ATD Greater Twin Cities Monthly Newsletter: August 2021
Those who have a modern view of talent development.
Those who cultivate diverse networks of talent and learning professionals.
Those who know a vibrant and caring community when they see it.
And those who understand our incredible value of membership.
Before I came onto the board, I decided to host a Learning Lab – a hands-on, member-led workshop – based on the expertise I earned to that point in my career. The audience of 12 invested in their development while also giving back to our chapter. Participants were able to benefit from the training AND give back simultaneously because proceeds from Learning Labs are donated directly to the chapter.
For my part in the Learning Lab, I was able to demonstrate expertise I’m proud of and help move fulfilling careers forward for those attending. After all, knowledge is to be shared, which is our ethos as a board and broader organization, both.
Learning Labs were my first foray into ATD-GTC and epitomize our member-first focus. They helped me develop as a facilitator, further careers of those who participated, and fund our vibrant community.
And that’s my ATD-GTC story.
I know many of you (ATD-GTC chapter members) were able to attend, so in this follow-up article, I’m going to take a different approach and share a personal story of challenge and triumph. Because, as we all know, it’s one thing to learn about how to lead with relationship intelligence, it’s another thing to lead with relationship intelligence when relationships are challenging or when we are under pressure. So, here is my story.
A few weeks ago, I was knocking an item off my bucket list while learning how to ride a motorcycle. I passed the written test and driving test easily. It’s one thing to pass the test but it’s another to successfully execute the task itself. It’s like sitting through a class and everything makes sense, and when we return to work, we see if we can apply our learning in real life.
A few days after I received my motorcycle endorsement, it was time for the first ride! The family was going to Thai Spice, and I decided to ride while they drove. Suddenly, everything I learned and practiced had required real life execution that could result in real life consequences if something went wrong. Every crack in the road was meaningful, every car was making me nervous, and every road surface change required my attention. When I got home, I was ready to sell the bike! The classes did not prepare me to ride with confidence and competence! Intentionality to ride the motorcycle was not enough for me to gain competency.
The same metaphor holds true when we learn anything new. We try to apply our new learnings but revert to comfortable, more familiar habits during challenging situations.
More recently, on our 18th wedding anniversary my wife encouraged me to ride again. After a few life insurance jokes, she took me to the cycle shop to pick out a new helmet to start this adventure. That helmet made a world of difference, enabling me to ride with confidence and now I’m hooked. I was on the doorstep of quitting, and it came down to having the correct “tool” to help me engage and overcome the challenge.
Have you ever noticed how much we focus on what we care about? Have you ever noticed how intentional we are with what really matters to us? However, we need to realize that sometimes our intentionality isn’t enough. The intentionality needs to match our actions.
There’s a level of required self-awareness that is forced on us when we are riding a motorcycle, while trying to stay safe and keep others best interests in mind. When we are intentional about being present, we can find ourselves more open, compassionate, empathetic, intentional, and connected. We will also be more influential.
Member Spotlight: Successful Learning Comes When We Can Instill a Sense of Curiosity and Purpose
Q&A With ATD-GTC Member, Michelle Kelly
Our goal is to bring a short Q&A with an ATD-GTC member each month to help us get to know one another a little better. Anyone can participate and everyone is encouraged to be involved. Whether you're new to Talent Development, aspiring or seasoned, your opinions and perspectives are interesting and welcome.
If you would like to be interviewed for this short Q&A, please email Marketing[at]atd-gtc.org.
What is your favorite L&D philosophy?
I believe that, more than anything, successful learning comes when we can instill a sense of curiosity and purpose. It’s essential to understand your learner: What are their circumstances, their environment? What drives their interests and piques their curiosity? How can that feed the development of the learning solution? Does their work give them any sense of purpose? What would they like to learn? Why? What can we do to help them construct their own learning, even in a small way? How can we show them that this lesson or program benefits them? Anything we can discover about the learner helps us get their buy-in and lowers resistance to learning.
In short, put the learner first! When we come at L&D with that philosophy, regardless of the training program/method, we immediately prove our investment in their success.
My husband and I homeschooled our daughter throughout her life so we could shape a world of learning opportunities for her. We wanted her to love learning for its own sake. We wanted learning to be fun. And now she’s a 17-year-old who thinks for herself and enjoys the process of discovery. She asks questions and seeks out answers. She’s rarely bored. She’s the living example of my L&D philosophy!
So, knowing that about me, you may think my view of learner-centered training is a bit idealistic. But what are we without ideals? At work, I want my team to bring to every project their own ideals of what constitutes a fun and engaging learning experience. It’s not always easy: Some subjects are inherently more interesting than others. But interests do vary! And there’s always a way to flick at least a spark toward the learner… and hope they use it to light a bigger fire.
I know it’s possible because I’ve seen it time and again in the work of my team. Which brings me to another question and answer:
What is the most impactful and satisfying learning solution you’ve been involved in?
My company has many long-term client partnerships. They’ve stayed with us because the solutions we provide continue to make a discernible, real-world impact. Several of our bigger nationwide and international projects have revolved around training frontline workers whose development is often overlooked. We’ve constructed programs that have made their work lives more meaningful. Their relationships at work are better and ultimately that means their productivity is too. They put in the hard work, of course. And they and the organizations they work for are reaping the rewards.
Specifically, we work with one of the nation’s largest suppliers of construction products. They’ve been through a few incarnations since we started with them in 2008, but they continue to roll out the frontline leadership program we designed to every new group of leaders. It’s been so impactful that in 2019 they asked us to develop another program to take their frontline learners even deeper. So, we designed a 2.0 program that has been incorporated into their company-wide frontline leader training.
I continue to hear from this client that their employees are excited and energized to be learning even more new skills. This company’s commitment to providing their workers with engaging learning solutions is felt by those workers – and they respond with their own commitment.
Which leads me to the next question…
What would you like to see more of in L&D?
My answer to this question dovetails with my previous two answers; it’s all connected.
I’d like to see more commitment from the top down with companies who want training. Leaders who encourage development at every level show they’re invested in their employees. I realize we can’t control an organization’s attitude toward L&D. But we can influence it by providing high-quality deliverables time and time again!
I’d also like to see the L&D community commit to making our learning solutions across the board more enjoyable. We need to prove that training —whether it’s a two-hour virtual workshop or a year-long instructor-led program or one self-paced elearning course —doesn’t have to be drudgery for participants. We can do more to help learners enjoy the process, even when it’s something as potentially dry as a safety or code-of-conduct course!
Chief Enjoyment Officer
Empowering Performance, Inc. (EPI)
Entrepreneur. Strategic. Collaborative.
Michelle Kelly founded Empowering Performance, Inc. (EPI) in 2002 with an implicit understanding of what works to develop and retain an organization's most valuable asset – its people.
Michelle has more than 25 years of experience leading teams, developing engaging curriculum and learning experiences, accelerating adoption, motivating people, and having fun in the workplace (a key foundation of EPI).
When Michelle is not traveling to new places, you can find her in Northfield, MN where she lives on acreage with her husband, daughter, dog, and a lot of other critters.