Pairing Formal with Informal Learning

Let’s face it- everyone learns and retains things differently. We learned about this fact during our school years and it still holds true in our professional careers. Some people learn at a faster rate than others. Some gain more from classroom teaching than hands-on training. The point is, one size does not fit all when it comes to learning and development and it would be wise for organizations to recognize this fact to ensure their training initiatives are more effective.

First off, get your formal learning in check. With technology advancing our ability to have more options to be trained, it’s important to remember that formal learning doesn’t have to require people to be trapped in a four walled room. Break down those walls and incorporate new ways to do formal training that goes beyond traditional classroom training. Personally, sitting through 8 hours of classroom lectures did not always help my understanding or retention (not to mention, my attention span). Break up the lectures with some additional learning opportunities. Maybe have your training classes go out in the field or interact/collaborate with people who already do this role within the organization. Let them see formal learning be put into action.

Secondly, it is important to remember that informal learning is necessary, too. Like stated earlier, people all have different learning styles so forcing them to only learn in a handful of ways might limit what they gain out of the experience. Breaking up your formal learning can only go so far so it’s up to you to encourage and empower employees to take initiative for their development. Give them suggestions on what they can do for their independent learning efforts. Let them interact with people in the industry so they can see how to put these trainings to good use. Allow them to join webinars or go to professional social networking groups. The learning world is their oyster.

I will tell you that I personally gained a lot from my informal learning. I often feel like the social media HR groups I’ve participated in (such as the Twitter chat, #Tchat) or the networking calls I had with people I’ve connected with have helped me gain so much more than majority of the training I’ve formally had from employers or schooling. Even researching topics and information to write the posts on my blog have helped me learn an extraordinary amount. I made it a point to ensure I was still learning even when in between jobs so once an employer took a chance on me, I could bring something extra to the table. Even after being employed, I still make the effort to regularly include informal training to accent the formal training I get from my employer. Some of my informal training has even sparked new ideas that will help us offer more to our clients and prospects. It’s even helped our internal team work more effectively.

As an employer, what are you doing to add more to your teaching and training? Have you ever considered informal learning as being a valuable option?

More Links:

Igniting Social Learning #Tchat Preview

Digging Deep into Social Learning #TChat Recap

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Are you a Leader of Collaboration?

In last week’s #Tchat, we discussed the different between collaboration and polarization and the ways it was used in the workplace. Many contributors gave great examples of situations they’ve come across, their understanding of the two, and the reasons why they feel that an organization promotes one or the other. So, as usual, I’ll spend today’s blog post sharing all the input that this great community had offered through the hour long chat.

First off, let’s discuss the difference between the two. Collaboration is often considered the “coming together” of people and ideas to achieve a specific goal or purpose. It can easily be described as teamwork. Polarization is when individuals work individually towards a goal and/or do not share in the teamwork.

With the world moving so quickly, it would seem as if though a collaborative approach would be best for business. Having diverse thinking and additional teamwork can ensure that projects and goals are efficiently completed. Additionally, this can avoid groupthink or stale ideas, among other benefits. But why does collaboration seem to be a struggle within the workplace? How can we create a culture of collaboration? Leaders: it’s time for you to step up and start encouraging it.

Some ideas:

  • Follow the leader: as a leader, all eyes seem to be on you. This would be a perfect time for you to encourage collaboration by actually participating in collaboration meetings and situations yourself. Be transparent about it. Show your team that much can be done if you take the time to work with others. At the end, give them the results and tell them that it was accomplished because each member of the group played a crucial part.
  • Participate: take the time to make your rounds and participate in some of the meetings and groups that your workers are involved in, even if it’s only for a few minutes once in a while. Ask questions; learn about which each member is contributing; and give feedback.
  • Create a connection: I know sometimes it can be hard for a leader to know everything about their employees and their unhidden talent/potential. However, if you can have their department managers take the time to learn these things; it can open up opportunities for collaboration. Additionally, have department heads meet with each other to discuss projects or needs going on within each department. Allow the managers to inform the other dept. heads about their employees that might have a skill that can be useful for their needs.
  • Welcome in the devil’s advocate: as mentioned earlier, it’s important to have diverse thinking within a group to ensure that there isn’t any groupthink. Having an alternative perspective or opinion can help others in the group consider additional options or review the situation from all angles. However, make sure your devil’s advocate presents these thoughts in a constructive way rather than a way that will put everyone on the defense.
  • Review your policies: technology has been a great tool to have within the organization but many companies have policies in place that make employees fear using it. Are your policies discouraging employees to utilize it to their best potential? If so, take time to review and revise the policies. If that’s not a feasible option, then take time to clarify any part of the policy so employees feel more comfortable using the technology for communication and collaboration.

Polarization may have occurred when the economy took a turn for the worst. People felt the need to keep their cards close to heart and protect their jobs by having an “every man for themselves” mentality. They may have felt that showing their employer that their sole efforts were directly correlated to an end result can give them a sense of job security. Also, with limited job openings in organizations, workers may have felt the competitive pressure to stand out against other employees for a promotion. All of these situations are understandable but it’s not doing your business any good if you allow that to be the norm. As a leader, make it your effort to create a collaborative culture.

If you enjoy topics like this, be sure to check out #tchat on Twitter- Wednesdays at 7pm EST.

More Links:

Smart Leaders Collaborate

Collaboration Mojo Meets Basic Instinct: #Tchat Recap

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Why is HR Scared of Employer Branding?

Maybe my Type A personality makes me a little over-eager when it comes to getting things done but I often wonder if this quality would be beneficial for certain professionals. Employer branding has been a highlighted topic for a little while now, and HR professionals are realizing that having a strong employer brand is a significant way to attract candidates to their company. Sometimes this topic has been talked into the ground but when all is said and done, there still doesn’t seem to be any action taking place. I hear them say that they want to do it, that it’s important for their company to have it, and so on. But when it’s time for them to actually really consider putting into play, they choke.

I get it- it’s a scary thing to put yourself out there. It’s scary to think that however you promote and brand your company might be detrimental to its reputation if presented wrong. It’s hard to fathom investing money and time into something you don’t know will truly work for your organization. I know. I know. I know. However, the more you drag your feet on this, the easier you are making it for other forward-thinking companies to snatch up quality talent from the candidate pool.

Here are some steps you should consider when starting the employer branding process:

  • Research: put on your networking hats on and start talking to people who do marketing, social media community management, social HR, and even consultants that handle employer branding. For example, Jocelyn Aucoin  has been a great resource when I had questions about all of these things. What better way to get a solid understanding on all aspects of branding than talking to the people who are deep into it everyday?
  • Formulate a plan: … then reformulate. Over and over again. No one said that the brand was going to happen overnight but this is the key thing to help you have some sort of structure when you put your plan into motion.
  • Put it into action: it’s time for you  to bite the bullet and put your plan into action. And trust me, there is going to be a bunch of bumps along the way but try your best with damage control. New ideas and new processes are never perfect, so don’t expect this to be any different. Remember, it is important for you to: take notice, observe, listen, and learn from these situations/feedback.
  • Adapt: after listening and observing, it’s essential for you to seriously take the feedback into consideration and, once again, reformulate your plan. The best branding is one that is active and engaged in their “audience” and then delivers the results that these individuals are looking for.
  • Be consistent: branding is an ongoing thing. Your company changes often and your brand should reflect that. New people are entering the candidate pool every day, so be sure to also find new ways to engage these people. Be a constant presence and stay in front of people’s minds. Branding often fails due to lack of consistency.

Employer branding is important for a reason. The economy has put a lot of people out of jobs or in search of new ones. These people have potentially been in bad situations (underemployed, laid off, terminated, unemployed for long lengths of time) and want to make sure that the next choice they make is the right one. They are looking for companies that have transparency so they can feel more confident about applying.

Gen Y is also entering the workforce and the workforce will be majorly comprised of these individuals in just a few years. They are extremely savvy when it comes to finding information on things, thanks to being brought up in the technology era. Therefore, they will also be looking hard for companies that seem to be providing the most up-to-date and useful information. With that being said, do you really think branding isn’t a good investment? What you doing for your employer brand? Feel free to respond here.

More Links:

HRTechEurope White Paper on Employer Branding

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HR Tech: HR Cloud On-boarding Platform

The other day, I had the pleasure to speak with the individuals from HR Cloud again. As stated in my previous blog, I found their platform to be particularly interesting. I loved the fact that everything an HR professional would need was located in one, easily-manageable interface. Additionally, I really enjoyed how customizable these features were, which not only saves a lot of time but also helps strengthen the internal employer brand. After initially getting an overview a couple months back, I was happy to connect with HR Cloud so I could get a closer look at each portion of their platform. This time, we focused more on the on-boarding piece.

Here are some interesting features:

  • Landing Page: this page can be the “Welcoming Page” for a new hire. Your organization can provide a username and password for the new hire so they can get some of the on-boarding processes done before their start date. This landing page’s layout and widgets can be customized to include: videos, specific HR forms, tasks with due dates, a welcome message, and so on.
    • Key take-aways:
      •  Reduce time and money by having new hire paperwork on this platform, rather than shipping, printing, faxing, etc.
      • New hire paperwork can include additional paperwork or customized paperwork for specific job role or department. Digital signatures can authenticate paperwork.
      • You can build an employer brand and strengthen the culture by including videos, internal information, welcoming messages, and anything else that can help increase transparency of your organization to the new hire.
  • Administrative Tab: this tab can be utilized by HR professionals and department heads. The tab can be configured for specific needs, help reduce time, and keep everything organized and on track.
    • Key take-aways:
      • HR and department heads can send out messages/forms/tasks either to a collective group of people or to individuals.
      • Checklists and tasks are easily visible to allow HR and department heads to know what needs to be completed.
      • IT will receive an automatic alert to help prepare for new hires. For example: an alert to order laptops/computers/equipment; and to create passwords/usernames.
  • First Day Activities: This feature streamlines new hire paperwork processes and training to help your new hires jump right in.HR can create a task to-do list so new hires can be productive in their on-boarding. This feature will also include an organizational chart so employees know who they will be reporting to and who they’ll be working with. The organizational chart will be complete with avatars so new employees can put a name to a face.
  • Form Creation and Customization: This feature allows the system to upload any forms into their PDF creator. These forms can include the usual 1-9s, W-4s, direct deposit forms, and so on. Also, companies can create forms that are specific to job role, industry, department, or their company. These forms can also be auto-populated with employee details to save time and ensure that information is accurate.
  • Career Planning: Employees can review the expectations and goals of their current position so they can properly position themselves on their career path. This transparency can allow employees to take control of their professional development.

The on-boarding process can be grueling, both from an HR perspective and a new hire perspective. Time can be wasted if: forms aren’t completed properly; you have to wait for shipping and receiving; or you have to wait to give/receive directions on your first day. To do lists and checklists can make it easier for the organization to keep track and make sure everything is squared away, which will potentially limit any headaches down the line. The first day activities and organizational chart can help a new employee feel more comfortable in the transition. The interface makes navigation effortless and it’s very user-friendly, which can cut down time and frustration. Overall, I think this platform is organized, effective, and can make the process stress-free for all individuals involved.

Contact HR Cloud today for a demo.

 

Recruiters: Are You Going Beyond the Call of Duty?

Last week, a group of recruiters and I were talking about some of the things we do to help our candidates make it through the interview process. We discussed tips, resume restructuring, and coaching. Some of us had success stories about how their tips helped a candidate land an offer. But I asked them: what about the candidates that didn’t make it through the interview process? What about the candidates that weren’t a fit from the start? Are we doing anything to help those candidates?

Maybe I’m overly empathetic, but I really identify with the job seekers and their daily struggles to find work. I’ve been the underemployed before. I’ve been unemployed. I’ve also been the employee that felt like my abilities were not being recognized or utilized for the benefit of the company. And even though I’ve been involved in Human Resources and talent acquisition, that advantage didn’t always help me when it came to securing my next job. Even with the knowledge of knowing what recruiters and hiring managers looked for, I still struggled. If I struggled, I can only imagine what it is like for people who don’t understand the recruitment processes or tricks of the trade.

As a recruiter or talent acquisition specialist, have you ever spoken to a candidate that you knew wasn’t going to be a fit for your job opening? Or have you talked to a candidate that had potential but needed some extra guidance? In those instances, what did you do? Did you simply send a rejection letter or pass them through the hiring process knowing that they might be rejected due to the areas that needed coaching? Or did you act like a consultant? Did you go above the call of duty and make it your job to help the candidate be employable and attractive to other employers even though you couldn’t offer a job?

I know that not all recruiters have time to do this. We’re overwhelmed and most of the time we don’t even have a second to breathe. But I often try to help out candidates as much as I can. I’ll give them tips on their resume, let them know what recruiters look for, coach them on their interviewing skills, tell them how to be easily found by recruiters, and so on. Most importantly, I let them know that they are always welcome to call me or email me if they need help or have questions. That extra time and effort feels rewarding especially when you hear the appreciation in the job seeker’s voice. I love it when I get emails and calls down the line from these individuals asking me for advice or when they let me know that they landed a job because of the tips I provided.

I remember wishing that someone saw the potential in me when I was a job seeker. I hoped that employers could see my passion and hear the conviction in my voice when I told them that I wanted to do great things for their company. Eventually, a company saw that and took a chance on me. Now, I want to be the person that returns that favor, even if I can’t initially provide a job to these candidates who honestly want a future for themselves. Maybe my assistance will help them get the interview they needed so they can sit in front of that specific manager who will see their intentions and give them a chance.

It shouldn’t just be about YOUR job opening that you need to fill. It should be about helping people get back to work. People have unnecessarily suffered the situations caused by the changes in the workforce. What are we doing to help them adjust?

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Changes in the Workforce: Are Employer Relationships Over?

I remember when I was in high school, my parents stressed to me the importance of getting good grades, a good degree in college, so I could land a great job that would be my lifetime employer. After all, my father had been with the same employer since he was 25 and my mother had also been with the same employer for 15 years at that point. A few years after that conversation, the economy took a downturn and “employers of a lifetime” seemed like a distant memory for those entering the workforce. Sadly, it began to be a distant memory for those IN the workforce, as well.

As the years went on, full time employment became rarer and it wasn’t uncommon for people to be in and out of employers within a couple years. Employers started to focus more on utilizing temporary workers, freelancers, and contract workers for their business needs. And with this meant that the normal relationship, fidelity, and loyalty between employer and employee had weakened or completely vanished.

But with this unsteady, ever-changing workforce, do the benefits of “long term” employment have to end? Do employees have to go without benefits, training, and skill building? Do employers have to deal with talent that might not be the best fit yet because of lack of ramp up time? I don’t think so. I think that each party needs to take that extra step to bring back some of the qualities that the “good ol’ days” had and make it work in this situation.

As an employer, you need to take the time to make sure your “temporary” workers feel welcomed, appreciated, and have a place within your organization. Nothing is worse than working for a company temporarily and feeling like the outcast or feeling like your presence really makes no difference. Take the time to train them a bit and learn what skills the worker already has to offer, and try to utilize them. This can not only benefit your company but it can help you get more accomplished and can make the temporary employee feel like they have a purpose rather than just be involved in mind-numbing process.

As an employee, take the time to build relationships with those in your organization. Learn about the industry, network, try to understand processes better. Take any chance you can to build knowledge and skills and put them into practice.  Don’t be shy and wait for someone else to show you- take initiative! If you’re working for a staffing agency, find out what kind of benefits and training they offer. Many organizations now offer medical benefits and workshops to help their contractors feel taken care of and keep their skills up to date so they’re a stronger candidate in the future.

Maybe things have changed, but it doesn’t have to feel like a revolving door with nothing to show. We all can take our part to make the best of this new world of work. It’s time to start thinking it as a way to build opportunity.

If you enjoy topics like this, be sure to join #Tchat on Twitter- Wednesdays at 7pm EST. Also, please feel free to join the “Talent Culture” group on Linkedin

More links:

Is the Employment Romance Really Over?

TChat Recap

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Leaders: Find the Connection

Today’s post might be a little more about opinion than it is facts- and that’s completely fine with me because sometimes we need a little thought provoking blog post to get us all thinking. As I thought about some of the best and worst leaders I’ve dealt with over the years, I considered some of the qualities I appreciated in the leaders I truly felt strongly for. There are a few people in my life that had made me believe in them and their goals. Call me a skeptic- but this is something that’s hard to accomplish with me. And I’m sure many of you have dealt with the ups and downs caused by the economy, so there are probably plenty of you out there that are feeling the same way. So what qualities of a leader made you not have your doubts about them?

For me, it’s all about a leader that can take the time to find the connection. In my crazy and idealistic mind, I truly believe that everyone has something to relate to with someone else. Tiny things or “Hey! We’re practically twins!” things are what can really help build a relationship between others. Sometimes, leaders almost seem unattainable because of their status or how busy their schedules are that many of us never really get to know our leaders for who they are and they don’t get to know us, either. So how can we put our faith in our leaders if we feel like we’re following blindly? Will this person lead us over a cliff? And how can leaders expect to gain the allegiance of their followers if they don’t even know what their followers value?

Ok, I get it- leaders are busy but that’s no excuse for them not to make a periodic presence to help build a connection. Whether you are running a 2 person start up or a Fortune sized company, you need to make the effort. Relate to people, find the connection, and make them feel like “my leader really gets me.” I don’t care if it’s every day, once a month, or once a quarter- you need to make that effort. Unfortunately, over the last few years, the changes in the workforce have weakened loyalty among employers/employees. If the loyalty and devotion isn’t there, then how can you expect to get the best out of your workforce? Are they 100% in or are they 50% in and 50% securing other options if things go sour?

The best leaders are the ones that get involved. They’re not always the singer on the stage in front of their loving fans. They’re the ones that dive into the crowd and get in the middle of all the action. They take it all in, listen, and emerge themselves in the bigger picture.

Leaders- isn’t it time we did this together?

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