Volume 14, Number 4

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November 2-3, 2015
ATD Telling Ain't Training Event, New Orleans, LA

March 7-8, 2016
ATD Telling Ain't Training Event, Atlanta, GA

For details about these events, click HERE

To learn more about engaging Harold Stolovitch to speak at your organization, click HERE


Harold Stolovitch and Erica Keeps are Certified Performance Technologists (CPT). The CPT designation is awarded by the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) to experienced practitioners in the field of organizational performance improvement, whose work meets both the performance-based Standards of Performance Technology and application requirements. For more information, visit www.ispi.org.

Project: Time Off

When was the last time you actually took a vacation...a real vacation? We aren't talking about a weekend getaway or even a week off work on a staycation.

An important contributor to performance on the job is how one spends time off the job. Many individuals fail to use their allotted and paid-for vacation time. When asked why, the answer often is "I just can't get away" or "I am in the middle of a big project" or simply "No time". Millions of vacation days go unused!

According to a study conducted by Oxford Economics in 2013, American workers took 23 percent fewer paid-for vacation days than in 2000. According to internal research by audit firm EY (formerly Ernst & Young), "employees who use more vacation days end up with better performance reviews. Taking vacations can also help slow down employee turnover, saving companies the cost and effort of recruiting and training new hires. Other research has linked vacation time to increased worker productivity (http://www.cnbc.com/2014/10/23/unused-vacation-days-at-40-year-high.html)."

According to the Wall Street Journal blog, Americans are throwing away $52.4 billion every year because they won't take time off from work. The article goes on to state that " Not only does our collective reluctance to go on vacation result in burnout, it can also affect firms' financial results, saddling U.S. businesses with $224 billion in liabilities for accumulated employee vacation time." (http://blogs.wsj.com/atwork/2015/03/04/the-cost-of-unused-vacation-time-224-billion/) While workers, on average, have almost 21 days paid vacation time per year, they only use about 16. That is 5 days fewer than provided! What if we took time off to rest, refresh and enjoy new experiences? Is it possible that we may return to work with a clearer mind and with innovative perspectives? Absolutely!

One of the exciting parts of travel is meeting new people, whether they be locals, tourists or fellow travelers. These encounters can be a source of networking as well as new ideas. Often, people we meet on our journeys become friends and/or colleagues. They enrich our lives in numerous ways. When we travel internationally, we experience different cultures and customs. Contacts of this nature can frequently lead us to better understanding the diverse groups of employees within our organizations as well as the customers with whom we interact.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if companies provided sabbaticals as the universities do? Highly unlikely this will happen in the near future. However, we ourselves have the ability to take our own mini sabbaticals - at least five more days than we currently do. Let's commit to using our full vacation time next year. Your family will thank you for it! So will your boss!

Erica and Harold


A Little Known Secret About Harold and Erica

You probably already knew that besides being colleagues and business partners, we are also husband and wife! What you may not know, however, is that we are also IATA card carrying, home-based travel specialists. We've been booking travel for over 12 years!

How did this happen? Initially by accident, then by design. We were sending our associates out on projects all over the globe. One day, having just booked travel for over a dozen trips, we decided that we should get compensated for our hours of research and labor. A neighbor, whom we knew was a travel agent, explained to us the notion of home-based travel agents. In retrospect, we believe it was a precursor to the Uber or Lyft concept of today. We signed on with our neighbor's host agency and received their documentation and a list of training dates. Let us say that we were less than impressed with their documents, handbooks, training materials, tools and website. After attending our first training session, we were convinced the agency needed help.

What to do? Look elsewhere? We did some investigation, only to discover that the agency with which we had signed up was actually a lot better than most. The owner/director was a true SME with over 40 years of travel expertise. His core staff was made up of wonderful travel experts who knew their content areas. They were always available to assist agents. Unfortunately, they knew very little about how to help motivated individuals (many of them professionals like us) learn and perform. As we were excited about gaining more knowledge and capability about travel and they obviously needed help, why not offer to help improve their performance? CONTINUE READING...

Oldie but Goodie

"Small changes in behavior, large changes in performance," a statement that has demonstrated its validity over and over again throughout human history. It's amazing how use of simple words such as "please" and "thank you" powerfully affect the way we view and deal with individuals. Miniscule variations in the amounts of spices we apply in food preparation very strongly influence the taste of a dish. In the workplace, small changes in the environment or our work and social habits can generate tremendous impact on the productivity of people.

A number of research studies and reports have catalogued the seriously negative effect task interferences and distractions create on worker behavior. (See, for example, Chad Brooks' brief article, "10 Distractions That Kill Workplace Productivity" in the June 15, 2015 issue of Business News Daily.) And yet, it's not hard to make "small changes" that can result in major productivity gains.

A few years, I wrote an article, "Task Interference: The Silent Performance Killer" (Workplace Performance Solutions , July 2007) that documented some of the egregious examples of task interference and how much time is actually lost due to the small, seemingly insignificant factors that are endemic to our work environments. Interested in eliminating these toxic elements from your organization? READ this oldie but still goodie for insights on how you can make those little changes that can lead to very large productivity improvement results.

Handbook of Training and Development

Comprehensive. Insightful. Definitive. The second edition ASTD Handbook is the most valuable resource you can own as a training and development professional. Written by 96 of the best and brightest thinkers in the field and edited by Elaine Biech, its 55 chapters cover everything you need to know about the profession today.

HSA's very own Harold Stolovitch and Erica Keeps' chapter, "The Occasional Trainer: What You Must Know to Help Others Learn," can be read HERE.

The second edition ASTD Handbook can be purchased for $145 or $105 for ATD members. For more information, visit ATD.

Guest Author Series

From time to time, we encounter interesting people in our work whom we feel have something important to share with others. Our Guest Author Series includes writings and outright articles by these professional colleagues. The latest contribution in our series is by Charlie Pellerin, PhD (physics). He is an inventor, research astrophysicist, program director (NASA's Astrophysics Division for a decade) and President of a human development company, 4-D Systems. He is the author of How NASA Builds Teams (Wiley 2009). We asked him to share, in an informal way, how he became the well-known figure he is. Kindly, he has produced a reminiscence of his days at NASA, his strange journey from seeming failure to great success and the discoveries he made along the way. Charlie can be reached at charliepellerin@gmail.com.

Charlie's Story
By Charlie Pellerin

Note: In the spirit of "there are no accidents," about a month ago, my colleague, Sharon Gu, came from Beijing to assist me with a workshop in Pasadena for a NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory team. On Sunday, Sharon invited me to join her and some "respected consultants" for lunch and an afternoon at the Norton Simon, a wonderful art museum. Near the end of the day, I realized that I knew Harold and Erica as the authors of one of the most influential books in my journey into the overwhelming power of (social) context. Indeed, Training Ain't Performance was my first insight into the power of "environment" with the impactful story of "Harry's Diner." NOW, HOW THIS ALL BEGAN...


At HSA LEARNING & PERFORMANCE SOLUTIONS LLC, we've seen a lot over the years.  We know the business of learning.  We know the role human performance plays in business success.  We know how to uncover and address needs, then create appropriate solutions.  We pride ourselves on helping organizations achieve high levels of performance - and success.  HSA is a leader in workplace learning and performance improvement.  Our proven learning and performance solutions have helped maximize employee performance at hundreds of organizations throughout the world.  Our principals, Harold D. Stolovitch and Erica J. Keeps, share a common passion - developing people. Together they have devoted a combined total of over 80 years to make workplace learning and performance both enjoyable and effective. Their dedication to improving workplace learning and performance is reflected in the workshops they run internationally on training delivery, instructional design and performance consulting. Together, they are co-editors of the first two editions of the Handbook of Human Performance Technology and co-authors of the best-selling, award-winning series of books Telling Ain't Training - Updated, Expanded and Enhanced, Training Ain't Performance, Beyond Telling Ain't Training Fieldbook and Beyond Training Ain't Performance Fieldbook published by ATD Press. They are also co-authors of the Wiley/Pfeiffer Learning & Performance Toolkit Series.  To learn more HERE.


© 2015 Harold D. Stolovitch and Erica J. Keeps