The Top 10 Most Popular TalentGrow Blog Posts in 2017 (and a change for 2018)

The Top 10 Most Popular TalentGrow Blog Posts in 2017 (and a change for 2018)

As we stare down the last days of 2017, let’s stroll down memory lane and look back at some of the popular content I’ve already created on the TalentGrow blog. According to my website traffic statistics, what were the top 10 most visited  blog posts in 2017?

Drumroll please….

Plus, an announcement about what will change in 2018. Check it out!

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Business and Leadership Lessons I learned from Speakers at the National Speakers Association #Influence15 Convention in DC

Business and Leadership Lessons I learned from Speakers at the National Speakers Association #Influence15 Convention in DC

In addition to helping my clients with leadership development strategy and workshops, I am an international professional speaker at conferences and meetings. Therefore, to keep my own skills sharp, I belong to the National Speakers Association (“the other NSA”). This week I’m attending their annual convention right here in DC (taking advantage of the fact that it’s still ‘local’ for me, even if for less than two more weeks!). Although I’m still not finished (that won’t be until later this evening), I thought I’d recap some of the many lessons I’ve learned this week that can apply to all leaders and team members no matter the business and not just relevant to speakers.

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Summer reading for life-long learners: 5 books to inspire, inform, and intrigue the non-fiction crowd

Summer reading for life-long learners: 5 books to inspire, inform, and intrigue the non-fiction crowd

I’m a life-long learner. I love reading new books. But I’m not much of the fiction, beach reading type of reader. Perhaps to a fault, I always prefer to read books that I can directly learn from, even on vacation. So if you’re more like me, and would like to add to your summer must-read list with books you can learn from, here are five new books from friends of mine that I think you should check out. There’s something on this list for almost everyone.

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How to Leverage Lunchtime for Learning

How to Leverage Lunchtime for Learning

You might have been exposed to the idea of Lunchtime Learning before. Sometimes called Brown Bag Training or Lunch ‘n Learn (beware – that’s a trademarked phrase!), it’s a short (45-90 minutes) learning session held during lunchtime. What’s so special about these Brown-Bag Sessions, you say? Invite employees to do the teaching, not just the learning! In this post, I lay out the what, who, why, and how of creating a 3-way win for employee development in any organization.

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How to Take a Learning Sabbatical

How to Take a Learning Sabbatical

Do you feel like taking a break from your daily routine and an opportunity to see things in a totally new way? I’ll tell you a secret: I have been longing for this kind of opportunity. I’m just itching for a break so I can strategize and refocus. The pace of change and life is just so fast, and my time to really immerse in deep, long-view thinking is so fragmented, that I’ve been screaming (on the inside) “stop the world, I want to get off!” So that I can think clearly. And breathe. Do you feel this way sometimes, too?

As these thoughts danced in my head, I remembered the research I did for my book, Employee Development on a Shoestring, about the idea of taking a learning sabbatical. I thought I’d share some more about this concept with you, and I’d love to know your thoughts about it in the comments below the post.

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Employee Development Done Right: ASTD Interviews Halelly Azulay

Employee Development Done Right: ASTD Interviews Halelly Azulay
Listen to a short and upbeat interview by ASTD's Ann Parker in which Halelly Azulay discusses why employee development is as important as ever even in the current workplace climate, how to ensure employee development strategies are beneficial to both the employee and the organization, and how to implement good employee development strategies in your organization.
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The Ultimate New Year's Resolution: Make 2014 Your Year of Fast Learning!

The Ultimate New Year's Resolution: Make 2014 Your Year of Fast Learning!
With a New Year upon us, everyone else is posting about how to set goals and make New Year's resolutions. In this post, you can learn about how to make the ultimate New Year's Resolution - you can learn new skills and habits fast using a 4 step process from Josh Kaufman and lots of other resources. Learn 12 new habits in 2014 if you apply this model to learn one new skill each month of the year. What are you going to learn in 2014?
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How to increase creativity, curiosity, and learning: An exercise

How to increase creativity, curiosity, and learning: An exercise

I love learning. I love being creative. So I really enjoyed listening to recorded Creativity in Business Telesummit (CIBT) interviews with creative leaders, hosted by my friend Michelle James of the Center for Creative Emergence. I got new insights, learned new information, infused new energy into my creative thinking, and re-invigorated my passion from listening to the stories and practices shared by these various practitioners and creativity thought leaders.

All of the CIBT sessions featured some kind of an exercise or practice the expert wanted to share on how to bring more creativity to business (in addition to lots of juicy food for thought). I want to share one of these exercises with you:

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Inspiration at Work Radio Interview

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May 6-9, 2012, I attended the ASTD International Conference and Exposition in beautiful Denver, Colorado to learn about the latest and greatest in the training and development field as well as to be one of the speakers and authors they featured. It was a pleasure to soak in ideas and meet amazing people (there were over 9,000 professionals from over 70 countries there with me). I came away inspired and energized. (Here's a great collection of the conference's backchannel and resources, curated by learning professional David Kelly.)

While there, I met up with colleagues Larry Mohl and Terry Barber, of Performance Inspired, who were operating an on-site BlogTalk Radio station. I was invited to record a short interview with Larry Mohl to talk about inspiration at work. Have a listen: 

Listen to

internet radio

with

Inspiration At Work

on Blog Talk Radio

I'd love to know your answer to one of the questions Larry asked me:

What drives you - what inspires you?

_________________________________

PS - have you subscribed to my blog yet? If not - I invite you to subscribe today! It's free and easy - just enter your email address in the field provided in the right-hand column here. Thanks! ------------>


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Training is Dead; Long Live Employee Development

headphones coffee cereal book by Kevin_Morris via Flickr Creative Commons.jpg

When I first told my husband about the idea for writing a book about employee development OUTSIDE the classroom and outside 'the box', he responded, “You mean, you’re going to write yourself out of a job?” Why would someone who makes her living through facilitating learning (aka 'Training'), often within a classroom or a formal learning program, try to help supervisors, HR and training professionals, and employees find ways to develop skills outside the classroom and without her help?

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Well, I don’t think Employee Development on a Shoestring will put the training industry out of business. Far from it. I wrote this book because I am passionate about learning and development. I wrote this book because I am passionate about supporting leaders in their efforts to become more effective. And I wrote this book because often, training is simply not the answer.

It is estimated that 70 percent of all leadership development takes place via on-the-job experiences rather than formal learning events. The “70-20-10 rule,” as this idea has become known, says that development happens in three ways: 70 percent on-the-job experience, 20 percent through relationships and feedback, and 10 percent from formal training opportunities.

All over the world, supervisors and professionals like you are faced with a challenging task of helping their staff members grow and develop within limited budgets and timelines and ever-increasing pressures to perform more with less. Supervisors and employees desperately need alternatives and complements to the usual approach, because it is not enough. And so many of you are so overwhelmed with a growing workload that you simply don’t have the time or the requisite knowledge to come up with creative ideas for developing skills within the parameters that are presented to you.

Well, this book is here to help.

You don’t have to spend any time searching for ideas, because they’re right here in this book. You don’t have to spend time thinking up possible obstacles to each method—I’ve done that for you. And you don’t have to spend lots of time designing implementation plans because I’ve created the tools and supports that can help you quickly ensure that your employee development methods are successful and sustainable.

Who Can Benefit From Reading This Book?

Employee Development on a Shoestring is written primarily to address the needs of those in a position to help employees develop in their current jobs. Whether you are a supervisor, a manager, a director, or an executive, a key part of your role (“Job 1” as Elaine Biech puts it in her foreword to the book) is to ensure that employees are growing and learning. If you are a talent management, human resource, personnel, talent development, training, organization development, or workplace learning professional, your job is to ensure that supervisors throughout your organization are tending to this “Job 1.” Perhaps you are a mentor or career counselor or coach, and you are using this book to help your protégé or client make career development plans. And if you are a self-motivated, self-starting employee, you may enjoy reading this book to get ideas about how to take your development into your own hands rather than waiting for others to suggest strategies to you. Anyone who wants to ensure that employees are developing new skills and knowledge and who realizes that sending them to a training class cannot be, and should not be, the only path to achieve that outcome, should read and benefit from the ideas presented in this book.

Modified excerpt from the Introduction to Employee Development on a Shoestring by Halelly Azulay (ASTD Press, 2012)

Headphones image by Kevin_Morris via Flickr Creative Commons


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Retooling and Refreshing to Set Yourself Apart

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The following is an excerpt of a story I wrote for a new book called The Insider’s Guide to Supervising Government Employees, edited by Kathryn M. Johnson (Management Concepts Press 2011). The book is a collection of stories from many supervisors whose purpose is to help government supervisors (new and seasoned alike) navigate their responsibilities and challenges more successfully. It covers several key areas including understanding yourself, getting the best work from others, and supervising in a changing work landscape. In this particular story, I illustrate the importance of ongoing self-development to help supervisors continue to achieve success in their role. In my upcoming book, Employee Development on a Shoestring (ASTD Press, expected pub. date April 2012), I describe in much greater detail both the value and suggested approaches for many development methods that happen outside the classroom.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chris’ excitement was through the roof when he learned that he had been promoted. Finally! He was now officially a supervisor of a newly formed team in his agency. Chris felt a quiet confidence in his ability to excel as he emailed his mentor, Soo-Lin, to share the good news with her. After they scheduled their next monthly “coffee talk” meeting, Chris sat at his desk making lists of ideas and action items.

A few weeks later, Soo-Lin relaxed into her chair as she congratulated Chris once again on his accomplishment and listened to his tales of his first month as a supervisor. Sipping her coffee, she listened to his stories of excitement and frustration from her perspective of having been in supervisory roles in the federal government for the past 20 years.

“What are you doing to ramp up your supervisory skills, Chris?” Soo-Lin inquired.

“What do you mean?” asked Chris.

“Well, you have a whole new skill set you need to acquire, and fast. You will certainly learn on the job, but what are you doing to proactively enhance your skills?”

“I’m not sure I have any ideas. What do you suggest?” said Chris, looking at Soo-Lin quizzically.

Over the next hour, Soo-Lin shared with Chris some of the resources that she found helpful, including books, seminars, and training classes. But it was the story she told him that really got Chris thinking about how to keep his skills and knowledge fresh now and into the next stages of his career development.

“You know, when I first got promoted, there were no supervisory training classes offered and no resources given to me to prepare me for my new role. I had to learn as I went, the hard way. Things went very well for the first couple of years and my hard work was rewarded and rewarding.

“But then, things began to shift. I was no longer getting the results I wanted from my staff. They seemed unmotivated and deflated, and I felt frustrated with my job. I applied the same techniques that had worked before, but they were just not working in the same way. I felt really stuck and unhappy. Word got around that there might be a reorganization in our department and I started to worry that I might lose my job.

“That’s when I began to realize that I had become stale; my skills and knowledge were not sufficient to produce the performance results I wanted to see. I felt baffled and lost, so I started reading every management book in the library, searching for answers. I also started looking for role models to talk with, both inside and outside my office and agency. I was amazed how happy these successful supervisors were to share their ‘best practices’ and ‘lessons learned’ with me, and it was great to learn from them about things I could do or avoid doing—and not have to learn them the hard way! One told me that he attends the monthly meetings of our field’s professional association to learn new techniques and connect and network with other professionals with whom he collaborates and shares ideas. So I started attending these meetings also—what an eye-opening experience!

“What I learned, slowly but surely, is that your skills and knowledge need to be constantly upgraded and challenged. You can never rest on your laurels just because you have reached a certain rung on the career ladder; you need to keep working or you’ll find yourself falling off—or getting pushed off. And there are so many different ways available to help you retool, refresh, and learn.”

This is an exciting time to be a supervisor. You have the opportunity to influence others in a changing landscape. You will be challenged to handle day-to-day issues effectively in the context of an ever-evolving work environment. The best way to create a balance that serves both your employees and your organization well is to keep strengthening your personal capabilities as a supervisor. Only then will you be ready and able to help others envision and prepare to meet the demands of the 21st century government work environment.

More to Think About and Try

  • What are some books, training, and other resources you could access to upgrade your supervisory skills? Are there resources that would help you on an ongoing, continuous basis?
  • Who are some key people who could help you learn and develop your supervisory skills? Are there any groups you could join or people in your current network you could tap to become your mentors or “master-mind” group?
  • Can you branch out and increase your network to include role models and kindred spirits?
  • Can you find opportunities to bring supervisors together? Who can—and is willing to—share their lessons learned?

Excerpted with permission from The Insider’s Guide to Supervising Government Employees, edited by Kathryn M. Johnson. © 2011 by Management Concepts, Inc. All rights reserved. www.managementconcepts.com/pubs


Sign up to my free weekly newsletter and get more actionable tips and ideas for making yourself a better leader and a more effective communicator! It’s very short and relevant with quick tips, links, and news about leadership, communication, and self-development. Sign up now

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Dancing at the edge of comfort: How to develop employees without demotivating them

I've spent this past summer drafting the manuscript to my first book entitled Employee Development on a Shoestring, which is scheduled to be published by ASTD Press in early 2012. My book is full of practical ideas and implementation tips for various ways to help employees develop new knowledge and skills outside the classroom. I'll be blogging various tidbits to whet your appetite before the big book release. Here's the first: enjoy and let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Comfort zone image.jpg

Development assignments should push employees to develop just beyond their comfort zone, but no further.

There are three performance zones:

The Comfort Zone – we are fully performing our role. We experience ‘unconscious competence’ and mastery. We are able to perform easily and without exerting great effort. We do not find our work overly challenging anymore. We may be doing just enough to get by if we get too comfortable.

The Learning or Stretch Zone – just outside the comfort zone, this is where we leverage what we know and do well and are able to focus energy on new skills, tasks, or requirements. We are in a state of ‘conscious competence’ where we are building skills but have to be conscious of how we are performing to avoid mistakes and missteps. Our new responsibilities are manageable.

The Panic Zone – if we push employees too far and stretch them beyond their capacity, they may become anxious, confused, and discouraged by so many unknown or unpracticed variables. Here we operate in a state of ‘conscious incompetence’ and even ‘unconscious incompetence’, which feels uncomfortable and which we would like to avoid.

Get it 'Just Right'

When identifying appropriate employee development methods, we need to consider the level of challenge that each type of development activity would present to the employee. The activity or assignment should be challenging, but not so hard that it feels impossibly difficult. Here is a good model to help you match the challenge to the employee's needs. Our goal is to ensure that the employee is just at the edge of their 'comfort zone' -- in the 'learning' or 'stretch' zone -- but not too far and in the 'panic zone'.

So, yes, you could stretch someone too far. And you could stretch someone too little. But you have to identify the sweet spot, the Learning Zone, to get it just right.

What do you think? Have you found this to be true with your or your employees' developmental challenges?


Sign up to my free weekly newsletter and get more actionable tips and ideas for making yourself a better leader and a more effective communicator! It’s very short and relevant with quick tips, links, and news about leadership, communication, and self-development. Sign up now

Also, subscribe to my podcast, The TalentGrow Show, on iTunes to always be the first in the know about new episodes of The TalentGrow Show! http://apple.co/1NiWyZo 

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