From Order Taker to Strategic Partner

This blog is excerpted from the Performance Matters Podcast. In this episode Bob Mosher and Meghan Castillo, principal learning experience designer at HubSpot, discuss how she is shifting her team to be more focused on developing solutions and training by those experiencing and performing the roles, rather than taking orders from a higher level, who may not know the true challenges. 

Bob Mosher (BM): I am extremely honored to be joined by a dear colleague and friend, Meghan Castillo of HubSpot. I am so impressed with Meghan’s work, her dedication to the craft, and the way she has taken on 5 Moments and workflow learning in such a remarkable way. Meghan, please give us a little bit on your background in L&D, your team, and a little bit about how you got started with The 5 Moments of Need.

Meghan Castillo (MC): I’m thrilled to be here with you today. Like you, I started off as a teacher, upon graduating from Michigan State University, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do and thankfully, I had a few friends that worked in our Migrant Student Services Program, which had a facilitation role open at the time.

I taught the high school equivalency program for the subjects of math, reading, and writing both in English and Spanish to a diverse set of adult learners and am really thankful to have started off the foundation of my career in that role.

From there, I packed up all my belongings into my Volkswagen Jetta, drove down to Houston, Texas, and got into global international consulting from a Learning and Development perspective. I built out a lot of training programs, design, development, and got into the facilitation as well so embedding accelerative learning and experiential learning into a lot of those programs. It also helped to open my eyes to many different industries, different cultures, and different business drivers across the board.

From there, I went to PepsiCo for about a year and a half where I got much more into the e-learning design and development side of things.

All of these experiences have led me to where I am today, the Principle Learning Experience Designer at HubSpot. Here, I primarily focus on building out remote inclusive experiences across the board. The 5 Moments of Need has truly changed the way I look at things, the way I approach the business, and the way I’m able to do my job in a much more efficient and effective manner.

BM: Wow! You’ve had a remarkable career. Can you talk a bit about the mind shift you mention? Everyone believes in performance, everyone got into this to do that. That’s the ultimate goal. It always has been, but boy, I’ll tell you to truly design from that perspective—it’s really different. Can you walk us through this journey of performance versus knowledge?

MC: Absolutely, Bob and it has been a huge mindset shift for me that I’ve been going through over the past few months and truly—truth be told—over the past few years. So, the lightbulb moment for me was while attending one of your conference sessions; I knew that we were taking orders, designing as quickly as we could, and really only responding to those requests and not truly partnering with the business to get to the bottom of those business objectives and really understanding the learner’s perspective.

So, from the traditional way of doing things, I knew that it just wasn’t hitting the mark. I started to chase performance support and really try to understand conceptually what The 5 Moments of Need looked like in practice and what “great” looked like from that moment. And it’s really been a journey ever since.

BM: I love your “What great looks like.” I really love that quote and the challenge you went through in getting what I think are also fairly straight-forward concepts. But making that cognitive shift to doing it? The “Aha’s” that come along with that? You mentioned having some struggles or some challenges as you came in and out of that. What were some of the more fundamental or pivotal “Aha’s” that you got as you started to make that journey.

MC: It’s a typical trap that we all fall into—building for the content and the knowledge and the understanding that we want to infuse into our learners. But it’s really the shift around aligning and focusing on that performance. There are so many mindset shifts around that.

But one really major one that was so helpful not only for myself, but for our stakeholders, was that of Train Transfer and Sustain—the methodology and the visual around this to really truly make it clear that all of our content that was existing, everything that we were focusing on really fell within this Train area, and was only “covering” the knowledge, the information, focusing on the classroom, focusing on those “one hit wonder” or those experiences that had a beginning and an end and didn’t truly move into this space of where learners were having to apply this knowledge, which inevitably, as we know from going through the content, learners were having to unlearn and then relearn once they left our programs—to really put that into the perspective of the actions that they were going to actually take in role.

So it really helped for me to understand that the majority of what we had currently and still have to this day—it’s definitely a journey—was so much around higher-level, bigger ideas rather than the actual actions they would be taking day in and day out on their role. So a huge shift there to more focus on the Transfer and Sustain within their role.

BM: And it’s interesting. That’s what we have to do. Right? When you have the bell curve in the room—we were taught in education—you have to teach to the middle, kind of. I’ve always had an issue with—and struggled terribly--with words like “individualized instruction,” “personalized instruction,” “tailored”—because my whole thing is, those are great things to throw out, but when 26 people, 15 or whatever, walk in my room, how do you do that? You have to kind of stay right at that level of abstraction just so everyone can participate and engage and you can reach as many as you possibly can. The individualization comes when they leave! Like you did when you left the class and tried to individualize it for yourself right away so you could also do it for your colleagues. That’s where individual instruction occurs. And for so long, I know my work didn’t go into that. I didn’t intentionally participate in supporting or helping that. Now with the EPSS, or digital coach, we can truly be a part of that without being there or feeling we must own that part of the journey as well.

MC: Exactly. And we can really allow learners to take that responsibility within their roles and their workflow. In our EPSS instance that we’ve built out at HubSpot, it covers the sales process, which is a huge initiative, and there are so many pieces to that. So, for the sake of this example, let’s say there are seven pieces. Some roles that go through our sales onboarding process, which is  a significant amount of time investment in terms of those different roles—they may only be covering that first piece of that sales process.

They’re spending so many weeks out of the workflow and it’s really around implementing that performance support, designing and enabling it for them to be able to use some of these aspects in role instead of expecting them, for example, to go back and review a long eLearning or a lengthy slide deck when they are actually needing to apply that.

We’ve been embarking on, of course, the mission of taking a lot of that content that’s already been developed and putting that into those bite-sized performance support pieces in a way within our EPSS that’s easy for them to navigate to within two clicks, ten seconds, to ensure that they’re able to get access to that at their moment of need. But it’s been a change as you alluded to earlier within our L&D team to wrap our minds around this change of mindset, this change of how we’re designing, how we’re re-utilizing and repurposing our content.

It's been a journey! But it’s been helpful to take it in baby steps and not come into it and say, “We’re going to wipe out absolutely all of our training we’ve done.” That’s not the case. We’re just going to repurpose a lot of that and pull from it and redesign so it’s more action oriented.

BM: I’m so impressed with your diligence, your passion, and your receptivity to being a true learner yourself. I think those that adopt that mindset are then able to bestow an effective level of guidance to others. You‘ve just been so remarkable. Thank you Meghan.

For more on Meghan’s work at HubSpot, listen to the full episode.

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