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  • August 20, 2021 9:34 AM | Scott Rencher (Administrator)

    Post written by ATDChi member Lisa Erlich. This article is part of a series of member-written content on Career Development in Talent Development.

    Use Your Superpower to Break into Learning & Development

    At the start of my career, if someone had asked me where I saw myself in 5 years, I definitely had a plan – grand plans on being the Editor-in-Chief of a print magazine. Nearly 25 years later, my B.A. in Journalism with a Minor in French has only slightly factored into my career pivot into Learning & Development.

    So how did I find Learning & Development, much less get started? My superpower. My superpower is the ability to simultaneously see the bigger picture and connect the dots to deliver on what needs to be done. That takes three things: Flexibility, Curiosity and Empathy.

    THE POWER OF FLEXIBILITY: 1997. The internet was new. Print magazines were developing an online presence – this was where it was “at.” I took a job where I was able to write and produce online content and learn the business quickly.

    THE POWER OF CURIOSITY: 2004. I was new to Chicago – no job – and I got an offer at an affiliate marketing company. This wasn’t your typical, in-your-face pop-up advertising. This was eyebrow raising. In 2004, affiliate marketing generated about $1.5 billing in the U.S. According to Statista, affiliate marketing spending in the U.S. alone is expected to reach $8.2 billion by 2022. Bingo!

    THE POWER OF EMPATHY: 2010. I’m still with my affiliate marketing company. It’s no longer a start-up but in hyper-growth mode. I was on the client services team but could see we were in need for more focus on our teams. We needed a cohesive approach to onboarding, consistent job functional training, and better support for our people managers.

    Despite the fact that I didn’t have any formal training, I did my research, crafted a proposal, gained endorsement from the executive team, and got the go-ahead to design and deliver a Learning & Development strategy.

    With my focus on continually learning, I found great partners and worked closely with key stakeholders across the organization to build and scale our first people-focused development programming.

    So how do you translate all of this?

    Identify, and rely on, your superpower: Not sure what that is? Ask yourself: What are my strengths? What do I enjoy? Once you’ve identified them, put them to use – offer to be a peer coach, lead a team meeting, volunteer to share new information or a new process with your team.

    Keep your eyes open for “trends”: Have the pulse on what’s happening in your space, in your organization. Is there growth? Are there shifts? Are there new opportunities? That “trend” could be the next big thing. Ask yourself, what will your role be?

    Educate yourself along the way: Start to immerse yourself in the Learning & Development world.

    You’re here now, but continue to leverage TD.org to read articles, find conferences, and keep following the blog posts on TD.org and ATDChi.org.

    Network with local HR professionals or Learning & Development groups on LinkedIn, and follow #learninganddevelopment on LinkedIn.

    Check out Eventbrite for free industry webinars.

    Take online courses on your favorite e-learning platform.

    Don’t get me wrong, it's critical to have a short-term goal, but as quickly as things change these days, adaptability and identifying new opportunities are just as important. Chef José Andrés said recently on the Smartless podcast, “We have the tendency to plan too much. When you plan too much… what happens? Things usually never go as you plan them.”

    If you want to break into L&D, keep your eyes and ears open, leverage your strengths, and make your own opportunities happen.

    About Lisa Erlich

    Lisa Erlich has been an innovator and thought leader in the Learning & Development space for more than a decade. She lives in the suburbs north of Chicago with her husband, 2 boys and dog. Reach out to Lisa at https://www.linkedin.com/in/lisa-erlich-b9577663/

    ATDChi Footnotes

    Are you a member with something to share about developing your Career in L&D? Send an email to careers@atdchi.org.

    ATD offers many courses from micro learning to Master Programs. You can check them out here:

    Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

  • August 06, 2021 8:53 AM | Scott Rencher (Administrator)

    Post written by ATDChi member Marc Mattson. This article is part of a series of member-written content on Career Development in Talent Development.

    If Knowledge is Power, then Ignorance is Bliss... Ah, truisms! One thing you’ve got to love about them is that there’s always a counter-truism.

    Well, maybe not always. It’s a truism in instructional design circles that the “why” is the most important factor in creating effective learning. I think that’s indisputable. I mean, consider these simple questions:

    • “Why is this important to know?”
    • “Why is this topic relevant?”
    • “What is the purpose/use/context for this information?”

    (Okay, I know, that’s a “what,” but it’s a proxy for “why.”) These are basic, fundamental questions that drive learning design. They help us set the foundation, they help us determine relevance and set learner expectations. In short, they drive us to empathize with the learner.

    Or, more to the point, they help us keep learner ignorance in mind. They also help us, as learning designers, temper our expertise and keep what we know from getting in the way of what learners should know.

    Consider what I expect is a universal experience among learning designers... ID (Instructional Designer) asks SME (Subject Matter Expert) what topics are the most important for a learner:

    SME says, “all of them.”

    ID bangs head on desk. After applying cold compress, ID goes about asking targeted questions to narrow the focus of the lesson.


    In this scenario, the ID is the learner. Indeed, learning designers aren’t topic SMEs and probably shouldn’t be. Our expertise is determining the optimal approach to presenting a topic to learners. We partner with SMEs to turn their knowledge into a meaningful, impactful learning experience. At it’s core, our job is not to impart our expertise on learners, it’s to ask questions of the experts to determine what the necessary lessons are and then structure the resulting topics in such a way that learners both understand why they need to learn it and how they can best learn it.

    Our job, in a nutshell, is to act as proxies for the learner. And the best way to do that is to actually be a learner.

    And being a learner means being ignorant.

    Take, for instance, this scenario:

    A trainer walks onto a conference room stage, looks down his nose at a sea of eager learners hungering for an Introduction to Cloud Architecture, and says “My docker-compose.yaml includes a Traefik reverse proxy and API gateway.”

    “Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?” I think, my eyes rolling into the back of my head. My feeble brain is so preoccupied with parsing his statement Iit can’t even muster the energy to close my O-shaped mouth or wipe the line of drool trailing down my chin.


    Now, there are a number of reasons the trainer may have opened his presentation this way. It could, on the one hand, just be an excuse to establish his credibility. On the other hand, it could have been a misjudged ‘shock-and-awe’ attempt to establish the benchmark that the audience will achieve by the end of the course. But, it could also have been a poorly designed course from the start that assumed a level of prior knowledge that the learners, in an introductory course, simply didn’t have.

    In all likelihood, it was all three.

    For what it’s worth, trainers can’t afford ignorance. In most cases, trainers are SMEs, which is why they are imparting the topic in the first place. Ignorance, then, would destroy their credibility, undermine the lesson, and, at best, anger the audience. Learners go to training because they’re expecting expertise, and the person presenting had better be an expert!

    On the other hand, learning designers aren’t SMEs and probably shouldn’t be. We shape a learning experience, and ideally will have a certain degree of ignorance of the topic at hand. In fact, I’d call ignorance a necessity in this case.

    For example, I work as a learning designer for a niche business software (for fun, let’s call it XPalidocious). In the nearly five years I’ve been designing eLearning courses for XPalidocious, I can still say that I’m not an expert in the product itself. Not even remotely. Now, there are two legitimate reasons for this:

    1) I have no business purpose for using XPalidocious.; It’s a specialized product that has no relation to my profession (other than it being the product I design learning for, of course), so there’s really no reason for me to retain the information. But more importantly,

    2) I purposely cultivate an ignorance of it!

    “Why?” you ask?

    “Precisely!” I say.

    I want to keep asking the right why questions:

    • “Why do you do that?”
    • “Why do you do it that way?”
    • “Why do I need to know this?”


    Again, cultivate empathy for the learner by putting yourself in their shoes (unless those shoes are a size too small, in which case, find a learner with bigger feet). They will take the course you design because they want to learn the topic, which means they don’t know the topic, which means they’ll be encountering information they’ve never seen before. The best way you can fill in their informational gaps is to exist in those gaps yourself!

    Trainers can’t afford those gaps. But they also can’t afford to ignore those gaps. So whether you’re a trainer or a learning designer, I say for the sake of your learners, “stay stupid my friends!”


    Marc Mattson is a senior Instructional Designer for SAP and an occasional novelist. He’s been instructional designing for oh, like 15 years now, in one form or another, but nonetheless tends to describe himself first as a writer. He sums up adult learning theory this way: “Adults don’t want to learn what they don’t want to learn, but if they have to, make it quick, make it relevant, and make it fun. And learn ‘em good.”

    LinkedIn URL: https://www.linkedin.com/in/marcmattson/

    ATDChi Footnotes

    Are you a member and want to share your story about developing your Career in L&D? Send an email to careers@atdchi.org.

    ATD offers many courses from micro learning to Master Programs. Check them out here: https://my.td.org/search/courses - use our CHIP code when registering: CH5009

    If you’d like to volunteer with ATDChi, head on over here: https://atdchi.org/Volunteer

    Library Photo by Martin Adams on Unsplash

    Head in Hand Photo by Adrian Swancar on Unsplash

  • July 22, 2021 8:00 AM | Scott Rencher (Administrator)

    Post written by ATDChi member Annette Wisniewski. This article is part of a series of member-written content on Career Development in Talent Development.

    “You don’t have any relevant experience.”

    How do you get work in a new field when employers ask for previous experience? It can be daunting, but there are some strategies to support you in making the transition. I have used each of these strategies successfully at some point during my career.

    Extrapolate from Your Current Experiences

    Prior to working in L&D, I was a programmer/analyst. The same basic ADDIE principles apply to both L&D and programming. Both involve analyzing the need; designing, developing, and implementing the solution; and then evaluating the results.

    What have you already done in your current field that translates to learning and development? Teach? Design training? Create a job aid? Develop a new process or procedure? Whatever it is, document it and be prepared to discuss both how it relates to, and differs from, L&D best practices.

    Obtain Credentials

    When I wanted to return to the corporate world after being a stay-at-home mom, I realized that I needed to retool. So, I went back to school and earned both my master’s degree in instructional and performance technology and a certificate in workplace e-learning and performance support.

    What L&D-related credentials can you earn now? Just make sure that the credentials are relevant to your desired career path and are well-respected before you invest in them1. ATD offers many courses from microlearning to Master Programs. You can check them out here: https://my.td.org/search/courses

    Call an Old Friend

    While working on my master’s degree, I called an old friend who had connections. She hired me to work with her as an instructional designer on a contract for a large company. She mentored me and helped me to succeed on my first project as an independent contractor.

    Who do you know who might be able to open a door for you? Who is doing work that you want to be doing? Who could you ask to mentor you?

    Ask for the Opportunity

    After completing grad school, I still had no practical experience in creating e-learning. At a local industry conference, I ran into someone I had met at other local events. I asked her if she would be willing to take a chance on me. She was – at a reduced rate – as a trial to see if I could do the work. She soon brought me on board as a regular contractor. I worked with her for several years and we became great friends.

    Don’t be afraid to ask for an opportunity to gain experience. Check out local networking events, such as local ATD chapter events; industry groups, such as ATD; and companies that are doing work you find interesting. Reach out and ASK for what you want.

    Raise Your Hand

    While at a local industry meeting, one of the members asked for volunteers to help her with a new low-profit startup that would support a not-for-profit venture. I raised my hand and found myself among an amazing group of talented, generous people. That led to multiple years of paid work and deep friendships with several members of that group.

    What local ATD chapter events are near you? What ATD or other volunteer opportunities2 excite you? What do you have time and enthusiasm for? Raise your hand! And then follow through with exuberant dedication. Build a reputation for being a reliable, invaluable team player. You might even make new friends along the way.

    Use Your Social Media Networks

    When there was a reorganization that affected my then-current company, I knew I needed to find a new job. I started monitoring the usual job boards, but I also watched my network on LinkedIn. One of my contacts posted that his company was hiring for an enticing position. After submitting a blind resume and participating in three interviews, I was offered an amazing opportunity – only about 30 days after first applying.

    Who are you currently connected with who might be able to offer you advice or a lead? Who can you add to your current network who might be willing to help?


    Think outside the box when trying to break into a new field. For L&D, consider joining the local chapter and national ATD. But joining an organization is not enough; you have to participate. Try applying one or more of the other strategies, as well. I have found L&D people to be incredibly kind and generous with their talents. You just have to take the first steps to get out there. If you would like to discuss any of these further, please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn and let’s talk!


    Annette Wisniewski is an Instructional Design Manager with the Capabilities team at Kraft Heinz. Follow her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/awisniewskicpt/

    ATDChi Footnotes

    1  ATD offers many courses, from microlearning to Master Programs. You can check them out here: https://my.td.org/search/courses, and don’t forget to use our CHIP code when registering: CH5009.

    2  If you’d like to volunteer with ATDChi, head on over here: https://atdchi.org/Volunteerhttps://atdchi.org/Volunteer.

    Are you a member with something to share about developing your Career in L&D? Send an email to careers@atdchi.org.

    Photo credit:  Mikelya Fournier on Unsplash

  • June 17, 2021 1:46 PM | Scott Rencher (Administrator)

    Post written by ATDChi member Nick Smith, APTD. This article is part of a series of member written content on Career Development in Talent Development.

    I had just wrapped up an assignment and started a vacation on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean when I got the call. Recognizing one of our work extensions, I immediately thought one of my colleagues had died. Why else would work be calling me while I was on vacation in another country? So I was pleasantly surprised when the call was to congratulate me on being offered the role of Learning Specialist at my organization.

    I had applied for the job with excitement but not a lot of expectation. The occasional opportunities I had to review curriculum or create new resources were my favorite parts of my current role, and I had done a little bit of teaching and tutoring in previous jobs. But I had no formal background in education, and certainly not in adult learning – a passion without a practice.

    I requested 24 hours to think about the offer, then almost immediately called both my partner and my parents from overseas for advice. Since you’re reading this, I guess it’s obvious that I took the leap. And along with that leap came our old friend imposter syndrome, and the realization that I really needed to figure out what I was going to be doing.

    I know I’m not alone in this. Many of us identify as “accidental trainers,” launched into an L&D career we love through a somewhat circuitous path. What I learned is that the field can absolutely embrace you, if you embrace the field.

    First, a brag of gratitude: my team was a huge help in familiarizing me with the terminology and processes I’d need to know. If you have a team that loves learning and sharing knowledge like mine does, count yourself lucky. But in order to feel like a real contributor, I knew I had to take an active role in my own professional development.

    I immediately set a goal of completing at least one class, certificate, or certification in the field each year, and told my supervisor in order to keep myself accountable. It’s a goal I’ve kept since 2016, and watching those completions add up has been a fun way to track my accomplishments. First, I invested in a membership with ATD, and later ATDChi, so I could have access to the resources, trainers, and tools provided through the website. Through ATD, I completed an on-demand course on adult learning and two certificate programs, one in Instructional Design and the other in Articulate Storyline.

    This process culminated in 2020, when I used the extra time I was trapped in my house to study for and achieve the Associate Professional in Talent Development (APTD) certification

    But ATD isn’t (and probably shouldn’t be!) the only source of development opportunities. Over the last few years, I’ve participated in a number of talent development conferences, either in-person or virtually. And within my own organization, I completed a management development certificate, and have served as both a staff mentor and mentee. I’ve taken a number of professional development courses offered by internal staff, and have even facilitated a few myself.

    This year, I’m trying a different tactic. Instead of formal learning opportunities, I’m looking at ways to grow my communication and networking skills, such as participating in a webinar panel about preparing for the APTD and volunteering for our local ATDChi chapter – for example, by writing this very post!

    To be clear, I’ve had a lot of support in achieving these goals, including time off and financial assistance from my organization. But, even if you don’t have those supports, I want to underscore how important it is to prioritize your professional development in whatever way makes sense for your time and budget. Maybe that means carving out one hour per week (or month!) to catch up on the latest trends and think-pieces. Or maybe it means registering for one class or conference per year, and doing so enough in advance that your calendar isn’t already full.

    Because I made professional development a priority, I’m no longer grappling with the imposter syndrome I felt when I first stepped into this role.

    Whether you’re new to the profession or have been a talent development professional for decades, our jobs are always changing – and certainly I think we’ve all picked up some new skills in the last year, whether we wanted to or not. Take advantage of that momentum, set yourself up a goal for professional development this year, and hold yourself accountable.

    Nick Smith, APTD is a Learning Specialist for Rotary International, where he designs leadership development curriculum for over 1,000 volunteer leaders and works with a global team of more than 200 trainers. In his spare time, he writes fiction, walks a three-legged dog, and tries new bourbons. Help him get better at networking by finding him on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicholas-smith-aptd-3b6a86b9/

  • June 10, 2021 11:46 AM | Scott Rencher (Administrator)

    Post written by Scott Rencher based on an interview with ATDChi member Nathaniel Miller. This article is part of a series on Career Development in Talent Development.

    Nathaniel, like many Instructional Designers (ID), fell into his career unexpectedly. He was an ESL educator in South Korea and Japan for about 10 years before moving back to the US in 2019.

    When he returned to the States, he landed a position in International Education Administration. However, four months in, he lost his job due to significant restructuring. While recovering from this setback, he worked for his father’s construction company, doing construction and project management while searching for his next job.

    #1 Advice, Your Network

    “One of the things that I think was really helpful to me in the whole search was reaching out to people in my network.” One his former colleagues from the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education suggested Nathaniel should apply to U of I for an Instructional Design Specialist position. He said, “If you can manage the heavy lesson planning, course load, and hybrid online courses you did in South Korea, you can certainly do this job. Your familiarity with adult learning principles and the corporate training environment will come in handy with a lot of the work you will be doing. You will just have to tweak your resume to illustrate that you have the necessary skills.”

    His former colleague’s counsel validated his experiences and encouraged him to take the next step and apply for the job. With this guidance, Nathaniel began the application process.

    Connect with Your Experiences

    In preparation, Nathaniel looked at what the U of I specifically wanted for the job and how his previous experiences could help him fulfill that role. At first glance, the role seemed overly technical because there was a couple software tools he had not previously used in his teaching roles in South Korea or Japan. However, upon closer examination, most of his work experience, was indeed applicable. The job required someone who was familiar with lesson planning, online course design, project management, and familiar with learning technologies. The more he thought about it, Nathaniel found, “I fit the job better than I had initially thought.”

    Nathaniel also leveraged his teaching experience as an advantage. He understood a day-in-the-life of a teacher, what they needed when they got the material, and how to apply it in the classroom. While he acknowledges that not all ID professionals need to have a teaching background, he wanted to leverage every ounce of experience to demonstrate that he was the best candidate for the job.

    What Was Once Unfamiliar Became Familiar

    While researching the job role, he split things into two categories: what was familiar and what was unfamiliar to him. With the familiar group, he connected his relevant experience and he used LinkedIn Learning and other online tools to brush up on the latest adult learning concepts. With the unfamiliar, he did additional homework so that he could speak to those concepts with the appropriate language.

    For example, one unfamiliar tool was a software called Storyline 360. To get a general idea of how it worked, he watched online tutorials and downloaded a trial version of the software to get a crash course in the technology. While he was not fluent in the software, he could at least relate it back to technologies he did know very well, like MS PowerPoint. During the interview, when asked about whether he had any experience with Storyline, he was honest about the limits of his exposure and said, “I’ve learned a variety of educational software and even how to speak two languages over the last 10 years, so I am certain I can learn new software like Storyline 360.”

    Nathaniel landed the job and has been in the role for a year now. He has found that he loves being an Instructional Designer and really enjoys the people with whom he gets to work.

    Pulling it all Together

    His advice to job seekers looking to get into L&D:

    Tap into and use your network, especially to help land the first interview.

    Do not be afraid of the job specs and the interview questions. Map your experience back to the job requirements. Even if you have not done the ‘exact’ job or task, think about how your experience relates.

    Research what is familiar and unfamiliar. Sharpen what you are good at and get some level of exposure to the things that are not familiar to you. Do not waste your time trying to talk about things you do not know! Focus on what you do know and how it makes you an excellent candidate.

    Author’s note

    Thank you, Nathaniel, for your time and wisdom. Career journeys can be long and circuitous. Along the way, we pick up odd skills and experiences that may be useful to us down the road. The trick is figuring out which ones relate and applying them to new situations and opportunities.

    When it comes to leveraging your network, as it was in Nathaniel’s case, our 1st degree connections are not typically going to offer or land us the job. The power is really in the 2nd degree connections. They may either have an opportunity or they can connect you to someone in their network who can help you get a foot in the door. That is where growing and maintaining your network has the greatest power and reach.

    Each month we publish an article written by or about one our ATDChi members. This article is based on an interview conducted in May 2021 with Nathaniel Miller, Instructional Design Specialist from the University of Illinois System. You can connect with Nathaniel on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/nathaniel-miller-1ab0b4134/

    Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

  • May 27, 2021 10:42 AM | Scott Rencher (Administrator)

    Post written by ATDChi member Mauricio Palli. This article is part of a series of member written content on Career Development in Talent Development. 

    The pandemic has really impacted the L&D landscape. I have seen various articles and blogs recently where individuals are asking how one can break into this ever-changing field. I have seen professionals from traditional school teachers to entrepreneurs ask in blogs, articles, and webinars.

    In my opinion there really is no set answer on how one can break into the L&D space. Everyone has their own experience. Most of the professionals in this field “fell into it” either by choice or by accident. However, I do feel that you can set yourself up for success by doing a few things that might not necessarily involve obtaining an advanced degree in the pedagogy.

    Photo by Luke Richardson on Unsplash

    Network with individuals who are working in the space. This is key because they can provide you with the real ins and outs of the space. You can continue to build these relationships and perhaps obtain a mentor in the process. 

    Next, I would say to start creating your own professional portfolio. Having a mix bag of instructor lead training along with computer-based training is essential. Don’t forget to also include any examples of collateral to support these trainings i.e.: job aides, icebreakers, teach-back activities, learning journals, etc. 

    Educate yourself! Learn more about what are the leading trends in the business while also subscribing to professional YouTube pages in the field to gain more insight. Here are a few I follow:

    Finally, explore the ATD Micro Courses or professional certifications such as an APTD certification or any facilitation skills, training design & delivery, & adult learning certifications from a reputable organization.

    In the end, one will really need to discover what path within L&D to take. The only way to do that is by conducing your research while keeping an open mind in where you might fit in the ever-evolving space.

    Mauricio Palli - Training Design & Delivery Senior Analyst at Aon - At Aon I design & develop instructional content & training materials for contact center colleagues while working with various clients to deliver best in class training.

    You can reach Mauricio at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mauricio-palli-matd-13ba7957/

  • May 20, 2021 11:21 AM | Scott Rencher (Administrator)

    Post written by ATDChi member Lisa Erlich. This article is part of a series of member written content on Career Development in Talent Development.

    DE&I. Hybrid teams. Wellness. You may have noticed that the white-hot spotlight of success is focusing on these three initiatives.  I’m guessing you’ve noticed.

    Yes, many companies already have substantial DE&I and Wellness programs that were created prior to the pandemic. And no one can predict what teams and offices will look like in the short- and long-term.

    While overwork, healthy lifestyles and burnout concepts are not new, if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that wellness needs to be front-and-center for employees, and organizations, to flourish.

    So what are we talking about exactly?

    According to Corporate Wellness Magazine, workplace wellness programs tend to focus on 5 key pillars: Physical Wellness (nutrition and exercise), Emotional Health (feelings and coping with challenges) Intellectual Wellness (learning from past experiences & seeking growth), Occupational (personal satisfaction and healthy balance) and Social (interactions with others).

    Programs can run the gamut from covering the cost of gym memberships, offering in-office or online weekly yoga sessions, initiating team exercise challenges, or partnering with mental wellness apps like Thrive Global or Calm.

    And these offerings aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. According to Grand View Research’s Corporate Wellness Market Size & Share Report, 2021-2028, the global corporate wellness market size was valued at 52.8 billing (USD) in 2020 and is expanded to grow 7% (CAGR) by 2028.

    Learning & Development and Wellness

    Learning & Development strategy, by definition, should be driven by both employee needs and organizational goals. For Wellness programs to succeed, they too, need to be strategic and tied to business goals and employee practice. So how can Learning & Development teams support a Wellness strategy?

    Like any other corporate objective, no Wellness program will succeed without a singular, yet two-pronged, approach.

    1.       Holistic Transparency: It has to be visible in the company commitment, culture norms, manager support and individual engagement.

    2.       Multi-level Leadership Support: From the C-Suite to line managers to team leads, leaders must lead by example – participate, give permission, and discuss Wellness.

    Maximize Impact

    Let’s look at some of the simple, yet impactful, actions your Learning & Development team can implement to support your existing, or upcoming wellness program.

    Onboarding: Set expectations early by presenting your wellness offering from the beginning. When both HR and managers are discussing it with new hires (what it is, who should participate, what does that look like on individual team) it becomes an integrated cultural norm.

    For individuals: Employees need to identify their feelings, why and what they can do about them – as well as the skills to communicate those needs. L&D can provide in-person or online courses or on-demand resources that support:

    ·       Self-Assessment (burnout, stress, financial wellbeing, peer/work engagement) and what to do with those results.

    ·       Self-Leadership/Empowerment/Growth Mindset: Give employees the language and resources to ask for help (stress, re-prioritizing projects, meeting times, flexible work hours)

    For Leaders: As mentioned above -- and it bears repeating --  the experience and communication has to come from the top down.  Leaders must “give” employees permission to participate -- talk about it at an all-hand meeting, mention their own participation in an upcoming yoga class, reiterate where resources can be found online.

    In a 2016 study by HealthFitness, where they surveyed 465 employees from companies offering health, wellness and fitness programs, 41% of employees didn’t participate at all. When asked why, 53% of these nonparticipants cited cultural barriers such as lacking employer’s support to take part.  

    While the role of Leadership is to bring visibility to and normalization the Wellness program, the role of the Manager is to support and help individuals engage in it. Many don’t know how. L&D can help.

    For Managers: Consider this multi-layered development structure.

    • Add Wellness to Management Development:
      • Identifying burnout/stress/disengagement/zoom fatigue and strategies to address it.
      • Coaching to help employees re-prioritizing projects, identify ongoing productivity needs (how do they work best/when do they to set aside time to focus on work vs meetings vs personal priorities)
      • Encouraging employees to plan vacation and take off.
    • Double-down on Empathy training & practice in Management Development.
    • Link Wellness & Empathy as part of Team-Building workshops.
      • Leverage existing meetings to take time to share wins and kudos, do pulse checks, have show and tell.
    • Help managers define their own expectations:
      • Do they have an open-door policy?
      • What is their and their employee’s preferred method of communication?
      • When/how quickly should employees respond to emails? And vice versa.
      • Can employees block out time to work (i.e. no-meeting zones)? Will they, as a team, determine what that looks like?

    Bring It Home

    As companies turn the focus toward health, gaining new voices and living in a new work culture, People are at the heart of what it takes to succeed. Learning & Development professionals have always known this. Our job continues to be empowering individuals, leaders, and organizations by giving them the personal and professional resources to do what’s right to succeed on all levels.

    Lisa Erlich has been an innovator and thought leader in the Learning & Development space for more than a decade.  She lives in the suburbs north of Chicago with her husband, 2 boys and dog. Reach out to Lisa at https://www.linkedin.com/in/lisa-erlich-b9577663/

    Are you a member with something to share about developing your Career in L&D? Send an email to careers@atdchi.org.

  • May 13, 2021 12:02 PM | Scott Rencher (Administrator)

    Post written by ATDChi member Steve Matre. This article is part of a series of member written content on Career Development in Talent Development.

    Some normalcy is making its way back into our lives as training professionals. I was able to deliver a session in person during April to the annual conference of the Texas Apartment Association in San Antonio. This meant my first flights and in-person gatherings in over a year. The session was called “Coaxing Great Customer Service Out of Already Burned Out Employees.” While the session was warmly received and it was terrific to be with industry friends and colleagues again, the topic seemed to raise many questions about on-going team motivation, effective training delivery, and the long-term outlook for employee moods and retention in general.

    …meanwhile, back in my real world at work, two themes continue to creep into my mind: employees’ desire for more learning juxtaposed with their internal voice telling them to make a job or career change . In the runup to the pandemic (2018-2019), quit rates were high. People were leaving their jobs. However, in LinkedIn’s 2019 Workforce Learning Report findings, 94 percent of employees said that they would stay at a company longer if it simply invested in helping them learn.

    Fast forward to 2021 and the latest trend is to embrace YOLO; shout out to the New York Times for a terrific article, “Welcome to the YOLO Economy”. The pandemic provided a lot of time for reflection but limited opportunities to socialize and spend. Although some part of this is anecdotal evidence, it seems that many American professionals are comfortable enough with their bank accounts and frustrated enough with their daily grind to take a risk and make a career move to, well, sometimes no job at all. This trend in the making is challenging training professionals to seriously consider the role they play and the value they add to workplaces.

    As the amateur sociologist that I am, I don’t want to dig too deep into the data, but this is a moment to reflect on what these trends mean to someone in corporate learning and development.

    I find myself in a company swirling with change. In an environment of fast and constant change, anxiety and nervous energy can run high. There is a forced learning of new systems and forced implementation of them in order to succeed. At the end of each day, however, you ask yourself, “did I have any control at all over what I learned, and am I growing in a way that offers any real personal enrichment?”

    In the interest of keeping it simple, here are three tips I embraced to balance these trends in a meaningful way:

    1. Remember that listening opportunities are important even though curation is tough.
    As training professionals, we know that curating and assembling the perfect training program is not possible; it will never be perfect. It is fluid, ever changing. You can go beyond the basics, however, by assembling small clusters of people from various departments, inclusion and diversity are key. Meet with these team members and do a simple vision exercise. Ask them, “Ideally, what additional skills would you like to have in your arsenal 2 years from now?” You may need to provide some conversation starters. People want to learn, but they tend to stick to job responsibilities. Two or 3 of these short brainstorming discussions should get you started on your way to an enriching program that you had not envisioned.

    2. Provide deeper dives for those who want to truly master a variety of skill sets.
    Internal company training programs tend to be delivered on a set schedule. You know the drill, webinar Wednesdays and on-boarding every Thursday at 9 am. A terrific 1-year goal is to pair some of your line skills training with deeper dives, for example, a few days after. If you do a basic sales class on Wednesday, offer an optional bonus session early on Friday morning to teach “From Manager to Sales Coach,” or “Deeper Dive into Strategy Around Your Sales KPI’s.” The bottom line is just…give….more so that those team members who want to master their skill sets can get that craving satisfied. Of course, sales is just one example.

    3. Vary your delivery methods to enhance engagement and enrich the learning experience.
    An overwhelming majority of employees want quality training opportunities that teach, engage, and enrich. The goal is to provide training that trumps the desire to make a career move. Making this investment in employee retention requires creative ways to engage and inspire. Try to provide a variety of training delivery methods. You might facilitate collaboration on real projects over Zoom if your company has not returned to work in person. You might teach new procedures through virtual work groups that not only demonstrate new methods but also get the work done. As more people are vaccinated, you may return to additional in-person learning and role play, brainstorming, and group discussions. There is not an exact answer but the key is to provide variety. Pandemic fog, Zoom fatigue, and restlessness are real. No one should dread a training session.

    Over the past year, I’ve heard a few times that, “that certainly did not seem like a 2-hour session, it went so fast and we learned so much.” That’s music to my ears as my team and I have tried our best to make the virtual learning space active and engaging.

    This past year has been a challenge on many fronts. The virtual world continues to require training professionals to flex their creative muscles. It’s up to us to engage, enrich, and diligently strive to help our companies retain the teams around us. This requires the acceptance that, while many employees are not truly happy in their current roles, they will stay if we provide quality learning and development opportunities. It’s a major challenge but, wow, what an opportunity to add value and make a difference as the world of work evolves. These are big trends. Make sure that you listen to what your teams want. Follow that up with a robust response that demonstrates that their voices were heard. Good luck!

    Steve Matre is Vice President of training, marketing, and strategic support for the Mandel Group, a real estate developer and owner in the Midwest. He’s also been in accounting, operations, HR, and revenue management. Steve gives back through committees and boards for the National Apartment Association and Institute of Real Estate Management, and as a writer and speaker. A graduate in Finance and English from the University of Wisconsin, Steve is a CPA, Certified Property Manager, and Professional in Human Resources. Obsessions include books, podcasts, coffee, running, and college football. Reach out to Steve at https://www.linkedin.com/in/stevematre/.

    Are you a member with something to share about developing your Career in L&D? Send an email to careers@atdchi.org.

  • February 22, 2021 11:35 AM | Chad Eaves (Administrator)
    Luveta Hill - 2020 Volunteer of the Year

    COVID-19 forced ATDChi, along with the rest of the world, to shut down our face-to-face meeting schedule.  We had to migrate everything over to the online environment - not something we had done much of up until the pandemic struck.

    As we were trying to sort things out, Luveta Hill stepped up and volunteered to learn Zoom and to produce our webinars.

    Over the course of the year she ran 10 webinars, 2 panels, and was a key part of the team that put together ATDChi’s first ever online conference in November.  She finished the year by managing all details of our final two webinars. 

    One sign of the success of our webinar program was that our rate of conversion from registrations to actual attendance topped 75% for two of our last sessions (general average runs in the neighborhood of 45%). 

    For stepping up and leading a successful transition of our programming to the online environment has been named ATDChi’s Volunteer-of-the-Year.  

    Luveta works at DePaul University as the Learning Technology Specialist in the HR Department.

    She says she joined ATDChi “to further enrich my education in the area of learning & development.”  Asked what she appreciates the most about being a member of ATDChi, she responded, “having access to a network of peers who came into the talent development space and the learning & development space from different backgrounds. I am connected to a group of people who approach the same problem from different perspectives to find a resolution that works for all.”

  • September 16, 2020 11:05 AM | Leslie Scarpace

    2020 Annual Chicagoland Talent Development Community Survey Initial Results

    From June 16 to June 30, we conducted the annual survey of our membership, former members, and for the first time, we included talent development professionals who have never been a member of ATDChi. A comprehensive report of the survey results will be made available to ATDChi members in a few weeks, but here are a few highlights.


    On June 16, we sent invitations to participate by email to 4208 talent development professionals throughout Chicagoland and Illinois. On June 23 we sent a reminder to the same group. 122 professionals clicked through the email and started the survey - one participant was disqualified (it was discovered they had answered with nonsense answers and over rode survey navigation) – so we have 121 respondents: 60 members, 28 former members, and 33 never members. The 121 respondents is the second highest for the annual survey given the records available. 141 in 2017 remains the high-water mark for participant.

    Invitation to Participate

    On June 16, the survey was launched with 4,208 email invitations to participate sent out. A reminder to participate was sent to the same lists on June 23.  The survey was closed on June 30.  The 121 responses represent a 2.9% participation rate which is down substantially from 2019 (11.3%).  Much of the difference has to do with the larger population sample this year (2020 average = 4179.5 per round, 746 per round.) Only 19.1% of all invited to participate actually opened the email.

    Value of Member Benefits

    Question 15 asked respondents to evaluate (on a scale of 1 to 100) to what extent do they feel they are getting value for their dues.

    As was the case last year as well, a significant number of respondents said they were getting the value for their dues.  64.0% (32 of 50) gave a score of 70 or higher. 12 scored the value at 100.

    We’ve always asked a question regarding what people think of each of the member benefits individually, but this year we changed up how we asked. In the past, we’ve asked a series of Likert Scale questions for each.  Then we’d compare the averages to each other.  Unfortunately, that usually resulted in all the benefits scoring between 4.2 and 4.5. Which really doesn’t tell us a lot.

    Question 13 asked respondents to indicate which 5 benefits from a list of them they would rate as “Must Have”.  They then were asked to rate which 3 benefits they would rate as “Not Necessary”.

    When we scored the “Must Have’s” with 1 point and the “Not Necessary” with -1 point and then added it all up, the result was a very articulated list of benefits ranked 1 to 15 in accordance with respondents’ preferences.  NOTE: while a ranking like this is helpful in planning, it is not the only factor used in determining which benefits the Board of Directors chooses to keep or how well to fund each.

    Programming: What Are You Working On?

    Finally, for several years now, we’ve asked a question about what respondents are planning on focusing on in their professional development so that we can direct our programming to meet their development needs. In the past, we’ve listed the 13 areas from the ATD Competency Model and asked respondents to indicate which areas they planned to work on in the next year. A bit unwieldy, but it worked.

    This year, ATD has introduced their new Capabilities Model which has 23 capabilities divided into 3 domains. Now a multiple choice question with 23 options was way too much for us to expect we’d get quality answers. So we came up with a new approach.

    So in Questions 22 & 42 (due to branching we had to ask the question twice to capture all respondents) we asked participants to prioritize up to 3 capabilities in each of the domains.  The capabilities for each domain were listed in a drop-down menu from which the participants could choose their answers.

    The results were amazing. We scored 1st priorities with 3 points, 2nd with 2, and 3rd with 1. The result was a highly articulated ranked listing of all 23 capabilities. You can see them with their overall scores listed by the three domains to the right.

    These are just a few of the examples of the data we’re gleaning from this year’s member survey. The full report of the survey’s findings will be available to ATDChi members only in early October. If you’d like to be included and aren’t currently a member, please renew your membership or join ATDChi by going to https://www.atdchi.org/join.

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