Author: Laura McCoy

Wrapping Up the Towson University Professional Leadership Program for Women

This past Tuesday, June 2, 2015, we held our final session and closing reception for the inaugural class of the Towson University Professional Leadership Program for Women. The day was bittersweet for sure. It was exciting to see the program graduate its first class, but over the past ten sessions the group grew to be quite close and I think it is safe to say we are going to miss spending every other Tuesday morning together. Over the past five months we have covered so much ground. With the help of an outstanding group of speakers, facilitators, and panelists,...

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Leadership Tips from a Workforce Development Professional

The Towson University Center for Professional Studies is working with the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals to hold the first Mid-Atlantic Leadership Academy for Workforce. The program kicked off at the end of January, and we were very grateful the weather cooperated!  Last month we held a webinar on the topic of Servant and Situational leadership. Our guest speaker was Josh Davies, who has been a key player in the workforce development industry throughout the country, and is the CEO of The Center for Work Ethic Development, based in Denver, Colorado. During the webinar, Josh talked about the attributes he thought made a successful leader. I found his insights really interesting and energizing, and wanted to share them with you. Here are five tips presented: Be explicit—Don’t use words like “maybe” or “probably.” Raise your expectations—Here he discussed a gas station/convenience store company called QuikTrip. The company has high expectations for employees, and they have met the challenge, giving QuickTrip very high levels of customer satisfaction. Additionally, QuikTrip has become one of the Fortune Magazine 100 best companies to work for. Be authentic—This is a theme that was all discussed by Katty Kay when she delivered a keynote address for the Towson University Professional Leadership Program for Women and emphasized how important this is, especially for women leaders. Give powerful recognition—When you give recognition make sure you explain...

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Maryland’s 2014 Workforce Development Leadership Academy

Why Develop Leaders? The need to develop the next generation of leaders is critical. The JIBS model of leadership, developed by Dr. Alan Clardy, provided a unique way that really helped me to conceptualize the importance of leadership development: The model puts leaders into four categories: idiots, bozos, jerks, and stars. If an organization does nothing to develop their leaders, odds are, only about 25% will be stars. Whereas, an organization that invests in developing their workforce, will have a substantial increase in the number of stars. While this is a bit light hearted, it really drives home the fact that we cannot just leave our workforce to “figure it out” on their own.  We must provide them with the opportunity to become a “star.” 2014 Maryland Leadership Academy for Workforce Here at the Center for Professional Studies, we have worked with many clients to develop leadership programs that meet the needs of their unique workforce. Recently, we have partnered with the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals, to establish the 2014 Maryland Leadership Academy for Workforce. The year-long program will focus on preparing participants to more effectively lead their teams, agencies, and Maryland’s workface industry in the future. Participants will identify their strengths and learn how to engage those strengths in critical leadership areas. Additionally, participants will be trained on Maryland specific issues, complete a capstone project, and...

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Using Video as a Training Tool

In a fast-paced work place, it is not always ideal (or even possible) to have in-person, facilitator-led training sessions. But, that does not mean that there is not new information, or new skills that employees need to be able to do their job more efficiently. Luckily, technology has created several avenues for training in these situations, for example, e-learning courses, virtual classrooms, and streaming video. At the Center for Professional Studies we have been working with clients to develop, film, edit, and distribute training and promotional videos that enhance their employees’ knowledge and skills. Videos can meet several workplace needs in terms of training. Examples of some of the recent ways we have used videos are to: demonstrate how to do a specific skill (such as use particular website, or fill out a time sheet), introduce a new policy or procedure, showcase work being done in an organization, and depict scenarios (or case studies) for employees to react to and discuss. According to Wired Magazine, “By using video communication tools, forward-looking organizations can enhance the employee’s experience by showcasing information from around the organization.” Video provides a lot of flexibility to employers: Video can be used as stand alone or in conjunction with e-learning, or in-person training. Video allows employees who are remote, to receive information in the same way and at the same time as fellow employees. Video...

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Entrepreneurship Boot Camp

The Towson University Center for Student Diversity and Center for Professional Studies (CPS) partnered to create and deliver a weekend-long Entrepreneurship Boot Camp. The event was held March 14th – 16th at the Towson University Marriot. Who Attended? The program was open to all TU students; with preference given to women and students of color. During the application process students were asked to describe their entrepreneurial ambition. All of the attendees arrived at the boot camp with either an idea, or a business they had already started. Their business concepts ranged from henna design, health services, fashion design, and project management services. What Did They Learn? Working with Jess Gartner, founder of Allovue, CPS developed a curriculum that included interactive modules and sessions on topics ranging from problem definition to financial projections. Attendees did not spend the weekend passively listening, they hit the ground running doing actual market research, developing budgets, and planning for the future. All the hard work resulted in an 8-minute pitch to investors.  On the final morning of the boot camp, attendees made their pitch based on the work they had done throughout the weekend. Guest Speakers In addition to the experience and expertise Jess Gartner brought to the event, attendees learned from several guest speakers. Keynote speaker Kelly Keenan Trumpbour, founder at See Jane Invest, shared with attendees how she entered the world of Entrepreneurship, and how she works to...

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The Importance of Personal Branding

Recently the Center for Professional Studies delivered a two-day Personal Branding workshop for the Workforce Development Center at Hunt Valley to a group of dislocated workers.  The program was designed to help participants re-think how they have been marketing themselves to employers, with a special emphasis on using social media, such as LinkedIn. What is Personal Branding? There are a lot of definitions out there for Personal Branding, but at the end of the day, it is all about being who you are – and presenting who you really are to others.  In a Huffington Post article, Adele Gulfo explains why Personal Branding is so important, “…because when you live your Personal Brand, you are being true to yourself; and that comes through when you’re interacting with others — colleagues, other leaders and stakeholders.” The Personal Branding Workshop The workshop started with a discussion of how the job search has changed over the past 30-40 years. Trainer Tammy Ditzel, noted that it is important to understand how employment has changed so people can understand why they need to think about things like their personal brand, when their parents may not have needed to. Participants worked throughout the remainder of the workshop to reflect on themselves, and what they bring to their work.  They developed personal branding statements, and updated various social media sites to ensure the information they were sharing...

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Using Surveys to Determine Training Needs

The first step of developing effective training is to perform some type of analysis.  According to Chuck Hodell (ISD From the Ground Up:  A No-Nonsense Approach to Instructional Design) The analysis phase of instructional design is used to answer questions such as: What is the need? What is the root cause? What are the goals of training? How will the training be delivered? How will the training be structured and organized? With the quick pace of business, the analysis phase is often ignored. Organizations will jump right into developing training before they have even identified what the need was, or if training was needed at all. The results are, just as often, poor design, lack of clear objectives and ineffective training outcomes. So a good rule, is plan first, then do.  A simple tool that can be used to quickly gather information for analysis is surveys. A Recent Project Towson University Center for Professional Studies worked with the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals (NAWDP) to create a survey to gather data which would guide curriculum creation for a Workforce Professionals Leadership Academy.  Using an online survey tool we will distribute the survey to more than 1,000 targeted recipients.  The online survey service instantly tabulates and organizes response data that we used to analyze the needs of Workforce Development Professionals. Using Surveys Correctly I know you are probably excited...

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Internet Literacy Program Pilot, A Huge Success

Gloria Lawlah, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Aging (MDOA) has made it part of her mission to help older Marylanders become comfortable with computers – from PCs to smart phones.   These technologies keep us connected to family and friends, and they are essential to accessing public and private services needed by seniors. Her drive to make this happen, sooner rather than later, has led to a partnership with Towson University’s Center for Professional Studies (CPS).  The MDOA and CPS are working together to create a curriculum introducing older adults to computers and the internet. Pilot Program On September 4, 2013, CPS delivered a pilot Internet Literacy Program at the Baltimore Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc in Baltimore City. Twenty seniors, ranging in age from 65 to 83, attended. The curriculum focused Computer Basics, Email, Accessing the Maryland Access Point Website, online searching, and fraud and security protection.   Stephanie Hutcheson (CPS Curriculum Writer and Trainer) energized participants with her love for technology, and put those nervous to be using the computers at ease with good humor.  Participants practiced on individual laptops provided by CPS. The feedback from the program was outstanding!  One participant summed up the training saying it was “off the hook.”  Many stayed after to ask about future installments and identified groups they thought would benefit from the training. Moving Forward With the success...

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Measuring the ROI of Professional Training

Last week I attended a Return on Investment (ROI) workshop by the ROI Institute, hosted by the International Society for Performance Improvement, Potomac Chapter.  Based on my professional background, the lens I used to understand the content and discussions, was training.  As I reflected afterwards, I was left thinking that we, as trainers and developers, really could do a better job demonstrating the value of what we do.  Often times when determining if a training has been a success or not, the only data we draw from is class evaluations, and while evaluations can shed light on trainee reaction and learning, it doesn’t measure success.  I think we can do better.  As trainers, we need to start asking the bigger questions:  Are trainees using the information?  How is this training impacting business?  Has it increased productivity? Decreased re-work? Decreased citizen complaints? Sometimes the biggest obstacle to answering these questions is being able to identify, from the analysis stage of training development, what is the goal of the training?  It is unlikely, for example, that the goal is simply for trainees to learn a new procedure.  That procedure was not created for the sake of creating a procedure; instead it was created to accomplish a task that works towards a specific goal (increased productivity, decreased errors etc.).  Therefore, the question cannot merely be, did trainees learn the new procedure?  It...

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30 New Master Trainers Graduate

On June 12, 2013 the Center for Professional Studies and Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) celebrated the graduation of 30 MTA employees who successfully completed the Master Trainer Program.  Throughout the fall of 2012 and spring of 2013 the Master Trainer participants attended over 80 hours of instruction, developed and delivered a final presentation, and used their newly developed skills in the workplace. Graduates spent the day observing a presentation delivered by Don Driskill.  Mr. Driskill has over 25 years of training experience and was able to seamlessly showcase  many of the skills covered during the Master Trainer Program during his presentation.  His innovative and engaging style inspired many of the graduates and prompted ideas they plan to incorporate in their own trainings. At the end of the day family and friends joined the graduates, along with the amazing training and coaching team (Ron Lantz, Betty Caret, Dan Leonard, Ryan Kane, and Fred Demers), former MTA Administrator Ralign Wells, and incoming MTA Administrator Robert Smith for a reception and the awarding of certificates.  The event was definitely a time to celebrate the achievements and hard work of the graduates, as well as reflecting on the importance of having high quality trainers in an organization. What’s next for the graduates? Now, graduates will be tasked with applying the skills they have learned, such as the ADDIE model for training development, by...

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