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What's New from the ASTD Eastern PA Chapter, from Suzanne Weaver, Chapter President

05/15/2013 8:26 PM | Deleted user


I often think about what can be done to help someone want to learn and do better in whatever it is that they are doing.  For some, the need to achieve comes naturally and at an early age; while for others, it can be a struggle from day one.

May’s targeted Communities of Practice (CoP) theme is:  Workforce Development. The Workforce Development CoP emphasizes a community for managers looking to improve employee engagement and productivity and to understand how to improve their own career paths by doing so. Yes, I realize that there are many reasons why a person’s performance may not be at the level that we think it should be, but for the purpose of today’s post, I am going to focus on motivation and engagement.

As we all know this is a vast and powerful topic, one that can cause much angst for those of us who are trying to figure out how to get someone to improve their performance. Whether it is your child, a student, an athlete or an employee within the workplace, those tasked with the responsibility of trying to motivate or engage someone to learn and/or improve their performance can be a daunting task to say the least.

Although there are multiple theories for addressing engagement/motivational issues, I struggle with the fact that it really isn’t that easy at times to motivate someone and wonder why that is. Go to any book store, website or social media resource and you will find tons of material on how to get people engaged and/or motivated including ourselves, but yet we still struggle to find that particular something that will give us and others that little nudge to move us forward.

Obviously as training professionals, we always want to believe that the support, tools and resources we provide will help improve performance. We spend countless hours doing analysis and trying to determine the best solution to realize the results we want to achieve. But as you all know, sometimes it just isn’t enough. So you may ask yourself, what exactly is the issue?

Well this past week, I had the opportunity to have my cousin stay with us whom I haven’t seen in about 20 years. She brought her daughter with her who is blind. Obviously, some support was needed, but overall it was amazing how much she was able to do on her own. She is about 28 years old, lives on her own, works and can take care of herself. She was constantly on her PC and was able to maneuver around my home with very little support. What was amazing about it all was not so much that she was able to be self -sufficient, but that her attitude in doing so with all her challenges was quite honestly very “amazing”.  She was engaged, talkative, opinionated, well informed, and just in general, happy.

Besides the fact that their visit made me realize how much we take for granted, it also made me realize that the attitude you have in wanting to learn or do something is really the precursor for achieving results. I am not saying that we as training professionals shouldn’t try and do what is needed to help someone succeed or that we shouldn’t continue to determine what makes a person tick, but the bottom line is is that the person you are trying to help must WANT to be able to improve their performance, be open to the help that others are willing to provide and do the work that is needed to get them to wherever it is they want and in some instances, need to be. Yes, I know this is not a new concept, but I think sometimes as someone who has seen tremendous results coaching others to improve results, both as a manager and as a training professional, knowing the best time to pull back and let that person determine their own direction can, to say the least, be a difficult decision for us to make. Sometimes we just have to realize and accept that the person themselves needs to be the driver in their quest to improve results and that our role may be better served providing support when, and if, they ask for it.

Until next time,

Suzanne Weaver
Chapter President
ASTD Eastern PA Chapter

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ATD Eastern PA Chapter
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