Category Archives: Member Articles

Software Training Tips by a Talent Development Pro

by Chris Gilmore, VP of Training

Our company is launching a new property management system which means we need to train over 500 employees on the new system, this system impacts almost every single task they complete on a daily basis.

I have to say my experience over the last 15 years has been mostly focused on safety, leadership, supervisor, service and other soft skills training so developing a course for software training was a little intimidating for me.  All I kept thinking about was how do I make this engaging, how do I make sure they get it. I know when I learn software I need to do it in order to learn it.

Well, we just completed our first in person training class on the new software.  We had a total of 25 people for 4 days training on the new software and here are a couple things I learned along the way:

  • When you are teaching new software don’t forget the change management side of it, learning to use a new software is a change
    • We sprinkled change management activities throughout the session which included:
      • The signature preference exercise from MBTI where you sign your name with your dominant hand and then sign it with the other hand.  I asked the group to describe each experience.  When they signed with the non dominant hand  this is what it will feel like when you return.  I then asked them if they were getting a $5K bonus for writing their name with their non dominant hand would they get better at it?  How?  Practice, yes, that is what it will take in the new system.
      • We used the Bouncing Back from Adversity activity for an energizer and gave everyone a tennis ball to take home as a reminder. In fact, we realized tennis balls are great for getting knots out of your back!
      • We used Thiagi’s Thirty Five activity to generate ideas on how to stay positive and lead their teams through the change when they return to the office.
    • Spend time on hands on activities when you can, a training database is a really helpful tool!
    • Come up with some way to know when people are finished with individual activities, we had name plates that had red and green reflectors on them, red I’m still working, green I am ready to go on to the next thing
    • Build in time for technical issues
    • If the screen they are watching the trainer on is hard to see, run a Go-To-Meeting session the students can open on their own screens so they can watch it directly in front of them. We did this and it helped so much especially when we were looking at report.
    • We also created a theme for the roll out which helped us add some fun. Our theme was a Marathon.  Halfway through the training we provided them cool towels with our logo so they can make sure they stay cool when they return and start using the new software.

Throughout this process it was a great reminder to me of the power of brain breaks, and ensuring you are developing your course for the audience and that any topic can be fun to develop and deliver.

Chris Gilmore, Vice President of Training


Why I joined ATD Piedmont – Katherine Pryor

Katherine Pryor

Why I joined ATD
by Katherine Pryor

Several years ago, I had an “AHA! Moment,” finally understanding that my career dream had always been to be part of a Human Resources team specializing in the areas of Training and Development and Organizational Development. My career path to that point had been a slightly crooked path – always in the clinical research industry but a variety of roles from a study coordinator to a study monitor to a study site manager. I realized that the common thread between my various positions was in teaching, guiding, and organizing efforts.

While I was in the role as site manager, one of my good friends mentioned that her son was in a similar line of work to what I was describing. I got on a call with him, explained my interests, and he suggested I join my local ATD chapter. Life got busy, and some changes occurred that put my life dream of moving into Training and Development on the back-burner so though I had checked out the website, I did not join the organization at that time but always kept it in mind as a future resource.

Fast forward several years later. Currently, I am employed by a quickly growing company where new positions are created to meet our changing needs. Though I came into the organization as a project manager, in June 2015 I was presented with the opportunity to develop our on-boarding and internal training capabilities. Until this time, little attention had been paid to these areas because the Human Resources team was two people – the VP and our corporate recruiter. From June until October, I handled these areas on a part-time basis as I was still resourced to project management for 50% of my time.

October 2015 came, and I moved into my new role as HR Training and Organizational Development Manager. It was a perfect time and opportunity to revisit ATD Piedmont as a resource. Knowing that I would have some significant initiatives to tackle and that this was the direction I wanted to take my career, being part of ATD became a priority. I signed up in my first month or maybe even the first week!

Having the opportunity to work with ATD as a local chapter board member, attend the various events, and have access to online resources has been a terrific compliment to the work I am doing in graduate school (WCU, Masters in Human Resources) and on my company’s Human Resources team.

Written by Katherine Pryor, HR Training and Organizational Development Manager of Clinical Ink in Winston-Salem NC.

Employee Engagement

Tales from the operating room:  Train them like brain surgeons

A quick story:  Back in the day, I trotted off to my local university with dreams of becoming America’s next great medical doctor.  With transcript in hand, SAT scores in my hip pocket, and a plan to graduate early so I could enter medical school, I eagerly dived into my classes.  On the weekends, I worked at a local hospital and watched future doctors be trained.

Fast forward to today:  I am not a doctor.  I discovered in undergrad school that three things kept me from reaching my goal; Biology, Chemistry and Physics.  Also, blood was involved which is not my strong suit.  So before being asked to leave school, I announced to the world that I was changing my plan and becoming the next-best thing to a brain surgeon… and that was life as a corporate learning guru… which was a step up if you ask me.

But, here’s the thing.  I did learn something in the hospital about employee engagement.  A surefire way to get student/employee engagement is to have them teach the class or at least part of it.  The medical community calls this ‘See, Do, Teach.  It’s the way doctors become doctors.  They watch the procedure, then do the procedure, then teach the procedure to the next student or group.  The medical community knows that you-don’t-know-it-until-you-can-teach-it.  And you should steal this idea.

So, what’s the application?  If you want your employees to give their undivided attention and ask a bazillion questions, let them know in advance they will be teaching part of the class tomorrow….on their feet…in front of the room. Nothing drives engagement like the fear of embarrassing yourself in front of your peers!  Picture a 3-day workshop.  Before class begins, give each employee a teaching assignment for the next day around today’s lessons.  That will engage them like nobody’s business!

Ask your doctor.

Jim Blaylock, Sales Coach

The Power of Networking

Post_Office_EngineersThe Power of Networking

Many believe effective networking is done face-to-face, building a rapport with someone by looking at them in the eye, leading to a solid connection and foundational trust. ~ Raymond Arroyo

I completely agree with Raymond’s words.


Let me break down Raymond’s statement to help us understand the Power of Networking:

Effective Networking – What is effective. As a Talent Development professional I feel effective includes learning new ideas, sharing new ideas and ’smashing’ two ideas together to come up with a new and possibly better idea. In a very simple way, effective networking could be talent development between two (or more) people in a open conversation.

Face-to-face – This does not mean ‘meeting’. Rather it can be done in lots of different ways and places. Coffee shop, café, diner, park bench, football game, on the subway, in a plane, back porch or on a bar stoll. Face-to-face networking happens any where and anytime two (or more) people gather in open conversations.

Building a rapport – Dale Carnegie taught me what this means. Building rapport involves finding our commonality and our relevant interests. Building rapport requires that we accept our differences for the sake of building upon our uniqueness and similar interests. Without first building rapport, networking becomes drudgery.

Solid connection – A solid connection or some level of positive relationship, is the fuel that moves conversations deeper and broader. We need to be able to have deep and broad conversations to truly learn from each other. Without a solid connection we are unlikely to truly open up and share, we’ll remain reserved and even resistant to another idea. Developing relationships tear down the barriers and reluctance to engage in great dialogue.

Foundational Trust – Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships. ~ Stephen Covey

Build a rapport and a solid connection enables us to get into great conversations. If during these conversations we listen to one another and accept our differences in both a professional and personal way, this can lead to trust. It’s this trust that allows the relationship to grow even further, the conversations to get even deeper and broader, and the ideas to flow more openly.

Networking is a powerful way to learn, share and grow both personally and professionally.

As talent development professionals we must be willing to learn every day. Networking can provide an opportunity to learn from others in many ways.

The power of networking is directly relevant to our willingness to meet face-to-face, build a rapport, a solid connection and trust.

TLBurrissTeddy Burriss:
Teddy Burriss is a member of ATD Piedmont and ATD National. Teddy is a LinkedIn expert, social media consultant, columnist, speaker and author who shares with this audiences steps to achieve success in business by building relationships and developing leads through the use of LinkedIn as a business tool. Teddy proves every day that networking is a powerful tool in his life, including his business.

Teddy is a proven leader with certifications such as Social Media Strategist, DDI Facilitator and Sandler Sales Professional. His expert articles have been featured in USA Today College and Greensboro News & Record. He has two highly reviewed books: Networking for Mutual Benefit and Success Using Social Media. He’s a sought after speaker for business organizations and educational institutions such as IAAP, ATD, IREM, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem State University and Salem College.

Visit our Events page to see our upcoming ATD Piedmont Events. Lots of great events coming up.

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.