Cultivating a Culture of Learning: Strategies for Engagement and Continuity in Employer Training

Unlock Employee Potential and Improve Workplace Dynamics

Employers can increase retention through training programs.

In this episode, Monique Russell returns to share her insights on the power of up-skilling and re-skilling, and how it can lead to growth, differentiation, and improved workplace dynamics.

We explore the importance of creating a culture of learning and the role that leadership plays in modeling desired behaviors. Monique also highlights the value of disruptive thinking to assess true goals and outcomes. From the digital transformation of organizations to the rise of entrepreneurship within corporate roles, we delve into the changing landscape of the corporate workspace.

Monique shares incredible perspectives on cross-functional training, knowledge retention, and leveraging historical data. Beyond that, we discuss the impact of the pandemic on workplace dynamics and the need for organizations to prioritize the health and well-being of their employees. Ultimately, the role of learning and development professionals in changing as they need to partner with individuals who understand the science of learning and how it can transform organizations.

Join us as we explore the power of learning, the importance of strategy beyond the corporate organization, and the role of technology in an ever-changing workplace.

So grab your endless coffee cup and get ready to dive into this engaging episode of the Endless Coffee Cup podcast.

“It’s really about creating that culture of learning right now. It’s it’s it’s creating that culture. And that culture is continuity, sustainability, accuracy, and assessment.”

-Monique Russell

Show Notes:

Show Transcript: Engage Employees Through Training

Matt: Well, hello and welcome to another edition of The Endless Coffee Cup podcast as always I’m your host Matt Bailey. And once again I’ve got Monique Russell back with us. Monique. How are you doing today?

Monique: Fantastic, Matt.

Matt: A good part of it is because this is a part two. We filled up that first hour when we talked and I just wanted to dive more in-depth with employee retention and training employees and how that helps retention for employers.

As we talked about communication skills and all that, but we did not dive into, really that’s the center of what you’re doing is helping employers increase retention through training.

Monique: Absolutely.

Matt: This is welcome back. How’s that?

Monique: Glad to be back. It’s welcome home. I got to take my shoes off.

Matt: Oh, feel free. Yeah, just relax. Get that nice leather recliner over there. This is your place.

Monique: Thank you.

Matt: So yeah, talk to me a little bit about, when someone contacts you, do a lot of work with organizations and what do you see as far as how retention plays into training?

Where are you coming from and how do you fit into that?

Monique: Yeah. So the part that I absolutely love is helping people to get better at their jobs. And, there is a lot of information and research where we understand that people will leave. They will leave for a better job opportunity if they have the chance to get better at what it is that they do.

So when someone reaches out to me, they’re looking for an opportunity to improve the existing skills that their leaders or their new managers or new supervisors have, or they want to help the executive team to really get better at identifying trends. And seeing how to make shifts within their workplace because a lot of the skill development starts at the top and trickles on down.


Matt: Absolutely. And especially with, the influence of AI now, it is hit like a brick wall. Do you see that people are scared or concerned about their skills, all of a sudden AI is in every headline every day, it seems.

Monique: Yeah, there are a couple of camps. I would say scared and concerned camp. But what I see is a lot of excitement. And I could even tell you from my 60-year-old plus mother who’s like get me on GPT.

Get me on GPT Chat, not ChatGPT, but GPT Chat, whatever it is. Because people, it doesn’t matter where they are, they want to be able to utilize tools to help them be more effective and efficient.

And you can use these A.I. tools to maybe just do brainstorm or a jumpstart in places or areas where you get stuck. And it’s a compliment. So I think it’s really around having the self-awareness on how to use it. Because I’ve run into scenarios where people feel like, oh, it’s just going to take too much time to learn.

It’s not effective. Actually, if you look at social media right now, you can tell who’s using ChatGPT without any tweaks. Because it tends to spit out a certain way when you ask really elementary questions. But if you provide certain context, then you add your own flavor.

You’ll be able to utilize it in a way that could help you move the skill development forward faster. As opposed to, having to start from scratch. So yeah, there are a lot of people who are excited because they know it’s going to help cut their time in half and it’s going to actually help them to make the decisions that they need to make in their day to day jobs without getting, bogged up into all of that analytical processing and thinking.

Matt: Yeah, absolutely right. And I love what you said about, people using it as a replacement. I got an email just yesterday and I’m reading through the email and I’m like, this is a great idea. Yeah. It was so obvious and that’s the thing, if you’re using AI, you’re going to be able to spot AI because it was so bland, and it was unusual for that newsletter.

It was just so out of character, it didn’t have the voice, didn’t have a personality, and the transitions of the pair. I’m like, oh, this is come on. I kept it as an example. I’ve got this little, I call it my email favorites, and it’s where I put all the things I’m like, that’s wrong. That’s terrible. Oh, that’s good. I just want to keep this record.

Monique: That’s good. Yeah. I even see some people do that on other people’s posts and they don’t even take the time to make, any effort to clean it up. See they’ve just come and put a copy and paste and you don’t realize how that’s actually damaging your digital image and your digital presence, which is another thing people are, sometimes not mindful of, but it definitely impacts, what people perceive about you.

Matt: Yeah. Oh, what do you think about the new LinkedIn AI tool to help you write a post? Have you played around that?

Monique: I have not played around with it, but and I haven’t really seen anyone utilize it. I don’t know too much of it. But if it can help them write a post, they keep their unique perspectives or add their science to it. Because here’s what I think, we’ve all been using AI, just not to the speed of what we’re using and not in the technology text or context.

But if you look at it, all the regurgitated messages from the five to ten top influencers in the world, we’ve constantly been repeating and regurgitating and repeating and regurgitating and repeating and regurgitating the same messages.

So people share those thought leaders or their thought leadership, but they don’t add their own perspectives.

And that’s what I think is missing. And if they didn’t do it before, they surely aren’t going to be able to do it now with digital tools. And that’s where people in the learning and development field have a chance to really help people to go a little bit deeper, to stand out from their competitors, and to improve their workplaces, especially as they have multiple generations coming in and out. The multiple-generation conundrum or puzzle is one where we have to be flexible, we have to be adaptable. If we’re gonna work to keep people, in their jobs, keep high performers in their jobs.

Matt: Absolutely. I just saw an article and one of it talked about, digital skills and what should be expected. And it was funny because one of them made the comment, we’re expecting digital marketers to be a Swiss army knife to have this many skills that can be used at any point.

But there was another one that was very interesting because of your point about even older employees. That, all the talent is not coming to the industry and what talent is left has gone out and competing is freelance and the people that stay are junior. Wow, that just amazed me. And then another response in the article said that we desperately need to keep these experienced people. They’re the ones who understand how to build strategies across multiple platforms. Youngsters do not have this experience.

Monique: That’s a joke. You said it and I instantly got a chuckle and a tickle because my philosophy, it’s not about limiting around age. In fact, one of the chapters in my book is it’s not about age It’s about identity. So I mean it doesn’t limit you your age doesn’t limit you or the skills that you have.

I always debunk this because coach individuals who are from multiple generations and I will tell you that you may have someone who has, 30 to 40 plus 50 years of experience, but if they’ve been doing the same thing over and over, and especially now, if you move into government spaces, where it’s a very traditional structured, this is how we do it.

And you’ve been doing that for 20, 30, 40 years. Yes, you have historical data on the organization. But if the organization wants to move from, say, paper-based to digitized solutions, or if you’re looking to move from just in-person meetings to hybrid meetings or virtual meetings, I’m just using technology as an example.

But if you’re looking to find different ways of engaging people on your team, and you think that, okay, just giving the lecture, giving the training when all the data out there is showing us that we need multiple modalities and continuity to keep our employees engaged and keep them feeling like they belong.

Then where is all of that wisdom going to come from if you’re not keeping updated? So I love the idea of the fractional employee. I think that’s the way that we’re gonna go. The fractional leader or the executive that’s leaving. The workforce and they’re coming on as a temporary fill in.

I definitely see that as the way to go. I see it happening already in different places. And then for those that are highly engaged, we also have to be mindful that especially in the workforce post-pandemic entrepreneurship is the one that’s enticing them. So you have, that desire for people who want to have fulfillment.

And I remember when I was working in corporate, I wanted to have that fulfillment, but I was able to find that outside of my workplace. Now, doing my speaking, doing my own training, I was able to be fulfilled there, and then come back into the workplace and bring all of that energy with me, as a partner for whatever was happening at work.

But I think that’s one, area people struggle, because again, if it’s an unconventional approach to leading your team, you don’t know how to feel or how to encourage that type of curiosity, that type of questioning or innovation that’s within your team. So I don’t know. I’m a big proponent of pass-it-down information or cross-functional training.

Maybe that’s where re-skilling will come in. Because, people are leaving and nobody else in the organization knows how to do, what that person did. That’s also a problem. Historical data and strategy pretty much walk out the door. What are you gonna do?

Matt: Strategy and experience. Experience with strategy and how do you handle a problem? it’s interesting, I think in one of the podcasts we were talking about that there is a need for people to understand how to solve problems. That’s becoming a massive issue.

And the people who know how to solve the problem are being pushed out the door. And now we have to teach people how to do this, whereas it seemed to be a skill that most older people had. And I don’t want to cast, dispersions on generations, but this is a recognizable issue that’s happening in the workplace right now.

Monique: I don’t believe that. And I don’t subscribe to that because I’m coaching these people.

Matt: Okay.

Monique: And so I see differences. I definitely see the differences. I don’t think, older people have all the strategy. They have some of them. It’s really not about age when you really put it Into total perspective. And we can just look at, some of the individuals who new businesses are being featured for changing the workplace.

For example, let’s look at Calendly. Calendly is something that many people use to automate their booking services. And of course, this is outside of the corporate workspace, but when we look at it holistically, we have to be able to acknowledge that our whole, ecosystem is changing. And so if you have individuals who are starting businesses, while they are in their corporate roles, you have to be mindful that, wow, strategy just doesn’t exist within the four walls of your corporate organization, it also exists outside.

And when we look at those types of things that are happening and the disruption that’s happening in the workforce, we cannot just say hey, older people are having a strategy.

I know because I coach individuals, it’s this is the one way that we’ve done it. And it doesn’t matter how old they are. They can be millennials and they can still feel that certain sense of, stability in tradition or, resistance to change.

If I didn’t experience it firsthand or see it firsthand, maybe I might subscribe to that ideology. But for me, I will always say it’s a joke. And I need more evidence. So…

Matt: Good. I like that. That is a great approach. You’re on the ground, so absolutely. That’s amazing. So a couple of numbers just to reinforce what you had said. And this is from Marketing Week earlier this year. They did a couple of surveys about workplace careers.

And they also quoted research by LinkedIn that was done earlier this year, that 93 percent of businesses are concerned about employee retention. Okay. You should be. It should be that high. However, what was interesting, and this gets to what you had said, the most common reason people leave and go to a new job is they want to learn new skills.

And that was 26 percent said that’s the number one reason they would leave a job and go somewhere else is to learn new skills. It seems there’s an obvious connection between retention and skill training.

Monique: So like literally that is the blueprint. So it’s you don’t have to go far, to put in a strategy. Like seriously, it’s make sure that you include the resources, skilling, and upskilling in your strategy. Because this is what people are requesting when they are going for interviews or, they don’t want to change their job.

They may just want to change their role. So yeah, giving them an opportunity to learn something new. Let’s just say, for example, you have someone who is, working in quality assurance and that person who’s working in quality assurance, maybe no longer, that group is downsized and they don’t really want to get rid of one of their top performers. They want to find a way to move them into a new role.

And let’s say that individual is at a place in their life where they feel like, you know what, I always wanted to be in learning and development. Guess what or they want to be in sales. It would be really advantageous to consider having them reskill to learn those new. tools.

They still stay within the company, so they still have the company’s, culture lingo background, and data, but now they get to see things in the company from a totally different angle or if they’re moving into sales let’s just say it’s enterprise sales or software.

Now, from a quality assurance background, they’ve been re-skilled into sales. They can talk to the customer about the depth of the solution because, hey, they’ve been there before. So I just think there’s a lot of opportunity, for companies to find ways to maintain and retain their employees by introducing them to new skills so that they have, coverage across multiple sectors.

Matt: That is amazing. I love it. And there is something about promoting from within about, if you’re not being challenged, let’s find something that challenges you get them before they disappear, get out. Is the key and there is so much to that. And I also find what you said there about, even enterprise sales.

I had to laugh because there’s always this, tension between marketing and sales. There always has been. And I think even with digital, it’s gotten even worse that there’s this tension and yet we don’t cross-train. Marketing should have an incredible awareness about what goes on in sales. And sales should know, here’s the fences around marketing’s playground.

Here’s what they do. I had a marketing manager tell me the other day, he’s like they keep asking for video and they said 10 years ago that would have gone to an agency. Now they keep giving it to us and we’re not set up to do it, but they just assume we’re marketing, we make videos because we go on social media.

Yeah. And so there’s a complete disconnect between here’s what sales need once and does, here’s what marketing needs once and does, and what an ideal time to transfer those skills and observe what each other does, these two teams need to kiss and make up.

Monique: I definitely agree with that 100%. That is the way to go. And there’s sometimes so much blending, that people don’t understand what the difference is in the role requires. They think you say sales, everything. That means the marketing. That means SEO.

That means public relations. Sometimes there’s some level of confusion about the distinction within those roles. I read a research report and I can’t remember the name right now. I’ll have to find it recently that talked about the fact that, people don’t really understand what skills they have within their team.

So they don’t have an inventory of the skills they have in their team, but they know they need to upskill, they know they need to reskill. But they’re not sure of what’s currently existing. If you’re not sure what’s currently existing that’s going to be a very difficult thing for you to be able to put into place a training plan, a development plan, or a learning plan.

You just throwing money towards paper initiative or paper strategy to make yourself look good, but you’re not actually moving the needle. I don’t know. What do you think?

Matt: It’s interesting because when you were talking about that, I’m thinking of, I’m going to ask you about your experience too. So in my training programs, and my coaching, I would say I have half corporate paid training and the employees going through because their company paid for it.

And I have about half individuals seeking it out on their own and paying for it on their own. And I would tell you the completion rates of individuals who are doing it on their own far exceed the corporate paid training. Now, I believe because it’s we have a training budget. But who’s the training manager?

Oh, you want to take this course? Here’s the money we’ll pay for it. Where’s the follow-up? Because there is a drastic difference between the completion rates when an employer pays to win the self-pay. And that tells me it’s just a budget item.

Monique: It’s more skin in the game.

Matt: Who’s following up? Who’s making sure that the investment in the training is being used and where’s the completion? How far are you in the course? That’s just my observation, but I’ve seen this completion rates for online learning are well below 2%.

Really low.

Yeah, it’s well, well below. Now it increases if you have an interactive component that increases it. There are a number of things that do that. But, this gets to the heart of what you were talking about with a training and development plan.

It’s not just a budget item. It’s an active approach, I’m going to enroll my employees and we’re going to follow up on it.

We’re going to take an assessment of, are you learning? What are you doing with the opportunity that we’ve given you? That needs to be an essential component of it.

Monique: I totally agree. It’s really about creating that culture of learning right now. It’s creating that culture. And that culture is continuity, sustainability, accuracy, and assessment. It includes everyone to be involved so that, leadership is modeling this type of behavior. And I will say in my experiences, what I’ve noticed in terms of, in different corporate companies versus, not even the externals, but let me just say, within the different corporate companies, I see differences in completion rates based on how well the program is structured, how well it’s marketed, how well the benefits are shared or discussed, because that’s one piece that I feel is often missing.

It’s okay, we’re going to have this grandiose program. But now we have to convince them to take the training. They’re going to say they don’t have time for the training. So if we have to convince them that they have a benefit, it’s just imagine it’s guess what?

Matt, you get a 5 thousand dollar vacation trip. You get to fly first class. And I got to convince you. I don’t have to convince you because you already know the benefits. It was already presented to you that way. But the marketing piece, I think we also think about marketing externally to customers, but you have to market internally to your employees.

You have to get them learning and development has to have its own marketing plan. Otherwise, how are you going to champion them or get them involved? That’s how people, that’s how they get excited if it’s just oh, I have this I had a lady reach out and she wasn’t even on the list to be Included with her company for coaching.

She overheard her manager talking to someone else It’s just like I gotta have that I gotta have that. No, I gotta have that. So she raised her hand she signed up. Of course, she completed all the way through but guess what? She also has a small business. She also has a small business. Do you see what I’m saying?

So when you think about the people who are hybrid, who are entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs, a lot of times for those folks who know that they need to develop themselves or their skills. It’s really a partnership. It’s a win. It’s what’s in it for me. Guess what? I get to have a coach and develop in my leadership skills that helps me here on my job and here in my business. They’re gonna complete. You know what I mean?

It’s a different approach. It’s an approach.

Matt: Love that story. I love it. That is a self-motivated person. That sees that, there’s an opportunity to learn I’m in and because both benefits of both sides. And the thing is, this is someone who is probably not likely to leave.

Monique: Exactly.

Matt: You’ve enabled them to train and learn, there’s going to be some appreciation for what has been offered and the chances of them leaving to pursue this. I hate to call it the side hustle. I hate that phrase.

Monique: Okay. We’re gonna come up with a different name.

Matt: I know, yeah, this side business is going to be a reality moving forward. It has been the pandemic has brought it on more, but people have a side gig. And I encourage, even when I’m hiring, I’m telling people to do these things. To build the side, take your skills and develop and, go on Upwork. Absolutely. Because that’s the new economy.

Monique: It is. It is. We just have to be honest, I think it has been happening forever. Forever and ever, but we haven’t been speaking about it. And we have to be honest because I have leaders who are executives and real estate properties. They have different things going on that are considered side businesses.

And guess what? You cannot expect as an employer that you’re going to encapsulate all of your employee’s time and energy. Yes, there’s an exchange. You’re compensating them for doing a job well done. But we’re in the people business Matt? We know that people are complex. We know that we have to use a variety of ways to keep them engaged.

And, what’s in it for me is a crucial part. They need to know like, how are they going to benefit? And they also need to have that experience of feeling included. So you can’t promote everybody, right? You have a ranking scale and a ranking system. Everybody can’t be promoted. But if those who are, intrapreneurial, or entrepreneurial.

If you can keep them engaged through different ways, that’s where your creativity as a leader is going to come in. That’s where your strategy is going to come in and you have to be confident and skilled enough to be able to say, I’m not going to lead everybody with one broad stroke or one broad brush.

Now that’s challenging because you have stuff to do. And so it’s important for you as that leader, that new supervisor to encapsulate yourself into a culture of learning so that you’re fostering decision-making skills and processes. You’re fostering and leading yourself with kindness, compassion, and empathy.

You’re fostering time management and you’re not up at midnight having a conference call, real story, real story. Because you don’t have any other time and you’re so busy in meetings all day. And this is 2023. That’s, why these things are happening.

Matt: Oh, yeah. I’m wondering if we’re going to start getting. I think France first instituted it that you can’t send a business email after 5 p.m. And I’m seeing more and more, things tend to go that way. And even use Microsoft Outlook and it lets me know when I’m sending an email outside of work hours and it’s a business email.

Monique: Really?

Matt: Yeah.

​Yeah, it’s because you’re sending this outside of business hours. Yeah.

Monique: That’s awesome, though, because sometimes we need that to your point about the whole AI compliment, not a replacement, the compliment, or a supplement. Like we need those. Sometimes you need to have these reminders. I say when it comes to skill building, here’s a point to sometimes. We have the skills or people have those existing skills, but what they really need is accountability.

That’s really, the key factor. I’ve seen that a lot where yes, the repetition is good. Yes, the reminder is good, but the biggest thing that’s needed is accountability. And so we pay for accountability. I pay for accountability. It’s not that I can’t do it. I’m not self-motivated, but I understand what happens when I am strategically creating an environment for me to succeed by putting in additional, checkpoints.

Matt: Absolutely. It’s maintaining the focus. It’s so easy to get distracted. It’s so easy to feel like, Oh, I’ll just do this thing. And even my own personality. Sometimes I’m like, it just needs to get done. So I’m just going to do it. And that’s somebody else’s job.

That’s what I pay someone to do. And you’ve got to have those guardrails up. This is going to help you be more productive. And it’s going to allow you to have more of that life balance. If you, stay in those guardrails.

Exactly. Yeah.

Okay. I want to go back to something you said, cause it blew my mind. I absolutely loved it. When you said that learning and development needs to have its own marketing plan, absolutely love that. What else makes a solid learning and development initiative or director or team within an organization?

Monique: If they do have the marketing skills, that’s a plus.

​That’s something I would put on a learning and development director’s agenda for their own development plan. I would have sales and I would have marketing because you’re not only just socializing the initiative. You’re convincing your quotes, convincing people to not only participate but buy into the vision and see how it’s useful for them and how it’s useful for the organization.

So I think that piece. And then for any learning and development executive or leader to really partner with individuals who understand the learning science process and who can, for example, and this might, I don’t know how this might rock the boat here, but I’m not saying anything bad. Okay. I’m not saying anything bad about LinkedIn learning.

I love LinkedIn learning. I use LinkedIn learning. But the reality is a lot of people, talk about completion rates of digital courses because it is self-paced. And I’ve seen this with clients and prospects. They subscribe to these tools, but there is no utilization whatsoever, or is extremely limited or very low.

So yeah, we got access to LinkedIn learning. Okay. How many people utilize that? How many completed it? What?

Matt: There’s the accountability you talked about.

Monique: Yeah. And so that piece. The piece of they’re a learning and development executive or a director, partnering with someone who understands that and who keeps up with the learning trends and the learning science is really crucial because again, you’re busy.

You don’t have time to be out there digging up into the weeds and digging up into stuff. But if you’re partnering with someone, asking the right questions to you understand whether they can advise you, for on solutions that will actually transform your organization as opposed to something that just makes you feel good. Hey, we’re doing this thing. And maybe you can send these videos, to your team members.

Matt: And you bring up a good point and you’re not rocking the boat. This podcast is made for contrarians. Because I just feel like, there’s truth in someone saying, wait a minute. And we’ve gotta listen to that. And as much as I love LinkedIn, I produce content on LinkedIn, however, I’ll be the first one to say there’s a limit on it.

Number one, the difference between online learning and classroom learning is you can’t even compare the two. There was a great book about this and, Sherry Turkle. I believe it is reclaiming conversations. You got your pen out. Yeah. Sherry Turkle, Reclaiming Conversations. She’s an MIT professor.

And she talked about the difference between online learning and classroom learning. She said the number one thing that students got from in classroom was how their teacher responded to questions. That was the most impactful thing, and so it had nothing to do with the actual content. And when we think about online learning, all you’re doing is putting the content on video.

However, real learning from the student’s perspective was I was able to ask a question and I could watch the teacher formulate an answer in real time. Were they thinking about it? How did they choose these words? How did they respond? What kind of answer was it? It was that process that meant the most to the students.

And let’s not even talk about the nonverbals that I know in my workshops, the best questions, or even the best interactions, let’s just say that are doing group activities when I’m wandering around. That’s when people will ask the question that they don’t want to ask the room.

That’s when people are saying, hey, they want that feedback. And that’s where the real, I feel like the real learning takes place. Everything that I say from the stage can be in a book. But it’s outside of that. And that’s where LinkedIn learning is.

It’s like that. 90 percent of communication is nonverbal and LinkedIn has that 10 percent of communication, which is information. That’s why I just love that in-person experience because the depth of learning goes beyond just the information that’s presented.

Monique: Yeah. So to your point, with interactivity and coupling it with instructor guidance. Because, you look at all these courses that are online from universities, right? And people are going through them and, even the top tier schools. Google has them as well.

But they are either accompanied by some instructor guidance for the asynchronous process or, they’re hybrid or to your point in terms of the engagement, it’s there. I don’t have any problem with repositories of learning videos and there are some excellent, excellent courses out there.

Personally, the way I consume information and that I’m a lifelong learner, I go through things and I complete them all on my own. I don’t need anybody to help me, to go through the information. But I do know that’s not the majority of individuals, especially, in the learning and development industry, so it’s a little bit different.

Most people, are not going to go through, this entire program or process, especially if it’s not a topic that they are the ones driving the motivation or the desire if their employer is the one saying you have to complete these courses, then maybe not. So another point I think on engagement and learning is to diversify the topics around what people want to learn about.

It may not seem like it’s directly related to your job or to the job of the organization. The role, I should say. But let’s say, you have a lot of people who are caregivers right now. Where does that fall into your learning and development plan? Is there even a place to acknowledge this type of topic, if you care about what they care about, then you’re building trust, but if it’s a one-sided solution or, you’re not co-creating the learning process, then it’s going to be hard for transformation and completion to happen.

Matt: I love the example you brought up because, like the caregiver aspect for an organization to be aware of that requires empathy and it requires viewing your employees as a whole people and not just productivity numbers because you’re asking about the holistic person of how can we, as an employer provide information to you that you need, not just for, to make us a better company, what’s going to make you better, what’s going to make you feel more.

You’re answering questions that people have outside of work and you’re fulfilling, you’re helping them be a better, more equipped person that makes them more, it does make them more productive, but love that example because it goes beyond the bottom line.

Monique: It does. Those are the things that eat up brain space when you’re working on projects with people. You put somebody who’s going through a divorce and tell me that’s not impacting what they deliver in their work. Come on. It will. And, in the United States right now, we’re coming through this, student loan, repayment plan stuff, because things were put on hold.

Okay. Things were put on hold during the pandemic, right? So you have people who guess what finances are a big thing that impacts the way people show up at work, but what if they’re able to get some support at work learning on the job? It’s a new skill and critical thinking and planning. And now you’re improving, helping to improve the quality of their life.

There are so many different things or angles we can look at, including health and wellness. A lot of people have lingering illnesses from catching COVID. And so instead of looking at the wellness as, okay, we’re going to give you some extra buzz dollars. Go see your doctor, go see your dentist or, just have this relationship with the insurance companies.

Really thinking about the holistic aspect of wellness and how to bring that in. It’s a tall order for an organization, but the key here is to figure out which one or one of the approaches makes sense for you their company, their team, and most importantly, the direction where they want to take their organization in the future. So we’re not just addressing now we’re addressing, the skills of the future, the team of the future.

Matt: Yeah. Absolutely. Wow, amazing. Absolutely love this. Most of what I’ve seen as far as, learning and development, whether it’s a plan, whether it’s an initiative, they’re recommending I think three to 5% of the budget should be spent on training. And granted it’s going to be, for smaller employers, that might be a big hurdle.

And it, that seems somewhat reasonable. But again, I think it comes down to that formation of how that’s administrated. Like to your point, we have LinkedIn. We got LinkedIn learning. There’s our budget. Go at it. And, we just unpack that it’s not going to be enough.

How else are we going to fulfill this? Oh, you’re going to love this. This was done by the this was an OMCP online marketing certified professional. They have a certification and they found that of the employees that initiated a learning and development plan within their marketing department.

So this is someone who saw the certification. They said, let’s get our department certified within one year, 90 percent of them had been promoted and we’re now managers or moving up into management because they had initiated the learning and development process among their team. And now they were moving up in the organization because of that.

I thought that was just a phenomenal example of if your organization isn’t doing it, you as an employee have the power to do this as well.

Monique: Outstanding. Outstanding. That’s what I call a highly engaged professional. We don’t want you to go anywhere. What can we do? What else do you need? How can we skill? How can we recognize you? Yeah. Cause they’re infectious to that point. You date, they are infectious.

Matt: And it’s someone who cares about their job. They care about their team. They care about overall the company. And when you get someone like that, let them go crazy. And find some of these opportunities. But something else you had talked about is when you’re partnering with a trainer and we went the LinkedIn route, but how as an organization, do you vet potential training partners? I’ve seen before where people brought in someone as a trainer because they saw them at a conference and they did a great keynote or they had an entertaining session. So they brought him in to train, but there’s no measurement, there’s no evaluation there. It’s someone who speaks well and presents well. But there’s a disconnect about that learning process that you alluded to.

Monique: Ooh. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Matt.

Matt: I’m just gonna lob this to ya, and

Monique: Ouch.

Matt: let you, just hit that out of the park here.

Monique: Ouch. Ouch. You’re disrupting the status quo because, that’s the traditional way of bringing people in and maybe it works, especially for inspiration and for motivation. But to your point, it’s about assessing the true goal or the outcome of what you want.

So there are great, there are a lot of great speakers who are also, great trainers, and then you just really want to do your due diligence like you would do if you were hiring an employee or if you were hiring, any other type of client, you want to do your due diligence in terms of understanding what skills are in their wheelhouse and most importantly, what’s not.

A great partner should be able to tell you what skills are not in their wheelhouse so that you can make a really informed decision. It’s really about helping them to make an informed decision. And if it is that they need to bring in multiple people to fulfill that need, that partner should be able to say, hey, this is an area where I’m not so strong, but this is an area where I am.

And then also the learning and development director should look at LinkedIn. Look on LinkedIn. I don’t want to say you just have to use that as the end all be all but it’s one tool, that if you are in learning and development and you are a professional chances are you’ll have a profile.

You don’t have to be the most active on the platform, but if you’re not keeping up with trends like assessing them if they’re not keeping up with trends, or at the very online digital business community, that could be one way. Look at their testimonials. Like I have over 70 recommendations on my LinkedIn profile of people who have worked with me.

Real people who have worked with me or experienced my programs talk about the experience. Would it be like working? Contact them. See what they talk about. Go the extra mile. In some scenarios, you’re so busy that, you just have to do this. We need three people.

We need to do the pitch for three people, or we need to get three quotes and find out who’s the cheapest or who’s the best, or who’s… There’s no due diligence. Like really go into due diligence. You do your due diligence in real estate. I also have a real estate license and I always tell people not to skip over doing their due diligence to make sure that there are no, latent defects within your, property or the process, right? So just do the due diligence process, and make sure that your partner, your training partner can tell you what they are good at, and what they’re not good at.

Look at their receipts, look at their outcomes. Like what have participants been able to experience with them? Sometimes if you just want to check the box and I want to say this, it’s…

Let me just give permission to anybody out there who just wants to check the box. It’s not a bad thing. Just say so.

Just say so. Just say, look, I am looking to check the box, period. That starts our conversation from an entirely different place. I totally respect you. I know that you’re not looking for transformation. And then we can have a more honest conversation about what you need.

Matt: Thank you. I love it. Yes, I think about the training. I’ve had where it became obvious in the first 10 minutes. This is a checkbox. This is just filling hours, here’s a training opportunity go, and you can just tell the motivation level is lower, and, now it’s on me as the presenter to figure this out and to adjust because now it’s got to be more entertaining.

It’s more entertainment than education, but I love that because, and you said the magic word, it’s outcomes. What is it that you want people to experience, to be equipped with, to do as a result of this? And if you have no outcome desired other than, call it training then. Just call it. If it’s a checkbox, don’t call it training.

If it’s, you want them to be inspired, don’t call it training. As soon as you call it training, there’s a whole box we’ve got to unpack now.

And it’s more difficult and it’s going to be hard and there’s going to be questions. And yeah, that outcomes question is vital for any company.

They usually find a good learning and development director. They understand that. But when a company is looking to start training, there are growing pains. There’s a whole vocabulary you’re going to have to learn. There’s a whole world of understanding how training happens in order to get the outcome that you want, and you have to be able to define that outcome. That’s going to make the conversation and the process so much more smoothly if you understand that.

Monique: 100%. 100%. We are about starting genuine conversations from the beginning so that we know how to, plan and approach and prepare. Yes. There’s sometimes we can help you with that checkbox. It’s not a bad thing. We’re not going to look at you any differently or negatively. Just say so.

Matt: Yes, absolutely. No, and that’s honest. It’s honest. So I love it. Yeah. Just tell me that’s what we’re doing here and we’ll be fine. I can handle that. Yeah, we can handle that. Oh, man. Fantastic. Monique, this has been such a wonderful conversation. It’s great getting to hear more about your perspective on training and skilling and how you work with employers. Thank you so much for taking the time to come in today.

Monique: You are so welcome. It’s my pleasure. Can’t wait to be back.

Matt: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. That’s going to happen. And of course, Monique, where can people find you if they want to know more about you and the services you offer?

Monique: You can go to my website,,, or you can always hit me up on LinkedIn. Please send a connection request with a note to say that you heard us chatting it up on The Endless Coffee Cup.

Matt: Absolutely. Thank you for the plug, Monique. I appreciate that. And dear listener, thank you for your time today. Always a pleasure to have a cup of coffee and a good conversation, and I look forward to the next one on the Endless Coffee Cup podcast.

Endless Coffee Cup podcast

Featured Guest:

Monique Russell

Monique Russell

Founder, Clear Communications Coach

Monique Russell teaches global leaders and teams on how to have positive and productive relationships at home and work using effective communications tools and strategies.



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