[00:00:00.250] - Chris
In this episode of Great Practices, I'm talking with Dr. Michael Woodard, learning and talent development thought leader, adjunct professor at Williams Wood University, author, speaker, and an all around nice guy. Listen into this episode to get Dr. Mike's take on why training is so important for PMO leaders, a framework you can follow to make sure your project managers know what they're doing, and three training traps to avoid. Plus, find out why it's so important to lead with inquiry and how adopting this one behavior can make a big difference in your PMO journey.
[00:00:35.570] - Narrator
It's hard to say when something is a best practice, but it's much easier to know when something is a great practice. And that's what this podcast is all about. Interviews with CMO and project management leaders who, for years of trial and error, have discovered their own great practices and are now sharing their insights with you. Now sit back and enjoy the conversation as Chris Cox uncovers another great practice in this episode.
[00:01:05.490] - Chris
We'd like to welcome everyone to another episode of Great Practices. And this is the first episode of 2023, so we're so glad that everybody is able to join us today. And one of the one of the themes that is a big deal in 2023 when it comes to PMOs is really a transformation of PMOs and just kind of doing things differently and thinking differently and acting differently. But in order to do that, that always is going to require some sense of change and some sense of training, because what is it that's going to change people, right? That's what's going to make the transformation. That's what's going to be doing things differently. That's what's going to be making sure that 2023 is a transformational year when it comes to PMOs. But what is training all about? I mean, it's just so vague and it's so ambiguous. And how do you even begin to to pull together programs or processes around what your training should look like in your PMO in 2023? Well, that's why we're excited to have our guest on today, which is Dr. Mike Woodard, who is going to be helping us understand a lot more about training and what it means and really talk about a framework that we can use when it comes to applying this evening in our PMOs.
[00:02:31.000] - Chris
So, Dr. Mike, we like to welcome you to Great Practices today, and we're glad you're on.
[00:02:37.410] - Dr. Mike
Thank you, Chris. Glad to be here.
[00:02:40.480] - Chris
So tell us, first of all, just a little bit about who you are, what you do, your background, that kind of thing. We'll start there.
[00:02:47.960] - Dr. Mike
Sure, absolutely. First and foremost, I am a man of faith. I'm a Christian husband, father, grandfather now, and I have migrated over from a 35 year Fortune 100 career into full time academia.
[00:03:09.780] - Chris
Okay, well, you've checked a lot of boxes. There's what it sounds like.
[00:03:13.530] - Dr. Mike
Oh, I've checked some big boxes. I started in learning and development with Gelatpractor and Gamble, PepsiCo, SC, Johnson, George Pacific and General Electric.
[00:03:28.150] - Chris
Fantastic. And that's really great because we're going to be able to benefit from that insight, from all that experience over the years. So we're looking forward to this conversation. So one of the first questions we ask all of our guests, because it varies based upon people's experiences, what is your definition of a PMO? When you hear that term PMO, what do you think of what's your experience been there?
[00:03:50.160] - Dr. Mike
Well, my experience and the definition as an academic, I'm going to always go to the dictionary. Okay, what does it really mean?
[00:04:01.250] - Chris
[00:04:01.620] - Dr. Mike
And it's the department that improves project management by standardizing processes and improving efficiency. It also creates and maintains project documentation, best practices, track metrics, and offer training. And I got to say, I've been very fortunate over the years to have been blessed with working for organizations that had PMO organizations within them. So Gillette, Proctor and Gamble, PepsiCo, GE, they all had teams of professionals that if a project was of a certain size, you benefited from a project manager.
[00:04:52.310] - Chris
Yeah. Yeah. Well, that's good. So it sounds like you've had sounds like you've actually had a good experience with PMOs over the years then. So that's good to hear.
[00:04:59.870] - Dr. Mike
Yeah. Phenomenal experience both internally and externally.
[00:05:03.420] - Chris
Now, because of that experience with PMOs, obviously you realize that ongoing professional training and development is important. It's important for everybody. Right. But we're going to be talking about PMO leaders today. So why is it that you think it is? Why is it so important for this professional development, this ongoing training that we all need to go through?
[00:05:27.450] - Dr. Mike
Great question, and I say it's great because PMO professionals have to keep their skills sharp. Why? Because so many people are looking to them for those best practices, those models that help people stay organized, I would say align their thinking and align behaviors. It also from a professional development perspective, it keeps their mind in a constant state of refinement. I E what got you here is not what's going to keep you here. And you have to be constantly, okay, how do I need to refine this? What do I need to do differently so that I can serve my clients efficiently, effectively, so that they look back or they think of us as value added?
[00:06:35.310] - Chris
Yeah, and I think that is a good point. At the very beginning of what you said, there was, people look to the PMO for that leadership and for that direction. So if they're doing stuff that was, hey, man, that's 15 years old, we're not doing that anymore. Right. It's like that kind of puts them in a bad spot.
[00:06:55.030] - Dr. Mike
It does. And I can tell you as an executive who has used PMOs for years, when you've got a big project that is, and I'm thinking now back to a project I had right off the block at PepsiCo. I had a budget of $15 million and literally day three on the job. And they said, oh, by the way, you're going to be assigned a project management leader to help you with this project. And my team members were the head of legal, the head of finance, and the head of the audit committee. You didn't think I wanted somebody from the project management team to help as my coach and my guide through this? Oh, yes, I did.
[00:07:45.330] - Chris
Yeah. And you want them to be current. Exactly.
[00:07:47.910] - Dr. Mike
Definitely needed them to be current. And I expected that, though. If there's an expectation that your PMO, your project manager, is current yeah, it's.
[00:08:03.470] - Chris
A valid assumption, too, because you just won't survive that much in this marketplace anymore if you aren't up with the latest, greatest. So one of the things that you've done over the years when it comes to training is that you've really set up a framework when it comes to training, development, and where different types of training would be able to help with different situations. Why did you set that framework up? What's it called? You want to just give us a little bit of background about what this is about?
[00:08:36.650] - Dr. Mike
Sure. One of the mindsets that I've used over the years is my customer was always the president or the senior vice president of whatever function. And every time I would meet these leaders, I would ask them point blank, what do you know about what I do for a living? And 99.99% of them were incredibly brilliant and humble professionals, and they would say, I don't know, Aiden, about what you do for a living. And I had created over the years a couple of very simple job AIDS to take learning and development and demystify it by setting in front of them some very simple frameworks to talk about what it is we do, how we do it, and why we do it, and more importantly, how you measure it. Those four dimensions I was able to call down in two or three very, very simple job aides for leaders.
[00:10:00.440] - Chris
Love it. So your, your creation of this framework we're going to talk to is to answer the question, but do you even know what I do? That's that's what it came down to. Right. And it's like without a doubt.
[00:10:11.710] - Dr. Mike
Without a doubt, because these were, you know, engineers, these were lawyers, these were, you know, vice presidents and senior vice presidents of sales and marketing. I never worked for a senior executive that had done a rotation in learning and development ever.
[00:10:30.570] - Chris
Yeah, that is interesting, because they're not necessarily going to come up through that rank. Right. So they've got the experience in all these other areas, typically, but they're not going to come up through that path. So I'm sure they found that very helpful when you brought that to them. So that's what we're going to talk about today. So let's talk about this framework then. First of all. We're going to ask you the question, how would you define training? What is your definition of training?
[00:10:57.760] - Dr. Mike
Sure. Training is imparting new knowledge so that skills increase and where necessary behaviors change. Imparting new knowledge so that skills increase and where necessary behavior changes.
[00:11:20.330] - Chris
[00:11:23.370] - Dr. Mike
In this one, I didn't go to the dictionary for God knows I've got plenty of books on adult learning theory and instructional design and whatnot around learning, but this one was from 25 plus years of just doing the job.
[00:11:41.700] - Chris
Yeah, that's a good elevator pitch for sure. Right. How do you even accomplish this? Like, what are some of the components of getting that done?
[00:11:50.130] - Dr. Mike
Well, I think the first thing when I'm talking to a senior executive now I'm going to set this up in the context of an executive comes to me and says, mike, my people are not performing like I would like them to. Okay, fine. Now this is separate from putting together curricula and all the incompetency models and all that stuff. That's very different. This is where the executive just knocks on my door and says, my people are not performing. I start with a really simple question. What is it that you expect Skippy and Susie to know and do that they're not doing today? And Skippy and Susie have been with me for decades, and when I frame it that way, it really gives that executive the opportunity to go, what is it that I'm expecting them to know or do that they're not doing or they don't know? And that's when I will usually pull off a job aid that I created from the work of Benjamin Bloom and Bloom's Taxonomy. And again, it gave the executive a framework or a mental model to go. Okay, this is interesting because Bloom's Taxonomy is broken into two components.
[00:13:30.610] - Dr. Mike
On the left hand side, it asks, can the learner? And over on the right hand side, it gives delivery options. But in the middle of the model, it offers six different ways to identify. At what level do we need Skippy and Susie to know or do something? So at the bottom, it starts with, do I just need them to be able to remember to do something from that one level up, understand one level above that, be able to apply it or do it? Now we're going to go up one more level or one fourth level. It is, can they analyze? Do I expect them to be able to analyze something more complex, evaluate, and then finally create? Take those six. And can the learner very simply under recall? Can they recall the facts, terms, concepts, or principles? Well, as a learning and development leader, I might be able to accomplish this by simply a simple job, a simple podcast that they can reference so that they can just simply recall something. It might be something as simple as logging into their computer or getting from point A to point b, but it's something very simple.
[00:15:14.040] - Dr. Mike
I just want you to remember it.
[00:15:15.910] - Chris
Yeah and you know hey Doctor Mike, I'm going to stop you here for a second because for those that want to play along at home and want to actually see this because you've got a great graphic around this as we're going through this. So we're going to make sure that in the show notes we've got a link to this graphic because it will do exactly what you're showing for those that may be driving right now. Left side like Dr. Mike said, you start from very simple on the bottom and then it ranges up to complex when it talks about what do you want that learner to do and then the delivery options that you're talking about on the right basically goes from concrete just here very tangible, very tactile. You can put in your hands almost type deal. It's a very abstract I appreciate it because you're starting at the bottom here, right? With just here's the remember part, right? This is step number one on this. So let's continue to walk up this and again I'm going to encourage everybody to download this because it's very helpful as far as how anybody can fit into this framework.
[00:16:25.490] - Chris
Okay, so we got the remember piece. What's next?
[00:16:29.870] - Dr. Mike
Next is understand and oftentimes that's about 20% of the needs out there and again from left to right, things like processes, compare, contrast and explain some information. How might we deliver that training? It might be something as simple as PowerPoint slides, could be a webinar, might be a white paper, something to read or a journal article video or I may just give you a link to a blog, go up, apply it's about 30%.
[00:17:09.850] - Chris
30% of what?
[00:17:11.550] - Dr. Mike
Yeah these percentages I'm giving you generally speaking from a training and development perspective this is where the needs oftentimes lie. So about ten to five to 10% of the time leaders just need people to remember something okay 20% of the time they just want people to be able to understand something. Got it? The next or the third level is apply. I want them to be able to do it well. How do we do this? We do this by applying the knowledge to some new situation to solve on the job problems. This is where I was like to say the rubber meets the road. Can Skippy and Susie actually do it apply it well there you're going to deal with now virtual instructor led training elearning perhaps classroom some simulations I can see that they can do it the instructor knows yes or no that they can or can't do it or apply it on the job. Next level about 50% can they analyze something? This is going to be pulling meeting from cars reflecting an organizing principle to impact something. It's going to be a little bit more abstract and analyzed. Now from a training perspective on the job training I'm going to actually elbow to elbow with somebody might be a blended learning, again, simulation role play where I can actually see them do it, and then I can critique them or discussions.
[00:19:04.190] - Dr. Mike
Walk me through your thinking, I always like to say. Or walk me through the analysis of how it goes from here to here. Okay.
[00:19:15.970] - Chris
And it's interesting because I'm seeing the theme as you're moving up this scale here, it's getting more abstract, isn't it, as far as the delivery methods, right?
[00:19:25.910] - Dr. Mike
Very much more, much more and higher level learning. It's going to take more time to develop the skill of analysis. Evaluate is the fifth, and this is where you're judging the quality of something based on its adequacy value, logic or use. How do you do that? Classroom training is still a big delivery method here. Hands on practice, problem solving, mentoring, possibly coaching. Lots of I'm going to do something, and somebody's going to evaluate your thinking and your results, both and thinking and your results. And then last, you're going to create, and that is create and integrate ideas into solutions to propose an action plan or to formulate a new concept, new processes. This is going to take place through research. You're going to be testing maybe some cross functional collaboration. It's going to be perhaps teaching others so that there is concrete demonstration that you can not only do it, but now you can also teach it.
[00:21:01.810] - Chris
I love this. Okay, so this is what I'm getting out of what you just said there. So you start with the question about what do you need somebody to do?
[00:21:10.900] - Dr. Mike
No and do, because if they don't know the steps, the definition of a process, forget it. They're never going to be able to do it. So it's know and do interesting.
[00:21:25.870] - Chris
And then based upon that, you figure out, well, I need them to remember, I need them to analyze, I need them to create. And then based upon that, you can kind of see what the best delivery option is.
[00:21:37.310] - Dr. Mike
Yes. And the executives that I've set this in front of over the years really have said, wow, thank you for giving me a model to understand the level of investment of time it's going to take for Skippy and Susie to get from here to here. Because if it's not that complex, it's not going to be that hard. If it's more complex, it's going to require time.
[00:22:12.410] - Chris
So that's a good point, because it sets an expectation around the time that's going to be required to be trained. Because I feel like everybody just thinks, oh, well, just take a week of training and you're done. Right. But this really sets the expectation around it. Right.
[00:22:26.510] - Dr. Mike
And can I add to that, Chris?
[00:22:28.420] - Chris
[00:22:29.390] - Dr. Mike
Today there seems to be a belief that people can be trained in ten minutes, twelve minutes. Listen to this podcast, watch this YouTube video, and and we can transform Skippy or susie. No. You can teach Skippy and Susie to do something very simple in ten or 15 minutes. Again, if you need them to perform at a higher level, please understand it is going to take time.
[00:23:12.570] - Chris
Yeah, I think that is exactly right. It's just like, we do have a very simplistic view of what that is going to be. And you're right, some stuff could be just a simple podcast, and they pick it up and they go from there. But that's why I appreciate this framework, and I'm going to encourage everybody to download this because it shows the level of effort that would be involved in any of these training endeavors that would go on. So I appreciate that very much.
[00:23:37.160] - Dr. Mike
Yeah. And something else to remind let me remind people, this is not Dr. Michael Woodard's framework. This is Dr. Benjamin Bloom's framework that was developed back in the has been tested for the last God knows how many decades, and it is still valid. Beautiful.
[00:24:01.070] - Chris
So let me ask you this. Through all your experience over the years and Fortune 500 companies and academia, what are some of the traps that you see people fall into when it comes to training their people? What are some of these things that we could avoid?
[00:24:17.330] - Dr. Mike
Number one, not clearly being able to identify what it is they need Skippy and Susie to know and do. Okay, that's number one. Because from that flows the learning objectives. Specifically, what do we need them to be able to do and know? So at a conversational level, what do they need to know and do? And then at a much more strategic level, from an adult learning perspective, I need Skippy and Susie to be able to describe the steps in the project management process for bringing X online, or I need them to be able to lift or whatever. Those are the biggest two. Number three, thinking that knowledge can be imparted and behavior can be changed quickly. Not recognizing the absolute criticality of the role that the manager plays in coaching and reinforcing. Research showed about 2025 years ago. If the manager and this has been updated over the years with the association for Talent Development 86% of the time, if the manager does not coach and reinforce what Skippy and Susie are learning within five to seven days, the likelihood that it sticks that new skill and knowledge is less than 10%.
[00:26:07.670] - Chris
[00:26:08.710] - Dr. Mike
Less than 10%. We've known it for decades. The role of the manager is critical. And one of the things that I've always ensured my organization did to help set the managers up for success was develop managers coaching job AIDS. As I've said to many managers at a variety of different levels, I don't need you to free things. Here's a job aid. Whether it's laminated or it's digital, just read it. This is how I need you to or we need you to coach and reinforce what Skippy and Susie have just learned. If you want to rethink later and add your own things into it, fine. But for the foreseeable future, here's a one page or a two page or whatever, depending on the complexity of the skill that you're teaching them. Here's a job aid to coach and reinforce your people.
[00:27:17.050] - Chris
Perfect. So let me get this straight. Number one mistake is not clearly identifying what you want them to know or do. Right? So that's number one. Number two articulate to be number two again.
[00:27:29.730] - Dr. Mike
What are the learning objectives now, specifically, what is it that we need them to know and do?
[00:27:37.170] - Chris
[00:27:37.800] - Dr. Mike
Very specific. The learning objective.
[00:27:40.270] - Chris
And then number three is following up within five to seven days. Right. Because that is a stagger. You said 85%. Right. Will lose the training benefit if you're not followed up in that time period. All right. Anything else you'd like to share that will help PMO leaders help ensure their people are properly trained in this coming year?
[00:28:03.160] - Dr. Mike
I would say PMO leaders lead with inquiry. When I say lead with inquiry, project management has become a requirement in many college curriculum, at least a basic level.
[00:28:22.370] - Chris
[00:28:22.670] - Dr. Mike
You know, 100, 200 level. So there is some level of understanding of their role. So when you're working with new teams, start with get curious as to what they know about what you do, and then really talk about the value that you bring in working with a project manager in the organization. Why would somebody want to give you the most valuable element that they have, and that is their time?
[00:29:09.630] - Chris
And that's full circle with the way we started, with the very foundational approach of why you put this together, because you led with inquiry. You basically said, what do you know about what I do? And then you found out, and then you were able to establish from there. So great advice. Well, Dr. Mike, we really appreciate you being on today. What's the best way if people want to get in touch with you, if they want to discuss any of these ideas further? Definitely download this framework. What's the best way to do that?
[00:29:38.920] - Dr. Mike
Absolutely easiest way to get a hold of me is one of two ways. You can call me an area code 770-32-9812, or you can email me at Dr. [email protected].
[00:29:56.210] - Chris
[00:29:56.590] - Dr. Mike
That's Dr. [email protected] and LinkedIn.
[00:30:01.030] - Chris
Right? You got a great presence on LinkedIn, so follow you there and and go from there.
[00:30:07.170] - Dr. Mike
I appreciate it. Thank you, Chris, so much.
[00:30:09.860] - Chris
Yeah, this has been great. And you're going to be happy to know that I've actually got Skippy and Susie coming on next month's episode, so it's fantastic. We'll see what they thought about all of this as well.
[00:30:23.110] - Dr. Mike
I appreciate it. That's great.
[00:30:25.180] - Chris
All right, Dr. Mike, we'll talk to you soon. Thanks, Mortar.
[00:30:27.990] - Dr. Mike
[00:30:30.730] - Chris
Well, that was another great episode of great practices, and we're so glad that Dr. Mike was able to join us. Today and talk about training and what impact we can have as PMO leaders when it comes to training our organizations in the year ahead. So what were some of the great practices and the insights that came out of the conversation today? Well, here's a couple I picked up. First of all, why is training so important? It's important for PMO leaders and project managers to keep their skills sharp because others are looking to them for guidance and direction and leadership. So if we're leading from ten to 15 years ago, that's a problem. We need to be making sure that we are current and up to date with the latest methodologies, latest tools, latest processes that can help us continue to deliver projects and bring value to the organization. I like this very succinct definition of training. Imparting new knowledge so skills increase and where necessary, behavior changes. Pretty simple. But that's based on 25 years of experience. And in order to get it down to being that simple, that really shows that's the essence or the heart of what training is then imparting that new knowledge so skills increase and where necessary, behavior changes.
[00:31:50.850] - Chris
But where would you even begin to start to know what needs to be done from a training perspective? Like he said, the first question that he will ask an executive whenever they come to him and say, hey, my people aren't performing and they're not doing the job that I expect them to do, the very first question that he asks is, what is it that you expect them to know and to do that they're not doing today? And that starts the whole conversation of the training that would need to be in place, because then you can fill in those gaps, but it needs to be clearly articulated upfront in order to know what path to go down. And then I thought this was fascinating. The Benjamin. Blooms Taxonomy.
[00:32:33.880] - Chris
[00:32:34.200] - Chris
Something that was developed back in the 40s. It's still used and still solid today. But he's really based a lot of his framework dr. Mike's based a lot of his framework around this taxonomy. And this taxonomy has to do with really asking the question about what do you want the learner to do? Can the learner remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, or create? That was that hierarchy that it went up, that framework, and then based upon what you're wanting them to know or do, then you could come up with a different delivery options. And that's really what is outlined in that framework, which is also available in the show notes. As far as a link to that directly, how about the traps to avoid? I always like hearing what those are because you can learn from other people's experience very quickly. He came up with three of them. Not being able to clearly identify what someone needs to know or do, not being able to clearly outline or detail the specific learning objectives, and then thinking that knowledge can be imparted and behavior changed just quickly, just by listening to a podcast or reading an article.
[00:33:52.950] - Chris
Then all of a sudden, somebody knows how to do something differently. So those are the three traps that people fall into. And you remember that statistic that showed that 86% of the time, if a manager does not reinforce what somebody has learned, within five to seven days, less than 10% of the people are going to remember that. So we could invest time and money and resources into training, but if we're not doing immediate follow up, it's lost. And finally, this whole concept of leading with inquiry is great. And that's really what started out his conversation with many of these executive leaders that says, what do you think I do? Or what is it that you know about what I do? And then based upon that, rather than making a whole bunch of assumptions, oh, of course they know what I do, and it's common knowledge, then based upon that, you're able to really articulate the value that you bring. He did that as a training leader, and that's certainly something we should do as PMO leaders and project managers, is don't assume that people are going to know what value a PMO is going to bring or what a PMO does.
[00:35:03.730] - Chris
You want to ask and lead with inquiry, and then you could frame your conversation from there. So again, we'd like to thank Dr. Mike for being on today, another great episode and something that I'm hoping you're able to implement in your PMOs immediately. So do you have a great practice that you'd like to share?
[00:35:24.570] - Chris
[00:35:25.080] - Chris
If you do go to the PMO leader, click on Explore and then you'll see Great Practice Podcast, Great Practices Podcast. Fill out the form at the bottom of the screen and someone will get in touch with you shortly. Also, be sure not to miss out on a single episode by subscribing to Great Practices on your favorite podcast platform. And as usual, if you like what you hear, be sure to share share this with your manager, your colleagues, anyone else that you think would benefit from not just this episode, from all episodes of Great Practices. So thanks again for listening today and keep putting Great Practices in the Practice.