The vision for WorkplaceTrainingHub.com (the Hub) has evolved. As originally conceived, the Hub sought to become an online “hippie marketplace” for high quality training provided by content providers representing a wide variety of disciplines. As a second generation hippie, this business model greatly appealed to me.
But this utopian vision proved frustratingly difficult to realize in the real world, where not everyone values and views training through my admittedly chauvinistic lens. On the contrary, in attempting to sell my vision to other potential content providers, I encountered two primary problems: (1) they still approached workplace training as a vehicle to market other services (e.g., litigation, auditing, translation); and (2) they did not want to conform to the Hub’s admittedly higher standards for content preparation and delivery. After a while, I began to see that I was spending more time selling and enforcing my vision than I was realizing it–namely, to produce high-quality workplace training that is affordable, accessible, accredited, and FUN!
Developing and delivering innovative training programs are my idea of FUN. For that reason, I’ve been a “regular” pro bono speaker for SHRM organizations throughout the West and the South for the past 20 years, and actively campaign to speak at regional SHRM events by submitting an annoying number of speaker proposals. I enjoy thinking about new programs to solve everyday workplace problems, conducting research, formulating course agendas, designing PowerPoint slides, and figuring out how best to maximize retention of course material. Indeed, my passion for training makes me a veritable nerd. But as a longtime litigator both at the EEOC and in private defense practice, I have seen what happens when employers do not regularly provide training to their managers and HR professionals: lengthy deposition grilling, requests for punitive damages, public accusations of “reckless disregard” for employee rights, etc. Training is simply too important to fail or to stink.
Yeah, stink. For training to stick (e.g., promote retention, modify behavior), it cannot stink (i.e., become boring, didactic, or disengaging). Unfortunately, as I observed during my Biglaw stints, most attorneys stink at training, even public speaking. Though their training may accurately state the law (something not terribly difficult to do), their approach does not help adult learners connect the dots between “the law” and their everyday duties. Worse, because discrimination, harassment, and whistleblowing are extremely sensitive issues, most adult learners “check out” during workplace training, believing that they would never engage in such heinous behavior. Because of this “cognitive dissonance,” effective workplace training differentiates between allegations and actuality, and concentrates on risk identification so that the MESSAGE sinks in and sticks. Over time, I’ve come to appreciate that my oddball background as a social worker, as an EEOC Trial Attorney, and as Biglaw defense attorney gives me a truly unique lens that must become focus of the Hub’s work.
I have also recently discovered that by integrating music into the Hub’s programs, I can write my expensive “guitar toys” off on my taxes, build practicing and songwriting into my workday without guilt, generate more and larger training opportunities, and have one heck of a good time laughing about the absurd world of people management. The Hub’s HR songbook includes:
- You Can Still Get Fired for That;
- I Won’t Be IN Today;
- Yep, That’s Harassment Indeed;
- I Saw It On Surveillance; and,
- Why Hire Humans (When A Robot Will Do) and many more!
Laughter and learning go hand in hand. When adults have a positive emotional response to the material (e.g., amusement, recognition, engagement), the lessons stick and the training works. Besides, it is amazing how attentive participants become when I threaten to sign for them!
One day, the Hub hopes to grow large enough to incorporate other content providers into its line-up. Until then, the focus will remain on doing WHATEVER IT TAKES to make accredited workplace training affordable and accessible through LIVE, WEB-BASED, and ON DEMAND programming options.
Merrily Archer, Esq., M.S.W., Founder