• 03/18/2019 9:48 AM | Anonymous

    The next book we will be reading is The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. In total, there will be about two months of reading/discussion before our weeklong end-of-book discussion begins on May 30th.

    If you are interested in participating with other ATD chapters and netowrking at a national level, check out the TD Professionals Book Club page.

    If you are participating, please get the book as soon as you can.  You can find our new book on Amazon here.

    What are you hoping to get out of reading The Power of Habit? Have you heard of this title before?

    Come and share your thoughts with the group in the Online Forum (! 

  • 03/16/2019 10:16 PM | Anonymous

    african woman holding speech bubble


    Delivering Actionable Feedback


    By Ken O'Quinn

    Wednesday, January 16, 2019

    Many managers are not good at providing feedback, yet it is one of the most important tools they have to improve a team member’s performance. Indeed, people rely on accurate, useful assessments of their work to help them become better at what they do.

    Effective feedback not only provides guidance to help an employee perform tasks correctly, it also clarifies expectations, builds a person’s confidence, and fosters trust between a worker and the manager.

    Essentially, useful feedback helps employees see how their performance is aligned with the organization’s goals, and it motivates teams to achieve at a higher level. How well people perform is directly related to their ability (from knowledge, skill, and feedback) and their motivation, explains psychologist Edward Locke.

    Many employees have said in surveys they do not receive effective feedback, which is attributable in part to the fact that managers rarely receive training in management communication—not in college, not in MBA programs, and not in executive education.

    Here are a few suggestions managers can follow if they want to give their team members useful, actionable feedback.


    Be Specific

    Don’t provide feedback that raises more questions than it answers. When an employee says, “I’m not clear about what you want,” the manager needs to be more specific about their expectations. Precision is important, because the more exact an employee is at completing a task, the more reliable the outcome. And in many fields, such as engineering, precision is critical.

    Don’t tell an employee that you would like to see “a better job” next time. Using specific language makes the feedback easier to process and remember than comparative adjectives, such as better, stronger, bigger, and nicer. For example, it’s more precise to say, “We cannot have any scuff marks or other abrasions on the surface of this product."

    Prepare for the Conversation

    Critical feedback can create a stressful atmosphere. Employees sometimes get defensive. In response, you become more emphatic, and the employee, in turn, gets increasingly sensitive. The cycle continues, and tensions rise.

    Go into a feedback conversation prepared. Think ahead about what you want to say. What issues need to be addressed? What is the outcome you want? What topics don’t need to be brought up? Don’t try to think through the conversation while you are having it, because you are apt to fumble your way through, or you might sound vague and uncertain.

    Know Why You Are Giving Feedback

    Managers often are uncomfortable giving feedback because they are concerned about alienating the employee. Tone is important, so be polite and respectful. But remember that the purpose of feedback is to provide information that helps the person improve their performance on the job. The more they improve, the better their performance review, and the more they contribute to the team and to organizational goals. Stronger self-confidence is a side effect.

    Encourage Others to Share Suggestions

    Feedback should not be aimed only at subordinates. Managers should elicit feedback from their own superiors and from peers, and employees should invite colleagues to share constructive criticism and helpful observations. Feedback also can be self-generated through personal reflection and evaluation.

    Giving, receiving, and implementing actionable feedback—that leads to learning and tangible results—is essential to performance. One way people translate that feedback into action is by setting goals, which will be a topic for another post.

    Related Tags:


    About the Author

    Ken O'Quinn

    Ken O’Quinn is a professional writing coach who has helped thousands of business professionals worldwide improve their ability to craft clear, compelling messages. He started Writing With Clarity following a long journalism career with the Associated Press and now conducts corporate workshops and provides one-on-one coaching. He is the author of Perfect Phrases for Business Letters (McGraw-Hill). His clients include Facebook, GE, Dell, Chevron, Cisco, Georgia-Pacific, KPMG, Campbell’s Soup, Oracle, Motorola, Reebok, Dow Chemical (China), SAP (Singapore), and Vale Mining Corp. (Brazil). 

  • 08/21/2018 10:50 AM | Shaun Krietemeyer

    Managing learning programs is no small feat. It requires knowledge of business and learning objectives, the adult learning theories, and communication throughout, just to name a few. Fortunately, ATD has provided resources for you to piece this puzzle together properly and efficiently. In this article, you will receive some insights into managing learning programs, and receive more resources for your ongoing learning.

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  • 08/13/2018 11:38 AM | Shaun Krietemeyer

    Thought leaders in a 2017 podcast series on discussed how performance improvement is relevant and how to plan ahead. How are you stacking up in the performance improvement world? What are steps you can take now?

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  • 07/23/2018 10:00 AM | Anonymous

    The ATD VOS Board expresses great appreciation to Cayly Dixon for her leadership and commitment in serving as President this year. Her company was acquired, significantly changing her role and limiting her ability to continue as ATD VOS President. We are grateful, however, that Cayly remains committed to the chapter and intends to stay involved! We extend the very best wishes for success in her new responsibilities with Quorum Software!

    The Board has elected Ina Heffner into the chapter President role until the Fall elections. Ina has previously served on the VOS and Houston chapters' Boards and reconnected with ATD VOS as a volunteer on the 2015 conference committee. She was elected to the Board as Project Manager/Secretary for 2016-18. In this position, she has worked closely with the Board on administrative processes, most notably ensuring the chapter meets, documents, and reports annual Chapter Affiliation Requirements (CARE) accomplishments to ATD National. She is a seasoned leader who is familiar with the chapter’s mission and goals. 

    Ina was an independent facilitator and consultant since 2010 and is joining Salt River Project this month as a  Senior Human Resources Analyst, specializing in learning and organizational development. We are excited to have her leadership. 

    Both Ina and Cayly are committed to delivering value and the ongoing development of key chapter activities like development programming, networking events and the community of practice. Contact Ina at

  • 07/11/2018 10:13 AM | Shaun Krietemeyer

    Managing learning programs is a daunting task and requires commitment from stakeholders and learning professionals. Some organizations struggle with learning programs so much so that a new program is launched, evaluated and revamped multiple times throughout the year. The success of the learning program can be narrowed down to the success of the learning organization itself. In this "oldie, but goodie" article from 1993, found in the Harvard Business Review, building a successful learning organization is the focus. The article provides examples of what businesses have done to gain a commitment to learning, including the first steps of fostering an environment where learning can happen. 

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  • 07/06/2018 9:51 AM | Shaun Krietemeyer

    How many of you enjoyed math in school? If you did, you will represent the one person in my example. For me, in school, I hated math class. I also hated the lone person in the class who liked it. Hate may be a strong word, but I just could not understand the appeal. I felt as though the rest of my class was on my side on this one. Each day there were audible sighs when we were told to open our books to the next “exciting chapter” of math. Those sighs seemed to fuel the appreciation even more for the one student and the teacher. I thought to myself on many occasions what it would be like to love the subject of math as much as these two did. Would the overall class experience be better?

    Let’s take this a step further, and probably more applicable. In your current role/department/team, how well does a process or project work when everyone is excited about the process/project? In my own experience, the times when I have worked on a project when everyone on the team was excited and provided input and creativity, the time passed incredibly well and we were successful! In a way, it felt as though we were a community rallying together to accomplish the same goal. The term “strength in numbers” probably applies here.

    I’d like to explore this “community” a little more. There is an industry term, “Community of Practice”, that you may be familiar with. This community is a group of like-minded, often similar in role and responsibilities, that strives to help one another in their respective work-environments. They share best practices, discuss difficult situations that they have worked through or overcome, and bring new innovative approaches to the group to improve industry standards. Think back to the math class. How do you think math would have improved for you with a community like this to assist? We’d probably all be in math-related fields of work!

    What does all of this mean for the ATD Valley of the Sun chapter? Well, simply, we’d like to be that community of learning and talent development professionals. Imagine an organization with members that can improve their understanding of a specific topic, probably job-related, by communicating in an ongoing format. This format would allow for the asking and answering of questions, knowledge management and sharing, stealing borrowing ideas, problem solving, etc. Your membership in ATDVOS should include this community and we’d like to establish it. Soon, we will be posting a series of blog communications for you to interact with, begin to establish a regular cadence of communicating as a community, and begin solving problems for one another to build-up our career aspirations.  In the interim, take a look a Stan Garfield’s Communities of Practice article, posted on LinkedIn in 2016. There is a great deal of information to learn about how communities will benefit us. Stay tuned!

  • 07/02/2018 3:40 PM | Shaun Krietemeyer

    Measuring the impact of learning is something all learning and development professionals struggle with on a regular basis. Microlearning is at the forefront when it comes to learning strategy and yet it still comes with its struggles in the impact game.  Karl Kapp and Robyn Defelice discuss the elephant-sized impact that microlearning can have on your learning strategy and programs.

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  • 06/26/2018 9:00 AM | Anonymous

    Sue Barenholtz is realizing her dream of being a Michigan-Arizona snowbird. While she will stay engaged with Valley of the Sun chapter, she will be leaving her role as Membership Director on the Board. We thank her for her service and enthusiasm, congratulate her in this next life step, and look forward to working with her in new capacities! Here's a note from Sue:

    Transitions and Changes

    I love ATD! When I started my first training company in Detroit 35 years ago, I did not know about ATD (known as ASTD in those days). A couple years later I found ASTD and got involved right away because I thought it was the best way to meet people and feel comfortable attending meetings. For the next 14 years I was on every committee and held almost every board position. I was chapter president in 1996, which is when I knew I would be moving to Phoenix in a couple years. I joined the VOS chapter and planned my vacations to Phoenix around ATD meetings. I got to know people in the local chapter and got involved the minute I arrived in 1998. I continued until I “retired” my company in 2002.

    I went out of the training field until 2015 when I went to work for the Supreme Court. Of course I joined ATD and was all set to get involved again, however my job was all encompassing so I could only attend meetings occasionally. When I left my job 9 months ago I wanted to get involved again. I remembered when the Valley of the Sun chapter was an active,  large chapter with monthly meetings. I wanted to see that happen again and I thought being in the membership role on the board would allow me to help.

    I’m really proud of the effort the membership committee put in to pull off the March Network Learn and Grow with ATD event. We had almost 100 people in attendance and everyone had a great time networking, learning from our past presidents and getting to know about our chapter. I want to give a very special thank you to the committee; Justin Fulton, Alisa Fleming, Jane White, Nicki Lomibao, Terry Dellosa, Kathy Koultourides, Maria Gay, Kimberle Schumann and Marybeth Luczu. We could not have created such a special event in such a short time without you.

    I have loved serving the chapter, but I’ve decided to become a snow bird (coming back for clients during the year and full time in the winer), so I am stepping down from my board position this month, although I’ll still be active in the chapter as much as possible.

    I’m really excited to pass the baton to your new Interim Director of Membership, Linda Dausend, CPLP. Linda is Senior Consultant and Account Manager at Flashpoint Leadership Consulting. Linda has been active in ATD and has held the membership role for SHRM for the past 10 years, both at the local Indiana level and on the state level there and here in Arizona, which she currently does. I know she will do an excellent job to help build the membership at ATD VOS.

    My parting thought is to get involved in the chapter. You will make friendships that can last a lifetime, build your professional skills and network with some of the best people in the field. I hope you can join us at the July 9th networking event and meet Linda. I look forward to seeing you at a meeting soon.

    Sue Barenholtz

  • 06/19/2018 11:46 AM | Shaun Krietemeyer

    Developing a strategy can be a daunting task that often feels like unreachable goals. A Learning Strategy for your company/team can feel the same way, especially in our world of ever-changing technology. Sarah Mercier specializes in mobile learning technology strategy, design, and development at meLearning Solutions. She provides steps to developing a learning strategy that focuses on technology. In the article she asks, "Have you identified the specific drivers for focusing on technology as part of your learning strategy?" A wonderful process is provided to help you establish the right goals to put into your learning technology strategy within the article.

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