Laura Larsen describes her job as “administrative assistant turned global trainer.” When hired by Juniper Systems in 2019, Laura was tasked with getting certified to facilitate Crucial Conversations and then training every full-time employee in the course. Since then, the scope of her role has expanded on two fronts.
She’s added Fast Track certifications in Crucial Conversations for Accountability and Influencer—but also, Larsen’s learner audience expanded from 170 Juniper employees to 500-plus employees worldwide when Juniper Systems was acquired by Campbell Scientific in 2021.
Since the acquisition, Larsen has facilitated courses for learners in North America, Canada, and Austria, and she is now part of the global team planning trainings for Campbell and its subsidiaries Juniper Systems and METER Group throughout the world. Although the learners represent a broad spectrum of cultures and experiences, Larsen’s helping to create a unified company culture through Crucial Conversations for Accountability and Crucial Conversations for Mastering Dialogue.
Working with a multicultural audience feels like home for Larsen. Her family encompasses seven different countries and 14 different cultures thanks to people who’ve married in, and she said she loves seeing a united love for family and one another despite cultural differences.
“It kind of conquers all those other differences of belief or religion,” she said. “None of that is as important as whether or not we love and care about each other and support one another in the good things that we do.”
This value translates to Larsen’s classroom.
“I always wanted to be able to help people to see that they were more alike than they were different,” she said. “And I feel like Crucial Conversations has given me the skills to be able to do that better.”
Working with a global audience presents some logistical challenges, with employees spanning continents and time zones. Larsen recently experimented with a blended learning cohort from the Rocky Mountains and the midwestern United States, Canada, and Europe, with learners starting the course in person at Juniper’s Logan, Utah, headquarters for the first four lessons of Crucial Conversations for Mastering Dialogue.
Larsen facilitated the rest of the course virtually, setting up online sessions for a group that spanned seven time zones. Completing the course posed a challenge, with the time difference and traveling participants requiring makeup sessions, but Larsen said she learned a lot from the experience.
“In the future I will try to stick to one region at a time,” she said. “I might have trainings where it’s 8 p.m. for me, but that’s fine… I highly recommend if training a global group to make sure learners are within two hours of each other.”
Next up, Larsen said she’s planning to pilot a blended learning model this fall, leveraging a self-paced on-demand course and discussion sessions for one learner who couldn’t make the transatlantic cohort.
“He’s my guinea pig,” she said. “I’m one who likes to practice, not one who likes to figure it out in the moment, so it’ll be a better experience of seeing how to work with him [before rolling it out to a group].”
Larsen said she sees the blended model of self-paced learning and discussions as a better model for working with a global audience, since it requires less meeting time. She said keeping online meetings under one hour is best to hold learners’ attention.
Having discussion sessions are critical for the personal impact of storytelling, though. Larsen said she appreciates how Crucial Learning courses lend themselves to trainers integrating their own experiences into the curriculum.
“As good as the videos are, when you watch a video produced by someone you don’t know, you’re always thinking ‘yeah, but—’” she said. “There’s always that objection. But when someone standing in front of you tells a story of using this skill in their own life, it’s way more impactful.”