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12 Experts Share Advice for Making an Impact

A new year is always so full of hope and opportunity. To help you make 2018 your best, most ROI-filled year yet, I asked fellow leaders in our industry from all over the United States and as far as the Czech Republic to provide their best tips.

Here’s the question I posed to them: What is your advice for our fellow TD professionals for how to add the most value to our employers or clients in 2018? What’s our biggest bang-for-the-buck opportunity to make a difference?

Here is what they said:

Sharon Wingron, Your PEOPLE Development Partner, Wings of Success 

“Engage in systems thinking. Go beyond the initial request to understand the root of the issue, then systemically consider the leverage points to address and resolve the challenge. Build a system for performance success that will affect your business.”

Bill Treasurer, president, Giant Leap Consulting and ATD Press author of Leaders Open Doors 

“The way to add value in 2018 is the way to always add value: Ensure a tight connection between the organization’s overarching strategic goals and the organization’s TD efforts. Understand what’s driving the goals, be clear on the critical metrics, and make design and TD channel choices with the goals in the forefront of your thinking.” 

Jo Cook, Director, Lightbulb Moment Limited 

“If you are delivering virtual classrooms or webinars, you need to ensure that you are planning in plenty of activities and experiences so that employees can practice the skills needed for work performance. This means understanding your face-to-face practice to deconstruct it and design appropriately for a different modality.”

Stephanie Gogul, learning and development lead at Outcome Health 

“Train managers to adopt the mindset of developing strengths rather than fixing weaknesses. Teach them how to have great conversations with their direct reports on what energizes them and makes them feel authentic and then help them get more of that in their day.” 

Shannon Tipton, owner, Learning Rebels

“Speak to the business in their language, not ours. Use business vocabulary. Identify business pain points and address those. (Too often we get all ‘teachy’ with the business; they don’t care. They want their business problem solved). Know what problem you are really trying to solve and understand the gap in performance. ‘We need a course in communication skills.’ Really? What is the real problem here? Conflict management? Business writing? Just be nicer to each other? What is the root issue?” 

Alison Torrillo French, managing director, Alto Solutions

“We are living in a world of constant overload. Managers are expected to be ‘on’ 24/7 and there is a fire-fighting mentality that permeates workplaces, which cannibalizes both strategic thinking and learning. It’s our job as TD professionals to help them step back and take that much-needed breath. This may be through helping them understand the neuroscience behind learning, giving them tools to increase mindfulness, or engaging their employees in training programs that enable them to shift their mindset.”


Debbie Richards, chief technology officer, Creative Interactive Ideas 

“Champion the use of digital collaboration platforms. Empower individuals, teams, clients, and friends. Promote learning communities within and outside the company. Share, communicate, and collaborate.”

Blanka Kutílková, HR consultant, freelance journalist
“I love this quote by Hector García, co-author of Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life: ‘I’ve become stronger at my daily job when it comes to saying “no” to things I know dislike and I’m not good at, and putting myself into situations where I’m doing things that I love and I’m good at.’ My advice is to help employers be more empathic toward employees and enable them to feel this way, too.”

Dawn Mahoney, CPLP, owner, Learning in the White Spaces  

“Choose not to kill creativity by even hinting, ‘we always do it this way.’ If content or methods haven’t had a shakeup in years—you’re late. Whole new things have become available in that time!” 

Sue Fody, instructional designer and graphic recorder, GOT IT! Learning Designs 

“I don’t think things change that much. Find the pain, need, gap, and design the solution in the most effective manner considering (among other things) the training audience and the environment. Is it best delivered in small doses (microlearning)? Is it needed just-in-time (video)? Is it a classroom experience with personal interactions? (I could go on). Training needs to be fun, effective, memorable, and applicable.”

John McDermott, CPLP, consultant, J-K International

“Our biggest way to add value in 2018 is to help employers or clients teach their employees to think. In particular, to analyze, curate, create, and synthesize.”

Lori Ann Roth, CPLP, president, Learning and...reflective growth Training and Coaching 

“Help educate, train, and coach employees and leaders in ethics and decision making. Civility is another huge issue that needs to be addressed in the workplace.”

Okay, I’ll add one, too, to make it a baker’s dozen.

Halelly Azulay, leadership development strategist, TalentGrow, author of Employee Development on a Shoestring, and host of the TalentGrow Show leadership podcast 

“Approach employee development as a strategic advantage: It’s not only the key to retaining and engaging high performers, it is a competitive advantage in today’s workplace given that learning and growing are the number one reasons people decide whether they’ll stick around or leave. Also, think outside the box and outside the classroom when considering employee development. There’s a universe of options when it comes to structuring development strategically and intentionally.”

So there you have it: Thirteen suggestions to consider as you plan for a great 2018. Which is your favorite tip from these? Or what tip would you add? Please comment below with your ideas, reactions, questions, or suggestions. Let’s get a great conversation going and make it truly our best year ever! 

© 2017 ATD, Alexandria, VA. All rights reserved.

About the Author
Halelly Azulay is an author, speaker, facilitator, and leadership development strategist and an expert in leadership, communication skills, and emotional intelligence. She is the author of two books, Employee Development on a Shoestring (ATD Press) and Strength to Strength: How Working from Your Strengths Can Help You Lead a More Fulfilling Life. Her books, workshops and retreats build on her 20+ years of professional experience in communication and leadership development in corporate, government, nonprofit and academic organizations.

Halelly is the president of TalentGrow LLC, a consulting company she founded in 2006 to develop leaders and teams, especially for enterprises experiencing explosive growth or expansion. TalentGrow specializes in people leadership skills, which include communication skills, teambuilding, coaching, and emotional intelligence. TalentGrow works with all organizational levels, including C-level leaders, frontline managers, and individual contributors.

Halelly is a sought after speaker at conferences and meetings and is a contributing author to numerous books, articles and blogs. She was described as a “ Leadership Development Guru” by TD Magazine. Halelly blogs at, publishes a leadership podcast at, and has a popular free weekly subscription newsletter – sign up at
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