The Way Most People Learn to Learn is Broken. How Do We Fix It?

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<aibworld.net

<aibworld.net>

…So I have been on a bit of a Dupress reading binge lately. Lots of great stuff. And to that point, this morning I read a great article on the site that told a compelling story about how the student of the future will obtain her post-high school education:

In two years, Laura developed foundational skills in critical thinking, communications, and ethics, among other areas, and sharpened her quantitative skills, earning her a competency-based degree. She then studied independently through massive open online courses (MOOCs), participated in a 12-week immersive boot camp, completed a university architectural certificate, and worked as an intern for a design firm. She did all this while attending frequent networking meet-ups to explore and pursue full-time job opportunities and spending most of her free time in a design studio where she interacted with peers and mentors.

You can read the full story (and larger article) here, but in short the authors suggests that students of the future will develop the skills and competencies they need to succeed in their chosen profession through a combination of independent learning, networking, on the job training, and partnerships with traditional education institutions. In essence, the authors suggest that the learning model of the future will stand in sharp contrast to the one most students experience today.

There is some wisdom to this idea. According to the piece, the average 4-year residential degree program costs $30,000 per year, and at the current cost trajectory this rate will rise to $62,000 annually by 2025. Furthermore, the majority of learning one needs to succeed in one’s chosen profession is taking place informally in the workplace, not the classroom. This suggests what most professionals already know: The majority of college degrees aren’t giving students the skills they need to succeed in the workplace.

…But yet the fact remains that college remains the right way to go for most. Check out the below Bureau of Labor Statistics chart contrasting median weekly earnings and unemployment rates by educational attainment:

<www.bls.gov

<www.bls.gov>

At the end of the day, the ROIC is there for going to college. And despite escalating costs, a college degree is if nothing else an excellent screening tool for base competencies that employers value. And good programs also help students develop technical skills that shorten their on-the-job learning curves.

…So we know that college itself is a good idea, but that the system – from both dollars and cents and practical skills/preparedness perspectives – is broken. It’s gotten bad enough that employers aren’t even hiring new grads anymore. Despite improving employment numbers, over a third of recent college grads are now underemployed (an escalating number from 08′), and even a majority of senior administrators at colleges seem to realize that there’s a problem.

…This brings me back to the new learning model advocated for by Dupress. One that marries independent learning and on-the-job-training with traditional education programs. It’s a wonderful idea… but my concern is that I don’t think most people develop the skills to effectively manage unstructured learning. For most working professionals, coming in at the end of a long day at work and continuing one’s education requires a level of discipline / focus that they’ve just never been taught.

The problem – I think – with entrusting people with their own learning is that most societies don’t start doing it early enough (if ever) in their student’s educational journeys for it to become a lifelong habit. Most students sit in classrooms and listen to teachers lecture from the time they are five or six years old. Education is something that happens to them as opposed to something they guide and direct.

If this is the case then the problem isn’t really how and what we teach students once they get to college – it’s how we teach them to learn before they get there, right?

Or maybe I have this wrong?

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Best,

Rory

Quote of the Week: “The ability to simplify means…

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…to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” - Albert Einstein

<eye-likey.blogspot.com

<eye-likey.blogspot.com>

This week’s quote comes courtesy of German-born American abstract expressionist painter Hans Hofmann. And boy have I gotten a crash course in the wisdom behind it over the past few weeks.

…So in my current role I find myself putting together a lot of presentations for C-Level execs. This is a departure from work that I’ve done in the past… but not in the way you might think. The sorts of analyses I’ve been doing isn’t materially different than what I’ve done in prior roles. The scope of the topics has changed, but it turns out that data analysis is data analysis regardless of the subject.

…With that said, what has been much more challenging is changing how I present data. Decks that would have been 10 slides if I were presenting to peers (or even Managers 1-2 levels up) now need to be 3-4 slides. Sentences that were eight words become four. Three footnotes become one.

The actual process of cutting is actually more difficult than anything surrounding the analysis itself. This is not due to matters of grammar and/or semantics; it is not especially difficult to cut down a sentence whilst conveying the same meaning. Rather, cutting down information to its leanest form is difficult because it requires one to make assumptions about what an audience knows. Cut too much and your deck loses its meaning. Leave too much and you both indirectly insult your audience by inundating them with table stakes information and distract from the speaker’s message due to information overload.

…But when we get it right - when we eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak – we create an opportunity for truly meaningful learning and a subsequently rigorous discussion on the urgent topic of the day.

As we get started this week, I would encourage you to think about the audiences you present to on a daily basis. These can be your manager, your peers, your customers, vendors, or even your family. Think about what is important to these people, and how you can present that information in such a way that both captures their attention whilst conveying your intended meaning. And remember; less is not always more, but when sharing any information it is good to always make sure to include only what is necessary.

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Happy Monday,

Rory

Sunday Reading: July 20, 2014 – Learning, Learning, Learning!

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<luxurymarketingcouncil.org

<luxurymarketingcouncil.org>

Sunday reading for July 20, 2014:

1. This evening I had the opportunity to read a piece from Dupress about learning how to learn. It’s one the ten best things I’ve read all year, and I highly recommend checking it out here. Essentially, the article highlights that most performance problems are caused by learning gaps. Employees don’t know what they need to know in order to succeed in their jobs, and so issues around accuracy and efficiency crop up. Fortunately, managers can address this issue by changing the nature of how people are trained. This is done by realizing that most training programs are course based even though adults learn most of what they know by doing. Ergo, truly great training is relevant and timely for the individual receiving it. The piece also goes on to explain how managers can give employees the right tools to learn effectively, closing by highlighting how managers can stay engaged in the training process so that they can give their directs support and be effective post-training program stewards. Again, seriously check this one out here.

2. As part of my capabilities development, I am about to do a pretty heavy deep dive into learning Financial Accounting and Mathematical Statistics. But while I have my MBA and have always been a big stats geek, my upcoming journey represents an attempt to cultivate a subject matter expertise which will be a sharp departure from anything I have ever done before. As such, I’ve been scouring the net for learning and development techniques that will help me throughout the process. One of the things I’ll be doing to facilitate my development in this arena will be taking this MOOC on learning how to learn. Taught by Electrical and Systems Engineering PhD Barbara Oakley, the course will teach me how to better retain information, overcome procrastination, and enrich the quality of my learning. For a primer on the course - and the value of learning how to learn in general – check out this article here.

3. I know that it’s a Sunday (and as such reserved for written as opposed to video learning), but this short video from Mercer Insights on accountability (in conjunction with this write-up) fits in so well with the theme of today’s post that I just had to share it. The nature of corporations today has changed. Gone is the Paternalism of the past century; in today’s society employees must manage their own retirement and their own careers. Check out the video and article above to learn why this matters, and as always please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Best,

Rory

Video Saturday: Investing in Wellness Programs: Is There a Return?

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<www.northeast.edu

<www.northeast.edu>

Should your organization invest in a wellness program? Angela Martinez, MBA, PHR, Human Resources Manager, Caris Life Sciences, and Justin Caruthers, JD, CCP, Sr. Consultant, Hay Group, offer their perspectives on the success of wellness programs, including the wellness program put in place by Caris Life Sciences.

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section.

Best,

Rory

Spotlight Friday: An Interview with Holland Dombeck, Employment Branding Specialist at Cox Communications

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member_5697323Holland is a marketer in the human capital and talent management arena, delivering thought leadership to your inbox and social streams daily. She is the former Editor of Fistful of Talent (now contributor aka Blogger #30) where she worked hand-in-glove with the site’s owner to create, produce and manage The CYA Report (podcast) and The FOT Monthly (B2B webinar series).

Holland is also an Employment Branding Specialist for Cox Communications, where she is responsible developing a unified brand for the Talent Acquisition function both internally with Cox employees and externally to future talent, through the use of social media, career opportunity placement/presence, and content marketing.

You can follow Holland on Twitter here, find her on LinkedIn here, and read her blog posts on Fistful of Talent here

1. Most job postings cite “X” years of relevant work experience and specific education criteria as requirements to be considered for the position. With this in mind, what prior work experiences and degrees/certifications/training helped prepare you for your current role?

I graduated from college in 2008, and I’m sure anyone reading this can sympathize that it was a fairly rough time to enter the “traditional” workforce. Luckily I was gainfully employed at Walgreens from the time I was 16 and was able to move into a role in management, when the job market took a downturn. While at Walgreens, I continued to pursue other career opportunities, but received very limited traction. I was tainted. At least in my mind, and I’m sure in the mind of those reading my resume. I was no longer a “new grad”, and was quickly realizing that my college internship was no longer relevant now that I was working fulltime and removed from the new grad candidate pool.

I made the decision to stop pursuing fulltime roles and take a step back try my hand at an internship – 2 years after graduating. After about a year of applications, I finally landed at an experiential marketing agency in Atlanta, which is 100% what I thought I wanted to do with my life. After 6-months I realized that just wasn’t the case and started shopping my resume to companies seeking entry-level Marketing Coordinators. I call it kismet, he, at the time, he probably called it risk, but finally Kris Dunn Kinetix took a chance on me. Working under his guidance, I was able to get my hands dirty in B2B marketing, social media strategy, blogging and was introduced to the world of recruiting, and later, employment branding.

1B. What (if any) additional knowledge or skills that you don’t currently have would make you even better at your job?

I performed some light recruiting at both Walgreens and for event staffing in my internship; however I’ve never been an actual recruiter. I think this is a both a miss and advantage. Having not been a recruiter, it’s easy for me to think pie in the sky and not let realities sway my desire to push new concepts, but it also opens the door for people to say “what does she know; she’s never done what I do.” Not having true trench experience forces me to shadow, ask questions and spend time vetting ideas with my team.

2. Some jobs require the incumbent to be very analytical. Others require one to be a strong communicator, and others still require traits like patience, the ability to multitask, self-directedness, comfort with ambiguity, and exceptional attention to detail. Are there any behaviors and/or attributes that you would say are essential to performing the work that you do?

Yes, all of the above. I believe to advance in your career, you need every trait you’ve listed above. For my role specifically, analytic skills are becoming more relevant and are something I’m digging into more daily. I can do everything right in relation to concept and execution, but without the analytics and ROI to back it up, where’s the real value?

3. Jobs guru Lou Adler says there are only 4 job types of jobs in the world (producers, improvers, builders, and thinkers). Which type of job are you in?

That Lou Adler is a smart cookie, but I hate the idea of boxing myself into one of the four. In my current role I’m 50% Builder, 20% Improver, 20% Thinker and 10% Producer. My role is in its infancy – only 7 months – so I need to cross into all the boxes to get things done. In my opinion, crossing boxes keeps people interested, engaged and honest. If we’re talking role agnostic, and I have to play by your rules… I’d label myself a Builder.

4. Does your job involve either directly or indirectly supervising or managing people? If so, how many direct (or indirect) reports do you have?

At the moment, it does not. I’ve managed people in all of my past roles, but I’m currently operating as a team of one.

5. How does what you do impact the business? Think complexity (different types of impacts) and scale (degree of impact). Put another way: Who and what would be impacted if your job wasn’t being done well, and why would it matter that they were impacted?

Employment brands are organic and you don’t need someone in the driver’s seat for them to exist. Investing in channels and people to promote that brand is core to your ability to attract, not the best, but the right talent. A common trend I see in marketing employment brands is only showcasing the awesome. I believe that effective communication of your employment brand should create just as many opt-outs as opt-ins. If not done right (note – at 7 months we’re still trying to figure out what “right” is for us) I believe recruiters end up with large funnels that look great on a score card, but creates extra work around identifying those candidates who are truly right for the role, the team and the organization. Not getting the right person in the role the first time around costs time, money, and slows innovation.

6. Is your job safe? Rate its safety on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being “seated all day in an air conditioned vault” and 10 being “I’m an astronaut going into space”. If your job isn’t safe, what working conditions (specifically) make it hazardous?

I’m going to say 4. The role alone is necessary (rated 1), but at 7-months in, I’m still in my trial period.

7. Is there anything I missed that people should know about your job? Is there anything else you want to say about what you do?

I’m a Millennial, and I’m not entitled or lazy.

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Best,

Rory

Infographic Thursday: African Cities Costly for Expats, Continuing Growing Trend

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Most reading this would be surprised to learn that according to Mercer Insights two African cities – Luanda and N’Djamena – are the most expensive cities in the world for expats to live in. Surpassing even famously expensive cities such as Singapore and Zurich, imported goods costs would appear to be among the largest contributing factors to these city’s high cost of living. If you like today’s infographic, be sure to follow Mercer Insights on Twitter here. Check it out below:

140714-Mercer-145-CostofLivingAfrica

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Best,

Rory

Why Do So Many Companies Struggle With Developing People Internally?

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<www.dennisys.com

<www.dennisys.com>

…So this morning I stumbled upon a workforce planning piece on Mercer Insights. The piece was particularly interesting to me because of a case study at the end that read like a day in the life of every Generalist I’ve ever known. The situation was as follows (emphasis mine):

A health care group developed a business plan to meet the increasing needs of its surrounding communities but discovered the plan would require substantial increases in the number of therapists, technicians, and nurses…

…Looking externally, the health care group discovered that within the immediate area, it already employed 50% to 70% of the workforce for the three types of critical labor. Farther out from its ideal geographic scope, the organization found a solid supply of needed workers. However, the 40- to 60-minute commute posed many barriers, including a probable higher turnover rate and higher costs associated with attracting and retaining these workers. Looking internally, a labor market analysis revealed that career development was limited, as evidenced by lackluster lateral mobility and low rates of promotion, and that the majority of talent was hired from the outside.

You can check out the full piece here (recommended for the solutions at the end), but I shared the case study this morning because less than a two sentences in I found myself again thinking “this company doesn’t have an adequate internal talent pipeline and are probably paying through the nose to attract local, in demand talent externally.”

Developing people internally would intuitively seem to be one of the easiest talent challenges to address, though. Build some low knowledge transfer roles into key departments and regularly rotate talent through them. Have HR Business Partners and Managers sit down with and carve out 18 monthish development plans with their people (this is important because most people don’t know what they want or how to get there). Give talent the tools to accomplish those plans by identifying cost effective course offerings (online and/or local) that they can take to develop competencies, and partner with other Managers in other departments to do talent swaps that get people cross-departmental project experience. If there are skills that the organization really needs, identify high-performers that would be interested in the training (which you know of because of the development plan / talent talks you had) and train people in-house using existing resources and / or local and online educational programs.

The reasons for making these investments are compelling. According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, of the *21%* of people who plan on leaving their jobs this year, 45% of them plan to leave because they are dissatisfied with advancement opportunities at their current companies. That’s almost 10% of the workforce. Wow.

…But instead of developing people, many organizations would prefer to pay outrageous sums (including sign-ons, relocation, headhunter fees etc.) to hire external talent that will take longer to get up to speed and are more likely to leave the organization than internal people developed and promoted into the same roles.

…And for the record, I am not saying external hiring is bad. External hires are great for organizations because they bring in new ideas / knowledge and often add diversity to their new company’s cultures. But come on. What am I missing here?

What am I missing here?

Readers, what are your organizations doing to develop people internally? What are the challenges they’re facing? What should they be doing differently, and what would make the development process easier?

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Best,

Rory

Why Traditional Performance Management Doesn’t Work… and Why it Does

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<work.com

<work.com>

…So this morning I had the opportunity to read an interesting piece on performance management from Deloitte (check it out here). Framed up as a debate, it asks reader to consider if the traditional annual performance review process – in place at most companies in some form for decades - is so fundamentally broken that it needs to be replaced. Leveraging some powerful anecdotes and citing a 2010 WorldatWork survey in which 58% of HR leaders rated their performance management process as no better than average, the piece makes a compelling argument that the process is broken.

And yet it also offer up two compelling counterpoints:

A. People don’t like giving or receiving negative feedback

and yet:

B. People need to be performance managed

…I think that one reason the traditional performance management process has been dominant for so long is because it forces leaders to have difficult conversations with their reports. I will write more about this later, but two critical components of execution are clarity and accountability. Or, put another way, to be successful the people in an organization must know what they are trying to accomplish and what they will be held responsible for. Even in today’s work environment – where project work and teamwork often rule the day – people have to know what their part is in the bigger picture. And if they aren’t hitting the mark there has to be some mechanism in place to deliver that feedback and allow for them to take corrective action (and the underlying performance message here doesn’t always have to be “or else”, by the way).

…So I am all for a performance management process that is more fluid and frequent – what most companies have in place is surely not ideal - but to put something less regimented in place we have to give managers the tools to have candid (and at times difficult) conversations with their team members around performance. Most people don’t develop the interpersonal skills or competencies to deliver such messages before moving into people management roles. Ergo, expecting strong, organic performance management from managers without coaching may be a bit much (which is what I think Deloitte was saying in its piece as well).

With that said, I am an internal optimist. And I’ve seen (and led) training programs that gave managers the tools they needed to coach around performance in a healthy, free-flowing way that made the year-end performance review more of a year-end recap (and formality) than the exercise is conventionally thought of to be.

But the big question is… how to standardize (and customize) such a process so that managers at all levels receive the tools they need to succeed?

What are your organizations doing around performance management? Are there any enterprise wide trainings for new managers? How effective have they been? What worked? What didn’t?

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Best,

Rory

Quote of the Week: “Doubt, of whatever kind…

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…can be ended by action alone.” - Thomas Carlyle

Eliott & Fry - Life hosted by Google

Eliott & Fry – Life hosted by Google

This week’s quote has been attributed to 1800s Scottish philosopher, satirical writer, essayist, historian and teacher Thomas Carlyle. For me it serves as a helpful reminder that it’s better to do things than to wonder what I might have to lose by venturing out into the unknown.

Lately, I’ve felt burdened by doubt. Wear as before I had the courage of my convictions, lately I’ve been hesitant to let my actions go where my principles might otherwise lead me. Personally and professionally, my mojo is off. And as such many of my actions have been governed in fear as opposed to driven by prospective opportunities.

Put another way: As opposed to focusing on how much I have to gain, I’ve instead fixated on what I might lose.

This weekend, however, I remembered again that time is finite. And against the limited expanse of time I (and we all) have remaining, fear must shrink away to nothing. Better still… there is an argument to be made uncertainty and fear should be exciting; feeling such emotions often means we are pushing ourselves to heights we’ve never been before, growing.

…So as we get started this week, I want to encourage you to cast aside your fear, stop worrying about what lies ahead, and move forward. Whether you succeed or fail in your endeavors, you will learn a little bit more about yourself and become capable of a little bit more than you were before.

Or maybe I have this wrong? As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Happy Monday,

Rory

Sunday Reading: July 13, 2014 – Gen Y, Sourcing Strategies, and Talent Branding

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<www.bu.edu

<www.bu.edu>

Sunday reading for July 13, 2014:

Apologies for the late start today (it’s 7:07 p.m. central time as I sit down to write this), but here are my recommendations from today’s reading:

1. Executive & Leadership Coach Ray Williams has a well-written piece on Linkedin outlining all that Generation Y has to offer… and the economic challenges that may prevent them from accomplishing it. As a Gen Yer myself, I found the piece representative of the unique strengths our cohort brings to society as well as a sobering reminder of the things it has working against it. I’m recommending this one for managers/employers because understanding the dynamics at play here is an integral component to empowering your younger talent to succeed and in the process driving bottom line results. Check the full piece out here.

2. Conradin Merk, Jonathan Silver, and Fabio D. Torrisi have a piece up on McKinsey Insights highlighting a sea change in the way that organizations think about sourcing talent. Wear as in the recent past outsourcing was an increasingly prevalent talent sourcing model, for many organizations nearshoring (locations in neighboring countries), farmshoring (lower-cost locations in the company’s home country), or even onshoring are now preferable alternatives. Particularly in the manufacturing sector, decreasing natural gas prices and a rebounding economy (now clamoring for select luxury goods) has made hiring domestically and in some cases even onshoring a prudent business decision. I love this piece because of the big picture outlook it provides of the global talent marketplace. Check out the full piece out here.

3. Deloitte asks readers to consider how companies should consider leveraging social to grow its talent brand in this excellent piece. The piece correctly points out that the talent brand and employer brand are owned by two functions that don’t traditionally work closely together (HR and Marketing)… making a unified talent/employer brand difficult. But conversely, it’s hard to deny the value companies like Google and BCG have added to their talent brands by leveraging social media channels. Check this one out in the link above, and consider following Deloitte on Twitter here.

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Best,

Rory

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