Learning partners are a critical part of Crucial Learning’s course design. A vital step toward the end of the process is working with beta testers to use the new material in the classroom, helping us to get the course just right.
When it came time to test Crucial Influence, we invited Jeremy King at the City of Tempe to test the new content. King, who works as deputy director of employee development, has spent the last four years building a learning and development program for the City of Tempe from scratch.
“The city has jobs in almost every sector, from residential services such as water services and trash pickup to after-school programs to accountants and EMTs,” he said.
On the hunt for quality and meaningful training, King got certified in Crucial Conversations for Mastering Dialogue and Crucial Conversations for Accountability in 2021. He added Influencer to his toolbelt in December 2022, but within weeks of completing the course, his senior client advisor, Melody Oertle, invited Jeremy to participate in the beta test. He held off on teaching Influencer to employees, knowing the new course would soon be launched.
Although King never trained Influencer, he said he spent a lot of time and effort honing his delivery, finding personal connections to the material so it would feel like he’d been training it for years by the time he reached the classroom.
“I just really love the connection to the six-source model that’s in Crucial Accountability,” he said. “It’s easily digestible for staff who are trying to take in all this information, [and] there are connections there that they can use to understand Accountability and Influencer.”
While testing a new course, Crucial Learning’s product team works closely with trainers to get feedback. Before facilitating the course, King met with course designer Justin Hale to talk through the content and format.
Then, during the beta test on June 16, Crucial Learning sent Kelly Forrister, product director of content and courses, to Tempe to observe. Given the course was still in development by the Crucial Learning team, King was able to share his feedback in real time, and many of those changes were incorporated into the final course.
“It was nice to be able to bounce ideas off Kelly on how we might train this content in the future, especially the newer content and how it might connect and resonate with employees,” King said. “We saw issues like a video that just felt too long in the room—it’s one of those things where, yes, it’s a great video, we’ve developed it for a purpose, but it feels too long in the moment, so what does that mean? Do we trim it? Do we explore opportunities for alternatives?”
King said Crucial Influence complements his belief that training should impact culture, with the course content extending beyond the classroom experience.
“As I took Influencer, I was still designing and building the employee development philosophy, and it really influenced how we are going to get employees to show up and engage in training,” he said. “We really wanted to answer the question, ‘How is it going to make an impact on their role?’ The skills that are developed in the training room should make it into our daily thought processes, our daily actions, and our daily communications.”
King said he’ll encourage leaders to prioritize attending Crucial Influence because of how it will help them to solve some of the very challenges that might prevent them from carving out time to attend the course.
“We’re constantly working on change, but are we working on the right things to actually enact that change?” King asked. “That’s the key when it comes to influencers… We really believe you can lead from any level in the organization and start to build those skills. I’m all about layering and scaffolding skills so that employees start to naturally feel them and see them, and they become part of the work they do.”