All Leaders are Front-line Leaders

TassieEye.Flickr.jpg

Organizations promote good leaders front line leaders into senior leaders. As leaders move through the levels of leadership, they need to adapt to their leadership style to meet the level they reach. Front line leaders address the challenges facing the organization here and now. Mid level leaders prepare the organization to face expected challenges in the next few days to several weeks. Senior level leaders anticipate problems for the organization months and years from now. One thing all levels of leaders deal with are those problems that occur today. At every level, all leaders need front line leader skills. Whether you are on your first day as a new shop foreman supervising ten machine operators, or the CEO of a major corporation with ten vice presidents reporting to you, you directly supervise and lead people every day. There are three basic attributes front line leaders at every level must understand, possess, and use; character, leading skills, and action.

Character is the foundation of leadership. Character is the collection of habits and actions taken by a person commonly defined by their hidden and stated beliefs. A habit is simply something a person does repeatedly.

A mid-level leader in a leadership workshop confessed his surprise hearing the expressions from his employees about how much he cared. He received a promotion and was moving to a new assignment. During his last days in that assignment, almost all of his workers approached him at some point and told him how much they appreciated the personal attention he provided regarding some sort of personal issue. They each said it showed he cared about everyone of them. He told the crowd of other mid-level leaders he did not remember most of the issues for which each thanked him.

hand-leg-finger-food-produce-care-1028578-pxhere.com.jpgHe told his classmates he devised a simple system using spreadsheet software to track employee issues. Every morning he made a list of people to contact to follow up on those issues ensuring they were addressed. His actions allowed employees to focus on their work, not their problems. His habit of tracking people’s problems and checking with them periodically, resulted in a reputation of being a compassionate leader. He only spoke with others who had a reason to know about the problem in order to provide support to the employee or help resolve the problem. He did not gossip. His habit of keeping his mouth shut gained him the reputation of being trustworthy. His habits and actions told others the story of how he felt about resolving people’s problems, not a speech delivered from a soapbox about being there to help his people. His character was defined by what he did, not what he said.

Front-line leaders need to find ways to organize information and their schedule or people think they are unreliable. Discipline is critical to repeat effective actions until they become habits and create your character. Learning how to relate with others enables leaders to motivate and influence people them by finding how individual needs, interests, and abilities align with organizational requirements and mission accomplishment.

In order to influence others, a leader needs power. @wewon31-power-linup_flickr.jpgPower is commonly obtained in one of a few ways. The first is positional power, that which an organization give an individual in supervisory positions. Another is expert power. If you are an expert by means of knowledge on a topic, or possess a critical skill that you use and share. You sway others by your expertise. A third source of power is attraction. That ability some people have to draw the positive attention from others and to make others want to be liked by them. Often called charisma, it enables those endowed with it to influence people by bestowing attention on those seeking their approval. A final source of power is reward and punishment. This sounds like something a boss can do, such as providing a wage increase, or dismissing an employee. In this example it is not someone in a position of authority. People who use rewards and punishment for power include people like playground bullies, or a grass roots community activist. Each finds ways to reward and punish people they influence outside traditional organizational structures. Some example include using force in the case of the bully, or endorsing a political candidate in the case of the activist. These rewards and punishments lack official sanction. The power comes from the personal traits of the individual such as strength or speaking ability. 102_0158.JPGLearning to develop power across several sources is a skill necessary to influence others. Each has benefits and limitations depending on the skill of the wielder, the situation, and the audience. Each is a tool. One cannot build a house only using a saw; likewise, one cannot lead well with only one source of power.

A final critical skill for all leaders is communication. Leaders need to write well, speak well, understand how others use words to indicate problems and answer, use body language, customs and courtesies that make others feel welcome or insulted, and adapt their communication style to their audience. Use different words and sentence structure recruiting in a college classroom full of young and presenting a financial report to your board of directors comprised of older, experienced professionals. New line workers need different instructions than veteran equipment operators. Respect shown to all you deal with speaks louder than all your words.

An instructor at an officer candidate school charged the class to develop the best order to direct a platoon to erect a flagpole. Each candidate was given 30 minutes. After 30 minutes each student made their presentation. Each had multiple slides in a deck explaining the process of digging the hole; others had lengthy material specifications and work plans; and others had maps, charts, and diagrams showing how they would move the pole, position equipment, and stand the pole. When the students were finished the instructor congratulated them on their hard work. He asked them who the audience was for their order. All agreed it was for the members of their platoon. The instructor pointed out their slide decks and other media were great if they were briefing a general about how they planned to install a pole. The assignment directions were to issue an order to erect a flag pole. The instructor shouted, “Platoon Sergeant, POST.” The platoon sergeant ran to the front of the class and reported to the instructor. After exchanging salutes, the instructor said, “Sergeant install that flag pole,” and pointed to the flagpole, “over there where the grade stake is located.” The sergeant saluted, said, “Yes Sir.” and left to start installing the flagpole.

Community-Bible-Church_Flickr.jpgThis story illustrates the importance of knowing your audience and the message they need to hear. As the instructor pointed out, if the message is what the candidates needed to request to install a flagpole, the communication is different than directing a Soldier to emplace the flagpole. Of course if the Soldiers were less experienced than the Platoon Sergeant, the instructor needed to provide more direction. The senior person in the story understood he was directing another experienced person to complete a task. Detailed instructions were not required.Pete-Birkinshaw_Flickr_YouRangSir.jpg

Action, the process of making things happen. Anyone can sit in their cubical all day and plan for the future. Only those who step outside their cubical and take action accomplish things. Reflection is important. It allows us to see what is, and what could be. Without action, what could be remains a dream. One only gains character by doing something. Character is the sum of our habits, the things we do. Without those actions, one has no character. Developing character requires action.

Planning is action, but planning without execution is planning resulting in nothing. Executing results in success. There are plenty of things individuals execute alone and help develop character, but one is only a leader when others are motivated to help execute. Leaders provide motivation through communication. Communication is action. Leaders share their vision of the future, a vision that inspires others to follow the leader on the path to success. Leaders execute communication by coaching and counseling their direct reports. Coaching and counseling are actions. Leaders set up their direct reports for success by taking action to ensure resources are available to accomplish tasks. Resourcing is action. Leaders act and set the example by pxhere-actionconfronting unacceptable behaviors and addressing uncomfortable truths, such as failures to reach revenue expectations. Setting standards is action. Leaders execute by jumping in, getting their hands dirty and shoes messy. Doing something dirty is action. Leaders develop power and influence by doing things; acting, not just talking and planning. If you are not doing, you are not leading. Leading is a verb. Verbs are action. Actions, executed properly at the right time by the right right people result in success. You can plan. You can talk. You can be virtuous. You accomplish nothing until you act.

No matter how high one climbs the organizational ladder, one is always a front-line leader. CEOs have VP s and staffs reporting to them. Middle managers have front-line supervisors to lead. Every leader has someone who reports to them about something, or they would not be leading. In order to lead, you must have followers. The direct leadership required of a VP probably is not the same as a new hire on the cook line, but both need proper supervision and leadership from their boss. Provide regular front-line leadership to your direct reports as you prepare your organization, or your part of an organization, for the days, weeks, months and years ahead. Build your character so you are worthy of respect. Communicate so they understand. Act by counseling, coaching, and executing. Use your front-line leader skill at all levels and be a leader who succeeds.


Photo Credits

Birds in line by Tassieeye from Flickr.com  CC License

Holding hands from pxhere.com 0CC License

Powerlines by @wewon31 from Flickr.com CC License

Tool Box by author  CC License

Network by Community Bible Church from Flickr.com CC License

Old Telephone Box by Pete Birkinshaw from Flickr.com CC License

Action Biking from pxhere.com 0CC License

Wandering Leaders

Colin Powell said if people stop bringing you problems you’ve stopped leading them. People cannot bring you problems if you are not accessible to them. An old management maxim is leading by wondering around (LBWA). wander-david-gutierrezThere is more to wandering than aimlessly walking around. For LBWA to be effective you have to wonder around the areas and among the people least likely to otherwise have access to you or that you would ordinarily see. People only bring problems to accessible leaders. You have to be accessible to hear people’s concerns.

Imagine an organization really dedicated to providing training to employees from experts within the organization. The leaders send these experts to school to learn best ways to train others. They develop training programs to take to field sights where people work. They advertise the availability of the training to lower level leaders, yet none of the organizational sub-units request the training. The leaders figure they have prepared the wrong stuff, or that the training is not wanted nor necessary.

Some time later as part of a periodic organizational assessment, select members of the organization’s headquarters visits a branch office. During the visit staff look at records, business activities, and leader actions. The office fails to meet the organizations expectations. The head of the visiting team asks the local manager why they did not request the training the organization worked so hard to develop? The answer, “We did not know about it.”

Now instead of just emails. Posters, fliers and other traditional advertising, corporate sends out key leaders to branch offices and operations months before a scheduled staff visit. The leader meets with the local manager and tours the facility. She notes the same deficiencies and asks the managers plan to correct the problems before the inspection. The manager states they have a bunch of new people and lack the resources to develop a ground up training program. The senior leader talks with the manager about the training prepared by central office for just such situations. They set up a time for the leader of the training branch to visit and assess the location’s training needs and works with the local manager to identify the training available. The training branch sends out training teams to meet the need. Several months later the branch passes inspection.

The manager is invited to the central office to talk to the c-officers about her experience with the training branch. They learn that even though the training was well advertised, the tasks, purposes, and abilities of the trainers was never fully communicated to local managers. The manager points out the only reason the became aware of the available opportunities was because the senior leader paid a visit providing the manager access to the organizations leaders.

As the meeting breaks up, the local manager looks across the table to the training branch chief. “Because of the training you gave our foremen on how to assess processes, we have identified several employees who need some training. Can you have the process guy call us so we can schedule a training for them?’ The training manager is thrilled at the request. The CEO is impressed the local manager asked for help and that the front-line leaders have been empowered to conduct assessments and request assistance for corrective actions. The change was the local branch having access to the leaders in the organization.

If organizational leaders never go where the work is being done, their junior leaders rarely have the opportunity to bring problems to them. Opening the lines of communication between organizational leadership levels allows junior leaders to bring their problems to those best able to achieve success. Junior leaders who lack access to their bosses never bring problems up. When people do not bring your problems, you are not leading, but allowing others to lead for you. Get out of the office and go to where the real work of your organization is done. Lead by wondering around.  Only then will people bring you their problems.

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Photo credit:  David Gutierrez from flickr.com under a CC license.

Doing Leadership

Many definitions of leadership include a phrase about process or action. Many leadership trainers authors and leadership gurus talk about the qualities of leaders. They discuss the importance of integrity, decisiveness, knowledge of people, processes, candor and character. What all of these boil down to however is action. The U.S. Army uses three words in its leadership doctrine, “Be, Know, Do”. Of these, doing is the most important is Do.

Emanuel_Leutze_(American,_Schwäbisch_Gmünd_1816–1868_Washington,_D.C.)_-_Washington_Crossing_the_Delaware_-_Google_Art_ProjectSteven Covey talks about emotional bank accounts in his books and blogs. He teaches that behavior results in either a deposit or a withdrawal into the account of another. The more deposits, the greater the credit and influence. An old friend, Gerry Berry, often noted that people always make time to do what they really believe is important. What we do, repeated over time becomes who we are.

Descriptions of good leaders include words like honest, decisive, loyal, serving, respectful and smart. Some say these traits describe the leader must be. To become those things you must do those things. To be considered honest, one must act truthful in word and deed. A loyal person stands behind, beside or in front of the one they are loyal to depending on the need. As one repeats these behaviors, one eventually becomes known as an honest person or respectful or loyal, but only through repeated behavior, action, doing.

In a recent leader seminar I attended, we discussed the trait of caring. One leader stood and shared a story of how he regularly learned about and addressed the needs of those who worked for him. He commented that he really did not care about most of the problems, but took notes and set reminders in his calendar to check back with each one on the progress of the problem. He made referrals and ensured junior leaders helped employees navigate available services. He commented he felt like he was faking it. When he was promoted out of his job, he was surprised the employees characterized him as a caring leader.

The reality is this leader may not have felt an emotional bond with his followers problems, but he did things to ensure their needs were met. Yes he used tools like calendars and notebooks to remind him of employee issues. These actions showed he cared. He could easily have told everyone he would help, that he cared, then forget. He showed them he cared by doing what he did, taking action.

Leaders know lots of things. One only gains knowledge by learning. Learning again is an action one does. There are generally three ways to learn. One is through a formal education system. Another is through self-development. The third is through experience. Learning requires action, doing.

So you want to be a leader. If you accept that leadership is a process then you understand that leadership is action. When you repeat certain behaviors, those behaviors become your character, a character of action. When you attend classes, read books and accept stretch assignments you learn, knowledge of action. If we study the leadership doctrine of, “Be, Know, Do,” understand the greatest of these is Do. What are you going to do today to do leadership?

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Image credit:  “Emanuel Leutze (American, Schwäbisch Gmünd 1816–1868 Washington, D.C.) – Washington Crossing the Delaware – Google Art Project” by Emanuel Leutze (German-American, Schwäbisch Gmünd 1816–1868 Washington, D.C.) (1816 – 1868) (Artist, Details of artist on Google Art Project) – KAHKUjVORM5STw at Google Cultural Institute, zoom level maximum. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Emanuel_Leutze_(American,_Schw%C3%A4bisch_Gm%C3%BCnd_1816%E2%80%931868_Washington,_D.C.)_-_Washington_Crossing_the_Delaware_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Emanuel_Leutze_(American,_Schw%C3%A4bisch_Gm%C3%BCnd_1816%E2%80%931868_Washington,_D.C.)_-_Washington_Crossing_the_Delaware_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

Voice: Feathery Touch vs. Booming Motors

onceuponatimeiattendedapresentationgivenbyareallysmartpersonwhospokesofast,butrathersoftlylikehewastryingtosayeverythinghehadtosayinonebreathsohecouldquicklycompletehispresentation, breath, andgospendtherestofhisallotedtimedrinkingcoffewiththosewhocametohearhimspeak.

During my instructor deImagevelopment classes, I teach a segment on the importance of using your voice. Trying to write a wimpy presenters fast pace, low volume and even monotone speech is more difficult than demonstrating it for a class. There are many reasons people use poor vocal skills while presenting such as lack of confidence in front of others, inexperience as a presenter and contempt for the topic. The opposite is also true. Speaking at a rapid pace in a loud volume continuously sounds like you are recording a commercial for the latest monster truck rally. Three cliches come to mind when considering the use of one’s voice during a presentation. The first is “Slow is smooth and smooth is fast”. The second, “Variety is the spice of life.” The final, “Silence is Golden.”

Slow is Smooth; Smooth is Fast

Speaking slower during a presentation allows you to select the best words to express your ideas the first time. Students understand what you say better. A slower pace allows students time to hear what you said and think about how it relates to them so they can effectively incorporate that information into their behavior. But what about the fast part? Great question! If your students understand what you said the first time, have time to reflect upon its meaning and ask necessary follow-up questions you only have to state the point once. No need to repeat what students all ready know. Fewer repetitions allow time discussing information unfamiliar to students. Result; better learning, and fewer remedial trainings.

Variety is the Spice of Life

Changing your pace, volume and tone of voice helps keep students attention. Turn up the volume to clue students of important information they may see again, say on a test. Use a fast pace to sound like the voice over announcer on TV reading the legal disclaimer for a predatory loan suggests important information has been provided and is available to reference later. A soft whisper tells students you are sharing a well guarded trade secret. Now they belong to an inner circle of trust. Certain patterns may suggest transition from one topic to the next. An effective phrase a friend uses is, “ALL righty, then…” his clue to the class the discussion is changing.

Silence is Golden

Silence seems the reverse of what a trainer should do while standing before a group of students. Periods of silence encourage participation. Ask a question and wait for someone to answer. Make a controversial statement and allow a student to challenge your position. Student participation always improves training.

ImageNext time you find yourself in front of a class or giving a presentation remember and use these three rules. Silence is only bad because you do not know what to say next. Use it to encourage student interaction. Silence is golden. Using a slower pace allows information to sink in like a slow steady rain. Students absorb the information the first time allowing the class to progress faster. Slow is smooth; smooth is fast. Changing up pace, volume and tone signals students about important information, topic changes and help keep their attention. Variations in vocal qualities keep things interesting. Variety is the spice of life. During your next introduction, let the class know, YOOUU ARRRRRE REEEADDY TO RUUMMMBBBLLLLLLLEEEEE?!?!?!?!?!?!?


 

Photo Credits

Both pictures from Flickr.com used under Creative Commons Attribution License

Nick Chill

Mitchell James

Oh No! Mandatory Training!

Mandatory refresher training…the bane of every instructor. Frequently the trainer is provided a lesson plan and a slide deck, a period of time to fill and appropriate training facilities (maybe). The instructor is expected to stand before the group of experienced students and present the material determined by management as essential. The result one to four hours of heavy eyelids, sore bottoms and the sending and receiving of text messages on mobile devices by distracted employees who fail to pay attention. They learn nothing. You can improve the situation by recognizing that the occupants of the room possess hundreds of collective hours of experience; many more qualified to teach than you. Developing methods to engage, entertain and focus students during mandatory training separates the run-of-the mill instructor from the master trainer. Nothing that follows is new, but I challenge you to adopt one or two of these ideas for your next refresher training and take your first step down the road to become a master trainer.M.CoghlanGpDisc

Facilitation is a training process that focuses on the student rather than the instructor. Generally facilitate means to make easier, to promote or to serve as a catalyst (Google 2014). An instructor who engages in facilitation recognizes the expertise of the students and develops a learning environment that permits those with various experiences on a given topic to share what they know allowing the rest of the students to assimilate those experiences into new ideas on their own. This process allows the students to come to conclusions on their own.

Instructors are reluctant to conduct facilitated discussions for fearing accusations they did not follow the program of instruction required by management. A well thought out training event covers all the points required by management. The difference between an interesting, facilitated training event and being buried by slides is how the material is presented. The traditional, well-known, boring method of lecturing while showing a slide deck echoing everything the presenter says only ensures the required material has been presented. It does nothing to demonstrate knowledge transfer, but does provide coverage for the tushy if ever called to task for providing training on a given topic. A facilitated training however requires student participation during a guided discussion about the same points made in a lecture. In order to participate effectively, instructors must possess complete understand the topic, and students should have some knowledge.

Preparation for and conduct of a facilitated training event requires greater preparation and execution time. To prepare for a facilitated discussion,

  • Review and understand key learning points of the lesson,
  • Convert learning points into discussion points,
  • Prepare questions to requiring discussions to answer, and
  • Prepare to guide student discussion by infusing information and making corrections,
  • During the conduct of class,
  • Ask students questions that require thought and development of opinions,
  • Ask students what they think of points made by others during the discussion,
  • Require students to justify opinions based on facts or prior learning,
  • Ask students if they agree or disagree with other students points and explain why or not.

As the class demonstrates understanding of each point, the instructor segues into the next discussion point by either asking a pre-planned question, or taking advantage of a point raised by a student. Ensuring many students participate. Use the following formula to include all students:

  • ask the question,
  • pause to wait for students to think about the answer,
  • call on a student to answer.

When attempting to pull in the quieter students, it is important to ensure to ask them something there is no wrong answer. By doing so, you allow them to participate without loosing face. As the discussion moves along, show the required slides and let them speak for them selves allowing students to integrate the information from the slides into what they learned in the discussion.

A quality facilitated discussion during mandatory training improves student participation. Increased participation improves information retention. Increased participation permits the same idea to be expressed more than one way improving understanding by less experienced students. Engaged students are less likely to allow their minds to drift and learn more. Students pay attention when they know anyone can be called upon to answer questions. The slide deck re-enforces points made by the students.

Using a facilitated discussion during mandatory in-service training allows for management and instructors to cover important learning points. A good guided discussion covers all required points by allowing students to express their knowledge of the topic and identifies areas requiring more discussion or information. With more discussion the same idea is expressed in different words increases understanding of the concept. Students become responsible for their learning, more engaged in the process and focused on the class. For your next training event, implement some of these ideas to generate a guided discussion on one or more points. You may be surprised at what YOU learn in the class you are teaching.

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References

Google Search Results “define facilitate” https://www.google.com/search?q=define+facilitate&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&channel=sb retrieved 4/26/14

U.S. Army. 157-ABIC-3.0 / Army Basic Instructor Course (ABIC) (2011) Army Training Support Center, Ft Eustis, Va

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Photo Credit:  Michael Coghlan.  flickr.com CC license

Better Presentations

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a terrific training presented by Jon Blum of Force Concepts. One thing that set his training apart from others I have attended was his slide deck. He followed two simple rules to keep his slide simple and effective. With some thoughtful planning, a little research and some practice with layout your next presentation can benefit from the same principals Jon employed. The first principle is minimize text. The second is maximize images. Image
The original popular presentation software PowerPoint was named so to help presenters make the points of their presentations powerfully. They were intended to be short and sweet. A common rule is to limit the text on a slide to six words per line and no more than six lines per slide. Often presenters read their slides verbatim which defeats the point of inserting the bullet point on the screen. The audience can read. They came to your presentation to hear what you have to say. If the only thing you say is what is written on your slides, they could have stayed in their offices and read your work. I suggest that you tell your group what your want to say, pause then show the slide and allow them to read the text on their own. The points on your slide should emphasize what you said.
Another great thing Jon did in his presentation was the way he presented the text on the slide. First he discussed the point. Next he showed the text and led a discussion about the point. Upon conclusion of the discussion on that point, he introduced the next point and then revealed the text. The previous line remained visible, but the font was in a light shade of gray drawing the viewer’s eye to the current point. Identifying the few simple words that effectively communicate the idea behind the point of discussion requires you to identify the principals and key points of your presentations.
How many times have you said or hear that a picture is worth 1,000 words; at least a thousand? How many pictures have you seen in a slide presentation? I would guess the answer is few. Today images are inexpensive and plentiful. Choices include charts, graphs, clip art and photographs. Websites such as flickr.com, gettyimages.com and shutterfly.com have a large selection of photos to purchase, within the public domain or under the Creative Commons license. Sometimes finding the right photo or image on line is time consuming, but with the advent of digital photography and paint software you can create your own images that convey your message. The images I use to attract readers to my blog are my own creations or images I found on line available under the Creative Commons license for use by only providing attribution to the person who took the photo.
When selecting an image, pick one that communicates your message. You may use a few words to ensure your point is understood or to ask a question to start a discussion. If you use text with your image, keep it shorter than the suggestions offered above.
Following simple rules improve the slides you use in your presentations. Reduce the text on your slide. Use pictures and communicate 1,000 words without uttering a syllable. It may not always be possible to limit your idea to six words or to one picture, but with practice implementing these principals becomes second nature. As you prepare your next presentation, add a few extra pictures and subtract some words. Your audience will be grateful.

For a more detailed disucssion about improving your presentations, check out my Prezi at http://prezi.com/uaxckg-4fkkn/using-media/. Another great resource is http://www.slideshare.net/ArtilleryMarketing/you-suck-at-powerpoint-12040413.  Update 3/15/14:  57 slides in 18 minutes…exact amount of text during the presentation…zero!!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOYIKJho18I&feature=youtu.be

Photo credit: Kei Kondo add.me flickr.com

Inspire Others to Go Forth and do Good

ImageAs the hour draws to a close the speaker comments on what a great bunch your group has been. She was so concerned things would not go well because she was not sure what she had to offer would meet the needs of the rest of the team or that she had enough material for the 60 minutes she was allowed. She asks of there are any questions; there are none, and thanks you all for coming. You stand up hoping to sneak out of the room before your boss has an opportunity to corner you about the poor performance of your direct report during the monthly senior staff training, too late, he yells across the room to meet him in his office in five minutes. What went wrong?

Often employees or outside subject matter experts are asked to make presentations about hot topics. Powerful presentations are not guaranteed just because the presenter possesses expert or referent power and may deny the members of the organization the inspiration to do great things with what they have learned. Even when the person makes a great presentation, they may end up talking about everything except the one or two areas of concern for your organization. Taking the time to identify objectives of what you want participants to learn helps you and the presenter focus on material that will enlighten, educate and inspire. Steven Covey calls it beginning with the end in mind.

It may seem too simple to write out a comprehensive terminal learning objective. Doing so focuses the efforts of the trainer to only that information which will help the audience achieve the final educational goal. The end result is a focused presentation meeting the needs of the audience. Steven Covey covers this principal when he advises his readers to begin with the end in mind.

There are three important parts of every learning objective whether it is the capstone objective, or a smaller piece of the puzzle. The parts are action, condition and standard. The action is what you want the student to learn how to accomplish when they complete the training. An example might be something like, “The clerk will complete a telephonic customer order on the computer.” The conditions for the task or action to be completed should include the environment and any tools or resources available while completing the action. Often training is conducted in a classroom or conference style setting and that should be reflected in the condition statement. Finally spell out how someone will know when the student has achieved success by stating the standard. This can be performance steps, standards for a finished product, a score on an examination or any other means of measuring performance. Often in a classroom this may be as simple as, “The student will respond correctly to questions related to the action.”

This is a sample of a TLO for a classroom setting where there will be no formal testing.

Action: Complete a telephonic customer order on the computer.

Conditions: A classroom environment, a block of instruction and random questions from the instructor.

Standard: Correctly answer questions related to taking a customer order on the phone and entering the data into the computer.

Ideally action statements start with a verb. Conditions describe resources available to complete the action. Standards should be measurable and attainable, very much like setting SMART goals.

Establishing learning objectives when assigning someone to conduct training improves communication and enables the trainer to understand the perceived needs of organization. Given an objective such as the one above instead of some generic statement like, “Hey Smith, I need you to give a class on that new software at the next staff training conference next week.” With the first, employees should walk out of the training understanding how to take customer orders using the new software. Who knows what you will get with the second. When you are tasked to provide training, having an understanding of the process allows you to develop a TLO, run it by the person who assigned it and then help you focus your attention on what is necessary to meet expectations.

Developing training objectives help trainers focus on presenting important information in the time allowed for students to achieve a given task. When assigned, both the manager and the trainer have better expectations of what the finished product includes. Quality learning objectives contain three parts, the action, the conditions, and the standards. When assigned by your manager to train others using a learning goal ensures you and he understand what is expected of you. Don’t let your next presentation flop. Take the time to develop an objective for the time you are given to teach others.

References

Covey, Stephen R. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. electronic edition. New York, NY: Rosetta Books, 2012.

Henry, V. E. (2002). The COMPSTAT paradigm: management accountability in policing, business, and the public sector. Flushing, NY: Looseleaf Law Publications.

http://www.grayharriman.com/ADDIE_Writing_Learning_Objectives.htm

Photo by tiffa 130 on flicka  http://www.flickr.com/photos/tiffanyday/4233065842/sizes/o/in/photolist-7s4yZQ-8Wryi-ffna1C-47iP3d-52AQpJ-bGYWzB-4AufPZ-6tcK9H-9TLQ4V-8NuGDD-8Hg5U4-9JMiVv-9JMita-9JgqsL-7YrzMS-dKTJnF-8HpL4e-BFAGU-eNMWSj-eNNwHC-7n4gRh-eNN2rq-bZzNxs-c4SdKS-c5qaBj-c4SXZQ-bZH6nN-bZSrEN-c5EoAW-bZyRyh-5Vc4Mb-5Vc4uY-gx8cF-e4GEBY-dtYtxp-5F11Pu-4gL5v1-4tppYd-Gfs6t-BXKac-c5ECoN-c5Er4b-c5EzqU-c5EtBq-c5Es7u-c5EpMy-c5Ev57-c5EAUf-c5ExWq-bZPjLw-bZPucw/