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Bits of Wisdom...


Training design, leadership, time management, work-life balance, coaching, working remotely, presentation skills... These are a few of our favorite things! Do you have a great idea for a blog post that would be of interest to the Lake Superior ATD community?

We would love to have you write something to be posted on the site. Click the Submit Post button below. In the email, include your contact information, a bit about your professional background as well as the text of the blog post. Our Social Media Coordinator will contact you after reviewing your submission.

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  • 11 Apr 2018 5:33 PM | Anonymous

    By: Julie Zaruba Fountaine
    Wellness Coordinator, College of St. Scholastica

    What comes to mind when you think of happiness? A yellow smiley face? The feeling of warmth when thinking about a dear friend or family member? Watching a beautiful sunset? What if you could learn to incorporate more happiness into your life? What would that mean for your relationships, your work life, and your personal life? Most of us would say we would like to increase our happiness but what does that mean? 

    Happiness is the state of contentment and well-being. It is our human nature that encourages us to seek happiness. What if instead of seeking happiness you could cultivate it? The concept of positive psychology helps us to cultivate happiness by utilizing evidence-based practices. 

    Knowing what positive psychology is not can be just as helpful as knowing what positive psychology is. Positive psychology is not about being happy all the time, it is about not suffering all of the time. Positive psychology is an empirical, science-backed field founded by Martin Seligman. Martin studied traditional psychology for several decades until he realized the system was flawed. He wanted to understand why psychologists did not study what makes people happy. Seligman started the first set of research experiments at the University of Pennsylvania to find out what makes people flourish. What he discovered is optimism is a characteristic people can learn. People flourish when we practice gratitude, meditation, and positive communication in relationships. A recent meta-analysis involving over 200 experiments in positive psychology concludes that practicing happiness improves our lives in all areas including health, relationships, work, spirituality, and achieving lofty goals.

    If you want to learn more come to the ATD presentation, Happy Hour: An Introduction to Positive Psychology on April 17th. During the presentation you will be introduced to the field of positive psychology, the happiness equation, and learn how to cultivate positive emotions. The hour will be an interactive session where you can develop the skills you need to increase your level of happiness.


  • 13 Mar 2018 3:11 PM | Anonymous

    By: Naomi Christensen, graphic designer at Minnesota Power and ATD Board Member 

    Have you ever attended a training and received exactly what you needed? Have you ever purchased online and found the process for selecting your items and checking out was easy, intuitive and delivered exactly what you were looking for? If so, you experienced great design. Great design doesn’t just happen, it’s the product of an intentional process called “Design Thinking.” 

    Design Thinking consists of 5 key components: empathy, definition, ideation, prototyping and testing.

    Always begin with empathy, asking “for who am I creating something” and “what do they want or need.” You have to put yourself, as much as you can, into your customers’ shoes and try to see things how they see them. This may involve focus groups, interviews, online surveys or gathering statistics. If you’re developing training, who are you training and where are they coming from? What is common knowledge and what should be explained? Are there pain points they experience in using your website? This stage is foundational in the design process. Your end product will succeed or fail based on how well you empathize with your end user at the beginning.

    Once you lay your foundation, then you need to define the project. This may sound backward; wouldn’t you already know what you want to do before you approach your customers for their perspective on the project? Think of it this way: when you began the process, perhaps you knew you wanted to create a new website, but you may have uncovered new insights in the empathizing stage that change how you’re thinking about the project or scope. In the definition stage, you use a newfound understanding of your audience to define the project in a more specific way based on what you learned.

    Now that you know what you intend to create and for whom, we move into ideation or brainstorming. How are you going to address the customers’ pain points? What are others doing to innovate in your field? What  trends have you noticed in delivering services, and would they apply here? This is a team activity. Generate ideas and perspectives from your working group on how to solve the issues you see and how you can meet your viewers where they are. Gather ideas first, then refine them and make some decisions about what course of action you will take.

    Next, prototyping! Put all the ideas you’ve generated into action within the project you defined. Pen to paper, nose to grindstone! In this stage, you build or craft the piece you defined for your audience with the ideas you generated. Give it your best shot!

    Get your prototype in front of your audience and gather feedback. Depending on your audience, you need to tailor your approach to asking for their thoughts. You may use an online survey, a focus group, personal interviews or test environments to make it easy for test users to give candid feedback. The mode of testing will depend largely on what your particular project is or how people will interact with it. 

    After gathering feedback, you may have to loop back to ideation if there are big issues that need to be addressed. Follow through to prototyping and testing again until you’re hitting the mark with your audience. 

    Great design takes time, but it’s absolutely necessary if you want to create a quality product or experience for your intended audience and ultimately achieve your goals. Remember that you must lay a solid foundation for any project by starting with empathy for your customer, end user or audience. Focus on who they are and what they need and let that serve as your compass through the rest of the process.

  • 06 Feb 2018 12:57 PM | Anonymous

    Post written by Candi Broeffle, MBA and Certified Professional Coach, Composure Executive Coaching

    Transitions come in all shapes and sizes.  Some are minor; like taking on a new role at work, starting an exercise program, or redecorating your home. Others are major; like losing your job, having a baby, or losing a loved one. Transitions are changes that are sometimes chosen by us or given to us. Either way, change is stressful.

    When we are stressed we tend to approach the situation in two ways:

    • From a state of resignation – “Why is this happening to me?” “No one understands what I am going through.” “Why won’t they help me?” or “I can’t do anything about this.”

    • From a state of aggression – “Why did you do something so irresponsible?” “Where were you when I needed you?” “It’s her fault I had to leave.” or “I’m so stupid.”

    Moving beyond the stress and the negative emotions involves more than just thinking positive thoughts. The following four disciplines will help you to build resilience in the most trying times:

    • Awareness – take the time to observe and assess yourself and everything around you in the moment. Understand that what is true for you is not necessarily the Truth.

    • Acceptance – no matter how much you feel it “shouldn’t” be happening, it is happening.  Resisting what is happening only causes you pain. Don’t take things personally, and don’t look at anything that happens as more than it actually is. Don’t catastrophize!

    • Conscious Choice – being present to what is happening allows you to consciously make choices of how you will respond. Rather than responding from just your thoughts or emotions, tap into your intuition as well.

    • Trusting the Process – by focusing on long-term growth versus short-term rewards, you are less likely to get sidelined. Look for the lesson in each experience as you constantly review your plan and make shifts as needed.

    By tapping into the four disciplines you will understand the fear you are experiencing and gain a fresh perspective.

    Finally, let’s remember that fear and excitement feel the same. Choose excitement!


  • 11 Jan 2018 9:12 AM | Anonymous

    Written by Ted Schick

    Speaking, training, presenting--- any word you want to use---is a craft. And ideally, your craft is evolving and improving as you work towards mastery.

    Moreover, our craft is deliberate. Everything we do to convey and teach content should have purpose and intent. Nothing we do as craftsmen is an accident as it applies to teaching and instructing—it is all very intentional.

    Content + Delivery = Success. You just can’t have one without the other to truly be successful. In this fun and informative presentation, I model the tactics and techniques while sharing the keys to our craft. Teaser:  Here’s your first rule—It’s not about you. If you never forget this one, you are on your way to a KILLER presentation.

    ---

    Join us next week as Ted Schick dives deep into creating and executing presentations that will inform and impress your audience.

    Tuesday, January 16 
    11:30-1:00 pm
    Minnesota Power

    Register Today

    ---

    About Ted Schick:

    Residing in Fredenberg Township, MN, Ted is a corporate trainer, professional speaker and consultant with his own business, Schick Corporate Learning. A retired naval officer who rose up from the enlisted ranks, Ted has over 30 years experience leading people.

    With over 25 years in teaching and presenting, Ted holds a BA in Business from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, received a teaching certificate from Bemidji State University, and a Master of Education from the University of Minnesota, Duluth.

    Ted is active in his community with Spirit Mountain Ski Patrol, local animal humane societies including Animal Allies and Friends of Animals and has served as a mentor for Mentor Duluth. In his “spare” time, he has been a stand-up comedian, teaches Boot Camp fitness classes, serves as a personal fitness coach and is a seasoned triathlete.



  • 07 Dec 2017 10:30 AM | Anonymous

    Written by Kathlynn McConnell, CPLP

    Answering emails while viewing a webinar and reading a report could earn you the title of “multi-tasker.” Being labeled as a “multi-tasker” seems to be a badge of honor these days. However, earning this badge by trying to focus on two or more tasks at the same time or trying to switch rapidly between them means we're not giving any of the tasks our full attention. In the end, this actually reduces our productivity.

    Not only do we become less productive, multi-tasking may add to our stress and impatience because we are only partially present, leading to increased misunderstandings and mistakes. So, how do we ditch this unproductive badge of multi-tasking? Here are five easy-peasy steps to help you begin your 2018 journey to productivity and sanity:

    1. Don’t allow smaller tasks to interrupt the one you are currently focused on. For example, don’t answer emails while you are on a phone call and vice versa.

    2. Complete the task you are involved with before moving on to the next one. This allows you to be more fully present and attentive to each detail, leading to fewer mistakes and more enjoyment by moving the task from your “to-do” list to your “to-DONE!” list.

    3. Straighten up your work area before you begin your tasks for the day. Clutter tends to rob us of our peace and presence and it tantalizes us to randomly focus on things other than the task at hand.

    4. Turn off ringers, beeps and email notifications while you are engaged in a specific task.

    5. Check emails on the hour instead of every minute of the hour.

    Consider not multi-tasking for at least one hour a day as a New Year’s Resolution for yourself. You can get a head start on being more productive and sane in 2018 now by putting at least one of the steps into action each day. I double-dog dare you…


  • 06 Dec 2017 7:35 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Written by Dawn Johnson, Past-President

    December 4th through the 8th is Employee Learning Week.  Employee Learning Week is an annual celebration sponsored by the Association for Talent Development. 

    You might ask—why celebrate employee learning?  

    Employee Learning Week highlights the important role that learning plays in organizational success.  Often we think that employee training and development comes in the form of a class.  Others may believe that the full responsibility to train employees is the role of the “training department.”  This belief couldn’t be further from the truth.  Yes—it is true that an organization’s training department may be responsible for the most critical training or content that is needed by large numbers of employees (new employee orientation for example.)  However, employee learning comes in many different forms and from a variety of sources.  Corporate trainers, safety trainers, leaders, and even co-workers play a key role in the successful development of employees.  Learning may take the form of a class—or it may simply be a co-worker sitting with a new peer and demonstrating a procedure.

    Employee growth and development is also the responsibility of the individual employee.  Employee Learning Week is a great time to inspire and encourage employees to continue to develop their own skills.  We often forget that many employees work on professional development activities on their own time, but the organization benefits from the new knowledge and skills every day.

    The Lake Superior Chapter of the Association for Talent Development would like to encourage you to take time this week to recognize the importance of employee learning. 

    Here are a few simple ideas:

    • Send personal thank you notes to leaders and employees that take time to mentor others in your organization
    • Promote opportunities for tuition reimbursement or other company sponsored learning programs
    • Provide treats to your department to celebrate and highlight their commitment to their own learning
    • Learn something new together during a staff meeting this week (work related or something just for fun!)
    • Share our blog posts this week with others inside and outside of your organization

    Have fun celebrating Employee Learning Week and join the Lake Superior Chapter in 2018 for more great opportunities to learn!  

  • 04 Dec 2017 2:33 PM | Anonymous

    In the 1920s, Hawthorne Works (an electrical company) commissioned a four-year study to increase productivity by varying the working environment. Researchers theorized that brighter lighting would enhance performance, so they created three groups: one group got new, brighter bulbs; another group got dimmer bulbs; a third group got new bulbs with the same wattage as the previous one. 

    A surprising thing happened: all of the groups improved. 

    Similarly, at an assembly plant, workers were invited to participate in a long-term experiment altering variables in their day, such as changing the length of break times, the number of breaks allowed, providing food during breaks and changing the length of the work day. Each time a variable shifted, performance improved – even if the change meant reverting back to the original conditions. 

    The results have been interpreted in many ways; an early hypothesis was that the novelty of being a research subject motivated employees to perform better, another view was that the employees worked harder because they knew they were being watched. Human motivation is a hard thing to interpret. No one can say for sure if employee performance improved because of novelty, renewed motivation, increased awareness or something else entirely – but one thing is clear: we thrive when we are challenged and we begin to flounder when things stagnate. 

    So, if you are noticing a lull in motivation or performance in your workplace, try switching things up: change your routine and add some variety to your work day – even small variations can lead to noticeable shifts! 

     


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