The 5 Characteristics of a Successful Organizational Development Program

An organizational development program uses employee training to improve organizational functioning and help employees develop their skills so they can be of greater benefit to the organization. Organizational development is important in meeting established goals, and for growth and gaining market share. Even for organizations not focused on financial goals, like non-profits, organizational development can increase the organization’s reach and help it do more good in the community or help more people.

Here are some characteristics of a successful organizational development program.

1. Training aligned to goals.

The foundation of any successful OD program is to make sure that the training is consistent with the organization’s mission, vision, and goals. Growth and development won’t meet objectives without this alignment — you may reach goals, but they won’t be your goals.

2. Leadership committed to the process.

Organizational development begins at the top. If the leadership isn’t committed to the process, they shouldn’t expect their employees to be committed either. Executive coaching will help leadership get on board so they can support the process as it moves through the rest of the organization.

3. Communication is effective at all levels.

Being able to communicate the principles and skills needed to reach organizational goals is essential, and no one should be left out of the communication process. Written, spoken, and video communication are all important and should be consistent, clear, and targeted to different positions and departments so that everyone knows where they fit and how to do their part to help the organization develop.

4. High quality of training and coaching.

Organizational development will only be as good as the coaching and training employees get, so the highest quality of training and coaching is necessary in order to move an organization forward in significant ways. Not only are many training programs dull, but also many are not even effective at teaching people how to improve and develop their skills. Make sure you have high quality training in place if you want the initiative to succeed.

5. Taking a long term view.

Most organizations have short- and long-term goals. Focusing on only short-term goals doesn’t give organizations the chance they need to develop over time. Meeting short-term goals is one step in the process, but taking a longer view will be more comprehensive and lead to more growth over time.

CCSU is offering a continuing education course through the HR certificate program on training and organizational development that will explain how to institute an organizational development program and make it work. As part of the six-week course, students will design and deliver their own training program, giving them valuable skills to take back to their organizations at the completion of the course.  View open courses to see all the options we offer.

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What Happens to Your Brain When You Learn a New Skill?

Learning a new skill at any age has a specific and definite impact on your brain that scientists now know a lot about. After you learn something new, your brain is never the same again. Here are some of the ways it can change.

New Neurons and Connections

Each and every time we learn something new our brain forms new connections and neurons and makes existing neural pathways stronger or weaker. Some experts call these changes “plasticity” in the brain.

Dendrites in your neurons get signals from other dendrites, and the signals travel along the axon, which connects them to other neurons and dendrites. These signals travel fast, often in only fractions of a second, and many of the signals are sent without the brain being aware of the action.

Your brain will continue changing right up until the end of your life, and the more you learn along the way, the more your brain will change and the more “plastic” it will be.

Temporary to Permanent

Everything you learn goes first to your short term memory, and some of it transfers later to long term storage in your brain. Sleep is often important to transferring something from short to long term memory, which is why memory loss can occur with sleep deprivation. Because of how memories have to travel across many synapses and neurons, degradation often occurs that can render memories incomplete once they are transferred.

adult-education

Dopamine Release

Learning something new is often exciting for the learner. According to Oprah.com, novel experiences cause a rush of dopamine, which not only makes learning seem exciting but also makes you want to repeat the experience. Dopamine is also involved in experiences like love, addictive behaviors, and attention deficit disorder, among many other things.

The Growth of Myelin

Myelin makes the signals in our neurons move faster, and when you learn new things, especially at older ages, it helps more myelin get onto our nerve axons so that our brain is more connected and feels like it works faster and better. Myelin works especially well when a new experience is repeated multiple times, like when we practice something or repeat it every day or every few days.

When You Don’t Learn New Things

A British research study showed that being bored (which occurs when you don’t learn new things very often) can be dangerous to your health. People in the study who reported being bored over a long period of time had heart disease rates more than twice as high as those who did not report boredom.

Not having new experiences and learning new things will slow your brain down and make it less responsive. Adult learning is good for your health and has been shown to slow the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s and dementia, as well as just preventing general slowing of your mental faculties.

CCSU offers many opportunities to learn new things at any age through continuing education courses taught by expert faculty with real-world experience in their respective areas. Join our mailing list to stay up to date on what we offer.

The Legal Benefits of HR Training for Your Business

Human resources professionals now face an increasingly complicated body of regulations and laws that govern hiring and firing employees as well as everything in between. Gone are the days when hiring and firing people were simple. It takes a good deal of knowledge and training to ensure that a company is in compliance with all of these legal requirements.

Why Comply?

Companies who don’t comply with HR regulations and laws may find themselves being sued by employees or fined by government agencies for their lack of cooperation. Avoiding lawsuits and fines is a top motivator for companies to get HR training for their employees and get themselves into compliance with HR laws and regulations.

Another benefit to compliance is the ability to (potentially) qualify for government subsidies or grants. The paperwork for these programs usually includes some kind of proof that the company is in compliance with HR laws and regulations before they will give a subsidy or grant.

Finally, many of the laws and regulations in place today were enacted to make treatment of employees and job candidates fairer and ensure that they are treated well, so compliance will help your company gain or continue to have a reputation in the community for treating its employees well.

Knowledge Precedes Compliance

You can’t comply with regulations and laws you don’t know about, so knowledge is the first step to compliance. Even small businesses are governed by many regulations about which they may not even know. Taking a course like the CCSU Office of Continuing Education’s Employment and the Law, which is part of its HR Certificate Program, will give HR professionals knowledge about discrimination laws, health care regulations, Family and Medical Leave Acts, and labor relations laws.

In-depth knowledge about these things will help HR professionals handle situations in the workplace properly to avoid negative consequences like lawsuits, fines, and penalties that can result from mistakes or a lack of knowledge about what companies need to do to be compliant.

Hands-On Experience Will Build Confidence

Trying to comply with numerous laws and regulations can be nervewracking, especially when faced with an accusation that the company has violated one of them. The CCSU Office of Continuing Education’s Employment and the Law course provides hands-on opportunities to experience situations like an unemployment compensation case, a wage audit, and responding to an attorney’s information request properly.

HR professionals who take this course and others in the HR certificate program will not only have the knowledge they need to ensure that their companies comply with regulations and laws, they will also gain hands-on experience that will help them know what to do when they are faced with an accusation of non-compliance.

CCSU offers many continuing education courses for professionals looking to keep up with changes and new developments in their fields. Join our mailing list for information on all the latest courses.

Going Beyond the Classroom to Encourage Student Success

Student success in the classroom may have more to do with non-academic factors than with the academic skills students have, according to recent research. Factors like having a sense of purpose and belonging toward learning, having a growth mindset about intelligence, and developing certain character traits conducive to learning will greatly increase student success if educators focus on them in the classroom.

Purpose and Belonging

Many students struggle in school because they don’t see how the effort they put into their schoolwork today will benefit them in other parts of their lives and in the future. Connecting schoolwork with a greater purpose and fostering students’ sense of belonging to the school and its academic community will help motivate them to commit themselves to their academic pursuits.

There are things teachers can do in the classroom to foster a sense of purpose and belonging for struggling students, removing that obstacle to developing their full academic potential.

Growth Mindset

When students believe their academic ability and intelligence are fixed, they are less likely to make as much of an effort in the classroom. One example of this type of thinking is that “math is hard, and it’s never going to get any easier, because I am just dumb at math.”

When students can be made to understand that their intelligence can be changed through effort and that it is not fixed (a viewpoint that is supported by brain research), it opens up a new way of thinking that educators are beginning to call the growth mindset.

Students with a growth mindset try harder in the classroom than others, are less likely to give up when something is hard for them, and think better of their own academic potential and abilities than students with a “fixed” mindset.

There are many techniques educators can use to promote a growth mindset among their students. Praising students’ effort rather than telling them they are “smart” is one way to reinforce the point that effort is important to academic success. Even the students who find academics easy will struggle eventually and will need to have a growth mindset to persevere.

Cultivating Character Strengths

When educators talk about character, they don’t mean moral or religious character. Instead, they mean the traits that encourage student success. Some of these are grit or perseverance, self-control, optimism, gratitude, enthusiasm, and curiosity. Students with these characteristics have the building blocks that lead to success both in school and in life, without labeling behaviors “good” or “bad” morally.

CCSU’s Educational Certificate in Student Success focuses on these non-academic factors and how educators can develop them in their classrooms. The courses are a series of live webinars taught by Marianne Fallon, a seasoned doctoral level instructor who has authored and presented research nationally in several venues as well as won awards for her teaching.

Join our mailing list to be kept in the loop about upcoming CCSU courses.

Lifelong Learning Shouldn’t Stop When You Retire

Many older adults are finding that retirement is not all it’s cracked up to be. A life of leisure, shopping, golf, and playing bridge may make some seniors happy, but many others soon find that they crave more intellectual stimulation than what most retirement communities offer.

One thing that many seniors find missing in their lives is the satisfaction that comes from learning something new. After going to college and possibly continuing education classes during their working years, seniors find it difficult to have a full and satisfying life without learning being a part of it.

The Benefits of Lifelong Learning

There is no shortage of research about the positive effects of lifelong learning for seniors. One study, the Rush Memory and Aging Project in 2012, showed that cognitively active seniors were 2.6 times less likely to get Alzheimer’s disease and dementia than those who were less cognitively active. The average age of seniors in the study was 80.

Professor Stephen McNair of the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education said in the Guardian newspaper that lifelong learning helps seniors feel like they have a purpose in life even as they may be losing loved ones and friends that gave their lives a great deal of meaning.

Lifelong learning can also help seniors feel connected to their communities and the world at a time when isolation may set in because of health problems, moving to a retirement community or losing the ability to drive a car. Some retirement communities are even developing partnerships with local universities to offer continuing education to residents to help keep their minds sharp.

Lifelong learners are also less likely to become financially dependent on the government or others in their senior years. The more you learn about the world, the better you will be at managing your finances or coming up with ways to earn a little extra cash when you need it.

Why Learn in a Classroom?

Of course, learning doesn’t have to take place in a classroom, and many valuable things can only be learned outside the classroom; however, there are definite benefits to continuing education courses inside a classroom or in an academic setting.

Social contact. Getting older can be an isolating experience, especially when loved ones pass away before you and the daily contact you used to have with them is now gone. Taking classes can help you get some of that ongoing social contact that is so needed by anyone of any age.

Working together. In most academic coursework, even the non-credit variety, group work of some sort is required. Working as a team provides intellectual stimulation that no other learning or work can provide, which keeps different parts of your brain active than a solo activity like reading a book or doing a puzzle would do.

Feedback. Getting feedback from a teacher or your peers helps you learn more and evaluate your learning as you go, which improves the quality of that learning and makes it more challenging (in a good way). Feedback, like working with others in a group, will expose you to aspects of learning that you won’t be able to access in any other way.

CCSU is offering a Changing Aging event through the AARP and Dr. Bill Thomas on June 16 that will expose seniors to a whole new way of looking at aging and lifelong learning. Join our mailing list for updates on all our programs.

Expert Interview Series: Chad Vignola of LDC About Helping Teachers Teach Students Better

As Executive Director of LDC, Chad Vignola works tirelessly to support educators. We had a chance to talk with Chad to hear about the exciting and innovative instructional techniques and materials that can help teachers educate their students more effectively. Continue reading “Expert Interview Series: Chad Vignola of LDC About Helping Teachers Teach Students Better”