55 - Death to Powerpoints!

We talk about improving adult learning with Lauren Slater Siegmund, POPS learning and community expert. Turns out that kids and adults learn differently; powerpoint does nothing to help your brain retain info, and understanding your audience is most of the battle. Tune in to this one, fam; you might just learn a thing or two.

Release Date: July 20, 2022


[00:00:00] Voice over: Warning, this podcast is about the realities of working in people operations. This is not a stuck-up PC compliance-based or employment law podcast about stuffy, outdated HR practices. Shit will get real here and we assume no responsibility.

[00:00:15] Alexa Baggio: Just another day in the office.

[00:00:17] Tyson McKenzie: There's nothing better than a bunch of good work in HR getting around the table and sharing these stories. We have this outer body experience in HR where you're like, "How did you I get here?"


[00:00:25] Alexa: It’s not that bad.

[00:00:27] Tyson: It’s not that bad. It’s not.

[00:00:28] Alexa: Come hang out with Tyson and I in this podcast, we'll make you laugh.

[00:00:30] Voice over: This is the People Problems Podcast with Alexa Baggio and Tyson McKenzie.

[00:00:38] Alexa: What's up, Tyson?

[00:00:40] Tyson: What is up?

[00:00:40] Alexa: How are we doing, homeslice?

[00:00:42] Tyson: Pretty good. I feel like I'm going to complain about being tired, although you're way tireder because it's late where you.

[00:00:50] Alexa: Literally just getting my yawns out before we started here.

[00:00:54] Tyson: I feel like I have just as good an excuse, though, because my baby is teething and going through a growth thing, a growth spurt and a developmental spurt, and

all the things. This is lovely. [crosstalk]

[00:01:06] Alexa: Is this everything she does right now growth and a developmental spurt. Not to be like- [crosstalk]

[00:01:11] Tyson: No.

[00:01:11] Alexa: -all babies do, is grow and develop.

[00:01:14] Tyson: I'll give a little. There's these things called Leaps. Apparently, at certain times in a baby's development they go through something called a leap. It's a big development and it makes them real devils. I don't know if I buy into this shit. I bought the app, so clearly, I believe something. They seem to line up, but-- [crosstalk]

[00:01:31] Alexa: I heard a lot of friends talking about this recently, like, "Oh, she's going through a fourth big leap." I'm like, "What does that mean?

[00:01:35] Tyson: The fourth leap. I didn't know what this shit was and I swear that there's so much industry out there just like looking to take your money. That's very likely what this is because baby-- they're in a leap, literally every other-

[00:01:46] Alexa: How much was the app?

[00:01:47] Tyson: -week. Exactly. No. It a cheap. Anyways, so it's just been a lot and she's crawling now, so I literally am running around like a wild woman. I did not know that this child-- She's like Quasimodo, but she’s got her leg out if you can picture Quasimodo moving. Anyways, she books it. She wheels around the house. Yes. It's a lot. Mama is tired.

[00:02:10] Alexa: When they start to get mobile, I imagine that's, actually, a meaningful change for everyone because you're like-

[00:02:16] Tyson: It's lot.

[00:02:16] Alexa: "-Oh, shit, you’re not where I put you." [chuckles]

[00:02:15] Tyson: Right. It happens fast.

[00:02:19] Alexa: I put you down and now you're not there.

[00:02:19] Tyson: It’s fricking cute. When my husband gets home from work, she quasi’s over to him and it's like--

[00:02:27] Alexa: Quasi’s. [laughs] Hysterical. Well, I’m glad that-- [crosstalk]

[00:02:32] Tyson: Anyways, what’s happening in your world? [chuckles]

[00:02:34] Alexa: What is happening in my world? Nothing, man. I'm getting ready to run a crazy mountain marathon. I'm doing some paragliding, which is fun to learn.

[00:02:42] Tyson: That's so cool.

[00:02:43] Alexa: Just living up the best of super outdoorsy, French life right now, just outside of just work, work, working.

[00:02:52] Tyson: Love it.

[00:02:53] Alexa: Well, that's a good segue to my shameless plug, which is that if you're not following us, you need to follow People Problems Pod on LinkedIn, Instagram, and all

the things. We're working on our TikTok. We also want to make sure that you follow me on LinkedIn or my social @alexabagadonuts on Instagram.

Obviously, if you're not already, follow @thefamoushrshook on Instagram. We're going to be bringing you more live events, more in the news, and lots more things in the second half of 2022. Follow us to make sure you get all the latest and greatest from your two favorite HR parody mouse. In addition, Tyson and I will be recording live on September 15 in San Francisco and September 21 in LA at the various PERKS CON Events.

If you have not already done so, go to perkscon.com and click "get tickets" to come meet us live at the events. Listeners can use the code PEOPLE PROBS at checkout for 30% off tickets. That's PEOPLE PROBS, P-R-O-B-S. Agendas are coming out soon and early bird will not last, so make sure you snag your tickets to come see Tyson and I on the West Coast in September. That's my shameless plug for us, Tyson.

[00:03:54] Tyson: I'm so excited. I can't believe that we're going to finally get to see each other in-person.

[00:03:58] Alexa: I know. We’ve got to find some dope outfits.

[00:03:59] Tyson: Make sure you’ll there with us. Oh, my God. Right.

[00:04:01] Alexa: We’re going to get some dope outfits going. We're going to get our swag set up and some dope-

[00:04:07] Tyson: Totally.

[00:04:07] Alexa: -outfits. Yes, it's going to be good. I'm very excited. Hoping to go through.

[00:04:08] Tyson: I think we committed to wearing high heels. Just saying. [chuckles]

[00:04:11] Alexa: Oh, Jesus. Did we? Okay, you just committed us publicly. Thanks for that. I'll wear high heels because I'm pretty sure you're taller than me and thinner than me.

[00:04:19] Tyson: [laughs]

[00:04:19] Alexa: I'm going to be an extra bitch and get more dressed up. [laughs] Because I'm catty like that.

[00:04:25] Tyson: Everyone will have to be there to see the fashion show, The People Probs Fashion Show-

[00:04:30] Alexa: Exactly.

[00:04:30] Tyson: -that we're going to put on.

[00:04:30] Alexa: Exactly. I can't wait. Very excited. Well, without further ado, speaking of moving on, I will move us to our pops in the news for today.

[music] Google has paid $118 million in settlement to female staff who earn less than their male colleagues in a settlement lawsuit. Basically, Google has settled for $180 million. It's spread across just over about 15,000 employees. Basically, the article doesn't say much more than that. It just said there was a settlement that they agreed to do this because after, I think five years of litigating, they hadn't come to any agreements.

This is a pretty standard, straightforward gender discrimination and equitable pay case, but amounts worked out to about $7,600 per person. The settlement covers female employees, and 236 job titles in California since September of 2013. It sounds like these were not only engineering and tech-based roles that people I think probably think of when they think of Google, but they were also roles like child care providers at the offices and all across Google's many, many, many, many people.

Only of interesting thing to note is that, on average, they were accused of paying their female employees about $17,000 a year less overall than their male colleagues, the defendants of his were originally seeking about $600 million in damages, so they got 118. The other interesting thing, which I think is just press for this settlement is that it states in the settlement that an independent industrial organizational psychologist will need to analyze the hiring practices and pay equity at Google.

Google overall, I guess, has made upward adjustments since then, of about $4.4 million total to about 2,300 employees. They've adjusted themselves. They've done a little self-correction. I don't know. What do you think here, Tyson. This is a big amount, but let's also remember that Google makes $250 billion a year.

[00:06:50] Tyson Yes, I feel like this is just like a drop in the bucket for Google. I think what I find really interesting about this situation is that it, actually, started with the preschool teachers at Google's Child Learning Center. What's interesting to me about this is, oftentimes when we're looking at pay equity and stuff like that, we do this weird thing where we, actually, put gender to jobs.

This is like a female job or a male job. That's one thing that we definitely do in Ontario, and I'm sure other places look at that as well. This would be classified as a female job category. Anyways, what Google has done in this situation is they've done something else, this is equal pay for you. Why I find this interesting is that, I guess a part of me is just happy that somebody in a gender job, I know that sounds crazy, but look it up trust me, it's a real thing. It's called PEA in Ontario, was the one that started this.

Why it's interesting is because, typically, when we're looking in the tech industry, there's a huge gap between men and women. It's just like other big industries, any engineering or things like that. For me, I just find it pretty interesting that someone in the preschool teacher role had the guts to do this because you'd think that the bellyaching would be happening at the engineer tech level.

I think what happened is it started this preschool level, and it trickled into the whole tech world because then it later talks about a software engineer, I think they were talking about, and stuff like that. Anyways, I'm rambling at this point, but that was one thing that I noticed in the article. Yes, I think we all need to do better with any gender pay, we don't look at it often.

[00:08:30] Alexa: The stuff that gets me here is that this was based on an hourly situation. I'm sorry, if you're paying two people hourly for the same job in the same place-

[00:08:38] Tyson: It's so obvious.

[00:08:38] Alexa: -be the same amount, like, "What the actual fuck?"

[00:08:41] Tyson: It's so obvious.

[00:08:42] Alexa: Is my response there. [chuckles] I can understand if you're like, "Okay, well, this software engineer writes in Python, and this one does front-end, and this one has eight and a half years, and this one has seven years, and who the fuck knows how--?

[00:08:55] Tyson: There is also mixed comp with those shops.

[00:08:57] Alexa: Yes, mixed comp.

[00:08:55] Tyson: Probably some lot of equity, bonuses that probably weren't happening at these out of close. [crosstalk]

[00:09:01] Alexa: Who knows when they got hired, and what was the labor market, and what's all the context? This is two people in the same learning center doing the same fucking job.

[00:09:10] Tyson: Yes, equal pay in other words.

[00:09:11] Alexa: Probably have a lot of the same hours and one is getting paid 18.51 an hour and one is getting paid 21 an hour. How the fuck does that make sense? These really obvious-- I guess that's why it's a good example is obvious.


[00:09:23] Tyson: That's why it happened. That's probably how this started, because pay is so elusive otherwise because you don't know. That person could have got some

huge signing bonuses and equity. All these things happen at like higher levels, but these people-- It's sort of looking apples to apples, so to speak. That's a good thing that it happened and then trickled down.

[00:09:44] Alexa: Yes. I will say, I don't want people to get super excited about this because as much as I think this is probably a positive headline for Google, because they're

seem to contribute and in some ways capitulate to the idea of paying up for the issue. This is not a lot of money.

[00:10:01] Tyson: It's not.

[00:10:01] Alexa: It is most likely the smart math of someone in the Finance Department went, "We've been paying to litigate this for five years, like just pay the settlement. Just find a number that these guys will agree to because it's costing us so much more to fight this. It's better pressed for us to say, we gave in and we're an equal pay employer, and all these things, we get this great headline, and this whole thing goes away."

I don't think this is necessarily like a monumental precedent and I would not expect to see this from a bunch of other people. I think this is just a thoughtful lawsuit that these guys took the L on, because they were like, "118 million is nothing to us." Counting the extra four in raises they made, it's $125 million to a $250 billion company. Like, "This is nothing."

[00:10:46] Tyson: Well, they were asking for 600.

[00:10:48] Alexa: They were asking for 600. Yes.

[00:10:49] Tyson: Yes. You got to watch these things. I say like, get ahead of it and use that various checkpoints when you're looking at comp to make sure that you're doing

it, like annual raises if that's your process at your companies. Just make sure that you're checking for these types of things while you're at it. Promotions, all that good stuff, hiring.

[00:11:05] Alexa: Yes. Cool. All right. We'll see what happens with it and we'll see if anything else comes of it, but at least an interesting case and interesting to see what they settled on, and some of the fun stuff, like, "Oh, industrial organizational psychologist has to review your--."

[00:11:20] Tyson: That's cool. Let's get them on the podcast.

[00:11:22] Alexa: Yes. I would love to talk to that person, but I call bullshit on them than, actually, doing anything if they find it.

[00:11:27] Tyson: Oh, exactly. I would love to know what-- Exactly.

[00:11:30] Alexa: I call bullshit on that. That's all cosmetics. All right. Without further ado, I would love to move us onto our guest today, who is Lauren Slater Siegmund. Lauren sits on the community team for the People Ops Society, and is an expert in adult learning, leadership development, and community cultivation. She started her career as a high school teacher. She holds a Master's in teaching from Fordham University, and then quickly realized, after a brief stint working with middle schoolers, that [unintelligible 00:11:55] growth and learning of adults was the way to go.

Lauren has spent her post-classroom career designing leadership development programs, creating meaningful gatherings and learning opportunities, and strengthening virtual communities and networks of leaders. She is committed to helping others grow, learn, and act active alignment with their personal values and the pursuit of social justice. Originally from New York, Lauren is now based in Denver, Colorado with her husband and her very adorable Pop buddy. Lo, Lauren, hello. Thanks for being here tonight. Good to see you.

[00:12:21] Lauren Slater Siegmund: Hello. Thanks for having me.

[00:12:23] Alexa: I'm so excited that like Pop's family is on the podcast.

[00:12:29] Lauren: It's awesome. Yes, I just want to say hearing you all talk about Google just now, awesome that it was the preschool teachers that started it. Back to my teacher roots, we know that Early Childhood Education is the most important time in a student's life. On average, and I don't know about Canada, but in the US those folks make somewhere between $30,000 to $45,000 a year. Whereas the average teacher for older kids somewhere in the low 60s, like $60,000 to $65,000. There's a huge inequity between different age groups.

[00:13:05] Tyson: Wow. That's wild. In Canada we have something called like Early Childhood Educators, which would do like preschool versus like a teacher. It's like a college versus like a university like Master's like degree. Our teachers get paid a shitload. I'm sure there's maybe teachers listening, but our teachers make like a 100K a year, so they do well.

[00:13:24] Alexa: Yes. Sickly.

[00:13:24] Tyson: Being a high school teacher is literally my own personal health. I really could not do it.

[00:13:30] Lauren: You've never experienced in middle school teaching.

[00:13:32] Tyson: Okay. I hate teenagers. I've said this on previous podcast. I fucking hate teenagers. I don't want my kid to ever be teenagers.

[00:13:39] Lauren: Yes. Oh, my God. High school-- [crosstalk]

[00:13:40] Alexa: oh, well, you got a teenage girl, so good luck with that.

[00:13:42] Tyson: Oh gosh.

[00:13:43] Alexa: I have a couple friends that are high school teachers and they're fucking saints in my book. In some ways it sounds like, like for me, like snot nosed children, like I just can't. Your Cheerios, and apple juices, and ABCs, like ham. I'd much rather have you read like Of Mice and Men, but then I hear this shit like kids read and are up to and do at school these days in high school, and I'm like, "I just want to drop, kick all of you." I just can't. Couldn't do it. [chuckles] Yes, we wildly underpay teachers in this country.

[00:14:12] Lauren: I work with adults now, it's so much more fun. They're better at hiding their disinterest in what you have to say if you're being boring. There's something to that.

[00:14:21] Tyson: Adults, we just like smile and nod, no matter what. We're not going to [crosstalk] throw in the chalkboard.

[00:14:25] Alexa: Yes. We just turn off our camera on Zoom now.

[00:14:21] Tyson: Turn our camera off.

[00:14:27] Lauren: Yes.


[00:14:28] Alexa: Just little black squares.

[00:14:30] Tyson: Yes.

[00:14:30] Alexa: Jokes aside, actually, it's a really good foray into this topic for people who are not super familiar with it, Lo. Since you've worked in both positions and you have a fair amount of experience with both populations, let's talk a little bit about what you know to be different between something like middle school teaching, and younger minds, and adult learning. There probably are very clear distinctions in terms of just the style of learning, but also what is effective. I'd love to hear just like the difference maybe between the two.

[00:15:00] Lauren: Yes. I have to say that, my personal theory and maybe other adult learning experts will say something different. I think there's, actually, not a lot of difference. I think adults are better at hiding their disinterest, but we have really short attention spans. The last I looked at the data, the average attention span for an adult was something like 12 minutes of uninterrupted listening time.

[00:15:19] Alexa: We got shorten these fucking podcasts. [laughs]

[00:15:21] Lauren: Look at TikTok, look at Instagram, we're scrolling at a very fast pace, there's no way that's still 12 minutes.

[00:15:28] Alexa: Recently we capitulated to TikTok and I'm like, I wake up and brain hurts. Moving too fast. Everything is too fast.

[00:15:35] Tyson: It got too fast.

[00:15:36] Lauren: The number used to be your age plus five, I think it was. As I get older, I'm not finding that my attention span is increasing. I think that that's something actually very similar with young people. With adults that when we're just sitting and receiving information, we just can't do it for long periods of time. If you think you can do it, check how often you're looking at your phone or doodling or doing something else, you probably are not as engaged as you think.

[00:16:02] Alexa: That's probably caused by like just the medium with which everyone is using to learn and interact is now the same. It's all these little screens everywhere.

[00:16:09] Lauren: Also in-person as well. Like no one wants to sit and just receive information without engaging.

[00:16:16] Tyson: I think it's sitting. Because when I think about when I do my best like learning, so to speak, it's when I go for a walk and I put a podcast in. I take in every

single word that people are saying. If you're sitting right now and listening to this, go for a walk. I really enjoy getting out and like being outside and like moving my body, because it almost like "gets the wiggles out". That's something we say at our group. You shake the wiggles out while you're actually taking the information. I can't sit for longer than like two seconds without being like jittery. Maybe it's like too much coffee, but also I think it's just like how we are. I don't want to be sitting here.

[00:16:50] Lauren: It's something that I often I say to facilitators, "handout Plato" or give someone a notes document, even if they never look at the notes they're taking, again, just the act of moving your body physically does activate a different part of your brain than just listening. If you don't have it activated by something that's helping you focus, then you're going to find a different way to activate your brain and it may not be productive. I personally do pottery while I listen to you guys.

[00:17:16] Tyson: Oh, I love that.

[00:17:16] Lauren: You contribute to my creativity.

[00:17:18] Alexa: Well, make some really cool pottery if anybody's in the market.

[00:17:16] Lauren: They're actually fun.

[00:17:16] Alexa: They, actually, find pottery to be horribly boring.

[00:17:24] Tyson: No, but you need something boring to put on top of-- Like you can't do paragliding and listening to People Problems Podcasts.

[00:17:32] Alexa: Not paragliding, but I do trail run and listen to audio books. For me, the difference is like I'm soaking that up, but it makes my ideas go crazy. I'm constantly stopping on the trail and like typing things into my phone as notes. It turns me into like a crazy idea factory, which I think is a little different upstate than like being able to absorb and engage. If it's not just being talked at, Lauren, like what are the things that like you have to do, whether it's adult learning, or virtual learning, or like in-person? Like what are the things you like have to do as best practices to, actually, get adults to not only pay attention, but also absorb set information?

[00:18:13] Lauren: I think one thing to, actually, answer the first question you asked me as well. I told you all the ways that we're similar, but we are different than young people, than kiddos. One way we're really different is the need to have that personal relevance. As a kid, I hated math and science, personally. I'm sure there's some like sexist bullshit that happened in schools along the way that messaged to me that was not the topic for me, regardless of my feelings on STEM and women.

I felt like, "Why am I learning algebra? Why am I learning physics? It's not relevant to my real life." I know I don't want to do math and science when I get older, yet somehow I still stuck it out, I mean maybe because my parents push me to. There was a certain element of like, "I need to learn because I'm a student and that's my job. That's what I'm doing right now." That just doesn't work the same way with adults. There has to be that personal connection and that sense of relevance.

I think inviting folks to bring in, whatever they're learning about like their real life example and not just staying in the abstract with folks. I know Tyson you're leading a course on compensation for HR professionals within the pops community.

[00:19:22] Alexa: Plug. [chuckles]

[00:19:23] Lauren: Yes, good plugs for pops and that course. One of the things that you and I were talking about is that we want people to look at their own company's compensation structure and look at other folks within their industry and how they're doing salary structures because there's no point in learning about compensation abstractly.

I don't know, maybe that's super interesting to somebody on a philosophical level, but really it's the relevance that makes it interesting to the adult learner. It's the fact that there's a direct application to something you're doing. I think within that too, like another key aspect that adult learners are looking for are an element of seeing the learner as expert. We're not trying to do the millennial like, "You get a prize and you're special thing," but understanding that adults have real life experiences. Whereas a 12-year-old doesn't have any expertise necessarily in marine biology.

If you're working with a group of marine biologists, even if you're teaching them something new, you have to respect that there's real life experience within the room. That's a really great way also to break up that, here I am talking at you, hour long with a five-minute Q&A bullshit that people like to do. By having an opportunity for folks to share their existing experiences and expertise, that's an awesome way to really connect with the adult learner wherever they're at.

[00:20:47] Tyson: I have a really good example of that. When I did my Master's in HR, we had a professor that was very much into research. They were not practitioners they were researchers. They would talk at us and lecture, obviously, that's what they do. Then, one of us, we were all practitioners who took the course and one of us would pipe up and share something and be like, actually, that's not how that works in the real world.

Then it became this conversation of practitioners in the room, the students arguing and sharing comments and, "Oh, yes, I had this too. You're right, this and that, and this example." The professor just slings away off at the corner. We're bored if you're lecturing, we want to talk amongst the people and the people who have experiences, and that sort o thing. I always found that those were the richest conversations when we're actually talking amongst ourselves versus being lectured at.

[00:21:38] Lauren: I think that's totally right. If we want to add a third element, self-guided. You all were deciding what was relevant to you in that moment and what you actually wanted to learn. It wasn't just whatever was scripted for you to be talking about, but you were self guiding the conversation into what made sense for you.

[00:21:57] Alexa: Almost like contextual learning. Adults don't learn without context.

[00:22:01] Lauren: Yes. 100%.

[00:22:02] Alexa: Kids are just like, "Yes, I'm just learning because I'm supposed to learn it." Adults are, "Yes, not if it's not making sense to me and the people around me."

[00:22:11] Lauren: We aim to be autonomous where it's like, "If this isn't for me, I'm going to piss out. If I don't physically remove my body, I'm probably checking out in a different way. Whether you notice it or not."

[00:22:20] Alexa: Maybe there's some common misconceptions you could share some light on here, Lo. Which is like, I think people think of learning and because we grew up learning like that as kids, which is we sit at a desk and teacher squawk at us and occasionally we get stickers.

[00:22:32] Lauren: Bad learning.

[00:22:34] Alexa: Doing a good job and sometimes there's a substitute and we watch a movie. We're used to that being what "learning is". I think when people talk about it, especially now with the proliferation of virtual learning, I feel like the world has taken for granted this idea that you can just put information out there and therefore it is virtual learning. My mom, for example, is a industrial design and virtual learning expert, and so I always get to hear, "Learning's it's not just a PowerPoint."

I think people have gotten a little sloppy with that because it's so easy to just be, "Yes, slides. Yes, teacher. Yes, watch the thing, write the thing down, do the exercise. Cool. You pass the course." What are some of the misconceptions maybe that people have about mediums for learning and frequency of learning? What are some of the things that maybe people don't think about that is helpful in the design of learning and development?

[00:23:33] Lauren: Also you got to put your mom and me in a room at some point because I want to pick her brain.

[00:23:36] Alexa: Oh, you and Bobby would be--

[00:23:38] Tyson: We're getting her on the podcast too.

[00:23:40] Lauren: Yes, you should. Let her tell some embarrassment stories.

[00:23:42] Alexa: Yes, listening to mama, and so.


[00:23:45] Alexa: Oh, gee. Bobby's a pistol.

[00:23:48] Tyson: [chuckles] Amazing.

[00:23:49] Lauren: She made you, so.

[00:23:52] Alexa: I was going to say, you'll figure out where I get it real quick.

[00:23:55] Lauren: To answer your question, I think-- Yes, you're right. God, death to the 45 minute presentation 15 minute Q&A, that doesn't-

[00:24:04] Alexa: Yes. RIP.

[00:24:04] Lauren: -plea. Or it doesn't work. Also death to that in schools, it's not good instruction for kids either to sit and receive information without having some hands-on element. That research has been around since before any of us were even in school. Where schools are not implementing that learning, it's probably because they're underpaying their teachers and overextending them, but that's a whole other rant about education. Medium and frequency.

[00:24:29] Tyson: Quick point on that though.

[00:24:30] Lauren: I can do this all day, careful.

[00:24:32] Tyson: There are sometimes where the PowerPoint situation is good. If you're just looking for a check-the-box compliance, get it done, like do the PowerPoint, get it

over with as fast as you can just click next, next, next. That's again with the intent that you're looking for a compliance training, I don't know like the various ones that you ha ve for us.

[00:24:53] Alexa: Sexual harassment or something.

[00:24:54] Tyson: Exactly.

[00:24:55] Lauren: Oh, I have a lot to say on that one too. Death to the sexual harassment training as PowerPoint for compliance,

[00:25:02] Alexa: Click, click, click, click, click. Yes.

[00:25:03] Tyson: Well, maybe-- [crosstalk]

[00:25:04] Lauren: No. That doesn't protect anybody.

[00:25:06] Tyson: Maybe something else. I don't know. All these things like health, and safety, and ethics, that I feel, yes, are also very important.

[00:25:10] Alexa: Yes. I used to do when I was in finance. We had all these like SCC compliance and like regulated employee-

[00:25:15] Lauren: Then the IT one, where they're like-

[00:25:17] Alexa: -money laundering.

[00:25:18] Tyson: Yes. Totally-

[00:25:18] Lauren: -IT wants you to do a thing that says like, "Can you tell which one's a phishing email?"

[00:25:22] Tyson: Yes.

[00:25:23] Tyson: I've done those.

[00:25:25] Lauren: Especially for millennials and below.

[00:25:28] Tyson: We know.

[00:25:29] Alexa: You're right, Lo, and then I cannot think of, even speakers that I've seen speak that I'm like that person is a very engaging speaker and I do a fair amount of speaking, I hate the idea of getting up and being like, I have to talk to this group for like 30 minutes and then do Q&A. [crosstalk]

[00:25:42] Lauren: No one really loves that.

[00:25:43] Alexa: I try very hard to get some push and pull, although crowds can be really tough. I can't remember the PowerPoint of a single person I've ever seen speak and respected them as a speaker and been like, "That was some good shit." I'm always like, "I have no idea what your slides were about."

[00:25:58] Lauren: Oh, I have one. I want to give a shout out and maybe he'll find this, or I'll send it to him. Dean Kenneth Elmore, my Dean of Students when I was an undergrad at Boston University, his PowerPoints changed my view on PowerPoint because he would have one picture, or one word, or one symbol, and it was really to strengthen whatever his point was, and not to have you reading a slide. I think PowerPoint, like that's one in terms of-- [crosstalk]

[00:26:21] Alexa: That's much more a best practice now.

[00:26:23] Lauren: Yes. That was early 2000, so good job Dean Elmore. Medium and frequency, first of all, we're all really tired of Zoom and we know that. Sometimes it works depending on the group to get people on camera, get them in breakouts, get them talking. Sometimes you don't want to talk. Sometimes you don't want to be in a breakout, and sometimes you don't want to be on camera.

[00:26:40] Tyson: Oh God, I hate breakouts. Don't ask me something interesting about myself. I swear to God, I hate icebreakers so much.

[00:26:46] Lauren: [laughs] We're tired of that. Maybe that was cute in the beginning of COVID and now it's not.

[00:26:50] Alexa: Maybe we should start these episodes by asking Tyson an icebreaker. [laughs]

[00:26:54] Lauren: Yes. I can give you so many.

[00:26:56] Tyson: I could not. Okay, very quick thing here. I, actually, had like an anxiety attack once. I was put in a room where we had [crosstalk] to do that and it was really bad. I was having a panic attack and I said something really, really, really fucking stupid. It was really bad. Like I had to hold on panic attack

[00:27:16] Alexa: You do. You do your rocks though. Girl, rock crystals and shit.

[00:27:18] Tyson: I do love rocks. Look, I love my crystals anyways. This is how bad it was. I was talking to a fellow HR business partner, just like a colleague, someone I'd never met before. We were supposed to say one interesting thing about yourself. I was so uncomfortable and thank God, the CHRO walked in and I almost literally sprinted to him to talk about other things. Because I would rather have a conversation with the CHRO about business stuff, than tell this person something interesting about myself. Anyways, that's how bad it was. My lead, if she's listening to this, she probably is like, "Oh my God.

[00:27:53] Alexa: Can't wait to tell [unintelligible 00:27:54].

[00:27:54] Tyson: I was sweating. I had pit stains. It was not a good situation. Don't ask me to do that.

[00:28:00] Lauren: Here's the thing, another aspect of adult learning, know you're frigging learners. Know who's in the room, know that you've got-

[00:28:08] Tyson: Oh, that's good.

[00:28:09] Lauren: -someone like Tyson, or I'm sure there are many people like that who don't enjoy that kind of thing.

[00:28:13] Alexa: What do you do-

[00:28:14] Lauren: Find a different way?

[00:28:15] Alexa: -with your mixed crowd of adult learners though? Because one thing I will say, like I said in my speaking career and I've done various stuff. I've done students, I've done adults, whatever, and various subject matters, but when you get a crowd of people that ain't giving you much, or couple people are super engaged, couple people are out to fucking lunch, what do you do with that? [laughs] It's very hard.

[00:28:38] Lauren: Well, that's hard to answer open-ended. It also has so much to do with what happened before in the day, who those people are. I think the biggest thing you can do is to know your audience as well as possible to literally have conversations with people who are going to be in your audience. Obviously that's not always going to be the case at a live event and you get to know folks, but understanding who you're speaking to and being able to switch what you're doing.

If you're in the middle of what's going to be 30 minutes of straight remarks and people are straight up falling asleep in the back of the fucking room, stop talking. [laughs] Do something different. Have everybody stand up and change seats or do something-- Sometimes that works with adults, sometimes adults are like, "You're being patronizing." Figure out something that switches it up.

I think for any presentation, any session, you always want to have the idea of what you're going to do and then three different possible versions in your head and be willing to rotate out and not be committed because you might have designed the best possible content, but if people are spacing out or looking annoyed at what you have to say, it doesn't matter how good your content is, they're not taking it in.

[00:29:43] Tyson: There's always going to be that person that's sitting at the back scrolling through their phone or stuttering with their buddy. I sometimes have to like think slow, but you can't-- [crosstalk]

[00:29:51] Alexa: Yes, you're never going to have everybody in the room engaged. That doesn't work.

[00:29:54] Tyson: Yes. That's just like a speaker thing. You just have to get used to those, like people that aren't.

[00:29:58] Lauren: You have to find your friendly face. To the virtual thing because I don't think I fully answered in terms of the medium and frequency, I think there's a lot of online and I'm not going to make any particular plugs because there's so many good platforms on there. There's just a lot of things you can do online where people are still engaging because maybe there's a virtual poster paper where they're adding posters.

There's still contributing without having to be on camera, without having to talk, without requiring 100% participation. There's also platforms where people can opt into different breakout spaces and have the conversations that they want to have and leave the room that they want to leave. There's also mediums that are audio only, so you can be having a conversation with people in a room and still folding your laundry, which honestly might help you concentrate better.

Maybe you didn't want to put on makeup, which, again, gendered stuff, society expects us to do. There's just so much technology and even more that's come out in the past couple of years that if you're just talking at people and expecting them to engage in that way, you're just not doing your research because there's free stuff out there too.

[00:31:04] Alexa: That brings up a really good question, Lo. Which is, many times, I'm sure everyone on this podcast can agree. There's been times where you've done something where your version of engaging was like, "I listened and I folded the laundry. I, actually, got a lot out of that because I was listening, but I was doing something else." It's one of the reasons why I think we need to do a lot of video calling and let people talk and do other things, because we do that a lot naturally.

What it brings up for me is, it's very hard as a person creating content or doing some session for people to know if those people were, actually, engaged. You folding your laundry and listening to hanging on my every word, I get the same amount of information back from you if you were just logged in and listening as the person who didn't hear a single thing I said because they were doing six other things or someone else who was taking that differently.

The problem with virtual platforms is very hard to get back data about were you actually engaged. If you're just listening and you're folding laundry and everyone's like, "Am I making sense? Does that make sense? Anyone have any questions?" The room is silent, you just assume, as the speaker, that you got nobody. Like, "This is boring and these 47 people logged in are all just cooking dinner and not paying any attention." How do you coach people through that kind of stuff? What's a good way to get feedback that's not just like a survey?

[00:32:21] Lauren: I think that is so hard. I have to say I've done a lot of virtual trainings, even before we were all forced online, and there is something that you will always lose by not being together in-person with people. You do lose that feedback loop. It is really hard to read the room sometimes. I think there's a couple of things you can do. One is, sometimes you don't get the feedback and you just have to plow through and hope that you're making the right choices.

Sometimes the silence and the lack of engagement is its own form of feedback and that's a good moment to suggest that everyone takes a five-minute bio break, or ask people to type something into the chat, or find kind of a low-commitment way for people to either take a breather or respond to something.

[00:33:05] Tyson: Like polling. I love a good poll midway.

[00:33:08] Lauren: Yes. I think that's a good point.

[00:33:09] Tyson: Google let's you do that. One thing that I also was taught when you're on a Zoom call like this is to do uncomfortably long pauses. Because sometimes what happens is you don't pause long enough as a facilitator and then you start talking again when someone's working towards unmuting themselves and getting the courage to ask a question. I always like say at the get-go, I'm like, "I'm going to pause for a really long time and it's going to be awkward as hell. Somebody speak up in that silence because I'm going to sit there and wait." [chuckles]

[00:33:36] Lauren: No, that's so true. I learned that in my teaching days, it's called Wait Time in the classroom. It's having the confidence, exactly to what you said, that someone's going to be uncomfortable with the silence. I always like to play the fact that I used to be a teacher and I'm like, "I was a teacher. I'm good with silence. You all let me know." Which usually gets a chuckle sometimes, I'm sure also a couple of eye rolls. Giving folks that wait time.

In-person too. I was at a conference last week in DC and there were one or two moments where they asked if anyone had questions after 20 to 30 minutes of speaking. You're not warmed up or maybe you don't want to be the brave first person to go first. Just having that pause and giving folks a second, or trusting that some people are slower processors or different processors.

Saying like, "Hey, take a second, jot down three questions that you want to follow up with your team about later." Giving them some kind of a written assignment and then saying, "Great. Who thinks they have a good question?" Giving people that think time on their own before they're being asked to process full group can make a big difference as well.

[00:34:45] Tyson: The chat box when you're virtual, I think is, actually, a good advantage of being virtual. Because some people who would absolutely never speak up in a big room of people would definitely feel comfortable typing stuff out, or they can-- You know how when you're in a room and you're learning something and then you feel like you like miss the moment and you want to ask a question, but you're like, "We've gone too far and I can't go back." That's a good opportunity for chat boxes and stuff.

[00:35:08] Lauren: People learn really well. This is another thing, because we hate breakouts, and because we just sometimes want to sit and receive information. There's a push and a pull because I never want to be in a breakout and I never want to talk. I know that good adult learning means that you're in conversation with other people and you're learning alongside others. It's a little bit complicated because you don't want to put people in a position they don't want to be in. Something the chat box or a breakout room means that they're actually having the chance to process with other people who are processing the same information.

Sometimes writing is the solution. Sometimes you can do silly things too, you can use-- All right, I am going to plug a software. Google Drive has Jamboards. You can just use a Jamboard where you say, put a photo of the landscape that matches how you're feeling right now. I don't know, something super random where you're still getting people to engage. That's fun too. I'm doing a Google image search instead of being forced to engage on a topic that maybe I don't have as much to say.

[00:36:10] Alexa: I do find that adults seem to be more self-conscious about sharing and talking initially. Kids are like, "Cool that you asked me my favorite color. It's blue."

[00:36:20] Lauren: Here's my belly button.

[00:36:21] Alexa: You ask a bunch of adults their favorite color and everybody's like, "What asshole's going to say the first color so I can go after them?

[00:36:28] Tyson: Someone else has to go first.

[00:36:30] Alexa: Exactly. Not always the starter group that we'd like to think we are. Or there's the one person that's like, "Me, me," and everyone's like, "That guy."

[00:36:38] Lauren: One thing, also not demanding 100% participation. That's never a way.

[00:36:44] Tyson: Even like going back to your original question, Alexa, thinking about, if you've got this dead audience and no engagement, whatever. I think that there's also a huge aspect of making sure people are opting into something, and that you're providing what they've opted into. Giving a little synopsis beforehand or being very clear about what you're going to talk about beforehand. Again, if this isn't some sort of compliance training that everybody has to do, but if it's optional, people are opting in to hear you. It's like they're not just going to sit there like, "This is stupid. I'm not getting what I wanted," because they know [crosstalk]

[00:37:20] Alexa: I've facilitated a couple of sessions where I just started with a couple, I just call on random people and I'd be like, "Why are you here? What do you want to get out of this?"

[00:37:27] Tyson: Oh, God, I would die. I would get up and leave.

[00:37:29] Alexa: No, because I'm like we're here to talk about how to deal with vaccine mandates as an employer. Why are you specifically here? What's the problem you're trying to solve? Then one person hears someone else's problem, and they're like, if she gets her problem answered, that would help me get my problem answered. My problem is this. Then all of a sudden you're like, we're all-- Then the facilitator is like, "I know why you're all here. I need to make sure you walk away with the ability to solve that problem."

[00:37:56] Tyson: I do like that.

[00:37:58] Alexa: You're collectively agreeing at the outcome, and committing to like why you're there. Versus just tell me the answer to my problem, or just tell me what I--

[00:38:06] Lauren: I'd just say the jury's out for me on cold calling. For some people they're going to lecture their pants and hate it, or you're going to call on someone and they're going to not respond and that's awkward.

[00:38:18] Tyson: I plant people. I will call on people only people that I know. Again, from my perspective, I'm probably in a group talking to people that I know already in my role. If I'm going to call on someone, I'm not going to call on a junior employee, I'm going to be calling on the director. If he has a problem with it, we can take it up on our one-on-one.

I wouldn't be calling on some junior person. I'd be specifically calling on someone that I want to say something, knowing that them even just speaking at this meeting is going to have a bigger impact than answering the question as well, so I call on the director. Now, all the junior employees are like, "Oh, my gosh, he wants to be here, so I should probably be here."

[00:38:56] Lauren: Let me ask a smart question.

[00:38:58] Tyson: Yes, exactly.

[00:39:01] Lauren: If anytime you have a fancy speaker and you're not necessarily employing all of these amazing principles of adult learning, I always pre-draft a couple questions or pre-pick a couple of people to come up with questions. There is no shame in having someone ready to go, because it really just takes sometimes that first person starting the conversation. There's nothing worse than having a speaker and then no one has questions and they're just like, "Cool."

[00:39:27] Tyson: I always make a joke. I'm like, "Hopefully, you're all still there. My Internet's really bad out here in the country. Hopefully, I wasn't just talking to myself for an hour." I just make an ass myself, but then usually people--

[00:39:38] Lauren: Self-deprecating humor works too.

[00:39:40] Tyson: I love doing that.

[00:39:40] Alexa: It's one of the reasons why I think the 45 minutes on stage with the Q&A thing doesn't work super well, is one to your point, you've just had too much thrown at you to be like, I have a question immediately. Also, at least when I've done things where I've facilitated with people where I'm with them at the tables, I'm walking around, you make eye contact with people, and you pick up on, this is my eager responder, this is the person who's the eager note-taker, this is the person who's clearly going to ask a question.

You can use that to your advantage because you can see them. You can get the physical body language of, you're terrified of me, I'm going to walk around you. I'm going to ask the overshare behind you for an example of something I just mentioned. It's much easier to do some of that stuff when you can read the room a bit, but it definitely takes practice. It's a skill I think people take for granted that, to your earlier point, if you just have good content, that's the end-all be-all of what makes a good engaged space. It's a combination of things.

It's knowing your learner, having the right content, reading the room and delivering the content. One of the three ways maybe you had planned, deciding what persona you're going to bring to that engagement. Sometimes people want an energetic speaker, sometimes people want the opposite. They're like, I don't need all the Alexa right now, I just want the fucking cold, hard facts. I think people take for granted that they think it's a very one-dimensional situation. It's not, learning is so much more complicated than that. To your point, it's never 100% game. You never get the 100% of everybody to learn everything.

[00:41:15] Tyson: Even on top of that, I think before you even do any sort of-- We've talked specifically about learning and the education space. I think before you would do any, "This person needs to improve a skill, they need to learn something," think about what that skill is. Education is not the only way to go about this. We look at it oftentimes, since the three E's which is education, which is a lot of what we've been talking about.

Experience. Which is actually doing it and then exposure, which is seeing somebody else do it. There's nothing worse than when they're teaching us a new system, like a software system, how to use it, and they just sit and click, click, click, click, click, and you're like, "Ugh, I'm never going to remember how to do this." That's a situation where maybe you want to have exposure or experience. Let the person click through it themselves.

[00:41:56] Alexa: I'm learning to do it in person.

[00:41:58] Tyson: Yes, learning by doing. Thinking about those things I think is super important before you even design any learning and development.

[00:42:06] Alexa: Let's peel this back a second and let's get out of the literal definition of L&D. Everyone's thinking of a bunch of adults sitting on a Zoom and now taking a course. There's all kinds of ways in development that you implement various things. Lauren, I know you also have some experience in leadership development and working with stuff like that. What are the principles maybe that carry over, and what are maybe some of maybe common misconceptions that people think of when you carry this into different parts of the organization or different functions?

[00:42:37] Lauren: I just have to say, I'm so glad that you asked that question because when I think about my own professional journey where I learned the most and had the most opportunity is when some manager was like, "All right, we're going to give this one to Lauren. Sink or swim, let's see how she does with it even though she's never done it before."

I learned so much from those opportunities both in my successes and in the medium to low-risk failures. That hands-on way of learning is 100% a part of any learning and kind of learning and development strategy. Empowering managers to know what are the risks that are worth taking, and where do we have space for failure and mistakes so that we can be investing and taking opportunity like high risk, high reward with [crosstalk]

[00:43:20] Alexa: You can put your people in classroom settings all day, but if you're not pairing that with relevant exposure and experience, it's not going to stick whatsoever.

[00:43:29] Lauren: Exactly. In terms of your question on leadership development, I think my core philosophy on leadership development is really driven from a values-based perspective. Again, that's so much of that self-guided piece that we were talking about earlier in this conversation that folks have to have a sense of what's important to them. Not only what's important to the organization, but what they're interested in. We really can't take the individual out of the equation when we're thinking about learning and professional development.

For me, one of the first things that I always want to do when I'm with a group of people is have folks gain a lot of clarity on what their values are both from a professional and a personal perspective. Just to give an example, if your personal values are financial stability, which, no harm in that, you're going to approach your career and the way that you're relating to the organization very differently than if your priority is, for example, family first, family orientation. Someone who's really focused on family, let's say they're in HR People Ops, they're going to make sure that all of the wraparound benefits and social support that folks need within their organization is provided.

Someone who's really focused on their own financial security, they might take things a little bit differently and say the way that I support my family is actually by being a 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM kind of a person. Always around and always available, say yes to every project and I'm going to get the promotion. There's no shame in any way of operating if that's in line with your values, but if you get the family-first oriented person working from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM, you're going to burn them out, and they're going to be pissed off, and they're going to either depart or not be a pleasant person to work with.

I think it's really important thinking about leadership and when you're thinking about the individual learner to think about folks and their values, because it varies at different times in your life, I'm pregnant, and so right now, a big focus for me is, can I get a good bathroom break every so often? Are there snacks available? Can I take a nap if I'm really tired? Whereas a little earlier in my career, it was like, yes, yes, yes, yes. I'm going to say yes to every single professional opportunity so that I can move along in my career. Hopefully, when I'm done with the pregnancy, I'll be peeing a little bit less from what I've heard, not necessarily the case.

[00:45:47] Alexa: No it feels so good.


[00:45:51] Lauren: Your needs change, and people evolve. Inviting people to touch in with who they are and what their values are as individuals, I think it's just so important because you need to not only say, "This is what we value as a company." That's nice if you have organization-wide values, but if that's in direct conflict with the values that your people are holding, either the organization values are off, or the individual’s values are off, but something has to shift in order to have better alignment so that everybody's on the same page, and you don't have that resistance constantly.

[00:46:24] Alexa: I think it's also, does the way the manager likes to manage and the way the manager needs to work also agree with your values. It's you've got to take it on case by case, this idea that the organization is going to have four values, and everyone's just going to fall right in line with that, and you're going to perfectly hire some of those values, it's just fucking nonsense.

[00:46:42] Tyson: That's what came up for me, is that sounds like a lot more like finding the right fit for the leadership role, versus the other way around. If you are a person that maybe needs more work-life balance in a company in a role that's going to be requiring you to be on 24/7, let's weed those people out first, before we start putting them into leadership roles and making sure that the fit is right first. I get it, that's probably a bad example because we don't need people working 24/7, especially in Ontario, it's illegal now, anywhere else.

[00:47:12] Alexa: I also think work-life balance is bullshit, too. Everyone wants that. Every candidate I talk to, "What do you want in your next role?" "I want work-life balance." What the fuck does that mean?

[00:47:23] Tyson: You know what though, not every-- Because when I started working, I was exactly what Lo was saying, I was just, work, work work give me all the work because I don't have that. Now, like you said, things change. Anyway, so I see this, a lot of making sure that you have the right fit of person going into the training or the leadership development. I've seen leadership development training go really, really wrong. I haven't seen it done well, anywhere actually--

[00:47:47] Alexa: What's the example of it going really wrong?

[00:47:50] Tyson: We had an emerging leaders program at a company that I used to work for, and the turnover rate of that program was 95%. Basically, people would go into the program, rah, rah, rah, it's all exciting. Then they would work for less than a year and they'd quit. Every single one. It was bonkers. They went and they got all pumped up, and then they were like, "I'm better than this company." Then they left.

[00:48:14] Lauren: Their skill's elsewhere. That happens.

[00:48:15] Tyson: It was a big problem. Then the program, you know what? It got cut and it wasn't replaced. That's a shitty thing that happens with training a lot, too.

[00:48:22] Lauren: I think that there has to be-- I always think about it, especially when I'm coaching folks. Think of a three-circle Venn diagram. It's like, what do you love? What are you good at? That's the second one. The third one is, what does the company actually need. If you can't find an intersection between what you love, what you're good at, and what the company needs, then a good company should support you in finding a new path and finding your way out the door.

If there is some kind of an intersection, and you're stuck in an IT role, and you're dreaming of communications, how are we supporting you, and your leadership development or your professional development to gain those skills so that if we already think you're a badass employee, let's support you to find a path within the company, because if we don't give you that path forward, you're going to find it somewhere else?

I don't know but I bet that was part of the issue with your emerging leaders program, where folks were given this awesome professional training on leadership, and then not necessarily being given an outlet to exercise those skills. If the company gave you these awesome skills that then you couldn't employ, it's like, "Thank you for the development."

[00:49:29] Tyson: It was more like self-reflection and self-growth, versus "this is how you lead here at this company". I actually am way more into teaching leaders how to lead at this company, and designing a training that's like, this is how you leave here specifically that's tied into corporate values and what they're trying to achieve, and that sort of thing versus reflection on yourself, that something you might do outside of work. That's my preference. It's more bespoke to your company and relevant.

[00:50:02] Lauren: A lot of my professional experience is in nonprofit spaces. So much of that is driven by heart and emotion. I think that there's a time and a place for that kind of personal journey. If you're just in a company that's about the bottom dollar and just really trying to achieve a certain financial goal, yes, I don't know if you need to be as emotionally, personally in touch with your personal values in order to achieve your financial targets. Versus if you're in a direct service organization, mobilizing communities of people and you haven't checked in with yourself. There's potential harm and misalignment.

[00:50:40] Tyson: There's always room for self-reflection, but it does have to be tied back. For example, if your a company, and again, this is like a very corporate company and something that's valuable to you, is making sure that leadership are training their employees and they're promoting their employees and that sort of thing. You want to make sure that they know when they come, it's an expectation of them as a leader at this company, that they should be doing performance management and helping their employees grow and that sort of thing. That's still got a little bit heart in it. It's more specific about the company and the expectations on them as a leader at that company.

[00:51:13] Lauren: Yes. It has that alignment between the individual and what the organization actually needs from them.

[00:51:17] Tyson: Then alignment across leaders as well.

[00:51:20] Alexa: Look, I would argue, your little diagram example, there is actually a really good visual, which is if you have overlap between what you're good at and what the company needs but you don't love it or it's not paying you well enough, because money will make up for if you love something, sometimes, that's probably a job where you've got some like boundaries and you're not the person that's like, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

If you're learning something because you like what you're learning, maybe you don't love what you're doing yet but you like what you're learning, you're good at it and it supports the company's organization, then you're going to keep investing in that. Those are opportunities where people say yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Then if you have something that the company needs that you love to do, then that's probably a great example of something that needs a lot of development, because maybe you're not that good at it, or maybe it's just not a right role fit.

It's interesting to think about those intersections. The obvious goal is all three of those, in the bullseye, but like you got to think about what breaks when maybe you don't have all three of those sides touching. Sometimes it just means it's just not a job you over-commit to. It's something you're good at that pays the bills that is in line with what the company needs because you're good at it. I would argue, you should not do anything you're not that good at because you will just lose motivation. If you're in a job where you feel like you're not good at something and you can't develop into being much better at it, first stop, get the fuck out.

Just stop. It's a recipe for disaster. If you think, "I can coach myself in," it's like you have to have a natural 80% affinity for the thing that you're doing all the time, and you'll be like, I was kind of mediocre my whole career. You should do something you like less, that you're better at, in my humble opinion. Do something you're fucking good at, and maybe just do it a little less, because if you're really fucking good at it, you won't need to do it all the time. [crosstalk]

[00:52:57] Tyson: Then you usually like stuff they're good at, no? If I'm good at something, I automatically like it.

[00:53:03] Lauren: I'm great at doing math in my head, but you're never going to find me in accounting. I just think this whole conversation, by the way, is such a topical thing for us to be discussing at a time when folks are having a hard time holding onto staff. How many recruiters that are maybe listening to this right now are like, "Oh my God, I'm so tired of filling this same position over and over again"? If you look at learning and professional development, and investing in people either within their roles or in a role they're interested in that the company needs, then you don't have to put as all of that money and time into recruiting.

Because you're aware of where you have talent in-house. Because if someone, again, going back to that random example of the IT person who wants to do comms, if they have demonstrated that they are a capable, hardworking person who's committed to the organization, and they have a little bit of- because you're in France- the je ne sais quoi that's needed for comms, why not give them a chance rather than spending all of that energy and all of those resources in recruiting an entry-level comms person?

[00:54:07] Alexa: I also think people get really rigid and committed to, you're in this role, so all your development has to be about this role. It's like, you're only ever going to get so much increase out of L&D. The amount you can make up with developing someone as an adult versus just getting the right person in the role is like night and day. You're going to make an incremental increase with L&D, but you getting the right person in the role is going to make up 80% of the success factor for that person.

If you've got someone who's in a role and maybe you find that their strengths are different, it probably makes more sense to give them the freedom to develop towards the thing they're better at, and find a way to make that work for your organization then to be like, I'm going to force-develop you into this thing that you're not really strong at or don't want. Then you just waste a bunch of time developing people and the development goes nowhere, because it's--

[00:54:54] Lauren: Then they either stink or they leave.

[00:54:57] Alexa: Yes. I have this radical philosophy that I've been thinking about. I don't know that I commit to it yet, but it's one of my crazy audio book on run ideas, which was personal development that people don't ask for is bullshit. If I come to you and I'm like, "Lauren, I think you need to be better at accounting because the organization needs everyone to be good at accounting," and you're like, "Cool. I guess I'll take the class. Thanks for paying for my $2,500 accounting course. Appreciate that. Thanks, I'll do this because in my 360 review I said I would."

Because that's another crock of shit. It's much more impactful if you were to come to me and be like, "Alexa, I can make a case for why learning new pottery techniques is going to bring me a ton of joy and be something that we can utilize as an organization in the future. I realize it doesn't fit my role perfectly, but it would be something that I would thoroughly enjoy, bring me joy, benefit my career, and something I think we can utilize here in the future in X, Y, and Z terms." Why the fuck would I not just pay to support that?

[00:55:53] Tyson: Segue to the people problem real quick here.


[00:56:07] Alexa: Without further ado, what is the people problem?


[00:56:11] Tyson: The question is, should L&D budgets just be discretionary? Knowing what we know about adult learning, which is they need to buy-in, it needs irrelevant to them, should it just be--

[00:56:23] Alexa: I think they usually have to make the case.

[00:56:26] Tyson: Right, but everybody gets, let's say, $5,000 a year, or $1,000 a year, and then they make the case for what is relevant to them and do exactly what Alexa just said. Is that where we're at? Should we just have the budgets just allocated to be discretionary only?

[00:56:45] Lauren: Listen, if your discretionary budget means you're drying the People Ops Society, 100% yes. There's my cheap plug, sorry, not sorry. I would argue, sort of. Listen, I don't do pottery professionally, don't let me do whatever and have me take a class on glazing. I would love to take a class learning how to mix my own glazes, but that's not going to help--

[00:57:04] Alexa: Then when you leave to go be a professional pottery store owner, they'd be like, "What the fuck happened?"

[00:57:09] Tyson: It has to be relevant. That would be written into the policy, it has to be relevant to the job. You have to be able to prove that it's good for the job.

[00:57:15] Lauren: I think it should be primarily driven by the individual contributor. Some of the most impactful professional development I've received has been when I've brought something to my manager. For example, when I was working on my transition from being an educator into working with adults I took a course at Georgetown focused on facilitation. I already had some experience, but I wanted a little bit more professional training, and I wanted to know what the books were that I was supposed to be reading. I wanted also to be able to stick that on the resume when the time came. My supervisor was like--

I was working kind of with heads of teaching programs, and so I was working with adults, I was still really focused on students. She's like, "I see the connection. I see a broader potential contribution to the organization. I think that this would really benefit you, and you'd be joyful." I was joyful. I had a wonderful experience from that. There have also been trainings that I've had people send me to where you don't always come right back from lunch. You have the people in the back of the room that we were talking about. That's where we go back to, learning has to be relevant and self-guided. If you're prescribing learning for folks, it's not going to work, so it doesn't matter.

[00:58:33] Alexa: I think there's also, and I can't think of a great example right now because I'm brain dead, but there are definitely things that I think it would probably make sense on an organizational or group level to maybe invest in, whether that's some sort of leadership development or something, things that are topical, obvious, highly implementable, not getting your master's degree or anything super aggressive. Everyone's been to a town hall or something where they bring in someone and they facilitate, what's your disc bird assessment. You get something out of it, it's fun, and it's a bonded experience.

Beyond that, I'm not sure there really is any reason to make it anything other than discretionary, because I would actually even argue, and I'm just playing devil's advocate on this part, I'm not necessarily sure it needs to be relevant. For example, my sister got her post-bac education covered by her last employer. She'd been there for many years, they had an incredibly gracious education policy where they would cover your tuition for basically anything so long as you work there. This woman went from working in logistics and supply chain to getting her post-bac to go to med school to become a gynecologist. Took a hard right turn on her career.

[00:59:49] Tyson: That's definitely a perk.

[00:59:51] Alexa: The point of the story is not the dollars, it's that there was no way once she made that decision she was going to stay there at that company, because it was just not what she wanted to do anymore. It had nothing to do with her new career choice. Because they paid for her education, they probably got another three years out of her. For sure they got at least two. What do we think about that? Is it better to keep someone for a couple years and support something for them personally, or is it better to get them the fuck out of there?

[01:00:19] Tyson: I love that strategy for higher turnover jobs, because then it keeps someone, and it's like, we're going to keep paying, we don't care. We don't need you to be here forever. We just need you to come and keep your for a while.

[01:00:28] Alexa: Just make sure you;d be here as long as we can keep you.

[01:00:30] Tyson: As long as we can. If it's not, it's in your expense. Amazon can pay for people to go become nurses or whatever. I'll just add, I agree with everything that you guys have been saying. One thing that I think is really interesting is some companies will have training that's-- Let's use an example. Let's say the tech company. Tech companies oftentimes will make sure that anybody in the company from payroll analysts to frigging finance person, HR, can do tech training. That's just because that's who they are. That's what they stand for. They really encourage people to learn how to code and things like that. I do like that as well to be really aligned.

[01:01:08] Alexa: That's cultural. I like that.

[01:01:09] Tyson: It's cultural. It's aligned to what your mission is, and what you're trying to do there and what you're trying to achieve. It shows how much you value that. Then it also gives people a chance, if they are maybe just a payroll analyst, they can learn to code and then make a good career jump within the company. It doesn't hurt. I think that that's a really cool thing. My biggest thing with any learning is just I do think, for the most part, it should be aligned, especially with leadership training. I want to see all my leaders aligned.

I don't want this that has to deal with bullshit of one leader doing this and another leader doing that. Culturally, I do like alignment and showing up as one team from a leadership training perspective. That would be the training that I would invest in as a company that would not be discretionary. Other than that, give people $1,000 bucks a year or whatever you can afford, and just let them choose what they want.

[01:01:57] Alexa: I think it's up to the managers to be like, "Are your people using it? Are you using it effectively?

[01:02:01] Tyson: It's not an HR decision. To be clear, this is not HR's decision, this is between individual contributor and management.

[01:02:07] Lauren: If you're looking for that consistency among leaders, forget spending external dollars. What are you doing to bring leaders together and make sure they're fostering relationships with one another? Giving them space to actually have those conversations rather than feeling like they're drowning and managing [crosstalk]

[01:02:23] Tyson: Setting the example from the top too. Is that a good example?

[01:02:27] Alexa: I would argue that stuff is so much more important and more effective than-

[01:02:30] Tyson: So much more important.

[01:02:30] Alexa: -you had a $1,000 to go to take a class. If you're an executive at a company, that ship has mostly sailed.

[01:02:36] Tyson: Education for me is the smallest little bit. Look, I have my master's degree, everybody knows this stupid fucking piece of paper. I learned way more working on the job than I ever could even imagine taking a course. Trial by fire.

[01:02:54] Lauren: I have to give an anecdote about my master's in teaching to show one of the many ways in which we need to reform teaching training within this country. I will never forget, I think the number one memory I have for my master's program. I guess we did mention where I got it, but I'm sorry, I hope that they've reformed this, we had a lesson where one of our professors gave a piece of paper that was definitely an email forward comic Sans, all of that of if a dog were your teacher, what lesson would you learn?

[01:03:23] Tyson: I've heard of this.

[01:03:23] Lauren: I still have it. I don't think I told you the story, means someone else had this experience.

[01:03:28] Tyson: They do this at teachers college.

[01:03:31] Alexa: Wait, finish the story.

[01:03:31] Lauren: There you go. Okay. It had things like, I would just lay in the sun and watch the clouds go by, or I would take naps whenever I needed rest, or I would snuggle up next to someone I love. We straight up spent, this is master's degree program, we spent a lesson taking turns sharing what we would do if we were a dog or how we could learn a lesson. I do not know why this had anything to do with education, but I think it really just goes to show you how you might feel like your master's is a piece of paper.

I had some awesome professors I learned some cool stuff from but when it came down to it, my master's also felt like a piece of paper. What I learned the most was from making mistakes in the classroom and also just learning from other teachers who gave a shit, who I built relationships with, who were able to show me the ropes. I think that has so much to do with what we're talking about here in terms of meaningful learning. Make it relevant, make it connected, make it connected to meeting people where they're at; because that group, we were young adults in the classroom, didn't give a shit about how dogs could teach us anything.

[01:04:41] Tyson: There must be one researcher who decided that that was a cool idea, because I 1,000% have friends who've taken teachers college. Tell me about this.

[01:04:49] Alexa: I hate to do this, but--


[01:04:53] Lauren: We've really gotten far off. You should do this. [chuckles]

[01:04:57] Alexa: Thank you for giving me permission to segue away from talking about what you would do if you were a dog. More importantly, Lo, where can people get in touch with you if they like what you have to say?

[01:05:07] Lauren: I think the best thing they can do is find me at the People Ops Society for sure. Yes, 100%. I'm also [crosstalk] [chuckles] If you want to find my pottery, message me. I don't need to do a cheap plug for my pottery. I make [unintelligible 01:05:26]

[01:05:26] Alexa: It's cute though. I do like [crosstalk]

[01:05:28] Lauren: Thank you.

[01:05:30] Alexa: It's good stuff. It's good stuff. All right, my dear, thank you so much for being here. This was super fun.

[01:05:33] Lauren: Thanks for having me.

[01:05:35] Alexa: Of course.

[01:05:36] Tyson: Thanks.


Wait a minute. Before you leave, take some time to leave us a five star rating. We'd really love your feedback. Also, if you'd like to see our lovely faces each week as we're recording these episodes, check us out on our new YouTube channel.

[01:05:48] Alexa: This episode was executive produced by me, Alexa Baggio with audio production by Ellie Brigida of Clear Harmonies. Our intro music was also done by the wonderful Ellie Brigida of Clear Harmonies. You can find more

[01:05:57] [END OF AUDIO]

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