Category: Thought Leadership

The Most Overlooked Key to Better & Faster Onboarding

In today’s competitive environment, the speed and effectiveness of the onboarding of new hires has become a focus for operations and a key to overall performance, growth, and stability for every successful company. Most onboarding plans include the following aspects:

  • Completion of HR paperwork, benefits, and other documentation
  • Overview of firm culture, history, values, and mission
  • Introductions to key staff and the firm organizational structure
  • Development and training of role-specific skills
  • Assignment of a mentor
  • Initiation of touchpoints and accountability throughout the first 30-60-90 days in the new position

There is one key aspect that is frequently overlooked: the unique and essential business processes that every employee must know and follow to be successful.  These processes may be documented in a handbook or communicated verbally and are typically reactive, after the need is present, instead of proactive as part of the onboarding process and related curricula.  Teaching these processes in advance will save time and resources, not to mention a lot of frustration and rework.

Processes vary by company and even by department or role within a company. Here are some critical processes that you will want to document and teach, as part of an optimized onboarding plan for both new hires and those moving into new roles:

Recruitment and Onboarding Process:

Start: Creation of a job requisition and posting job openings on platforms.

Finish: Employee integration, including document submission, training sessions, and company assimilation.

Offboarding Process:

Start: Employee submits a resignation notice or is dismissed.

Finish: Ensuring continuity, disabling access to internal systems, and conducting exit interviews (if voluntary resignation) to understand motivations.

Performance Management Process:

Start: Goal setting and tracking, coaching, and feedback from managers.

Finish: Formal and informal performance reviews, rewards, and recognition.

Product Development Lifecycle:

Start: Idea generation, market research, and concept development.

Finish: Product launch, marketing, and ongoing support.

Project Management Process:

Start: Project initiation, scope definition, and team formation.

Finish: Project closure, evaluation, and lessons learned.

Sales Process:

Start: Marketing outreach, lead generation, and opportunity identification.

Finish: Deal closure (won or lost), contract signing, and customer handover.

Customer Support Process:

Start: Customer inquiry or issue reported.

Finish: Resolution, follow-up, and customer satisfaction assessment.

Inventory Management Process:

Start: Receiving goods, updating inventory records.

Finish: Stock depletion, reorder, and replenishment.

Financial Closing Process:

Start: Recording financial transactions throughout the accounting period.

Finish: Preparing financial statements, reconciling accounts, and closing the books.

Expense Reimbursement Process:

Start: Employee submits an expense report with receipts.

Finish: Finance department reviews, approves, and reimburses the employee for valid expense.

Purchase Order (PO) Process:

Start: Requester creates a purchase requisition.

Finish: Procurement team issues a PO to the vendor after necessary approvals.

Client Onboarding Process (for Service-Based Businesses):

Start: Client signs a contract.

Finish: Successful integration of the client into service delivery.

Health and Safety Incident Reporting Process:

Start:  Employee witnesses or experiences an incident (e.g., injury, near miss).

Finish: Investigation, corrective actions, and prevention measures.

One of the best ways to teach these processes (and many others) is to create two deliverables, that stand as asynchronous support and guides for each process:

  1. High level visual overview of the process, from start to finish
  2. Learning asset that lives in an LMS, on SharePoint, etc. that can provide all the necessary details, steps and supporting information, links and references
Together, the visual and specific detailed learning asset will help your new hires and those new to a role quickly understand and adapt to specific company processes.  With over 29 years of helping businesses develop key training, developing custom content and now offering Process Training support, Alterity Solutions is your partner to help develop these company-specific processes to support your effective and optimized onboarding and support model.  To see examples of our work and to learn more about how we can help you quickly and effectively visualize and teach your processes, contact our team today.

9 Steps to Creating a Culture of Learning

A Culture of Learning can be defined as a mindset within an organization where learning and improvement are at the heart of how people prioritize their time, do their jobs, and interact with one another.  It’s an environment where people are actively seeking opportunities to develop themselves and others, and to explore new ways for the organization as a whole to improve.

Looking at this another way, the organization seeks to:

  1. Empower individuals to pursue opportunities to maximize their potential and thrive in their roles.
  2. Educate staff, allowing them to pursue career growth, cross train, and stay up to date with the newest innovations, processes, technology, etc.
  3. Elevate the entire organization through an engaged, confident, and competent workforce.

Creating a Culture of Learning is both intentional and embedded in the day-to-day experiences of everyone at all levels of the organization.  Here are 9 specific steps you can take to plan, create, enable, and actualize a meaningful Culture of Learning:

Step 1 – Honest self-evaluation of the current state of learning

Take an honest assessment of learning in your current organization.  Key considerations include:

  • Understand the current state of your organization’s overall culture and how it aligns with learning. Identify existing practices, attitudes, and behaviors related to continuous improvement and knowledge sharing.
  • Evaluate whether your company’s core values and cultural norms actively support learning and development. Do you have a culture that encourages curiosity, experimentation, and growth fosters a positive learning environment?
  • Clarify the strategic goals behind learning initiatives and align them to business objectives. Is it about enhancing skills, driving innovation, or adapting to industry changes?
  • How do you engage leaders, managers, and employees in conversations about the value of learning? Consider if/how it contributes to individual growth, team performance, and overall organizational success.
  • Leadership plays a crucial role in shaping the learning culture; does leadership demonstrate a commitment to learning and encourage others to do the same?
  • Assess whether your organization offers resources, training programs, mentorship, and opportunities for skill development. Do you provide the right tools that support continuous learning?

Step 2 – Document the future vision for your organization’s Culture of Learning

Based on the above evaluation of the current state of your learning culture, gaps will appear and need to be addressed or mitigated.  By addressing gaps, you ensure the first part of creating that future state for your Culture of Learning.

The second component is forward-looking.  What elements of a Learning Culture do you desire to have, are not present today and are ways you want to experience learning in the future?  Researching effective and existing models will help you add to your vision, by “borrowing” the best of what others have already implemented and accomplished.

Step 3 – Determine needed internal processes, offerings and/or services

For each element of the future Culture of Learning vision, you need to create workstreams, identify products and services, supporting technology, etc. that will help deliver and actualize that vision within your organization.  Some examples include:

  • Ensure you have the right technology to deliver asynchronous learning experiences (Learning Management System, etc.)
  • Effective technology training & support
  • Access to live trainers who will plan strategic sessions as well as be present to respond to needs
    • Supplemented with AI-driven technology designed to provide real time, relevant feedback (Alterity+)
  •  Asynchronous content offerings to address both job-specific skills as well as
    • Leadership and manager development
    • Respectful workplace
    • Cybersecurity and data privacy standards
    • Technical training
    • Soft Skills (communication, presentation, time management, organizational, crucial conversations, work/life balance, etc.)
Step 4 – Define key measurement for each new workstream
Each workstream included in your new Culture of Learning needs a key measure (at least one!) so that you can track progress and impact.  Thinking about what changes because of this new service, technology, training initiative, etc. will help you align the key measure with each new initiative.
Step 5 – Create a timeline and rollout model

Once you have the future vision defined and key measures in place, it is now time to consider how to execute the vision most effectively, over time.  Do you begin with technology?  Content?  Live training?  Creating or partnering with a training solutions team?  Updating job roles and descriptions?  Creating career paths and succession models?

The answer depends on what you view as the most critical need, where you can gain the most traction or what workstreams set the foundations for others to follow (for example: you may have to select and implement a learning management system before you can deliver and track asynchronous learning online to your workforce).

The timeline and roll out plan will protect your organization, ensuring that you implement the various strategies in the right order, at the right time and with an understanding of your capacity to get the work done and for the volume of change.

Step 6 – Calculate ROI (the “so what”)

The individual and then cumulative impact of each component of your optimized Culture of Learning should result in some very observable and easily measured outcomes.  These outcomes will almost always include:

  • Reduced Costs: While learning programs require financial investment, a strategic L&D program that aligns with key company initiatives can lead to long-term cost savings.
    • For instance, transitioning from in-person training sessions to online-based learning platforms can scale development opportunities for all employees without exponential cost increases.
  • Increased Productivity: When employees have the opportunity to develop critical skills, they work faster and smarter. A culture of learning encourages continuous improvement, leading to more efficient processes and better productivity across the organization.
  • Higher Revenue: Well-trained employees contribute directly to business success. By enhancing their skills, they can drive revenue growth through improved customer service, sales, and innovation. A learning culture fosters a workforce that positively impacts the bottom line.
  • Improved Employee Retention and Experience: Organizations with strong learning cultures tend to retain talent better. Employees appreciate opportunities for growth and development, leading to higher job satisfaction and longer tenure. Reduced turnover saves recruitment and training costs.
  • Support for Business Continuity: A culture of learning prepares employees for changing business landscapes. When faced with disruptions (such as the COVID-19 pandemic), organizations that invest in learning can adapt more swiftly, ensuring continuity and resilience.

Step 7 – Rollout the initial workstreams

The key here is to assign a lead – someone who is ultimately responsible for each component that is being rolled out within the organization.  This person does not have to do it all, but is ultimately responsible for the communications, roll out, adoption and management of the workstream.

It is also often helpful to start with a smaller pilot group to test the initiative, gathering feedback and optimizing the solution before rolling it out to the entire organization.

Step 8 – Collect feedback

Creating a continuous feedback cycle is key to maintaining a successful Culture of Learning.  Utilizing vehicles such as employee surveys, daily, weekly, and monthly team, departmental and organizational meetings, focus groups, and embedding learning into the performance management plan for your organization are all effective ways to collect feedback from every corner of the business.  This information becomes mission critical as you work to keep your Culture of Learning vibrant, alive, and meaningful over time.

Step 9 – Bi-annual review of the program with adjustments

It is essential that you create a small team whose primary role is to evaluate the workstreams, review the feedback, and ensure that the Culture of Learning initiative is meeting its anticipated outcomes.  This team should meet (at minimum) two times a year to ensure early identification of needed changes, areas of emphasis, reallocation of budget, continuity of execution and consistent leadership for each element of the Culture of Learning.  A senior leader should sponsor this group and ensure that outcomes from this meeting have a direct communication line to the full leadership team.

If you want to explore any of the above steps and/or partner with an organization that has nearly 30 years of experience helping create and deliver an impactful Culture of Learning for their client base, Alterity Solutions is here to help.  We have the right products and service solutions to meet your learning needs.  Please reach out and contact us here and we will be most happy to share our best practices and experiences with you.

9 Ways to Become a World Class Trainer

At Alterity we spend all day talking to trainers. We hear their struggles and help them work through training road bumps, but our favorite part is hearing how they succeed every day to bring exceptional educational experiences to their learners.

As trainers ourselves, we are always looking to empower others. So here is a collection of thoughts from our Alterity team of experts.

1. Ask open ended questions.

While this seems simple, it often helps a learner to think through what they are learning if they need to process a response that is more than just a yes or no.

2. Listening is as important as speaking.

Pay attention to who is asking questions and what questions are being asked. As well as those learners who remain silent. While this is often more difficult in virtual sessions, using the chat tool is a great way to get people to engage.

3. Training is often not a one style fits all solution.

An amazing trainer finds ways to teach one topic to a variety of learning styles. Think about those you have taught in the past. Did you have people that didn’t understand what you were teaching until they got to do it themselves? Did you have others that simply had to hear it to become a master? Or maybe learners who seemed to ask endless questions? Being able to adapt to a variety of needs will help you meet your learners where they are in their learning journey.

4. For virtual sessions, don't forget your tech setup.

Nothing is worse as a learner than not being able to clearly hear the instructor. Make sure you have a quality external microphone, dedicated headset, proper lighting, and multiple monitors. Without even changing the way you are presenting, you can radically change the way you are perceived in your online sessions.

5. Utilize closed captioning technology when you can.

Even tools like Teams have closed captioning capabilities. Let learners know they can turn on this feature as an added enhancement. To use live captions in a meeting, go to your meeting controls at the top of the screen and select More. > Language and speech > Turn on live captions. As a trainer, you don’t need to change what you do to change how it’s consumed.

6. Know your audience.

Have you ever had the request to “Train everyone how to use Excel during our lunch and learn next week”. While we can all come up with something, it won’t be a success unless you establish a few things first. You need to know who you are training and what expectations they have and if there have been any questions or concerns raised about the topic. You also need to know what success will look like. Is this a group that has never used Excel, or can they already create pivot tables faster than most of us can remember what tab you need to go to for that feature. And make sure to start the training with the end in mind. Tell your audience what they can expect to learn during their time with you.

7. Encourage audience participation to help gauge their understanding.

Whether this is using a visual indicator in a classroom setting or the chat in a virtual setting, make sure to check in. Ask for a simple thumbs up or thumbs down if they think they can now do what you just taught them on their own. It’s a quick way to check in to make sure you can keep going. Be able to adapt to anything unexpected that may come up.

8. Follow through if someone asks a question you didn't know the answer to.

Either help them find another individual who has the answer or help them get to the bottom of their question. The learner is your customer and the assistance you provide will be remembered.

9. Borrow knowledge to build knowledge.

Use topics, processes, and ideas they already understand to hasten familiarity with the new concept. If you are teaching someone how to use PowerPoint, draw on skills they likely already know from using Word.

While every trainer has their own style and skill set, learning from others helps us elevate our skills.

Unlocking Efficiency and Productivity: AI Solutions for Business Professionals

In the fast-paced world of business, staying ahead often requires more than just expertise. The integration of cutting-edge technology can significantly enhance efficiency, allowing professionals to focus on what they do best—providing top-notch services. In this article, we’ll explore two groundbreaking AI solutions designed to streamline workflows and boost productivity within the workforce: Microsoft Copilot and ndMAX. We’ll also discuss choosing the right AI tool for the task at hand.

Microsoft Copilot: Your Intelligent Assistant

Seamless Integration with Microsoft 365 (M365)

Microsoft Copilot sets itself apart by being a secure, enterprise-level solution seamlessly integrated into the Microsoft 365 ecosystem. This means professionals can harness the power of Generative AI directly within their familiar M365 applications. Whether you’re drafting documents, analyzing data, or managing your calendar, Copilot acts as your personal assistant, providing invaluable support at every step.

Generative AI at Your Fingertips

Microsoft Copilot goes beyond being a time-saving device. It leverages Generative AI to assist professionals in nearly every aspect of their work. Imagine having an intelligent tool that not only helps you draft documents but also analyzes data, making your research more efficient and comprehensive, assists with business development, and more. With Copilot, the power of AI is truly at your fingertips whenever and wherever you need it.

Enhancing Workflows

Professionals can now streamline their workflows with Microsoft Copilot, allowing for more strategic thinking and less time spent on routine tasks. From recapping meeting minutes and action items, to reviewing your inbox and prioritizing emails to drafting effective business and trial presentations, Copilot becomes an indispensable ally, contributing to the overall effectiveness and success of your business.

ndMAX: Revolutionizing Productivity on NetDocuments

AI-Powered Products within NetDocuments

ndMAX is a groundbreaking suite of AI-powered products strategically embedded throughout the NetDocuments platform for the development of important documents. Specifically designed for the professional community, ndMAX aims to maximize productivity while maintaining the highest standards of security and user compliance.

Efficiency Across Workflows

Business professionals can now save valuable time on tasks such as drafting documents, business intake, summarizing lengthy records, analyzing forms, and more with ease. ndMAX is engineered to accelerate business productivity for speed, impact, and accuracy, ensuring that your team operates at its full potential.

Responsibly Leveraging AI

One of the key strengths of ndMAX is its commitment to responsible AI usage. The suite operates within user guardrails, providing a secure and ethical framework for business professionals to leverage AI capabilities. ndMax is exempt from Microsoft’s standard automated and human review processes. This ensures that the power of AI is harnessed responsibly, aligning with the highest standards of business.

A Future-Ready Business

In a business that demands both speed and accuracy, embracing AI solutions like Microsoft Copilot and ndMAX can revolutionize the way professionals operate. These innovative tools not only save time but also empower staff to elevate their organization to new heights. By seamlessly integrating into existing ecosystems and offering tailored solutions for your workflows, Copilot and ndMAX pave the way for a future-ready organization—one where efficiency, productivity, and excellence go hand in hand.

The Imperative of Training and Support for AI Integration

To harness the efficiency and productivity promised by AI solutions like Microsoft Copilot and ndMAX, comprehensive training and ongoing support are imperative. Recognizing the transformative potential of AI, businesses must invest in tailored training programs to equip their people with the skills and confidence needed for seamless integration into daily workflows. 

Addressing the learning curve associated with adopting AI tools is crucial, requiring programs that cover basic functionalities and provide advanced training. Continuous learning opportunities are essential to keeping professionals updated on the latest features, ensuring that AI integration remains an evolving and beneficial aspect of the business. 

Alterity is your AI training partner.

A future-ready business not only involves acquiring cutting-edge AI tools but also requires investment in the knowledge and skills necessary for their effective utilization through robust training and support initiatives. Reach out to us today to discuss your AI training and adoption plan.

The Role of Trainers in Implementing AI Technologies

As companies increasingly adopt AI technologies, training professionals have an important role to play in ensuring a smooth and effective implementation. AI is transforming businesses in countless ways, from automating routine tasks to generating data-driven insights. While AI holds great promise, realizing its full potential requires buy-in and skill-building across the organization. 

There are several key ways trainers can support your AI strategy:

1. Educate employees on AI basics

Provide learning opportunities to demystify AI and build foundational knowledge. Explain key AI concepts like machine learning and natural language processing in plain terms with visual aids. Foster understanding of how AI will impact various roles.

2. Empower employees through reskilling programs

Major workflow changes often accompany AI adoption. Take a proactive approach by offering reskilling programs to help employees transform and adapt their skills for a smoother transition.

3. Incorporate AI training methods

Leverage AI itself to enhance training. For instance, intelligent tutoring systems can deliver personalized, adaptive instruction and voice recognition can give feedback during roleplaying scenarios.

4. Partner across teams

Collaborate closely with integration team, HR, department heads, and innovation leaders. Learn the technical considerations, timelines and challenges, along with the business goals, objectives, and measures of success. Tailor training to complement the deployment while prioritizing new skills and workflows.

5. Evaluate AI's impact

Continuously assess how AI is impacting workflows and learning needs. Survey managers and employees on skill gaps that emerge. Establish baseline measurements before and after deployment to measure adoption, business results, and ROI. Use AI-generated insights to target relevant training to the right people. Maintain your finger on the pulse.

6. Elevate the work and inspire a positive mindset

Change management is critical with any major tech disruption. Foster excitement about AI’s potential to elevate human work. Encourage a growth mindset, emphasizing how AI can augment staff capabilities. Counter fears that AI will replace jobs by focusing on new opportunities.

The rise of Generative AI necessitates ongoing learning at all levels of an organization. Alterity is committed to fully leveraging our change management and training expertise to ensure your workforce gains the knowledge, skills, and mindsets to thrive in an AI-powered future. How organizations support employees today will determine if their AI strategy is a success. We welcome the chance to play a strategic role in this transformation.