Ideas and Insights

  • 05/15/2019 3:57 PM | Paul Venderley (Administrator)

    What if you could take away the root cause of a majority of conflicts in the workplace? What will that do to productivity? What will that do to the retention of workers?

    Rex Conner points to subjectivity in the work processes as a root cause for a lot of workplace conflict, and states that "fuzzy language" can create an unstable foundation for performance at the very beginning of an employee life cycle.

    "Fuzzy language" is a concept brought about by human performance guru Dr. Robert Mager when discussing performance outcomes, and Rex Conner, Lead Partner and Co-Founder of the Mager Consortium, applies it here as he discusses how Recruiting, Training, HR, and Evaluation describe job performance expectations.

    "You need one methodology on which to build the processes for recruiting, training, evaluating, and developing employees," Rex shared in a recent interview. "You need a common performance language."

    What is a common performance language?

    "That is a lot like English," Rex says. "In the workplace, when you speak a common performance language, no one is speaking in fuzzy terms when we're talking about people performing.

    Fuzzy terms are subjective terms. Terms that are common in the workplace, like: 'You need to be a team player.' or 'You need to provide world-class customer service.' Those are fuzzy terms. They're open to interpretation. When you're talking about a big organization, that's fine. But when you're talking about an individual performing, every time you have subjective language that you leave open to interpretation, you're inviting conflict, you're inviting inefficiencies.

    "So a common performance language means: everyone speaking in clear terms, and in addition to verbal speech, the processes that are involved, the work processes, the way you get things done, do not have subjectivity in them. You've worked through all the processes and made them objective."

    As long as HR, training, the business units, and the quality people are speaking their own languages you are bound to have conflicts, misunderstandings, and inefficiencies that sap the human spirit and the bottom line.

    That quote comes from the description for Rex Connor's upcoming seminar: "Creating A Common Performance Language." We asked Rex if the argot specific to each department contributed to the subjective language.

    "It's OK if each discipline has its own jargon," he replied. "We all develop jargon just around the work we do. But when we're talking about the common effort about helping people perform when they're on the job, that's when you need to take out the subjectivity, both in the language we use, the discussions we have, and in the work processes.

    "It's definitely a cross-functional effort. It doesn't mean that all the functions need to morph together. HR can still be HR, and the recruiting component can still be recruiting and have their own terminology. But the processes that they use need to be built on the same objectives on which the training is done. The evaluation of workers needs to use the same standards that they used in training. Needs to use the same job description that they used in recruiting. And so, those functions don't have to merge, but the processes that they use have to have the same language, the same basics. It all needs to be governed by the same performance objectives."

    Learn more about Establishing A Common Performance Language at our May 22 Learning Event.

  • 05/13/2019 2:22 PM | Paul Venderley (Administrator)

    The Orange County Chapter of the Association for Talent Development (ATD) was recognized for its submission to the ATD “Sharing Our Success” (SOS) program. The national SOS program identifies best practices among local ATD chapters and uses them as models for other chapters.

    Elizabeth Beckham, Chair of ATD’s Chapter Recognition Committee said, "This recognition honors the OC Chapter’s best practice that demonstrates its commitment to managing a successful organization as well as advancing the talent development profession at the local level. We are honored to recognize the chapter with ATD's SOS recognition."

    The Training and Technology team was rebooted in 2017 with the goal of providing our members an opportunity to develop eLearning content that served a non-profit organization in the greater Orange County community.  We immediately found a partner in OneOC — Orange County’s non-profit resource center.

    The project: to replace a regular webinar software demonstration with an online tutorial, providing OneOC’s clients with the just-in-time ability to recruit volunteers for upcoming events, and freeing OneOC staff to do other much-needed tasks.

    Members interacted with a real client, created storyboards, and developed eLearning modules using prevalent eLearning authorware. In addition, they developed skills as a remote team, working in small groups in between the periodic SIG meetings.

    This effort provided members with the opportunity to enhance their technological skills and add a project to their resume with a complete work sample hiring managers can review, while providing a much-needed business solution for one of the leading nonprofit organizations in Orange County.

    ATD-Orange County's Chapter Vision is to: "Be the space in which to practice and perfect your talent development skills and build your professional network in Orange County."  We're proud to have the Training and Technology SIG as one of many communities of practice in which our members can take their skills to the next level!

  • 05/08/2019 9:55 PM | Paul Venderley (Administrator)


    As working professionals, we are aware of the value of a wardrobe.  A snappy suit can make or break an interview.  A fabulous outfit can establish a professional demeanor that opens doors.

    It's the unattainability of these professional essentials that perpetuate a cycle of unemployment and poverty for those who are struggling to return to work.  ATD-Orange County is proud to once again support Working Wardrobes in their mission to help men, women, young adults and veterans overcome this difficult challenge so they can achieve the dignity of work.

    This May, we're asking you to dip into your closet and pull out that one (or two) item(s) that you just aren't wearing for work anymore.  Bring it with you to the May Learning Event, and we'll contribute it to Working Wardrobe's Professional Clothing and Accessories Drive.  

    (You don't need to attend the May event, but that's where we'll be.)* 

    You'll find the "Drive for Success" details here.
    Please note some of the details:  we're looking for clothes in "slightly used" condition, clean and on hangars.  Ideally, these clothes are "interview ready."  

    Please take a look.  If there's something in your closet that doesn't bring you joy, but can bring joy to someone struggling to re-enter the workforce, we'd love to find it on the Working Wardrobes clothing rack at this month's Learning Event.

    Thank you.

    Want to learn more about Working Wardrobes?  Here's a quick fact sheet.

    * Not attending the MLE, but want to contribute anyway?  Stop by between 5:15 and 6:15 pm, drop off your donations and get some quick networking in.  We'll be there.

  • 04/08/2019 3:07 PM | Paul Venderley (Administrator)

    It gives us great pleasure to introduce our newest Programs Committee Leader: Ken Dixon.

    Ken approached our Vice President of Talent Development, Lynn Nissen, and shared that he was willing to support ATD-OC with "anything needed to help our events run more smoothly." This brought to mind SO many things, but we narrowed it down to:

    Identifying what interests the OC learning and development community, matching that up with industry trends, and from that creating a curriculum for the ATD-OC Monthly Learning Events. Ken's first project: to assemble a panel of webinar practitioners for an upcoming how-to session on setting up and facilitating world-class webinars.

    Ken has lived in Orange County for most of his life and is a long-standing member of ATD. As the founder and principal consultant of Dixon Talent Development, Ken has over 25 years of experience developing and implementing classroom, virtual, and web-based training. His passion for brand, learning, and strategic collaboration have been key to supporting success with global brands such as Gap, T-Mobile, Beats by Dre, and Apple.

    With all that experience under his belt, we asked what Ken was looking to gain from his service as Programs Committee Leader. Essentially, he perceives in this role an opportunity to build relationships and enhance his professional network. This is definitely an integral competency, one that we hope each member of our community will help Ken achieve.

    Please join us in welcoming Ken to the Programs team!

  • 04/03/2019 8:24 PM | Paul Venderley (Administrator)

    To continue our series of profiling “model volunteers,” in which we explore the goals that drive individuals to volunteer and their strategies for making the most out of the experience, we spoke with Kathleen Ashelford, who recently concluded her latest term on the ATD-OC board, this time as the VP of Talent Management.

    It turns out that when you volunteer for as many positions as Kathleen, you’re likely to be profiled more than once; and not surprisingly, there is a great interview with Kathleen written by Paul Venderley back in September 2015. If you didn’t catch it the first time around, it’s worth a read. Kathleen shared about her past efforts as the Chapter President, the skills and friendships she developed, and what inspired her to volunteer:

    I just wanted to contribute, to connect with others, and to make a difference. Every role since has been an opportunity to do what I love—to help an organization grow its ability to serve its stakeholders and fulfill its mission.

    It’s a sentiment that Kathleen reiterated during our more recent interview. In fact, her experience in the intervening years connecting with other volunteers and other non-profits has been like gasoline on a long-burning fire, stoking her excitement with the growing trend of corporate social responsibility. For Kathleen, volunteering is about the people.

    “Being able to make a positive impact is really important to me,” she said.

    The connection to a mission and a greater good leads many people to volunteer. Kathleen saw this firsthand during her time last year working as an AmeriCorps Fellow with OneOC, an organization that provides professional services to local non-profits. She divided her time between working in OneOC’s Organizational Development Department and helping to organize community service projects for corporate employees. She was impressed at the outpouring of corporate-supported volunteering, seeing organizations like the Home Depot Foundation, Taco Bell, Wells Fargo, and Ingram Micro send employees to contribute to community service projects during and after work hours: building playhouses for the families of veterans; making repairs at the Giving Farm; building homes for homeless veterans.

    The benefits of these kinds of volunteer experiences need no enumeration. But with all the worthwhile charity organizations, locally and across the globe, why dedicate your time to a professional organization like ATD-OC?

    “ATD-OC is focused on the betterment of people, making a positive impact on an organization’s people; not just giving them skills,” Ashelford said. “Most people want to do a good job. As talent development professionals, it’s our charge to help them find that sweet spot between their organization’s mission and what they do best.”

    It’s this sense of ATD-OC’s mission that led Ashelford and other board members to look for ways to offer skill development programs to members. They partnered with OneOC on two such projects: the first was to facilitate leadership development courses for Orange County non-profits, and the second was to design an eLearning module for OneOC’s member organizations on how to post volunteer opportunities to their website. Both projects would be led by seasoned talent development practitioners and staffed by ATD-OC members looking to grow their skills. The effort was such a success that ATD-OC received the Spirit of Volunteerism award from OneOC.

    Like any other worthwhile endeavor, there were challenges along the way. Finding members who were willing to serve as “learning advisors,” finding the right projects, finding the right learners with just enough experience—all of these added up to make it difficult to easily replicate the project’s success.

    But Ashelford hasn’t given up. As she passes the torch to the newly elected VP of Talent Management, Ashelford noted that she and the board (outgoing and incoming) have talked about a new model for engaging members in their own development and giving them the tools to make an impact in the lives of the people they serve.

    It’s a mission we’re eager to accept.

    More About Kathleen

    Kathleen Dvorak Ashelford is a program developer and team leader passionate about making a positive impact through nonprofit organizations. She has worked as a volunteer, staff member, and consultant to nonprofits serving a range of causes including STEM education, veterans issues, and Native American youth.

    She served as ATD-OC President in 2014, and has held several other Chapter Board offices, including Vice President of Technology and of Talent Management. In 2016, she co-founded a partnership between ATD-OC and OneOC (formerly, The Volunteer Center of Orange County), through which ATD-OC members volunteer their skills in exchange for professional development and networking opportunities.

    Last year, as an AmeriCorps Fellow, Kathleen worked in OneOC's Organizational Development Department, where she helped build and deliver training, leadership development, and other business services for Orange County's non-profit organizations.

    She has held leadership roles in the American Indian Science & Engineering Society, the Military Support Ministry at Mariners Church, Irvine, and the National Veterans Foundation. Other nonprofits with which she has been involved include Malibu Global Awareness (a fund-raising organization for Doctors Without Borders), the Los Angeles Astronomical Society, Astronomers Without Borders, and the Cheyenne River Youth Project.

    Before transitioning to the nonprofit world, Kathleen was a project manager, business analyst, technical writer, and process improvement specialist in the information technology industry.

    She earned her Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership with highest honors from Biola University, and has a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from the Project Management Institute.

    Kathleen’s passion for helping others has led to several volunteer commitments, including one Saturday each month spent at Griffith Observatory, where she and her fellow members of the Los Angeles Astronomical Society show visitors the sky through their telescopes.

  • 02/20/2019 5:17 PM | Paul Venderley (Administrator)

    Are you a team builder? A webinar facilitator? A tinker, a tailor, a rogue level one evaluator? ATD-OC is looking for talent development professionals with a passion in any of those topics.

    Here's the deal: we've got a community looking for you to share your expertise with them. Rather than invite them into your house and look over your shoulder, we're wondering if you'd consider leading one of our Chapter Learning Events.

    We've placed our wish list on this post, but our interests are by no means limited to those. If you've something you'd love to share with people interested in their professional development, we'd love to hear from you!

  • 01/27/2019 1:24 PM | Paul Venderley (Administrator)

    In 2018, ATD-Orange County ensured each of our learning events and workshops aligned with at least one ATD Foundational Competency.  

    • Business Skills: What Goes Into A Training Program (February) / Communication Plan (October) / Best in Class - Developing Your Employees (September)
    • Industry Knowledge:  Flipped Learning (January) / SIG Conference (September)
    • Interpersonal Skills:  Performance Management through Recognition (December) / The Power of Perception (November)
    • Personal Skills:  Mindsets (November)
    • Technology Literacy:  Engaging the Virtual Learner (March) / Blended Learning (May) / Captivate Workshop (June) / Motion Graphic Videos (May)

    We created a community in which our members applied best practices and grew within the talent development industry.

    • Total Trainer Graduates had an opportunity to facilitate programs for Yes!
    • Training and Technology SIG enhanced their Adobe Captivate skills via a project-based program in which they designed eLearning for OneOC.
    • Nancy Ingram dove into Prezi to create the opening canvas for ATD-OC Learning Event meetings.

    We partnered with corporate and non-profit organizations in our community, utilizing their expertise, resources, and passion in the support of our mission.

    • OneOC
    • South County Photo Club
    • Glidewell Laboratories
    • Taco Bell
    • Pacific Life
    • South County Photo Club

    We are 238 members strong, and glad you are one of them!

  • 01/23/2019 2:14 PM | Paul Venderley (Administrator)

    The State of the Industry report (SOIR) is produced annually by ATD’s researchers, presenting data in several groupings against which learning professionals can benchmark learning investments and best practices in their organizations.

    In this webinar we review ATD-OC's most recent State of the Industry Report, and discuss the following questions:

    • How has the data provided by the State of the Industry affected ATD-OC's strategy?
    • How might this data influence the L&D decisions you make in your organization?

    Data categories reviewed:

    • Efficiencies and Expenditures
      Spending on employee learning continues to be strong. This is the sixth year in a row that has seen an increase in direct learning expenditure.
    • Content Distribution
      Which content areas have the largest share of the learning portfolio?
    • Delivery Methods
      Is all the discussion about the prevalence of eLearning, and the demand of mLearning backed up by this report’s findings?

    View webinar recording:

  • 11/25/2018 5:54 PM | Paul Venderley (Administrator)

    As talent development professionals, we've doubtless taken many assessments analyzing our personalities. What's your MBTI? How about your DISC? Just recently, I dusted off my StrengthsFinder assessment in preparation for a job interview. These tools are great as we seek to interact and collaborate with others. What about the tools we need to promote ourselves?

    Dr. Ryan Gottfredson suggests that we consider our mindsets.

    Your mindsets, Dr. Gottfredson says, "play the role of being your mental fuel filter, dictating the information your brain processes, ultimately driving your thinking, learning, and behavior."

    Do you have a fixed or a growth mindset? An open or closed mindset? A prevention or a promotion mindset?

    "There are four sets of mindsets that have been found to strongly influence how successful you are in life, your work, and your leadership," shares Dr. Gottfredson.

    "The mindsets you now wear are mindsets that have been developed based upon how you were raised and the experiences you have had in life. And, it is likely that you fully believe that the mindsets that you currently possess are the very best mindsets to possess. That is what your life has taught you. But, what I have learned from personal experience is that often our current mindsets are not the most productive mindsets that we can possess."

    You can learn more about mindsets at Dr. Gottfredson's website, or join us this Wednesday, November 28, as Dr. Gottfredson offers insights into how our mindsets can impact our career management.

    • Understand the foundational role mindsets play in professional and career success and development
    • Have a clear focus on what mindsets you need to develop to enhance their professional and career success
    • Receive specific direction on how you can improve the mindsets that drive professional and career success

    Consider joining us at the DoubleTree Club Hotel -- Learn more OR

    Consider joining us online via GoToTraining -- Learn more

  • 10/15/2018 12:48 PM | Paul Venderley (Administrator)

    The topic for this month’s Learning Event came from a late night work conversation in which someone bemoaned the fact that when an employee was assigned a training class, they would invariably ask: “Do I have to take this?” Even more disconcerting, they didn’t ask the Talent Development team, they asked their HR reps, who in turn asked us: “Do they have to take this class?”

    If there’s anyone who oughta be repping you, it oughta be HR, right?

    The course objectives were strong. The WIIFM was clear. The problem: it hadn’t been communicated well to the employees. Thus, in an era during which the demands of employee time are increasing (and time seems to be slip-sliding away even faster than before -- can you believe it’s October already?), the need for a strong communication plan to convey the benefits of any training intervention are key.

    In this article, the folks at Business Performance, Ltd. share that constructing a communication plan with key stakeholders keeps everyone engaged in the success of a program. And they gave quite a list of stakeholders, from the instructional designer to the administration staff, and all the leaders and consultants in between.

    In the case that prompted our event, with whom should we have communicated?

    Employees to whom training was assigned would be the obvious choice, and they had received several emails about the upcoming learning requirements.

    • The managers of those being assigned training.
    • Our HR Representatives
    • Can you think of any others?

    At the conclusion of our Special Interest Group conference last month, I intimated that this is a lesson our Chapter can do well to pay heed to. We’ll be there, taking notes of best practices that we’ll be following in 2019. Will you?

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