Why delegation is more important than ever

Delegation has been covered in Management 101 courses since the beginning of time (that might be an exaggeration, but just a small one), but it’s become increasingly important in the last five years. Today, learning how to delegate should be a top priority for every manager. So, what’s different? Why is delegation more important now than it was ten or twenty years ago? The reasons are varied and many. Lean business models are changing the way we work Lean business models have leaders doing more with fewer resources and less time. They’re stretched thin in their roles and despite multitasking, are unable to juggle all of the responsibility on their own while still meeting quality metrics and timelines. Millennials expect more trust and delegation from their leaders Millennials thrive on challenge, trust, and autonomy. When leaders delegate high-level tasks to their team members, it sends a greater message: “I trust you to complete this task. I believe you can do it. You have the autonomy to be creative.” The result is high-quality results, solid metrics, and highly engaged team members. Work and home dynamics have changed Business leaders – both men and women – are juggling more responsibilities than ever before due to changing personal roles in their marriages and families. Historically, one spouse worked and one spouse stayed home in many households, allowing the working spouse to focus all of his or her energy on work. Today, both partners in many unions work outside the home and then share parenting and housekeeping responsibilities, making them busier than ever in both places. Delegation provides much-needed work-life balance. Managers are measured...

Microlearning: A New Training Approach that Works

What is Microlearning? Microlearning is a technique of delivering learning content in short and concise intervals. According to Wikipedia, microlearning deals with relatively small learning units and short-term learning activities. The term “microlearning” refers to micro-perspectives in the context of learning, education and training. And, it is on the rise according to ATD, the Association of Talent Development. At ATD’s most recent global conference in May of 2017, microlearning was number three on a list of over 50 upcoming trends. Breaking information into short chunks allows for learners to retain information. According to research by neuroscientists, we can only absorb four to five pieces of information into our short-term memory at any given time. Not to mention, our ever-shrinking attention spans. Microlearning vs. Traditional Learning Microlearning does not replace traditional learning. Instead, it can be used to reinforce or enhance learning over time. Single event training is vulnerable to low retention of information. Basically, participants forget what they’ve learned as time progresses. The forgetting curve, proposed by German psychologist Herman Ebbinghaus in 1885, is an actual mathematical representation of the exponential rate at which we lose a memory “if no attempt is made to retain it.” Roughly 70% of a memory is lost within the first 24 hours. By supporting single training events with mini “hits” of information at regular intervals in-between training sessions, learners have a better chance of retention of new skills, ideas and processes. Microlearning Case Study In MEA’s core Foundational Leadership Series, participants receive “Training Tips” between each day long course to support the learning. Each of these tips or tools can be put into...

Planning Training for 2018: A 3-Tier Approach

Building a training plan for your organization can feel daunting. With multiple departments, levels, areas of expertise, organizational priorities, limited time and budgets, how do you even begin to break down where training will have the most impact and ROI? Simplify the process with a Training Needs Assessment. Once you’ve done this, you can break down the results into 3 more manageable chunks. The Training Needs Assessment’s Positive Impact Determining training needs requires you to go out and ask stakeholders from employees to management what training they need, what are the skills gaps, and how do these training needs align with organizational goals. This task can be accomplished through surveys, interviews, focus groups or even by using existing performance tracking measurements like performance appraisals. The purpose is to gather data to determine what training needs to be developed to help individuals and the organization accomplish goals and objectives. This is an assessment that looks at employee and organizational knowledge, skills, and abilities. It Is a simple and straightforward task that: Can help you move your organization’s human resources into a position where they contribute to the overall growth and change of the organization. Can have some very positive effects on productivity, quality and morale. Can gain buy in and create a positive learning environment through involvement. Can help you approach training and development in a more structured and analytical manner. Can give you better control over the time and money spent on training. Can give your organization a better return on its investment. Breaking it Down: The 3 Tiers If you survey your entire constituency you may be overwhelmed...

Common ways bad managers kill employee motivation (and what to do about it!)

Managing people should be easy, right? How hard can it really be to hire the right people, give them tasks, and expect high-quality output? Well, as the old saying goes, if it were easy, everybody would do it. The truth is, managing people is a tough job, and if you’re not careful, bad managers can demotivate your team without even realizing they’re doing it. Sometimes, it’s all about style. Other times, personality comes into play. Here are a few of the top ways bad managers kill employee motivation, along with some ways to remedy unmotivated situations: 1. Assuming What Motivates the Manager Also Motivates Their Staff People are different. They learn at different paces, grasp concepts in different ways, and are motivated by different driving forces. For some employees, pay is the ultimate motivator. For others, praise and recognition beat out the bottom dollar. While everyone should be working toward common goals, it is essential that managers learn what makes each employee tick. In doing so, managers can tap into the true motivating factors for each individual, thereby creating a stronger, more cohesive team that pulls on each person’s strengths. One motivating take-away: when employees feel valued, they’re less likely to look elsewhere. 2. Not Leading by Example It can be hard to lead an 8-to-5 life. People need to make doctors’ appointments, have their oil changed, and tend to house repairs from time to time. It’s hard to juggle these tasks when many businesses operate on bankers’ hours. If managers are taking all the time they need to take care of life, while employees are discouraged from requesting infrequent...

MEA brings the knowledge to you with new online interactive training courses

Online interactive training is a powerful method of delivering the latest resources, knowledge, and techniques to professionals across industries. No matter where you live or work, collaborative technology like GoToTraining, Adobe Connect, WebEx and Zoom enable people to connect, exchange ideas, and learn from each other. Out of the many tools for online collaboration, online interactive Instructor-Led Training (ILT) courses have emerged as a superior methodology by reaching and engaging new audiences. This fall, MidAtlantic Employers’ Association will be offering the Foundational Management Series as six public online courses bringing the training right to your desktop. As a MidAtlantic Employers’ Association member, you’re privy to empowering online interactive courses that can instantly provide you with knowledge to use immediately in the workplace. History of Online Interactive Instructor-Led Training Online interactive training differs from other virtual teaching by providing an instructor to lead participants through learning material, classroom discussions, and exercises. While e-learning and webinars have existed for more than 2 decades, online interactive training is a fairly recent methodology developed to more closely replicate the interaction and effectiveness of in-person learning experiences. Today, online training is used across industries and occupations. Businesses often use it for professional development, customer and product training, onboarding, and more. This method is also a best-practice approach for online high school and collegiate instruction. MEA has been offering online training for companies for nearly a decade, providing crucial training for member businesses, whose staff may be spread out geographically or have unique scheduling needs. Why Instructor-Led Training offers superior learning Online interactive training is changing the way the world learns. Whereas traditional e-learning typically walks students through an automated lesson,...

Success in the Digital Age: The Hard Truth About Soft Skills

Was Einstein onto something when he lamented, “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction”? If you’re among the 77% of employers in today’s labor market who place a heavy premium on soft skills, then your response is likely a resounding ‘yes’. To meet the demands of today’s digital landscape, however, companies of all sizes have spent the greater part of the last decade campaigning hard to attract tech-savvy candidates equipped with a repertoire of specialized skills. Consequently, this widespread push to stack the deck with technical gurus has left many organizations anemic when it comes to soft skills. Now more than ever, workforce leaders are clamoring to close the skills gap, citing the critical role that soft skills play in driving business outcomes. The Slow Death of Soft Skills So, can we blame the workplace disparity between hard and soft skills solely on the flood of robo-millennials who came out of the womb cradling a smartphone and have now infiltrated the job market? Hardly. Nobody in today’s organizational hierarchy is immune to the pervasiveness – and convenience – of technology. Let’s face it – at one point or another, we’ve all opted to forego verbal communication and instead, sent a text or instant message to a colleague sitting three cubicles away, emailed a client to avoid making a phone call, or tethered ourselves to a desk and participated in a webinar instead of attending an on-site training. We now live in an age when you can order dinner, buy living room furniture, and book an all-inclusive trip to the Maldives without having to speak to...

Tide of Economic Change: Riding the Next Wave in Training

Signs are pointing to economic resurgence. But if ‘a rising tide lifts all boats,’ why are so many companies struggling to stay afloat when it comes to engagement and retention? One compelling reason: training. Millennials are saturating the workforce while technology and business evolve rapidly. Companies simply cannot rely solely on an economic tailwind to propel them forward. Instead, organizations must adjust their sails when it comes to training and development or risk a sinking ship.  To help our members better adapt their training practices to meet the needs of today’s radically changing workforce, there are three myths that I need to dispel. Myth #1: Successful organizations don’t have to invest in training. It’s just an expense and has little impact on the bottom line. Reality: The decision NOT to invest in training is a costly misstep for a company of any size. Let’s look at the data. A recent Forbes-issued report indicates that spending on corporate training has now surpassed $70 billion in the United States alone. Is the return on investment worth the seemingly exorbitant cost?  The answer is a resounding YES. Commitment to training not only breeds employee engagement and loyalty, but also serves to minimize the skills gap that results when the demand for skilled workers exceeds current supply. Simply stated, companies that regard employee training as a high-priority investment experience higher levels of performance, productivity, and profitability than organizations who forgo the training investment. Still not convinced? What if I told you that training also improves retention rates and helps to combat turnover?  Turnover is a pervasive and costly issue for companies that employ...

Millennials’ Workplace Values & Roadblocks

Just this past week, a group of Millennials gathered in King of Prussia, PA for a 2-Day training workshop focused on 10 workplace success skills. As the instructor, it was both amazing and reassuring that all our effort identifying and uncovering generational differences, and building a training program to help young workers (and their employers) is paying off. During the training, young workers had the opportunity to voice what they value in a job, as well as roadblocks they experience in the workplace (shown above). The responses from this small group mirror what much of the research shows us about this new generation. Listen up, managers… These values and perceived roadblocks are both important to understand because these young employees will soon make up 75% of your workforce! Succession planning may not be on your mind at the moment, but it will become increasingly important as Baby Boomers retire. And, if you’re looking to attract, retain, motivate and groom these young workers to become leaders, this is information you can’t ignore. What are you doing in your organization to attract, mentor, groom, or train Millennials? I’d really be interested in...

Millennials: The Top 10 Skills for Success

A Millennial Population Explosion As published trends reveal, the growth of the youngest generation in the workplace, Gen Y (also known as the Millennial Generation) will reach 50% of the population in just a couple of short years. Employers expect these newcomers to come fully loaded, already possessing a core set of professional skills (soft skills) such as: interpersonal skills, problem-solving abilities, a strong work ethic and the ability to learn from constructive feedback. But many companies are reporting a skills gap, according to a 2013 International Youth Foundation study. What’s interesting is that 77% of 2013 graduates expect their first employer to provide formal training, but only 48% out of 2011 & 2012 graduates actually received formal training in their first job post graduation according to an Accenture Survey in April of 2013. Translating this data is simple.  For new graduates to be successful in the world of work they need success skills which employers are finding sorely lacking in this population, and the funny thing is employers aren’t doing anything about it. Are you ready? MEA has simple advice. No more complaining about what these young folks do or don’t do; it’s time instead to take positive action and build a successful future. MEA is rolling out a program (Ben insert hyperlink to registration) to support employers to do just that. Through a blended media approach of in-person sessions and online modules, we will engage, encourage, train, offer feedback, and coach this youngest generation of workers to take a seat at the table. The end result: employees will learn to build a personal brand that is professional...

Mission Critical: Learning Trends 2014

The Backdrop Are organizations investing in training? The answer is a resounding…YES! According to American Society of Training & Development’s (ASTD) 2013 State of the Industry report, for small organizations with fewer than 500 employees the direct expenditure in 2012 per employee was on average $1,800, midsize organizations with 500 to 9,999 employees on average spent $964, and large organizations with more than 10,000 employees spent on average $700. What’s interesting is that smaller organizations, particularly those with fewer than 500 employees (which account for 36 percent of responses in ASTD’s Study), typically spent more per employee than larger organizations. This is the good news! Investments are still being made despite the fallout of the downed economy in 2008 and it’s not just the big players spending. Average Training Investment Per Employee Small Companies (fewer than 500 employees)……………………. $1800 Midsize Companies (500 to 9,999)…………………………………….. $964 Large Companies (10,000 or more)……………………………………. $700 The real question remains… “are these training dollars being spent wisely?” Other research shows organizations need to rethink how these dollars are being spent based on current trends. Marketplace Trends 1. Complexity the New Normal The landscape has changed – it is more complex, volatile, and unpredictable. The skills needed for leadership have also changed – more complex and adaptive thinking abilities are needed. According to IBM’s Global Chief Executive Officer Study: 79 percent of CEOs say the level of uncertainty and complexity will get even higher; less than half say they are prepared to manage it. 2. Management Talent Shortage The shortage for management talent is intensifying; economic growth outstrips home-grown talent according to a recent article...

Webinars on Steroids: Online learning continues to evolve!

In the late 90’s it seemed like a good idea to offer online learning; it was not the case. Low attendance, minimal interest, and cancelled courses were the outcome. Technologies were just not there yet, nor were participants. Over a decade later, it’s time. MEA has seen a steady increase in online participation at our online briefings, (1 hour speaker-format presentations). Over 50% of those who have attended this year chose to attend online over in-person. Consider why the popularity now vs. the past. First, MEA’s audience is more comfortable. The onslaught of hand held devices (thank you Mr. Jobs), increased usage of social media (thank you Mr. Zuckerberg), and a younger generation entering the workforce (thank you Boomer Moms and Dads) all have contributed to this ease. And, even the Baby Boomers themselves, who parented the technology natives, are opting for staying at their desks.  The second reason online learning makes sense now, is merely due to the advances in the technology itself. There are less hiccups and more functionality allowing us to emulate a live classroom. According to ASTD, Organizations are increasingly implementing the use of technology, and methods such as mobile learning continue to gain popularity. After a slight dip in 2010 to 33 percent, technology-based methods have rebounded to account for 37.3 percent of formal hours available across all learning methods. Today there are multiple platforms with features that add to the online experience like: Goto Meeting, Webex & Adobe Connect.  Trainers including myself are able to facilitate robust discussions with 15 people at time.  Webcams beam their images across screens capturing facial expressions and...

Training is NOT the answer… well not always

  Now, you’re probably thinking, “How can MEA’s Director of Training dismiss training?” It’s easy! Over the past 15 years, I have worked with hundreds of companies in delivering training initiatives, from a diaper plant, to an accounting firm, to a police station, to a call center. I’m talking depth, width and variety. Out of this array, I have seen a select group of companies do it right. Meaning: they achieved results and a return on investment. So if training is not the answer, what is? What did these companies do that got them results? A pattern revealed itself. These companies all did two basic things. It was not the training itself, but it was what came before and after the training that supported success. #1. – Before the training: ASSESS Is training the answer, or is it something else? Take for example company ABC who catches a bad case of low morale. What if their HR manager made an assumption that training was the answer. It wouldn’t be unusual to throw some team building at the problem. And, it might be the fix, if it was due to long term baby boomers coming up against newly hired millennials.  But, what if the cause was due to something else?  What if it was an antiquated database that was getting in the way? In this case, training would be a disaster, wasting everybody’s time, energy and money. At MEA, a concerned owner, exec or HR director will call us to order a training workshop. Their intent: to repair what’s broken. As an objective adviser, we won’t rest easy with a...