The Dreaded “DTR” – Volunteers

Whether you’re volunteering for a professional society like ASTD or a church, you’ve got to know ahead of time what you’re committing to, you’ve got to have a DTR (define the relationship) talk. Are you going steady (are you completely dedicated and volunteering for one organization), or do you have to split your time between projects? How much time per day/week/month are you able to give? What meetings/rehearsals are you expected to attend? What happens if you can’t meet the deadlines you’re given?

As I’ve said before, we’re in the middle of transition, we’re picking up responsbilities in multiple areas at our church, in addition to the opportunity to serve on the local board of an ASTD (American Society for Training and Development) Chapter and Co-Chair the Technology committe for a SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) conference.

With each committment, we’ve asked about the time required, the resources available, and the vision behind what we’re doing? Are you good at asking DTR questions, or do you get run over when you volunteer?


Professional Societies

I am an incredible advocate for professional societies. What both the National organization (the American Society of Training and Development) and local chapters (Arkansas and Middle Tennessee) did for me professionally is immeasurable. I think the church is finally latching onto this idea. It’s been a crazy process that I believe has been caused by blogs and social media – more to come on this later.

Professional societies are nothing more than networks of professionals in a particular field. It’s a great cycle of networking for consultants, and professional development opportunities for the person – especially new people to a field or for those in transition. The national organizations often have yearly conventions with training and product presentations. These professional societies often lobby on behalf of their members as well. Examples of societies include the International Society for Performance Improvement, the Society for Technical Communication, the Society for Audio Engineering, Society for Human Resource Management etc.

Depending on local activity, local chapters are started. For example, ASTD has a local chapter in Nashville with just over 200 members. The services they offer depend on the size of the chapters. For example, our chapter provides monthly programs with training and networking, networking groups on LinkedIn, access to member’s names and contact information, and provides resources for professional development.

Winds of Change

I’m/We’re in the middle of some major transitions that will dramatically increase the number of posts to the blog:

1. With the beginning of 2009, I’m taking up a brand new position on the board of the local chapter of the American Society of Training and Development. For some of my readers from church, I’m going to post more soon about what a professional society is and what its purpose. It’s a completely volunteer position, but as Director of Technology, it’s my job to research new technologies for communications for the local chapter and roll them out.

2. Today is officially my last day in Business Unit 129 (Oil & Gas Services) and I transition to Business Unit 108 (E-Learning). My role is switching from the Training Developer to the Lead Developer. The title change is small, but the responsibilities are drastic – a major reduction in travel and actual development of training materials, to a majority of my day spent in teleconferences directing small project and teams of training developers.

3. Changes at the Oasis. Not enough time or clarity to go into details yet, but the church is in the middle of transition. Great transition! Exciting transition! The church has literally doubled in size over the last 12 months. This weekend we are getting ready to launch more leaders into the greeter and parking ministries as we begin transition leadership of this ministry to other more capable and more focused hands. We launch the Murfreesboro campus this spring and exciting things are ahead…

Sunny San Diego

This is the view from my hotel room. It’s 70 degrees and beautiful, and I can hardly enjoy it without my wife. It’s been a flipping long day! I’ve already visited two sessions today, one was okay, the other was GREAT! I love being an environment that pushes me to learn. I’m ready to go to sleep!


Generational Differences: Accepting Diversity or Encouraging Discrimination

Well, I may just have a place to voice my opinion on Generational Differences that might stir some conversation. That’s honestly all I wan to do. This glorious piece of writing (Chel’s a much better writer than me) should come out in the Middle Tennessee Trainers Newsletter in the next month:

Much emphasis has been placed on generational differences in the training and development community in recent years. As a millennial, I have listened to countless training sessions and read a plethora of articles describing how I am different from my more matured co-workers. While these sessions often begin with pointing out how Generation-Y is made of tech-savvy individuals always looking to make processes more efficient, they often finish with a downright clobbering. While I believe that my peers (and mentors) intend to bring what was once a revolutionary concept to the table in a professional manner, they often spend the majority of their time complaining about Millenials or facilitating this unhealthy dialog in their classrooms. While, as professionals in this field, we cannot deny the existence of difference between the generations, we must not lose focus on the importance of addressing diversity as a whole. I was among the first to incorporate cross-generational communication into my company’s new-hire diversity course; however, it was a small portion of understanding diversity as a whole. If we addressed gender, racial, or socio-economic differences with the same zeal we now draw on to address generational differences, we would likely be rebuffed as bigots. While this is a hot-topic in the workplace today, and forgive me for mentioning – a hot-seller in the marketplace (Beware the Millenials, they’re coming for your job!!!) – let us not isolate or disparage the future leaders of the workplace. The moment we believe we have arrived at an understanding of diversity is the moment we have failed to understand that diversity is constantly changing.


Middle Tennessee – American Society for Training and Development

I prefer not to use the acronym for them, but alas, it is ASTD. I’m now on the Communications and Marketing sub-committe (woohoo…). I met with the VP today and I’m trying to get them to move out of the newsletter format into a bite sized Blog setup encouraging RSS. We’ll see how that goes.

I read a feature yesterday like a Twitter for church staff that I’m going to investigate for them as well – seems like communication between members of the board is a little rough. We’ll see if they’re open to suggestions and if I can make any good ones to them. I worked with the chapter in Arkansas and earned the “Member of the Year” award in 2006. I really enjoyed my work with the chapter there. I think ASTD can be very beneficial for new trainers, but I’m interested in seeing ROI for long-term trainers (I’m still enjoying the benefits of being new to the field).

We’ll see how it works…


My Journey Into OD

Set up coffee today with the leader from our local chapter of American Society for Trainers and Developers (ASTD, I know, it’s terrible to use STD in the name of a professional society) SIG (Special Interest Group) on OD (Organizational Development). The more I talk with OD professionals, the more I have to recognize that this journey will not be easy and it will not be short.

I can’t say how much I appreciate his time today. One of the reasons I’m so eager to help those who are newer to the profession than I am is because I know what it feels like to be lost. If someone looks to me and wants a mentor or if a new co-worker wants to know how to navigate the perils of the company and my business unit, I’m eager to help. I’ve contacted a few people in the past and asked for professional mentorship – all to no avail. However informal it was, Elmo (I’m still waiting on the story behind his name) was more than willing to share his experiences with me.

It’s time to get serious about working on my master’s or ASTD certification process. Dang, I don’t want to go back to school – that’s why I graduated a semester early – I HATED COLLEGE! I just wanted to get out and move on with life. I gotta slow down again and enjoy this part of the journey.


Millenials/Generation Yers

I’m a member of the American Society for Training and Development and we had our monthly chapter meeting today. The topic of discussion was “The Flip-Flop Generation.” (Co-incidentally I thought that since my vacation starts tomorrow that I would just wear jeans and a fleece pullover- I wore flip-flops yesterday but it was too cold for them today – I saw one other person out of about 400 in jeans) I usually get incensed at these types of conversations – probably because I’m about a typical of a Yer as you’ll find. The speakers were excellent, but the side bar discussions at the tables when these items come up are what absolutely hack me off. It’s estimated that approximately half of the American workforce will be made up of Generation Y by 2020.

It’s obvious that we Yers haven’t figured it all out – yet – but it blows me a way when Boomers and Xers are so condescending of my generation – especially since they created this monster. If you think that giving new hires the right to approach CEOs or allowing college grads the right to speak at your meetings is bad – then quit letting them discuss everything with you in your home. Who my generation has become is a result of the way our parents raised us – that we’re all special, and we deserve our ribbons and trophies. If you don’t like working with those types of people – quit feeding the monster. 🙂

Yers need to be taught how to interact with other generations just as much as old folks need to learn how to coddle the Yers. That’s the absolutely toughest part to me – learning how to communicate as effectively to a 60 year old in the workplace as I can to a 25 year old. Coaching, mentoring, and training are all a part of the process – but don’t be fooled into believing that the kids are right in their approach and the parents (Boomers and Xers) just need to learn how to deal with them – that’s what got us into this mess in the first place.

LOL. This is a rant that I imagine not many will understand or care about, but if you are interested, do a little research on cross-generational workplaces and cross-generation communication – it helps a lot in ministry as well.