Overworked with No Direction


What Would OD Do?

Sheila, hired into the curriculum development department as an instructional designer at a large marketing firm. Through attrition and a downsizing, the instructional design (ID) staff was reduced from fifteen (15) employees to three (3). But after being on the job for almost a year, Sheila finds herself at a crossroads.

Having been successfully on-boarded, and now in the thick of the work, Sheila figures life would be easier if she doesn't have to reinvent the wheel, so she goes in search of the processes and procedures put in place by the previous staff, only to learn that the processes had been thrown away, or deleted. When Sheila asks Janice, her manager, about the processes she was a bit flabbergasted when Janice told her that not only were the processes not needed, but that Sheila shouldn't waste her time creating new ones, as there wasn't time for that. Three months later Janice leaves the company, but not before promoting Kim, a marketing specialist, into the role as supervisor.

Janice's departure from the company means the department has three new employees without the benefit of any knowledge transfer from previous employees. Dan is new to the department, but has been with the company for a number of years. While Dan has experience training employees, he lacks experience creating instructional content. And Kim, a high potential on the management track, has been with the company for four years. Becoming a supervisor, is a part of her succession plan. The challenge for Sheila and Dan is, without knowledge of the curriculum development process, and very little managerial experience, Kim hasn't been much help in setting priorities and directing the completion of projects.

Eventually, Janice is replaced by John, a director in another part of the company. John, a classic transactional leader, doesn't understand the work of his new employees, and shows relatively little attention to the group, until something goes wrong. Sheila, the only one of the three with instructional design experience, has tried to help John understand the dynamics of the work, and their workload, to no avail.

The Challenge

The firm's engineers are on a robust schedule, creating new marketing software products for it’s customers in a relatively short time. Great for the company. But bad for the curriculm development department, who's responsibility it is to develop training, and push it out to the trainers, who then train customers on the new software as a part of the customer relationship experience.

The responsibilities of the instructional designers include:

  • Learn how to use the product

  • Design a training program for the new product

  • Pilot training with the trainers to ensure the training makes sense

The Affects

  • Customers are not getting the needed training to operate new products. Therefore, trainers continue to train their customers on out of date systems

  • Departments are not working together to provide the best quality product and service to their customers

  • Employees are overwhelmed and are fearful that they may lose their job because they’re unable to complete projects

So the question to you is, what would you do to improve this department’s performance? Leave your comments below.

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