ATD2019 conference daily

Reporter's Notebook: Summaries of Sunday ATD 2019 Sessions

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Debate Fairly: Improve Team Meetings With These Skills

Think about your last team meeting—one where you needed to reach a decision about a high-profile issue, perhaps about a new product implementation. Was that meeting fruitful?

During the interactive session “Building Better Ideas: The Value of Constructive Debate,” B. Kim Barnes, CEO at Barnes & Conti Associates, invited attendees to talk about what gets in the way of constructive debate during meetings. Some examples include organizational politics, personal history dynamics, individuals’ tenure, and one person who dominates the conversation.

Several attendees also spoke about the real work that’s accomplished in the “meeting after a meeting.” Another addressed the “ghost meeting,” one to work out details in preparation for the main meeting.

Further, participants noted that group behavior that prevents constructive debate includes attacking one other another, blaming, leaders speaking first and everyone else falling in line, and failing to develop a solid plan of what happens after the meeting.

To help future meetings, here are some constructive debate skills: When you’re expressing ideas, make suggestions and provide examples. Engage others by asking for ideas and feedback, and listen actively. Team members can challenge positions by arguing a point—but make sure it’s based on rationality and not emotion.

Can We Talk? How Sales Enablement Pros Can Excel With the C-Suite

Seems wherever you turn in talent development, practitioners are talking about how to gain a seat at the C-suite table or how to use data to prove impact. Sometimes they’re talking about both.

Such was the case at Sunday’s lunch & learn “Sales Enablement as the Indispensable Business Partner: Using Data and Wins to Secure a Seat at the Table,” sponsored by Highspot.

Participants included Kendall Michaud, manager for growth enablement at Highspot; Brian Hance, senior director with Erickson Living; April Pack, director of sales capabilities at Mars Demand College; and Mark Crofton, global vice president, SAP. Dayna Williams, vice president of training solutions at Caliper, served as moderator.

For sales enablement professionals wanting to get a leader’s ear, Michaud suggested “thinking of the C-suite as a customer.” What are its business expectations; be an advocate for the C-suite. Pack suggested thinking about the question, “What are their needs” relative to leaders. And this includes their personal motivators: Are they an influencer? Are they trying to move up in the organization?

Hance recommended having frequent check-ins with leaders. The business climate is constantly changing, so he advised to ask questions and have those conversations. And Crofton weighed in that data are fine, but “What’s the ‘so what’?” Understand what the data says and why it matters, such as, “These are the three things that are affecting your business.”


Don’t Call Me a Trainer; “I’m Performance”

Is your learning strategy extraordinary? Attendees of “Drive Employee Engagement Through the Roof With an Extraordinary Learning Strategy” were invited to talk among themselves as to what an extraordinary learning strategy looks like. One person commented, “It’s one that works.” Another said it means buy-in across the business. And a third said it’s about data and analytics.

An extraordinary learning strategy, according to Deadra Welcome, the session leader from Concerning Learning, is “a comprehensive plan that’s driven by the business and led by a highly skilled talent development team who maximizes organizational learning opportunities for increased performance.”

Despite the Sunday afternoon session taking place in the Government Pavilion, the topic obviously hit a pain point, because the room was at capacity, with many attendees from fields outside government. Participants nodded and murmured as Welcome walked through some talent development challenges: lack of resources, a focus on training, and no demonstrated value add. Welcome mentioned her lack of a budget for nearly every year she was in government, “grinding in the government.”

Why is an extraordinary learning strategy important? Because it has linkages, first to a healthy culture—one that is self-directed, where employees learn for a purpose, and where that revolves around the business. A healthy learning culture leads to improved employee engagement; in turn, the organization becomes more high performing.

Speak Up!

Getting people to speak up at work is often a challenge. Employees may not feel comfortable challenging authority or not know how to effectively present an argument. In “Unlocking the Best-Kept Secrets in Your Organization,” Arjen Booy and Julie Brennan of proposed five tools to effectively persuade your audience on your points.

One is using modes of persuasion (such as ethos, pathos, and logos). Use the “why” funnel and consider why your point is relevant to the larger group via a domino effect. It’s most effective to start from the top, looping everyone in on why it’s important to the company and then diving into the weeds. Initial buy-in is easy to overlook.

You must also have a strong presence that includes your confidence, enthusiasm, and comfort level with the basis of your argument. The problem, solution, and impact of your proposed changes must be clear. Consider the seriousness of the issue, the solution’s application and features, and the feasibility in implementation.


Last, make SExI arguments—statement, explain, illustrate. People are naturally driven to make shotgun arguments, stating the first points that come to mind without expanding on them. To practice, attendees had to list, in 30 seconds, all positive attributes they could think of regarding a burnt dinner and insomnia.

A Review of Healthcare Troublespots

There are many unique talent challenges in the healthcare industry. In “Lunch & Learn: Talent Management in Healthcare for the 21st Century,” the panel discussed an array of topics. One of the strongest points was that the industry must shift its training from compliance-focused to competency-oriented. Competency should be clearly stated in a company’s mission, vision, and values, as opposed to running through a list of questions to simply check boxes.

Another trouble spot for the field is retention. There has always been a skill shortage in healthcare, but it stretches beyond the professional landscape. The field also lacks qualified and interested professors, thereby decreasing the ability to train students into the industry.

Yon Sugiharto, Yale Medicine, suggests that after about two years, if you see a qualified worker at your company who isn’t a perfect fit, start a conversation with the individual about his future and perhaps propose that the person move to a company that you may have acquired. The panel also discussed creating appropriate roles to reengage employees, as well as considering self-care.

Mike Tripp, MercyCare Advantage, suggested reminding employees that they don’t come to work to do the same thing repeatedly. There must be something to keep them engaged. For example, Christine Corning, Cornerstone OnDemand, stated that Cornerstone dedicates 5 percent of each workday to individualized learning on whatever employees wish to pursue, regardless of whether it’s work-related.

Flip The Script

The concept of flipped learning isn’t new, but it hasn’t become as prominent in the L&D field as it probably should. Jon Bergmann’s opening point in “The Most Innovative Ways Trainers Use Face-to-Face Time” was about how classrooms haven’t changed over time and that they all look the same. Enter flipped learning, which proposes that learning is most effective when it occurs outside of the classroom and with face-to-face sessions that are hands-on and active.

Recently, 100 people from 49 countries developed a list of 187 key concepts related to how learning should take place—they even created a periodic table. One effective way to flip learning is to let students study at home in small, geographically diverse cohorts and report back to the classroom for formal training. That’s precisely what Cathy Mongeau has implemented at AbbVie. These sessions can also be trainer-led, but it’s essential to ensure that the experience is interactive and collaborative.

In these efforts, organizations often are confronted with learners who have different preferences and abilities for learning—not to mention the technological divide around the world. With that, Patty Evans of Yardi Systems noted that multimodality is vital. Although producing the same content across multiple platforms can often be a wasted effort, it is particularly valuable for remote learning. In fact, these self-paced modules can often replace PowerPoint, since they are more interactive and can test learners’ retention and engagement.

About the Author

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.

Be the first to comment
Sign In to Post a Comment
Sorry! Something went wrong on our end. Please try again later.