Monday, December 13, 2010

ROI and Learning

News stories about college rankings always catch my eye. I am always eager to see how my Alma Mater (University of Wisconsin) compares to lesser -- I mean other schools.

A recent article posted on compared ROI of top Universities. ROI is a term bandied about in education a lot lately. Colleges and universities are faced with the economic reality that a student is not guaranteed to make a living just because they hold a degree.

Business leaders know that an employee is not guaranteed to be a top performer just because they hold a degree. Education is important. Learning is more important. Performing is most important.

When universities measure their ROI, they should consider Lifelong Learning as part of the formula. They should consider graduate school attendance, but more importantly, they should evaluate whether or not the student is continually honing their skills -- taking classes, attending seminars, participating in industry associations. This type of learning makes the difference in performance. Top performers earn the best incomes.

If a student graduates with the mindset that they will always be learners, their ROI will be high indeed.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Corporate Services

We used to be called Customized Training. Now we are called Corporate Services.

There is an old saying that says when the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem is a nail. Del Mar College has had a Customized Training Department for years.

We are the folks who meet with area business, discuss staff performance issues, strategize solutions and provide customized skill development training. Sometimes, however, the best tool is facilitation services. Or a 360. Or an environmental scan. Or a training fair. Or grant procurement.

Lately, we have been doing all of the above plus providing open enrollment business courses -- we call it Corporate College. After getting request after request for the ability to send a single employee -- or two -- to our high content performance classes, we finally realized the time was ripe to offer the same level of corporate classes to the general business community.

Our goal is not "to provide training". Our goal is to positively impact performance for our clients.

Every problem is not a nail. Corporate Services is the whole toolbox -- not just the hammer.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Need for Professional Training

This week's post is by guest-blogger Connie Rivera, AIA, Executive Director of the Corpus Christi Chapter of the American Institute of Architects:

Remember the days when we thought that once we had our diploma or degree, our days of education would be over? I bet you’re laughing as we all know that is so not true.

Just about every professional career today requires a certain amount of training. And I’m not just talking about that learning curve when we start a new position. We all need continual training or education just to stay in the game. That is true for doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers and architects.

Architects especially need training throughout their careers. Building technology is changing dramatically at an ever-increasing pace. The systems used within a building to heat, cool, light and serve a space have become incredibly complex. Buildings such as hospitals, laboratories, auditoriums are examples of spaces that require many systems to adequately function. Even the classroom is no longer a simple space with lighting and desks. Information technology has changed all that. And with the advent of concerns for sustainability, it makes the need for training all that more pressing.

But not only has building technology changed, how architects produce designs has also dramatically changed. We no longer sit at drafting tables drawing with either ink or graphite. Many of us use the computer using software to produce virtual models for buildings with input from all members of the design team – from the engineers to the contractors to the clients. The demand for instant information, real-time revisions and shorter production times has compelled us to train in new formats all the time.

To ignore the need for training is a decision to become obsolete.

Friday, August 6, 2010

S-O-F-T Is Not A Four Letter Word

Revenues are down, stress is up, companies need faster-better-more with fewer and fewer resources.

Obviously there is a need to bring employees up to speed in critical skills so that fewer employees can perform more tasks.

Surprisingly, the critical skills needed are not technical.

Employers need their employees trained in skills such as Customer Service, Leadership, Change Management, Interpersonal Skills. . . skills that have always been called (somewhat pejoratively) "Soft Skills".

A recent study by Grant Thornton LLP identifies "soft skills" as the number one challenge in hiring Accounting professionals.


Soft Skills training is no longer the group-hug, feel-good "trainertainment" class of the past. Training now focuses on research based content, tangible behavior modifications and results oriented learning strategies.

Fortunately, state and federal funding is available to keep up with corporate demand. While the focus of many funding sources remains on tangible and technical skills, soft skills are often allowable as a component of an overall project.

In Texas, the Skills Development Fund and the Skills for Small Business program are available to help industry fund needed training.

When times are hard, it's important for companies to be "soft".

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Myth of Self-Motivation

While facilitating a team of executives recently, one of the leaders talked about how the newer and younger employees were not self-motivated. I asked what that meant. “They are not as committed to the organization and what we are trying to do.” When I asked what they were committed to do, it was hard for him to articulate that.

Try this on — look through a different lens. Work hard to find out what your employees are committed to – use that as a starting point. When we work with teams that are struggling, the first question I ask the group is, “Who in here comes to work each day trying to screw up?” After much laughter, I ask if they believed the same of their people. It really is an “ah ha” moment. I encourage you to look through a different lens. As a manager, what types of environment are you creating that allow your team to commit to doing their best each day? It’s amazing how this simple approach can make a difference in organizations.

With permission, June 2010

Monday, June 7, 2010

Our Commitment to Corpus Christi

Del Mar College's Customized Training Team is tasked with providing the Corpus Christi Business Community with local training options.

We go beyond that.

Corporate learning is key to corporate success. Companies look to do three things:

  1. Increase Profit
  2. Decrease Expenses
  3. Maintain Competitive Edge

If training doesn't fulfill one or more of those objectives, then it is worthless.

If you want group hugs and icebreaker games, fine. But chances are, you want content. Content that increases skill, improves efficiency and reinforces profitable behaviors.

THAT is our commitment to Corpus Christi.