Using Process to Fight Fear on Learning Initiatives

Posted by Julie Flanigan on Oct 31, 2013 10:20:00 AM

fearIt’s Halloween, so it seems like a good day to talk about fear.

One of my clients shared with me that she has been doing a lot of thinking about the influence fear has had in her professional life. She pondered the questions “What if I had spoken up in that meeting when my gut was telling me that the path the team was going down would lead to a dead end? What if I simply said no to a request I believed was not aligned to the company’s true goals and mission?” 

In these turbulent economic times, it seems like fear is part of everyone’s work life. Whether our fear comes from losing a job, a sale, a goal or simply admitting you don’t know the answer, the end result seems to be the same. Often decisions are made based on fear, resulting in wasted time and resources. How do we stop this cycle before it starts? How do we truly learn from these experiences and achieve greater understanding and usefulness in our organizations?

My client’s latest training initiative was two weeks away from being deployed. During a meeting with the CLO, it became clear that her project might be put on hold or cancelled altogether. She shared with me that she was afraid of her project getting cancelled and losing her job. My client had a dilemma: how could she overcome her fear, disagree with leadership and try to save her project? I advised her to take a deep breath, swallow hard and look at the bottom-line cost of derailing a training event; focus on the business issues, not the emotional issues.

The reconsideration/cancellation of a nearly-complete or newly deployed learning solution affects the organization both qualitatively and quantitatively. The cost to the organization is great, including the budget dollars and hours spent on resourcing the project not to mention the project team engagement, motivation and morale. The most significant cost to the organization is inability to realize and benefit from the objectives and goals of the training.  Fear and failure to change results in ongoing costs and prevents the organization from ever seeing a return on their investment.

The first step in resolving the “fear factor” at work is to acknowledge when you are having an emotional response to fear. The twist in your gut, racing heart and that tingle in your fingers is your body having a visceral reaction to fear. It isn’t a pleasant feeling and many of us react by “doing something” about it, and quickly. At times, we jump from the proverbial frying pan right into the fire. 

What we need to do is seek out the business issue not the emotional issue to be resolved. It is imperative to understand not only your own fear factor but also how fear motivates others to react. Once you have identified your fear and understand where it is coming from, you can present the facts. Having a thorough change management process in place is one way to help stakeholders realize the impact their change in direction can have on the organization as a whole. In addition, weekly budget and status updates are key to keeping your stakeholders engaged in your projects and initiatives, and understanding the impact of changes. When leaders are engaged and seeing progress, they will be more inclined to provide ongoing support to your training initiative.


Topics: ROI, Stakeholder Management, Business Issues in Learning

What CEOs want (and it's not what you think)

Posted by Rich Mesch on May 29, 2013 9:59:00 AM

WomanCEOsmallWay back in April of 2010, I wrote this post about taking learning to business, where I basically posted that business doesn’t value learning, it values performance. I recently saw a wonderful presentation by ROI guru Jack Phillips that provided data to support that assumption. The bad news? Businesses really don’t value learning. The good news? Once we understand what business does value, we can take steps to provide it.

See, businesses don’t value learning any more than the driver of a car values gasoline. The driver of a car has a goal; he wants to get somewhere. He has a resource for getting there, the car. And in order for the car to take him where he wants to go, he puts gasoline in it. Having a full tank of gas is not a goal; getting somewhere is the goal, and the gasoline is the fuel that makes the car go, and allows the driver to get where he’s going.

So, too, do businesses want to get somewhere. And skills and knowledge are the fuel that power the people of the business and allow them to take the business where it needs to go. So it’s not too surprising that businesses don’t measure learning; they measure results.

Jack Phillips did a wonderful analysis. He asked the CEOs of dozens of big organizations (Fortune 500 and similarly-sized privately-held organizations), and asked a simple question: what are the metrics that matter to you around learning? Jack wrote a detailed article about it in CLO Magazine, so I won’t replicate all his findings here.

So what’s the net-net? Well, you might not be too surprised to learn:

  • Most of the things learning organizations typically measure aren’t very important to top executives. For example, 63% of organizations reported they measured employee satisfaction with training, but CEOs rated that measure as last on their priority list.
  • Only 4% reported measuring ROI on training, although 74% thought they should be measuring ROI. Most interestingly, ROI was not listed as a top priority. So what was?
  • The number one priority for CEOs was this statement: “Our programs are driving our top five business measures in the organization.” Only 8% said they currently measure it. A whopping 96% said they should be.
What can we take away from all of this? Simply this: business values activity that brings them closer to their established goals. And, we might infer, is willing to invest money in activities that bring them closer to their goals.

Topics: ROI, Measurement, Evaluation, Business Issues in Learning

Talent Intelligence

Posted by Rich Mesch on Dec 3, 2009 4:35:00 AM

by Sherry Engel

I recently read an article titled Talent Intelligence: Cut Through the Chaos. So much of this article resonated with me. As learning professionals, we have started to talk about measuring the impact of learning.  However, as performance consultants, have we considered the overarching value of talent? This article discusses how to develop a strategy that answers two questions.

1.  What are we trying to impact and improve?

2.  What talent levers can be triggered to affect the desired outcome?

The article examines a Talent Intelligence Framework which when implemented helps organizations more strategically align their talent for business results. 

So how does a company begin implementing this framework? The article outlines the following five steps:

1.   Identify client stakeholders with talent decisions to make.

2.  Beg, borrow, and steal people with sufficient analytic and performance consulting competencies.

3.  Keep HR and non-HR stakeholder’s engagement through the talent intelligence life cycle.

4.  Standardize metrics and analytics definitions.

5.  Pick the most cost-effective tools to deliver metrics and analytics to stakeholders that need them.

Check out the full article!

Topics: Performance Improvement, ROI, Talent Management