Thursday, December 13, 2007

Tuition Assistance and High Performance...Ding! Ding! Ding!

The case study in the December issue of Chief Learning Officer Magazine scratches me right where I itch. Verizon Wireless is nailing it, and the case study shows the results that are proving it. I will not quote the results (you can read the article) but employees who participated in and graduated from a program, using their tuition assistance program had higher retention, promotions and lateral moves, increased job performance.

Verizon Wireless is doing this with employees in primarily customer service and sales positions, traditionally high turnover jobs. They don't just have a tuition assistance program...they treat it as a investment with potential returns and promote it in a variety of ways to encourage employees to participate. They want employees to participate because they know those who participate are more loyal and perform better than people who do not participate. Bingo!

Verizon Wireless realizes that it cannot provide all of the learning opportunities with internal L&D resources, so it leverages tuition assistance programs and local colleges and universities to help employees grow. It is showing measurable results in performance.

Organizations can take this to the next level by creating incentives to encourage employees to attend targeted programs that teach competencies and skills that Verizon requires for success. There is some discussion in the case study that Verizon Wireless partners with local colleges to bring degree programs in-house to increase chances of attendance and completion. I assume the degree programs are targets to competencies and skills Verizon Wireless values. Again...Bingo!

Does your organization have a tuition assistance program? Is it promoted or hidden deep in the intranet? Are the dollar limits reasonable or so small it would not cover a single class at your local university? Are the tuition assistance program rules flexible enough to allow your people to seek enriching educational opporunities that would benefit both individuals and the organization or so restrictive in what one can take, it is not worth the trouble? Do you hear Ding! Ding! Ding! or Bzzzzzzzzz.

Friday, August 10, 2007

A Legend in Your Own Mind

It has been a few weeks since I played golf, and I am scheduled to play this weekend. I want to have an enjoyable day on the course, so I am re-reading The Golfer's Mind: Play to Play Great. One of the points of the book is that golf is a game of mistakes and you cannot control where the balls goes...only your reaction to where the ball goes.

On more than one occasion, I have hit the ball in the rough or trees or into a bunker and still ended with a good score on a hole, for a round. For some reason, on those holes, the bad shot(s) I hit, did not bother me. I was able to hit the next shot towards, close or on the green.

So why do my bad shots bother me most other times? What are my expectations? I have been playing golf for barely one year, and when I hit a bad shot, I get upset. What am I crazy? I am a beginner...I am supposed to hit bad shots. I should expect to hit bad shots, while at the same time...continuously endeavoring to enjoy playing and improving. With this attitude, I can enjoy playing golf because I know I will have good shots during the day. When I am in the right state of mind, I enjoy knowing that any of my next shots could and will be a good one.

This is much like trading. You will have losing (bad shots) trades. Plenty. Losing trades are part of the job; factored in. There is no reason to get upset over a losing trade or even several losing trades, if the overall system has positive expectation, and you continue to follow your system.

Sometimes in a golf game, I hit a few bad shots and begin to rush through my routine, skip it altogether or try to change my swing. I fail to follow my system. I have learned to follow my trading system with very few deviations. It is now time to apply that discipline to my golf game.

Reading *The Golfer's Mind* helps me remember that.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Secret to Golf - Relinquish All Control

I went to the driving range this morning. I have discovered the secret to golf. The secret for me at least. Every time I hit the ball well, whether with a wedge or a 3-wood, the same thing happens.....my swing is easy and slow, but my wrists and grip are so light and loose that the club is allowed to come through with extraordinary speed, unfettered by a tense grip. Every time I swing like that, the ball flies high and far.

The problem is when I do that and see the ball go that far...I want to swing again, hard, to make the ball go like that again. I swing hard, tighten my grip, stiffen by wrists and hit the ground before the ball or thinly. Frustrating.

Then I talk to myself, "chill...be loose." I swing again...with a complete lack of effort, and the balls just soars. I smile and think to myself....this is sooo easy. It is quite unbelievable how easy it is to hit a 7 iron 150 or 160 yards with so little effort. I just cannot do very often...yet!

So I work on being loose, swinging easy, but almost letting the club completely go on my down swing. It works.....I just need some time to practice it. If I can master this, I will be able to shoot in the 70s someday. I know I will.

I know this because a month ago...I played a round with 3 friends. I pared the first two holes...and all of my swings were easy. I hit the fairways on both drives and the greens in regulation, two putting for par on both...as if I had played my entire life. No problem. My friends did not know what to make of it.

If I can do that for 2 holes. I can do it for 3 or 4.......you get the idea.