Change is the one constant in the national workforce system. Whether a government agency is issuing new regulations or stripping down existing ones, our challenge is to help practitioners comply with new requirements and continue their commitment to customer-centered design and transformational change.
With any policy, buy-in at all levels is vital to full implementation, which is why the Maher team takes a holistic approach. We work closely with our clients to gain a deep understanding of regulatory changes while maintaining the broader vision for the workforce system. For more than 20 years, Maher has played the role of change agent, helping to streamline the implementation of and reduce confusion around several federal regulations such as the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and updated Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) regulations for apprenticeship for our clients at the US Department of Labor (USDOL). We have done the same kind of work for our clients in our private practice, helping them navigate federal communication practices and health and safety regulations. We help them navigate compliance while implementing innovation in their business.
Our proven, three-tiered process for developing and disseminating technical assistance and training moves our clients past simply “checking boxes.” Instead, we focus on making the real change needed to meet their requirements and deliver results. Here’s a glimpse inside our process.
Understanding Regulations. When facing the challenge of bureaucratic and sometimes cumbersome regulatory language, it is vital to have an understanding of the big picture: goals, vision, mission and desired outcomes. This is why Maher often works on-site, elbow-to-elbow with our clients, bringing our vast expertise to the process of building training.
This provides us with the opportunity to hear firsthand the questions from the field, which we often use to direct the TA and training we develop. During our work for the implementation of WIOA, we had team members onsite at USDOL. They were able to witness the points of concern first-hand, giving them a better perspective on how to address those concern as we developed technical assistance for our clients.
From Regulations to Change Management. Change is hard. We can help. That’s more than just our slogan; it’s what we do every day. The implementation of the WIOA regulations was a massive lift, requiring change to take place not only at the federal level, but in much of the work being done at the State departments of labor and their local affiliates. That’s the definition of “systemic change.”
We recognized that a broad-reaching regulation like WIOA requires more than a few webinars and fact sheets about the regulations. One of the innovative resources we developed for implementing WIOA was ION Talks, a series of short videos designed to inform and support the partners in the workforce system as they manage the changes required by WIOA. Rick Maher, a leader in transformational change, brought his personal decades-long expertise to bear in these talks, providing context for the changes needed to implement WIOA.
Creating Consumable Technical Assistance. Of course, the format used for the ION Talks isn’t right for all TA needs, which is why Maher has a growing list of innovative TA and training options. We have learned how to choose the right tool for the job each and every time. We have a team of highly respected and talented instructional designers who can take complex and unwieldy regulations and transform them into digestible training for a variety of audiences, including governmental and commercial.
For WIOA, the Maher team drew inspiration from graphic novels, combining our knowledge of customer centered design with illustrative design to develop a Customer Flow Scenarios training for American Job Centers staff. This medium allowed us to use a “show rather than tell” strategy, demonstrating the characteristics of a high-quality one-stop center as called for in the WIOA regulations.
Regulations are generally not thought of as something that can be made to be engaging, and the apprenticeship Equal Employment Opportunity regulations, updated in 2016 for the first time in nearly four decades, include some dense language and precise requirements for apprenticeship programs. Maher has developed a series of technical assistance resources to help sponsors of apprenticeship programs more easily understand and implement these new regulations. For example, anti-harassment training was developed for sponsors to provide to all apprentices and their supervisors, and includes: an animated video (with an interactive online knowledge assessment), a PowerPoint presentation designed to spark discussion in a group setting, and a guide outlining how all of these pieces are meant to work, both independently and together.
Because Maher works side by side with staff in both its regional and federal practices, we are able to bring in real-world examples that put the dense, regulatory-based TA into context. Maher’s work on WIOA implementation exemplifies this process. We were able to break down regulations and create a multifaceted set of training sessions and resources directed to a diverse national audience. Stay tuned for a more detailed account of Maher’s success on this project, as well as a more detailed account of its work on developing TA resources for the apprenticeship EEO regulations!
Maher & Maher is a specialized change management and talent development consulting firm based in New Jersey and Washington, D.C. The firm is U.S. Department of Labor’s national technical assistance provider supporting the Employment and Training Administration’s implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and a number of other priority initiatives of the administration that advance and promote the public workforce system. Maher is also currently involved in a number of sector strategy, regional planning, organizational strategic planning and training initiatives in multiple state and regional areas. For more information about our services, visit our website or call us at 1-888-90-Maher.
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