2017 - Page 3 of 5 - AdvantEdge Training & Consulting
Microsoft Office, Professional Development

The best way for your employees to learn

The Best Company Learning Models through Instructional Design E-learning, mobile learning, micro-learning, instructor-led classroom training, self-paced learning, blended learning – yikes!  What does it all mean, how should you be using it, and what is best for your organization.  Are you missing out if you do not incorporate one or all?  All of these different terms have been created by the Instructional Design and Training community to try to provide different methods to best meet company needs. The most cost effective and highest retention method is traditional instructor-led classroom training.  This allows interaction with an instructor, as well as other students, to get a rich and robust learning experience.  However, this is not always possible for 100% of a company’s training needs.  Your company may need something more customized and specific to its unique needs.  Or maybe you have some employees that can’t set aside a four or eight hour block of time for classroom training.  Or you could have an ongoing training need for only one or two people at a time (such as during onboarding), which makes classroom training cost prohibitive for such a small number of participants.  In these cases, it can be beneficial to engage an Instructional Designer to create a customized learning solution. The best design, in these instances, is a blended learning approach that incorporates many different learning methods based on your training needs.  If blocks of time is an issue, a self-paced learner model is best, where an employee can do short segments at a time with e-learning or reading materials.  Or, if it is quick ideas and concepts you need employees to know, on an ongoing basis, a mobile/micro-learning method could be employed in which employees can learn quick tips on a mobile app, taking just two minutes or less at a time. In any case, where self-paced learning is designed, the key is to have many different tools and methods to engage employees.  If everything is taught via video, students will quickly tune out and off.  The most successful instructionally designed courses incorporate videos, workbooks, exercises, and other interactive tools, which continually change focus to keep employees engaged. One potential pitfall of self-paced designed courses is that it is very easy for an employee to drop off before they finish.  Employees start with the best intentions of continued learning, but work quickly gets in the way and changes priorities.   A high level of employee management is needed with these learning models in order to ensure employees complete courses.  Companies should manage these with an LMS (Learning Management System) that can track employee progress, as well as send reminders to keep them on track, and limit the amount of management prompting needed. The most effective Instructional Design models combine instructor-led classroom training with other blended learning components.  For example, have classroom training for core and most widely used concepts and skills, then incorporate self-paced learning models with shorter concepts for more specialized topics for more specific and unique job roles.  Have homework or continued learning concepts through e-learning or self-paced reading, then use the classroom setting to bring those concepts together and hold students accountable. An Instructional Design expert can help you build the training programs to best meet your ongoing company needs, with a one-topic course or a complete Corporate University structure.   They can also create a solution that will get you the highest knowledge retention, and promote and manage the employee engagement. Learn the many ways AdvantEdge Training & Consulting can help your organization with Instructional Design.

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Use Application Parts to quickly build tables and forms in Access

Application Parts are a quick way to partially, or completely, build specific tables and forms for your database. Using the Contacts template as an example, once used, this Application Part will create tables, queries, forms and reports. This preset functionality is useful, especially if you are not sure where to start. Even though the Application Part creates all these pieces, you are still able to add anything that you need for your database. Starting off this way might also give you some additional ideas that you did not think of originally. In order to use this feature, click the Create tab, then click the dropdown for Application Parts (located on the left side of the ribbon). There are a number of templates to choose from, or if you are just looking for a form template, there are a number of these available, as well. Once created, you can alter any of the created items. Before creating an Application Part, ensure all tabs are closed, or an error message will pop-up asking if you want to close all open objects. In order to populate the template, you will need to click “Yes” on the dialog box. To check out all the objects that were created using this functionality, ensure that All Access Objects is selected in the navigation pane, typically located on the left. These objects can then be changed by clicking the drop-down arrow in the top right-hand corner of the navigation pane. Empower your databases with an Access Training course from AETC.

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Microsoft Office, Professional Development

The Smartest Investment You Can Make

Recently, in an article in Forbes magazine, Warren Buffet spoke about a good investment strategy. Briefly, Buffet’s recommended strategy is to find a solid business “with a durable, competitive advantage, and available at a price that makes sense,” one that is not designed to get anyone rich quick, but will increase in value steadily over time. This is a solid plan for investing your dollars, without doubt.  Buffet concludes his article, however, by pointing out that the most important “business” to which you should apply this strategy is the business of you. According to Buffet, “ultimately, there’s one investment that supersedes all others: Invest in yourself.”  He then relates a story about his own inability to speak in public. To overcome his lack of skill in this area, Buffet invested in a training course on public speaking. Gaining this new ability empowered him in both his work life and his private life. Buffet recommends identifying your own weak areas, then taking the time and money to address them. Investing in your own skill development, through training, is a strategy that will continue to pay dividends for decades.  Each skill mastered, be it a new software application, the understanding of solid management strategies, or achieving a certification, such as Project Management certification, is a marketable assets with current and future employers.  Achieving any sense of mastery, too, builds confidence and a deep sense of our own competency, which can help us establish our value in a competitive job market, or even in our personal lives. It is worth noting, in a time when Googling for answers on such topics as replacing an old fuse or the fastest route to Chattanooga, taking the time and investing the capital to seek in-person training, from an expert in the subject matter, is more likely to create a true mastery of that material. A qualified instructor can explain things in a way that will increase depth of knowledge and retention of the subject matter, identify trouble spots, answer any questions, show you new tricks and tips you didn’t even know were an option, and even help translate your new skills into real world application. Certainly, spending your resources of time and money to increase your own skill levels is not one that will allow you to, next week, retire a comfortable billionaire. Nevertheless, making the investment in yourself, especially through skills training, is one that will undoubtedly pay off richly, in both your earning potential and the quality of your life, in the long term. Not sure where to start? Check out AdvantEdge Training & Consulting’s Microsoft Skills Assessment, or check out our current calendar of computer and professional development training courses, to see exactly how you can make this priceless investment in yourself. (We even offer Public Speaking courses, if you think yourself similar to a young Warren Buffet.) To read the full text of Buffet’s article, please click here.

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Finding Help with Functions

Finding information about functions can be difficult, especially if you do not know the name of the function, or if you are trying to find a function that will do what you need. Two ways to find help with functions come directly from Microsoft: First Option – If you know the name of the function, but are unsure how it works or what is required to make it work, then you can use the Insert Function command for help. To access this function, click the Formulas tab, then the fx Insert Function command, located to the far left of the ribbon. This will open a dialog box. Type the name of the function you are trying to find in the Search for a Function field, then click Go. In some cases, you can type in a description of what you are looking for, but it might not give you the correct function. Second Option – It is always a great idea to know what is available to you as the user, or have an idea what functions have been added to new versions of Excel. The easiest way to do this is to do a search in Help. To bring up the Excel help dialog box, press the F1 key on your keyboard. Once the dialog box is open, type Functions by Category in the search field; the first option should read Excel Functions (by category). Click the link and all categories for functions will populate. Click the category you wish to view, and the functions from that category will populate. Once you find the function you want to view, click the link and you will be able to view details about the function, including when and how to use the function, examples for setup and outcomes that function will give you, and, in some cases, videos for setup of the function. For more ways to make Excel work for you, take a training course from AdvantEdge Training & Consulting!

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Designer Feature in PowerPoint 365

Does your company subscribe to Microsoft 365? If so, the added ability to build PowerPoint presentations with your browser is available, and with it comes additional functionality not available with the software residing on your computer. One new piece of functionality in the browser version of PowerPoint is called Designer. With this functionality, a user can quickly see options for slide backgrounds, with the ability to quickly swap one option for another in individual slides, without effecting the entire presentation. The Designer option is activated by clicking the Design Ideas command, located under the Design tab in the Designer group, as depicted below: Once this command is clicked, a Design Ideas pane will open on the right side showing the different options available for the current presentation. (If there are no options, this will be indicated in the same pane.) The designs that populate are only for the current slide being edited. Clicking on an option changes only the current slide, as design options are based on the template and configuration of the slide. For example, the options shown above are for the “Title” slide, but options for a “Picture with Caption” slide will look different, as depicted below: Selecting a different Variant will also change design options: As well as choosing a different Theme: Keep in mind that this Designer feature will close after every selection.  Activating the command each time you want to use it is required, making it a little cumbersome, but it is another option in creating the most dynamic presentation possible for your meeting or seminar. To take your PowerPoint skills to the next level, enroll in a training class from AdvantEdge Training & Consulting.

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Excel: Freeze Panes

Freeze Panes in Excel allow users to scroll for information and still have the ability to match column and row headers, allowing a user to not need to constantly scroll back and forth in a worksheet to figure out which information lines up together. Adding Freeze Panes is very easy in the whole scheme of things, but deciding which option to use, or making sure the table of information is laid out properly, is necessary to ensure that the functionality works properly. Typically, information is laid out with row headers, such as the example below: or with column headers, as shown below: or even both. In some cases, there are multiple rows at the top of the worksheet being used for both title and header information, so having the ability to choose where the Freeze Pane is placed is essential. There are three options for Freeze Panes – Freeze Panes, Freeze Top Row, and Freeze First Column. The command for Freeze Panes is located under the View tab in the Windows group. Clicking the drop-down arrow will display the three options. Freeze Top Row freezes only the top row (row 1) and Freeze First Column freezes only the far left column (column A).  Freeze Panes allows you to set the functionality anywhere within the worksheet. To use the Freeze Panes option, you must first choose the cell you want the the Freeze Panes based on. Freeze Panes will be added based on this cell and will populate above and to the left of the selected cell, so scrolling will not be available to any columns to the left of the selected cell or above the selected cell. From there, click the Freeze Panes command and the functionality will be added. For more ways to make Excel work for you, take a training course from AdvantEdge Training & Consulting!

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Add the “Current Date” Line or Change the Color

Add the “Current Date” Line or Change the Color Typically, a current date line is part of the Gantt chart, but sometimes it is not obvious, as it might look like a dotted vertical line. If this is the case, you can add or change the line to be more noticeable to anyone looking at the chart. To do this, use the following steps: Ensure you are in Gantt Chart view by clicking the View drop-down menu, located in the View group of the Task tab, and selecting Gantt Chart. Click into the Gantt chart are to activate the Gantt Chart Tools contextual tab. Click the Gridlines drop-down, located in the Format Group, and click the Gridlines option. Select Current Date from the dialog box, and note the various available options to the right. Click the Type drop-down and select the solid line option. Then choose a color that makes the most sense for your charts. Click the OK button, and note the changes in the dated section of the Gantt chart. If you are creating a template, doing this will ensure that the “Current Date” line is a part of every Project file, and that it is a color that stands out easily for others. Some Microsoft Project templates will already have the “Current Date” line activated, but the color can still be changed in those files as well. Get more Project training in Denver or Phoenix with AETC.

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Quickly Identify the Excel File Type

All too often, we believe our Excel files are something they are not. An example of this is when someone instructs us to use an Excel template, but the file is actually a regular notebook. This can lead to disaster, especially if someone treats the file like an actual template and does not save it correctly, causing the workbook to be overwritten. Just as important is knowing how to save the file. If a workbook has macros, it must be saved as a “Macro-Enabled Workbook,” or the macros will no longer be included in future copies of the workbook, once it is overwritten. How do we tell the difference? Luckily, we can look at the file icons to quickly identify the file types. Each icon has a unique identifier to help us ensure we save our files properly or keep our pre-configured workbooks from being overwritten. A regular workbook is easily overwritten, so care must be taken when saving this type of file. The icon looks like this: Note that this icon has a solid green strip at the top of the icon. An Excel template will require a person to do a “save as,” regardless of clicking the save icon or doing an actual “save as” function, which keeps workbooks from being overwritten unless someone is purposely trying to overwrite a template. The icon for a template looks like this: Note that this icon has a solid green strip at the top of the icon. Workbooks with macros require saving the workbook as “macro-enabled,” otherwise macros will no longer exist in the workbook. Ensuring the macro remains in the workbook can be even more important when various objects (buttons, etc.) have embedded VBA (Visual Basic Applications) macros that will cease to work if the file is saved as a regular workbook. The icon for a “macro-enabled workbook” lookslike this: Note that this icon includes a scroll with an exclamation point at the lower right side of the icon. For more ways to make Excel work for you, take a training course from AdvantEdge Training & Consulting!

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Management, Microsoft Office, Professional Development

Your Training Budget: Money can’t buy happiness, except when it does

In today’s corporate environment, companies can struggle to keep morale and productivity high, and to keep a competitive edge.  Retaining talented employees and keeping their performance at peak capabilities can be a challenge for managers. A training program can be a key factor in meeting all of these objectives. However, many companies are hesitant to embrace the expense of properly training employees, and keeping their skills up to date, perhaps thinking their dollars could be better invested elsewhere, such as new technology or software. When one looks at the actual costs of an under-trained work staff, it becomes clear, however, that a good technology training program is vital to a healthy bottom line. An under-trained workstation user can cost up to eight times more to support as a well-trained employee, and those same untrained workers take three to six times longer to complete a task than their properly trained counterparts.  Every hour of training saves five hours of productivity that could be lost if an employee lacks technology skills. Recent studies have shown that cutbacks in training directly affect employee morale, which leads to high employee turnover and lower overall productivity.  Employers can lose about $315,000, per employee turnover, due to open position, hiring, on-boarding, lost productivity, and other costs.  Training is one of the top ways to retain talented and motivated employees. When one considers the fast pace at which a competitive company must update its technology, it can take as little as four months for knowledge and skills to become obsolete. When an employer does invest in new software and IT systems, they will not fully realize the benefits of their investment unless users are fully trained to make use of them.  Software applications often go underused, because staff do not have adequate knowledge and skills to use them effectively. Findings have shown a direct correlation between a staff’s computer ability and corporate productivity. With one third of all formal training in the US devoted to computer training, a company dedicated to peak performance and productivity must have an ongoing IT and software training program. Employers should consider training as a high-return investment, not as an expense.  A company should decide what its training needs are, and aim to keep training relevant to each specific position, and ensure that training is continuous, ongoing, and consistent. Companies engaged in a successful training program only spend about $1500 per employee per year. The AdvantEdge Training & Consulting Difference AdvantEdge Training & Consulting can help a company understand its training needs, using productivity assessments for the company’s systems, and customized knowledge assessments to determine the training each employee requires. Then AETC will develop a training program that delivers. AETC offers customized training programs that can be delivered on-site, as well as a full schedule of public training courses delivered in our virtual training center format. AETC courses are based on the latest research into effective training techniques. Current adult learning theory shows that students retain information based on the way in which they learn: Students retain 10% of what they read, 20% of what they hear, 30% of what they see, 50% of what they both see and hear, and 90% of what they see, hear, and perform.  Research also has shown that training techniques consisting of computer skill demonstration followed by hands-on practice are among the most effective methods for achieving positive training outcomes, and ensuring skill utilization. Most importantly, classes that involve a live, in-person instructor who is teaching in the same room as the students, generates the highest level of retention of the materials.  This method is found to be more effective than a lecture-only program or self-study (using books or computer-aided instruction). AETC, therefore, has created an environment for its software application learning that guarantees the highest knowledge retention by its students: Students observe an in-person instructor-led demonstration of software operations, then immediately perform these tasks themselves, with any needed assistance and guidance from the instructor. Each course is based around a workflow topic or project, designed to increase retention and make the subject matter easily translatable to real-world projects. AETC classes are small, limited to a maximum of twelve people, ensuring that each trainee gets the individual attention they need from the on-site instructor.  AETC Corporate Courses are designed to fit an entire level of training into a half-day session, so there is less interruption to work time.  Our instructors are skilled, accredited, and experienced trainers whose strength lies not only in content knowledge, but also in effective training methodology to increase content retention and better address individual trainee needs.  Our trainers also focus on making the classes fun and interesting with lots of instructor and student interaction. Each student receives a training manual, Quick Tip card, and any needed practice files, giving them the reference resources they need to put their skills to use, even long after the training is over. Read more about the AdvantEdge training possibilities, contact one of our sales specialists to begin investing in your staff now.

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Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence — Self-Regard

Emotional Intelligence has now become the benchmark for predicting your success in the world.  HR departments place more value on a high EQ than on a high IQ when interviewing job candidates.  Emotional Intelligence is how we react to situations and life in general.  It is how we view things – Have you ever met anyone that is always negative about everything?  Imagine how their life would change if they could learn to view the world through a positive lens.  It is how we react to things – Do you know someone who goes off the handle at the smallest thing?  Imagine how many more people would willingly help them, and how much more they could accomplish, if they could have react more rationally.  It is our own self-reflection – Do you know someone who always places blame on others?  Imagine how they could be more successful if they had more self-confidence, and could identify, own, and improve on their weaknesses without trying to brush them off. All of these things relate to a person’s emotional intelligence.  Controlling our emotions does not just affect ourselves; it affects responses from others.  If you can read and influence other’s emotions, and even anticipate their behaviors, imaging what you can accomplish! So how do you improve your emotional intelligence?  There are 15 EQ components to develop and improve, based on the Bar-On EQ-I model by Reuven Bar-On.  The first one is related to your Self-Perception, and, more specifically, your Self-Regard.  To be successful in Emotional Intelligence, we have to start with how we feel about ourselves, and our ability to accept ourselves.  This includes embracing your faults as well as your strengths.  If you have a strong Self-Regard, you will be self-confident, but will also be open to suggestions and change.  You also will not bristle or blame others when mistakes are made.  People with a good self-regard are willing to take ownership of mistakes because they accept even those parts of themselves. People who do not have a strong self-regard can be either timid, or meek, or can come across as over-confident and arrogant.  Both of these personality traits can be created when someone does not feel good about himself or herself, because they have not accepted and embraced their faults.  They over-compensate for what they subconsciously feel are their inadequacies in hopes of covering them up. However, other people are not stupid.  They see through these things.  One key to EQ – Do not underestimate the perception of others.  Even if someone may not consciously be able to pinpoint what the issues are with an arrogant person, they do know that something is off and not quite right. So how do you work on improving your own self-regard?  Start by taking a critical look at yourself: 1 – Jot down 3 things that you really like about yourself.  There cannot be any “buts” in the statement.  It has to be 100% positive. 2- Then, jot down 3 faults, or warts, that you have.  The power here is in how honest you can be about the warts. 3- Acknowledge your warts and keep an ongoing conscious eye on ways and opportunities to improve them. 4 – If it makes sense in a specific situation, confess one of your faults.  For example, you may say “I’m sorry that I get a bit stressed when something isn’t exactly right.  I am a perfectionist and I know that is what puts me off kilter. So I’ll try to work on that so I don’t overreact.” Oftentimes we are afraid that we will look weak in front of others when we admit these types of things.  But it actually has the opposite effect.  We actually feel more respect toward someone when they confess their own issues.  It makes them more human and makes us feel more of a bond with them.  We feel a bit honored that they felt they could share that with us. There is a lot of power in recognizing and sharing your faults!  If you accept that you are not perfect, it allows you to laugh about your faults, so that they do not generate feelings of shame or inadequacies.  It also gives you more of a sense of certainty of who you are (since you are not trying to hide parts of yourself from yourself).  You will like yourself more.  It makes you more confident but authentic, rather than arrogant.  A strong self-perception is critical to EQ because it allows you to learn, grow, and change, and to take risks and venture out into the world to accept all it has to offer. Improve your EQ with an Emotional Intelligence course.

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