My family is so talented. Check out this pop/punk version of “How Far I’ll Go,” from Moana by my brother’s family. Sweet!
I wrote this post for InSync Training’s blog. It posted July 25th. Woo hoo! Check out the great stuff they have to offer.
Some folks talk about training as “coaching”. I think they have the metaphor wrong. Coaching means developing skills within a team by repetitive drilling and motivating them using a combination of respect and fear. Real training is nothing like that. Real training is more like cheerleading than coaching.
Engage the players (students)
So I’m standing in a conference room with my trusty slide deck and handouts, looking out at the other folks in the room for my training. My position looks like it’s up front but really I’m on the sidelines. The real action will be with those students.
The students are the real players, the real action in the game. The students are going to make or break the training. If they’re tired or bored, they won’t engage and they won’t learn. We don’t have a lot of time here and this training session is costing the company a boatload. When you count up all the hours of preparation, then the total hours for all the bodies here in the room, then measure the slow climb up the learning curve for the students, you know there’s a lot riding on this training. These students are going to make the difference in whether the investment will pay off. I know I’ve got to engage them in the short time we have together.
So we start off with an icebreaker, the part of the game when the team leaves the field house and comes running on to the field. And I’m cheering like crazy, trying to call the players by name and praising their ability to answer the icebreaker quiz questions. It’s exhausting but it pays off bigly if the students are energized and engaged by the interaction.
Then we start training the content. My favorite training sessions are the ones where we all work together, ditching the PowerPoint slides for real hands-on learning. First I give a short demo, then the real players do their magic. I shout “Hit ’em again, hit ’em again! Harder! Harder!” and they do. If I’ve done my job, the process is easy once you know how. The students pick up the skill and the underlying technology or the system it runs on. They carry the ball down the field. “This isn’t so hard. I can do this on my own next time.”
The last part of the session will tell how well we’ve done. We review what we learned, review expectations and collect feedback from the training. If things went well, the feedback will be upbeat and energizing. If things didn’t go well, the team will wander back to the locker room and leave the champagne corked for another time. Negative feedback is sometimes tough to hear but it does let us know how to make the next session better.
But let’s go back to what happens when we win. At the end of the
winning game successful training, the players leave the room feeling like winners. They have learned some new skills and have confidence they can do it on their own, and maybe even show the new skills to their coworkers.
Engage the crowd (user community)
Another function of cheerleaders is to engage the crowd and get them cheering. In the training world, this means inspiring the user community so that they will see the trainees as rising system experts. The more that the user community recognizes local system experts, the less work for you as the trainer. Everyone prefers asking a coworker for help over having to search for an answer in the online help or opening a customer support ticket. If you can get the user community to see each other as the system experts, you will have fewer questions to answer and fewer customer support calls to take. It’s a win for the home team and a big win for you.
When the cheering stops
After the game, when the team and spectators have gone home, we celebrate the win or mourn the loss. If we’ve done a good job, the whole organization benefits. The students go back to work confidently using the system to accomplish their goals. Their goals are not to be a great system user. Their goals are to be a great doctor, lawyer, or indian chief who happens to use the system. They become great clients, providers, and colleagues. They make the world a better place, thanks to you and your effective training.
Let’s cheer about that!
This is one in a series posted in the STC Notebook blog of sketch notes taken at the 2017 Summit by STC Senior Member Elizabeth Alley. I am super tickled that Elizabeth included my session in her sketches and I’m even more delighted that it was posted in the Notebook. It could have a lot to do with the fact that I’m sharing the slot with #TechComm legend, Leah Guren.
Relive the magic of the Summit in a unique and dynamic way through Elizabeth’s sketches! You can see more of Elizabeth’s work at elizabethalley.com.
You can see more about this presentation and review the slides in this post.
Here’s that amazing sketch:
Here’s me adulting at #STC17.
I had a blast, mostly because the attendees to my spotlight talk were so smart and engaging. I talked about a pretty dry subject, meeting management, and how to make your meetings go better by collecting expectations and gathering feedback. Thanks everyone for being such a great crowd.
Here are my slides.
Yeah, we all know meetings are a necessary evil. Managing them better can build a stronger team that gets more done in less time.
This is my personal #ACA (Obamacare) story. It happened in 2011. The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) saved our family a $5000 out of pocket payment to Montgomery Regional Hospital near Virginia Tech while my son was a student.
Coverage for adult children through age 26
One of the benefits of the Affordable Care Act is (was?) that parents can keep their adult offspring on their employer-sourced health care plan until age 26. In 2011, my 22 year old son was covered by both my insurance plan through my employer and the student health plan provided through Virginia Tech.
As a full time student, my son’s health care was covered at Schiffert Health Center, the on-campus health center which was stated to be a turn key health care facility, providing everything that a student would need. All of that was covered in the student’s health care fee included in their tuition. Having read that statement, I would not have enrolled my son in additional health care insurance.
One problem: the student health plan only covered services rendered at the on-campus health care facility. Luckily, the ACA provided coverage for my son in my employer’s health care program.
An ambulance ride and a visit to the ER
When my son went to the student health center with chest pains in March of 2011, he was informed that the center did not cover treatment for chest pain. They called an ambulance and my son was transported to Montgomery Regional Hospital.
The hospital performed the usual battery of tests for coronary trouble, determined that he was not having a coronary, and released him.
Having chest pain? You’re okay. Now walk home.
I’m going to go off topic here for a minute. The way that the hospital released my son really made me angry. Having determined that my son was not having a life threatening emergency, the hospital released him with no other diagnosis, no treatment plan, and no ride home.
Really? You’re treating a patient for a stressful, painful episode and when you realize that he’s not going to die on you, you boot him out with no ride home? Stressed out young people don’t realize that there are resources for finding a ride, at least not at first when they are scared and in pain. Shame on you, Montgomery Hospital. Eventually, my son did realize he could call a cab and only walked part of the 4 mile trip.
Mama gets the bill some time later
My son did not tell me about this incident at first. He knew that mama would not have been happy.
In April of 2011, I received a letter thanking me for choosing Montgomery Regional Hospital and a bill for $5000 for the ER visit and tests. Surprise!
So I called my son, got the whole story, and sent the bill to our family health insurance. They covered everything but the deductible, saving our family the $5000 out of pocket cost.
Thank you Obamacare!
Thank you Obamacare! Thank you President Obama, Vice President Biden, Senator Tim Kaine, and Senator Mark Warner! You provided my family with a safety net when we needed it most.
And thank you American Woodmark for providing me and my family a health care plan that covered everything we needed in 2011.
To quote Vice President Joe Biden on March 23, 2010, “This is a big f—ing deal.”
This is my personal sexual harassment story. It began in 1978 and continued through 1981, when I was working as an engineering co-op at the Union Carbide plant in Bound Brook, NJ. The harassment was both open and subtle and came from many sides: my coworkers, my management, the industry, and even my fellow working women.
Some of the harassment was out in the open and visible. None of it was aimed directly at me so at the time, I tried to just ignore it.
My coworkers: free calendars
In many of the work areas, it was common to see photos of half-naked women hanging on the wall. Calendars featuring these images were given out by tool companies for free. Here’s one from Snap-on Tools, circa 1974.
I don’t think my coworkers were out to get me or shame me. I think it was a free calendar . So what the heck, hang up the free calendar. Messages like these were common in the day and folks didn’t think much of it at the time. But as a 19 year old, working in a man’s field, I felt “other” and vulnerable. And as a 19 year old newcomer, I knew I was powerless to do anything about it so I pretended it wasn’t there.
But there it was. Every. Damn. Day.
My management: names and job scope
Harassment from management came in two forms.
The first was the simple way they referred to the other women in the office as “The Girls”. We had a fairly large staff of secretaries who did all the typing, filing, scheduling, and generally kept things running so that “The Men” could get on with the business of engineering and management.
I know it’s a simple thing to refer to grown up women as children but it did send a message of not being on the same level. And if anyone had referred to a group of males as “The Boys”, we would have known even at that time that it was racist. But in 1978, sexism was allowed even though racism was not.
The second form of harassment was in the type of work I was given. There were other college students at my location studying engineering and working in the co-op program. They were all males.
The males worked side by side with the engineers, doing analysis and designing studies for the company. I was sent to the library to do research. And I was great at it, finding obscure publications written in German but understandable because of the technical terms, charts, and diagrams. I found answers to problems they had been trying to solve with all that analysis and design, and saved them weeks of study and evaluation.
Eventually I earned their respect and was given other things to do. Which brings us to the subtle harassment.
Much of my feeling “other” and reinforcing my role as an outsider was subtle. It was more about the environment and the attitude than about things you could see or hear.
The industry: tools and equipment
My first job was to diagnose and repair a machine that fed fiberglass into a plasticating extruder. It was hot and itchy. Other than that, it was no problem.
One of the next jobs was to work on a crew making insulated wiring using a plasticating extruder. The machine was big and clunky. There was a 3″ screw running down the center which we installed and removed using a honking three foot long pipe-wrench. Here’s a schematic of the extruder.
This equipment and the tools we used to work on it were designed by men for men. The upper body strength, the grip strength, and even the hand size were all beyond me. Still I persevered and kept up with my coworkers, using my knowledge of physics and mechanics to get the most out of any force I was able to apply. Eventually all of that effort took its toll and I injured my wrist permanently. It still bothers me today and occasionally it swells.
My fellow working women: denial
The surprising source of harassment, and a big reason I felt vulnerable, was my fellow pioneers, the other working women.
The message was simple. Don’t screw this up. If you screw this up, they’ll kick you out and they’ll never let any of the rest of us in. The future of working women rests on your ability to tough this out. So I did.
So I couldn’t even think about the differences or speak up for myself. There was nobody to talk to about it and it wouldn’t have made any difference anyway. Talking and thinking were not going to solve this. So I didn’t talk or think.
We’ve come a long way, baby
So now the calendars are gone. The name calling is pretty much gone, but mostly because we don’t have secretarial pools any more. The overt symbols of harassment have disappeared. The subtle things are still around. Job assignments and salaries are still a challenge. The attitude of my fellow working women still makes me feel alone and vulnerable.
But it is better for me than it was for my mother. And much better for me than it was for my grandmother. So here’s hoping that my granddaughter will some day read this and think it’s funny and quaint.
Honey, if you’re reading this, kick some misogynist ass for your granny.
Hey friends! I want to share this video project I got to participate in thanks to the superpowers of Steve Pendlebury Media Services. Check out the Hot Flash Band as we perform a medley of Patrice Moerman’s song “Electric Guitar” and Shocking Blue’s “Venus.”
Music video produced by Steve Pendlebury Media Services. http://www.stevependlebury.com.
The objective of a good training program is adoption and excellent field execution. This presentation is about how to use a combination of traditional training deliverables and old school psychology to gain user buy-in and achieve a successful launch. We’ll talk about how my company uses cartoons and countdowns to ensure that users seek out training and have a stake in adoption and field execution excellence.
Whether we create video, user assistance, classroom training, or documentation, what we really want is a group of folks who use the product to do an excellent job with little or no effort and make no mistakes. Creating good training is less about the deliverable and more about building the right relationship.
Here are the slides from my presentation for #STC16 about a project that went really well.
Many thanks to Rachel Houghton for catching a photo of me #adulting.
Don’t let the fancy name fool you. The Leadership Program is free and open to all STC members, whether they are officially in community leadership or not. So whether you just signed up yesterday, or are an elected officer in several communities, the Leadership Program is for you. And it’s free.
If you’re attending Summit 2016, the STC International Conference, you’ll once again have a chance to attend the Leadership Program. This Sunday-morning event is filled with informative presentations and discussions about what it means to lead an STC community, suggestions for tools and processes to build stronger leadership, and recognition of dedicated volunteers.
The Leadership program is NOT just for those who are currently chapter or SIG leaders, though — it is open and FREE to all Summit 2016 attendees who want to learn about what goes into leading a chapter or SIG, how to get involved, and how you can build your own leadership skills. You’ll get to network with friendly leaders from around the world, meet members of the STC staff and board of directors, and take away plenty of tips and insights.
Here are some articles from 2015 that tell you more about the Leadership Program:
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