Training that Works Checklist

“Learning is not compulsory… neither is survival.”  ― W. Edwards Deming

We are in a knowledge economy. Training and building a learning culture is compulsory for survival.

Use this checklist to make sure you consider all the training variables. Please add to the checklist anything overlooked.

Remember, your training goals should be Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic and Timed.

Identify Company Needs/Goals /Strategy

  • Adapt to change
  • Build managerial and leadership skills
  • Budgetary realities
  • Compliance and Safety
  • Conflict management
  • Cross-training
  • Delegation
  • Effective meetings
  • Ergonomics
  • Fill specific skills gaps
  • Financial education/open book management/budgeting
  • Improve company culture
  • Improve overall employee engagement and retention
  • Improve sales, customer service, productivity
  • Improve use of health care, 401K and other benefits
  • Innovation/creativity
  • Language skills
  • Motivation
  • Negotiation skills
  • Policies and procedures
  • Quality improvement
  • Remote workers
  • Solve a specific problem
  • Support high performers with advancement opportunities
  • Support strategic initiatives
  • Timing requirements
  • Work across generations

Identify Employee Needs

  • Career development
  • Coaching/mentoring
  • Compliance and Safety
  • Financial education
  • How to work in teams/groups
  • Increase skills
  • Learning styles assessment
  • Personal wellness
  • Professional certifications/licensing
  • Seek new opportunities
  • Time management

Training Methodologies

  • Best practice meetings
  • Case scenarios
  • Coaching
  • Contests, games
  • Conferences
  • Demonstration-individual, group, recorded
  • Engagement and gamification
  • Exercises
  • Experimentation
  • Follow-up training
  • Handouts
  • Job shadowing
  • Learning management system software
  • Lecture
  • Micro-learning
  • Mind mapping
  • Mobile
  • Online through 3rd party provider
  • Outside trainers
  • Presentation software (PPT, Prezi, etc.)
  • Survey, micro-surveys, focus groups, interviews
  • Testing
  • Training manager/director
  • Training room
  • Use of story and metaphor
  • Video, podcast, newsletter
  • Virtual reality
  • Webinars- live/stored
  • Workshops

Learning Effectiveness

  • Calculate ROI
  • Collect data- costs, time, participation rates, completion rates, etc.
  • Effectiveness of various incentives used
  • Evaluations
  • Identify benefits and results
  • Identify blockages to execution
  • Improved engagement and retention
  • Improved sales, customer service, productivity
  • Improved skills delivery
  • Learning retention
  • Reduced claims exposure
  • Sharing of knowledge and ideas
  • Stories collected

Click Here to Download the Full Checklist

It’s All About Work

Today’s Political Turmoil- It’s All About Work

When I step back from this current election and crazy world events, it strikes me that there are a lot of angry, fearful people. In a recent quiet moment I had an epiphany- I believe all has to do with work and the most basic of human needs.

The first two rungs of Maslow’s needs ladder are survival and security.  Very simply in order to survive, humans have to do work. If you can’t work what use are you? Why do we even want you in this tribe? When I look around the globe I see few people with jobs shooting, rioting or blowing things up. With rare exception it’s usually the people without jobs doing these things. Without work we lose a part of our soul and can lose the capacity for caring. Useless people are dangerous people.

When I speak to my friends who don’t have jobs…or can only get menial work, their fears are very immediate. About getting enough money today to stop going backwards. To take some pressure off, at least for a short time. To keep the wolf away from the door. They are fearful, angry and see little hope on the horizon.

Knowing how employment numbers relate directly to political turmoil I think the current administration has been disingenuous with how it tallies unemployed. 5% unemployment? Does that seem like reality to you? How’s about more like 10%. When you kick in the eventual impact of advanced robotics and AI, that number may never get any lower. Ever.

To address the need for security humans attempt to keep the benefits of their labor. You survive longer that way. I think we are seeing an equally fearful and angry group of people who do work…but don’t think they get to keep enough of it. Russian serfs rioted because they worked…but kept no fruits of their labor. Middle class workers came out in droves to vote because they felt the administration wouldn’t let them keep a fair share of their fruits. It created a security crisis in them as well.

When we can’t do work or secure the benefits of labor then “the system” feels unfair. No matter where you live in the world. Makes no difference whether you’re a millionaire or working minimum wage or you are out of work. I have met few people who get an opportunity to work and keep the fruits of their labor that are discontented.

Too many young men and women across the world don’t have work to do. When they can’t fulfill that basic human need, all they have left to do is rebel against the system that puts them in that spot. If we want to end inner city shootings and global terrorism then we have to provide young people with work to do.

When it comes to those of us who are working, we want to make sure government isn’t designed to see how much of our hard earned money it can inefficiently spend. The bell has rung that we will take no more of that.

It’s all about work…and keeping the fruits of our labor.

Here’s hoping you get to meet your survival and security needs, Don

Who’s Happy at Work?

To work we love, with delight we go. William Shakespeare

There has been much discussion about happiness, engagement, inspiration and those other “soft” attributes of work. We are constantly reminded of the Gallup survey indicating 72% of employees are disengaged. According to a Money Magazine poll roughly 54% of those surveyed said their job is “okay”, 26% said “they can’t stand it” and 20% felt it was their “dream gig”. Other surveys talk about what jobs have the happiest workers, what cities have the happiest workers, and how much you have to earn to be happy.

Is anybody happy yet?

What can we make of all of this? A few thoughts:

  1. As Abraham Lincoln once said “People are about as happy as they choose to be”. How is it so many people allow themselves to work at jobs they can’t stand, where they are disengaged, or even worse? How many of these people try to educate themselves so they can move to a job where they can be engaged and happy? Many people like being victims because it gives them something to complain about. They would rather be unhappy. I say let them work someplace else. (I can see the ad now: “Are you unhappy at work? We hate the work we do …but we are good at it. None of that happy slappy nonsense here. Would like to be around a bunch of other unhappy people… who just so happen to be good at the work they do? If you are competently unhappy then we are the place for you!”)
  2. Who is hiring these people? And why? Apparently Zappos is not. After initial orientation and training they offer their employees something like $3000 to get up and leave. The math is clear: if you have a less than engaged $30,000 yr. employee they will be at least one 10th less productive, so there is the $3,000 right there. Plus employees are there to bring an ROI so it’s really more than a $3000 offset… and who wants that cancer in the workplace anyway? Bottom line: don’t hire disengaged unhappy people and if you accidentally do, provide them a severance and get rid of them.
  3. Don’t ignore the reality of the bell curve. Most employees a more intent on being comfortable then they are anything else. They want to make enough money so they can live comfortable by cultural standards, watch TV, eat junk and hang out with friends. Less than 10% of employees have any desire to be great at what they do. As they say, there’s plenty of room at the top.
  4. Perhaps the best idea is to hire people already happy, knowing it’s an internal choice. Then put them in an environment where they can be happy growing and contributing on it ever improving basis. For these people mediocrity is death. If they’re not doing something exciting or meaningful there’s no opportunity for them to be happy. But if they are in that sweet spot they will be the most valuable of all employees.
  5. Pay a “fair day’s wage”. This means you pay at market rate or better. Remember: “when you pay peanuts you get monkeys” …and disengaged unhappy employees.
  6. Last, look at what makes you happy…or not happy… in the work you do. Others probably are similarly affected.

Here’s to you happiness, Don

Is the 40 Hour Work Week Dying?

Last month I was presenting to Vistage CEO’s in Houston and one of them asked me about the idea proposed by one of her employees they should reconsider the 40-hour work week. She said she was given an article from Inc. magazine discussing it.  So on my flight back to San Diego from that meeting I read the article “Blowing Up The Work Week” in the December 2016 issue of INC Magazine. Forbes wrote an article on it too. Oh yeah, and so did Money /CNN , and WSJ, and every other major news and business outlet.

Here’s my two cents on it. Let’s start at the beginning.

In the early days of manufacturing it wasn’t uncommon for employees (including children) to work over 100 hours per week. Beginning in the mid 1869 President Ulysses S. Grant proclaimed an 8-hour work day for government workers. In 1914 the Ford Motor Company adopted a 5-day 40-hour work week. In 1916 Congress passed the Adamson Act establishing an 8-hour work day for interstate railroad workers. In 1938 Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act limiting the work week to 44 hours, which was then amended in 1940 to reduce it to 40 hours. Those employees require to work over 40 hours would be paid time and a half to do so. You can learn more about the history of the eight hour work day at

And that’s how we rolled through the manufacturing era.

Then technology came along and we could herald nerds without a life working nights on end and getting rich in the process. It became de rigueur to become the hero by being the last one out the door. “Man that guy works hard.” And the divorce rate skyrocketed.

Over the last 10 years I’ve seen numerous articles and numerous companies experimenting with flexible work schedules, results only work environments, 32-hour work weeks, and more. Unfortunately many of those experiments have not worked out. I remember doing a webinar with the two women who help start ROWE (Results Only Work Environment) at BestBuy. While the program seemingly worked for few years it too was eventually canned.

Many articles wish the 40 hr. work week could come back since it seems we work more than that, not less than it. According to the WSJ article “Fifty-eight percent of managers in the U.S. report working more than 40 hours a week”.

So now let’s see what INC Magazine had to say about this:

  1. Debunk the 40-hour myth – there’s nothing “magical” about 40-hours. It’s simply a standard we have grown up with and become accustomed to. Unfortunately many managers work 50-60 hours regularly. I can remember putting in 70+ weeks as a trial lawyer. 40 plus hours is a cultural construct and a badge of honor for many.
  2. Adapt to peak-performance styles – this is about time management and flexibility. It’s how I work. Some people work best with four 10-hour days, others with five 8-hour days, and others simply part time. The point is to work at peak performance, as often as you can.
  3. Synchronize schedules – since work is often project based and a team effort, managers must be trained in coordinating schedules. One reason many managers are resistant to flexible work weeks.

What is driving much of this is the fact that many people don’t have enough time to nurture themselves or their families. We’re sleep deprived, exercise deprived and resort to fast food as a result of working too many hours. We don’t take vacations, don’t have time for real conversations, burn out and become resentful. And we taught millennials not to buy into that. So they don’t!

I for one enjoy working from 8-6 every day and I keep a very balanced lifestyle. Part of that is because I plan and manage my time well. I also have a short commute. I know of many people who work the same hours I do who feel stressed and burnt out… simply because they don’t have their time management act together.

When I managed my own employees it was always about producing results. I also realize that people (including me) tend to get work done in the time allotted for it (Parkinson’s rule). Employees could get a raise when they’re able to produce more value, not because they simply worked more hours and cost me more money as a result.

In manufacturing we went to a lean and just in time production environment. This is now coming to white collar work.


  • Flexibility
  • No ACA under 30 hrs./wk
  • Very project based
  • More time off
  • Less commute time
  • Less stress


  • Scheduling
  • Dependability
  • Child care arrangements
  • “Compressed” schedule can create additional stress
  • Difficulty to ascertain productivity or financial improvement
  • Reduced salaries

What is your concern with keeping or ditching the 40 hr. workweek? Please share your thoughts and experiences.