Volunteer Project: United Way of Dane County

Tablet sitting on desk with PDF document titled Influencing: Managing Up and Across

The Need

In late 2020 to early 2021, I was part of a volunteer project by my local Association of Talent Development chapter (ATD-MAC) and our local United Way of Dane County (UWDC).

UWDC wanted to grow their leadership skills in non-managerial employees and ATD-MAC had identified several key skills to focus on:

  • Influencing: How to Manage Up/Across
  • Collaboration: How to be a Great Team Member
  • Feedback: How to Five and Receive Feedback
  • Relationships: How to Build Trust

I was a part of a group of eight L&D folks assigned to the first topic of Influencing: How to Manage Up/Across.

This topic was particularly interesting to me because of the learner audience: the folks who work for UWDC are passionate, hard workers in a somewhat decentralized organization. UWDC recognized that organization members were having a hard time getting buy-in or help on projects because the requests could take time away from other important projects.

As instructional designers, we always have to define the “what’s in it for me?”, but in this case it was essential!

The Method

One of the restraints we had with this project was limited resources (a challenge not unique to non-profits). Building something like an eLearning module wouldn’t be a great solution because it would be expensive to build and maintain, didn’t have an LMS to live in, and UWDC wasn’t guaranteed to have volunteers around should the learning experience need to be updated down the road.

As such, ATD-MAC determined that the best presentation of the material would be a .PDF that would be built by the volunteer groups and could be updated as needed. Each topic’s PDF (called a learning tool kit) would be assigned to learners as required training, but was also intended to be a resource that could be referenced as needed.

The learning tool kit would be separated into the following parts:

  1. Presentation of topic/What’s In It For Me?
  2. A video scenario unique to UWDC showing how successful mastery of the topic can benefit the organization/learner
  3. A Reflection on the video and a deeper dive into the subcomponents of each step of the topic. Learners would be asked to reflect on what they currently do to see areas for improvement.
  4. A Practice section with Action Learning Tasks for the learner to complete. While creating these Action Learning Tasks, our group followed the 70/20/10 reference model and had the majority of the tasks encourage the learner to learner from experience, some from others, and a few from structured learning.
  5. A Connect section, with a link to a survey and questions to think about and discuss with the learner’s manager in follow-up conversations.
  6. And finally, a section for references and further reading.

Our group worked on the learning tool kit and video over the course of a few weeks in collaboration.

The Results

In addition to working on the tool kit contents with the group, I specifically did the programming of the Vyond video referenced in the PDF, which you can see here:

I was delighted to be able to help a local non-profit organization and get to know my local L&D community better through this volunteer activity!


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