Archives for June 2015

The Orderly Conversation: Business Presentations Redefined

PXP_WatchNowIconBusiness communication exists to move business forward. In a perfect world, that work is efficient and effective. Now, think about the last presentation or meeting you attended. Was it efficient and effective? No? You’re not alone. It’s time for a new approach, one that is practical and flexible enough to work in a variety of situations.

In this webinar with author Greg Owen-Boger, you will be introduced to the concept of The Orderly Conversation, OrderlyConversationDropShadow1-e1378476873997which is a type of communication that combines a carefully organized message with flexible, spontaneous delivery. This means that while you prepare, you need to look ahead to the uncertainties of the conversation, and once the conversation starts, you need to adapt what was planned to what’s happening in the moment. And this is why the traditional approach of one-way speechmaking, which we all learned in school, falls short in the business setting.

This session is not about tips and tricks. Instead, it’s a serious, big-picture look at group communication. It’s about the skills and techniques you use to achieve your goal and manage the process effectively and efficiently.

In this webinar, we examined:

  • Engagement, thinking on your feet, and managing a genuine Orderly Conversation
  • Techniques to frame the conversation to provide context and relevance
  • How to prepare to be spontaneous
  • Skills for encouraging participation in the conversation while controlling the message
  • New language for coaching others


About Greg:

Greg owen boger headshot with sPACEGreg Owen-Boger is the Vice President of Turpin Communication, a presentation and facilitation training company in Chicago. He started with Turpin as a cameraman in 1995, and quickly moved on to instructor/coach, project manager, account manager, and now VP. Trained in management and the performing arts, he brings a diverse set of skills and experience to the organization. Prior to joining Turpin, he was a Project Leader for a boutique consultancy that uses live theatre to initiate the leadership development process.

Greg is the 2015 President of ATD, Chicagoland Chapter (formerly ASTD). He is a frequent blogger, popular speaker, and the co-author of The Orderly Conversation: Business Presentations Redefined. He is among many thought leaders who contributed to the book Master Presenter: Lessons from the World’s Top Experts on Becoming a More Influential Speaker.



Marvelous Makovers: Presentation Edition

youre-LATE-psd97874-150x150…For the busy professional for whom everything is due yesterday.  

One of the objectives of design makeovers is to leave your audience members with their jaws on the floor, but we know that it is not entirely fair, showing you designs that you might not have the skills or the time to recreate. Besides, there is more to presentation design than creating pretty slides…much more. A good makeover takes into account the look and feel of the slides, the message being conveyed, and the reality of those in charge of the project. Taken directly from Rick Altman’s client files, these makeovers carry with them the hope that you will look at them and say, “Hey, I can do that.” As a special bonus, at no extra charge (i.e. you pay nothing more than the $0 that this webinar is costing you), Rick will perform a makeover of our own webinar branding. Gulp…

  • Messages that are audience-centric, not presenter-centric
  • Surviving slides with too much junk on them
  • Content better left in handouts
  • When clean and consistent rule the day

Date:  July 15, 2015PXP_RegisterNowIcon - shadow

Time:  11 am PT/2 pm ET


Rick-AltmanHe is one of the most prominent commentators in the presentation community today. Rick is the author of 15 books. He is the host of the Presentation Summit, the internationally-acclaimed learning event for presentation professionals.  An avid sportsman, he was not a good enough tennis player to make it onto the professional tour. All the rest of this has been his Plan B.

Use Metrics to Cut ‘Sacred’ Learning Programs

Saying goodbye to a beloved but outdated learning program can be as heart wrenching as losing a beloved family pet — no one wants to see it happen, but it’s going to happen eventually.

Learning leaders can face protests when they decide to pull the cord or dramatically alter a program. But the same measurement strategies they use to build support for creating learning can also be used to ease the pain of cutting or changing it.

“Metrics are a quick way to create rationale behind it and create support, especially when it’s something that has been done historically by an organization for years and years, that ‘We do it because it’s always been done that way,’” said Peter Glowacki, principal at talent consultancy firm VGE Associates. “They re-enforce your point when you’re going into leadership who may have seen something done the way it’s always been done, and help get them to see it a little differently.”

Glowacki, who used to be director of training and development at law firm Sidley Austin, said using metrics to retool a learning program means flipping the measurement process on its head.

Typically, learning leaders conduct qualitative interviews first so they can figure out what metrics to gather to show a program is working. Using measurement to cut or change a program is the opposite —measurement shows there is a problem, and interviews with learners and managers provide context on what specific objectives aren’t being met.

But it’s not enough to bring the data to the meeting.

“Any time you’re going into an executive meeting and just providing information, you’re not doing your job,” said Kendall Kerekes, product management director at CEB Metrics that Matter. Leaders have to establish trust in the data by talking through the logic behind it and showing they’ve done their due diligence when collecting it.

Then, CLOs have to make proposals based on the data they’re presenting. Kerekes gave these three recommendations that can be made when the numbers show that a learning program isn’t working:

1. “Do nothing, but stay tuned.” Executives can often be trigger happy as soon as metrics show that an investment isn’t paying off. Hold their fire by explaining that more evidence is needed before an action can be made, be it a cut or a change.

2. “Let’s try construction before cancellation.” When metrics show a program having results in one area but failing in another, come to the table with an explanation of what parts need help and an action plan for improving them. “Often times they see the red and want to chop, but you have to have a game plan on what you want to do differently,” Kerekes said.

3. “Scrap it.” When a program absolutely fails, it’s time for a learning leader to say goodbye. This is where due diligence is particularly helpful, as thorough measurements can show whether the methodology was wrong, the content just didn’t connect or employees weren’t engaged.

“It’s when you didn’t do your job and you’re scrapping programs that your credibility is on the line,” Kerekes said.

ACA Clarifies Reporting Requirements for Large Companies

Affordable Care Act reporting requirements for applicable large employers begin in 2016, but many employers and their benefit advisers remain confused about requirements for certain employers with special circumstances. Prompted by industry questions and concerns, the IRS has issued updated guidance to clarify some these circumstances and the requirements employers will be expected to comply with.

Beginning next year, applicable large employers (ALEs) must report whether: an individual is covered by minimum essential coverage; and that an offer of minimum essential coverage that provides minimum value was made to each full-time employee.

See also: A quarter of large employers in tough spot with ACA forms

Applicable large employers, generally meaning employers with 50 or more full-time employees (including full-time equivalent employees) in the preceding calendar year, use Form 1094-C, Transmittal of Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage Information Returns, and Form 1095-C, Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage, to report the information required.

Having the ability to track and manage the required data should be happening now, according to Michael Weiskirch, a principal at EmployeeTech Inc. He says the requirements “have put benefit advisers and their clients at a crossroads and have created a small panic in selecting the ‘just right’ solution.”

The IRS May 28 issued guidance in the form of several Q&As for issues that may arise while employers prepare these forms.

“The IRS will use these forms to enforce the employer penalties, individual mandate and tax credit eligibility rules under the Affordable Care Act,” the Wagner Law Group cautions in a blog post about the new IRS guidance.

“With mandatory reporting for ALEs beginning in 2016, understanding the reporting requirements is critical. Accordingly, employers should give careful attention to this and all future IRS guidance as the reporting deadline rapidly approaches,”  the group adds.

Some of the Q&A clarifications include:

Clarification on ALEs that must report: An ALE with no full-time employees for any month of the year is not obligated to report unless the ALE sponsors a self-insured health plan in which any employee, spouse, or dependent is actually enrolled, the IRS says. In that case, the Wagner law group says, the ALE must still file Forms 1094-C and 1095-C even if it has no full-time employees. In addition, ALEs must file and furnish Forms 1095-C to all full-time employees regardless of whether they were offered coverage during the year.

Controlled groups: The guidance provides examples demonstrating how reporting differs when an ALE reports for separate divisions and when ALEs are part of a controlled group. In the former situation, the Wagner law group advises, employees working for multiple divisions must receive aggregated information on a single Form 1095-C; in the latter situation, employees must receive a separate Form 1095-C for full-time employment with each ALE in the controlled group.

Qualifying offer method of reporting: Under the qualifying offer method of reporting, ALEs are allowed to furnish a simplified employee statement to employees receiving qualifying offers for all 12 months of the year, the law firm says. The IRS guidance confirms that ALEs may not use simplified statements for employees who actually enroll in the ALE’s self-insured plan.

Delivery to employees: Forms 1095-C may be delivered to employees in any manner permitted for delivery of Forms W-2, according to the IRS guidance.

New hires and terminating employees: When reporting offers of coverage on Part II of Form 1095-C, ALEs may indicate that an offer of coverage was made for a month only if the offer would have provided coverage for every day of the month, the Wagner law firm says. Similarly, if a terminating employee’s coverage ends before the end date of the month of termination, the ALE must report that no coverage was offered for that month. However, when reporting coverage information under Part III of Form 1095-C, an employee should be reported as having coverage if the employee is enrolled on any day of the month.

Reporting offers of COBRA coverage: The guidance explains how ALEs that sponsor self-insured plans should report enrollment information for non-employee COBRA beneficiaries (i.e. ex-spouses) and gives several examples of reporting under various COBRA scenarios. Qualifying beneficiaries electing COBRA independently from the employee must receive separate forms, while those who receive COBRA due to an employee’s election should be included on the same form that is provided to the employee, the guidance says.

A COBRA offer made due to termination of employment is reported as an offer of coverage only if the former employee enrolls in COBRA coverage and the employee’s cost of coverage reflects the COBRA premium for the lowest-cost, self-only coverage providing minimum value. Conversely, a COBRA offer made to an active employee due to a reduction of hours must be reported as an offer of coverage on Form 1095-C even if the employee declines COBRA coverage.

Reprinted from Employee Benefit News

5 Key Considerations When Using Video in Training

One of the increasingly ubiquitous elements of blending learning is video for corporate training. It comes with a caveat, however, as the way in which video is produced and digested is changing.

The rise of YouTube, Instagram and Vine has legitimized the development and inclusion of video that is user-generated and at a fraction of the cost for commercial video production.

It’s also worth noting that the increase in mobile and tablet-based learning appears to be linked to an increase in the use of video. The outtake from all of this is that video is a preferred medium for both practitioners and learners.

Before you rush to generate video content for your own corporate training program, here are five key considerations that can guide you in getting it right the first time around.

1.      Will it work across all platforms?

We’re not overstating the case when we say that slow loading times kill the video experience before it’s even begun. Production of video content is one part of the equation, but of equal importance is the task of consistent testing until you’re absolutely certain the video can be viewed across different platforms and different devices. Use of streaming services like Vimeo can be useful in this regard, but don’t leave things to chance – don’t post content anywhere until you’re positive it can be accessed by all.

2.      Managing Expectations

Production of video content should not be regarded as a ‘quick fix’ solution. Great final product is often the result of extensive shooting and re-shooting. With all the cost implications that this involves, it’s important that expectations are managed in terms of what can be produced, within what timeframe and for how much. An honest assessment of the expected delivery levels can save a lot of disappointment after the content is delivered.

3.      Minimum Quality Standard

With massive national and geographical variations in broadband speeds, it pays to be realistic in terms of how fast a service may be needed to access your video content. Quite simply, reduced Wi-Fi speeds should not equate to ‘unwatchable’ and we strongly recommend that organizations should consider producing a guide to making video for their community. This will ensure a minimum quality standard for user content and a higher level of accessibility as a result.

4.      Opt for an Authentic Approach

YouTube, in particular, has led to an exponential growth in citizen journalism and citizen production. And while the quality may often be basic, it scores highly in terms of authenticity and ‘real world’ credentials. The learning from this is that you should resist the temptation to be overly-slick in terms of your video production. Rather than smacking of professionalism, it can leave the YouTube generation feeling that it’s out of touch with the learning community.

5.      Brevity is King

Just because you can produce a lengthy video doesn’t mean you should. Remember that attention spans are short – even for quality video content – so don’t fall into the trap of ‘padding’ your video. Brevity is the soul of wit and great video content.

John O’Brien is the digital marketing executive at Interactive Services.  Reprinted from

Make Your HR Metrics Matter

I worked with a client that hired a new VP of HR (we’ll call her Jane to protect the innocent), who immediately told her team that she needed a dashboard of 20 metrics each month from each HR business partner in order to run the business.

Producing that dashboard was a huge time sink for each HRBP, so they got together and decided to take one metric off that dashboard every month before submitting it to Jane.  Nine months later, Jane finally asked her team why the dashboard was missing metrics. Let that settle in for a moment….

It wasn’t until half of the metrics were missing did Jane finally realize something was wrong. Wow.

If you are a HR practitioner or leader, here are some ways you can keep from becoming Jane and make your metrics matter:

1.     Align metrics to strategy. The main objective for producing metrics should be to show that the business is able to operationalize its goals and to improve the performance of the operation by meeting these goals. Before determining your key metrics as an HR function, you need to understand the business strategies and goals, and develop HR strategies and metrics that measure your performance to these goals.

2.     Make sure metrics tell the whole story and incentivize proper behavior. If your metrics are only telling a small part of the story, they are likely to drive the wrong behavior. As a real-world example, one of an airline’s ultimate goals is customer satisfaction, and one way to make satisfied customers is on-time arrivals.

Airline A and Airline B used metrics to incentivize on-time arrivals in two different ways: Airline A incentivized gate agents and flight crews as a group for on-time arrivals, while Airline B incentivized gate agents to load the plane on time and flight crews to arrive at the destination gate on time.

Airline A’s incentive structure and metrics resulted in more on-time arrivals and higher customer satisfaction, while Airline B’s incentive structure resulted in lower customer satisfaction. Airline B’s gate agents loaded planes on time even though they knew the flight was delayed, leaving customers stuck on delayed planes.

3.     Segment metrics by audience. When distributing your metrics, make sure that you segment them to be relevant to the intended audience.  As an example, when you’re discussing the performance of your recruiting function with your recruiters, time to fill is a very relevant metric – this is the metric that the recruiters have direct control over.

However, when reporting metrics to your internal business clients, they are likely to be more interested in time to hire, since that governs when they’ll have a resource available to contribute to their business goals. And if you think even bigger, the real relevant business metric is time to productivity.  Although producing this metric will involve a partnership between multiple HR departments (talent acquisition and L&D), your internal clients will be able to use this to plan their business much more effectively.

4. Use metrics to move the needle. When you collect a metric, you should immediately establish a current baseline and a future target. This allows you to use the metric to improve business results, rather than just collecting metrics as an end in itself.  This also allows you to advertise and market the improved performance to your business clients.

Metrics are indeed an important part of managing a business. But if you don’t make sure your metrics matter, then gathering your metrics is just a huge, irrelevant waste of time. Don’t end up like Jane!

About the Author:

Andy Rice, Principal and Lead Strategist of Black Box Consulting, has played an instrumental role in the success of his clients, working with Fortune 500 companies and other organizations on critical initiatives including integrated talent management strategy and planning, talent management and human resources transformation, change management, business process improvement and technology selection and implementations.

Wellness Programs: Get Results or Go Away

If you haven’t been keeping tabs over the last few months, there has been some increasing friction between the EEOC and the corporate world over a seemingly harmless set of programs focusing on employee wellness. Note that this is primarily focused on health and wellness programs, not those targeting financial wellness.

While this has been frustrating for those affected, it does provide an impetus for companies that is long overdue. In the long run companies will focus more on wellness programs that actually bring results, not just on checking the obligatory box on a list of employee benefit offerings.

Wellness by the Numbers

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation Health survey:

  • 94% of firms with over 200 employees offer wellness programs
  • 11% of those organizations have penalties for employees that do not complete all required health management procedures
  • 9% of large companies penalize employees for not meeting specific biometric outcomes (BMI, cholesterol, etc.)

Wellness is here to stay, with the majority of companies believing that offering these types of options will help to lower insurance costs over time.

The Battle for Wellness

Orion Energy Systems was a typical organization with regard to its wellness program. It required health-related actions from its employees and used incentives/penalties to encourage the behaviors consistent with its wellness program goals. But it didn’t turn out so well.

Orion instituted a wellness program that required medical examinations…  When employee Wendy Schobert declined to participate in the program, Orion shifted responsibility for payment of the entire premium for her employee health benefits from Orion to Schobert.  Shortly thereafter, Orion fired Schobert.

For reference purposes, Orion meets the “large company” criteria in the Kaiser report cited above.  Here’s what happened next:

Orion Energy Systems violated federal law by requiring an employee to submit to medical exams and inquiries that were not job-related and consistent with business necessity as part of a so-called “wellness program,” which was not voluntary, and then by firing the employee when she objected to the program, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed recently.

In case you’re wondering, Orion is not the only organization that falls into this category. Honeywell International also had an opportunity to face the ire of the EEOC for similar reasons.

The Outlook on Wellness

The EEOC has just released its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) with regard to this complex issue. This breakdown by the Jackson Lewis law firm is a great look at some of the key areas of the proposal, but one piece in particular stuck out for me (emphasis mine):

“The NPRM requires that if an employee health program seeks information about employee health or medical examinations, the program must be reasonably likely to promote health or prevent disease. Employees may not be required to participate in a wellness program, and they may not be denied health coverage or disciplined if they refuse to participate.”

Believe it or not, after all of the time, legal battles, and other resources expended on the world of wellness, it comes down to whether or not the program is actually going to promote health or prevent disease. We actually have to measure these initiatives and not just put blind faith in their ability to make our employees and organizations healthier. If that sounds a bit harsh, I’d advise you to check out this discussion on the results of wellness (or a lack thereof). On the other hand, companies like Johnson & Johnson have been more successful.

There are other aspects, such as voluntary participation and limits on incentives, but I think it’s just one more push in the direction of measuring everything and only pursuing those that are going to deliver results. Not everything that is measurable matters, but everything that matters should be measurable.

About the Author:

Ben Eubanks is an associate HCM Analyst at the Brandon Hall Group, a preeminent research and analyst firm covering Learning & Development, Talent Management, Leadership Development, Talent Acquisition, and Human Resources.

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