The Five Ws to Determine the How

“Mom, what’s for breakfast?” “Mom, when is spring break?” “Mom, where are my shoes?” “Mom, why do I have to practice piano?” These are just a few of the 50+ questions my third grader asked me this morning before school. In our Back to the Basics series, we have left the kitchen sink behind and created our blueprint with the High Impact Learning Map (HILM). And now it is time to ask a few questions of our own to determine how we are going to train our learners.

1. Who are we training?

With this question, we want to consider what experience our learners bring. Are they new managers stepping into their first leadership role? Are they experienced team members learning a new system? We can’t expect high learner engagement if we are repeating information they already know or building off knowledge that they don’t have.  

2. What are we training?

Facts and procedures should be approached differently than communication and strategic skills. Looking at the Know and Do columns of our HILM, gives us insight into what we are training. It is also important to remember that many times training programs include a mixture of training needs which might be most effectively addressed in separate modules using different training strategies.

3. Where are our learners located?

Today, we need to consider much more than if learners are centrally located or dispersed across many locations.  How virtually connected are learners? Do they have easy access and familiarity with virtual meeting platforms? Do learners work in multiple time zones or multiple shifts? These answers give us insight into what platforms and mediums will be most effective so that our learners can easily access the training.

4. When does training need to be completed?

While many times leaders and SMEs want training launched yesterday, having a realistic insight into not only when the training needs to be launched but also be completed allows us to better identify what training modalities can be leveraged.

5. Why are we training these learners on this topic?

In deciding how we are going to deliver training, we also need to consider what created the need for this training. Is this training part of a larger certification process? Is this training updating and refining processes or procedures learners are already completing?

Planning the How

Using the HILM and asking the 5W questions, we can determine the best way to deliver the training. Orgwide’s High Level Design Document (HLDD) below is an example of the strategic process of discovering the “how” for hotel managers needing to learn more about direct billing.

Direct Billing Overview
Estimated Duration:
20 minutes

Delivery Method:
Online learning
Key Topics:
  • Types of direct bill accounts and which category current guests fall within
At the conclusion of training, the manager will be able to:
  • Identify the different types of direct bill accounts and which category current guest falls within
  • Describe the process to post and apply and correct payments
  • List different types of direct bill accts.
  • Review process to post, apply and correct payments
  • Describe the process to post and apply and correct payments
Checking-In and Checking-Out a Direct Billing Guest
Estimated Duration:
1 hour]

Delivery Method:
On-the-job training
Key Topics:
  • How to check in a direct billing guest
  • How to check out a direct billing guest
  • How to bill a direct billing guest
  • How to apply a direct billing guest
  • How to reconcile a direct billing guest
At the conclusion of training, the manager will be able to:
  • Demonstrate how to correctly check a direct billing guest in and out
  • Explain the direct billing process
  • Describe the direct billing payment and reconcilement process
  • Review process for handling check-in and out of a direct billing guest including system components
  • SHOW: Watch trainer handle a direct billing guest transaction
  • TRY practicing the process from beginning to end
  • DO: Handle any part of the process with a direct billing guest
  • Job Aid: Direct Billing Guests checklist

Understanding Who, What, Where, When, and Why, ensures that we strategically plan the How of our training program to ensure the learner ultimately achieves success as we defined in the HILM.  In this example, the managers learned the process through eLearning, and then honed their skills with a detailed on-the-job process. 

Now that we have a plan, all that is left to do is… everything! So, the next Back to the Basics will focus on how to most effectively work with Subject Matter Experts.

Creating a Solid Training Foundation

Welcome to Orgwide’s second part of our Back-to-Basics blog series. 

Long before you install the kitchen sink, there are many steps to building a house properly.  The first step is the most important:  lay the foundation correctly.  Without the right foundation, problems arise later and can be more costly and time consuming.

The same is true as you develop successful training.  Before you start writing scripts or creating a storyboard, you need to create the foundation.  At Orgwide, the foundation is built with our High Impact Learning Map, or HILM.  What do you want your learners to Know, Do, Believe, and Achieve?  Let’s go through the steps to learn how to create a solid foundation for training.

ACHIEVE – Organization Goals

We actually start with the end in mind – how will the learner achieve success following this training. These are the “big picture” organizational goals that make the training necessary in the first place. 

BELIEVE – Why is this important to me?

Next, we focus on what we want the learners to believe.  As adult learners, we need to understand “what’s in it for me.”  (For more information on adult learners, check out our blog about Adult Learning Theory.) 

DO – Learning Objectives

In this section, we define what do the learners to be able to do to achieve success. Does your learner need to be able to perform a process, complete a task, create a report, etc. These become the foundation for the learning objectives. 

KNOW – Facts

What does a learner need to understand, recall, or define in order to be able to do a task, process or procedure in order to successfully accomplish a goal or met an objective.

Read through this example to see how all the pieces come together to build a strong foundation.

As a result of this training, participants will know:As a result of this training, participants will be able to:As a result of this training, participants will believe that:As a result of this training, participants will have the ability to achieve:
The point of purchase system makes sales efficient and effective.Demonstrate ability to complete a customer purchase.I make an impact on the company’s revenue. Reduction in onboarding time.    
Only the top-quality products are acceptable. Differentiate between acceptable and unacceptable products.I make an impact on the company’s quality. Consistent knowledge and behavior among all employees.
The sales process is proven to be successful.Demonstrate the ability to use the sales techniques to increase revenue.I make an impact on the company’s revenue. Reduction in onboarding time.   
The company operates with specific standards of ethics.Explain the three standards of ethical behavior that all employees should follow. It is good to work for a company with high ethical standards.Consistent knowledge and behavior among all employees.
Note:  Believe and achieve are often repeated. 

Think about your last training program.  Did you use a similar process to make sure you were meeting all of the objectives, including gearing your training toward adult learners?  Use this HILM worksheet for your next project and see if the results are more focused.  And, if you need help, reach out to the Orgwide team. We are always eager to make training more effective. 

Everything But the Kitchen Sink – Is Your Training Overpacked?

I used to be a terrible overpacker.  I would cram everything but the kitchen sink into my suitcase without batting an eye.  Seriously.  A long weekend away meant four or five pairs of shoes and maybe a dozen outfits.  When you add in all the other necessities – it looked like I was leaving home for good. 

Why did I pack so much for such a short trip?  Because that was my stuff.  And I needed my stuff.  The reality was that I did not, in fact, need all that stuff.  Fortunately, I’ve learned to pare it down quite a bit and recognize the difference between what I need to have and what’s just nice to have.

As a training developer, it’s easy to fall into the same trap – especially when you’re knowledgeable about the subject matter.  If you’re not careful, you’ll end up cramming everything but the kitchen sink into your course and, let’s face it, that’s not a great experience for the learner.

So how can you tell the difference between the information your training needs to have and the information that’s just nice to have?  I’m so glad you asked!

At Orgwide, we take a systematic approach to content development.  As part of that process, we use our High Impact Learning Map (HILM) to walk our clients through the process of identifying exactly what the learner needs to know based on the business objectives that drive the training.  This is the foundation of our entire process. 

You’ll learn more about our process in the coming weeks but, in the meantime, there are three key actions you can take to set yourself up for success on the front end.

  1. Identify your target audience.  What are their roles in the organization?  How much do they already know about the topic?
  2. Identify the tasks they perform that are directly related to this topic.
  3. Determine which high level organizational goals – like increased sales – this training will support.

You’ll begin putting all those pieces together when you learn about the HILM in next week’s blog.  Spoiler alert – you’re gonna love it!

Soup to Nuts: The Choice is Yours

I’ve been creating e-Learning since 1999, when we output our courses to CD-ROM, if you can believe that. In that time, I have developed hundreds of e-Learning courses and other performance support products from static text all the way to full-blown software simulations.  Here are a few things I’ve found along the way.

Text and Next

By now, I’m sure you’ve seen a course like this. 

  • Title slide
  • Objectives slide
  • Followed by 10, 15, or 20 slides of content with one or two paragraphs of text, 3 or 4 bullet points, and, if the learner is lucky, a picture of some kind which may relate to the content, but is only there to “pretty up” the page.
  • Maybe a quiz
  • Click It, Click It Good!

Early on, we added interactivity for interactivity’s sake, following the loose rule that every third screen should have some type of interaction, no matter what.  The images the learner clicked on had nothing to do with the course content . . . they just looked pretty – and it was a nicer experience for the learner as opposed to clicking just on a word or two.

While we still have button interactions today (albeit more meaningful), we have so much more.  First, we’ve learned to use graphics that support the content – that relate to the content and mean something for the learner so they can better visualize the content. Through a variety of interactions such as tabs, sliders, dials, markers, hotspots, and input items, we’re now able to organize and structure the content for the learner – using the most appropriate interaction to enhance knowledge transfer.

Hey, Watch This!

Next month will be ten years since I began work on a 150+ performance support video series. Video takes knowledge transfer to a whole new level. These videos are related to in-house software application training of a very complex system that is broken down into more than 150 multi-step processes. Shortly after we started releasing the videos, we discovered that learners would have the video open on one monitor, and the software application open on another.  They’ll watch a part of the video, pause it, then do what they just saw, then come back to the video. Very effective indeed! (Side note: We also provide a written transcript of the video for Section 508 compliance. Our learners told us they print off these transcripts to have a written list of the steps for next time.)

Video, of course, is optimal for other types of learning because it allows learners to see which behaviors to model – and which to avoid!

Let Me Try!

Finally, what I consider to be the holy grail of training – and that is simulation! Using a show, try, test approach, the learner interacts with simulated software screens in a safe environment where they are free to make mistakes without actually messing up – their greatest fear.  Some programs tell the learner immediately when they’ve done something wrong. While other programs, let the learner proceed down the wrong path for a bit – especially if it is a common error – so that he or she can see the resulting consequences.

In other types of simulations, you can build activities that show two or more on-screen characters, and see what happens to each based on the choices the learner makes.

Keeping each simulation short and focused on just one or two steps lets you structure them into a system where the learner can access the learning the moment they need it.

While the interactivity and visuals have changed over the years, our goal always remains the same – that learners walk away with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to achieve success.

It Seems We’re Always Short Staffed – What the heck can I do now? (Part 3)

Over the past two weeks, we’ve been discussing one of the remnants of the Covid Pandemic – that many businesses are in need of more people to operate at full capacity.  While the reasons for this new phenomenon are varied, we believe the answer is doing three things right:  

  • Sourcing – finding the best people to fill the open positions in your company is the first step we explored.
  • On-boarding – starting new employees in a way that builds job satisfaction and loyalty was discussed last week.
  • Retaining – today we’ll discuss ways to keep and retain the good employees you have on staff and the new employees you intend to hire.

Retention is more than a checklist of things to do – it’s part of your culture.  Retaining good talent has to become part of your company’s DNA in order to be successful.  It all starts with a culture of valuing individuals for their unique talents and abilities and showing that in how you communicate and, most importantly, in how you make decisions.  Nothing will sabotage your retention efforts faster than saying one thing and behaving in a way that is inconsistent with that message.  While a great retention plan has many components, here are three ideas for retaining the talent that already exists within your organization and reducing turnover:

  1. Listen, Learn, Act – Use employee surveys to find out what is working and what isn’t.  Share the results and learn from the surveys through open discussion and dialog.  Then, make appropriate changes and ACT.

    Formal employee surveys are extremely valuable but shouldn’t be the only way to gauge employee satisfaction.  This is an ongoing process and should be done with regular interactions.  Look for signs of decreased employee morale such as:

    • Tardiness – Employees who are engaged show up on time.  If someone starts to be tardy or absent regularly, have a discussion not just about the repercussions, but learn why their attendance has changed. 
    • Errors or reduction in productivity are other signs of decreased employee morale.  And, this could be the cause of lack of training.  You need to find out why accuracy is suffering by having an honest conversation.  First aim to understand the reasons, then make plans together to improve their work. 
    • There are certain things that employees don’t often share with their managers.  Read our blog about 3 tips employees want to tell their managers, but don’t to make sure you and your team are having honest conversations.
  1. Recognition Matters – Defined recognition programs are a great way to start.  Informal (and frequent!) recognition matters too.  Thank you notes, publicly praising an individual’s work or production, and just saying “thank you” help to build recognition into your company’s culture.  For more ideas on employee recognition, read our blog about the recognition everyone wants but few receive. 
  2. Regular Reviews – In order to help build purpose and meaning into a job for your employees, schedule regular reviews of their work.  Sure, annual reviews for salary adjustments are good but a much more frequent and planned approach to reviewing employee performance is key.  An added benefit – when you are frequently reviewing employee performance (and asking for ideas on how the company can improve!) will surface any employee concerns well before they can fester and become a larger issue. 

Curing the current employee shortage isn’t easy.  The key to doing so lies in sourcing the best candidates, thoughtfully on-boarding new employees, and then establishing a culture that helps to retain them long-term.  We would love to hear any thoughts or suggestions you’d like to share with us – it’s easy to do by reaching us through our Contact Us page. 

We are Always Short Staffed – What the heck can I do about it? (Part 2)

Last week we began a series on one of the remnants of the Covid Pandemic.  The fact that it seems just about every business is in need of more people to operate at full capacity.  While the reasons given for this new phenomenon are varied, we believe the answer to this issue is doing three things right:  

  • Sourcing – which we explored last week.
  • On-boarding – today we’ll dig into starting new employees in a way that builds job satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Retaining – next week we’ll look at keeping the good employees you have today, and the new employees you intend to hire.

The saying goes “you never get a second chance to make a good first impression” and nothing could be truer for the new employees first few days on the job with your company.  Studies show that effective on-boarding programs can improve retention by 82% and that most employee’s decisions to stay with a company long-term are made within the first six months of employment.  Employees have a variety of competing emotions when they start a new job.  Nervousness, excitement, intrigue, maybe even fear.  The best employers recognize this and, as the famous song goes; “You’ve got to accentuate the positive.  Eliminate the negative.  Latch on to the affirmative.  Don’t mess with Mister In-Between.”  To that end, here are three ideas for maximizing your on-boarding programs:

  1. On-boarding starts before day 1 – You found a great candidate and offered them a position.  Now you need to make sure they don’t change their mind before they even start.  This is your opportunity to both ensure they start and get them excited about working for you. 

    Communicate after the initial offer and acceptance.  Prepare a list of frequently asked questions and ask if they have any other questions.  Let them know that you are looking forward to working with them and are preparing for their first day.  Share an overview of what they can expect on the first day.  And, of course, be clear about where and when they should show up.

    And make sure you are preparing properly.  Do you have a check list for this with things such as computer set up, time cards, or name tags?  Be prepared so day one goes well.
  1. Day 1 – According to an article from Employee Connect the first impression is made in seven seconds.  The article offers a simple checklist that works for most situations.  Of course, adjust to make it work for your company.
    • Have the workstation ready with username and passwords ready to be created. Have some simple items like paper and pens for them to use.
    • Plan the right amount of time for the first week.  Prepare appropriate assignments beforehand so they are not overwhelmed and not being idle. 
    • Get the team onboard by introducing the new employee to the team and giving them time to talk and get to know each other.  Possibly have a team lunch.  You may want to assign another team member to be their mentor and go-to person when you aren’t available. 
    • Check in often!  You are probably busy doing your “real” job but making the time to check in on your new hire will make your job easier it the long run. 
  1. Establish and Plan the Learning Path – Plan the training over the appropriate timeframe not throwing everything at them at once – or worse, throwing them into their job with zero training.  Create a schedule of all the training and when they need to have the knowledge to do specific tasks. 

    A simple guide could look like this:
Knowledge neededDate when knowledge
is needed
Available trainingDate to
provide training
to new hire
How to navigate CRM programTwo weeksOnline training from software systemDate
How to run reports in CRM programBy end of next monthOne-on-one
with Joe Smith

Once you’ve sourced the new candidates for your company, the next step is “making a The employee on-boarding experience is key to retaining new employees and ending the turnover cycle.  Retention programs are the final piece to the staffing puzzle and we’ll cover that in next week’s blog.  We would love to hear any thoughts or suggestions you’d like to share with us – it’s easy to do by reaching us through our Contact Us page. 

We are Always Short Staffed – What the heck can I do about it?

Remnants of the Covid Pandemic.  The Great Resignation.  Reducing hours of operation – or closing altogether on some days – due to short staffing.  Help Wanted signs.  Lucrative signing bonuses.  It seems to be everywhere you turn, just about every business is in need of more people to return their operations to full capacity. 

The reasons given for this new phenomenon are varied.  Changing demographics reduces available workers due to retirement on one end and the exorbitant cost of child care squeezes the other.  Too much government assistance.  Demands for flexible working arrangements.  Nobody wants to work anymore.  The gig economy.  People have a new sense of value on work/life balance.  Organizations aren’t paying a living wage.  Whatever the reason(s), I think the answer can be found in doing three things right:  

  • Sourcing – finding the best available employees for your organization.
  • On-boarding – starting new employees in a way that builds job satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Retaining – keeping the good employees you have today, and the new employees you hire today to stay longer.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll explore all three of the keys to staffing your organization.  Today, we dive into sourcing.  Sourcing new employees is the first step to addressing your staffing issues.  Even before the business shut-downs of the pandemic, employees were looking for more than just a job.  They were looking for a purpose and to be valued for their contribution.  Now, more than ever, they also want flexibility.  So how do you source the best possible candidates to join your organization?  Here are three ideas to optimize your sourcing efforts:

  1. Competitors – steal their good employees!  The labor shortage for other companies can be your gain!  Do your competitors have good employees who are unhappy for some reason?  Why are they dissatisfied?  Finding the answer to those questions can help you, and the currently dissatisfied employees, both win.  Are they unhappy with their non-flexible hours?  Promote your flexibility.  Do they not have the training to do their job well?  “You know who” (i.e., Orgwide) can help you maximize your training – including improving your on-boarding!  Promote the things you do for employees through social media or local news outlets to set yourself apart from your competitors. 
  1. Customers – ask them to refer their friends and relatives.  They already enjoy doing business with you and know that you run a great operation.  Ask them to be part of your recruiting efforts and help some of their friends or family find a great job. 

    Create a “fact sheet” of the reasons employees love working on your team to share with customers. 
  1. Team Member Referrals – often the best source of new employees is your current group of employees.  They are most likely to refer those who will “fit” your organization.  They know that you have great jobs, training and benefits.  And they probably know people who are unhappy with their current situation. 

    Give them talking points to share your company’s stories with their friends and family.  You can even use the same “fact sheet” you created for customers.  And offer referrals bonuses to incentivize your employees to bring others onboard.  Stretch those bonuses out to pay when you hire their referral, when that person reaches 30 days, and a final bonus when the new hire referral reaches 90 days of employment!

Once you’ve sourced the new candidates for your company, the next step is “making a good first impression” through a thoughtful and purposeful on-boarding experience.  We’ll cover that in next week’s blog.  We would love to hear any thoughts or suggestions you’d like to share with us – it’s easy to do by reaching us through our Contact Us page. 

How to Be a Good Manager in a Post-Pandemic Work Environment

For a lot of organizations, one of the biggest challenges stemming from the pandemic is adjusting to long-term work from home (WFH) arrangements alongside, or even displacing, working from the office (WFO). There is a cascade of adjustments that stem from this one difference, affecting virtually every aspect of work.

These challenges are especially concerning for managers, who have to navigate leadership roles in a new era. In order to ensure that team members are performing at their best even under extraordinary circumstances after the pandemic, here are a few tips for managers.

Plan for Equality in Scheduling

Probably the biggest shake-up caused by the WFH setup is what happens to personal and work-related schedules— especially for employees who are parents. In a BBC article, Melinda Gates asks whether gender equality at work will increase in this changing world. Jean-Nicolas Reyt of McGill University cites data that shows remote working mothers are balancing duties better, partly because fathers are taking on more.

Linkedin’s Rosanna Durruthy points out that leaders will need to step up and think about childcare working around the rapidly-disappearing 9-to-5 as it relates to both WFH and WFO. Equity also relates to areas like disability and racial health disparities, and poses challenges for a manager’s schedule, too, so if you want to respond to your team members’ needs, you need to build these into your hybrid plan.

Leadership That Values People

To expand on the previous point, it’s important that leadership be people-centric. Managers with organizational leadership qualifications are better able to blend skills in business and psychology for people-centered leadership. True leadership isn’t about eking the most numbers out of a team, but about prioritizing the value a person can bring to the company.

Prominent businesses with this philosophy include Marriott and Costco, both of which have withstood adversity for decades running against purely data- or shareholder-centric models. From making people-centered company policy decisions, to simply spending time among staff, there’s great value in this approach.

Keeping Employees Engaged

One area to pay attention to in a people-centric approach is engagement. Having engaged employees is part and parcel of creating consistent, quality output. We’ve previously written about how motivation also lowers absenteeism and improves in retention of high quality staff through things like showing appreciation and setting expectations. Creating a positive workplace culture, and therefore outcomes, is a major role that managers play, especially after the pandemic.

Focus On Wellbeing and Health

The pandemic has forced us all to check in with ourselves. Forbes reports that 66% of employees expect to be in a hybrid work style after the pandemic.

One of the biggest challenges of WFH for employees is stress relief. Software can be a double-edged sword from the management side here too: instead of using monitoring software to put pressure on team members, consider what the data says about their patterns and needs. Talking directly to employees using video calls, rather than through just emails or messages, will help put a much-needed human touch on proceedings. Managers can also implement de-stressing practices within the organization that different employees might prefer, such as yoga, meditation or book club.

All in all, solving existing and anticipated issues by centering your team and their relationships, rather than making them points on a graph, is key to a better, healthier, and more productive work culture out of the pandemic.

Written by Ivana Landen