Product Review: Cognology Onboarding Module

Recently I had the opportunity to view and access a new cloud-based Onboarding Module launched by Cognology.

My video review of this module can be viewed below:

I was impressed with the module mainly due to its ease of use and flexibility. The ability for the new hire to work through their Onboarding process in a seamless straight forward manner and for HR to be able to customise an Onboarding process that suited their needs is a stand out feature of this module.

Both the new hire and the HR Administrator are able to utilise the module with a minimum of training or support – I was able to get up and running after a brief demo!

For the new hire it is a straight forward step by step process to complete and submit their Onboarding requirements, ensuring that their key documents, such as their Personal details, their Banking details, their Tax Forms and other relevant documentation can be easily captured and uploaded and easily submitted to the relevant area, all even before they enter the premises on their first day.

In addition, the module is so flexible that it allows you to add extra information for the new hire, such as Goals, Values, and Business Plans, whilst also highlighting the names and email addresses of the key people the new hire will be meeting and/or working with on their first day(s).

The ability to also show the location (Google Map), the local eateries and public transport offerings surrounding your organisation’s premises are great features that can be included to make that new job experience all that more enjoyable.

From an HR Administrator perspective, the ability to customise the entire Onboarding process, add contracts (and other relevant information) for signing and submitting minimises the paperwork traffic and the reliance on “snail mail” to finalise your Onboarding process.

Overall, a highly customisable and configurable Onboarding module that works with your organisation’s needs and processes, whilst ensuring your new hire has a pleasant and effective experience.

 

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My New Journey

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Welcome to my blog on this exciting occasion where I wish to make a very special announcement.

I am pleased to announce to all of you that as of Monday 5th September 2016, LearnKotch Consulting, my freelance learning and performance consulting business will come to an end as I move into a full-time Learning Solutions Consultant role.

For a while now I have been watching the learning and development landscape and I have been observing one organisation very closely. This organisation is one which continues to deliver in an innovative way. It also plays a major role in nurturing and contributing to the local L&D landscape by organising events, sponsoring major conferences and embracing local L&D experts. It truly leads by example.

It also invested in the establishment of, and continues to develop, Adapt, an award-winning, open source eLearning authoring tool that creates fully responsive, multi-device, eLearning. It is an organisation which also has one eye on the future, as confirmed by their partnership with Learning Locker – an Open Source Learning Record Store developed by HT2 Learning.

I am of course referring to Kineo – a multinational learning company that I have always admired and so you can sense my excitement when I got the call to join Kineo Asia Pacific as part of their Australianbased team.

My career and life journey has always been about flexibility, challenge and ongoing development and thus this was one opportunity that I could not resist. To get the opportunity to work with the world’s leading learning organisation and continue my passion in supporting organisations to deliver business outcomes is one I am genuinely enthused about and keenly looking forward to.

Thank you to each and every one of you for your support and clientele over the last couple of years – I am truly grateful to have served you and/or be part of your learning journey.

Onwards and Upwards!

Con Sotidis

August 2016

 

The Art of Networking

Aerial.

You know what they say – “It’s not what you know but who you know.” Well, this applies to finding your next role. Whether you have been recently retrenched, coming back into the workforce after a long spell away or simply looking for a career change, networking is a skill you need to develop and practice.

Here are three networking opportunities you can tap into :

  1. Create a LinkedIn profile outlining your skills, education and other attributes. This is very simple and you can build your profile in minutes. Once you have a profile seek some groups to join and follow. Interacting with people in the same area of work and sharing your knowledge will allow you to network with those that matter.
  1. Seek out your professional membership association and ask them if they have Networking Events that you can attend. These don’t cost much and they are a great way to meet people that are currently in the industry and potentially always looking for new talent.
  1. Join MeetUp and seek groups that are focused on your areas of interest. Meet-Ups are a great new way to meet people in a relaxed social environment and get to know them on a personal level. You never know who you may meet!

When initiating a networking conversation, never start with “ I am looking for work” or “ Do you have any vacancies?” The art of networking is all about positioning yourself as someone they need to talk to and get to know better. So start with something like “ What do you see as the biggest challenges in your organisation today?” Then based on their response, address that with how you can overcome the challenge they are facing and why they need you!

Networking is a skill – the more you practice it, the better you will become at it.

Talk to Workfast for how you can continue to develop your job seeking opportunities and find your next role sooner.

Leadership Lessons 101: What we can we learn from Australia’s thrashing of England at #RWC2015

Here we are – on the eve of the next group match between Wales and we are looking good, but my focus is not that much on the future but on the past.

It all started with this tweet:

Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 3.02.42 pm

An then I got a reaction – which of course I was after ! You see, I love my country and every time it plays in International Sports I take a keen interest, especially when it is up against the Mother Country. I also happen to have a large and fun PLN in the UK so I like to interact with them on sporting matters – it breaks up the monotony of L&D 😉

They took our Ashes away this year and they thoroughly deserved it – they played superbly – but with this Rugby World Cup being held in the UK, I noticed a little cockiness creeping in the British media.  I would receive RTs from my Uk friends and the flavour was very much the same – one word – Arrogance.

Here is a sample:

Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 3.10.11 pm

http://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2015/oct/02/england-australia-rugby-world-cup-predictions

In fact every Rugby journalist who writes for The Guardian tipped an England win over Australia – not one of them gave us a chance. This in a two horse race and with Australia thrashing Uruguay in their earlier match.

In the same vein as my dear friend Donald H Taylor wrote a great piece on the Ashes loss :3 L&D lessons from Australia’s cricketing collapse, I decided to replicate his approach and talk about the leadership lessons we can take from England’s thrashing at the hands of the Aussies.

Lesson 1: Leaders cant afford to be arrogant

The English media, supporters and dare I say it players and staff became too arrogant in the lead up to the game – or that is the way I perceived it here. They ridiculed our forward pack and said that it was a weakness in our structure.

Arrogance is not a great trait in leaders and one that leaders need to shun and remove if they are going to bring people along for the journey. Humble and down to earth is what makes a great leader stand out and then this in turn is reflected in those around them.

Lesson 2: Don’t worry about outsiders (read The Guardian Journalists)  just do your job !

In the now famous words of Bill Belichick from New England Patriots (big cheerio to my mate Andrew Jacobs)  – “Do your Job” – is the attitude that the Aussie took into the game. Whilst England were busy reading their “glories” in the The Guardian, Australia’s most maligned forward pack was busy plotting their downfall.

“There’s so much thrown at you – media and social media – but the team has done really well in not getting distracted.” Cheika

No talk in this quarter, then, about the old Ashes rivalry, and how much Australia must be relishing the opportunity to knock England out of their own tournament. “That’s not my domain,” Cheika said. “I’m not the tournament organiser, I’m not involved with England, I’m just a simple old coach of the Australian team.”

http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2015/sep/29/michael-cheika-australia-england-rugby-world-cup

Leaders need to focus on the job at hand and not the noise outside. The noise will be there and the critics are in every corner, but as a leader you need to maintain your composure, continue to plan and strategise and you will eventually reap the results.

Lesson 3: Be Humble in Victory

Michael Cheika was humble in victory. With such a dominating score you could expect some arrogance – and rightly so (Lancaster would have been dancing from the rooftops) but no, he was humble, accepted that it was a great win for the Aussies and was focused on the next game with Wales.

Leaders need to stay on their course and continue on their path and when proven right need to be humble. Leadership is about being compassionate, empathetic and humble – not dominating, arrogant and heartless. Cheika symbolises this in abundance and thus his team continues to deliver for him.

Along the way England also made some history:

  1. The first hosts of a World Cup to crash out of the tournament at the group stage
  2. The first former winners to do so

So I say bring on Wales- lets hope its a great game but here are some stats of Australia V Wales at Twickenham, that although are favourable to the Aussies, I do worry :

IMG_6695

As I write this I hear that Lancaster is on the verge of been removed from his position. Let’s hope he hangs on as I am sure he has learnt a lot about himself and his leadership style.

Go Aussies!

Learning Now TV comes Down Under

Over the last number of months I have been actively involved with the Learning and Performance Institute  (LPI) in the UK.  They were one of the initial groups to embrace me and support me in my journey as a L&D consultant.

As I have said in the past and more recently in my guest blog on New to HR site, my PLN does extend far and wide and the most significant part of my PLN lies in the UK.

One person in particular has stood out over the last 16 months and that is Colin Steed – founder and leader of the LPI even though more recently he is less hands on with the LPI and more hands on with enjoying life 😉

Colin is a very talented and innovative individual with his most recent project really setting the bar in the L&D profession.

Colin is the brains behind LearningNow.tv for which I have the pleasure in been the Australian / NZ correspondent.

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If you have not seen LearningNow.tv well then you have missed out in what I regard as one of the most professionally produced FREE personal development initiatives I have seen in years.

A quality program with quality presenters addressing relevant L&D issues – click here to register for free and get access to the past and upcoming programs.

But what is even more exciting is that recently Colin and I had a “think tank” and we discussed how we can showcase Learning Now TV to a wider audience – especially those in the Southern Hemisphere.

So courtesy of Colin and all his production staff we have a special screening of the June 25 Learning Now TV program scheduled for the Oceania region.

Join us at 7:00 p.m. AEST or 9:00 p.m. NZ time and for our UK friends 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday 30 June 2015. The pre-show begins at 6:45 p.m. with Ady Howes “warming up” the audience.

What better way to end your financial year in Australia than to sit back, grab a VB or a Chardy and watch an informative and thought-provoking L&D program – for FREE !

Click here to join up and all the relevant details will be emailed to you in time for the screening.

Also, while you are waiting for the program next week you can listen to Ady and I discuss Learning Now TV and how it has helped me in my learning journey. Click here to read Ady’s report or listen here for the podcast.

Till next time… keep learning !

P.S. Promise we won’t mention the Ashes !

A Blog-Off: Whose job is it anyway?

So I am on Twitter one evening and participating in what I class (aside from #Ozlearn) one of the best weekly tweet chats on L&D – #LDinsight and I see a tweet from Andrew Jacobs discussing the skills of L&D and some comments made about eLearning:

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And so I responded:

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 2.03.43 pm

After a brief discussion with Andrew, we decided that we each blog about this topic , which is obviously dear to both of us. A blogg-off was agreed to:

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 3.13.51 pm

All things going well, the two blogs should appear around the same time.

Here is a link to Andrew’s blog:

http://t.co/uJHXqJCXs1

So not knowing, what Andrew has written here goes:

For a while I have been surprised even to some extent disappointed on the state of play of L&D skills and to a lesser extent on the  “segregation” of our profession. Why do we badge ourselves as eLearning Pros, Instructional Designers (ID)  or X or Y or Z. I know each profession has specialities and focus areas, but at the end of the day we all have one goal – that of improving / enhancing the capability to assist the business to deliver on results.

We are Learning and Development, Performance Improvement, Capability Development Professionals.

Why does this segregation matter or concern me? I feel that as we fragment the profession so we fragment our skills and qualities. We are not seen as one but as many.

Yes I go to the GP who may refer me to a specialist., who may refer me on to a surgeon etc, but ultimately there are all there for one reason – My Health !

So with L&D – business does not say hey I need an eLearning Pro or I need an ID  – they come to L&D (who sit in HR) and say “Hey guys we need a health and safety eLearning program for our managers”. Business demands a solution – and what do we do  – we agree with them that it is eLearning they need.

As Andrew rightly said in his tweet above,  an L&D professional will know when eLearning is required and what type of eLearning should be used. My response was in agreement with him and went further to question that although an L&D Pro would know, I doubt if an eLearning Pro would.

An L&D professional with the right skills should be able to undertake a consultancy to understand the gap, the issue and then determine what solution (if in fact it is an L&D solution) that may be required to achieve the desired performance outcome.

I have seen (and so have we all)  eLearning being developed for the sake of pleasing the business because that is the solution they wanted – not because they have analysed the capability gap or the broader issue, BUT because this is what business wanted and asked for. So in this scenario we get:

“Yeah business – I have a few dudes who know how to use Articulate / Captivate and we can whip this up for you in a few weeks”.

Hold on – let’s rewind here – “we can develop that in a few weeks” – so we just do, we don’t think !

The Articulate dude puts his / her head down and starts developing because that is what  he / she knows how to do – this is all they have been told to do. eLearning Pros (as confirmed in numerous surveys) don’t usually utilise or adopt performance or learning consultancy skills – they are paid to deliver X amount of eLearning and that is what they do and do it well ! They are (sad to say) considered as not having the skills to do anything more that that. Not my view but others.

The recent Towards Maturity survey concluded that business continues to throw more money into technology (read eLearning) than ever before, believing that this will solve their issues.

This is why I got concerned in the tweet chat and wrote “we need to focus on new L&D skills development” in my tweet. Andrew had already covered this by adding to his tweet – “Different skill and attitude required”. I think we are both on the same page – or are we?

In my view eLearning Pros need additional skills to carry out their roles and I think that they would also agree and acknowledge this.

Brando says in On the Waterfront:

“You don’t understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been someone, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let’s face it.”

Now of course he was referring to a different set of people, but the quote rings true for eLearning Pros – just when they were looking to expand their skills and play a more active role with business, just when they “coulda been someone”, they are stopped – “not your role; your don’t have the skills; why are you questioning what the business wants; you are an eLearning developer so juts develop”  – all common themes.

But, in my view, eLearning Pros can do more and also have a responsibility to do more. If they continue to see themselves as separate to L&D (yes some do see this as reality), they also do not see the need or consider it necessary to acquire new skills. After all they know how to use Articulate / Captivate – so they don’t need to learn any new skills.

Recruiters and business also have contributed to this.  Recent job ads on SEEK confirm this.  You look at any learning jobs advertised in Australia at the moment and they all ask for Articulate / Captivate  knowledge (or some other eLearning product) – why? If I am to produce and design quality learning why do I need to know how to push a few buttons? Yes, great skills to have but why make it number one requirement – why not look at the other skills L&D pros have and focus on those as well,  rather than excluding them.  I can go and do an Articulate course and produce eLearning but will it be what the business needs? Will it meet the performance gap? Most likely not but I will get a job. As I said to one of my twitter friends just today, based on recent feedback from recruiters if I knew how to push an Articulate button here and there, I would have a job tomorrow.

Most times  this is not the fault of the eLearning developer, but that of the Business, who does not know any better, and the Recruiters – who have “swallowed” the vendor driven theory that having their product and these skills are are all you need to producing quality eLearning  – “This is what my client is looking for”, says the recruiter.  Hold it, did you try and discuss this with them?  “Oh they were very clear on what they needed!”

At a recent discussion with a recruiter, I was told they had a role to go in and develop some new eLearning products. When I asked what analysis was done to understand why they had decided to go that way, the response was that the business had determined what they needed and they were now looking for eLearning developers to deliver. So they were not looking for L&D skills as such but people that could use the software. I left the conversation thinking so why did you not advertise the role as a Articulate / Captivate User Required rather than L&D Consultant ?

Let’s be clear – I am not saying that pushing a button is not important – what I am saying is that eLearning pros need to think more broadly about their roles – develop other new skills – business acumen, relationship management, consultancy , interpersonal skills etc… They need to lead the charge and re-position themselves.

Some may say that L&D as a whole needs to develop these skills as well and yes this is true. But only by having a united approach can we focus on what we need, how we can acquire it and how we can apply it. Only by being untied in who we are, can we influence business and recruiters on what we do and how we do it.

Business needs to wake up and realise that quality elearning is more than demanding / requesting a particular elearning product, it is about understanding the performance gap / capability gap that exists and working together to design a solution that can make the difference they are seeking.

Recruiters need not focus as much on the software skills and only recruit eLearning Pros, but look at and investigate the broader L&D skills that individuals can bring to the role.

And L&D? Well L&D pros need to come together and focus on the profession as one whole unit. By doing that we are setting up ourselves to succeed, gain credibility from the business and more importantly are not seen as separate but as a total entity who cares about the business.  Then, and only then, can we look at our skills and gaps, determine where we are as a profession, and plan how we can get there.

So whose job is it anyway ? If we are one and we stand as one it is L&D’s job.

Who is L&D – L&D is Articulate / Captivate users, it is IDs, it is performance consultants, it is learning consultants, it is capability developers – it is you and me !

So lets stand together, develop our skills together, support each other as one L&D professional, as we work together to improve “the health of the patient”.

Yes we are many,  but in reality we are one – We Are L&D !

How do we show the value of HR?

This is a copy of the blog post I wrote for Feb 12th 2015 #NZLEAD tweet chat.

Even though it has a HR flavour the concepts discussed are relevant to L&D as well.

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Recently I participated in a tweet chat #LDINSIGHT on what ways can L&D show value to the business:

https://storify.com/liammoore/in-what-ways-can-l-and-d-show-the-value-of-l-and-d

This got me thinking about how we measure, evaluate, demonstrate (you can use any word you want) the value of an enabling service such as HR.

Are we consciously thinking of the measures of success prior to even contemplating a HR solution? In fact, have we even discussed the issue with the client to determine that it is a HR solution that is required?

Most organisations will have their HR department sitting outside their core business activities and so we have a scenario that goes like this.

Business: Hi HR – in our team we have a high level of unplanned leave? We have spoken to the staff and outlined our expectations on their work effort and commitment but we still have issues.

HR: Ok Business we shall look at your team’s stats and provide a report.

Business: No we want your help – what are you going to do to help us. They told me you would help me.

And so as Ken Blanchard says, the monkey has now gone from the shoulders of the business to the shoulders of HR. It is now your issue.

How can HR better equip itself to ask the right questions upfront, unpack the situation before jumping to a solution or even providing advice? Secondly, once you have agreed that there is a HR intervention required, how do you go about ensuring that you deliver value in the eyes of the business?

An effective consultancy process will help in not only ensuring HR works on the key issues and more importantly the issues that impact on business performance and outcomes but also that any solution that is put in place is properly scoped and more importantly measured for impact.

Remember, impact is in the eye of the beholder, so unless business can tell you what is the impact they are looking for (i.e. the outcome) then you cannot proceed much further. Only until you can identify and agree this in writing, can you start to focus on the next steps.

So similar to my colleagues in the UK, our question for this week’s #NZlead is in what ways can HR start to show value to the business and/or their clients?

Q&A with the Learning and Performance Institute

1. In your opinion what is the biggest anxiety within the world of learning and development at the moment?

The biggest anxiety in the world of L&D at the moment is survival. We are seeing L&D’s role been challenged and to some extent under valued. We are seeing L&D’s role being taken up by others in the business. We are seeing that “traditional” L&D skills are no longer enough to continue to play a valid and effective role in our organisations.

So what question keeps L&D professionals up at night is: “Am I adding value to my organisation?”

2. Who or what is informing your thinking around L&D?

My thinking on L&D is informed via a variety of sources. I read, interact and liaise with a variety of L&D professionals, both locally (Australia) and / abroad. I enjoy the writings of a number of learning leaders and I have
an extensive PLN who I can turn to when required.

As the founder of #Ozlearn, which is fast becoming Australia’s premier L&D tweet chat, we have a great network of Oz and overseas L&D professionals who share and network on a number of matters. This, along with our Third Place Meet Ups (social get togethers held around the country) have ensured that we continue to share and discuss local
L&D issues whilst also embracing the global wealth of knowledge, via our twitter chats and interactions.

I also believe in belonging to professional bodies, who can and should play a role in continuing to challenge and support our L&D journey. Organisations such as the Learning and Performance Institute (LPI),  Australian Human Resource Institute (AHRI) and the Association for Talent Development (ATD) are important to my development as an L&D professional.

3. What is the most exciting innovation on the horizon for learning?

Well, let me put it this way – it is not going to be MOOCs or at least not the MOOCs as we know them in their current form. Rather, I see the continued development of blended learning interventions, with the increased emphasis on the social learning aspect of these interventions, as the most exciting innovation.

I am also a firm believe of user created learning content, allowing participants to learn from each other, no matter what the medium or platform. To support this, I see L&D playing a highly visible and value-add curation role to support the learner on their journey. Although some may say this is not an innovation, it is a craft / skill that is yet to be perfected nor widely practiced by the L&D community.

4. What “game changers” would you like to see and why?

I would like to see the art of performance consulting practiced by more L&D departments and organisations as a whole. I believe we are still in what Don Taylor calls the “Training Ghetto”. We need to move from “Solutioneering” (as per Nigel Harrison) and to the design and development of performance enhancing solutions aligned to business outcomes and goals (as per Jonathan Kettleborough).

We need to learn to say NO !

Secondly, we need effective and easily accessible benchmarking and assurance tools – only when you know where you have been will you be able to map a path as to where you want to go. Along with quality learning impact measurement tools and processes, L&D can and will become a required workforce enabler.

I believe that once we have achieved these “game changers”, we shall have that seat at the table and the anxiety levels referred above will dissipate.

5. What do you think the world of L&D will look like by 2020?

Learners will have the tools and skills to create their own learning interventions and environment; eLearning will not be as popular, although the use of technology to learn will still be vital.

The affordability of Google Glass and Apple iWatch along with associated Apps will allow the individual to access information easily, quickly and in small bites. L&D’s role will be one of guiding, facilitating, curating and supporting the learning journey.

Performance support at the moment of need will be key; Learning as part of the workflow process will be paramount; Social learning will continue to evolve via a variety of mediums and platforms.

BUT one thing will remain: There will always be the need for physical interaction. We are social butterflies and we thrive on physical connections and interactions. We need, require, depend and thrive on the need to meet face to face.

Although we shall have less Face to Face training per se, we shall see a retention of such things as conferences, conventions,forums, unconfernces, tweet ups, meet ups etc where ideas, thoughts, innovations can be shared, exchanged, challenged and celebrated.

6. What advice would you give your 21 year old self?

I would advise my self to continue on my learning path – read, enquire and seek new knowledge, don’t be afraid to move out of your comfort zone, challenge fads, ask lots of questions and always go with your heart !

But most importantly, I would advise my 21 self to focus on my health – your health is the most powerful gift you can give yourself for the future.

Con Sotidis

LearnKotch Consulting

Blog Secret Santa

This blog post has been written for me by one of the Secret Santa elves

# 5 Things I Learned in 2014

“Tomorrow, is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.” ―Brad Paisley

Well another year is coming to a close. There were ups and there were downs. There were new friendships made, there were others that fizzled out, their time had come to an end but not forgotten. There was laughter, joy, disappointment, sadness and grief. Just as we had welcomed the year in with our close family and friends, excited with what 2014 would bring in, the time has now come to be with them again and reflect on our year.

What stood out for you? What would you change? What did you learn?

Here are 5 things I learned in 2014 that will see me through to 2015 and beyond. Maybe it will be true for you too?

• If you compare yourself or your life to others, then you’re wasting precious time on devoting your thoughts and actions on your own life journey.

• In life there will always be ups and downs. However, bad life is going for you at the moment, it will pass. Life isn’t always fair but it’s still good.

• The only challenge to overcome the negative in your life is a mental one. Only you are in charge of your happiness. Smile more, make others smile and appreciate the simple things in life.

• Don’t take your health and wellbeing for granted. Eat healthy, sleep well and play more.

• Always remember that the best is yet to come – just enjoy the ride!

I wish you all a safe, prosperous new year and one that is filled with happiness and joy! Now go and fill those blank pages of your own book…