run a smooth chapter, and the role of the President-Elect is to support the President in strategic planning & innovation, all things chapter operations, and all collaborations & partnerships. In terms of short introductions, I have been in the talent development industry for 15 years – having worked for franchising, biotech, non-profit/associations, and academia – and this is my 5th year on the Utah ATD Board of Directors. I have a personal mission statement of “using what I have to make the lives others better,” so when it comes to the areas of expertise that I like to focus on, they include management, leadership and organizational development; trainer development; and orientation & onboarding (my master’s thesis topic).
The majority of my experience has been working for organizations here in Utah. But prior to my return in 2018, I had the opportunity to work for four years at ATD National – back east, out in the northern Virginia/DC area – as a senior instructional design project manager in their Education department. You might be familiar with that group, as they develop and deliver the Certificate, Masters and Essentials classes popular among many ATD members worldwide. The reason I bring this up is because, during my time at ATD National, I learned that many people don’t know the resources available to them when they join a professional group like ATD.
With that said, having been on the inside at ATD National, I could easily present you a laundry list – longer than necessary for this newsletter – of items to look into; with a worry that it would come off only as a blatant sales pitch for ATD. So, I don’t want to do that. But what I would like to do is focus on three overarching resources – content, connection and certification – that you can follow-up on and I hope brings you value.
CONTENT. ATD National is an amazing, and continuous, content curation machine. Their team works tirelessly to bring to market new information on 14 different topics relevant to talent development professions, covering over 8 different roles in the industry, and even some deep dives into specific niche sub-industries (like health care and government, etc). Whether you are looking for a class, a book, a topical/current magazine article, a new research/trend report, a webinar series, some speakers for your next event, or even some industry data and best practices – you can find all of it and more through ATD National. And though there’s no such thing as a free lunch – depending on your membership status – a lot of the content can be found for low- or no-cost.
CONNECTION. Though I very much appreciate (and utilize) the content wing of ATD National, one of the resources that I truly love the most is their dedication to connection … or we could even say community. I am a firm believer that you can only learn so much from “things” – but that you can accelerate your learning and development when you partner with someone else (formally or informally). If you have ever been to an ATD conference, you know what a great job they do in bringing together people from all over the globe to share thought leadership and best practices. (And if you haven’t been, then we need to see how we can get you to it next year – as it’s in our backyard of Denver!). Additionally, the infrastructure they’ve setup for local chapters (nationally and internationally) is another great resource they offer us – giving us leadership development opportunities along with a large network to reach out to for support, feedback, collaboration, brainstorming, other assorted resources, and more!
CERTIFICATION. The final asset that I think is a great resource from ATD National is their certification institute. ATDCI is the managing body for both the CPLP and APTD credentials. I held off from seeking certification, for many years, thinking that a master’s degree in adult education would be sufficient. And though my academic training was amazing, and has done great things for me professionally, pursuing (and achieving) my CPLP was transformational. Reviewing the Learning System (aka ‘body of knowledge’) that they recommend you study, along with the study guides, study tools, and practice tests were a great assessment of all of my graduate school content. And the final tests and projects were great ‘refining fires’ that proved I had what it took to be recognized as a professional. The CPLP & APTD programs are great tools to help us in talent development more easily get a seat at that proverbial table, by having an outside group validate our skillset and require us to maintain it over time.
As I mentioned earlier, I have a mission to “use what I have to make the lives of others better,” so I get really excited (aka lengthy) when talking about resources. Those that work with me, or have collaborated with me in the past, know that I have a “small library” when it comes to the topics I am passionate about. (I may or may not have moved 30 boxes of books to and from DC!) With that said, before I go too long in this piece, I will bring it to a close here. I am always happy, willing and excited to “talk training” with anyone, so please feel free to reach out. Connect with me on LinkedIn, drop me a line through the chapter at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can learn more about what I have done and what I am doing at www.jasondsturges.com.
Thank you for all that you do to develop the talent – and develop those that develop talent – in your organizations. All of us continuing to do that every day, will most certainly – as the ATD vision states – “create a world that works better.”
President-Elect, ATD Utah Board of Directors,
Employee Development & Engagement Manager, BioFire Diagnostics
Four Key Takeaways from the ATD National ICE Conference
I was looking forward to attending this year's ATD National Conference, and once again, I was not disappointed. I always leave full of new ideas for how to improve my training skills, ready to implement innovative solutions to our training problems, and excited about great new friendships. One thing I learned from attending previous conferences is to prepare beforehand and arrive with a plan for which sessions to attend. There are so many choices, so it’s easy to get overwhelmed if you are not focused.
My Main Takeaways from the 2019 Conference
1. Sharing quality time with other Utah Chapter members. Thank you to all event sponsors!
2. Chapter Sessions
My three favorite sessions were…
“Solutions to Help with Member Engagement” (Chapter Leader Day)
This session focused on…
“Time Management” (Becoming Your Best Global Leadership)
This session focused on the following equation: Mindset + Skills = Becoming Your Best
“Good, Better, Best
Never let it rest
'Til the Good is better
and the Better is best."
3. Keynote Speakers
All three keynote speakers were wonderful—especially Oprah. During her talk, she talked about clearing our minds and waiting until we are ready to do what we have to do. In other words: Be patient. Another great insight was when she said, "Live in the moment so that you can make the next right decision." This touched me personally as I am dealing with some challenges of my own.
4. Leadership sessions
During these sessions, I strengthened my knowledge and skills to prepare our future leaders.
Overall, I loved the conference. The speakers were outstanding and the sessions were full of useful information. After attending the conference, I feel equipped to find solutions to our organization's challenges. I encourage anyone to attend this conference in the future (and be sure to wear comfortable shoes).
Utah Chapter President, Elias Adams, shares his strategies for Continuous Growth.
The Importance of Continuous Growth
"Growth is an important part of human development. If we are not growing our knowledge, skills, or abilities, we move backwards. If we find ourselves idle and not investing in growth opportunities, we become stagnant. If our growth is delayed or stunted, then others will pass us up."
Insights and Strategies
"I’ve tried to apply the principle of continuous growth in all aspects of my life. There have been times when I capitalized on growth opportunities, and other times when I haven’t. Often, we have to move outside of our comfort zone to grow. Personally, I find that continuous focus on personal and professional growth can be challenging and demanding. Two strategies that help me to improve are…
My goal is to be a little better today than I was yesterday. I want to be a better learning and development leader, employee, husband, and father. There are certainly days where I do not achieve my goal, but at the end of the day, I have to remind myself that tomorrow is another day, and that’s something I have control over."
What are you doing for your continuous growth?
Who are your mentors?
In what situations and interactions do you feel more confident in your ability to achieve?
Throughout my professional life, a hot topic has been how to get people more interested in training. Even when I did marketing for a software company, customer training was a key aspect of our marketing strategy. The more people know about a product, the more they will use it.
All good marketing starts off with the four basic principles: product, price, place, and promotion. While the number of “basic principles of marketing” is up for debate, these four are very solid. The underlying assumption of the four, is that you are centering it around the people you serve (or want to serve).
So, before you even start developing your training content, you need to think deeply about the people it is for (your target audience). What are their demographics, psychographics, and why should they care about your training?
Your training is your product, whether you charge for it or it is part of an employee development program. Keeping your target audience in mind, you need to consider the name, packaging, and different uses of your training.
Make sure there is a well-defined benefit for the learner whether it is promotion opportunities, saving the company money, safety, etc. This will help keep you on task and give the learners a reason to pay attention.
Is your audience open to humor? If so, make sure you sprinkle it appropriately throughout your training to keep them awake. As an added benefit, according to ATD, “When people smile and laugh at work, it increases employee engagement, retention, and likability.”
The packaging of your training should give the learners confidence in the content. A clean and modern design can give your content laser focus and keep the learners’ interest. Have you come across a website that was designed just five years ago? How quickly did you lose confidence in the company that website was representing?
The price of taking your learning content can be money or time, this commitment needs to correlate with the benefit. Don’t make people sit through a 60-minute web-based training that offers them no perceived benefit. This falls into the “check-the-box” training category, and you don’t want to be that person. Instead, be concise and keep tying the learning opportunity to a real benefit.
The concept of place refers to the distribution channels of your training. Where will people take the training or access the learning content? This is a critical time to consider the learners’ education, skill level, and culture.
Is the classroom, mobile, or desktop the preferred method of consumption? Are they tech-savvy millennials who like using voice, visual, or location to search? Or are they already too tied to their phone and you need them to interact IRL (in real life)? Consider how you can enhance the delivery of training to spark their interest and really make a difference.
Having a really great promotion strategy could make the difference between a sub-par completion rate and an excellent one. Promotional tactics determine how you will tell people about your training. Possible venues are email, social media, website, or word-of-mouth promotion.
According to the LinkedIn Learning report, talent development only spends 15% of their time promoting employee engagement with learning and 65% of talent developers use email marketing to promote learning.
The reason why email marketing to promote learning works, is because email marketers spend a lot of time thinking about the perfect subject line, greeting, opening line, and call to action to get the most opens and clicks. Using email marketing best practices to promote your learning can get more people engaged with your content.
To really make an impact, use emotion in your promotional materials. People are bombarded with emails and advertisements and you need to make sure your message resonates with your users.
According to Adam Morgan, Adobe Creative Director “When locking in a memory, emotions are critical. In neuroscience, there’s another expression, ‘Neurons that fire together, wire together.’ In other words, the more activity you have in a certain pathway, the more it becomes plastic…the best way to earn and hold customer attention is with a unique idea that’s emotional.”
As a marketing professional, I am always thinking about the best way to grab the right people’s attention at the right time. Using these principles in training will help you develop training that makes a real impact with greater completion rates. Which of these tactics do you use or plan to use in the future?
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