Gillespie Associates

Bridging the Learning Gap

When there's a learning gap between where your employees are and where they need to be, Gillespie Associates designs training solutions that keep them moving forward. We're experts in training needs analysis, curriculum design, instructor-led training, eLearning, blended learning, mobile learning, virtual instructor-led training, and more. Contact us today to see how we can help bridge your organization's learning gap.

New Hire Orientation: From Dead Bore to We Want More!


Devon is excited to start his new job. He shows up bright and early Monday morning and meets his new manager, Carl. Carl gives Devon a manual and sits him at a computer to start his week-long new hire training. After lunch on Friday, Carl interrupts Devon and says, “I need your help! We’re shorthanded and I need to get this report out. You learned about it on Day 2 of training, so you should be all set. I really appreciate it!” Devon’s excited to do some real work, but has no memory of learning about the report, and definitely has no clue how to complete it! He finds nothing in the manual, and dreads the idea of weeding through the boring eLearning. He’s scared to let Carl know he’s clueless, so he completes the report as best he can. Carl has to entirely redo the work, thinking, “Another flop of an employee and another 40 hours of training wasted!”

Sound familiar?

The problem isn’t Devon and it isn’t Carl. It’s the training system that’s designed to shovel every possible bit of knowledge into a new employee’s head with the expectation that they’ll be able to apply that knowledge on the job. Does a new employee need to know everything on Day or Week 1? No. They don’t even need a fraction of that. And the knowledge they do need has to support their performance in the moment.

Picture this: On Day 1, Carl greets Devon and provides a tour of the facility, describing their customers and services or products. Carl explains the daily processes of Devon’s job, and gets him started exploring an interactive, scenario-based eLearning course that features common experiences Devon will encounter on the job. Day 2 includes more interaction with Carl and some hands-on training. On Day 3, Devon gets to shadow a senior performer and try things on his own, using job aids and his new mentor for support. Day 4 has Devon branching out on his own with frequent touchpoints with Carl and the mentor. On Day 5 Devon is ready to try it solo, but knows he has the full support of Carl, the mentor, and job aids to help as well. Extremely different experience, right?

What your new hires need to know and do after training depends on your industry and organization. Whatever it is, here are some tips to make sure that knowledge and those skills are retained after orientation:

  • Make it relevant: Communicate to the new hire how and when they’ll use the knowledge and skills on the job. If you can’t think of how or why they need to know this information, they probably don’t need to know it.
  • Let them practice: Give new hires opportunities to practice on the real system or a dummy one just like it. Let them practice people skills with actual people and mechanical skills on real machines.
  • Give them support: There’s nothing worse than sitting a new hire down at a computer on Day 1 and next checking in with them on Day 5! Provide support and guidance throughout the learning period and beyond, through mentoring, coaching and job aids or other performance support.

Training doesn’t have to be a “waste of time” anymore. Give your new hires a training experience that directly translates into how to do their jobs. Download our free training planner today!

Deep Dive: Budgeting for Your Organization’s Training Needs


It’s that time of year again—budget season. A time of evaluating, strategizing, planning, and allocating. Organizations have to anticipate what kind of spend they will have, and hopefully a decent portion of that spend will go toward training and development initiatives.

Organizations also have to anticipate any changes and occurrences that may happen during the coming year. This can include new strategic plans and goals, training staff availability, incoming talent volume, new products or services, budget cuts, and much more.

According the 2016 Training Industry Report, here are the top reasons that small, medium, and large organizations saw a fluctuation in their training budget:

Increased training budget due to:

  • Increase in the scope of their training programs and added training staff
  • Increase in the number of learners served
  • Purchase of new technologies or equipment

Decreased training budget due to:

  • Reduction in training staff
  • Decrease in scope of training
  • Attendance at fewer outside learning events
  • Other (acquisition costs, legislative cuts, new director does not see the importance)

As a training professional, you need to be strategic in your planning to ensure that you get the portion of the budget that you need to adequately serve your learners. Start planning for next year’s training by doing a little primary research around your organization. What are the key business goals for the year?  What gaps are there in terms of knowledge and skills that prevent employees from meeting these goals? What innovative ways exist for me to close these gaps within my budget? Asking these questions and seeking them out will help you to allocate your budget much more effectively.

Remember that from an organizational point of view, every training initiative needs to directly or indirectly further an organizational goal. From a learner’s perspective, effective training needs to be engaging, relevant, and timely. Perhaps consider:

1.  Shifting to online training

Online training has allowed organizations to cut costs dramatically. Learners are also becoming more exposed to and accepting of this training delivery method. The 2016 Training Industry Report tells us that classroom instruction made up 41% of training hours—down 5% from the previous year. Alternately, for that same period, online training jumped from a little over 26% to more than 30% of training hours.

2.  Measuring your results

Your use of the training budget will be judged in terms of its ultimate contribution to organizational success. You need to be able to articulate how your programs have contributed. Designing a methodology for measuring the effectiveness of your training programs is critical to getting ongoing budget support. Design your measurement approach up front and not as an afterthought. Become skilled at using Kirkpatrick’s approach to learning evaluation: Reaction, Learning, Behavior, and Results.

Looking for more on budgeting and developing your training program? Download our comprehensive and interactive Employee Training Planner for Maximizing Budget and Effectiveness.

What You Forgot to Ask Your Last Training Development Vendor


Where did it all go wrong?

When you hired a training development vendor, you thought you asked all the right questions: What delivery methods do they offer? What is their experience? Can they meet our needs on time and on budget? What do my colleagues say about them?

Then, you made your selection based on your needs, and solid evidence of the vendor’s capabilities. Maybe it was their highly-acclaimed instructor-led training events that led to your decision. Or maybe it was their e-learning expertise and responsive design modules that integrated seamlessly with your LMS. Or perhaps it was their interactive performance support materials that perfectly supplemented your technical writing needs.

The vendor delivered content and experiences beyond your expectations, and the participants loved it. Employees and managers alike responded with glowing feedback.

A few months later, you approached the C-suite with a request for more funds for another round of this well-received training.

And the answer came back: a resounding “no.”

Why? Because nothing changed. Despite the rave reviews, sales did not sustainably improve and customer satisfaction remained flat. This is because you left out the most critical question when selecting a vendor: What are their results?

Yes, you correctly confirmed up front that your vendor was technically adept, highly reputable, and capable of delivering on time. But even more importantly, you needed to ensure that they could fix your problem.

To help you determine the depth of a vendor’s commitment to improving performance in your organization, ask these questions:

  • What measurable performance improvement results have your solutions achieved?
  • How did you identify which results and key performance indicators to measure?
  • How did you obtain the measurements?
  • How did you confirm that your training solution would lead to measurable organization and individual participant results?
  • How did you identify the specific performance gaps and the root causes of those gaps?
  • What types of non-training solution recommendations do you offer your clients? How often have you done this?
  • Have you ever suggested a non-training intervention as a higher priority than a training solution?

Even if you like the vendor’s responses, the vetting process doesn’t stop there. They should also be asking you some specific questions:

  • What is the performance problem you are trying to fix?
  • What is the standard against which you are measuring performance?
  • Who is underperforming?
  • How is this performance problem affecting your organization?
  • What goals were missed or what mission is being underachieved?
  • What are the underlying causes of the performance problem?

When your training vendor is as invested in your success as you are, you’ll have your employees, management, and the decision makers clamoring for more.

Ready to crush your next training program? Begin planning today by downloading our comprehensive Employee Training Planner:

Elements of Effective Management: Triangles Belong in Geometry, Not in Teams


New manager Brian was surprised to learn in the Monday morning staff meeting that one of his colleagues had been given an interesting new assignment that Brian felt should have been his. Immediately following the meeting, Brian visited his good friend Matt’s office to vent his frustration.

Jessica had recently been promoted to lead the customer service team. She’d been an outstanding customer service rep and had great relationships with most of the team she was now managing. However, one of her team members, Jason, seemed to be taking advantage of her by coming back late from lunch all week and spending a lot of time during the day chatting with co-workers. Jessica decided that Jason didn’t respect women in leadership, and shared this hunch with her ally Lauren.

First-time managers face a range of challenges—complicated dynamics with their colleagues, managing friends, establishing credibility, and sometimes, managing older or more experienced peers. In Gillespie’s work with new managers, we see one challenge again and again: triangulation. Triangulation happens when a new manager is faced with an uncomfortable situation and complains about it to a friend or ally, rather than talking to the source of the problem. This issue is prevalent throughout organizations and damaging to teams.

It happens every day because most new managers have not been given the tools and skills to handle conflict directly. Conflict is uncomfortable, and the discomfort is temporarily alleviated by discussing the situation with another peer, but that doesn’t really help. In fact, it can cause additional conflict and dysfunction within the entire team.

When coaching a new manager, I typically ask what about the potential discussion makes them uncomfortable. Many times it’s an assumption about how the other person will react that’s keeping them from initiating a conversation. I encourage them to express that concern as they start the conversation: “I was reluctant to approach you because I thought you might think I was micromanaging.” Or, “I was concerned that if I brought this up to you, you might see it as some sort of payback for disagreeing with me in the meeting earlier.”

Once we are able to honestly identify the underlying cause for our reluctance and share it openly, it can often be the start of a robust, authentic and transforming conversation.

There are many great resources for the new manager—from books like Crucial Conversations and Fierce Conversations, to the “Harness and Resolve Conflict” module in the Gillespie Nimble JumpIn™ series. These resources will help managers build skills to address the conflict in a constructive and direct manner. Some of the most important takeaways include:

  • Own your part of the problem. Your vulnerability is one of the best ways to set a non-defensive tone to the conversation.
  • Ask great questions. Open-ended questions can help to move toward problem-solving together.
  • Act quickly but responsibly. Address the issue as soon as you can do so calmly and privately. Timely conversations allow you to refer to a specific incident while it’s fresh.

For more ways to succeed as a new manager, download the tip sheet on Getting Started as a New Manager.

Gaps in First-Time Manager Training

There are an incredible number of demands on the adult worker today. These demands leave only about 1% of a typical workweek available for training and development—that’s about 25 minutes a week! Some of the fault rests with the technology that’s supposed to make life easier. It also makes us more available to an overload of demands and responsibilities.

That same technology, however, presents an opportunity to utilize those 25 minutes in a new way. Before we talk about that, however, let’s quickly discuss how most training works now.

Generally, training on how to be an effective manager is non-existent. When it does exist, it’s usually online and on-demand, which is great for working it into a busy day, but it’s also usually something that just allows you to “check the box” that you offered something. It doesn’t change or improve behavior. Here’s why:

  • It lacks specific tools that reinforce key skills.
  • It lacks activities that help learners integrate the new skills into their day-to-day.
  • There’s no coaching aspect that addresses the individual needs of each learner.
  • There’s no relationship to the real world, through either real-life scenarios, or discussions where learners share their experiences.
  • It’s a one-time event with unrealistic expectations: ”Take this one-hour course, and you’ll be able to perform the skill on the job!”

This kind of “hey, we offered something!” training does more harm than good. Learners who seek out training to improve effectiveness in their new role do so because they actually want to succeed. Giving them ineffective training can be demotivating, as well as being worthless.

Now that we’ve talked about how bad most training is, let’s talk about what you can do about it. When you’re searching for or thinking about developing a program for your new managers, look for a program that includes:

  • Downloadable resources and tools that learners practice using during the training, and afterward on the job. This provides handy job aids to transition new skills to the real world.
  • Lots of practice activities to get them using their new skills on the job. Scenario-based activities within the courseware enable learners to practice new skills in a safe environment. Supplementing those with activities where learners collaborate with their teams, and reflect on the experiences with other course members or a coach, help to further transfer the new skills onto the job.
  • Coaching. Find a program that provides coaching interactions between the facilitator and the learners, and offers additional guidance to the learners’ managers on helping learners adopt their new skills. New managers shouldn’t feel alone while they’re learning their jobs!
  • Learning experiences, not a solitary learning event. A new manager isn’t “created” after a one-hour eLearning course. It happens over time. Look for a program that supports learners as they flex their new manager “muscle.”

Don’t let your new managers fall into the gaps left by poorly-developed management training. Give them the support they need with a training program developed with all these considerations in mind.

Our New Manager Jump Series provides learners with a cohort of other new managers to learn with, one-on-one coaching with the course facilitator, relevant practice activities and on-the-job skills application assignments, and an abundance of resources to reinforce key supervisory skills. Take a look at one of our most helpful resources for first-time managers. Download our FREE time management strategy worksheet today!

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