Rising to the Top


In a time of crisis, we look to organizational leaders with the expectation that they will guide the rest of us and navigate the way through the extremely difficult times. We expect our leaders to be able to lead.

There is a saying that good leaders, like the best cream, always rise to the top. In a time of crisis, however, what happens to the weak leaders, who may not be prepared and ready for the rise? If they proceed with a lack of development, will they, like cream gone sour, curdle and fall to the bottom? Will they take the rest of us with them?

Unfortunately, crisis does not wait for the completion of a management training program for the leaders who continue to need development. There is no time in the midst of a crisis to develop a crisis management lesson plan. There is no time for long-term management development planning. There is no time to complete a needs assessment so that a proper skills-based approach can be implemented.

Out of all the management skills development models that we study in theory, the most applicable approaches during the reality of a crisis appear to be on-the-job training and error management training. The textbook speaks to the positive aspects of error management training as a leadership development tool, because it requires “constant adaptions to an ever-changing environment” as a “norm.” This results in the immediate application of problem-solving skills with the hope that the error rates are few, and error corrections can be applied immediately.

During a crisis, many of the negative characteristics of on-the-job training models are heightened for leaders who are still in the stages of development. These include the lack of structured training approaches and the lack of effective resources in the form of coaches or mentors who have time to provide active feedback and reinforcement. On the other hand, as noted in this article from Human Resources Director-Canada, the current pandemic crisis has provided some with “the best leadership development program ever.” The author speaks to this moment of crisis as an opportunity to assess both the strengths and weaknesses of our leaders. Most importantly, it allows leaders to focus on the continuing need to develop their best skills, which come from the heart, to promote a culture of trust and care.

Clearly, the pull to the top should prevail in developing the best leaders, now more than ever.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What do you expect from leaders in your current organization during this time of crisis? How are leaders meeting (or not meeting) your expectations?
  2. What type of leadership development tools would you need for yourself if you had to lead a team through a crisis?
  3. Besides on-the-job training and error management training, what other training tools should be put in place to bring out the best in organizational leaders in a time of crisis?

Let’s Voyage with the Marriott


Marriott International is the world’s largest hotel chain and in 2017 it broke into the top 500 of Forbes Global 2000 list.

Click here to view Forbes’ list.

Yes, mergers and acquisitions have added to its global size, but it is Marriott’s quality systems that keep their growth going and their customers coming back. The Marriott has the highest customer loyalty of any hotel chain, according the 2017, J.D. Power report.

One of Marriott’s successes factors is its unique employee onboarding, leadership, and development program, which is called “Voyage”.

Here is a case study on the Voyage training program.

Marriott has transformed its very traditional and dated training systems to utilize the latest technology and has integrated aspects of Web 3.0 learning theory into all aspects of this unique training .

Click here to learn more about Web 3.0.

Marriott’s Voyage program is a holistic training program that includes:

  • a sophisticated learning platform
  • Integrated approached
  • Webinars
  • Blended learning
  • Virtual learning and collaboration
  • Hotel simulator and gamification

This program has expanded and is now a global leadership development program run by the Marriott University. Its chief goal is to develop post-secondary graduates into leaders in the Hotel Industry.

Click here to learn more about the Marriott University.

Marriott has done what so few organizations do; it understands the quality equation, which is that the quality of its services is based on the quality of its employees, which is in turn based on the quality of its training and development. The Voyage program, from on-boarding to global leadership development, was a major contributor to Marriott’s stock price rise of 64% in 2017.  Many other organizations may want to model this training concept in their own contexts.


Discussion Questions:

  • Research and identify the differences between Web 2.0 learning and Web 3.0 learning?
  • Give examples of two other organizations that are using Web 3.0 principles of learning and explain how they have been successful with their training programs.











What Do Best Employers Do?

focal point/Shutterstock

Learning happens through training and development programs for employees in all types of organizations across the country. Some programs offer a wide variety of options for employee development, while others may be in place only to provide the minimum requirements to meet legislative or compliance standards. Too often the focus, in the public eye, is on companies that do not go beyond the minimum. These organizations provide sensationalist ‘how not to’ stories, which result from the negative consequences of poor employee training plans.

For a refreshing change of pace, there are numerous Canadian employers who are able to provide a positive ‘how to’ perspective on their constructive employee development plans. One of these organizations is LoyaltyOne, an award-winning Canadian organization dedicated to continuous employee growth through learning and professional development.

Click here to read about LoyaltyOne’s approach to employee learning.

In our training and development studies we categorize employee learning as either on-the-job or off-the-job. The approach used by LoyaltyOne shows us that work-related learning does not have to be one or the other. Learning happens all the time. What is most important is that ‘real-time’ learning can happen through any number of sources for individuals at any time. Perhaps it is time to recognize that the categorization of when and how learning can happen is artificially limiting.

Thanks to technology, the learning landscape has been transformed to one of limitless opportunities and potential challenges. The scope of employee expectations is much higher as access to training through technology becomes easier to navigate and manage.

What has not changed in its importance is an absolute commitment to learning and employee development, which must be put in place from and by the leaders at the top. There is a reason award-winning organizations receive the accolades they do. A commitment to excellence is not just a theoretical concept for Canadian companies who are the best in their field.

That commitment must be real if genuine, ongoing growth and development is to happen.

Discussion Questions:

  1. If you were the training and development specialist at your current organization, what types of ‘real-time’ learning strategies would you recommend?
  2. As an employee, do you prefer on- or off-the-job training? Explain your rationale.
  3. What is the relationship between LoyaltyOne’s approach to employee learning and its organizational culture?
  4. Click into LoyaltyOne’s corporate website. What types of learning incentives are in place that would be attractive to a potential employee?

The ROI of Apprenticeships

Builder On Building Site Discussing Work With Apprentice
Monkey Business Images

You are not fired!

Donald Trump’s signature phrase “You’re Fired” from the reality TV show the Apprentice had it all wrong.  It should be “You’re Hired.” Apprenticeships are the way to go. The numbers are in and the ROI on apprenticeships cannot be ignored:

  • Every $1.00 spent on apprenticeships yields an ROI of 47% for employers
  • Exceptional placement rate after training
  • Extra lifelong earnings for the employees and a $50,000 average starting wage

This is according to Nicholas Wyman, CEO of the Institute for Workplace Skills and Innovation.

Click here to read an article on why companies should invest in apprenticeships.

Click here to read an article on why investing in apprenticeships makes good dollars and sense.

Apprenticeships are successful as they follow a well-tested training model that includes: job-related education, with supervised on the job learning and saleable wages. This system works.

Apprentices are no longer tied to the traditional trades: carpenter, electrician and mechanic. All type of industries and occupations such as sales, engineering, health care and computer programming can benefit from apprenticeships programs.

South Carolina is leading the way and taking apprenticeship programs beyond the norm.

Click here to see what South Carolina (SC) is doing right with apprenticeships.

Look at South Carolina’s apprenticeship growth numbers. In 2007, they had:

  • 90 companies that had apprenticeship programs, and now they have over 600 companies.
  • 770 apprentices and now nearly 11,000 apprentices.

What has caused this apprenticeship explosion? Three things, 1) it works, 2) a small employer tax credit and 3) Germany. Yes, Germany has set up companies in South Carolina and has brought its training philosophy to the State.

Is this program paying off for South Carolina? For he past three out of four years, South Carolina has been rated the best place in the world for international investment.

If you are lucky enough to get into an apprentice program it looks like you are hired!

Discussion Questions:

  1. Research colleges and companies that have expanded the apprenticeship program beyond the traditional trades.
  2. Pick a non-traditional apprenticeship program and develop a five minute presentation to your VP of HR to convince them they should consider developing an apprenticeship program.

How To Keep On Learning – Read on, read on , read on!

How does the HR professional keep on top of their industry?   Like any other seasoned professional, continuous off-the-job (OTJ) training and development is required. There are many ways to stay current; conferences, TED talks, or reading current management journals.

One of the most effective methods of OTJ training is reading – but what should the HR professional read? Material vetted by a reliable source is essential! Harvey Schachter, a regular contributor to the business pages of the Globe and Mail recently created a list of his choices.  Schacter’s list has a few different categories and titles that should capture the interests of an HR Professional; including, Work Rules, Power Score, and Hiring For Keeps.  

Here is the list from Harvey Schachter:

  1. Work Rules! by Laszlo Bock
  2. Power Score by Geoff Smart
  3. Hiring For Keeps by Janet Webb
  4. Triggers by Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter
  5. Transitions at the Top by Dan Ciampa and David Dotlich
  6. The 27 Challenges Managers Face by Bruce Tulgan
  7. The Wallet Allocation Rule by Timothy Keiningham, Lerzan Aksoy and Luke Williams
  8. Leadership BS by Jeffrey Pfeffer
  9. Your Strategy Needs a Strategy by Martin Reeves, Knut Haanaes and Janmejaya Sinha
  10. I Know How She Does It by Laura Vanderk

Click here to read the article.

After reviewing the list, which books look interesting to you?  Perhaps that is a topic you should explore as part of your OTJ training development!

Discussion Questions:

  1. If an organization wants to become a true learning organization, what are some strategies that the organization can implement to encourage OTJ professional reading and development?
  2. What strategies could a HR Department implement to encourage employee to employee transfer of knowledge?