Blog

  • 04 Aug 2017 1:13 PM | Anonymous
    GIRL Scouts

    While scouting for more best practices in Talent Development, I had the pleasure of chatting with Donna Tharp and Jean Butts from the Northeast Texas Council of Girl Scouts of America. Their Knowledge Management initiative – with almost 100% volunteers! – garnered them an Axis Award last year. Here are some of their thoughts.


    Q: What led you to move from a more traditional training approach to a micro-learning approach?


    A: Watching trends evolve in learning, we discovered that our learners are less willing to give up hours and travel to attend training. They are volunteers, and it’s about the balance of value vs. time, so it becomes very important to deliver value in an expedient way. We also observed the pendulum swinging too far in “the make it fast / make it easy” direction, with the result that we lost some of our value. The GSNETX Learning Channel was created to restore and build value.


    Q: Why did you select Facebook as your delivery mechanism for your micro-learning initiative (vs. Linked In, Twitter, blogs, etc.?)


    A: Why did we select Facebook vs Linked In vs Twitter?

    • Because our learners are already there, no additional username / passwords required.
    • Facebook is 24/7 – it’s not once and done.
    • Facebook makes use of hashtags, which means that everything that we publish can be curated and retrieved.

    Now, about crowd sourcing answers: if it’s an important question, then the answers should be accurate and clear, free from emotions. It was in that intersection that the seed for the GSNETX Learning Channel (GLC) was born. We observed many online community interactions full of questions, partial answers, misdirection - and frequently found golden nuggets of wisdom. That’s when we knew that we had potential to create something easily consumable that held real value and make a difference.


    Q: You relied heavily on volunteers to develop and publish this curriculum. How did you engage them and work with them to deliver quality content?


    A: We were blessed that we already had an existing team of volunteer facilitators for in-person macro learning courses. Within that group we found 10 volunteers to get us started with one post per day the first year. Once we were successful, we mined our community interest group for folks who could write well and asked them to begin writing for us.

    We provided the GLC Authors with a “How to write a GLC Post” Memo and the list of hashtags and ask them to write 4 or 5 posts per month, read/edit when necessary, and curate the photos. We developed a work plan to get ahead of the posts by 4-6 weeks so that we can edit, prepare and schedule posts for publishing at one time, freeing up the next 3 to 4 weeks, freeing us to work on other projects.

    We found with volunteers, it is crucial to build strong relationships, ask directly, be specific about what you need, and describe the benefits to them. Then praise, feedback, and more praise – frequent and consistent!


    Q: How did you market the program and get buy-in from your troop leaders to complete it?


    A: 1) First, we have volunteers take out their phones and connect to the Learning Channel at our new leader onboarding welcome session. We’ve also added it to the training page on our website, and integrated it into our official volunteer publications.

    2) We announced our launch in an existing GS Community of Interest for local leaders with a jump to our page pinned at the top of the group.

    3) We also shared information about our page with administrative volunteers who are influencers in the organization and asked them to help us connect people to the page.

    4) Finally, we crowd source ideas and pictures from the volunteer community group to use in our learning posts. As people see that “they” could be highlighted, they are more likely to engage and enjoy and participate.


    Q: How has the shift to micro-learning impacted your troop leaders’ ability to perform their role well?


    A: Questions of desperation in community groups have decreased, AND we notice volunteers who are not authors using information we published to answer questions, as well. We now have dozens of experienced volunteers who can answer questions with accuracy! Additionally, new volunteers have liked our page and the support we gave them so much that they, in their 2nd year, are joining the learning channel as authors. Leaders building leaders more quickly through micro-learning!


    Q: What other resources have you put in place to reinforce adoption of the content and ensure its application?


    A: For longer content, we introduced “mini-macros” this year by creating “Events” in Facebook. Event promotions are seen by our followers on their walls, giving them the chance to RSVP. The content of each event, however, has its own URL, which keeps all posts inside the event collected together. Each Learning Event is focused on a single topic and features a series of 10 posts to tell a more in-depth story.

    We have also piloted an “official” Community of Practice (CoP) called “New Leader Academy”. This differs slightly from the Community of Interest mentioned above in that it is limited specifically to Year 1 Leaders only; has planned interactions and engagement opportunities; and has dedicated mentors to catch questions and point members to answers and resources.


    Q: What advice would you give to an organization considering a similar type of initiative?


    A: 1) Find someone with strong left-brain capacity who thinks like an engineer, can break the big picture down into the details, organize and manage those details in project format and then gently but effectively bug people to set and meet deadlines.

    2) Think about what the Big Buckets are in your organization and assign those – with hashtags - to the days of the week, like programming a television guide.

    3) Create a guiding codex or library of hashtags organized by your topical daily theme, which will give you a publishing structure to adhere to.

    4) Remember that a post is generally only 2 to 3 sentences with a picture. Think also of related content that fits within the larger topic and assign hashtags to those as well.


  • 29 Jun 2017 11:59 PM | Anonymous

    Your company is growing! That’s the good news…but…it’s growing faster than you can effectively onboard new employees.  That is the situation Conifer Health faces every day, challenging its HR team to implement a brand new strategy to manage the organization’s talent in supporting the business’ goals.  The results?  An effective HR strategy that not only reinvents the company’s talent initiatives, but the progress so far has also earned it an Axis Award for Strategic Planning.


    Curious to learn how Conifer aligns its HR/Talent strategy to the Company’s vision of providing “the foundation for better health,” I connected with Cole Brown to learn more about their story.  What I found was a multi-faceted approach that is singularly focused on creating and reinforcing Conifer’s brand promise “We are Better Together as we live the Conifer life.” 


    Q:  Why was creating an employee “brand promise” so important to Conifer?


    A:  To drive consistency and excitement and build trust quickly. We had to learn what differentiated Conifer as an employer. We had to understand our team member value proposition, and answer the question: why would someone want to work here? That’s where the brand promise came in. We can promise more than just a paycheck. We can now promise career growth and almost unlimited opportunity because we are doing amazing things as a healthcare services firm – better together. We promise that we are better because of our new team members, and they will be better because of us. That’s our promise and our commitment.


    Q:  How do you go about developing an HR Strategy that tangibly supports and promotes the brand?


    A: We must listen to our team members, and did so, through focus groups and interviews with all levels from multiple locations around the country. We asked three questions:

    1.     What differentiates us as an employer?

    2.     What can we own in the marketplace as an employer?

    3.     What promise can we make to our team members and deliver on every time?

    From there, we developed a team member value proposition that connects with, and is relevant to, our business purpose and strategy. If our business purpose is to be the foundation for better health, then our value proposition must support it and our team members. That’s why Better Together makes a great connection. Better Health means we have to be Better Together as a team. From there, we analyzed our organization to identify gaps and barriers – what was keeping us from being Better Together? Once we identified those gaps, we started to build out our new talent strategy. That work continues today – getting Better Together and honing our talent strategy as we grow.


    Q:  How did you roll it out to ensure the new strategy would be adopted by team members?


    A:  We started by hosting a number of Town Halls to keep team members informed about the transition each step of the way.  We then hosted special Orientation events followed by thank you notes and a formal welcome letter.  Finally, we rolled out bi-weekly videos to support the transition of new team members and leaders, and provided a half-day leadership workshop for the new management team. But more than that – everything we did was to create a compelling new hire experience that connects people emotionally to our purpose, to other team members, and to the exciting possibilities ahead.


    Q:  There is a lot of talk these days about the impact of ‘story telling.’  How did you use stories to make sure the brand promise really resonated with employees?


    A:  We didn’t want to communicate with typical “business speak,” which can often be void of emotion. We needed buy- in and excitement from team members. Storytelling is the way to drive emotion. It helps our approach get beyond the pure logical connection to what we’re doing, and it engages the heart. Change can be hard, and our team members will deal with it better when their hearts are in it.


    Q:  What one or two pieces of advice would you give to other HR/Talent functions who really want to connect employees to the organization’s goals/vision?


    A:  First, this doesn’t start in the board room; it starts in the field. Talk to your team members. Listen a lot to what they are saying – and then be prepared to do something about it. Second, adopt some marketing principles. Don’t just be informative with your communications, be engaging. Capture their hearts as well as their heads. Finally, make sure it connects to the business in a way that drives the business forward. Our work in HR/Talent Management has to be of strategic value. We’re only of strategic value when we move the needle of real business metrics. 


    To learn more about Conifer's Award Winning initiative, visit the 2016 AXIS Awards Winners Webpage.

  • 06 Jun 2017 12:12 PM | Anonymous

    By Dee Dick



    Always interested in learning about best practices in talent development, I caught up with Amy Gingerich, Sr. Manager of Training and Development at Pizza Hut, to talk about their AXIS award-winning program, The Launch Pad.


    Q: What about gamification appealed to your team?


    A: “Our team loves gamification!” Pizza Hut found that out by building just one course in a gamified version, with collecting elements like smiles representing customer satisfaction and hearts representing brand love as rewards for correct answers. With 50,000 responses to the course reaction survey, 94% say they enjoy the game-like interaction, and those numbers continue to prove out as the course reaches three years in production.


    Q: How did your team get buy-in from the organization to make the investment?


    A: “First, Pizza Hut is a learning organization. We wanted to make sure Team Members could get to their training quickly and easily. So the idea of “hiding” the LMS by having the new rebranded platform reside on top of the LMS became the business case. Pizza Hut demonstrated how the new program validates the skills inside the course, rather than with a test at the end. An unexpected, but welcome, side effect is training time, which was significantly reduced by incorporating skill-building games inside the course.


    Q: What was your over-arching process – build then gamify, or build gamified?


    A: “Pizza Hut built each course gamified!” First Pizza Hut determined the learning objectives for each course, then worked with its vendor, MLink, to identify the best way to achieve those objectives through game play. One thing Pizza Hut discovered is that some of the courses really required a small “pre-download” that either set some context, or explained some rules for playing.


    Q: How did you roll it out?


    A: “In waves: that way we could begin replacing old content as soon as possible.” With 150,000 Team Members across the system, Pizza Hut needed to get the training up and running – beginning with Customer Service Representatives, then Delivery Drivers, and lastly Food Production. That method also allowed for an agile approach to development.


    Q: What are some key points that you learned about using gamification through this project?


    A: Four come to mind immediately:


    1. The importance of the pre-download for setting context for the user.


    2. Keeping the activity balanced – not too easy or too complex. If it’s too complicated to learn how to play the game, you’re less likely to actually play.


    3. Again, around context: set a realistic expectation. Example: Some courses are designed to be “more challenging than others and therefore, require more than one round of game play (sort of like linear games – if you mess up you have to start over). Users are more relaxed when they realize that it’s supposed to be that way.


    4. Test! Test! Test! It’s incredibly important to test the games prior to launch to ensure the learners have a seamless learning experience.


    Q: What advice would you give to others who are considering adding gaming elements to their learning?


    A: Build your strongest business case by figuring out what the real need is and, based on that analysis, build a pilot!


    Q: Finally, any other thoughts you’d like to share?


    A: Yes! Our relationship with IT is critical!” IT should be your #1 business partner, along with your development team. Be sure all of critical players have a seat at the table.


    Curious to hear more? You can learn more about Pizza Hut’s Award Winning initiative on the 2016 AXIS Awards Winners Webpage or at our Chapter Meeting on June  20th


What initiatives are YOU working on?  Consider sharing your story via AXIS!

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