Effective Solutions Through Partnership

Applying your Prosci Certification in the Real World

ADKAR, Best Practices, KAIP Academy, Learning, Managing/Leadership, Organizational Change Management (OCM), Prosci, Training

By Elizabeth Long

Having a certification like Prosci is valuable in terms of provide knowledge and framework around the Prosci ADKAR® Model. It’s also a great way to show your credibility as a practitioner of change management.

While the certification provides a good foundation—and is something I recommend my fellow change managers think about obtaining themselves—much of the work happens when you get onsite and observe and evaluate the organization with which you’re working.

I’ve seen my share of people come in to an organization with various degrees and certifications and while they can provide a lot of strategic or academic talk, their ability to recommend and implement the tactics is lacking.

If you simply take the methodologies and apply them in a cookie-cutter way, your chances of change management success are slim. Every organization or client is different. The people differ, the company culture differs—you need to be able to take these always-different environments and connect with people on a human level. That is when the action really happens.

So, with certification in hand, how do you integration that human connection into your work, so that people feel connected and valued (i.e., open to change?) Here are some of my best practices:

  1. Build Relationships. Determine who your primary stakeholders are and build relationships with them. Through these relationships, you’ll learn about the organization and its challenges; plus, these folks will also help guide you to determine which methodologies you should recommend to implement. By understanding what the organization needs, you can determine how to best apply the changes. Remember, nothing is cookie cutter.
  2. Be Authentic. You need to genuinely want to develop these relationships and get to know people. If you honor your word—when you say you’re going to do something, do it—then the people in the organization will see that and be more likely to take your recommendations and provide you the opportunity to do your work. Authenticity builds trust with your partners. The recommendations you make will be much more well-received if you have trust—trust that is gained by being authentic.
  3. Be a Leader.I’m currently reading the book, “Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win,” by Jacko Willink and Leif Babin. Among other things, it’s about a Navy SEAL platoon and how they develop leaders within the SEALs. The ‘leader’ is a role on the team, everyone plays a critical role—it is the leader’s main job to communicate the ‘why’ of the mission and explain each person’s role and how it is critical to accomplish the mission. This helps the team develop a belief in the mission. While on a much smaller scale, change management works similarly. The most critical thing a leader can do is share the vision and the mission—the WHY we are doing something. (In Prosci terms, this is referred to as developing the desire.) Being a leader is learned from putting your certification knowledge into action in the field. Leaders make realistic assessments, acknowledge failures, take ownership of issue, and develop plans to improve. Prosci is the framework, but your experience is the engine that will drive your success on the ground as a Prosci leader!

As you begin applying your Prosci certification in your work, remember that it is a guideline—the desire to change and understanding the people you’re working with goes beyond methods and is all about understanding the real-world application.

About the Author: Elizabeth Long is a professional Organization Development Consultant and Curriculum Developer/Trainer. She received her Certification in Organizational Change Management from Prosci and is certified in e-learning development from Langevine Learning Center. Elizabeth has worked in many industries: High tech, healthcare, and state and local government. Currently, Elizabeth works as an Executive Consultant with KAI Partners, Inc. as a contractor working in a variety of California State Departments. Elizabeth has lived in Sacramento for the past 17 years and appreciates the history of Sacramento as well as its convenience to many well-known destinations like San Francisco, Tahoe, and Reno.

How to Make Your Career Reach Its Full Potential

Best Practices, KAIP Academy, Learning, Professional Development, Training

By Ryan Hatcher

Years ago, I received a great piece of advice from a former boss who started an agricultural services business in his basement with a fax machine and a phone. In just two decades, he built an international consulting powerhouse largely credited with opening markets all over the world to domestic apples, cherries, wine, and many other West Coast crops.

He claims the key to his success was something he learned from the apple farmers he worked with early in his career: “Plant today what you want to harvest in 4, 7 and 10 years.”

Strategic, long-term planning is both a necessary and common practice of any successful business, but what about a successful career?

Many in my parents’ generation didn’t need to plan their careers. My mother taught in the same school district for 39 years where raises, tier increases, and pension benefits were all set in stone. This kind of linear career path is still somewhat common in the public sector (albeit with more department hopping) but the days of the “Company Man” working his or her way up with the same private sector organization for 30 years and getting the gold watch upon retirement are largely over.

With the rise of professional and physical mobility fueled, in part, by increasing technology and connectivity, job hopping has become common among younger workers. Whereas the median tenure for employees 65 years and older is 10.3 years, the median tenure for workers between 25 and 34 is only 3.2 years.

As a thirtysomething consultant with an average tenure of less than one year per engagement, I help bring that number down (and terrify my stability-minded mother). For the first few years, I took jobs out of necessity, for pay/responsibility increases, or because they seemed interesting with only a vague idea of long-term benefits.

My friends in tech operate much in the same way. Silicon Valley companies are continuously rewriting the e-book on poaching recruitment, and qualified employees can switch jobs as easily as replying to one of the dozens of LinkedIn solicitations they get every month.

Besides opportunity, what drives most workers to jump ship? A recent LinkedIn study found that 59 percent cited a stronger career path and increased opportunity as their primary reasons for leaving; this narrowly beat ‘better salary’ (54 percent) and ‘more challenging work’ (47 percent).

This study demonstrates two things: The desire for career advancement is enormous and most employers do a poor job fulfilling that need. With this in mind, workers have little choice but to take matters into their own hands.

So, in a world where we are all trailblazers of our own career paths, how do we incorporate strategic, long-term planning?

  • We can start by thinking of our careers as long-term investments. Short-term gains in salary or titles are exciting, but leaving a job prematurely can sacrifice valuable experience and relationships.
  • Staying current on emerging skills and certifications will increase opportunity in whatever direction we decide to take.
  • Most importantly, as with any long-term planning, focus should be on a discrete and defined set of goals. Without a continuous focus on set objectives, we risk wasting years on dead-end tangents and getting bypassed by peers.

By devaluing short-term gains, investing in professional development and focusing on a defined end point, we can create the framework for long-term success. Then comes the real challenge: discipline.

Much like any strategic investment, resisting the urge to tinker and make changes, big or small, is the hard part. Distraction via shiny objects is the enemy of long-term success.

The whole process seems simple, because it is. The reason so many people find strategic career planning challenging is because doing it correctly requires sacrifice. Foregoing a higher-paying opportunity or spending weekends collecting certifications aren’t choices many people have the self-control to make.

However, much like farmers, the most successful professionals are the ones who can develop and execute 4-, 7- and 10-year plans.

It is only with discipline, vision, and patience that we can create the necessary environment for apple trees, businesses, or careers to truly reach their potential.

About the Author: Ryan Hatcher is a skilled communications and management consultant with over a decade of experience campaigning for government, public affairs, and political clients. A recent addition to KAI Partners, Ryan serves as an executive consultant providing communications support to one of California’s heath care agencies. He resides in Sacramento with his wife, Nikki, and their two dogs.

7 Tips to Work Successfully in a Virtual Environment

Best Practices, Employee Engagement, General Life/Work, Managing/Leadership, Team Building

By Angela Darchuk

We live in a world where most of us use technology to do our job, and often that can include being able to do our job from anywhere. With businesses offering work from home or flexible schedule options, many employees now have the opportunity to work in a virtual environment.

Since starting to work in a virtual environment four years ago, I have found ways to make sure working virtually is a success for me and the virtual team I manage. Working in a virtual environment has its challenges and it may not be for everyone, but with some self-motivation and these tips, hopefully you can make your virtual work successful:

  1. Be Open: If you are joining an already established virtual team, and especially if you have never worked on a virtual team before, be open to the process. Virtual teams require a lot of positivity—there is little worse than a team member joining a team and being negative to the process.
  2. Ask Questions: Ask questions about the process, what is expected of you on a daily/weekly/ monthly basis, and seek clarification if you don’t understand what is being asked. It’s a waste of time for an employee or a supervisor to do or receive unnecessary work, so make sure you understand the expectations from the start.
  3. Get to Know Your Team: Getting to know your team can be hard when working in a virtual environment. Talking about your life, your likes and dislikes, and your personality can help open up a dialog and make the team comfortable together.(Working in a virtual environment may mean working solo, but it isn’t just about you doing your job—it’s also about collaboration with others in different locations (and maybe even different time zones!) More tips for virtual team success can be found in our blog post, How to Create a Successful Virtual Team Dynamic.)
  4. Know the Roles Your Teammates Play: Knowing the role of each of your teammates is important. When you know what others’ jobs are, you can leverage their expertise when needed. Additionally, if you are familiar with everyone’s roles, you can start to anticipate what may be needed from/by other members of the team.
  5. Be Involved: Be involved by offering information, providing solutions to issues, and volunteering for action items. A weekly meeting—usually via conference call or video conference—is a must to make sure the team is involved, but if you need more frequent meetings, just ask.
  6. Show Initiative: Showing initiative can be difficult in a virtual world, but if you see something that needs to be done, talk to your supervisor about what you can offer. Your skills and abilities were some of the reasons you were hired, so offer up new ideas to help!
  7. Ask for the Proper Equipment to do Your Job: As a virtual employee, it’s important you have the tools to do your job. This can include software and hardware; in addition, you should have access to tools for conference calling, sharing screens, direct messaging, and project management. However, be mindful of what is a ‘need’ and what is ‘want’—equipment needs to be budgeted and you should be able to justify the request.

As a virtual employee, it is your responsibility to show your value so that you thrive—hopefully these tips help your venture into virtual work a success!

About the Author: Angela has a background in book-keeping and office management. She worked for several small businesses in the Sacramento area before taking a job with the State of California. She worked for Dept. of Child Support, EDD and the State Treasurer’s office before making the jump back to private sector where she feels more at home to voice her opinion and help grow a company. Angela is currently the Administrative Services Manager for KAI Partners. In her spare time Angela loves to read, dance, and go to Disneyland. When she goes to Disneyland, her favorite ride is It’s a Small World. She is a graduate of Penn State University, has been married for 18 years, and has two boys, ages 19 and 13 (who hate It’s a Small World).

Why Workforce Development is Everybody’s Business

Government, Hiring, Learning, Organizational Change Management (OCM), Sacramento, Small Business, Startup Company, Technology, Training

By Stephen Alfano

Scan the U.S. economic forecast newsfeeds today and you’ll find nearly all of them contain or point to a reference about the status of the available workforce.

The reason for this attention is quite clear: Research continues to show the country in the middle of an employment crisis with rapidly declining rolls, due in large part to an aging population (10,000 retirees a day), coupled with the widening knowledge-base and skills gap among entry-level and mid-career candidates looking to be the backfill.

Of course, the employment crisis isn’t just a U.S. issue. Large and small employers, and national and local politicians the world over are involved in the response—especially where economic empowerment in the form of access to good paying jobs and career advancing training comes into play. In other words, workforce development is everyone’s business.

Originally designed to address the needs of personnel rather than businesses, workforce development has evolved to become an all-encompassing economic growth catchphrase used to describe multifaceted, multiphasic initiatives that attempt to knock down a wide array of employment barriers and achieve overall labor goals of a region.

Today, when business leaders and politicians talk about workforce development, they do so in terms of socio-economic reforms in education, urban planning, tax policy, and social services (to name a few of the areas affected).

Regardless of the size of their payroll or party affiliation, these community stalwarts are undeniably talking about jobs. They are talking about good paying jobs, jobs that require skills in high demand. The kind of jobs that attract—and keep—employees rooted in the region. And there’s the rub—as the Harvard Business Review (HBR) points out in a recently published article.

With insight (data analysis) pulled from requirements from job listings posted since 2008, the HBR identifies the growing skills gap found in U.S. labor pool since the “Great Recession.” In case you don’t have spare time to read the whole article, here’s an abridged version to help point out why (and where) workforce development is needed:

“[Recent research has established] a new fact: the skill requirements of job ads increased in metro areas that suffered larger employment shocks in the Great Recession … the companies that reacted to the recession by looking for more skilled workers were still pursuing that strategy five years later.”

“[Specifically, job ads in] hard-hit metro area are about 5 percentage points (16%) more likely to contain education and experience requirements and about 2–3 percentage points (8‒12%) more likely to include requirements for analytical and computer skills … [and nearly all] education, experience, analytical aptitude, and computer skills — have been found to complement new technologies … [identified in the job postings] analytical requirements by the presence of keywords like “research,” “decision,” and “solving.”

“… [it was found] that businesses more severely affected by the Great Recession were more likely to invest in new technology, and while this technology may have helped replace some forms of routine jobs, it apparently increased the demand for greater worker skills for other routine jobs.”

The Sacramento metro region was one of the areas hardest hit by the “Great Recession.” (When the “housing bubble” burst, the economy suffered another big shock with the exit of several large employers.) The resulting devalued homes and downturn in available jobs crippled the Capital Corridor’s economy—it took nearly 10 years for a modest rebound to take place.

As of October 2017, there are relatively few underwater properties left in the area inventory. Unfortunately, there are still hundreds of area residents underemployed and too few big employer prospects in the pipeline. Sounds like the right market conditions for an innovative and inclusive workforce development initiative, specifically one that will:

  1. Ensure business and civic leaders work together regularly to identify and then mitigate skill gaps in the labor pool addressing regional employment challenges through dedicated sponsorship and resource allocations;
  2. Employ empirical data analysis and change management best practices in tandem to inform and guide employers and employees on how to fulfill growing or evolving job requirements in alignment with regional marketplace growth goals and objectives;
  3. Enlist subject matter experts and key stakeholders to create processes and governance and compliance policies and procedures that will facilitate reconfiguring or reconstructing regional human resource management goals and objectives on an ongoing basis; and
  4. Engage and empower instructors and advisors to help train and promote work-ready employees for both short and long-term economic growth objectives that serve vital regional business and public sector needs for better prepared and for higher-qualified candidates.

Who’s with me?

About the Author: Stephen Alfano is an Organizational Change Management Consultant and Communications Expert. He has over 25 years of experience leading and managing internal and external marketing initiatives for both private and public-sector clients. His résumé includes providing both new business and business process improvement services to Apple, American Express, AT&T, California Department of Transportation, Chevron, Entergy, Levi Strauss & Co., Louisiana Office of Tourism, Mattel, Microsoft, Novell, SONY, Sutter Health, and Wells Fargo. Stephen currently works as an Executive Consultant with KAI Partners, Inc., providing change management and communications expertise and support services to California State Departments.

5 Ways to Jumpstart Your Professional Development

Conferences, Event Recap, Human Resources, KAIP Academy, Learning, Sacramento, SAHRA—The Sacramento Area Human Resources Association, SHRM, Training

By Melissa McManus, Ed.D and SHRM-CP

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a Human Resources Conference sponsored by SAHRA—The Sacramento Area Human Resources Association, a professional organization of which I am a member— titled People, Purpose, Passion!

It was a great two-day event showcasing topics current to the field of human resources, including legal issues, talent management, and technology, just to name a few. Not only did the event provide great opportunities for learning, it provided networking opportunities with vendors in the industry and other human resources professionals in the greater Sacramento area. These types of events are important to attend as they build upon knowledge in my specific career field.

I’ve talked before about planning your career development goals. Professional development is the next step in this process and includes what you do to achieve these goals. It allows you to continue to be competent in your chosen career and provides career growth and learning for you as an employee. In addition, it can be a valuable tool in aligning with your company or organization’s strategic plans. Smart and innovative organizations strive to hire and retain the top talent in their industry—if you want to stay relevant in your career, professional development can help make you a valuable asset within your organization.

There are many ways to continue to hone your career craft and remain a commodity in your chosen career field and industry. Today I want to share a few activities you can do to jumpstart your professional development:

  1. Join a professional organization that focuses on your career. As an HR Practitioner, I belong to two professional organizations.
    • Benefits: Access to latest information in my field; access to information regarding seminars, webinars, conferences, and certifications; and opportunities to network.
  2. Attend a professional conference specific to your career.
    • Benefits: Meet industry experts, gain new and important information in your industry, and network with others in your field.
  3. Sign up for webinars and seminars that highlight or focus on a specific area in your career.
    • Benefits: Provides a way to get new or updated information in your industry in shorter, more concentrated, and often less expensive (or free!) doses.
  4. Read a book pertaining to your field.
    • Benefits: A quick and easy way to learn what might be new and exciting in your industry; also provides flexibility in timing, as you choose how this fits into your schedule.
  5. Mentor someone in your industry or specific career.
    • Benefits: The ability to teach someone what you know and transfer that knowledge demonstrates the highest mastery of the subject matter; plus, it feels good to give back.

These are just a few of the many options out there that you can take advantage of to stay on top of your professional development. What are some things that you have done to stay current in your field or industry?

About Melissa: Dr. Melissa McManus is a Human Resources Professional and research guru. One of her greatest strengths is her resolute ability to soak in new information and her never-ending thirst for knowledge. Melissa has a Master’s degree in Counseling, and a Doctorate degree in Educational Leadership with a focus in Human Resource Development. Melissa’s professional interests include human behavior, career development, research, writing, training, and knowledge transfer. She is passionate about life and describes herself as an avid bookworm. In her free time, when she is not running her kids to gymnastics or karate, Melissa enjoys reading (a lot), wine tasting, being with friends/family, and spending time with her husband and two children.

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