Ascent Associates

Frequently Asked Questions

Any learning intervention, be it a training program, conference presentation or staff development seminar should aim at the same target: improving business results. Unless you know what business results you want to see at the end of the intervention, you are wasting your time and money.

Q: There are lots of facilitators and program designers available for contract assignments.  Why should I hire Ascent Associates?

A: A training program or seminar can be brilliantly designed and masterfully facilitated and still be a waste of time.  Why?  Because the client organization did not address the organizational issues to create fully engaged participation.  If participants do not understand why they are being required to take the program, if they see no connection between the contents of the seminar and their compensation, if participants do not understand the business drivers behind the program and if they do not buy into the desired outcomes, the program will fail.   Ascent Associates provides not just the design work and facilitation, but all the pre and post-intervention consulting and leadership coaching that can make the difference between a memorable training experience that gets business results and just another mediocre program that is soon forgotten.

Q: We need to do some teambuilding with our staff.  How is the teambuilding offered by Ascent Associates any different from the teambuilding program offered by dozens of other providers? 
A:  Many clients tell us they need teambuilding.  When we do a needs analysis we discover that the team often lacks clear goals, doesn’t have a purpose, doesn’t have distinct roles, does not fully understand the work processes they are to use and lacks basic team-communication skills. Until a group shares common goals and purpose, knows its roles, understands its work processes and has good communication skills it is not really a team. No amount of so-called ‘teambuilding’, regardless of how fascinating or exciting the activities may be, can change this.  Ascent Associates builds all its teambuilding programs on this foundation by helping teams identify and/or clarify their goals, purpose, roles, work processes and improve their team-communication skills.

Q:  Our organization has lots of employee development issues that need to be addressed, but no one has time to sit in a seminar.  We schedule sessions, and then people either don’t show or only participate half-heartedly.  Why would an Ascent Associates program be any different?
A:  It’s true that people don’t want to attend training sessions that waste their time.  But it’s not quite true that no one has time for training anymore.  People will enthusiastically participate in training that helps them do their jobs better and move forward in their careers. They have to understand why they are required to take the training.  They also need to fully understand the consequences of not taking the training. Ascent Associates helps clients position their training through front-end consulting and communication so that full participation is assured.

Q: Our people have developed a strong aversion to traditional seminars.  They have seen it all — dramatic video clips, PowerPoint shows, dynamic motivational speakers and glitzy hi-tech simulations. But at the end of the day, none of these bells and whistles seem to make much difference. What’s different about an Ascent Associate program?
A:  While good multi-media, the right speaker or a great simulation all can add value to any training program, without active participation and significant control over their agenda, most audiences will tune out.  In Ascent Associates programs we treat adults as if they are really adults. We give them options for participation and encourage them to become involved in the roll-out of the agenda. When appropriate we use action-learning or experiential activities to get people physically involved in their own learning.

Q:  We participated in an action-learning workshop recently in which our people completed physical games and team problem-solving activities.  It was fun at the time but at the end of the day our people were still asking why they had to lose a full day while work piled up on their desks back at the office.  What is so different about how Ascent Associates uses action learning?
A:  The design rationale behind any action-learning activity has to be based on business results.  The difference is in the debriefing of each activity.  What behaviour changes do you want to see and how will you know when the desired behaviour happens?  What are the links between what happened in an action-learning activity and life back at work?  Ascent Associates uses skillful in-depth debriefing techniques at the end of each action-learning activity to establish the links back to the desired behaviours and business results.

Q: Our managers all know they need to upgrade their skills, but they won’t attend seminars that take them away from work.  What can Ascent Associates do to help them?
A: There are a number of options for management development apart from seminars that include on-line learning, blended learning, learning team assignments and guided self-study. Coaching, either delivered to a team of managers or one-on-one, can also be a time-effective way of fitting management development into crowded schedules. At Ascent Associates we have observed that one of the outcomes of coaching we do can be a heightened sense of personal responsibility for one’s own learning.

Q: We have invested heavily in management development over the years and quite frankly, we are disappointed with the ROI.  How can Ascent Associates help us get greater value out of the management development investments we continue to make?
A: Post-program coaching can make an immense difference in the transfer of learning from a seminar to the workplace. One-on-one coaching based in part upon the content of the seminar just completed can help individual managers and leaders make the learning real in their daily lives.  Ascent Associates recommends post-seminar coaching as a way to maximize ROI and ensure lasting value.

Click here to browse our new book on leadership for frontline managers or check out this month’s article: “Are Intergenerational Conflicts Hurting Your Business?”. To view a portfolio of our published writing, click here.

Twitter: @billtemp      Email:  info [at] ascentassociates [dot] ca