Author Archives: atdpiedmont

10 Important Benefits of Networking http

10 Important Benefits of Networking

Conducting a Workplace Analysis

Conducting a workplace analysis can be a daunting task as requests of this nature are often made out of panic, fear, and at  times  all out sheer desperation.

As the Organizational Development (OD) professional, you’re  expected to put on your red cape,  swoop in, and save the day.  Unfortunately, things don’t always pan out this way.  While training may not be the end all be all to fix the problem(s) causing the request for the workplace analysis, OD professionals are called in the give a clear assessment and possibly a solution of internal or external influences that are affecting the forward progress of the organization.

Should your duties ever consist of conducting a workplace analysis, here are five pitfalls to avoid.

  1. Don’t base your analysis on assumptive data.
  2. Eliminate all bias.
  3. Focus on the behaviors observed, not the person.
  4. Evaluate all internal and external influences.
  5. Do not become emotionally attached.

Do not base your analysis on assumptive data. Opinions are like lottery tickets, everyone wants theirs to be the winner.  When systemic performance issues occur, it is most likely the leader already has a theory, but is not quite able to substantialize it.  Many times they will call in the OD professional to merely back up their theory, so that proposed solutions will have justification.

As the OD professional it is your duty to provide well educated conclusions based off hard facts and data, not your opinion. While you will most likely be fed tons of data and background information try not to let it taint your analysis.  If you’re provided with data, do your own analysis, don’t count on the work of others.

While it may seem like you’re beating a dead horse, remember your role.  You been invited to come in an assess the situation with a fresh set of eyes.  Don’t taint your vision by looking through someone else’s cloudy lenses.

Next…the importance of eliminating all bias.

Contributor Raina M. Berry, MSHRD

Organizational Development Coordinator

National Board for Certified Counselors, Inc.
and Affiliates

Facilitation Finesse – Tips and Tricks

ATD Piedmont members Jim Blaylock and Daniel Lobb led the discussion today at the monthly ATD Piedmont meeting. These guys did a great job getting us to share during the meeting.

The topic of the meeting was ‘Facilitation Tips and Tricks’. Jim and Daniel turned the meeting into everyone sharing their own best ideas with the group. It was a great way to show us all lots of new tips and tricks we can use in our own classes, seminars, webinars and training programs.

Here is a list of some of the Killer Ideas the group shared with us:
(These ideas are intended to ‘poke’ you to see how they can apply to your own training/facilitation activities.)

  1. Get out from behind the lectern. Mingle with the students & attendees during the session.
  2. Start with a highly active and engaging group activity that breaks down barriers and creates more involvement.
  3. Make your programs highly active.
  4. Engage the introverts by asking them to write their ideas down and share on a sticky note on a wall.
  5. Switch up the seating arrangements so the attendees engage with others.
  6. Request or encourage one-on-one follow thru between the attendees to enable more discussion after the session.
  7. Start with Startling Facts that create more urgency and importance for the training.
  8. Have the attendees pick an animal noise and then find another person making the same animal noise.
  9. Plan up front as much as you can. Develop feedback during the session rather than just at the end.
  10. Use PopCulture information and music during the session to make it more enjoyable.
  11. Use Culture Shock to stir up the group.
  12. Shock the attendees with a worse case scenario perspective activity. (example – have them build a paper drawing beautiful neighborhood in a group setting, then FLOOD IT by dumping it in a bucket)
  13. Use Popcorn or candy during the session.
  14. Remind everyone in the room that ‘Everyone brings value, a perspective and new ideas to the group, therefore we encourage Everyone to participate.’ (Wow, this class was an example of this)
  15. Distribute simple desk phones and let attendees ring their phone when they hear or see an Ah Ha idea.
  16. Discover everyone’s learning style thru an activity before starting the program.
  17. Draw a tree and share it in a group setting as a group engaging session.
  18. Try to touch all senses during the session. Use discussions to virtually touch smell & taste if needed
  19. Eliminate all negativity in the discussions and thoughts.
  20. Use game boards and questions to have the attendees learn during playing the game.

What best Killer ideas to you have that have made your training/facilitation programs Rock?


If you are a trainer in any industry and are not a member of ATD Piedmont, you should visit our chapter meeting and join us. Reach out to Jim, Daniel, Teddy, Jen, Chris, Raina or visit our website to learn more.


Why Your Virtual Team Needs Fica

Your Virtual Team needs FICAby Daniel Lobb

Fica is not an acronym, it’s a coffee break. It’s a Swedish word that loosely translates to “drinking coffee (and eating something sweet, with friends).”  In Sweden, fica is a common tradition in the workplace.

Marcia, one of my clients, manages a virtual team of 20 professionals who are dispersed over six countries spanning nine time zones. They are the international mobility services team for a large global corporation headquartered in Sweden. Any time an employee of the corporation takes an expatriate assignment, Marcia’s team handles arrangements for the employees, including visas, housing, school for the children, and compensation.

Marcia has struggled to build a sense of togetherness with this virtual group that almost never meets face to face. Though they rarely meet, the outcomes this team is responsible for really depend on how well they work together.

Marcia and I partnered to do some virtual teambuilding training for the group. We delivered a skills development program that focused on increasing self-awareness of one’s emotions and implementing a common language that would enhance customer service.

While the training delivery went well, the bigger challenge was to have timely and relevant follow-up. To continue developing skills, Marcia’s team needed to both practice those skills, and then come together and talk about what they are learning.

We decided the answer was coffee.

Her Swedish team members were already having fica regularly. It’s not just a coffee break, it’s a balancing act in the middle of the work day—when people can catch up on business and life outside of work. She knew her team members in India enjoyed a similar tradition with chai (tea), while her Brazilian associates relished in “cafezinho,” or little coffee breaks. Her team members in Poland, France, and the United States were no strangers to this kind of tradition either.

Marcia implemented virtual fica. The team used Lync (you could use Skype or another virtual tool) and gathered in their conference rooms in front of their webcams every other Friday. There were two requirements for virtual fica: 1) bring your own beverage (BYOB), and 2) share your progress on skills development.

Marcia began to observe a wonderful virtual dialogue taking place during fica. Coffee and sweet breads on the table were just the appetizer for great conversation.

Make no mistake, this was not a structure-free meeting, nor did it have a complicated agenda. Prior to the first few fica meetings, she prompted team leads from each location to be prepared to start the dialogue. After a short time, though, the team needed little prompting. Associates willingly shared how they handled difficult customer situations, or how a challenging protocol was employed without the usual angst. Real application of the classroom skills was evident.

The bi-weekly conversations began to take on a life of their own. Team members also shared how they used the same skills outside of work. Stories about parenting decisions or driving in traffic (with colorful local imagery) were shared with the group. As the manager, Marcia shared her own personal stories too, demonstrating that developing one’s self is everyone’s business. The stories reinforced the success of the person telling the story. More importantly, they stimulated and motivated the team to continue practicing skills.

Marcia found a simple method to develop a virtual team and get them talking. She had formal a performance management system already in place that everyone was well aware of. What she needed was the personal touch to build strong and supportive relationships where each team member was actively engaged. The virtual coffee break did it for her; it also allowed her to hear team members say what they were learning and applying.

Can you team benefit from fica? If you think the answer is yes, look for informal opportunities to “check in” with team members. Don’t save the small talk and personal interactions for the “filler” at an all-hands meeting. Informal conversation can produce meaningful insights, bonding, and opportunities to gauge progress made from formal training events. Indeed, the bi-weekly rhythm of fica is proving just right for Marcia’s team.

Coffee anyone?

This article was originally published on ATD National Blog on 2/17/2015

Author – 

Daniel LobbDaniel Lobb started his career in the tour and travel industry with Allways Tours, Inc. His first trip was escorting a group of senior adults to Williamsburg, Virginia, on September 11, 2001. He very quickly learned the importance of keeping calm and serving the customer, which became the keynote of his eight-year tenure with that company as he went on to hold nearly every position.

In 2008, Lobb decided to align his passions in leadership and customer service with adult education and joined TRP Enterprises, Inc. The mission of TRP is to help people make internal discoveries that enable them to stay positive, productive, and effective. He leads client relations for TRP and specializes in training design and delivery. He received the CPLP in 2012, and has served on the ATD Piedmont board for four years, including president 2013. In 2015 he joins ATD’s National Advisor for Chapters team to share his love of learning with other chapter leaders around the country. Daniel is a private pilot, a bee-keeper, and with his wife Irene, parent of three young boys.

How to Keep Employee Training Relevant a

How to Keep Employee Training Relevant and Interesting

‘I Want To Develop My People, But I Can’t Prove It’s Worth The Money’

Why would anybody spend a ton of money training employees if there’s no way to actually prove it works?

Many would answer, “I wouldn’t.” But that’s the wrong question.

Can you quantify the benefit of your elementary, middle or secondary school education? Probably not.

Would you say, “I’m not going to buy a six-figure education for my kid to go to college unless I can prove it’ll get her a six-figure job”? Not likely.

The reason is that we know, thanks to numerous studies, that education is good for people and is correlated to higher incomes.

Well, workplace learning is good for people, too. Most of us would agree that, broadly speaking, when employees are trained and developed effectively, they perform better and are more promotable.


To read more click here.

Just in case you missed the ASTD ICE 2014!!!

Just in case you missed  ASTD ICE 2014.  This link will provide a wealth a resources to make you feel as if you were in the hustle and bustle of Washington, D.C. with your fellow ASTD members, even if you’d never left your desk.

Microsoft opening new training and development center in Vancouver, B.C.


Microsoft is creating a new training and development center in Vancouver B.C., focused largely on Office, Bing, Skype, and MSN, and that could eventually create 400 new jobs.

The center, which the company is calling the “Microsoft Canada Excellence Centre” will open late next year in the Pacific Centre shopping mall, above a Nordstrom, in downtown Vancouver.

Microsoft will be spending $90 million a year on the center, with the bulk of that money going toward the lease and employee salaries and benefits.

Microsoft plans to hire the first of its Centre employees this summer.

The center will focus mainly on training people who will go into research and development for Microsoft’s Applications and Services Group. That group is responsible for Office, Office 365, SharePoint, Exchange, Yammer, Lync, Skype, Bing, Bing Apps, MSN and Microsoft’s Advertising platforms.

Microsoft already has a sizeable presence in Vancouver, with more than 300 employees working largely in game and entertainment development there.  To see the full story click link below…

via Microsoft opening new training and development center in Vancouver, B.C..

ASTD has a new name…

ASTD has a new name...

During a special live announcement at ASTD’s International Conference & Exposition, Tony Bingham, President and CEO, and the ASTD Board of Directors announced ASTD is changing its name to the Association for Talent Development (ATD).