Hello, it’s Bethany with Bigger Brains, your favorite e-learning company. And this is Top Brains, the podcast that covers topics of interest to the L&D community. I’m pleased to welcome Kat Snizaski. She’s the owner of Interactive Business Training in Greenville, South Carolina, and a Bigger Brains expert. Kat’s, a 25-year facilitator and trainer providing state-of-the-art professional development training to adults across the nation.
She provides tools that one needs for greater success in their business life. So we’re going to be talking, upskilling and reskilling post-pandemic. At least we hope it’s post-pandemic. So welcome, Kat. Thank you for taking time to talk with me. Let’s start with defining our topics a little bit.
What is the difference between reskilling and upskilling?
Well, first of all, thank you so much for having me. I love training and learning and development. So this is definitely my chocolate, and I’m so happy to be able to share my thoughts and ideas and especially from what’s been going on in the last couple of years.
And traditionally upskilling is learning new skills, let’s say, to do your current job or you’re improving your current skills. And then reskill traditionally is learning skills to do a different job.
OK. So companies may reskill someone who’s moving to a new department that requires different knowledge and skills?
OK. And then upskilling would be building on your current skills. If you’re like me and you know the basics of Excel, but you need to know how to do a pivot table. Then I’d need to upskill, and I definitely need to upskill on that one. So as we know, Bigger Brains provides a wide variety of formats and topics for e-learning when it comes to reskilling and upskilling.
What do you think is the best way for a manager to decide what’s needed?
I think a manager needs to start with what their expectations are or what their definition of success is going to be at the end. What is that desired outcome? And then work their way backward and ask those questions. What technology are they going to need? And then even a harder question. I mean, do they know how to use that technology to be able to produce that particular outcome? Does the employee have the right team and the right resources? Does the culture actually facilitate the quality and the efficiency for those expectations for success?
I think understanding what that end result is expected to be and then connecting those dots and asking those hard questions to say; “OK, this is where we are and this is where we want to be and where do we need to have training to fill those particular gaps so our team has the knowledge that they need to be successful?”
Right now we are in the middle of a great resignation, so reskilling and upskilling is a topic of concern at this point. And while this great resignation may be caused mainly by COVID concerns shouldn’t the employers always be offering training for morale and retention of employees in general?
Oh, absolutely. You know, COVID’s kind of opened our eyes a little bit more than what we had before. But I mean, I know my mother always said, you’re either moving forward or you’re moving backward. And if you’re standing still, that means you’re moving backward because everything is always evolving and things are evolving, we have to learn, right? And we have to grow and go through those growing pains.
So I think having a learning culture is absolutely imperative for success. And while before, and our environments might have been still evolving, I think recently in the last couple of years, we may have recognized it more, but it’s always been changing. So learning and development should be a part of everybody’s culture to keep moving forward.
So what do you think has traditionally been the most overlooked skills in the business environment, and what are those skills that managers really need to be offering for reskilling and upskilling employees?
You know that that’s a great question, and I don’t even think that the answer to this question has changed because of the pandemic. I think what we do, even as managers or leaders or even employees, I mean, we make assumptions and we assume if someone’s really good at one thing, then they must be really, really good at something else. Or we make assumptions and they know how to do one thing really well. So we assume that they know how to use the tool to get to that particular outcome.
I think just making those assumptions and assuming that someone can “We’re going to promote you or we’re going to give you a different job, so you’re so good at this one individual thing.” And then we just assume they’re going to be good at something else without stepping back and asking those hard questions that we just talked about. I mean, what? What is it going to take for success? Does this particular person have the skills they need? Do they have the team they need the culture that they need to facilitate that that end result and that success?
And I think another thing we need to think about is it’s not just for the employees. I mean. This evolution that’s taking place is also happening to our managers, and being able to manage these different cultures is really, really important.
So, you know, again, making assumptions, I think that’s something that’s been traditionally overlooked and even now overlooked to say, you know, we still need to get to this outcome. We’re still evolving and we still want to grow, and we just assume people know how to do that, whatever that skill set might be.
Is there is there anything in general, any skills in general that you think are really overlooked for by managers, for most of their employees? I mean, you were talking about assumptions. So are they assuming that their employees know these things when they probably don’t?
We can keep it like really, really simple, which is something I know we have all experienced over the last couple of years. I mean, even me and I’m supposed to be a technology expert, but, you know, conducting virtual meetings and virtual training and how to keep people engaged during those virtual sessions.
I mean, we’re still working with people and there’s techniques that need to be used. I mean, there are skills that we need to learn to actually keep people engaged in a virtual environment versus in person. I mean, we’re in-person, we can see people and they’re right in front of us.
So that interaction kind of happens organically, but virtually it doesn’t. So the skill sets to even conduct a simple meeting and to keep people to have their cameras on or like, what do they think about something? It’s so easy just to sit there and be quiet.
But there are skills that we need to keep our employees engaged to keep them motivated, and that’s something that’s really, really simple. And then you can say, Okay, well, like you had given the example of using Excel, well you know how to use Excel, so you must know business intelligence, right? We make that assumption.
A bad assumption!
And you laugh because you’re like, no wait a minute back off! You mentioned the pivot table. So I mean, that’s something that someone can make assumptions that “You know what? She knows how to do up to the pivot table. And then she understands how business intelligence works.”
So those are just two examples that right off the cuff that I see every single day.
So I mean, we’ve been talking about kind of skills and as you say, intelligence. Do you think that the training also needs to include more mental health options or variations and in a work/home balance because of the recent past? Do we need to be training our employees on how to be mentally healthy in this new work environment?
Wow, that’s a really, really, really great question and might be a little bit out of my league. But you know, we all have our challenges. I mean, whether we’re working at home or even working at work, being able to stay focused and get things accomplished, I think as managers and as leaders, what we need to do is be very, very clear on the expectations of the end result. Where sometimes we might have been focused on, you know, how do you get there?
Here are the steps 1-2-3 to get to this particular step. With working from home, you might not always have that exact same opportunity to be able to go through those exact same steps. So I don’t want to use the word leniency, but focusing more on the outcome as opposed to the individual steps might make it a little more, let’s say, doable for the employer that’s working from home and that’s trying to balance their work-life, that’s trying to balance their home life. And all at the same time you know, having kids being homeschooled now where they weren’t before, that that’s an incredible challenge.
So, instead of like looking at those, minute details to say this is how you’re going to do this, maybe being more focused on what that overall outcome is going to be and what those expectations are so people can problem solve on their own. Because the way one person is going to resolve how to work from home is going to be maybe differently someone else, or maybe even offering sessions to say, “You know what, let’s let’s have a meeting or let’s have a training session on how we can do this from home, how and learn from other people on how they’re actually accomplishing those exact same tasks.”
Right? Oh, that’s great. Yeah.
So as we’ve explored some in this talk, there are changes in topics and formats and you know, all of what we used to do and used to think of as training. So do you think these changes are going to be with us for the foreseeable future?
Oh, absolutely, of course. I think in the last few years, we’ve actually proven that we have to, you know, keep solving problems and we have to solve them differently than what we did before. I know we always had to do that before the pandemic, but it’s kind of a little closer now, and we recognize it even more so than what we did before because we do have to solve the problems, right?
And we still have to go to work. We still have to produce, we still have to do what we did before. But the way we were doing it is different, and I think it’s proven how agile employees and businesses can be. Where we might have struggled maybe a little bit in the beginning. But it’s like nope we’re not, we’ve still got to go to work, we’re still going to get this accomplished.
So I think, you know, it’s always been on the forefront and the topics in the different formats and things like that. But I think now people recognize it is like, OK, I need it. I need this to be able to be successful because things are going to change.
So are there trends we should be conscious of for 2022?
Yeah. I mean, I’ve mentioned the world changed quite a bit and is evolving. I think today’s workplace, you know, it is a place that we might not even have a lot of experience managing yet. Right? I mean, even I mean not all of us, but some of us, this is all brand new. And I mean, let’s face it we have four, maybe five generations that are in the workplace today, like right now might even be on the same team, and they’re all motivated differently.
I think the trend is knowing that change isn’t something that we’re going to prepare for. It’s in which it had been in the past. We manage that change. I think it’s something we need to embrace as part of our culture. We’ve always evolved. But I think we’re paying closer attention to it now and understanding that evolving is constant change where most of us say, oh my goodness, we don’t like change. But the understanding that that evolution is constant change and weaving that into the organizational culture, I think that’s the key.
OK, well, 2022, hard to believe, almost upon us. So we’ll have to wrap this up. Thank you so much for talking with me, Kat. It’s always a scary prospect to think about new skills and having to train and having to give up the old, as you say, that the changes are always upon us so we have to learn to evolve.
And be sure to check out Bigger Brains when looking for award-winning, engaging and expert training for your situation in need. Kat is one of our fabulous experts and she’s got, some new courses coming out too that we’ll be announcing pretty soon. And you can find us in all of our content and courses online and getbiggerbrains.com. Thank you so much, Kat. I really appreciate it.
Thank you. Thank you. It’s great chatting with you.