T+D JULY 11 // Intelligence //

Just Measure: Show Learning’s Impact Today

By Ann Pace

Learning professionals stuck in their pursuit of the ideal evaluation metrics would be wise to forego perfection and just measure.

Proving the business value of learning is an ongoing mission for every learning and performance professional. A recent whitepaper by KnowledgeAdvisors suggests that the sooner one can measure learning’s impact, the better. And effective measurement doesn’t necessarily require sophisticated metrics.

“Emerging Challenges in Learning: Proving the Business Value” offers nine strategies that can enable the learning function to better sell its value and
gain executive support. Strategies include linking learning to shareholder value, continuously optimizing performance, and tracking and reporting actionable metrics.

“There’s something to be said for even a small investment in measurement and the significant impact a learning organization can have,” says Jeffrey Berk, chief operating officer for KnowledgeAdvisors. “When you can provide quantitative data, you send a message to the business, stakeholders, and senior level that the learning function has governance, exhibits stewardship, and is making data-driven decisions.”

Another suggested strategy, showing the business impact, is—according to Berk—the most important of the nine. “At the end of the day, if any line of business doesn’t have a sense of how it’s helping the business to meet its goals, there’s no value to it.”


Learning organizations that manage their measurement proactively are a step ahead of the rest in terms of proving their business value. Many learning professionals put measurement on hold until they get around to creating a savvy system of technical metrics. “You can wait a year to get perfect data, or you can take roughly reasonable data on training’s impact along the way and show it to senior leaders immediately,” Berk explains. He emphasizes the importance of metrics that speak to the business’s bottom line, such as productivity data, rather than numbers that capture training completion or satisfaction.

When measuring and reporting informal learning, the report recommends quickly measuring learning’s impact at the point of access, via a poll on the virtual knowledge sharing site, and thereafter formally measuring a sample of the population periodically.

While it is critical that learning organizations begin measuring today, it is also important to build processes and a culture that supports measurement over time. The report notes that high-performing organizations exhibit measurement maturity and sustainability driven by several key learning and development contributions including leadership; defined roles; appropriate skills; defined processes; standards and tools; technology and automation; data utilization that is actionable; and a culture that supports learning and views measurement as critical to success.

Additionally, KnowledgeAdvisors suggests leveraging talent management resources by aligning the silos—recruiting, learning and development, talent, leadership, engagement, and performance management. “There should be metrics for each of these areas, and they should be shared between each of the groups,” Berk says. “The ability to collect talent data and centralize and share it will be the key to creating high-performing workforces that drive business outcomes.”


Certainly Not Half Baked: A True Community College and Business Partnership

By Patricia Claghorn

Gloucester Community College in New Jersey partners with a local bakery to create mutually beneficial training and development opportunities.

What is the magic formula for creating a college-to-business partnership? Do these relationships flourish because of innovative higher education institutions that are eager to serve, or is it the visionary human resource executives who take the lead and make it happen? Perhaps the cause for partnership success is far more practical—both partners have critical pieces of the puzzle to contribute and need each other to make a meaningful difference in developing the knowledge and skills of the workforce.

Since 2006, LaBrea Bakery, one of the largest and most renowned bakeries of artisian breads in the United States, has partnered its Swedesboro, New Jersey, location with local Gloucester County College (GCC) to provide its employees with a full spectrum of employee training services.

Initially, like many other employer-community college partnerships, the LaBrea Bakery–GCC relationship began when GCC provided grant writing assistance to access state training dollars through the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development. LaBrea was awarded a grant for $334,100 which provided training to 145 employees on a wide variety of skills ranging from English as a second language and Microsoft Office skills, to machinery production maintenance training. And that was only the beginning. Since that time, LaBrea and GCC have not only collaborated on another successful grant application, but they have also worked together to develop new programming.

Sally Switzer, human resource manager at LaBrea’s Swedesboro location, is a business advisor for GCC and has contributed her knowledge of employee training in the food industry and the critical needs of her employee base at LaBrea to assist with designing food manufacturing training courses. This cooperation created a new business training focus for the college, which has already provided more than 7,000 units of training to employers in courses such as food supply and bioterrorism, hazard analysis and critical control point certification, allergen awareness, and many more. Built on these stand-and-deliver courses, 22 new computer-based modules are now available in three languages.

The GCC-LaBrea relationship continues to grow because of mutual respect and need. Community colleges are often privy to resources of which most employers might not be aware. Switzer notes, “It is a misconception that there is no money out there for training. There is, and much of it is not being used because nobody knows about it.” Switzer has taken advantage of other grant-funded training programs through GCC like Microsoft Excel courses, provided to 42 of her employees in May.

Colleges need businesses to serve as working advisors so that curriculum has relevance and value for their organizational goals and employees’ knowledge and skills. While there is no magic formula, this kind of partnership takes work to ensure that the relationship continues to flourish and grow and is beneficial for everyone involved.


The Performance Management Dilemma

By Ann Pace

In the country that boasts the fastest growing global economy, female talent may be its greatest untapped asset.

A recent Institute for Corporate Productivity study finds that two-thirds of surveyed organizations have inefficient performance management (PM) processes in place. Although high-performing organizations’ PM processes are more efficient than low performers’ by almost a two-to-one margin (42 percent versus approximately 23 percent, respectively), i4cp’s “Performance Management Playbook: Tools and Techniques for Managing Performance” indicates that even high performers face their share of performance management challenges.

“Everyone seems to be in the same boat and has been for years,” says David Wentworth, senior research analyst at i4cp. “Integration adds layers to it—as we try to develop better performance management analytics, the process gets more complex. Part of the problem has to do with perception: We’re trying to assign numbers to people. Employees often perceive the process as burdensome and complex.”

The playbook provides practical solutions to counter such employee perceptions and highlights five additional common PM challenges and possible solutions. It defines performance management as “the management of individual employee performance rather than overall organizational performance.” The PM process includes the performance appraisal, coaching, feedback, and development opportunities.

According to the study, “the overarching theme in embarking on performance management should be to ‘keep it simple.’” Performance management professionals should ask themselves, “Why are we doing this?” and then design PM processes to meet that driving goal.

One challenge that organizations face is convincing leadership that performance management is integral to the organization’s overall business strategy. Learning and performance professionals are well-acquainted with the need to prove their function’s business value. According to the report, “If concepts such as individual, leadership, and high-potential development are important to an organization, then so is performance management. The same goes for learning, succession management, compensation, engagement, and recruitment. If the performance management process is flawed, it will affect all of these other processes as well.”

Part of performance management’s success may lie in effective training. The study finds that when it comes to training managers in PM processes, there’s a large disparity between the amount of time high-performing companies spend on training compared to their low-performing counterparts. For example, 46 percent of high-performing organizations said that to a high or very high extent they provide training on developing goals; 45 percent on giving or receiving feedback; and 44 percent on conducting a performance appraisal, compared to approximately 28 percent, 21 percent, and 22 percent, respectively, of low-performing organizations.


Coaching/Mentoring Used to Close Workplace Generation Gap

Nearly 75 percent of organizations experience conflict between members of different generations, according to a recent poll by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). However, more than half of organizations are actively working to reduce that conflict and are using coaching and mentoring to do it. The survey was based on 400 randomly selected SHRM members.

The poll reported that 56 percent of respondents were actively working to address generational issues, and the most common tools were coaching and mentoring for managers, (61 percent); 44 percent said that they had implemented or increased coaching for nonmanagers. Nearly 40 percent increased training on job expectations for new hires.

In 2012, five generations will be present in the workplace, so results from the SHRM poll “Intergenerational Conflict in the Workplace,” represent a significant trend.

As for the extent of the intergenerational conflict in the workplace, 44 percent said it existed “to a slight degree” in their organizations, 25 percent said “to some degree” and 3 percent said “to a large degree.” But nearly 25 percent felt that conflict between the generations was not a factor in their organizations. Small to midsize organizations with fewer than 500 employees reported fewer issues with employee generational differences.

The top concerns managers had about younger workers included inappropriate dress and poor work ethic. More than 33 percent mentioned informality, the need for supervision and lack of respect as other concerns. On the other hand, the top concerns that younger workers had about managers included resistance to change (47 percent), lack of recognition, and micromanagement.


Career Planning: There’s an App for That

By Marissa Garff

A new app launched by SHLPreVisor helps job seekers play to their strengths when searching for the next step in their career journey.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the total number of job openings in January was 2.8 million, with unemployed workers topping 13.9 million. Let me save you the math headache: This means that for four out of every five workers in the job market today, there are few jobs to be had.

With statistics like that, everyone needs an edge. Understanding your own value, knowing how to market yourself, and acing an interview are skills that have never been more important. It is with this knowledge that talent assessment solutions provider SHLPreVisor has developed the iPQ Career Planner app.

Of the new app, Robert Morgan, chief marketing officer at SHLPreVisor said, “The launch of iPQ Career Planner emphasizes our continued commitment to innovation, harnessing the talents of our global team to identify trends, leveraging new technology, and helping to shape the way the corporate world can utilize people intelligence to make better talent management decisions.”

The free app, available on iTunes, is designed to be a compact career planner for recent college graduates, those seeking a new job, or those looking to change careers. The 52-question assessment simply asks job seekers to rank a set of statements that describe them “most” or “least,” based on “how you like to work and your behavioral style.” The assessment focuses on how you approach a job or task, rather than your competency level or ability to perform that job.

After completing the assessment, you can decide whether or not to pay 99 cents to purchase the results, captured in a personalized development assessment report. The report covers three main areas, identifying the three key strengths that will help you get a job, a list of jobs you are most likely to enjoy, and areas of potential personal development.

The assessment report provides career suggestions based on a wide variety of competencies, suggested careers that play to specific strengths, and a “hot words to mention at an interview” feature. “The report stops short of specifying a particular job, and instead concentrates on broad job families and example roles,” SHLPreVisor explains in the iPQ Career Planner Report User Guide. Think of the assessment’s report as a personality test for your career—it will tell you a few things you already know, give insight into some things you might not know, and help you play to your strengths as you move forward.

According to SHLPreVisor, the results of the iPQ Career Planner report will enable users to create more compelling cover letters and customized résumés and prepare them to give accurate—rather than cliché or general responses—to typical interview questions. The app, when combined with other professional and career development considerations, is a viable tool for any job hunter to consider on his journey.


Collaborative and Social Tools Increase Employee Interruptions

Collaboration and social tools designed to increase productivity are actually costing businesses millions of dollars per year in lost productivity, according to a survey of more than 500 U.S. employees conducted by online market research firm uSamp (United Sample) and commissioned by social email software provider harmon.ie. Nearly 60 percent of work interruptions involve email, social networks, text and instant messaging, or switching windows between applications. According to the report, 45 percent of employees work just 15 minutes (or less) before getting interrupted.