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  • Writer's pictureSusan Tatum

Developing Training Across Industries and Ages

with Stacey Schroeder, President EVelop

Stacey Schroeder founder EVelop, works with organizations to build customized workforce development solutions that are practical and action-oriented. She shares tips that apply across industries and across age groups with the correct instructional design.

Notes from the Show

Stacey Schroeder across her diverse professional experience developed a passion for connecting people with the behaviors, skills, and opportunities to be successful. In 2019, she founded EVelop where she helps people in the manufacturing space, no matter their role, work more effectively.

EVelop builds customized workforce development solutions that are practical and action-oriented. While focused in the manufacturing space, Stacey’s tips for documenting and getting processes under control can work across industries, including in professional services.

Step 1. Don’t be intimidated. You know how to run your business and make it successful.

Step 2. Identify a particular role and process.

Step 3. Define that role or process, and get SPECIFIC.

Step 4. Identify individuals who are hitting this role or process correctly every time.

Step 5. Document what those individuals are doing and what is going right.

Repeat for each role or process you need to document and create more efficiency with.

Stacey creates training programs for and teaches people of all ages. She comments on how the younger generation has really lowered the threshold of what they will accept. Which Stacey says has helped her improve her instructional design. Incorporating inner activities, more personal stories, and engaging assessments that benefit not only her younger students but older ones as well.

It’s rare to go into business and have it all figured out. What’s important is being flexible, and adapting, while staying focused. Stacey and her work with EVelop speaks a lot about that in this episode. To get connected with Stacey Schroeder, you can find her on LinkedIn or check out the EVelop website.

What's Inside:

  • Defining workforce development & how is it changing in manufacturing?

  • How do diverse age groups respond to workforce development?

  • The key to designing effective and engaging instructional content.

  • Tips for professional services and getting control of processes.

Mentioned in this Episode:

Transcribed by AI Susan Tatum 0:37

Welcome back, everybody. Today I'm talking with Stacey Schroeder, who's the president and founder of EVelop. And your specialty is workforce development, I think right, Stacy?

Stacey Schroeder 0:49

That's right. Yeah, at EVelop it's all about training and consulting, based on my experience in the manufacturing industry, with a lot of exposure in the adult learning and development space.

Susan Tatum 1:01

Excellent. There's a there's a I got a lot of questions for you. And that's circumstances. But welcome. I'm so happy to be talking with you again. Before we dive into this, why don't you tell us just take a few minutes and tell us a little bit more about what it is that EVelop does and how you got there?

Stacey Schroeder 1:18

Yeah, happy to. So I am a Detroit girl born and bred. I've always been into manufacturing. And I've loved figuring out how things work. But more importantly, how we can get people to work more effectively no matter what role that they're in. So over my career, I've worked with a number of manufacturing companies, I worked at a few manufacturing associations. And I really saw that the passion for me was helping connect people with the behaviors, skills and opportunities they need to be successful. So at the end of 2019, the time was right, to launch my own business. And we've been going gangbusters since then.

Susan Tatum 1:56

Been through some exciting times since then. Have it? since 2019.

Stacey Schroeder 2:00

Yeah, the crystal ball was a little bit off. But I am very optimistic person. So to me, I said, All right, I don't have any really strong habits ingrained yet. So I'm able to adapt and just move to where the clients and market is going.

Susan Tatum 2:14

Well, you know, I think change and certainly change that was thrown on us so quickly creates a lot of opportunity. And I'm guessing that within manufacturing and supply chain issues and all of that sort of stuff. While there may have been a few moments of hesitation, there's been a lot of chaos, that there's a chance for change. And because when we talked before we were talking about workforce development in the manufacturing area, and what are the changes that you're seeing that are happening there?

Stacey Schroeder 2:47

Yeah, that's a really good question. So in the manufacturing space, in particular, I think we're seeing that silver tsunami, we're seeing a lot of folks that maybe were on the cusp of retiring, have decided to make the move. So companies are losing a lot of institutional knowledge. And manufacturing traditionally has been slow to adopt some newer technologies and approaches to workforce development. So I think the pandemic had a little bit of a silver lining, in that manufacturers are now willing to consider things like hybrid training, or virtual training, or partnering with outside experts instead of relying just on people in house to build training. So I think there's a shift and I'm happy to be a part of it.

Susan Tatum 3:31

You know, I think that's a shift that's happening. Because I have talked to a number of people, consultants about the the change the economic changes that we're undergoing right now. And how do we as consultants best prepare for that, and you hit you just hit upon two of the things that that I've heard, one is, there is a lack of documentation of processes. It's not just in manufacturing, it's everywhere, right? And with a coming and going of employees, regardless of whether they're aging out, or they've just decided to do something else, you've got to have that stuff written down somewhere, are you going to be really running around when when some key person leaves and you've got to replace them?

Stacey Schroeder 4:15

Those are great points. And I think what I've seen is a lot of companies get intimidated by that process. Because as manufacturers, we care so much about quality and process that we want to get it 100% Correct. That is a huge ask. So the mindset shift that I try to get people to think about is, what is 80% of the way there? What are the things that we can document that are maybe similar across our department, across multiple roles within these functional areas in your company, and let's get those things knocked out. And then let's do a blend of workforce development where you've got some of that content is sort of baked in. It's the same person by person as you onboard and then what are those things that you're going to do on the job training for what are maybe the key points, but then give a little flexibility as technology changes. As you switch vendors and providers. As you build in new processes and equipment, you don't want to lock it in 100% or get intimidated that that's the goal. It's, let's get directionally correct.

Susan Tatum 5:20

Right, right. So at risk of getting too tactical and deeply in the weeds, what would you recommend for? Because our listeners are primarily Professional Services experts and small firms? What would you recommend to get processes under control? Is it as simple as putting something down on an Excel spreadsheet and making a few recordings? Or how you approach it for your business?

Stacey Schroeder 5:45

Yeah, that's a great question. So I really just tried to come up with a positive message first, don't get intimidated. These are things that we can do we know how to run our business successfully. So pick a particular role or process and clarify what does good performance look like, and get descriptive. If it's, you know, an auditing function, it's 99% complete for this particular report every month, great, then it's a matter of identifying what's your current state? Do you have folks that are hitting the target half the time or 95% of the time, and then document what the subject matter experts that are doing it, right, are doing, and then just iterate from there as you learn new things as processes change as you get new folks on the team? So in my personal in my opinion, good training is a living document. There are certainly some goalposts that stay pretty consistent, but it's a conversation that's all around moving the performance needle.

Susan Tatum 6:44

Okay. Okay. And then the documentation. I mean, does it work to just I mean, I've tried spreadsheets I've tried. Right now I use a combination of spreadsheets and and recording loom recordings. And it seems to me like there used to be some applications that were meant for smaller businesses that would do your your policies and procedures or something like that.

Stacey Schroeder 7:08

Yeah, there's definitely a lot of options. You know, it can be as simple as what I call like a body of knowledge. So what I mean by that is, it's an Excel spreadsheet that has, here's the main task, here are the subcategories. And then here are some links to reference materials, whether it's a document or another spreadsheet, or video, somebody's done. But the goal is to have that single source of truth that's getting curated and updated. You know, I'm thinking of a client I used to work with. And they did a huge implementation for SAP, which is an enterprise resource management system. And they spent so many hours and so much money and time, building specific training videos for every single piece of that software, which I wasn't a big fan of, because things change as new updates come.

Susan Tatum 7:59


Stacey Schroeder 8:00

So to me, it's what are the standard things that we want document and dial in? And then how do we, how do we teach people to think critically and understand the decision tree? When it comes to a point where it's something that hasn't been done before.

Susan Tatum 8:15

Yeah, that's so this is the kind of work that you do with a manufacturing firm say, you also do training programs, too, though, is the training is it? Is that all around these processes and procedures? And how how to do stuff?

Stacey Schroeder 8:28

It's a great question. So people come to me for a lot of different kinds of projects, which is one of the most fun parts of my business. So I've worked with smaller consulting firms that partner with big universities to build programs for the Department of Defense. So we did a huge online program around large scale metal additive manufacturing. So in that case, I was the instructional designer handling the training side, but also, I'm a material scientist by degree. So as helping as a subject matter expert. Another group of projects that I do is for women in manufacturing, which is a national trade association. So I work with them to figure out what are the different audiences within their membership? What are their competencies that they want to work on? And what's the best delivery format. So I've built virtual programs, hybrid programs, we've done live programs, really the sky's the limit, but it's all around customizing, based on your audience, your budget and your desired outcomes.

Susan Tatum 9:29

So I have to ask you, how did you get your degree is in chemical and

Stacey Schroeder 9:35

materials science,

Susan Tatum 9:35

materials science. How did you get from there to an expertise in in training and development?

Stacey Schroeder 9:41

Yeah, it's been a long journey. So I actually started tutoring at the college level when I was in high school. So I would go to the local community college and tutor math because I've always been pretty good at math. And then as I was going through my undergrad degree, I would mentor other students and help out, and then my first corporate job was as a manufacturing engineer for Owens Corning Fiberglas. And they would have me build bodies of knowledge, they would have me help onboard new employees, I would mentor new employees. And then when I went back to school for my full time MBA, I had to find jobs to pay for that tuition. Those are expensive programs. So I started working for Kaplan Test Prep. So I would teach groups of young adults and adults GMAT, GRE, a CT SAT. So that was a great experience. And then as I move forward, more in the corporate side of manufacturing, I started to get tapped for roles like learning and development supervisor, Global Learning and Development Manager, workforce director. So I found that that was really the sweet spot that marries the interest in manufacturing, with the adult learning and development side.

Susan Tatum 10:54

So you mentioned women, women in manufacturing is the association. What do you see I'm trying to think of, when I worked with manufacturing firms in this is going back a few decades, but there were the women were in HR, in marketing, and that kind of thing, you just didn't see a lot of it I and I'm willing to bet that's changing.

Stacey Schroeder 11:15

It is changing. It's, it depends on the type of manufacturing and the culture of the company. But that's true across any industry. When I started as a manufacturing engineer at the ripe old age of 21, I was one of very few women in operations actually, in the production facilities. And it taught me a lot, right. And it really has driven me to try to remove obstacles for others, and to bring to light some of these unconscious biases some of these workplace practices that maybe aren't equitable.

Susan Tatum 11:51

Yeah. Yeah. And some of it, I think, is, is subconscious. It's not, you know, I was talking to someone recently who talked about in a different industry with a bias in job descriptions, that, just that, and what he said was that what they had found was that women, when women look at a job, when men look at a job description, if they've got like, half of the things on there, they're fine with it. Let's just go for it. Women, and this is this is gross generalizations, I understand. But women will tend to feel like they need to hit more of the bullet points or whatever on that job description, and that that's holding a lot of women back because they it's like a ceiling. thing, as simple as a job description is holding them back.

Stacey Schroeder 12:39

That's 100% True. And I share that. And I usually go even more extreme, like most men, if they've got one out of 10, they're putting there. And most women, we want nine or 10 out of 10. So to me, I always say, what's the worst that can happen? The worst that can happen is you get a No, right? And if we get a yes, then it's a matter of, here's things that I need to learn while I'm in the role. If you're a perfect fit for a job description, chances are you're already doing that job and you're going to be bored. So to me, it makes sense to look a little bit more aspirational and say, what are the things I'm interested in? Combined with some things that I already know I'm good at.

Susan Tatum 13:22

So that's, that's coaching, excuse me coaching on the on the side of the employees and the women in their careers? What can be done? What can these inside the company? What changes can they make to open things up more or level the playing field, if you will, for women?

Stacey Schroeder 13:38

Yeah, that's a great question. So I think a lot of it comes down to building awareness, and figuring out how you can be adaptable and flexible. And the pandemic has forced a lot of companies to look at that if you think about the statistics in the labor force. And who's been most impacted during this time. A lot of it has been people that have caregiving roles. And typically that's women. They've got children, they've got parents, they've got other family members, maybe they can't work a traditional eight to five office job. But there are companies out there that are saying, You know what, let's do a 10 to two type schedule part time. So people that have kids or other responsibilities can work. Are there some manufacturing companies I've seen, even pre pandemic would say, Here's your team, here's your work centers that you're responsible for. Here's the output we need for the week. You guys figure out how you want to schedule it. We don't even have time clocks.

Susan Tatum 14:34

That's pretty progressive, isn't.

Stacey Schroeder 14:38

It's absolutely is and an absolutely works because adults want to be treated with respect. We want to be trusted.

Susan Tatum 14:46

Yeah. So you, you're teaching now at the college level as well, right? What do you teaching?

Stacey Schroeder 14:53

I am teaching at Notre Dame College, which is a small private school outside of Cleveland. So my first class was an operations Management course. So for business students, sophomores through seniors, and then I start my next course, which is a mix of MBA and undergrads for general business management and just a couple of weeks.

Susan Tatum 15:12

So you teach people then you or you create training training programs for and I'm sure teach people at all age levels, experience levels, what do you see as a difference between the younger people that are coming through now? And the ones that maybe learned under a different formats in the past or educational approach? Like what's happening out there?

Stacey Schroeder 15:37

Yeah, that's a great question. And I'm glad you asked, because I think there's a lot of misconceptions around the younger generations that are in school and coming into the workforce. But to me, they've lowered the threshold of things that they'll accept. And a lot of that's really healthy. So if you're a boring instructor, and you've got these examples, and textbook words that aren't relevant to them, they're going to show you immediately they're going to be on their phone, they're going to be on their laptop, they're going to be falling asleep. So they don't have maybe the patience to put up with stuff that some some folks that are a little more seasoned will do. So if anything, it's helped me become a better trainer, and a more effective workforce development professional, because I've got to get really good at pulling very relevant, very thought provoking examples from my life, from my work life, personal life experiences I've seen at different companies, and then engaging in discussion with them. So having interactivity built in, so the instructional design has become so much more important. And we can't be as lazy as some folks were in the past and throwing eight hours of training at people. That is not the way to be successful anymore.

Susan Tatum 16:57

L ectures that just won't cut it. Right? So yeah, so engagement seems to be the theme through there is that you got to get on piece of thought provoking, and they've got to, you've got to engage them and maybe catch them a little off guard of something they didn't expect.

Stacey Schroeder 17:12

Absolutely. And throwing in, you know, videos, throwing in stories, throwing in some humor, throwing in personal things that maybe are a little bit tough, or emotional. People remember stories, right? Think about your own personal life, you remember stories, more than you're ever going to remember, what's written on a textbook page, unless you're one of those folks with the photographic memory,

Susan Tatum 17:37

or the facts and the data. Yeah, I just mean, that's, that's the truth throughout all of history. That's how we pass it on. Right as stories. So if you took what you learned, what you're seeing from teaching the college age, folks, and you apply that to say someone that's in their 40s, you're still going to get a more engaged audience, I would imagine.

Stacey Schroeder 18:00

Absolutely. I think a lot of what I've seen is learning is a journey. It's not something that happens immediately at the click of the end of the class, right? So really getting thoughtful with the design is key. So weaving in what are the pieces of content that I as the expert need to get across? But also what are the ways that we can engage? What are the ways that you as peers can interact with each other? What sort of case studies can I build, where I give you some information, and then ask you some tough questions. And then I prepare the feedback that I'm going to give based on how you work with me during the discussion. We weave in coaching elements, can we build really good assessments with simulations with interactivity, so it really is a design process to build good training?

Susan Tatum 18:53

So I could I could keep you here for hours talking about this. But I want to, I want to, I want to be aware of the time because I want to talk with you about your business. And you started. You're coming up on three years now.

Stacey Schroeder 19:07

Yeah, November will be three years,

Susan Tatum 19:10

and you survived. And that's, that's awesome. You made it here. What? When you started your business, and you you had in mind what that business was going to be what you were going to provide? Has that changed in the three years? And

Stacey Schroeder 19:25

absolutely, you know, when I started, I had a list of services on the website where you had to scroll to see all the things I thought people would be interested in. And on some of those aspects that I thought were gonna be really valuable crickets, and some other aspects are really, really resonate with folks. So to me, it was a matter of throwing out a bunch of stuff on the wall and seeing what sticks. So what has stuck is people value, the female perspective of someone that's been in manufacturing that has the technical degree, the engineering degree, the Masters of Science and Engineering Management, the business side of it, you know, running director level positions for national associations. So pulling all of that together is super valuable. So my main clients now are in the manufacturing space. It's typically associations that want to bring in an expert to do things like roundtables for other HR and training professionals to give them skills, it's building training programs for their membership. And it's also manufacturing companies that want a very hands on customized solution to their specific workforce challenges.

Susan Tatum 20:39

Okay, so the message there that I hope the listeners are picking up on is that I think it's pretty rare to start a business and have it all figured out what your service is going to be and who your best audience market is going to be.

Stacey Schroeder 20:55


Susan Tatum 20:56

And to be flexible and continue changing. But nonetheless, stay focused as much as possible is a really important part of building a successful practice, I think, hmm. So you know, when we were talking before you you talked about, one of your areas of focus is building a thought leadership position. And judging by what you said, here, you've got it.

Stacey Schroeder 21:18

Thank you

Susan Tatum 21:19

you just had to get it out there. You see some thought leadership kind of becomes this buzzword of, you know, somebody throws up a blog article. That's the same thing that 1000 Other people have written. They call it thought leadership. And we know that executives are looking, they're they're looking for what's on the horizon? And what are the changes? And how do I adapt to those changes? And so I think you, what we just talked about was a beautiful example of thought leadership that that will come your way. What what do you see now challenges and opportunities moving forward in the business? So we talked about women? That is it helping them seems to be sort of a mission of the heart, as well as something that there's a great need for what where do you? Where do you see opportunities? Or where do you see the biggest challenges are?

Stacey Schroeder 22:05

Yeah, you know, it's something I've been giving a lot of thought to lately. So summers a little bit slower time for the adult training space, people are on vacation or having fun with the kids before they go back to school. So this is the really good reflective time of year. So I'm looking forward and figuring out what do I want to be when I grow up, right. So a big part of what I want to continue to grow is that thought leadership. So to me, that means staying abreast of what's happening across many, many industries, and many, many fields of study. It means networking with folks that have written the book and done the research on do consulting in all these different areas. And what's great about technologies, I can meet with folks from anywhere around the world, right

Susan Tatum 22:53

that's true.

Stacey Schroeder 22:53

And then you're able to use all that information to synthesize and come up with new approaches, and new conclusions that others that are very deep in one area, maybe aren't coming to. So that's what customers and friends and colleagues have shared that they really appreciate about me, is that ability to come to really interesting conclusions, and be able to apply those in ways that work for their businesses. So I'm trying to grow that aspect. And then I've also had a lot of folks that come to me for advice on entrepreneurship. And they really want to know, what tools do I use? What processes do I use? How do I manage the business? How do I manage myself? So I'm starting to think about building content in that space as well to help others that have this kind of dream?

Susan Tatum 23:42

Yeah. Well, I was just quizzing you on how do we get our processes documented? So it's kind of a natural. Well, thank you so much. This has really been an interesting conversation. And I appreciate your, your sharing your, your insights with us. For the folks that want to follow up with you. Maybe there's some entrepreneurs out entrepreneurs out there that need some help with operations. How do they what's the best way to get in touch with you?

Stacey Schroeder 24:07

I'm really easy to find on LinkedIn. Just look for Stacey Schroeder. And if you want to check out the website, it's

Susan Tatum 24:17

That's build EVELOP

Stacey Schroeder 24:20


Susan Tatum 24:23

All right. Well, again, I appreciate it. And I hope you have a good rest of your day.

Stacey Schroeder 24:28

Thank you so much, Susan for the opportunity.

Susan Tatum 24:30

Bye bye. Take care.


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