Developing Workforce Development Strategies

Friday December 2nd, 2016 at 10:00am
Written by Ed Quintavalle - Senior Consultant

A man is in a hot air balloon that is slowly losing altitude. He ends up hovering over the side of the road in the desert. Another man happens by. The man in the balloon calls down to him, "Sir, could you tell me where I am?" The man looks up, assesses the situation, and responds: "Yes, you are about 30 feet in the air on the side of the road in the desert." The man in the balloon, unamused at the response, calls down, "Thanks Einstein ... you must be a workforce development consultant." "What do you mean?" responds the other man. "You just told me everything that I already knew and were no help whatsoever." The fella looks up at the man in the balloon and says, "I would guess that you work for a company that’s in serious trouble." "Why do you say that?" responds the man in the balloon. "Because you have no idea where you are, no idea where you are going, and no idea how to get there from here."

This is a somewhat humorous anecdote for the application of Workforce Development (WD) strategies. I wouldn’t say that WD consultants only reveal everything that employers already know; nor are employers always totally in the dark about their plight. However, when information is qualified through a data-driven analysis, it usually comes as no big surprise for employers where their weakest workforce links are located. Lack of training (critical skills and basic skills) often haunt a company until data is presented that validates what many already suspected.

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Finding the Right Talent Doesn't Have to Feel Like Hunting for Unicorns

Wednesday August 3rd, 2016 at 12:00pm
Written by Kevin Watson - Director of Business Development

Has your organization ever gone “Unicorn Hunting?” If so, it probably played out like this:

  • Somebody within the organization decides that you need to go find a mythical and elusive unicorn
  • You post ads trying to get a unicorn to wander in off the street and when no unicorns appear, you send people out to try to hunt for one
  • After a lengthy and futile search you get frustrated because you don’t find any unicorns
  • The moment you decided to give up on the hunt, you finally find a unicorn
  • Five different people want to weigh in on whether this is the best unicorn you are going to find and the best way to capture the unicorn
  • By the time everyone agrees that this is in fact the best unicorn, and agrees on the best way to capture the unicorn, the unicorn has wandered off
  • After several months of searching for another unicorn, you decide to go find a horse instead (which is WAY easier)
  • Once you find a horse you like, you realize that the horse can do just about everything you needed the unicorn to do, and that you never really needed a unicorn in the first place

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Workforce Development in the Public Transportation Industry

Wednesday July 13th, 2016 at 12:10pm
Written by Ken Mall - Managing Director

Every day millions of people travel from one place to another using buses, trains, subways, ferries or other forms of public transportation. The larger the city or urban area, the more likely that public transportation is a major driver of the economy and the primary way for a significant portion of the population to get to jobs. Most people don’t realize the agencies that run public transit organizations are in desperate need of new workers to operate and maintain the current transit systems and build new systems to meet the growing demand for transportation options.

Over the next decade, it is estimated that more than 1 million workers will be needed just to replace the workers who retire. The transit industry is also experiencing a technological evolution. Buses and rail cars are able to troubleshoot themselves and send messages to technicians to let them know about potential problems. Computers are now the primary tool in a mechanic’s tool box.

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Addressing the Skill Shortage

Thursday June 16th, 2016 at 8:30am
Written by Kevin Watson - Director of Business Development

My wife and I are currently in full-on nesting mode as we prepare for the arrival of our second child. Throughout this nesting process, I have had the chance to reflect on the twenty months that have passed since our first son, Alexander, was born.

If I am being honest with myself, I was terribly inefficient at so many things during those first few months after our son was born. Everything from changing a diaper, to installing a car seat, to setting up and breaking down a pack-and-play took WAY longer than it does today. So what changed? Practice, practice, practice.

Luckily for me (and probably 95% of new parents), you don’t have to pass an interview or a test to get the job.

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How to Develop a High-Impact Succession Plan

Wednesday March 23rd, 2016 at 9:01am
Written by Jennifer Giannosa - Senior Consultant

In its basic form, succession planning is a way to identify and develop professionals entering a leadership position. Transition is undoubtedly something every organization experiences - the ebb and flow of people entering and exiting various roles. Some organizations have mastered a process of continuous succession planning. Yet, many small and medium size businesses remain unprepared for sudden or imminent changes that require immediate action.

EDSI has identified a succession planning process to successfully address changes like retirement and loss of key people. The process focuses on the collection and analysis of specific data, allowing for highly customized solutions. One major focus of this process is certainly communication. Communication builds trust and subsequently reinforces a message to employees that their skills and experience are valued.

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Designing Career Pathways within WIOA Guidelines

Tuesday December 15th, 2015 at 9:45am
Written by Terri Kaufman - Workforce Development Specialist

WIOA requires states and local Workforce Development Boards to work with adult education, post-secondary education and other community-based organizations to develop career pathways that will make it easier for all Americans to attain the skills and credentials needed for jobs.

What are career pathways? The US Department of Labor defines career pathways as a new way of doing business which operates at both a systems and an individual level. At the systems level, a career pathway is a broad approach for serving populations that may experience significant barriers to employment. The career pathway can substantively alter the way the workforce system delivers its services and the system’s relationship with partner organizations and stakeholders to better prepare the worker.

Career pathway programs should offer a sequence of education courses and training credentials which are aligned with work-ready standards and competencies which are validated by employers. Career pathways can also provide greater customer service at all levels by engaging employers, adult basic education, training providers, community organizations and service providers to design services that meet the needs of employers and job seekers.

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There's No Training Manual for Being a New Parent...Or a New Employee (usually)

Wednesday April 8th, 2015 at 8:10am

Written by Kevin Watson - Director of Business Development with EDSI Consulting

kwatson@edsisolutions.com

 

*Original article written in July 2014

My wife and I welcomed our first child into the world 14 days ago, and it has been the most exciting two weeks of our lives.  I would be lying if I told you that it has been entirely stress free though.  Aside from joy and happiness, we have experienced a myriad of emotions (helpless, confused, anxious, frustrated, etc.).  

When friends/family ask how things are going, we generally tell them the same thing, “every day we get a little bit better at this whole parenthood thing.”  Sure we are sleep deprived and running on fumes.  Sure my son has gone to the bathroom on me multiple times, and I have already changed well over 100 diapers.  With each day that passes though, we pick up on more and more of our son’s verbal and non-verbal cues.  We get more efficient at changing diapers, getting his little outfits on, giving sponge baths, at helping him to relax, and  getting him to fall asleep.

Over the years I have heard people say, “Well, there’s no training manual for being a parent,” and it is true.  You get a little bit of on-the-job training by watching the nurses during the two to three days you are in the hospital and by asking them for advice, suggestions, best practices, etc.  Of course there are countless parenting books and online parenting forums, but parenting is really more baptism by fire than anything else. 

It struck me that the same is often true in the business world.  When new hires shows up to work on their first day, they have most likely been through some variation of this process: (1) They have probably responded to a broad brush-stroke job description (that may or may not be up-to-date…and may or may not be an accurate portrayal of what they will be doing once hired), (2) They have probably submitted their resume, or filled out the electronic equivalent of a resume, (3) They have probably been through a phone screen and/or a face-to-face interview (possibly several rounds of interviews), and they may have completed some type of personality profile assessment.   

On day one, they probably spend time getting acclimated, meeting their co-workers and filling out new hire paperwork.  Even if your company has a world-class training program, I’m sure that from time-to-time, some of your new hires will experience the same range of emotions that first-time parents do (helpless, confused, anxious, frustrated, etc.). 

What if there was a way to get closer to the desired state?  Here are a few best practices you can implement to make your onboarding and new hire training process more impactful. 


At a high-level, start by getting applicants and employers to speak the same language.  In addition to using job descriptions, we recommend interviewing subject matter experts (your best employees in that particular role or position), to identify all of the granular responsibilities and tasks associated with performing a specific job. 

Once these interviews are completed, a Job Task Analysis (JTA) profile can be created for each unique position.  The JTA profile essentially lists all of the keywords, responsibilities and tasks associated with performing a specific job.  Once the JTA is completed, Skill Surveys can be created and distributed to potential new hires and/or the incumbent workforce. 

  • 4 – Able to instruct others on this task
  • 3 – Able to perform this task on my own
  • 2 – Able to perform this task with assistance
  • 1 – Aware of, but unable to perform this task
  • 0 – Not aware of this task
  • N/A - Not applicable 

Once the applicants have completed the Skill Surveys, Individual Skill Gap Reports can be created (a red, yellow, green matrix) showing where the skill gaps are the most prevalent.   This report can then be used as a road map to create a customized, structured on-the-job training plan (job shadowing, mentoring, etc.).

Once you know where the skill gaps are the most prevalent, you can expedite the amount of time it takes to get someone ramped up because you are able to be more laser-focused from a training standpoint.   

We have found that this process also helps to set/manage realistic expectations from day one.  If a new employee doesn’t have the requisite skill level to perform a specific task on their first day of work, front-line supervisors can’t get frustrated with them on the 10th day, 10th week, or 10th month if they still can’t perform that task (if they still haven’t been trained how to perform the task).

Oh yeah, and if there is a magical handbook for new parents that I don’t know about…please let me know.  There is always room to get a little bit better at this whole parenting thing!


Developing Your Hardworking Workforce

Thursday June 12th, 2014 at 8:30am

Written by Roe Falcone - Regional Director of Operations with EDSI

RFalcone@edsisolutions.com 

Do you have the right people on the bus and are they in the right seats?

In today’s workforce, the answers to these questions can often be the difference between success and failure. Having the right people on the bus, a term coined from Jim Collins’ book “Good to Great,” is one of the key factors.  It is important that your employees fit your culture and have the necessary skill sets. 

In any employer setting, the culture and values for your organization are paramount. A culture whose foundation is constructed on training and professional development helps to build and sustain a high performing organization. Understanding the skill sets of your employees allows an opportunity for targeted, deliberate recruitment and creates a mechanism for professional growth.



Targeted Recruitment

Having a balanced, diverse workforce is critical; by truly understanding the skills sets of your current employees, your recruitment efforts can be deliberate. Hiring is an expense and by targeting for specific needs, you can reduce that expense. Conducting a Job Task Analysis for the positions to be filled will clearly define and clarify the skills needed to be successful in a job. 

For more information on Job Task Analysis please visit: http://www.edsisolutions.com/skills-analysis

Customized Training

Have you ever spent thousands of dollars on training for your employees only to find out later that half of them already knew the information? Focused training on the specific skills that are critical to a job position will decrease training time and free up your budget. On-the-Job training is a great way to increase the skill level of employees! Identify a subject matter expert for that job and pair him/her with an employee that needs more experience.

Professional Growth and Development

In many of our training projects, the initial need discussion has stemmed from employees asking for more training and development. The majority of employees want to learn more, become an integral part of the company and pursue appropriate career paths.

Company Culture/Fit

While at a conference this past week on Workforce Planning and Analytics, I heard a lot of statistics presented and discussed regarding training, skill gaps and hiring. Out of all of the numbers, percentages and key information, the one critical piece to hiring that many executive level HR professionals agreed upon was “did they fit the company culture?” You can train almost anyone on the skills needed to perform a job well, but once you find that potential hire who fits your company culture and sees your vision and mission statement, hire him/her and invest in the training time.

Do you have the right people on the bus and are they in the right seats?  If not, what are you planning to do about it?


6 Steps to a Solid Job Task Analysis

Thursday April 10th, 2014 at 2:59pm

Written by Karin Knutson - Director of Sales with EDSI Consulting

kknutson@edsisolutions.com

You hear it in many work conversations, on webinars, and even on blog posts – “We need to up skill our current employees.  How do I know what to train them on?” Or, “Our new company push is to develop a training program for our skill worked force.  Where do I start?” 

Anyone who is in the process of developing any type of new training plan, identifying skill gaps, or updating old job descriptions knows that a well-defined Job Task Analysis (JTA) is the key piece to a successful project.  Without a thorough JTA, all further projects dependent on this information will be inadequate and ineffective. Imagine building a custom house without an accurate blue print.


So what exactly is a JTA?

A JTA is a data-driven approach that begins with a thorough understanding of the job’s responsibilities and tasks, and the knowledge and skills required to successfully perform the job.  More simply – it involves identifying the particular tasks and responsibilities related to a specific job. 


But where do you start?  What information do you need? Here is the process we developed from years of experience and countless JTAs:

  1. Identify Subject Matter Experts (SME) - This is your “go to” employee, the person who is the most knowledgeable in the role.  There could be more than one!
  2. Interview SMEs - Identify the responsibilities and tasks of the position. 
  3. Develop and Review Job Task Analysis (JTA) - Review the information with supervisors to get their input on the accuracy of the information.
  4. Verify Job Responsibilities and Tasks Performed - Verify all gathered information with SMEs and supervisors.
  5. Determine Skills Needed - What are the skills needed to be successful in the job?
  6. Finalize JTA

Another critical component of this process is review of internal documents, procedures, training plans, and curricula. Though some is this material may be a little outdated, it could contain some vital information. Find that hard copy of an old training plan or any procedure list that was an unfinished project from a few years back. The more you verify the information, the more accurate it will be.

A comprehensive JTA will be your road map to determine training needs, identify skills gaps, develop accurate job descriptions, and even hire appropriate employees, helping both your employees and your organization reach their full potentials.  

All new training projects can seem daunting at the start, but with a proper road map, or JTA, the process is straightforward and yields successful results.


 
 

 

 

5 Things to Know about Job Analysis and Knowledge Transfer

Friday January 10th, 2014 at 8:15am

Written by Ken Mall - Managing Director with EDSI Consulting

kmall@edsisolutions.com

Are you prepared to answer the questions, “What are the current skill sets of our employees?”  or “What specific training do our employees need?”



For those companies who are already having these discussions internally, it is an important topic that deserves a lot of attention.  To meet long-term strategic objectives, many companies are concerned about concurrently increasing the skill level of their existing staff, while developing the skills and bench strength for their future needs. 

Sales professionals know that it’s easier to develop a great relationship with a current customer than it is to create a relationship with a new customer. The same is true for organizational talent; it’s easier to develop from within than to reach outside their organization. Today most organizations have to do both; fortunately, the steps to develop current and new workers are the same.  It is important to identify strengths and areas for improvement among your current employees and use that information to develop training for future employees.


Here are the 5 things you should know about Job Analysis and Knowledge Transfer:

1) Identify

Internal subject matter experts are the “go to” people who have been with the company for a long time and have full understanding of a job position. Picking the right subject matter experts is critical; they are your content experts and future mentors. 

2) Analyze

Conducting a job task analysis helps to document the relevant responsibilities and tasks needed to successfully perform a job, and is also used to develop training for new hires, or identify training needs of current workers. The job task analysis becomes the foundation for all skill assessments and training. 

3) Prioritize

Are there key tasks that only a few people in the organization are capable of performing? The job task analysis becomes the “score card” to identify critical tasks and prioritize knowledge transfer needs. Prioritizing the need will keep knowledge transfer initiatives focused.  

4) Implement

What is your organization’s track record for implementing a program and following it through to completion? What has worked for you in the past? What hasn’t worked? Creating a solid implementation plan with clear measurables, and ensuring high level management commitment will help make your program successful. 

5) Follow-up

Were your training priorities achieved? Did you measure results and were your outcomes realized? U.S. firms spent $156 billion on employee learning in 2011, according to the American Society for Training and Development. Research suggests that with little follow-up or meaningful assessments, 90% of new skills are lost within a year. 

A well thought-out and implemented program will result in a culture of learning that will benefit both the employees and the organization.

 

 

4 Critical Steps in Knowledge Retention

Tuesday December 10th, 2013 at 8:23am

Written by Brian Lester - Senior Consultant with EDSI Consulting

blester@edsisolutions.com

As America's population ages, so does its workforce. In fact, in the first decade of the new millennium, the number of workers aged 55 to 64 increased by 52%. Unfortunately, most companies are unprepared to manage the loss of many highly skilled, older workers. The situation is even more serious in organizations with a culture of employee retention, higher than average ages, or that still offer traditional pension plans. 

The challenge is to identify the skills and knowledge of your workforce and put the right plans in place to ensure your organization's future success. Very few companies will take a systematic approach to this problem since the full scope of risk isn’t immediately apparent, but an ad-hoc approach that may have worked in the past is not sustainable as the turnover in critical positions increases with the age of the workforce. Taking the time to carefully assess your knowledge loss risks can be an important competitive advantage.



1) Identify

Identifying and prioritizing the specific knowledge and skills at risk – When you identify the specific knowledge that is about to be lost when highly experienced employees leave for retirement, you are taking the first step in bridging a potential skills gap.  Identifying the deep, tacit knowledge (“Know-why” and “know-how” instead of just “know-what”) is the most critical step. This knowledge is the reason you value the employees’ performance, and is the risk you face with their departure.  This can save production, customers, and quality of service. Do you have a senior manager with a unique approach that needs to be documented? Is a high % of your experienced employees on the cusp of retiring?

2) Capture

Capturing processes, responsibilities, and tasks of subject matter experts – Capturing this information is critical to transferring experience and tribal knowledge that is crucial to the successful of your business.  Documenting the responsibilities and tasks will give you a play book on how to up skill incumbent workers and train new employees. This process may uncover best practices and successes that have yet to be communicated through your organization.

3) Communicate

Analyzing and communicating areas of risk and skill gaps within the organization – Take the information from the above items and develop a way to communicate it throughout your organization.  There are methods of creating a dashboard of critical information on projected retirements and knowledge loss by location and job role. There needs to be a buy-in factor with upper level management through to the jobs that are in jeopardy of being lost.  This creates accountability and responsibility.

4) Connect 

Developing concrete, actionable responses to mitigate knowledge loss and connect people, tools – This will be a road map on how to be successful in your organization.  This might include skill assessments, job analysis, and training plans.  Utilize on-the-job training or your local community college and work together to up skill your present employees and/or hire qualified applicants. Job shadowing, mentoring, and rehire after retirement programs may also be a part of these solutions.


 

Founded in 1979, EDSI is a national leader in workforce development, customized training and consulting.

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Human Resources Today

EDSI helped us to identify needs, prioritize training objectives and use our limited budget more wisely. Equally important, they allowed us to support our decisions with hard data. EDSI provided me with a package I could use to help drive activities. David Wright; Director of Training - Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority

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