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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