PerformanceXpress

International Society of Performance Improvement Newsletter
December 2002

 

ISPI Welcomes ASTD in Offering the Certified Performance Technologist (CPT) Designation

We are pleased to announce that the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) will join us in offering the Certified Performance Technologist (CPT) certification program to their members. Through this affiliation, ISPI and ASTD will support the same Standards for Performance Technology and will offer nearly 100,000 constituents in more than 100 countries an opportunity to prove their proficiency.

Developed and launched in April 2002 by ISPI, the CPT certification was developed in response to requests from public and private organizations for criteria to better distinguish proficient practitioners of human performance technology. The certification requires three years of experience in performance improvement work, demonstration of proficiency in 10 standards, commitment to the Code of Ethics, and recertification every three years.

Developed by former ISPI President Dr. Judith Hale, CPT, and a team of more than 30 performance improvement professionals, the CPT designation is granted to individuals who satisfy a set of requirements. Proficiency in the 10 Performance Technology Standards is assessed through a combination of descriptions of previous work, attestations by clients or employers, and a review of the documents by qualified reviewers. The certification is performance based and is not tied to specific education requirements.

“The development of the Certified Performance Technologist standards and designation is a significant achievement for the field of performance improvement,” commented Richard Battaglia, ISPI Executive Director and CEO. “This designation will help to differentiate experienced performance improvement specialists to their clients or employers. Our association with ASTD ensures that there is one set of standards and one designation for the profession and will dramatically increase the awareness of the CPT.”

Tina Sung, ASTD President and CEO, stated, “ASTD is pleased to affiliate with ISPI on this prestigious performance certification. By pooling the resources of ISPI and ASTD, this certification helps members of both organizations better demonstrate their professional capabilities and expertise to their employer or clients.”

While applicants can apply through either professional organization, ISPI will remain responsible for reviewing all applications, deciding if the standards have been met, and granting the CPT designation. ISPI expects to work with other professional organizations to make the CPT designation available to their members as well.

Practitioners with at least six years of experience may apply for the certification by grandparenting—a somewhat streamlined process—until October 31, 2003. This represents a six-month extension of the grandparenting provision for ISPI members. Although the certification program is open to all qualified applicants, members of ISPI and ASTD will receive a reduced rate.

For additional information on the CPT program, visit www.certifiedpt.org or contact ISPI at certification@ispi.org.

The most recent recipients of the CPT designation include:

Advertisement 

Would you like to advertise in this space? Contact marketing@ispi.org

 

TrendSpotters: Snapshots from the Field, Featuring Deborah Stone
by Carol Haig, CPT and Roger Addison, CPT

This month we talked with Deborah Stone, CPT, of DLS Group, Inc., a firm that incorporates technology into bottom-line performance improvement, about three trends she has identified. We heard echoes of what other TrendSpotters have told us and have called that out for your reference. Deborah may be reached at dstone@dls.com.

Significant Trends
Deborah identified the economic downturn as an important trend because it affects how we work and conduct business. Next, she discussed the slow convergence of technologies to include e-learning, performance support interventions, knowledge management, and transactional computing. These technologies have already started to affect how performance improvement practitioners work and the interventions we recommend and construct. Finally, Deborah focused on globalization, which affects everything we do in the world of work.

In the human performance technology (HPT) literature, business publications, and Deborah’s daily work experience, these trends have transformed what our clients demand.

Impact of These Trends
The economic downturn has made internal and external clients cautious. Before committing the requisite investment for a performance intervention, clients expect proof that practitioners can deliver what they promise. Only when convincing results are produced will clients commit resources.

The need for rapid results has decreased cycle time in all aspects of work. Whatever the product or service, clients want it sooner. There is a focus on just-in-time solutions, but the age-old desire for the silver bullet that will fix everything is very much in evidence, making a systematic approach a difficult sell for HPT practitioners. It is, however, possible to sell large projects in small segments. Pricing is competitive, and the scope of projects frequently changes.

The information revolution has produced methodologies for meeting performance requirements through different delivery systems. Aided by the slow convergence of technology, ASTD’s State of the Industry Report describes a 5% decrease in instructor-led training and a 30% increase in the electronic delivery of training.

So, if fewer interventions are delivered in the classroom, how are organizations supporting performance? Probably through other HPT interventions that never appear as line items in anyone’s budget: informal training, mentoring, communities of practice, and personal exploration.

It is likely that organizations will move toward selecting employees who are already self-directed learners, then teach them how to learn online so they can use the training, information, and job tools they need. But until the computer infrastructure that self-directed learning requires is in place, we are likely to see the emergence of scalable technologies that make access affordable for smaller companies, while enabling larger organizations to build as the need emerges.

Since long development cycles for software are a thing of the past and IBM has pioneered the 30- to 60-day release of new software, short development cycles are more credible. The move toward providing just-in-time information for knowledge workers will continue, with a new focus on contextualization—how the information works for me in the context of my job. We will see an increase in the development of reusable learning objects (see Learning Objects and ISD, PI, Vol.41, No.7), industry standards governing their use, and meta tags for easy storage and speedy retrieval.

In information technology, programmers outside the U.S. are doing basic coding, just as light manufacturing has moved to countries with less expensive labor. These jobs have left the U.S. and will not return. As globalization expands, we will have to increase American workers’ skills, because entry-level U.S. jobs will require higher-order skills.

A related reality is that other cultures, including those in Asia, completely skipped some steps in the technology revolution (see TrendSpotters: Rob Foshay, April 2002), leaving their workers relatively unencumbered by the steps in electronics development U.S. workers experienced. This means the competition for knowledge workers will intensify worldwide. Potentially, India or South Africa could become the world’s call center.

Influence of These Trends on Performance Improvement
Deborah finds the DLS Group is working differently in response to these trends. Implementation begins the first day of a project, with rapid prototyping and cross-functional teams the norm. Cultural alignment within the client organization drives project success. Helping clients define commonalities across their enterprisewide silos is critical to meeting performance requirements at the desired response rate and at an acceptable cost.

As we have learned, human capital development is driven by motivation. As American workers lose motivation, an HPT issue is created. Practitioners must understand the importance of growing human capital, and how to do it, because this is how we will work in the future.

We will see less “training” and more guided learning discovery using contemporary tools such as the Internet. Workers will require training to use these tools. While some organizations may see this as the redefinition of the “silver bullet,” in the end there are not any silver bullets. Any solution that improves enterprisewide performance will still require a systemic approach—but in today’s world, we need to find ways to accomplish this in shorter time frames, and at costs that quickly yield a positive return on investment.

Reference
Van Buren, M.E. & Erskine, W. (2002). State of the industry: ASTD’s annual review of trends in employer-provided training in the United States. Alexandria, VA: ASTD.

If you have any suggestions about trends driving performance in today’s business environment that you feel would be of interest to the PerformanceXpress readership, please contact Carol Haig, CPT, at carolhaig@earthlink.net or Roger Addison, CPT, at roger@ispi.org.

 

Problems With Bloom’s Taxonomy
by Brenda Sugrue, PhD, CPT

I did a 99-second critique of Bloom’s taxonomy at the 2002 ISPI conference, and it generated more unsolicited feedback than any other presentation I have made. The response varied from those who completely agreed with me and abandoned Bloom many years ago to those who are still true believers and avid users. In those 99 seconds, I criticized the taxonomy but did not have time to present more valid alternatives. This article summarizes the criticisms and presents two alternative strategies for classifying objectives in order to design appropriate instruction and assessment.

Invalidity
Bloom’s taxonomy is almost 50 years old. It was developed before we understood the cognitive processes involved in learning and performance. The categories or “levels” of Bloom’s taxonomy (knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation) are not supported by any research on learning. The only distinction that is supported by research is the distinction between declarative/conceptual knowledge (which enables recall, comprehension, or understanding) and procedural knowledge (which enables application or task performance).

Unreliability
The consistent application of Bloom’s taxonomy across multiple designers/developers is impossible. Given any learning objective, it might be classified into either of the two lowest levels (knowledge or comprehension) or into any of the four highest levels (application, analysis, synthesis, or evaluation) by different designers. Equally, there is no consistency in what constitutes instruction or assessment that targets separate levels. A more reliable approach is to separate objectives and practice/assessment items into those that elicit or measure declarative/conceptual knowledge from those that elicit or measure task performance/procedural knowledge.

Impracticality
The distinctions in Bloom’s taxonomy make no practical difference in diagnosing and treating learning and performance gaps. Everything above the “knowledge” level is usually treated as “higher-order thinking” anyway, effectively reducing the taxonomy to two levels.

The Content-by-Performance Alternative
Recent taxonomies of objectives and learning object strategies distinguish among types of content (usually facts, concepts, principles, procedures, and processes) as well as levels of performance (usually remember and use). This content-by-performance approach leads to general prescriptions for informational content and practice/assessment such as those presented in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Prescriptions for Information and Practice Based on Content-Performance Matrix.

Content Type

Information to Present
(Regardless of Level of Performance

Practice/Assessment
(Depending on Level of Performance)

Remember

Use

Fact

the fact

recognize or recall the fact

recognize or recall during task performance

Concept

the definition, critical attributes, examples, non-examples

recognize or recall the definition or attributes

Identify, classify, or create examples

Principle/
Rule

the principle/rule, examples, analogies, stories

recognize, recall, or explain the principle

decide if the principle applies, predict an event, apply the principle to solve a problem

Procedure

list of steps, demonstration

recognize, recall, or reorder the steps

perform the steps

Process

description of stages, inputs, outputs, diagram, examples, stories

recognize, recall, or reorder the stages

identify origins of problems in the process; predict events in the process; solve problems in the process

The Pure Performance Alternative
A more radical approach would be to have no taxonomy at all, to simply assume that all objectives are at the use level (that is, “performance” objectives) and that learners will practice or be assessed on the particular performance in representative task situations. If there are “enabling” sub-objectives, those too can be treated as performance objectives without further classification. If, for example, a loan officer needs to be able to distinguish among types of mortgages and describe the pros and cons of each type of mortgage as an enabling skill for matching house buyers with mortgages, then we design/provide opportunities to practice categorizing mortgages and listing their pros and cons before we practice on matching buyers to mortgages. If a car salesperson needs to be able to describe the features of different car models as an enabling skill for selling cars, then we design/provide opportunities to practice describing the features of different cars before we practice on selling cars.

References
Bereiter, C., & Scardamalia, M. (1998). Beyond Bloom’s taxonomy: Rethinking knowledge for the knowledge age. In A. Hargreaves, A. Lieberman, M. Fullen, & D. Hopkins, (Eds.), International handbook of educational change. Boston: Kluwer Academic.

Merrill, M.D. (1994). Instructional design theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.

Moore, D.S. (1982). Reconsidering Bloom’s Taxonomy of educational objectives, cognitive domain. Educational Theory, 32(1) 29-34.

Brenda Sugrue, PhD, CPT, is President of eLearnia, Inc., which provides custom content development services, and has developed CaseLearn®, a system for authoring and delivering dynamic online case-based practice and assessment activities. She was on the ISPI Board of Directors from 2000 to 2002 and was guest editor for the August 2002 special issue of Performance Improvement on performance-based instructional systems design. Brenda may be reached at bsugrue@elearnia.com, and her company website is www.elearnia.com.

 

Advertisement 

Would you like to advertise in this space? Contact marketing@ispi.org

 

Crossword Puzzle: HPT Style

ISPI’s “games guy” and QBInternational’s Resident Mad Scientist (aka Director of Research and Development) Sivasailam “Thiagi” Thiagarajan, CPT, has created a crossword puzzle this month to amuse PerformanceXpress readers and test their knowledge of human performance technology.

How to Solve the Interactive Crossword
Solving this interactive puzzle is easy. To get started, click: http://www.thiagi.com/cp-hpt.html. Then, move your mouse and click on any box. The clue to that word will be highlighted in red. Check whether the word across or the word down is selected. If you want to choose the other alignment, click the mouse button again. If you know the answer, type it in. If you are unsure of your answer, click the “Check” button on the left. All the incorrect letters on the crossword grid will disappear.

 

From the Board: Snippets to Use and Share
by Jim Hill, ISPI President

A few months ago, the Board of Directors held its quarterly meeting in Boston. During that visit, the local chapter was kind enough to host an evening event, during which the Board members conducted a panel discussion on various elements, approaches, and philosophies about human performance technology (HPT) in the workplace. As the moderator, I had the good fortune to view my colleagues/panelists along with the audience. Each panelist was initially given a five-minute segment to share his or her unique observations on our profession; that was followed by a group Q&A with the chapter members. Just minutes into the individual segments, I thought to myself, “This is really great!” With that, I began furiously jotting down the bits of wisdom offered by each Board member.

Below is my summary of their comments from that evening—just a little information that you can expand on as your interest dictates. I hope it will be useful to you as a brief set of guidelines, reminders, motivators, or snippets that you can share with your workplace colleagues and managers. If there’s something that particularly grabs your attention, I’d encourage you to contact the responsible Board member. You’ll find that each is an outstanding resource who is always willing to help.

Jeanne Farrington, jeanne@redwoodmtn.com

  1. Find out what your bosses want and give it to them.
  2. Don’t use your terms; use theirs.
  3. Training isn’t bad. It’s one of many solutions available. Select the one that works. If you specialize in training, great—but use it when it’s important!

Carol Panza, cmp@orgmap.com

  1. Measurement counts.
  2. Listen to the client.
  3. Focus on outcomes and deliverables.
  4. The environment is important. Don’t lose sight of its impact.

Mike Schwinn, mschwinn@myvine.com

  1. The transition from training to HPT is not easy.
  2. Be patient but keep your eye on the goal.
  3. You can help make your leaders better.
  4. Get networked.

Clare Carey, schmidtw001@hawaii.rr.com

  1. Listen to the culture.
  2. When helping move to an HPT culture, don’t give up!
  3. Don’t talk down about yourself or your abilities. (You are your company’s core asset!)

Guy Wallace, guy.wallace@eppic.biz

  1. Credibility is important.
  2. If you are just starting, get a few small wins, then expand on them.
  3. Know the other enablers (human resources, finance, operations, comp).

Brian Desautels, briandes@microsoft.com

  1. Focus on deliverables.
  2. Keep it simple.

Each of us will be drawn to a few specific insights and seek to translate them into our own words. My takeaways are as follows:

  1. Ensure you are aligned with the organizational goals (listen to your boss and clients).
  2. Learn, then use, the language of the organization.
  3. Change is difficult. Stay focused, collaborate, and don’t give up.
  4. Keep the end in mind.

Why not develop your own core list and use it as a guide to the way you work? You will find that it is a great way to tell others what you do, how you do it, and the value you bring to your organizations.

 

Measurement Counts! Ch...Ch...Ch...Ch...Ch...Change
by Carl Binder

At the end of last month’s column I posed some questions: How do you tell (without statistics) whether an apparent change in measured performance is due to a trend, an incremental jump-up or jump-down, or simply a bounce along a continuous, bumpy course of variability?

These are important questions and have implications for how we measure performance, how often or how long we measure, how we display and analyze our performance measures, and what conclusions we draw from them. While this brief column cannot address all these issues in detail, I’ll attempt over the next few issues to suggest answers and implications, and to offer some recommendations for improving our overall practice of results measurement.

Definitions
Let’s start with definitions. A trend is change over time in an overall direction, either accelerating, decelerating, or flat (no change over time). Trends can occur for many reasons, and often the performance results we measure are already trending in one direction or another due to influences outside our control.

A jump-up or jump-down (terms coined by Ogden Lindsley) is a precipitous change in the level of performance. Jumps in performance usually do not occur in the absence of interventions of some kind (planned or unplanned), but can occur either with or without changes in trend. For example, an event-based intervention (e.g., a workshop, a sales meeting, a “motivational” get-together) can produce an immediate jump-up in desired performance, but a turn-down in trend that returns performance to the previous level (or below) within weeks or months. Similarly, programs designed to reduce defects, socially inappropriate interactions in the workplace, or other types of undesirable behavior or job outputs can sometimes cause immediate jump-downs but gradual turn-ups in trend back to or even higher than the original levels.

Finally, bounce (more conventionally called “variability”) is the up-and-down variation in performance around an overall trend line—the ongoing degree of inconsistency that characterizes just about any phenomenon in nature or in human performance. Quality engineers, for example, design processes to keep results within limits, recognizing that some variability is inevitable.

To detect any of these effects, we must collect repeated measures of behavior, job outputs, or business results over time. Whether we measure by the hour, day, week, month, quarter, or year, repeated measures reveal trends, jumps, and bounce over time.

Implications
If our purpose is to make good decisions based on measurement, then it’s essential that we be aware of trends, jumps, and bounces. There are many ways in which we can be fooled. For example, if we are not measuring continuously or frequently, we can misinterpret the difference between two measures at separate points along a continuous trend as an effect of our intervention, when nothing we did actually affected the existing trend or level of performance. We can mistake the difference between an up bounce and a down bounce within the same range of variability as the result of our intervention. As another example, we might not recognize short-term effects (for example a jump-up with a turn-down) as temporary unless we have a way of monitoring trends to see if short-term effects remain over time. These and many other misjudgments can occur when our measurement and monitoring procedures do not distinguish between trends, jumps, and bounce.

Next month we will continue this discussion with some suggestions for how to address these issues. In the meantime, take a look at results measures and graphs in your files, or ones that appear in reports or articles that you read. Do you believe the effects they purport to show? What questions might you ask to be sure?

Check Out ISPI’S GOT RESULTS? Web Page
If you are interested in results measures gathered and used by other ISPI members, and especially if you are interested in submitting your own data-based case study to the GOT RESULTS? Exhibit at the 41st Annual International Performance Improvement Conference & Expo, April 11-15 in Boston, MA, click here to check out the GOT RESULTS? web page.

Dr. Carl Binder is a Senior Partner at Binder Riha Associates, a consulting firm that helps clients improve processes, performance, and behavior to deliver valuable results. His easy-to-remember e-mail address is CarlBinder@aol.com and his company’s website is www.Binder-Riha.com.

 

I-Spy: Websites of Interest
by Todd Packer

Thank you! We are wrapping up 2002 here at I-Spy, a feature of PerformanceXpress that highlights relevant, interesting, and useful websites for performance technologists. Accept our gratitude on our cyber-voyages to off-the-beaten path sites that help you find similar thinkers, resources, work, new ideas, and sometimes just plain old fun.

Quick recap: Every month, three sites, one theme. While far from comprehensive, hopefully these sites will spark readers to look further and expand views about human performance technology (HPT). Please keep in mind that any listing is for informational purposes only and does not indicate an endorsement either by the International Society for Performance Improvement or me.

These are the general categories I use for the sites featured:

  1. E-Klatch: Links to professional associations, research, and resources that can help refine and expand our views of HPT through connections with other professionals and current trends
  2. HPT@work: Links to job listings, career development, volunteer opportunities, and other resources for applying your individual skills
  3. I-Candy: Links to sites that are thought provoking, enjoyable, and refreshing to help manage the stresses and identify new ideas for HPT

The theme for this month’s column is In Appreciation. Thank you, loyal readers! Something about this time of year ideally sparks individuals and organizations to appreciate, well, “appreciation.” Whether workers connect with “thankfulness” or “increase” or any of the other 31 synonyms found at Thesaurus.com, this multifaceted concept links to many aspects of improved performance. This month we discover how to appreciate inquiry, kindness, teenage ingenuity, and electron-magnified tick copulation.

E-Klatch
Appreciative reader and excellent PerformanceXpress Editor April Davis put us on the trail of appreciative inquiry, which led to the links page of the Organization Development and Change Division of the Academy of Management, a site maintained by Eric Goodman at Colorado Technical University. This site is full of resources for organizations and research on new ways of understanding and improving workplace behavior. Several links outline the “appreciative inquiry” concept, defined in Appreciative Inquiry in Organizational Life by David L. Cooperrider and Suresh Srivastva as “more than a method or technique, the appreciative mode of inquiry is a way of living with, being with, and directly participating in the varieties of social organization we are compelled to study.”

HPT@work
If the holiday season is adding more stress to your workplace than productivity, perhaps a visit to the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation website can bring respite from the harried pressure to celebrate with material gifts. Filled with inspirational quotes, tales of kind acts, and lesson plans, this site connects to a movement that shows how people can appreciate each other in workplaces and in the broader community. From a lawn-mowing truck driver to prison inmates making stuffed animals for kids, performance technologists can find new perspectives on performance outcomes.

I-Candy
In our increased attempts to measure and improve performance in schools, we can fail to appreciate the skills, insights, and creativity of young students. Any lingering lack of appreciation will be dispelled by a visit to the student-designed websites at ThinkQuest. “Through ThinkQuest, young people work together in teams, use the Internet to research a topic in science, mathematics, literature, the social sciences or the arts, and publish their research as an educational website for peers and classrooms around the world.” It is a whole lot to explore. I enjoyed making fractals at The Fractory, learning American Sign Language at SIGNhear Communication Center, and viewing ticks, uh, “appreciating” each other at Dangerous Little Monsters—Under The Microscope in the electron microscope images at Are mites little monsters which threaten your health?

Appreciate yourself, your loved ones, and your colleagues this holiday season. See you in the digital realms in 2003!

When he is not Internet trawling for ISPI, Todd Packer can be found improving business, non-profit, and individual performance through research, training, and innovation coaching as an independent practitioner based in Cleveland, Ohio. He may be reached at tp@toddpacker.com

 

The Best Imaginable ISPI
by John Swinney

The purpose of the Marketplace View Taskforce is to identify customer market segments, their needs, and their choices for the various distribution channels that the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) can use to deliver products and services to help meet those needs. Given this information, it is the objective of the taskforce to build a template or tool that will help the Society determine how a proposed new (or existing) product or service meets the needs of ISPI’s market and the most appropriate channel for delivery.

Work to Date
Several articles in past issues of PerformanceXpress have highlighted the work performed to date by the taskforce, the most visible of which was the series of focus groups that were conducted at the 2002 Annual Conference in Dallas. A general theme that emerged was, while we can always find opportunities for improvement, ISPI is generally seen as a significant and credible resource for developing one’s skill and knowledge related to improving human and organizational performance. The focus groups helped to identify additional areas of interest, especially related to how the Society can provide support or continued learning opportunities and infrastructure such as the relationship between the international organization and chapters.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that five focus groups made up of 30 to 40 dedicated professionals still does not define a mandate or identify a trend, but the results are certainly encouraging and useful. It is hoped that this vehicle for getting the “voice of the customer” to the Society and the Board will be something that can be ongoing. Thanks to everyone who participated in or facilitated these focus groups. As with most endeavors undertaken by the Society, this work was completed by volunteers.

Preview of Findings and Recommendations
This section could probably be subtitled, where do we go from here.

The taskforce is preparing a final report to the Board summarizing the findings and recommendations that will be delivered prior to their scheduled meeting in January. The report will synthesize the information that has been assembled from the focus groups and other resources up to this point. In addition, work is progressing on the abovementioned marketing decision process. The intent is to provide a tool, or job aid, and a process that may be used as a resource to enable Board and ISPI staff members to make initial decisions and direct results regarding the expenditure of the Society’s time and dollars toward HPT products and services that:

The marketing decision process will also be valuable to standing committees and taskforces who may need to recommend various programs or services to the Board. It will allow market-driven business decisions based on the needs of the Society.

Recalling Guy Wallace’s warning that “five small groups do not create a mandate,” recommendations are also being prepared to put into place a permanent process or mechanism for continuing the feedback and input process. This is likely to take the form of additional focus groups, “think tanks,” or online surveys.

Conclusion
In spite of the author’s longstanding belief that ISPI is indeed a wonderful place for a professional home, there will always be ways to carry the ISPI message more effectively and to more potential constituents. It is certainly appropriate to practice what we preach by soliciting feedback, listening, adjusting our course, and moving forward. Many thanks to the Board for sanctioning this work and for all the support from staff, taskforce members, and Society volunteers who helped start us on this journey to better understand the ISPI market.

 

Mentoring Is NOT Therapy
by Barton Goldsmith, PhD

Have you ever had to deal with a team member’s emotional or personal problems? It’s normal for a mentor/manager to spend time dealing with a coworkers’ problems, but when those problems become emotional; you may feel (rightfully so) that you really don’t want to deal with these kinds of problems. You may also feel that you are “out of your league.” If a staff member’s problems made you feel uncomfortable, it’s a sign that you need to refer them to, or bring in, a professional counselor.

Counseling Is NOT in Your Job Description
It is not your job to be a therapist to your team members. Spending your time dealing with people problems has its limits. Although we have all had to deal with unexpected emotions like tears, silence, or outright anger, it really should not be part of your duties. What is in the mentor’s/manager’s job description is having the ability and insight to know when to leave it to the pros.

Because mentoring is becoming a large part of our contemporary business culture, many consultants have added executive coaching to their repertoire. In addition, numerous psychotherapists (most with no business experience) have also become “executive coaches.” Where mentoring and coaching are similar to each other, counseling is a completely different line of work. It involves dealing with people’s emotions and helping to heal their neurosis. Just because someone calls himself or herself a coach does not mean that he or she has the ability to counsel. Before you refer someone to counseling, make sure that the person they see has some training in psychology.

A Mentor’s Job
Being a mentor means setting an example, listening to your team members, discussing their issues, and giving them leadership. Sometimes this means challenging them. Trained counselors understand that if you challenge someone who is emotionally vulnerable or unstable, that person may breakdown right in front of you, and counselors are prepared and educated for that. In addition, they are cautious about challenging someone who is very angry or unable to articulate their thoughts. This is a possible sign of instability, and could lead to the person acting out or even “going postal.” This is why it’s so important to understand the risks of counseling, and why a mentor needs to stay within certain boundaries.

If someone comes to a mentor with a work related issue, which may involve communication problems with a coworker, it falls under a mentor’s/manager’s job description to help resolve the issue. If a staff member is asking for help with a domestic issue, a substance abuse problem, or controlling anger, he or she should be referred to a counselor, or to your company’s Employee Assistance Program, if you have one.

If mentors/managers try to deal with highly charged emotional issues, they could be putting themselves and the company at risk. They could also give inappropriate advice to the staff member and cause him or her personal harm.

Determining the Objectives
When team members come to you with an issue that you think may cross the personal/professional line, you must first determine their goal in bringing the issue to you. Do they just want to unload and have someone listen to them? Do they need your help is dealing with a coworker? Are they looking for advice or in need of counseling? Asking them directly what their objectives are can save both of you time and energy, not to mention grief.

Once you (and they) understand their needs, you can decide if this is an issue you are comfortable dealing with. If you are not comfortable, you need to be honest and direct them to someone who can help them deal with the issue. Don’t just ignore it; it’s part of your responsibility as a mentor to help them locate assistance.

Responsibility and Benefits
Be careful not to fall into the father/mother confessor trap. Sometimes it is tempting to want to be the all-knowing mentor and take on problems that you don’t have the training to deal with. Mentors like to be helpful; it’s part of what motivates them to take on the role. Sometimes mentors don’t want to admit that they may be in over their heads and will continue to try to help a staff member without realizing they haven’t got the skills. This isn’t helpful to anyone, and it can result in actually making the problem worse and killing the mentor-mentee relationship.

Mentors have a responsibility to the people who come to them for guidance. This responsibility is one of the benefits of being a mentor; it makes them better leaders. Understanding boundaries and limitations gives the mentor a greater ability to help others. It also allows them to grow personally and professionally.

For more than two decades, Fortune 500 companies, educational institutions, and government organizations worldwide have relied on Dr. Barton Goldsmith to help them develop creative and balanced leadership. He is a highly sought after keynote speaker, business consultant, and author. His column “Passionate Leadership” appears in more than 100 newspapers, magazines, and trade publications. Considered an expert on small business, Dr. Goldsmith has given more than 2,000 professional presentations and has spoken to audiences worldwide. He has started, grown, and sold three companies, which gives him a unique understanding of entrepreneurs and those striving for success. He may be contacted through his website at www.bartongoldsmith.com or toll-free at 866-5-BARTON.

NOTE: Reprinted with permission of Goldsmith Consulting.

 

2003 International Performance Improvement Conference & Exposition:A Different Kind of Conference Experience
by Michelle Halprin, 2003 Conference Chair

Lessons in Leadership, ISPI’s 41st Annual International Performance Improvement Conference & Exposition, April 11-15 in Boston, MA, includes both new and established learning experiences for conference participants. Whether you are a long-time conference participant or someone new to ISPI, you will find more ways to network with other human performance technology (HPT) professionals, learn about what is going on in ISPI and in organizations across the world, and tune up your HPT skills and knowledge. Here are a few new program features:

A New Timeline for the Conference
Pre-conference workshops will start on Friday, April 11. The conference itself will begin Saturday evening, April 12, and run through Tuesday night, April 15. Some of the benefits of this new schedule include the ability to take advantage of lower-cost “stay over Saturday night” airfares and the completion of all conference activities before the start of the spring religious holidays.

A New Sequence for Concurrent Sessions
Concurrent sessions are scheduled to begin with HPT Foundation sessions that focus on core HPT topics presented by experienced professionals. Day two includes HPT Application sessions, which highlight ways that HPT has been used in different settings to meet specific organizational goals. In addition, there are six sessions that focus on original research being conducted in our field.

Planning Your Learning Path
Do you want to focus your conference time on a particular topic of interest? This year conference programming includes paths that allow you to hear a number of presentations on a related topic. A few of the paths you might select include:

Innovative Forums and Half-Day Workshops
New in 2003 are a small number of Innovative Forums—sessions that promise to deliver food for thought in a creative manner. Of the more than 30 session proposals submitted, only eight were deemed to be innovative enough to earn this title. Participate and let us know if the forums succeed in setting new benchmarks for future sessions!

This year two proposals earned the distinction of being selected as half-day workshops. The shorter workshop format gives you more choices in planning your pre-conference time.

Built-In Networking and Feedback Sessions
The conference planning committee is continuing to put the finishing touches on daily networking activities. These include: a group excursion to points of interest in Boston; non-structured activities to help you meet others who share your professional interests by topic, geographical area, industry segment; and more.

On the last day of the conference, you will have an opportunity to give immediate feedback to current and future conference leaders, providing them with what you would like to see during future ISPI conferences.

Traditional Conference Cornerstones
For those who crave the traditional cornerstones of an ISPI conference, the program also includes:

Take a few moments now to register for the 41st Annual International Performance Improvement Conference & Expo. The 2003 program includes 20 pre-conference workshops, close to 200 concurrent sessions, an exposition hall including vendors and publishers in the HPT field, and many opportunities to network and learn from other professionals.

 

Mager Does It Again

Last year at this time ISPI reported that Bob Mager, author of The Mager Six-Pack and What Every Manager Should Know About Training, had stretched his versatility into the world of fiction and published a delightful book of short stories called Mager’s Shorts…Stories, that is. We are pleased to report that one of Bob’s three full-length novels has been published. His intriguing crime novel Killer in Our Midst has recently been released by PublishAmerica, and is available at www.publishamerica.com. It is also available online at Barnes & Noble.

“It’s so fast moving and captivating, I couldn’t put it down. I can’t wait for the sequel and the movie.”
—Seth Leibler, CEO, Center for Effective Performance

 

Recent Honorary Life Member Recipient C. Glenn Valentine Passes Away

On November 13, 2002, the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) lost a founding member and long-time contributor, C. Glenn Valentine, CPT. Glenn attended the Society’s first conference, was a founder of the Society’s first chapter, initiated the Cracker Barrel sessions, and in 2000 was awarded ISPI’s highest honor, Honorary Life Member. He was President in 1970-1971, the Society’s last year in San Antonio, Texas, before the move to Washington, DC.

Glenn’s contributions to the field aren’t as obvious, perhaps, as those of people who write widely read books or create powerful models—but they are fully as important and long lasting. Glenn is a true master implementer—one whose work has expanded, extended, and strengthened our technology. When the field was in its infancy, adherents struggled to gain acceptance and create a basic understanding of its principles. Glenn was ahead of his time, putting together ground-breaking applications that gave people examples to point to.

He will be missed. Contributions to Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, Grand Central Station, PO Box 4777, New York, NY 10163 are preferred.

 

Research Funds Available through ISPI’s 2003 Grant Program

Question authority. Investigate. Discover. Sound intriguing? Of course! As HPT’ers we have inquiring minds. We are drawn to solving problems, to improving performance, and to making a difference. To accomplish all of these, we rely upon the inquiries and discoveries of research. Some research yields findings that we can apply today, while other investigations have more long-term returns. To be successful, we need both types of research. We need applied research to help us solve today’s problems. We need theoretical research to discover future practices.

Through our Annual Research Grant Program, the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) continues to show a commitment to investing in the future of the field and in the research that is pivotal to realizing the return on that investment.

Normally, the research program officially launches with ISPI’s annual spring conference. To better serve the membership, the Research Committee accelerated its efforts to post the Request for Proposals (RFP), thereby giving you more time to hone your research ideas and to prepare great and wonderful research proposals.

Visit www.ispi.org to download the 2003 Research Grant Program Request for Proposals. The deadline for submissions is June 6, 2003.

 

2002 Research Grant Recipients

The 2002 Research Grant Program was a grand success! Preparation of a research proposal requires considerable effort, and we commend each of you who participated in this year’s program. Many thanks to the participants and to the members of the Research Committee. Congratulations to the following recipients of the 2002 Research Grant funds:

A Model for the Identification of Barriers and Enablers in the Application of Human Performance Technology within the Context of Variable Cultural Differences in Developing Countries by Belia Nel

Abstract: Since the development of human performance technology (HPT), the growth of HPT has been somewhat limited to North America and more recently, Europe. In developing countries such as Brazil and South Africa, consultants have started to explore the feasibility of HPT, despite the absence of scientific research to assist with the implementation of HPT in developing countries. This study will investigate how culture differences inhibit or stifle understanding and application in developing countries.

Golden Age Gold Standard by Todd Packer

Abstract: Peace works. HPT works. Together, HPT and peace can make better workplaces and a better world. Through a concept analysis to develop an operational definition with criteria for peace, e.g., successful peace-building activities, then mapping this onto a HPT model to identify congruencies and gaps, we can design a model and plan for HPT peace initiatives. This effort will examine HPT on a societal level and how we may translate peace-building best practices into workplace performance improvement.

Variation and Seductive Details by Will Thalheimer, PhD

Abstract: A number of research studies have found that adding interesting graphics, illustrations, and stories to learning material can hurt learning by distracting learners from the major learning points. Many of us remember that Ben Franklin risked his life flying a kite, but most of us have forgotten how this episode enabled the American colonies to overcome their oppressors. This research will evaluate the methodology and findings of research into seductive-details in training materials.

Cognitive Analysis of Human Performance Technology by Steve Villachica, PhD

Abstract: How do HPT practitioners organize their knowledge of the discipline? How do experts organize their knowledge differently from novices? How do different specialties influence the organization of HPT knowledge? Participants of this study will be asked to complete a short online survey and rate the similarity of terms drawn from the discipline. This study seeks to discover how experts organize their knowledge of HPT concepts.

Validating an Instrument for Assessing the Readiness of E-learners by Ryan Watkins, PhD

Abstract: Today, e-learning opportunities commonly are available for satisfying a variety of educational and training requirements. Yet, while the supply and demand for e-learning opportunities grow, e-learners are not always adequately prepared to be successful in an online learning environment. This research project is designed to provide evidence in the validation of an e-learner self-assessment for appraising individual readiness for success in online coursework.

 

2003 Fall Conference RFP Now Available

The International Society for Performance Improvement is please to announce that we are currently accepting Proposals for Speakers for the 2003 Conference on Instructional Systems Design and Measurement, September 18-20, in Chicago, IL. Speaker submissions must be received at the ISPI headquarters no later than February 10, 2003. Click here for additional information or to download the RFP.

 

Candidates Announced for the 2003-2004 Election

The Nominating Committee has announced the slate of candidates for the upcoming Board of Directors election. This year the membership will elect a President-elect and three Directors. Active ISPI members should receive a ballot in early January.

The slate was developed by the Nominating Committee, which received nominations from the membership and determined the willingness of those nominated to run. All the candidates meet the qualifications and criteria of the positions.

If you do not receive your ballot in early January, please call ISPI headquarters at 301.587.8570.

The candidates are:

For President-elect:

For Director:

 

Seeking Applicants for Editor-in-Chief of Performance Improvement

The International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) is seeking an ISPI member who has the flexibility to take on the commitment and responsibilities of Editor for Performance Improvement (PI).

We’re looking for a member who can demonstrate an extensive knowledge of Human Performance Technology (HPT), has a professional HPT network, and possesses an editorial review ability. The Editor will be responsible for acquiring, reviewing, and selecting manuscripts and will contribute suggestions and ideas toward the editorial direction. The Editor will work with authors and potential authors to maintain the highest standard of editorial content and will work directly with the ISPI Senior Director of Publications, who is responsible for all production and distribution. The Editor reports to the Executive Director, who serves as Publisher of Performance Improvement. The position requires a two-year commitment, commencing in April 2003. The Editor will receive $10,000 a year as compensation for the invested time and effort.

PI is published 10 times a year and is distributed to more than 6,000 members, subscribers, and institutions. For an application and instructions, or for questions regarding the position or the application process, please contact April Davis, ISPI Senior Director of Publications, by phone: 301.587.8570 x112; by fax: 301.587.8573; or by e-mail, april@ispi.org

 

Performance Marketplace

Performance Marketplace is a convenient way to exchange information of interest to the performance improvement community. Take a few moments each month to scan the listings for important new events, publications, services, and employment opportunities. Find additional resources for your training and performance improvement initiatives at the ISPI Online Buyers Guide and find the latest training and performance jobs at the ISPI Online Job Bank. If you would like to post information for our readers, contact ISPI Director of Marketing, Dan Rudt at dan@ispi.org or 301.587.8570.

Books and Reports
Turning Research Into Results by Richard E. Clark & Fred Estes. The harsh reality is that many popular performance products in use today simply do not work. So how can you ensure that you’re getting your money’s worth and selecting the right performance solutions for your organization? Clark and Estes tell you how.

Performance-Based Instructional Systems Design CD-ROM – Hear the latest on the subject from some two dozen sessions recorded at September’s three-day conference.  

Conferences, Seminars, and Workshops
Making the Transition to Performance Improvement, San Francisco Area, January 15-17, 2003.

Principles and Practices of Performance Improvement, San Francisco Area, January 20-22, 2003; and On the Internet, January 27-February 14, 2003 

41st Annual International Performance Improvement Conference and Exposition: Lessons in Leadership, Boston, MA, April 10-15, 2003. 

Magazines, Newsletters, and Journals
Chief Learning Officer Magazine – Let CLO deliver the experts to you through Chief Learning Officer magazine, www.CLOmedia.com, and the Chief Learning Officer Executive Briefings electronic newsletter. Subscriptions are free to qualified professionals residing in the United States.

Performance Improvement Quarterly – Now in its 15th year! Don’t miss another issue of this scholarly journal that provides cutting-edge research and information necessary for you to keep on top of the business of improving human performance. Subscribe today!

Websites of Interest
HR.com is a leading on-line resource providing HR professionals with daily news, articles, expert insights, discussion groups, and more. ICG (Intellectual Capital Group), a division of HR.com, provides cutting-edge research reports called RedBooks™ identifying and analyzing HR trends and technologies.

 

Newsletter Submission Guidelines

ISPI is looking for Human Performance Technology (HPT) articles (approximately 500 words and not previously published) for PerformanceXpress that bridge the gap from research to practice (please, no product or service promotion is permitted). Below are a few examples of the article formats that can be used:

In addition to the article, please include a short bio (2-3 lines) and a contact email address. All submissions should be sent to april@ispi.org. Each article will be reviewed by one of ISPI’s on-staff HPT experts, and the author will be contacted if it is accepted for publication. If you have any further questions, please contact april@ispi.org.


Feel free to forward ISPI’s PerformanceXpress newsletter to your colleagues or anyone you think may benefit from the information. If you are reading someone else’s PerformanceXpress, send your complete contact information to april@ispi.org, and you will be added to the PerformanceXpress emailing list.

PerformanceXpress (formerly News & Notes and Quick Read) is an ISPI member benefit designed to build community, stimulate discussion, and keep you informed of the Society’s activities and events. This newsletter is published monthly and will be emailed to you at the beginning of each month.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact April Davis, ISPI’s Senior Director of Publications, at april@ispi.org.

 

ISPI
1400 Spring Street, Suite 260
Silver Spring, MD 20910 USA
Phone: 1.301.587.8570
Fax: 1.301.587.8573
info@ispi.org

http://www.ispi.org