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Case Study: Volunteering as an Employee Development Approach

March 13, 2012 09:26 by Halelly Azulay


Guest post by Halelly Azulay, Talentgrow

Volunteering involves providing your knowledge, skills, and abilities, as well as your time and energy, without establishing an employment relationship and usually without any monetary compensation. Employees who take on volunteer roles are able to build new skills and practice existing skills in a different setting from their day-to-day job. They can try something that is different from their usual work and bring back those skills, thereby adding value to their employer by improving their current job performance. They may even enhance the succession management efforts of their employer because they become ready to move into positions of greater responsibility faster and more effectively than they would had they not taken on the volunteer role. The best part about this employee development strategy is it doesn't cost the organization nearly as much as sending the employee to costly training workshops or hiring a coach. In fact, it often costs the organization nothing.

In my ASTD Press book, Employee Development on a Shoestring, I describe 11 different ways to develop employees outside the classroom, including a chapter on Volunteering as an employee development method. In it, I define how volunteering can serve as an employee development method and explain who should try it, how it benefits learners and the organization, the competencies it can develop, and how it works. I also give tips for establishing volunteering as one of your approaches to employee development and conclude with a case study that depicts the success PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) enjoyed as a result of offering this type of development method.

Volunteering as Employee Development: PwC’s Project Belize

The case study describes how 200 PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) volunteers—partners, staff, and interns from across the United States—traveled to Belize City, Belize, in the Summer of 2011 as part of Project Belize, an initiative that builds on a three-year relationship with schools in Belize City, and is primarily focused on financial literacy and environmental sustainability. The PwC team connected with more than 1,200 students in 10 schools in some of Belize’s poorest areas and focused on hosting a youth financial literacy camp, leading a scholar's mentoring program for current and former Belizean students, providing financial and technology training to teachers, and building “Learning Landscape” playgrounds using repurposed materials.

According to PwC participant Justin Suissa, “the experience [building learning landscape playgrounds] was valuable on so many levels.” Justin was out of his element—construction is not where his expertise lies—and had a tight deadline and clearly defined “deliverables,” but many pitfalls and unexpected obstacles to overcome. Having to pull together as a team to build six playgrounds for the children through pouring rain and intense heat and humidity in five days was a challenge that developed his leadership and team-building skills. Justin developed his flexibility and agility competencies to figure out new technical skills in an unpredictable environment. “While I did not expect it, it was like a learning playground for us, the volunteers. With high stakes and a tough deadline, my teammates and I had to solve problems creatively and let go of pre-established hierarchies in this new environment.”

For another volunteering employee, Jack Teuber, this experience meant a change in his environment and operational mode—from an unconsciously competent managing director leading a team to a novice middle school teacher in a foreign country, working with children and with a totally new and mixed team of associates and interns. Jack understood that his challenge was “to get out of people’s way and encourage them to grow, solve problems, and develop their leadership skills.” He developed his ability to collaborate and support others’ success through coaching. Jack reflected that he and his teammates all needed to rise to the challenge based on “soft skills” in this new environment—building relationships, establishing empathy, communicating, and partnering. These skills are “extremely important back in the PwC environment because they help us serve our clients better and be better leaders and team players to our colleagues.” Finally, Jack gained tremendous partnering and networking benefits—“the team members still keep in touch after returning home and all of us have developed greater access to and understanding of other areas of the business, which serves to break down barriers, especially the hierarchical ones. Belize affected my self-awareness and has caused me to want to do this for my own team [at home].”

While this case study describes a large and generous company undertaking a big expenditure, the same principles can be applied and the same developmental benefits can be yours for absolutely no money. Volunteering can be done in your local community—no international flights needed. Volunteering can be conducted by individual employees joining other members of the wider community or as a team effort—sending a group of volunteers from the same organization on a volunteer mission. The learning that took place for those Belize Project volunteers could happen in your local neighborhood. I hope you give it a try!

Employee Development on a Shoestring has lots of additional tools, checklists, self-assessments and other supports to help you implement the various development methods, consider some of the objections you might encounter, and provide ways to overcome them. Catch my presentation at ASTD ICE on Tuesday, May 8, 2012, from 4:00 – 5:30 p.m. about this topic to get even more ideas!


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Categories: Books | Human Capital | Learning & Development | Learning Technologies

Employee Development: Outside the Classroom and Outside the Box

March 6, 2012 09:44 by Halelly Azulay

Guest post by Halelly Azulay, TalentGrow

All over the world, professionals like you are faced with a challenging task of helping employees grow and develop their knowledge, skills, and competencies in the face of shrinking budgets and timelines and ever-increasing pressures to ‘do more with less.’ Supervisors and employees desperately need alternatives and complements to the usual approach of employee development training or e-learning events, because formal learning is not enough. And so many of us are so overwhelmed with a growing workload that we simply don’t have the time or the requisite knowledge to come up with new, creative ideas for developing skills within the parameters that are presented to us.

Case Study: Toby’s Flexibility

Toby is a star performer on whom you can always rely. He is smart and decisive and has a strong sense of accountability. He has been getting feedback from peers, other stakeholders, and you about needing to respond in a more flexible and nimble way to unexpected information or quick changes in plans. He wants to develop his Flexibility competency and you concur—it will help him move to the next level of leadership readiness. But how?

Here is an example of three of the 11 development methods I’ve outlined in my book, Employee Development on a Shoestring (ASTD Press, 2012), centered on this one sample competency of Flexibility. I hope that it generates some good ideas on how to develop employees year-round, outside the classroom, outside ‘the box,’ and with a low budget.

Developing Flexibility Outside the Classroom

You need to help Toby develop a SMART (specific, measurable, aligned, results-oriented, and time-bound) goal and plot specific actions that will lead him to achieve this goal. Assuming that a training class or e-learning program on flexibility is either not an option or already covered, here are three ideas for development outside the classroom and ‘on a shoestring.’

Development Goal (SMART):
(Phrased in active, present tense voice)

Toby quickly adapts his behavior and work methods in response to new information, changing conditions, or unexpected obstacles. He adjusts rapidly to new situations warranting attention and resolution.

Development Activity 1: Self-Directed Learning*

Toby will read at least three books on change and flexibility and write a summary of the key lessons he can apply from each book.

1. Resources and Support Needed

a. Identify and purchase first book or loan from library.
b. Repeat for second and third books.
c. [Manager name] will be available to meet with Toby for each report for one hour.

2. Timeline and Deadlines:

a. Obtain first book by Friday of next week.
b. Complete reading first book and write report by the end of the month.
c. Discuss with [manager name] by first Friday of next month. 
d. Repeat for second and third book.
e. Complete all three books by end of second quarter.

3. Measures and Criteria for Success:

a. Toby has read and reported on at least three books about change and flexibility by the end of second quarter.

Development Activity 2: Special Teams**

Toby will join an action-learning taskforce where he will take on a more observant, quiet role during problem solving and project planning meetings to allow and understand multiple views and perspectives for each problem. He will also personally write down three alternative explanations to each idea or judgment that he thinks of before articulating his opinion in meetings.

1. Resources and Support Needed:

a. Journal or record-keeping notebook or electronic document for insights and generating alternatives.
b. Inform team members about this challenge and develop a special hand signal they could give him when Toby becomes active when multiple other views have not yet been expressed.

2. Timeline and Deadlines:

a. Begin immediately and conduct this behavior during every team meeting where a deliberation of a problem and possible solutions occurs.
b. Journal as soon as possible after a meeting to reflect and capture insights and lessons learned.
c. Check in with [manager name] to report progress and insights once every two weeks for the first two months, less frequently after (based on mutual agreement at that time).

3. Measures and Criteria for Success:

a. Toby will have regular journal records of attempts showing increasingly more observant and less active behavior during deliberations.
b. By the end of second quarter, Toby will have 85% success rate of withholding his ideas and comments from deliberations until at least ¾ of those present have actively participated with their ideas, as reported by   him in his reflection journals.

Development Activity 3: Job Rotation Assignment 

Toby will complete a job rotation assignment in a department/location that is known to be under a lot of stress and pressure to gain a new perspective on organizational issues and develop new ways of working, especially in a challenging environment. He will keep a journal of his challenges and insights and debrief his manager afterward to identify what was most challenging or difficult for him and how he could handle those aspects more effectively.

1. Resources and Support Needed:

a. Identify location for job rotation.
b. Correspond with rotation manager and ensure availability of rotation assignment.
c. Determine a succession plan for Toby’s current role for the duration of the rotation.
d. Communicate plan to staff and management and gain their support.

2. Timeline and Deadlines:

a. List 5–8 possible assignment ideas by end of month.
b. Finalize the target assignment location by end of second quarter.
c. Identify succession plan by end of second quarter.
d. Communicate plan to staff and management by mid-July.
e. Begin rotation by end of August.
f. End rotation by the next January.
g. Conduct a debrief discussion within two weeks from return to current role.

3. Measures and Criteria for Success:

a. Toby will have successfully planned for and completed a six-month rotational assignment with a focus on developing flexibility under pressure and new perspectives for organizational issues by year’s end.

Toby should be able to demonstrate a substantial improvement in his ability to respond flexibly to changes and new situations as a result of this plan. Then, you can begin to focus on a new development goal. Maybe Toby will be ready for that promotion you’ve been considering for him?

Employee Development on a Shoestring has lots of additional tools, checklists, self-assessments and other supports to help you implement the various development methods, consider some of the objections you might encounter, and provide ways to overcome them. Catch my presentation at ASTD ICE on Tuesday, May 8, 2012, from 4:00 – 5:30 p.m. about this topic to get even more ideas!

What unique employee development methods, which didn’t require any official ‘training’ events or lots of resources, have you tried? Please share your ideas, experiences, and questions in the comments, below!

Source: Employee Development on a Shoestring by Halelly Azulay (ASTD Press, 2012).
* Self-directed learning is covered in Chapter 2 of Employee Development on a Shoestring
** Special Teams are covered in Chapter 7 of Employee Development on a Shoestring
*** Job Rotation is covered in Chapter 6 of Employee Development on a Shoestring

Credit: Photo by Hamed Saber via Flickr Creative Commons


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Categories: Books | Human Capital | Learning & Development | Learning Technologies

5 Ways to Develop Employees Without Spending a Dime

February 29, 2012 08:59 by Halelly Azulay

You’re busy, busy, busy. So is your staff. There are skills and competencies that they need (or want) to develop, but you don’t have the budget to send them off to some three-day training seminar. Or maybe that’s not even an option for the content or experience you’re looking to develop. Or you’ve been there, done that. What to do?! Relax! There are actually lots of things you could do, right now, to develop your employees. And many of them won’t cost you a dime. Here are five ideas to get you started:

  1. Let them fly solo. By reading books or blogs, listening to podcasts or audio books, watching educational videos on TED or YouTube, or apprenticing and trying to practice a new skill with a master or a role model, employees can use self-directed learning anytime and almost anywhere. Libraries, online resources, and other employees are all examples of freely available resources that are all around us. Let your employees assess their learning readiness and learning style, and choose some self-directed development goals to achieve.
  2. Encourage volunteering. Employees who take on volunteer roles are able to build new skills and practice existing skills in a different setting from their day-to-day jobs. They can try something that is different from their usual work and bring back those skills to their current job, thereby adding value by improving their current job performance. Volunteering usually takes place on employees’ own time and doesn’t require anything but your moral support.
  3. Facilitate mentoring. Whether acting in the role of the mentor or the protégé, participating in a mutually-beneficial mentoring relationship (within or outside your organization) allows employees to develop a variety of new knowledge and skills and takes no resources (except a little bit of time). Employees can learn tricks of the trade and technical information as well as develop ‘softer’ competencies such as leadership, networking and partnering, coaching and listening skills.
  4. Give time for creativity. Allow employees to work on something that doesn’t fall within the parameters of their day-to-day job for a specific amount of time—a dedicated “Innovation/Creativity Zone.” During this time, employees can chase down an idea, do an experiment, or conduct research. The only requirement is that the employees report back what they have accomplished during that dedicated chunk of time away from work. Companies like Google, Facebook, Atlassian, 3M and Twitter, among many others, have used this method to not only allow employees to develop their own creativity and problem-solving skills in a hands-on way, but to realize organizational benefits in the form of new solutions and products.
  5. Promote social networking. Employees can collaborate with others using various online tools to share knowledge, build relationships, and interact with content and with other members of the online community. Also known as Learning 2.0 or Enterprise 2.0, these tools allow learners to learn independently, more quickly, and more efficiently, and to be more productive and effective as a result. Most of the content in these systems is user generated and user rated for interest, relevance, and helpfulness. There are lots of externally available social networking platforms we all use and love like LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube, as well as firewall-protected enterprise network solutions like Jive, Microsoft SharePoint, and Yammer.

Additional Resources:
In my forthcoming book, Employee Development on a Shoestring (ASTD Press, 2012), I describe these and six other creative employee development methods that help you keep your budget and time investment to a minimum. Dan Pink describes the Creativity Zone idea in his 2010 book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Excellent resources on Learning 2.0 ideas and tips are Tony Bingham and Marcia Conner’s The New Social Learning: A Guide to Transforming Organizations Through Social Media (2010), Jeanne Meister and Karie Willyerd’s The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop, and Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today (2010), and Jane Bozarth’s Social Media for Trainers: Techniques for Enhancing and Extending Learning (2010).
What are ways you’ve developed your employees’ knowledge and skills without spending an arm and a leg? I’d love to hear your ideas, stories, and questions in the blog comments below!

*Photo by Alan Cleaver via Flickr Creative Commons

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Categories: Books | Human Capital | Learning & Development | Learning Technologies

Five Steps to Great Technical Training

September 19, 2011 11:00 by L&D Community

Contributed by Sarah Wakefield, Author of Technical Training Basics

Technical Training can be hard to create. Course developers are doubly challenged: they must complete all the regular challenges of writing and putting together courseware, but they must do it by using words and concepts they don’t fully understand. And this is just one obstacle they may face. Among other things, constant updates in product offerings and changes in best operational practices can leave them confused or frustrated. It is no wonder that many technical training projects fade into oblivion or never get finished on time.

However, not all hope is lost. Technical Training Basics explores strategies available to streamline technical training development. Some of these tactics include:

Create the right development team – Of course this involves selecting the subject matter expert (SME) that’s right for the job, but it also includes making sure that you as the developer also focus on a few things – namely, communication skills.

Start the project off right – Asking the right questions is important at the beginning of a technical project. Sometimes irrelevant technical content is included in a class because, well, no other content seems to exist. This doesn’t make it right, however. Technical Training Basics explores how to ask questions to your SME to lead you to relevant and valuable content and it also offers suggestions for internal and external sources of information.

Effectively work with your SME – Yes, we are returning to the communication theme again. Many of the strategies mentioned in the book are really targeted communication strategies. Learn about the different ways you can effectively work with your SME – everything from explaining project roles to preparing your SME for the pilot course.

Make your course interactive – Just because you have a highly technical topic doesn’t mean that you have to have a highly boring course. Like any good training design, technical course design should include exercises and activities to support your course objectives. Suggestions and ideas for exercises are included in the book.

Hang in there! – Technical training development is not for the faint of heart. Common challenges and solutions to technical training development are discussed in the book, and you will find that a lot of what makes you successful as a developer is your own ability to problem solve, communicate and persevere.

Technical training development is always going to have its challenges. But with a little focus and preparation, you can be successful in your projects and produce a valuable end product.

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Categories: Books | Learning & Development | T+D

ASTD 2011 Interview With The Change Book Authors

May 25, 2011 09:15 by jllorens

We spoke at the International Conference & Expo with Change Book authors Mary Stewart and Tricia Emerson. The two talked about culture, getting executives aligned with change initiatives, and why it's all about the research.

Q: Let’s first scratch the surface: Visually, The Change Book is a very unique business book. How do you feel this look and feel help to drive home your ideas and strategies?

Mary: One of the big principles that we explore in the book is taking the learner’s point of view. One way to think about that is that we’re talking to people like ourselves, but we are also talking to people with a variety of learning styles. And we asked ourselves, what would we want to read if we were reading a business book about change. There are different kinds of people with different perspectives, different cultures and styles of learning. How do we incorporate both of those things: What do we want from a reader's perspective?

So we thought about that and we came up with a couple of different things: First of all, we are busy. So we don’t have a lot of time. If I start to read a book that’s very linear in fashion and it's 300 pages long, I might not feel as though I've gotten what I should get until I’ve read the 300th page. So that might be an investment of time for me.

So we wanted a book that delivered content in small packages—each chapter is something you can literally open up, read (each chapter is probably 3 pages long), and then you can close the book, and you’ve gotten something from it. Another thing is, we know a lot about some things and not others. What we thought about with our book is that maybe we want people to go directly to the topic they want to learn about. We want people to go directly to the table of contents and say, 'For the questions I have, I want to look at this chapter or that chapter, and maybe that’s all I need for now.' And they can skip the ones that they feel they have a handle on already.

Tricia and I are both visual learners and so we didn’t want to rely too heavily on words. We wanted to layer the content. All people learn on different levels. Maybe some people are persuaded more by stories and metaphors. Some people (like us) are persuaded by visuals---if I can imagine the four quadrants of a model in my head, then I can remember it, and I can teach it. But if I have to read everything in a narrative form, sometimes it doesn’t stick as well.

So we tried to layer these things: words plus visuals, plus stories, plus metaphors, plus tools you can use. So maybe one of those ways appeals to you, and that’s what resonates with you. We also need the ability to transfer knowledge to others so that we have something we can take away, and a lot of words on a page doesn’t really facilitate that.

And finally, the last thing that we need at the end of a long day is something that’s grim and dry. So we try to make it kind of fun. If I’m reading a book about work, after work, I don’t want to feel like it’s more work! I want to feel engaged and have something that cheers me up. We wrote a book that we liked!

Tricia: I think that if something is fun, the ideas will resonate. We wanted to be not only playful, but deep, and based in research. The challenge was that people already know a lot about this topic, so we said, let’s challenge them by capturing those ideas in a way that is playful and fun, but meaty.

It would be easy to dismiss the book as a 'puff' piece because it is so visually pleasing. But because it is grounded in evidence, that was the fun part: Making the hard work seem fun. That’s what expertise is: Doing something really complicated and making it look easy.

Q: You insert a bit of Jungian theory in the book in terms of “archetypes.” What inspired you to connect these ideas in writing about culture change?

Tricia: As world-class 'nerds,' we’re always looking for research and seeing what comes out of the universities. There was work being done by a woman named Carol Pearson out of the University of Maryland. She latched onto her ideas as she was doing work with CAPT (formed by Isabel Myers who was administering her surveys from there). What I thought was compelling was that she was working with PR firms taking the research around stories and around Jungian archetypes and associating it with brand. The reason why archetypes are so important for change is that stories define who we are as people.

I can define myself as a caregiver, or jester, or a hero, and you’re going to know exactly what I mean. So it goes primarily to who I am as a person. Carol was saying that organizations have similar story lines. If I tell you that I work for Google, you’re going to make some assumptions about me. If I say that I work at Apple, you’ll say I’m a creative anarchist, and wear black t-shirts to work [laughs]. There are assumptions based on that brand. That's compelling because it attracts people whose personal stories resonate with the brand story. That’s how culture comes about.

So whenever you start to implement a new change, you have to be aware of the aggregate of all those individual stories and how that plays out from an organizational standpoint. People often come to me and say ‘I want to change our culture.’ And I’ll say first of all, 'Why?' And secondly, I get them to understand that they are changing the course of a river. So there has been 'water hitting those rocks' for many years, and the truth is that that organization was created by a lot of people gravitating  toward the story that it projects.

So If I am going to go there and change the culture, I’d better know what that story is, and if I’m going to work within that culture, I need to understand the overriding culture and the substories. And if I want to implement change, I'd better bring some dynamite, and I’d better build some dams. It’s better to work with the course of the river than to try to reroute it!

So I think it was a perfectly logical extension on the Jungiuan work into the culture arena. I think we in the profession need to be thinking very hard about that.

Q: Harnessing the right kind of people power is a huge part of change undertakings, so how can change leaders combat the dreaded competing silos in shaping their initiatives?

Mary: There’s a finding in sociology that people can be motivated by a superordinate goal. That means a goal that affects everyone, that is compelling and that is more important than the goal of one's own group. One thing we talk about is not shying away from the pain of the current state of an organization. In thinking about moving from state A to state B, organizations don’t like to use negative messages that say, 'things are going to be bad if we don’t change,' and they say instead, 'things will be a little better if we do change.’

We recommend that they do say those difficult things because that creates the difference between that terrible future we don’t want and the great future that we’re all moving toward. So that can create a really compelling sense of urgency in their organization so that they stop competing with each other and instead compete with 'the world' as a group.

Tricia: It’s base-level. You see what people call “the common enemy” … that’s an expression of the superordinate goal. Essentially, what we’re talking about is executive sponsorship. Leaders have to be aligned. Often,  the first thing we do in embarking on a large change is to put the executives in the same room together and have them come up with the four words that define what this change is about. This is basd in political science and political commnication. We get them on message. Because if they are not in agreement, it’s not going to happen. It has to happen at the very beginning; at the very top.

Often, what companies do in a change initiative is create communications (slides or memos) for their executives. But when you meet that executive in the hallway, they’re not on message. And it doesn’t come from the heart. People look to the senior executives during changes, and if they’re not talking about it, people are going to assume this is a flavor of the month, and they’re not going to pay attention. So the upfront conversation has to be about why the status quo is no longer acceptable.

Systems theory tells us that we don’t change until the current system no longer works for us. We have to be clear that the current system is broken. People don’t want to say that, but we’ve got to get executives on point with that. Second, we need to say 'this is what the vision looks like'---the 'shining city on the hill.' It has to be graphic. Then we show them the first steps. This is why we equip them with those four words.

Also, groups self-correct. There are unspoken rules that are created when people come together. This is the concept of emergent norms. This is also true of cultures---unspoken rules. People eventually come to understand what’s correct and what’s not. And they behave accordingly. When you pull the executives together and have them come up with these messages, the norms come out. This is all grounded in research.

It’s time for us to start employing these principles in trying to have an impact on our organizations. We tend to start with the learning solution, which is great because that’s how you sustain change. But it’s really about behavioral change first, and how you get the system to work to your benefit.

Q: In a sentence, what is one pearl of wisdom you’d like your readers to go forth with after reading The Change Book?

Tricia: HPI and change management is a field of discipline that requires study. People need to read more research!

Mary: Change is hard, but don’t be afraid of the negatve stuff because you can make it work to your advantage.

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ASTD Press releases new book that promises excellence in internal consulting!

March 10, 2011 15:13 by Tora Estep


“I don’t get no respect” could be a catchphrase for an internal consultant—but not anymore. A few days ago, ASTD Press published Consulting on the Inside, 2nd edition, and once internal consultants get their hands on this book and start applying its lessons, they will get respect in spades.

How are internal consultants different from externals? Well, let’s look at external consultants first. The external consultant—often perceived as having a lot of expertise, experience, and credibility—is brought in by senior executives to “facilitate a client-requested change without having the formal authority to implement the recommended actions.” He or she is often viewed as an objective outsider, someone who has a lot of broad business experience and knows all the latest and greatest business thinking. Often he or she is viewed as a hotshot who is trusted by the executive team to fix an organizational problem.  

Internals, however, sometimes seem to lack credibility and aren’t taken seriously. They can be viewed as having an agenda, as not being objective. Also, they lack the broad business exposure that external consultants gain as part of their everyday work. 

However, internal consultants do some advantages externals don’t have: They have deep knowledge of the organization—its culture, its lingo, its history, the ways things are done—which can give them an edge in getting projects off the ground because they know who to talk to and how to make things happen.

In Consulting on the Inside, 2nd edition, Beverly Scott and B. Kim Barnes provide all that an internal consultant could need to leverage their advantages and minimize their disadvantages. The book provides an eight-phase consulting model that allows for the often nonlinear and iterative nature of the internal consulting process.

One of the new additions to this second addition is a section devoted entirely to the interpersonal skills that are required for success in internal consulting (and in business in general). The skills that B. Kim Barnes brings her considerable experience and in-depth knowledge to include influence, negotiation, innovation, change, and team effectiveness.

And finally one the real values of the book are the tools provided both in the hard copy and on the web. These include meeting agendas, self-assessments, processes, models, flowcharts, and more.

So read the sample chapter at the Consulting on the Inside webpage, pick up a copy, and get some respect!


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What's coming up in ASTD Press books?

February 18, 2011 14:46 by Tora Estep

It's that time of year again. When we at the Press are scrambling to get books ready for the International Conference & Exposition, and somehow all of that content seems to run together into a big blur. So what I am working on that you can expect to see in Orlando?

First off, we've got the revised edition of Consulting on the Inside by Beverly Scott and B. Kim Barnes coming out in the beginning of March. In her endorsement, Elaine Biech says, "Expecting nothing but excellence from these two master consultants, I was not disappointed to see new models and valuable concepts intertwined with many of the practical tools such as sample contracts, agendas, team charters, and others from the first edition. Bev and Kim ensure your success from helping you define your internal consulting role, to overcoming the most common challenges, through ensuring successful implementation. They do this with the practical ease of consultants who really know their business. Consulting on the Inside sits obligingly on my bookshelf within easy reach at all times." In other words, this book is packed with tools and information; moreover, the authors have provided a wealth of web appendixes, which will be made available in a few weeks. I will be sure to post a blog when the webpage is up and running. 

Next is another revision. This time of ASTD Press's most popular book of all time: Telling Ain't Training. Authors Harold Stolovitch and Erica Keeps have revised and expanded this treasure while maintaining the relaxed voice and research-based content of the original. You can expect to see that one sometime in early May.

Rita Smith, vice president of enterprise learning for Ingersoll Rand, has written Strategic Learning Alignment, which provides a model that provides clear explanations of how executives in organizations speak and what they want, which will help leaders of learning organizations to communicate their value, get recognition, and make a difference. The book will be out in early May.

Last, but not least, I am working on a contributed volume called The Executive Guide to Integrated Talent Management. Edited by Pat Galagan and Kevin Oakes, the book features 17 chapters written by "gurus" and practitioners that will take you inside the concept and practice of integrated talent management. Topics covered include an overview of integrated talent management; recruiting; compensation and rewards; performance management; succession management; engagement and retention; leadership development; as well as section on pulling it all together. This book will also be available in May.

Of course, I am not the only person working on books at the Press. Ashley McDonald, who came on board only a few months ago, is working on a revision of ISD From the Ground Up by Chuck Hodell and 10 Steps to Successful Change Management by George Vukotich, both of which will be available at ASTD's International Conference and Exposition in May. And you show up to the conference, don't forget to stop by the store and say hi! I'll be there! Smile

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Categories: Celebrity Bloggers

Managing managers

February 11, 2011 15:31 by Tora Estep

IncMagazine just tweeted an article about how to manage managers that provides some guidelines for ensuring that the people you hire are helping you to grow your business. The article outlines these steps for managing managers:

  1. Set the vision: Make sure your managers know what they are managing toward.
  2. Document the details and communicate: Make sure managers have the details they need, both the hows (such as those found in an employee handbook) and the whys (such as would be communicated in the strategy). Meet regularly with them.
  3. Measure tasks. Alice Waagen, founder and president of Workforce Learning, provides some specific performance guidelines. (Alice Waagen has also written some Infolines for ASTD, including "Task Analysis," "Essentials for Evaluation," and "How to Budget Training."
  4. Manage behavior. The article notes that most employees quit because of bad managers and provides some guidelines for helping managers become better people managers.
  5. Finally, the best way to manage a manager is to coach him or her to fix his or her own problems, rather than fixing them yourself.

In the last couple of years, ASTD Press has published a variety of books with guidelines for becoming a better manager, including

To browse the ASTD Press collection of management titles, click here.

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McGraw-Hill buys life skills firm Starting Out

November 5, 2010 08:03 by jllorens

(From Bloomberg Businessweek) McGraw-Hill Cos., which publishes textbooks and owns the ratings agency Standard & Poor's, said Thursday it bought Starting Out Inc., which publishes life-skills learning and workplace readiness information for the education, work force and corrections markets.

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Get a free sample chapter from 10 Steps to Successful Time Management!

October 15, 2010 15:44 by Tora Estep

You can’t manage time. You can’t save time. No one has more or less time in an hour, a day, a week, or a year than anyone else. And yet, some people seem to manage to accomplish more with the time they have than others. Some people seem to be more satisfied with their lives and less stressed than others. What’s the secret?

Cyndi Maxey and Kevin E. O’Connor provide some answers in their new book 10 Steps to Successful Time Management. Right from the start they say “Our goal…is not to save you time. Rather, it is to save your life—the life you want to live while everything else is getting in your way.” The key to doing this is identifying what is important to you and learning to self-regulate your behavior so you can use your time well.

In 10 steps, Maxey and O’Connor outline some ideas, strategies, tools, and techniques for making the most of your time:

  • Step 1: Forget the Myth—Being Busy Isn’t Being Productive. You can sometimes compare a person who thinks of him- or herself as busy to a mouse running on a wheel. There’s a lot of activity going on, a lot of energy being expended, but the mouse isn’t actually getting anywhere. In this step, Maxey and O’Connor provide some reminders that enable you to get over your addiction to “busy-ness” and make your time and efforts count.
  • Step 2: Manage Your Energy; Manage Your Life. To get the most out of your time, you need to understand how to manage and focus your energy. The key to energy management is understanding your emotions.
  • Step 3: Be Useful and Stick to the Purpose. A lot of people get bogged down trying to make everything perfect. They lose sight of what the point was because they are so caught up in the details. Another way to look at your activities is to determine if they are useful and if they are aligned with what you want to achieve.
  • Step 4: Maintain Clarity and Move Forward. All of us turn to mindless default behaviors that feel good, but don’t get you anywhere. These are the things you do when you don’t feel like attacking that big important project yet, like cleaning out your email box, clearing off your desk, or surfing the web. This step provides guidance for how to get over that feeling of “I don’t wanna.”
  • Step 5: Manage to Your Advantage. This step gives tips and advice for managing tasks like email, writing, and meetings.
  • Step 6: Pay Attention to Your Key Contacts. Learning to focus on the key people who have the most influence in your life is the important lesson of this step.
  • Step 7: Connect and Get the Most From Your Time. Networking is one of the best things you can do with your time because achieving your goals is going to require help from others. This step highlights the importance of tending your network and learning to really connect with other people.
  • Step 8: Understand the Forces That Affect Your Use of Time and Energy. The term time management typically suggests that we are trying to save a few minutes here and there and save that time for other endeavors. Problem is, you can’t bank time. What you can do is evaluate what you are doing and how it relates to your overall goals. What does this moment mean in your life?
  • Step 9: Focus on What Is Significant. It’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day tasks and activities that seem to amass every time you look away for a minute. What’s not so easy is slowing down and paying attention to what really matters to you. This step provides a step-by-step technique for ensuring that your thoughts support your goals.
  • Step 10: Make Time Your Friend. The final step presents three qualities that will enable you to stay in control by aligning your use of time with your desires and goals.

Learn more about the book and get a free sample chapter here. To purchase the book, click here.




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