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Mentoring Must Be A Positive Experience

A classic example of poor mentoring was recently shared in my Human Resource Development class.  A new employee, Bob, was paired with an experienced employee who was to be Bob’s mentor.  While age should never be a factor in matching a learner and mentor, this was only the beginning of the problems Bob faced.  There was virtually no communication between the two and the only feedback for Bob was when the mentor would tattle to Bob’s manager of Bob’s mistakes.

An effective mentor/new employee relationship begins with the company developing clear, strategic objectives such as program goals, roles and responsibilities, scope of the program, and a means to assess the effectiveness. The prospective mentor must desire this role, have a can-do attitude and believe a mentoring relationship will help the company.   The new employee must be enthusiastic, be willing to accept coaching and acknowledge inexperience.  A positive mentoring experience can lead to retention of happy, dedicated employees.

To determine the effectiveness of a mentoring program, measurements should be put in place.  Both employees should complete a check list detailing actual performance vs guidelines for such items as reviewing the purpose and relationship between mentor and mentee, the number of mentoring meetings and hours completed and topics covered. Employee satisfaction surveys should be used to determine if the relationship is mutually beneficial.  Management appraisal of the new employee’s performance is a good tool as well as a comparison of non-mentored vs new hires’ performance. The employee, mentor, and manager should be aware of all results and develop an improvement plan as necessary.


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Using Personality Assessments for Personal Development

Since beginning my job search, I have taken three different personality assessment tests: Myers-Briggs, Strong Campbell Inventory, and most recently, the Keirsey Temperament Sorter11 (KTS11). These assessments have proven to be a great tool in developing personal career goals.

When challenged to take this KTS assessment for a class, I was particularly interested in learning the results in order to compare the results. For the most part, the KTS seemed somewhat in line with the Myer-Briggs and The Strong Campbell Inventory. The KTS proclaimed my temperament type Artisan ESFP vs the Myers-Briggs scoring of ENFJ. The KTS, while somewhat generic, approximated the results of the Strong Campbell Inventory. In all fairness, The Strong Campbell Inventory was much more detailed. I agree with the KTS description of my personality type as a risk taker, particularly when it leads to something that will make others happy. Also, it indicated that I like to solve problems and come up with creative solutions.

I believe that in general assessment tests can be an effective tool to manage personal development. Test results can lead to discovering strengths and desires. Particularly for a career changer, assessments can lend guidance in determining a career direction. These tools can uncover much about a person simply by asking personality related questions.

In order for assessments to be accurate and effective, the test taker must answer questions truthfully and not feel pressured to respond in a particular manner. The respondent must have a positive attitude about the test’s effectiveness as a career development tool. Otherwise, the results will be inaccurate.

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Case Study: BB&T Bank Teller Turnover Rate

BB&T Corporation of Winston-Salem, North Carolina operates over 1,500 banks primarily in the South and District of Columbia. The banks are organized into regions and run as local, community banks reporting to a regional President.

A common concern at BB&T is the unusually high turnover rate for bank tellers at 30%. The responsibilities of a bank teller are huge and yet the only training method provided at each bank location is on the job training. This training experience clearly is inadequate for the high expectations held for the tellers and leads to poor performance, frustration of the employee and management. and ultimately loss of the bank teller. For the transfer of learning required of a bank teller to effectively do their job, BB&T must make some significant changes. To have a better retention rate of their teller staff and not lose them as result of inadequate training, a revamp of the learning plan must be developed.

One alternative for training could include regional training development where each Regional President can decide what resources can used to develop and implement a training program. A downside to this alternative would be inconsistent training from region to region. Another possible solution would be to have one central training location at corporate headquarters where all tellers would attend prior to starting their job at each branch. While training would be consistent, this solution would be quite expensive to house and feed employees. Also, tellers would be expected to learn at a rapid pace and retention of the knowledge may not occur.

A third and probably the most effective method of training would be a corporate developed training program offering a blend of training methods following the addie model. The first step is to assess what training is needed and the priority of the needs. Using the information given about teller responsibilities as a starting point, a thorough assessment of the training required must be done with input from the regional staff and branch employees and managers. Once the assessment is completed, a training design is formulated that defines performance objectives. With established objectives, a training program can be developed to meet the objectives. In this step, the particular delivery methods can be determined. For example, all trainees would attend an orientation at a central training location. During these sessions, expectations and a clear path to being a successful teller must be explained. The new employee is indoctrinated with a sense of excitement and pride of being a BB&T employee. Concurrently, train the trainer with the new training methods is delivered to branch employees.

Following the orientation, trainees leave with a plan of what comes next. The next training step could be through the use of Facebook instruction and online videos learning to deliver specific modules as prioritized during the assessment. BB&T should follow up with webinars and team based learning throughout the training process. With this process in place, an ongoing evaluation begins and tweak any deficiencies as needed.

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Employee Movtivation to Transfer Training Survey

One of our challenges this week was to survey employees as to their level of motivation to transfer what was learned during their most recent training class to their actual work environment. I interviewed three people that worked in the same office with the following professions: President/Trainer/Consultant, Vice President/Trainer/Consultant, and the Manager of Accounting, Loans and Administration.

I was surprised by the reaction of the two trainers as opposed to the Accounting Manager.
The President/Trainer of the organization tended to be a bit more negative than positive in her responses. About half of her answers and the ensuing discussion were somewhat skeptical as to the effectiveness of training received and the value it offered to her work environment. She felt she hadn’t obtained skills that were helpful in solving work-related problems and that it wasn’t realistic that the training would help her productivity. Prior to the training, she had given little consideration as to the content and didn’t consider projects or problems that training could help.
The Vice President/Trainer responded similarly to the President except that she strongly disagreed that the training was effective in helping her solve work related problems or improve work productivity. She had given little thought as to identifying problems/projects before training. She did feel trainers didn’t realize the amount of issues trainees experienced in applying training content.

The third respondent, a “non trainer”, answered her questions in a far more positive manner. She either strongly or somewhat agreed to all questions.
Possibly the subject matter had something to do with the responses. In the case of the Accounting Manager, her training involved learning software and budgeting techniques, and assessing loan applications all of which have concrete methods of doing business. She could immediately see the results of her training. In the case of the President and V.P., their training was more abstract and dealt with working with non-profit organizations. This training was more guidelines, suggestions, and creative tips.

Another factor to consider is that both the President and V.P. are experienced trainers and have seen quite a bit of ineffective training and trainers through the years. As I know them well from working for them, they are both extremely organized and meticulous about their training role. Their standards are probably higher that the average trainee attending a class. I’m sure they are a tough audience!

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Is Twitter Effective for New Social Media Users for Work and Personal Learning?

Dr. Tony Karrer is the Chief Technical Officer of TechEmpower and is considered an expert in the field of e-learning.  He has stated that “Twitter is not a tool for people who are new to social media and the use of social media for personal learning and work”.

I tend to agree with Dr Karrer.  As a novice user of Twitter, I often feel bombarded with information and begin to assume that supposed experts in the social media (or any other) field are always correct.  There is almost too much information available and I tend to take these “experts” at face value often without researching their credibility.   Sometimes I am simply overwhelmed by the sheer volume and have not yet learned to filter out what I do not need.

Further, I’m not confident in my Twitter skills and tend to sit and watch the rest of world try to shape my opinions.  While I understand that Twitter is not meant to be interactive, I don’t feel I have the credentials to “tweet” or respond to a comment.  Hopefully, this is something I will learn with time.

Quite often, I have friends who tweet about what they did at school or work, had for dinner, and the latest personal news.  I don’t believe this is the best format in which to share personal details.  While I applaud their learning and use of new social media outlets, it seems most of their activity would be best suited for Facebook. Facebook is more about my own personal community of friends and family and what is happening specifically to them.  While not truly interactive, Facebook is very simple to respond to and make comments.

I do believe Twitter has great potential as an e-learning tool in certain circumstances.  For instance, learners could be coached on this tool and access training when there is minimal information to be conveyed and it is presented in a clear concise format.  Again, learners must be aware of the expectation of when and how they should use Twitter.   If designed for a particular learning group, Twitter could be an effective addition to a trainer’s bag of tricks.  As with any other use of social media, the choice of medium depends on the goals of the writer.  What is it to be communicated to your learner and the expected response?


Hart, J. (2012) Top 100 Tools for Learning.  Center for Learning and Performance Technologies.  Retrieved from:

Karrer, T. September 12, 2012.  Training Magazine Network Now Bringing You eLearning. Learning E-Learning Technology.  Retrieved from:

Kuhlmann, T.  August 4, 2009.  Three Practical Ideas for using Twitter in E-learning.  The Rapid E-Learning Blog.  Retrieved from: