Writing Effective Contractor Performance Assessments

In September, BPC, LLC was awarded a purchase order (PO) from  NASA at the Kennedy Space Center to design, develop, and deliver a two day course focused on writing effective contractor performance assessments. As you can imagine, we were delighted to be the awardee of a topic that we love so much. When I started with Suntiva, this was one of the first courses that I taught in Egypt in 2012. That being said, we traveled from our home to Titusville, FL where we set up camp at a Fairfield Inn and dined at a Cracker Barrel for supper. I tried to sleep, but I was far too excited. I was not a bit nervous, which is odd, but I could hardly contain my excitement.

Wednesday, we woke early in order to get to the badging center by 0600. As required by the PO, we had submitted our information weeks in advance, yet we were told our badges were not in the system. A few phone calls later, and we were all badged up and ready to get into the classroom to set up. We headed off in the darkness  to find the classroom building. What we learned is that the center is very scarcely lit, making it very difficult to see the building numbers, but we finally made it. The classroom was set up, our computers worked, and we waited for class to begin. The center has quite a state of the art training center.

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The building depicted in the photo below is the facility we used in our group exercises and it located on KSC. It is huge. Rumor has it you can drive buses up and down the stripes without touching one another.

 

 

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We then stuck off to see the center a bit more and found ourselves at the observation visitor’s center. There are five distinct launch pads viewable from this location.

 

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Our next visit, was the NASA gift shop…

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First Month at the Defense Acquisition University

2017-10-18_21-20-08Today marks my one month anniversary at the Defense Acquisition University. The first week I spent my time in the necessary on-boarding scenarios. I took on-line classes covering topics such as cyber security, safety, and other topics related to new comers. The second week was a continuation of trying to get into all the electronic databases and systems that I will use later such as time keeping, Blackboard, etc. You know the routine! Now the third week was my first course. I took the FPD 100, which is focused on becoming a better instructor. I was required to present a 10 minute presentation on a topic of my choice. I chose my hobby – Stained Glass. From the video you can tell that I was a bit nervous, but the information was well received by most of the individuals in the audience. I am now the POC for the Ask the Professor. Now, that does not mean that I have to answer all the questions, but instead means I will be responsible for farming the questions to the appropriate SME and giving those gentle reminders when an answer is nearing the deadline.



The second standup show was on Thursday. We were required to present a 20 minute discussion on a topic from one of the courses that we will be facilitating.Both videos are available on my YouTube Channel or by following this link: YouTubeStained Glass and Market Research Videos  The market research material is a very brief part of a module from our CON 170 course, which I will talk about in a later paragraph. The course was very educational and was a great way to refresh everything that my previous employer worked so diligently to instill in me. As always, I learned new techniques to use in the classroom. I just have to remember to implement them and practice the ‘how’ to make it work smoothly while facilitating.  


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I have been assigned to CON 090, which is a four week course that covers the Federal Acquisition Regulation from Chapter 1 to 53. This will be a fun course, because the participants always seem to enjoy learning about the FAR and how it can keep them out of trouble. I made the below GIF to use in the FAR course that we taught in my previous position. I wonder if it will be a good way to start day one…just thinking ahead a bit.

My second class is CON 170, Fundamentals of Cost and Pricing. Now, this class is chalked full of interesting lectures coupled with math and statistics. I am in the process of certifying, so I am primarily watching the other two instructors deliver the course. I did manage to get a three hour block to discuss Cost Accounting Standards (CAS), which is discussed in FAR Part 30. Most of the individuals in both of these courses are working towards their DAWIA Level Certifications. The course is two-weeks long. It has not only provided me with an opportunity to see the class being conducted, but has also provided two new professional relationships for me.



But, while my life has been busy and the changes have been many, I find that it is a welcome sort of disruption to the norm. I find myself turning to the comforts of home to fill that void left by my now lack of travel to foreign lands. I find myself in the glass studio working diligently to make creative pieces of art to share with friends and family. I share a few photos with you. Now, while this has nothing really to do with DAU or YouTube, it has everything to do with that delicate work-life balance that we strive so hard to accomplish. I believe that life in the office should not detract or disrupt life in the home. I feel like I am managing to strike that balance. That simple fact makes me feel content with my life, and I like content.



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How about all that Technology?

Social Media

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Wiki is a collaborative website that collects and organizes content that is created or edited by its users. Wiki is a great tool for initial research, because it often provides links to expand the resources on the subject. However, in professional research, Wiki is not considered a peer-reviewed resource, so I would recommend using it as a jumping off point if necessary. Malamed (2012) provided a resource for using and collaborating on Wiki.

 

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Blogs are a great way to share knowledge and allow for the reader to post comments. Noe (2011) explained that there are many types of blogs such as person, personal blogs that are written and monitored by one person, or blogs used for marketing and branding purposes. Blogs are useful in teaching and learning if used properly. Hall (2013) explained that blogs are a great tool for learning and sharing knowledge. She provides a unique guide for creating better blogging.

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Simulations and Games

Branching story is a training method where the learners are presented with a situation that mimics real-life scenarios. They are tasked with making decisions or choices. The training progresses based on the decisions the learner selects. The branching story allows the designer to be creative and move away from the standard linear eLearning Snegirev (2016). The branching scenarios allow for an interactive learning event.

 

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Virtual Reality is computer based training that provides a three-dimensional training experience (Noe, 2011). Video games have been used for a long time, but more recently we have experienced virtual reality. Virtual reality is a great tool for learning, but at the present is used mostly in commercial training by organizations with the financial resources for the initial investment (Reynard, 2017).

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Microlearning delivers learning content in a short and focused environment. It presents the training through challenges that stretch our knowledge and often provides rewards such as badges (Penfold, 2016). Microlearning shifts the focus from courses to resources. You are probably most familiar with such applications as Duolingo. The information is provided to the learner in spaced practice, spaced quizzes, and includes incentives and milestones (Greany, 2016).

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Resources

Greany, K. (2016). 5 tips to make your microlearning strategy really delivery. Retrieved from https://blog.elucidat.com/microlearning-strategy/?utm_campaign=elearningindustry.com&utm_source=%2Ftop-10-elearning-trends-to-watch-in-2017&utm_medium=link

Hall, M. (2013). The innovative instructor blog. Using blogging as a learning tool. Retrieved from  http://ii.library.jhu.edu/2013/11/27/using-blogging-as-a-learning-tool/

Malamed, C. (2012). Using Wikis for Learning and Collaboration. Retrieved from http://theelearningcoach.com/elearning2-0/using-wikis-for-elearning/

Noe, R. A. (2013). Employee training and development (6th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Penfold, S. (2016). Top 10 eLearning trends to watch in 2017. Retrieved from https://elearningindustry.com/top-10-elearning-trends-to-watch-in-2017

Reynard, R. (2017). The impact of virtual reality on learning. Retrieved from https://campustechnology.com/articles/2017/04/26/the-impact-of-virtual-reality-on-learning.aspx

Snegirev, S. (2016). Branching scenarios: what you need to know. Retrieved from https://elearningindustry.com/branching-scenarios-need-know

Elevator Speech

I am Dr. Bublak and I am a performance improvement specialist. I want to talk to you for a few minutes about training. Oh, I know – everyone is talking about funds and budgets, but let me show you have using the right training at the right time can save you money NOW and in the future. Generally speaking, you spend roughly $1,000 per employee on training and development. But, are you aware of what training they are receiving, why they are taking certain classes, and what your return on investment each for each employee?

Your organization is reaching into the global market and your customers are more diverse than ever. Is your workforce ready for the new challenges that are coming your way? Are they prepared to interface in a virtual world while out performing your competition by giving you the competitive edge?
If you answered no to any of these questions, I can show you have the right type of instruction, at the right time, to the right target audience, can get you a return on your investment that you did not think was possible. We will shift your training paradigm and get you in front of the pack.

Training Needs Assessment–Focused on The Men’s Wearhouse

 

Men’s Wearhouse (MW) is a men’s dress clothes and suit retailer headquartered in Houston, Texas. Men’s Warehouse started offering quality and personalized service more than 35 years ago. The brand image started when, the founder, George Zimmer first appeared in Men’s Wearhouse commercials in 1985, demonstrating the authenticity of the brand. Everyone knows his famous line: “You’re going to like the way you look. I guarantee it.” The line continues to be part of the branding and marking image for Men’s Wearhouse.

 

The story of the Men’s Wearhouse is one of excellent of customer service. The customer service representatives are coined wardrobe consultants and are expected to  go beyond a customer’s initial request to make sure he is truly satisfied with his shopping experience. The company is referred to as a progressive company with a commitment to the employees. The corporate culture fosters an environment that supports employee growth and prosperity. The organization, while primarily a retailer, touts that its focus remains committed to employees, because they are the ‘heart and soul’ of the business.

 

Attrition is low, but the organization’s  CEO claimed that there are often roadblocks or issues when it come to remaining in front of the every changing design trends. The Men’s Warehouse website stated that the cornerstone of the Company’s success is their commitment to promote employee growth through extensive and ongoing training programs. They stated that their ‘training seeks to emphasize personal and career development, employee empowerment, and building quality relationships with colleagues and customers’. In order to achieve this goal, the Men’s Warehouse leadership has chosen to ‘incorporate a multifaceted approach to training that includes comprehensive initiation programs coupled with a series of continuing-education seminars’.

 

The stakeholders that need to be involved in order to get buy-in would include upper level manager located at the corporate offices, and the C-level leadership team. In order to gain mid and lower level leadership and employee buy-in, upper management must present a unified and positive outlook on their view that training is important and necessary. Once buy-in has been established, access to the required employees, data, and other information is possible. Table 1 illustrates some questions to ask (and to whom to address the questions) during the organizational, person, and task analysis phases

 

Table 1: Questions and Respondents

Organizational to Managers (All levels)

Person (Core employees)

Task

What is the learning culture of the organization? Are employees in a particular job function in need of training? Can the gaps in the training be identified to particular tasks?
What threats exist that may impede your talent base? What tools do employees need to align with business objectives? Where will the biggest ROI occur?
What is the most important training needed to achieve strategic goals? Who should be trained? What skills do you feel they lack? What Kirkpatrick Level is the required training?
How has your training traditionally supported your business strategy? How are potential candidates for training identified? Does the organization have employees with the desired KSA?
What is the training budget and any caps?    

 

The documents that an evaluator would request might start with the documents that indicate the effectiveness of the traditional training i.e. employee training records, certification records, accident or incident logs, and/or production logs. An evaluator would want to see proof of timely feedback for employee performance to ensure low-performance and company goals are being communicated. The evaluator should investigate the past training budget and any particular caps and the reasons for the expenditures and caps? Reviewing current training manuals, curriculum documents, and training material in conjunction with reports provided from other outside consultants need to be reviewed. Lastly, although this list is not meant to be exhaustive, the evaluator may work with the HR office to get a feel for the attrition rate, exit interviews, and other HR documents that might provide an insight into how the employees view the culture and climate of the organization.

 

Now provided a handy table that helps determine the type technique one should employee in gathering the needed documentation for the analysis. The technique that could be employed in this example may be interviews. Interviews are personal and allows the interviewer to build a trusting relationship with the interviewee (Stolovitch, 2011). Often when an employee is being interviewed, they may be inclined to tell more than just answer the question. These revelations could provide the interviewer with a better picture of any existing larger issues. During the process, the evaluator will remain diligent and observe his/her surroundings, watching employees, processes, and procedures as they unfold in the daily grind.

 

N.A. (2017). Our story. Retrieved from http://www.menswearhouse.com/mw-story

Noe, R. A. (2013). Employee training and development (6th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Stolovitch, H. D. (2011). Telling ain’t training: updated, expanded, and enhanced, 2nd edition. American Society for Training and Development.