About the Company
Since 1994, The Learning Connection has helped existing businesses invest in their human capital and improve core competencies to accelerate performance and profitability. The Learning Connection also consults with new and existing businesses and organizations to develop Human Resource systems, cohesive leadership teams and organizational health.
Whether your need is for one person, a team or the entire organization, The Learning Connection can help with analysis, design, and implementation of educational and developmental services customized to help you achieve your short and long term goals.
“Knowledge does not reside in a book, a databank, a software program; they contain only information. Knowledge is always embodied in a person, carried by a person; created, augmented, or improved by a person; applied by a person; taught by a person, and passed on by a person.” ~ Peter Drucker
The pursuit of knowledge, the transfer of knowledge, and the joy of applying knowledge embody The Learning Connection.
Our Core Values:
- We believe that people are your core business assets.
- We aim for a “WINN” by creating a win-win learning environment that builds both confidence in the learner and knowledge for the institution.
- We encourage and practice creativity in the delivery of our services.
- We support growth of small, local businesses and rural communities by donating 10% of profits or resources.
- We are committed to lifelong learning and continuous improvement of our products, services and people.
- Organizational Development
- HR systems and Human Resource Management
- Facilitated Learning of all soft skills
- Platform Speaking (includes writing of content and coaching for delivery)
Our Vision Statement:
Transforming people, teams and organizations.
Meet Your Knowledge Navigator
Kristine lauched her business in 1994 to pursue her passion for teaching and helping others succeed. She is gifted as an educator, coach, and facilitator with 25+ years of experience transforming people, teams and organizations across the Midwest. She is an early adopter of innovative instructional techniques and supports her consulting assignments with relevant academia and industry experience. Her methodology of deliberate practice impacts the entire workforce and improves performance at all levels. In other words, shift happens!
Kristine has coached numerous agri-preneurs in marketing, HRM and business development iniatives, but her most cherished role is that of Organizational Development (OD) Practicioner. After obtaining her Master’s in Adult Education, she completed several short courses on quality management and quality learning and integrates systems thinking into her consulting and evaluation practices, ensuring clients that she does more than just “train” people.
Prior to her role as a consultant, Kristine taught high school agriscience and is the only volunteer to be honored four times from the American Farm Bureau Federation for outstanding promotion and education programs in agriculture –one of her national award-winning ideas is now a state FFA contest in Michigan.
From 2002-2005, she served on the leadership team that designed and implemented the first multi-channel “Buy Local” campaign in Michigan that increased sales of fresh Michigan products by 100%. Through collaborative community efforts, she helped launch the highly popular Farmers Market at the Capital, a Farmers Market at Henry Ford Hospital and several Farm to Chef and Farm to School programs that still exist today. During that time she also consulted in the development of the MSU Product Center for ANR and became a certified Ag Innovation Counselor, helping numerous agri-preneurs with business and marketing development, She is a founding member of Ag Transiton Partners, a tri-state consortium of consultants who are coaching farm families through transition and succession planning, and is a consultant to the WI Center for Dairy Profitability. She also consults with organizations on adult learning theory and application.
She is a member of American Agri-Women, Capital Area Local First, FFA Alumni, and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and an accomplished author with publications in the field of agri-entertainment and program evaluation.
Kristine is a pioneering leader, having helped establish and subsequently serve as an officer in a State FFA Alumni Association, a Toastmasters International Chapter, and a Business Networking International (BNI) Chapter. She also obtained her Advanced Toastmaster degree, competed in public speaking contests and coached 4-H youth to top honors in state and national speaking contests.
Kristine is effective because she is a dynamic presenter and “self-contained innovation team”. She utilizes her marketing mindset to create participant-centered curriculum and engaging content, as well as helping her clients identify their competitive advantage. Clients comment on herdown home delivery style, keen eye for review, and unbiased analysis.
With knowledge and know-how, experience and expertise, and wisdom and wit, Kristine will transform your team, classroom or boardroom.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is a Knowledge Navigator?
A “Knowledge Navigator” is simply someone who navigates, or facilitates, the transfer and application of knowledge.
Q: What is the difference between knowledge and information?
According to Margaret Wheatley, there is a widespread belief that the organization that knows how to convert information into knowledge, that knows what it knows, and that can act with greater intelligence and discernment are the organizations that will make it into the future. Knowledge management is a survival skill – but only if done right. Knowledge is not a “thing” that can be measured: it is created by human beings and should be renamed “human knowledge” to accurately reflect its nature. It is natural for people to create and share knowledge, but because it is a choice, they only willingly share if they feel committed to the organization, believe their leaders are worth supporting, feel encouraged to participate and learn, and value their colleagues. Knowledge is born in chaotic processes that take time. It is everywhere in the organization, but we won’t have access to it until we create work that is meaningful, leaders that are trustworthy, and organizations that foster everyone’s contribution and support by giving staff time to think and reflect together.
Q: What is a Practitioner?
A practitioner is one who practices their trade or skill. In our approach, we want learners to become practitioners by allowing them the opportunity to practice a new skill at work, to think and reflect with a coworker or immediate supervisor, and to get feedback before learning new content. To accomplish that objective, we implement a process that includes the proven model of deliberate practice.
Q: What do you mean by “deliberate practice”?
Deliberate practice contains four elements:
- The practice focuses on a well defined task
- The task is at an appropriate level of difficulty
- The person receives informative feedback
- The person has opportunities for repetition and correction of errors.
Q: What is Appreciative Inquiry?
Appreciative Inquiry deliberately seeks to discover people’s exceptionality – their unique gifts, strengths, and qualities. It actively searches and recognizes people for their specialties – their essential contributions and achievements. And it is based on principles of equality of voice – everyone is asked to speak about their vision of the true, the good, and the possible. Appreciative Inquiry builds momentum and success because it believes in people.
Q: How will measurement transform people, teams and organizations?
Small and medium sized businesses (SMB) are competing for the same resources and shouldering higher business expenses. Employers are scrambling to fill gaps left by retirees and expect their companies will start offering employment options to attract or retain semi-retired or retired workers in the future. At the same time, companies are trying to keep younger employees, who have less loyalty to their company, are less engaged and less committed. In fact, over 50% of the average workforce is disengaged. SMB’s are training new employees for jobs, but traditional “training” programs do not address root causes or improvement efforts. In many cases, people and teams are other-directed rather than self-directed and measurement is diminished by those who become experts at the numbers game.
Now more than ever, organizations need to create measures that more closely resemble feedback. They need to understand that defining and using measures must become everyone’s responsibility and they must use a measurement system that supports the relationships that give rise to the behaviors of accountability, learning, teamwork, quality and innovation.
Q: How do we get started?
- Identify “what should be” for people, teams and the organization as a whole through interaction, dialogue and reflection.
- Focus on results, or outcomes, instead of efforts. (SMART goals can be interchanged with outcomes)
- Ensure that all managers and supervisors support a Culture of Inquiry and are willing to invest in an ongoing process of improvement.
- Define the process and behaviors needed to create the desired results.
- Question the process. Identify assumptions.
- Decide on indicators. What will we measure? How will we measure our measures?
- Benchmark the indicators. Measure results. Measure again.
- Celebrate successes.
- Implement improvements
Q: Why must we establish a Culture of Inquiry?
Our vision for building a culture that actively promotes and supports improvement through measurement is taken from the great work of Integro Leadership and their model for a Responsibility-Based Environment (RBE), Dean Spitzer, author of Transforming Performance Measurement, and Margaret Wheatley, author of Finding Our Way. In a RBE, people want to do good work, are trusted, and take personal responsibility for their actions. (The opposite of this is command and control behavior in an environment of low trust where efforts are rewarded and employees are actively disengaged).
The similarities and benefits from working in a Culture of Inquiry are:
1) a change in attitudes about learning and the use of knowledge,
2) repeated use of a deliberate process to build institutional knowledge,
3) a belief in people as the creators of knowledge, and
4) a renewed focus and clarity on vision and purpose.
The consequences of not having a Culture of Inquiry are wasted resources, fear or mistrust, and unachieved or underachieved potential of people, teams and the organization.
Q: What is the ROI for investing in a series of learning and coaching rather than a one-time training event?
- Employees focus on achieving objectives together using indicators tied to business outcomes.
- Less likelihood that valued employees will be tempted to leave.
- It supports the new Culture of Inquiry.
- Stronger relationships, built through coaching and feedback, result in greater productivity.
- Increased skill retention and quicker application to work tasks.
Q: What workplace learning tools do you use with clients?
The Learning Connection is an award-winning distributor of self paced, online learning resources from John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Together, we have invested heavily in validating and promoting the Everything DiSC® model as the foundation tool for building positive relationships around the globe. These tools lend insight into individual and team barriers that impact performance. Additional applications include conflict, management, emotional intelligence, and leadership. Clients appreciate that the Everything DiSC model provides a common language for describing behavioral differences that leads to actionable and measurable steps forward.
Q: How is performance improvement conducted in our organization?
We utilize an integrated and inclusive process to design specific assessment tools for each client and situation, and then assist our clients in accelerating their marketing efforts to capitalize on new information. For organizational transformation, we measure changes in outcomes, not effort, specifically, changes in functionality, knowledge, attitude and behavior. We work with individuals, teams and organizational leadership to identify indicators and tools to ensure continuous improvement through feedback and human interactivity.
Note: “Everything DiSC” is a registered trademark of John Wiley and Sons
Q: What does the term, “Employer of Choice” mean?
Being an Employer of Choice (EOC) means that in your community, people choose to work for you and will stay with you for their entire career. It means that you are the envy of your neighbors and competitors and they may even try to lure your employees away!
Q: What is the Key Ingredient to Becoming an EOC?
To attract the kind of people who will stay with you, who will brag about your management style, and who will help you recruit other great employees, you will need to understand how to manage human resources in a system. HR IS a support system. Businesses that are considered to be Employers of Choice recognize that it’s the relationships between the parts in the HR system that lead to improvement and becoming an EOC is the result of those efforts.
Q: How do I Know if I am an EOC?
Your reputation will speak volumes. Your past employees, your vendors, your business associates or partners, and even the waitress at the coffee shop will recommend your place to job seekers. The effect of this is your business receiving unsolicited job applications from qualified individuals.
Q: What Should I Do First to Become an EOC?
Clearly define your culture and the type of people you want supporting it. The entire leadership team, including the Owner, Operations Manager, HR or Hiring Manager, and all supervisors need to have clarity and agreement on this item. Once that happens, your team can more effectively screen who is waiting at the gate: a job seeker or a career achiever. The HR system flowchart can become a management tool.
Q: What Other Improvements Should We Make on Our Journey to Becoming an EOC?
- Drive out fear in your workplace. Create an environment where everyone can have joy in their work; pride in their work and meaning in their work. With each employee, discuss how their work contributes to the success of the business and how they can track their contributions. Is it somatic cell counts, litter sizes, mortality rates or crop yields? Individual success must be aligned with organizational success.
- Have open lines of communication and be transparent with everyone. Better yet, over communicate everything! The practices and policies of your HR system should support these objectives and leadership must understand, practice and model these behaviors.
- Offer developmental and self-improvement opportunities to everyone. Note the Talent Development step in the HR system flowchart.
- Instead of avoiding conflict, embrace it. Conflict can be used productively to solicit new ideas and get feedback on your business practices. Productive use of conflict is a critical skill of high performing teams and improvement must start at the top with the leadership team.
- Value your human resources at all levels — in every job, role or function.
- Remove barriers to learning, teamwork and relationships. Focus less on job titles or status and more on individual strengths. Use workplace assessments to understand natural behavioral tendencies and what intrinsically motivates each employee or team member. Contact me for Everything DiSC© Workplace profiles to identify strengths and teaming tendencies.
- Learn all you can about the characteristics of cohesive, high performing teams and how to develop and support them in your operation. Teamwork can be a competitive advantage for agriculture! When hiring, don’t overlook the soft skills and seek out those candidates who exhibit the traits of an ideal team player, including being hungry, humble and people smart.
Q: What is Management’s Role in Becoming an EOC?
Management must help people do better in the system you have created. They manage the system. It is the job of leadership to improve the system, but too often, as Dr Deming said, “a bad system beats a good person every time. Everyone can be enlisted to help shift work priorities to effectiveness over efficiency; efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right thing!
Primary Communities Served