Speaker 1 00:00:07 Welcome to the edge, a Skillsoft podcast for learners and leaders alike to engage in thought provoking conversations and open dialogue on the topics of learning and growth in the workplace. My guest today is Beth Tishara director of learning at comScore, a trusted partner for planning, transacting, and evaluating media across platforms. Beth. It is wonderful to have you here today. Thank you so much for joining. Hi
Speaker 2 00:00:32 Michelle. It's my pleasure to be here. Oh,
Speaker 1 00:00:34 Wonderful. Well, before we start our discussion, I have to congratulate you on comScore's recent award wins. comScore's technology upskilling program won gold in Brandon Hall groups, excellence and human capital management awards for best advanced and competencies and skill development, and was named a finalist in the learning and practice awards presented by chief learning officer. Congratulations on these incredibly well-deserved accolades.
Speaker 2 00:00:58 Thank you so much. We're so proud and so honored to, to a perceived done, gotten to this point. So
Speaker 1 00:01:04 Fantastic. Well, you've been on this incredible learning journey and I'm so excited that we get the opportunity to talk about it. You've, you've seen a quantifiable, like tangible business impact, um, that learning has had at comScore. And I think today what's going to be amazing is that we're going to be able to share with our listeners the how's and the why's that you've been so successful. So let's just, let's go ahead and get started. So, um, comScore, you know, you as an organization have overcome an incredible set of circumstances in the past five years successfully resolving an sec investigation, and it seems that this one event was a catalyst for immense change within the organization leading to a transformational culture shift. So, Beth, I think it'd be great. If you could share more about the changes that your organization made as a result specifically to your compliance program, but more importantly, how it fostered new and different behaviors and what it's meant to your employees.
Speaker 2 00:02:02 So, absolutely. I think, um, when we talk about real change change, meaning you're not ever going to go back, sometimes it requires a shake me to wake me thing and that's absolutely what happened in our company. And so, um, we were looking into those potential accounting matters and, um, and so that's an investigation and any time there's matters, uh, it doesn't matter on the outcome, what it is, if it's, if it was something minor or major and investigation is huge. And so there was a huge shakeup in the organization and people really, um, stopped and took notice, uh, that something's really important is happening. And so what we ended up doing, what we did very quickly was we assembled departments together to work together, to apartments like compliance, learning, and development, um, internal, uh, internal audit QC, and our lawyers of course, in our accountants.
Speaker 2 00:03:03 And we started to look at vulnerabilities, not just directly pertaining to the accounting matters that, uh, was part of the investigation, but also into vulnerabilities across the company. And that meant we started directly interacting with the front lines. And once that happened, um, people really started to understand that their day-to-day job meant something. So, um, so if you go to the dentist twice a year, people say, oh, I go to the dentist. Um, because I want to make sure that my teeth are in good shape and the dentist takes care of my teeth. I go twice a year, I'm good to go. And that's how people think of compliance in the organization. Oh, I've got my annual compliance training. I'm going to do it to necessary evil. I'm good to go. Well, the dentist isn't taking care of your teeth. You are, you're brushing your teeth hopefully twice a day, flossing maybe.
Speaker 2 00:04:02 And that is what happens to keep that oral health. The dentist is just confirming that you are maintaining your oral health. That's what compliance is really about. So how we do things in our day to day is maintaining that compliance and lowering the risk and minimizing vulnerabilities. The animal training has just kind of a check-in to make sure that we're maintaining that, that compliance health. And so when we were visiting the front lines and looking at processes and process documents and behaviors and digging into what's what's tribal knowledge, well that's, it's not okay to just have tribal knowledge. There's a lot of things that made our workforce realize, oh, it is about the brushing of the teeth every day. It's not about that annual check in. And so we put in a compliance management system, which had four parts. So we had, uh, first we had the courses training courses so that people could understand what compliance was about.
Speaker 2 00:05:09 And we did that in localized languages. Then we did attestations. I will, I have read the policy, I understand it and will comply with it. And we gave people the option to say no. And when they said no, that triggered a notification to a designated administrator so that we could be kind of discussion with that individual and find out why they did not want to comply. Um, it didn't mean they wanted to misbehave. It might have to, under, it might have had to do with understanding the policy or, uh, laws were different in their state or in their country. But it, it differed from the corporate policy. The corporate policy was more strict. So we had to have that dialogue. And once you get that dialogue, then we have buy-in or conversely, we could adjust the policy based on those points. So then we went to surveys one quarter after training, we put out surveys and we, um, assessed understanding and comprehension.
Speaker 2 00:06:06 And the fourth piece was a followup newsletter. So when, where there were areas of low comprehension or low retention based on the surveys, then that newsletter had explained those pieces in day-to-day terms, in layman's terms in a little less formal way than training. And it helped people to better understand the policies and why that was all, um, that was all important and how it related to them in their day-to-day. So, so we were, uh, shifting the mindset of the organization, giving them the same topic, four different times with four different modalities. And so it could really sink in and they understood how to apply it in their day-to-day work. And it was very effective. It really did transform the organization. I don't remember there's that shaped me to wake me, that we started out with that purpose. Something can go wrong if we don't pay attention to these things. And so that purpose also was part of a big, big part of that shift that we had. So it was a transformation and, um, we were very humbled and honored by the corporate governance award that we received for that. Um, it was pretty much,
Speaker 1 00:07:18 You know, it's really interesting because I have my little post-it note here. You people who are listening, can't see it. But as you were talking before you said it, I wrote down mindset shift. I own compliance. It's not the responsibility of my learning and development team. It's not a check the box exercise, but I personally own it. There's something else you said that really struck me, um, our day-to-day jobs, regardless of what we do, they matter. And one of the things that we believe at Skillsoft is that every person has the potential to be amazing. And I see a lot of parallels there because we as individuals have an ability to make a difference. And that's what I hear you saying. And so if we, if we fast forward to 2019 comScore wins, what best compliance and ethics program at the corporate governance awards, which you referenced before.
Speaker 1 00:08:12 And I think that's fantastic and it isn't the only award you've won. We should also talk about this transformational upskilling program. And so, from what I understand your gold star learning program yielded a whopping 3000% that's thousand percent return on investment and hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional annual productivity in its first month. I mean, incredible value for the company and for your employees. And as, as a technology company, we know it's critical for teams to maintain this modern skillset across a number of emerging technologies. I think it'd be great. If you could talk a little bit about the Goldstar learning program, how you're closing skills, skills gaps,
Speaker 2 00:08:54 But also boosting morale and productivity across your teams. Absolutely. So the head of engineering came to me with a solution. He said, uh, how much money do you have so that I can get my people certified. And as consultants that we are in learning and development, I rephrased it, uh, to find out what the problem was. And so I simply said, why do you ask? And he told me the problem, um, which really helped. So it really wasn't about certifications. There was, there was an upskilling that needed to happen. There was, um, the new chief product officer had some aggressive goals and strategies, and, uh, they had done a skills gap analysis, which I am so grateful for them doing the work for me, but, uh, they did a skills gap analysis and they realized what newer technology skills were needed so that we could better align with the achievements needed with the goals that the chief product officer had.
Speaker 2 00:09:59 So, um, whenever I look at a problem, uh, the first question that comes to mind is how can I do this for free? Um, it doesn't always work that way in other organizations, uh, but we're a tech organization. And so I try and leverage what we do have. We don't need to have special branding for internal programs. We do sometimes we'll have logos or simple branding, but I don't need to change things. I also try to, uh, I have tried for the last few years to not customize, which is ironic because I say, how can we do it for free, but to not customize things and have them developed in house, um, skills are skills. They're not comScore skills, they are skills. So when it comes to skills development, I think that when people receive that in a way that isn't custom and branded, that is something that's, um, that is provided by a provider, or that goes along those, uh, certification guidelines.
Speaker 2 00:11:06 We're not only upskilling the individual, but we're improving them in their career development because those skills are transferable wherever they go. Um, many people move from company to company, and that's a fact. And, and that's, I accept that. And so I want to, to honor people's career developments as well by providing standardized skills. So what can we do for free is what do I already have that I can provide to them? And, and that was the case for the gold star learning program. So we already had, um, the materials that were needed to prep for certification. We had those online learning tracks. And, uh, and so I partnered with that head of engineering and, um, he really did a great job in sharing this, introducing the gold star learning program to the entire tech team, which incidentally is two thirds of our organization. It's huge because we're a tech company.
Speaker 2 00:12:06 So, um, so he was very good in introducing it by number one, talking about the chief product officers goals and not only strategy, but the goals and explaining how we needed these new skills in order to achieve those goals and making it very personal to the individual. So that tone from the top and relating to the, the greater mission of the department and ultimately of the organization was very important. And he focused on the upskilling in order to achieve those goals. We allowed people to get certified if they wanted to, if they wanted to go and absolutely take the exam and achieve the certification. Yes, sure. That's for their career development, but the emphasis was on achieving this so that we can achieve our company goals and a certification has a start and an end you're certified, great. I'm done. And there's a feeling of, well, I'm done now, but we didn't emphasize that we emphasized on a behavior shift, which is continuous.
Speaker 2 00:13:16 And that was the difference. So the gold star learning program had, um, certification prep, tracks, tree, which we offered. And it was, uh, internally, we already had these materials available. The materials were, um, asynchronous. So anyone in any time zone could take them. And, uh, and so we didn't have to spend all the outside certification costs and there were fewer hours because it was a synchronous and it was online. There's a shorter learning span. You learn at your pace versus going to a certification class where you learn at the lowest person's pace in the classroom. And, uh, so time was saved. Uh, people achieved their new skills more quickly. They could apply it on the job because they understood how it related to the bigger picture and on their job. And, uh, the engineering team did a great job of making it fun. They knew their audience.
Speaker 2 00:14:09 And so the gold stars were quite literal. We have, uh, they developed an online webpage for this that was easily accessible by everyone. And they have leaderboards every week. They will, uh, they get an automated report out of the LMS and they say, who's completed what, how far along they are? And they get stars for each course, they complete. And then they get a t-shirt for each learning track. They complete. And the head of engineering was one of the first to earn a t-shirt, uh, when we were still in offices and he walked around with his bragging rights and he bragged to people, I know Python, I know Python, I can do this. You should be able to do this too. I know you can do it. Um, and it incited that, that competition. So, um, so there were different motivators that we had for individuals, for some people, it was that reward system.
Speaker 2 00:15:02 They wanted to see the gold stars and they wanted the t-shirt with bragging rights for other people. It was the competition because in some of our offices, we had giant cardboard boards up and we had literal gold stars and everyone's name. And so for some people that competition was, oh, I don't have as many stars as the next person. So I need to up my stars and they were motivated that way. And then, uh, some people were, some of it was across all three of these, but, but there was the alignment to the Mitt and emission and the alignment to the goals. And I want to help my company to succeed. I'm a part of that success I'm driving that success. So a combination of motivators caused the program to have a very, very high turnout rate. Uh, even though it was voluntary and it's still going on today, yesterday, I just got an email asking, can you confirm this person just completed this learning truck? So it's been going on for, um, almost a year now. And people are still up-skilling and they're still into it. And they're still checking the leaderboards and the stars are online and not in the offices now. And that's fine. They still get their t-shirts mailed to them so they can still have them in their zoom calls. Okay.
Speaker 1 00:16:17 And I think that's fantastic. That is fantastic. You know, there's something you mentioned because I think with learning, are we really ever done, right? It's an ongoing journey and not this point in time, exercise that I think, again, it's part of that mindset shift that you talked about before, and it can have a profound impact on an organization. You just, you just alluded to it and it's not just the individual who benefits, but the entire team. And you know, when you've got your entire team who is motivated and they are moving forward with, you know, new skills, it can reignite an entire culture. It can cause more people to want to raise their hand and say, I need to be a part of this. You are on this tremendous track. But I think that we would be remiss if we didn't touch on or talk about the shifts that you've had to make because of the pandemic.
Speaker 1 00:17:09 Right. So look, what I've observed is that the lead for learning has only continued to rise. Y we've seen, and, and, um, I don't know if you know this, but we've seen a 351% increase in content access since March, uh, 258% increase in total learning hours, which is amazing. But I think even now people are recognizing that I need to upskill myself. I need to upskill my workforce. I need to retrain, I need to understand what's needed now. And, and even in compliance, we see that there's a need to make sure that employees know what they have to do in order to return to work say safely. So at every stage learning organizations are playing, I think, a far more critical role in their organization than ever before. So can you talk to me a little bit about the evolving role that your organization is playing at comScore and, and then what's next on learning and development agenda?
Speaker 2 00:18:10 Absolutely. So, um, in speaking with my professional peers during COVID one of the most common questions I got from them, uh, which kind of surprised me. And then I thought about it and it didn't, um, they said, okay, well, what are you doing now that you've shifted to online learning? Are you still doing the full eight hours in the day? And I, I tried not to. I just exactly. I was like, oh, do I laugh? Or are they going to be upset? Um, because there's, there's such a shift. You can't take classroom training and just stick someone in front of a video screen for the same time and have the same curriculum and the same methodology and think it's going to work. It doesn't. Uh, and so, so many of my peers have really had to shift just pivot on a dime. I really had to change their way of thinking.
Speaker 2 00:19:08 You can't just take the same thing and move it. You've got to do something different. And for those who provide learning to external clients that was further exacerbated, they felt more pressure when that was happening. And, uh, and so for all of us in learning and development, that's on the job learning right there. We had to really rethink a lot of stuff, rethink our habits, rethink our comfort zone, rethink what we had. We put together our strategy and we put out, you know, here comes the program, here's the outcomes. Um, and we had to rethink all of that and rejustify, and it was such a shift. So if you imagine that for ourselves and learning and development, our colleagues in other roles, in other departments in our companies have had to do the same thing. And, and it's just been, uh, an incredible time for learning.
Speaker 2 00:20:05 So when you have that immediate need and you have to learn on the job, fantastic, because it puts your head into a learning mindset. So now you're thinking, oh, I can do things differently. What else do I need to do differently? Um, I need to, I have new skills that, that I need to develop. And this happens in every department. I have new skills, but there is increased learning. We've seen it in my company as well. People have more flexibility with their time. Now the work from home environment is less disruptive than in the office. And I don't know if you've got the type of structure that I had in the office, but it was like countertops. It was an open workspace, very trendy, uh, very disruptive. And so it's easier to concentrate and focus to develop those skills that we have reevaluated because we are in that learning mindset of what else can be different.
Speaker 2 00:21:09 And there's also that, that anti learning boss is not around. So the one who said, if you're, uh, if you are training, then you're not selling that boss is around, but not over your shoulder. And so it's okay to take some time you're in more control of what you do and people want to learn. They want to develop their skills. They have that sense of urgency because of the changes I need to do things. And it just makes sense that learning has increased. And it's phenomenal that it is. It's put us in a fantastic position, uh, all as individuals for our own career development, for our own contributions to the organization as the organization shifted as well. But that growth mindset that, uh, almost we kind of trained our brains, we've now trained our brains. We're in that place. It's a good place to be in. It's a great place for learning and development to take advantage of as well.
Speaker 1 00:22:03 I think that, um, you know, we talk about the, the hard, durable jobs, specific skills that we need to be able to do what we want to do to be able to accomplish what the organization needs, but I find, and I've, I've seen as a result of the pandemic, we're starting to see those power skills. I prefer the term power skills to soft skills, right. I need to be able to communicate better. I want to collaborate better. I need to understand how to work in a virtual environment and how to navigate and manage. I need to know how to manage people remotely. Are you seeing an increase in the desire for, or the interest in those power skills? Heck yeah,
Speaker 2 00:22:42 Absolutely. It was like, that was a softball. Uh, one of the first things that I did once the offices closed and I remember it because it was a Friday, the 13th, all of our offices globally closed. And, uh, within two weeks I had a panel. I, I capitalized on people who were already working remotely, full-time in the company and we met and we collaborated, and then we did a panel and we did a global webinar that, uh, talked about working from home and what's different about it and managing virtually as well. And I also provided a bunch of resources to people through, uh, I have, um, what's called at keep learning teams channel so that I don't email everyone. I'm not pushing through email. People can pull from the teams channel. So I will regularly post things there. People will, will get it from there.
Speaker 2 00:23:42 So, so we did a webinar and taught people how to work from home, how to survive, uh, how to communicate differently. We, uh, I think one of the biggest takeaways based on the survey was that they could allow themselves to step away. We talked about that when you're working in silence and you're focusing, uh, that's deep thinking, that's using the mid part of your brain, not your frontal lobe and, uh, and your brain tires. And it's okay to walk away every single hour and, and take some time away. It's, it's too much concentration. So, uh, so people were becoming more productive, but we allowed them to have these different roles managing virtually. Uh, absolutely. We talked about that need for connectivity. Some managers like to have daily stand-ups, which you stand in a circle and go around the circle. And each person says the one thing that is the most important thing they're working on today.
Speaker 2 00:24:44 And so we encourage those virtual stand-ups as well. And we helped managers understand how to adjust for that. The communication part was also important. So in one of our employee resource groups that is virtual, um, we allowed the, the board of directors of that group has a planning meeting every two weeks. That's 30 minutes, but we have it scheduled for 45. And the final 15 is for just social personal time. So, so once the business is done, people can log off if they need to, but they can also stop and connect if they need to as well. And it's important to start meetings that way too, with just a moment of that personal touch that you used to get in the office, but you don't have it anymore. And I think we're all learning about these, these new habits and we're, we're adjusting our style.
Speaker 2 00:25:36 It's something that I think we will continue to do, and not even be conscious that we're doing it, uh, for those who do go back to an office environment. And, um, but those adjustments are, are critical and it's how we stay connected. So, um, and I think we've all realized the importance of being connected, not just connecting to others, but disconnecting from our home environment from a moment for a moment to be connected online with someone else. It's our, it's our virtual exit from the same four walls. So it's, it's been helpful. Uh, we did a follow-up webinars as well, a couple of months in just to reinforce some things and to talk about the new normal and how things have changed. And we opened it up to employees to have a voice as well on the webinar. And that was, it was very well received and people had great tips for other people as well. And so that kind of crowd sourcing way of doing that webinar was, was really fun and helpful. And it made people feel not so alone. Other people were going through the same thing was important.
Speaker 1 00:26:44 You know, it's interesting because, um, you, you, you created the perfect segue into my next question, which I, uh, I am grateful for. Um, you know, I've spoken to a lot of people during the pandemic. And the one thing I think that it's offered us in a more positive light is the opportunity to look at things a bit differently. Maybe we're giving ourselves a little more grace, maybe we're working out more, maybe we've taken up a new hobby, a hobby we've shifted our perspective. Um, and I've asked several of my guests, this question and the responses have been fascinating. So that, it's a, it's a three-part question. Number one, I call it stop, start or start, stop and continue. So what have you, and this can be personal or professional. What have you started doing since the onset of the pandemic that you never would have thought you would have done? What have you stopped doing that you probably won't return to? And what's the one thing that the new habit that you've created, that even if we go back into a, you know, the, the world we, uh, we came from, what's the one thing you're going to continue, so start, stop and continue.
Speaker 2 00:27:51 Okay. I'm going to switch it. So we do stop and then start if that's okay, that's fine. I've stopped using an alarm clock and I will never go back. Never go back unless I have a flight. If I, once I go back to flights at some point, yeah, no alarm clock. I am using my natural circadian rhythm and my body's natural rhythm to wake up. Um, I have always been an early riser because my commute, uh, was exceptional. It's, um, it was an hour and 15 minutes in the morning and two hours in the afternoon. So that's another thing I never want to go back to. And I love stopping that. Uh, but I woke up very early to get my workout in and then to start work at a decent time. And so I'm going, I continue to start work at the same time.
Speaker 2 00:28:42 I continue my workouts in the morning. Um, but I don't have to, I have that extra hour, 15 hour, 20 minutes, um, in the morning that I can sleep in to get to that point where I can continue my habits. And so, uh, I love that there's just, uh, less stress and exhaustion because I don't have that commute. Um, what I have started doing I've started having more meetings. Many of us have realized, ah, the uptick in meetings because you don't have that interaction in the office. So, uh, things need to be scheduled. Conversations need to happen through different venues. So, so we leverage, uh, messaging. We leverage emails, we leverage the zoom calls. We have, uh, we had started zoom, um, maybe almost a year before the pandemic. And so the videos were happening more as a push in those kind of zoom, maybe webinars or, or a town hall.
Speaker 2 00:29:44 But now we're doing face to face zoom with all of our meetings and having that visual connectivity, not all companies are doing that. That's our company culture, but it's something I've started doing. I really like, because I enjoy seeing people's facial expressions. I like to read them, especially when consulting with someone for that solution that they bring to me. Um, and I think that helps a lot in, in the connectivity plus I've got, uh, comScore's dispersed in 20 countries. And so it's wonderful to see my colleague who lives in Southeast Australia, even though it's a difficult time for both of us, whenever we connect, we connect. And that's the important thing. So, uh, so I've started doing more of that, uh, conscious connectivity. Let's call it that. And I, I think I will never go back. That's that's one of those never go back things physically, uh, I've really enjoyed.
Speaker 2 00:30:43 I mean, it's been Southern in the Northern hemisphere. It's been spring and summer and now it's going into fall. So we've enjoyed a lot of the sunlight. We haven't gotten to the, uh, the zoom fatigue that has happened in the Southern hemisphere already. I absolutely am going to be learning from my, my peers in our Santiago location because they've gone through it and they have learned how to adjust. And so I'm going to provide that to the Northern hemisphere soon, but, uh, physically, because I don't have that commute, I have more time. And so one of the things I'm going to do is called the Maryland challenge. So my home state in Maryland, uh, the Appalachian trail runs through it and there's 41 miles of Appalachian trail that's in Maryland. So I'm training for it. And then about a month, I'm going to do that 41 miles in one day, that's the Marilyn challenge.
Speaker 2 00:31:33 So I think it's going to be super fun. It's been great to have the energy, to be able to do that. So that's something I've started doing, challenging myself, physically, where I didn't have the energy to do that beforehand. I've also, uh, challenged myself in, in my own career and, uh, applying to speak at national conferences, things like that, that are, um, that are exciting for me because I have more energy. I have more concentration. I can do my job and be productive. And then I have the energy to push for some more things for myself. So started doing it. It's been fantastic, uh, in those ways. And I love that, that learning and growing that I'm doing both physically and, and in my career, never go back. I hope to never go back to working in an office unless I'm a C-level executive. That's just the, that's the bottom line right there.
Speaker 2 00:32:27 I don't live. I live, I'm always going to have a long commute because I live about 50 miles outside of the metropolitan area. So, uh, just really feel like the commute is useless. Um, and I've because I've been connecting consciously. I don't feel that need to be in the office as much. We're learning how to innovate and to collaborate virtually, and it's still happening because it's needed. And so I'm adjusting to that. And that's one of those, those never go back things, the alarm clock, and I hope to never go back. Um, so there are some wonderful things that I think have happened. I also love that people by and large, across the board have realized that radical change can happen and is sustainable. Some of us are itching, a little, those who have kids at home, especially in different, uh, different age groups. And you've got to be that educator.
Speaker 2 00:33:29 And that's, that's hard, there are challenges, but we are capable of achieving those challenges that have faced us and the, the daily grind parents who have over-scheduled their children. And suddenly they realize, wow, life is more relaxed. I don't want to go back to having all of that, that I had over-scheduled for myself and for my family. I, I, I like being more relaxed. So we're learning that those things are possible. We're not trapped in our lives. We can break from it. We've had to break from it. And it's been enjoyable finding those things that we're never going to go back to. And there's new things that we like given better. I just have really, really enjoyed that journey. And it really enjoyed watching other people in that journey that I thought they really, I don't know how they could ever change, you know, they do.
Speaker 1 00:34:26 I'm absolutely with you. I will raise my hand as one of those. Over-scheduled always exhausted individuals. And you know, it's been, it's been six months since, um, the onset of the, of the actual pandemic, the, the day when the who, um, confirmed that this was a pandemic and I liked myself better. I'm not perfect, but I liked myself so much more, but there are a couple of things that you said that I just, I think are fabulous. I love the no alarm clock. I may actually try that because I'm also a morning person, but I think this idea of connecting consciously means that we can do this job. We can do our jobs without having to be in an office. And there may be some people who want to return, but it could be in a more of a hybrid environment. I think it means that we have more choice and more opportunity.
Speaker 1 00:35:16 I also love that this notion that we can and should be taking better care of ourselves physically and emotionally, because it's not, it doesn't, it doesn't help the organization anymore. If we're exhausted all the time and we're commuting for three plus hours, it just doesn't, um, you know, bet this is, this has been wonderful. Thank you so much for, I think the valuable tips. Thank you for the perspective. Thank you for sharing so much about comScore. I really appreciate having you here today. Well, thank you, Michelle was absolutely my pleasure and for our listeners, I want to thank you so much for tuning into this. And every episode as we unleash our edge together, have a good one.