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The Leader’s Network: Elevating Relationships and Results (Webinar)

canva 1x use - webinar blog 020116What is social capital? It’s the value created and leveraged through your network of strategic relationships. Research shows that successful organizations and individuals who “get it” place a high value on social capital and they purposely cultivate it, knowing that it has real benefits – tangible and intangible, personal and professional. In this presentation to the CPCU Society, Impact Instruction Founder and CEO Amy Franko delivers a simple formula and real life examples for successfully forging lasting strategic relationships.

Watch it now.

5 Training and Development Trends

How Does Your Learning Organization Compare to ATD’s State of the Industry?

canva 1x use atd blog 012016By Amy Franko

Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, is quoted as saying “change is the only constant in life.” Indeed it is.

As learning leaders, we need to keep our finger on the pulse of changes in the industry so we can better help our organizations meet business objectives and retain top talent. One of the best ways to do that is to read the ATD State of the Industry Report. It’s been my go-to resource for years.

For those unfamiliar, the ATD State of the Industry Report is an annual review of workplace learning and development trends. It assesses how the profession performed as a whole and how companies are investing in resources, as well as content and delivery trends.

After reviewing the latest edition, I took some time to outline the major trends and investments, as well as my perspectives on how you can leverage these trends within your organization.

Some initial thoughts:

  • The report presents data in three groupings: consolidated (all organizations participating in the survey), ATD BEST Award winners, plus organizational size/sector. This article focuses on the consolidated figures.
  • The data points used in this report are from 2014; they’re reported by ATD as the 2015 report.

Trend #1: Learning investment per employee has increased for three years running, and is well above pre-recession investment.

Organizations are investing annually on average $1,229 per employee in formal learning. This increase over the past three years signals that organizations realize they must invest in their people in order to remain competitive and retain their best talent. Learning leaders must align investments to overall business strategy, plus be prepared to estimate and demonstrate ROI.

Trend #2: The number of hours that employees are spending in formal learning is on a consistent rise, since 2011.

The average number of formal hours used annually per employee is 32.4, a steady increase since 2011. This number however, hasn’t reached pre-recession levels (in 2007 the figure was 37.4). ATD’s research doesn’t track informal learning hours, so while organizations are making more formal hours available, employees are still learning on their own time and in informal settings.

More than ever, employees view their learning paths as jungle gyms and not ladders. This means they’re taking advantage of learning outside the workplace, with access to options like Lynda, Treehouse, Coursera, TED Talks, and Udemy. To get a full picture of their employees’ learning paths and engagement, leaders should be leveraging new technologies such as the TinCan API to track informal learning as well as formal learning.

Trend #3: When determining the value of your overall learning investments, it’s important to calculate the hours used versus hours available, plus measure reuse ratios.

ATD’s research analyzes the number of learning hours that organizations make available, the number of hours used by employees, plus the reuse of those available assets.

For example, if an 8-hour formal learning experience on leadership is offered and 100 people participate, that indicates 800 hours used by the organization. To calculate your reuse ratio, use this formula:

# used

# hours available

The greater the number, the higher the reuse ratio for that initiative or learning experience. In addition to evaluating outcomes and behavior change, usage and reuse metrics are another lens with which to determine value. Estimating these calculations before making a training investment is also helpful, especially with very specialized topics or smaller audiences.

It’s important to note that ATD BEST recipients (ATD’s award winners for best-in-class learning organizations) have nearly twice as many learning hours available and a 50 percent higher reuse ratio, versus the other organizations surveyed for this research. Bottom line? When available learning is leveraged and applied, organizations increase their probability of higher performance, and the learning function is likely to be perceived as more valuable to the business.

Trend #4: Leadership development content tops the list.

The research survey ranks content distribution by various areas, as well as by sectors. In the aggregate, leadership development/managerial content ranked at the top, with 13 percent of the distribution. Industry-specific and mandatory/compliance rounded out the top three.

In years past, leadership ranked much more near the middle of the pack, which tells me that organizations truly see the need to develop both today’s leaders as well as tomorrow’s leader. In fact, front-line leaders are one of the least-invested in groups, the “forgotten middle.” I share some ideas on how to develop front line leaders in this article.

Trend #5: Instructor-led classroom still represents the largest investment in formal learning (but decreasing), and technology-based learning (in its many forms) is growing.

Instructor-led classroom still represents 51 percent of formal learning opportunities. While that has decreased over the past several years, I believe it has tremendous value for the right situations, as well as for developing relationships and engagement. Organizations that smartly deploy classroom-based learning with other delivery methods are typically positioned for the best results from those investments.

Technology-based learning (in all of its various forms) is on a growth trajectory, representing 41 percent of overall investment. An important trend to note is that while mobile learning is growing, mobile learning initiatives are still in their beginning stages, representing only 2 percent of overall expenditure. At this point in time, mobile learning for informal and independent development looks to be a more common usage of the platform (see trend #2).

Three key trends I’ve seen with our clients when it comes to technology based learning:

  • Virtual classroom is on the rise.
  • Micro-learning design is a trend that has taken hold and will continue to grow.
  • Personalization is becoming more important than ever, especially in terms of engagement, relevance, and application on the job.

Trend #6: Closing skill gaps remains a top priority.

According to ATD, a 2015 worldwide survey of 1,373 talent development professionals determined that “closing skills gaps was one of the top priorities for talent development functions across all countries.”

The skills gap conversation isn’t new; in fact, it’s a topic in almost every learning conversation I have, regardless of industry or role. Not only closing skill gaps, but closing them more quickly and with long-term sustainability in mind.

To this end, more clients are taking a deep dive into their leadership and mission-critical roles, to develop multi-year plans that combine onboarding (first 90 days) and ongoing learning (first 1-2 years). This helps them to take a strategic view on the most important skills for the short term, while taking into account the long view on learning and engagement. This important process helps learning leaders to assess and prioritize learning requirements, prior to making investments in training deliverables.

In this ATD webinar, we share more on our process for developing strategic learning plans and closing skill gaps.

So, where does your organization stand? Are your learning programs keeping up with best practices? When considering the industry-wide trends from ATD’s research, these points can help you to identify which trends are most affecting your organizational goals, and as a learning leader where you can prioritize your efforts for 2016.

Impact Instruction is here to help you advance your learning development program. Contact us to learn how we can get started.

Building Teams that Go the Distance

extra mileTrue, long-term success comes from teamwork, not from individuals alone. This African proverb sums it up well:

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.”

If your organization is like most, you’ve developed some big goals for 2016. You want to go farther, accomplish more objectives faster and increase your revenues. The list goes on. But how will you get there?

In this article on the Switch and Shift blog, I outline six strategies for building teams that go the distance.

Read the full article on Switch and Shift.

And best wishes for a happy and successful New Year!

Your Leadership Habits

logo_block-FINIt was Aristotle who said that we are what we repeatedly do. Our seemingly small actions, performed day in and day out, eventually create who we are.

They are also known as habits.

To help you take the next steps in creating lasting leadership habits, our Founder and CEO Amy Franko shared a simple, three-step plan you can practice.

This article is the fifth and final post in a series on creating leadership identity on the Association for Talent Development blog. Read it here.

And be sure to check out the other articles in the series.

Building a personal brand
Leading through your actions
Leading through your visual and verbal presence
Leadership response

Inspiration to Elevate Your Leadership in 2016

These Videos Will Motivate You to be a Better Leader

canva - 1x use 121615It’s that time of year. We’re looking ahead, and making resolutions for enhancing our work and personal lives in the next chapter. For many of us in leadership positions, or those who aspire to be, our goals for 2016 may include sharpening our leadership skills.

One of my favorite places for inspirational advice is in TED talks. TED is of course known for its short, powerful talks. When it comes to the topic of leadership, you can find lots of motivation via TED. Here are a few recent talks that rise above the rest, in my opinion, and can help propel you in 2016.

What it Takes to Be a Great Leader
“The world is full of leadership programs, but the best way to learn how to lead might be right under your nose. In this clear, candid talk, Roselinde Torres describes 25 years observing truly great leaders at work, and shares the three simple but crucial questions would-be company chiefs need to ask to thrive in the future.”
View the talk.

Why It’s Time to Forget the Pecking Order at Work
“Organizations are often run according to ‘the superchicken model,’ where the value is placed on star employees who outperform others. And yet, this isn’t what drives the most high-achieving teams. Business leader Margaret Heffernan observes that it is social cohesion — built every coffee break, every time one team member asks another for help — that leads over time to great results. It’s a radical rethink of what drives us to do our best work, and what it means to be a leader. Because as Heffernan points out: ‘Companies don’t have ideas. Only people do.’”
View the talk.

How to Manage for Collective Creativity
“What’s the secret to unlocking the creativity hidden inside your daily work, and giving every great idea a chance? Harvard professor Linda Hill, co-author of ‘Collective Genius,’ has studied some of the world’s most creative companies to come up with a set of tools and tactics to keep great ideas flowing — from everyone in the company, not just the designated ‘creatives.’”
View the talk.

Roselinde, Margaret and Linda all leave me feeling inspired and ready to tackle the New Year. What about you? Want more information? You can view the full library of TED leadership talks on the TED site.

And if your organization is looking for new or enhanced programs for developing your emerging and frontline leaders, be sure to contact us. We can help.

3 Strategies for Developing the Frontline Leader

columbus ceo - frontline nov2015What’s the top challenge we see facing organizations today? From our perspective, the answer is obvious: the development of frontline leaders.

When given the opportunity to submit a guest blog for Columbus CEO Magazine, our Amy Franko jumped at the chance to address this issue.

Frontline leaders are typically responsible for teams of eight to 10 people, and often are in the trenches with their teams in day-to-day operations. Their time is dedicated to the current issues at hand, with little time to substantially develop their teams’ skills, let alone devote time to their own development.

But despite their importance, frontline leaders receive the least amount of investment—the forgotten middle.

We invite you to visit the Columbus CEO blog to read our Amy’s three strategies for developing the frontline. Then tell us… what strategies are you leveraging in your organization to address this challenge?

Read more.

Your Leadership Identity: Do You Respond Like a Leader

logo_block-FINThink for a moment about how you respond to what’s happening around you. Many times you probably don’t give a conscious thought to your responses. There’s a difference between reaction (unconscious) and response (thoughtful and conscious). When we move from reaction to response, it indicates a shift in our mindset around what it means to lead.

Our Founder and CEO Amy Franko shares three ways your responses can communicate the wrong leadership message. Read the full article on the Talent Development blog.

This article is the fourth in Amy’s series on creating leadership identity. You can also read about building a personal brand,leading through your actions, and leading through your visual and verbal presence.

Leading Through Visual and Verbal Presence

logo_block-FINDo you dress the part of a leader and professional? What does your physical presence exude? In addition, do you treat every communication, spoken or written, as an opportunity to showcase how well you organize your thoughts and articulate yourself? Do you sound like a leader?
In this guest post on, Amy Franko delves into the impact you make through your visual and verbal presence.

Read more.

Creating Social Capital: A Formula for Success

Building relationships is a topic that’s near and dear to my heart.

Recently I had the opportunity to speak before the Women Lawyers of Franklin County and help them kick off their new program year. They asked me to share insights on creating social capital. Attorneys, like many of us professionals, are conditioned to focus on the value brought to an organization by physical assets and financial capital – that’s what’s on a P&L, right? But one often-missing element is social capital; while you won’t find it on a balance sheet, it’s every bit as critical to organizational and individual success.

What is social capital? According to, “the central premise of social capital is that social networks have value. Social capital refers to the collective value of all ‘social networks’ [who people know] and the inclinations that arise from these networks to do things for each other [‘norms of reciprocity’].”

Organizations and individuals that “get it” when it comes to social capital know that the underlying value within that organization comes from the power of people and relationships

First: The Three Rs

Before we delve more into improving your social capital, let’s think about the three R’s. The three R’s represent what we build throughout out our life, personally and professionally, and we take them everywhere we go:


These tenets help you to make a difference in the world around you, and to make a difference for yourself.

But they don’t exist on their own—they are interdependent. Take a look at this image.


If you remove any of the stones, the whole structure will fall apart. The same goes for your reputation, results, and relationships.

When we focus on building strategic relationships, it will help forge a strong reputation, driving results personally and in our business. That’s where social capital comes into play, paying attention to the human side. The concept is getting more attention, because the people and organizations that “get” this are also among the highest performing. Organizations (and leaders) who value social capital do a couple of things well.
– Treat relationships purposefully
– Build strong internal and external relationships

Basically, they believe that social networks have value and create benefits—positive financial and organizational results. Social networks also bind us to one another in ways that elevate engagement, and bring us so much more joy and satisfaction to our work than without them.

So what’s holding us back from building our own social capital? We tend to make lots of excuses. For some of us it’s time (or lack there of). Many others suffer from “imposter syndrome” (“Someday, somebody’s going to realize I don’t know what I’m talking about!” But you do!) And of course it’s tough to step out of our comfort zone or to seek help in reaching a personal or professional goal.

Formula for Success

To help you get started, I encourage you to think about building relationships using this simple formula for success:


It comes down to putting twice the effort into the giving piece (creating and sustaining) of building relationships, then leveraging the relationships when you need them. I liken it to a healthy bank account. Efforts to create and sustain relationships are your investments. They grow and earn interest over time, and those investments require consistency. From time to time you withdraw from the account when needed. That’s the leverage – asking for what you need or coming together for a greater cause.

It’s healthy to invest and leverage, and the stronger your investments, the stronger the leverage. But we don’t want to overdraw. We need to invest more and give more than we’re leveraging. That’s one key to eliminating our fears around taking advantage of people or fear of rejection. The more we build the habit of giving and adding genuine value, the more we can leverage, or ask for what we need. That creates strong and healthy strategic relationships.

Consider your own relationships. Ask yourself… am I giving in a way that’s meaningful and healthy? Is it equal? How can I be helpful? If you put in the effort in advance, then when the time comes, it’s easier to make the ask for help.

For more information on each piece of the formula for successful relationships, contact me for details on how you can bring the social capital presentation to your organization.

3 Strategies for Living Each Day Creating Impact and Influence

Conversations about impact and legacy often come later in life as we look back at what we’ve accomplished and contributed. Instead, what if we looked forward and consciously designed our path of impact and influence?

Check out Amy Franko’s strategies in this article on the Switch and Shift blog.

Read more.