What Are You Like to Work With?

Photo by Mel Baylon on Unsplash

If you were going to cast yourself as an employee in the movie Office Space, who would you be?

Peter, the unmotivated guy who spends as much time as possible on a coffee break?

Lumbergh, the slimy boss that gets his jollies telling people they need to come in on the weekend?

Milton, the clueless-in-every-way office staple (pun intended)?

Of course, those characters are funny because you recognize them. Maybe you’ve worked with a few of them. But the reality is that unmotivated, incompetent, slimy people are not enjoyable to work with, even if they’re funny in a movie.

So…


A story of courage and integrity featuring the mute button

Sound board close up on muted
Sound board close up on muted
Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

Have you ever wished you could mute your coworkers at will?

I’m talking about a mute button that works like the one on the TV remote. The one you use when the commercials start so you don’t have to listen to them.

Come to think of it, coworkers and TV commercials have a lot in common.

Most of them are just part of your daily landscape. They do their job, you do yours, that’s that.

Some become important to you because they represent something good in your world. …


The part about having a direct conversation is very true and also difficult to do. I think it helps to plan it as what needs to happen differently and making sure to avoid personal judgment, which will only make the person stop listening.


How to get the first principle of design right

Ice cream cone melts where someone accidentally dropped it
Ice cream cone melts where someone accidentally dropped it
Photo by Sarah Kilian on Unsplash

What’s the first thing anyone tells you about writing, designing, persuading… pretty much anything meant to influence?

Know your audience.

There, that’s all. No need to continue reading.

Unfortunately, it’s not always that simple. There are a few reasons why you might not be focusing on your intended audience at all. In the field of instructional design and e-learning, where I operate, I see this mistake happening four ways.

Designing to a standard expectation. It’s e-learning, so it must use slides where the learner goes next-next-next. Or it’s a college class, so it must need a MOOC. …


Design + Story = Learning

An open book with fairy lights coming out signifying imagination.
An open book with fairy lights coming out signifying imagination.
Photo by Nong Vang on Unsplash

If you work in learning design, you’ve no doubt heard of the value of storytelling for engaging your audience and creating a memorable learning experience. If you’ve tried implementing stories in your courses, you’ve also discovered that it’s not all that easy to do well.

Here’s a quick why-what-when-who, and most importantly, how to use stories when you’re designing e-learning courses.

Why stories?

There’s lots of research on this. Stories (when properly done) create relevance and emotional engagement for your learners. This emotional connection to the material they’re learning boosts understanding and retention. Did I mention “when properly done?” …


Lend an ear to shift the balance of power

Image by ZeeNBee from Pixabay
Image by ZeeNBee from Pixabay
Image by ZeeNBee from Pixabay

Oh, there’s Barbara screaming at poor Brenda again. Maybe I’ll go back to my office until she goes away.

I wonder what happened to Mark? He’s very quiet these days. He used to be so enthusiastic about everything.

Wow, is that someone crying in the other stall? I think it’s Tiffany. Poor woman. I bet Greg’s been hitting on her again.

If any of this sounds remotely familiar, you’ve witnessed workplace bullying. If you’re lucky, you haven’t yet been a target. …


Design training so it works for learning

Hillside ride Photo © Matt Smith

Have you ever tried to train a horse? Or any animal?

I’ve tried, and I can tell you that it’s an exercise in humility. I wish I could say I learned to be a good horse trainer, but the fact is it takes more patience, commitment, and consistency than I ever mastered.

But I still love studying how it’s done by the best trainers. (Jessica Dabkowski at Pony Peak Stangmanship is one such stellar individual.) Horses succeed in our world when they understand what’s expected of them, so good training is essential. …


Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

So many companies these days trumpet their core values. “Do the right thing.” “Strive for excellence.” “Respect.”

They’re inspiring. They sound good. And they’re a great cover for a toxic workplace.

Say you’re looking for a job. Not just any job, but one where you feel valued and where your career will thrive. You’re picky about where you apply. You research companies carefully. And when you interview, you probe into the culture and character of the organization.

Core values can be one of the selling points that draws you to pursue a position. But how do you know if they…

Sara Pehrsson

Hermit. Instructional designer. Trying to make workplaces better at MoveUPskills.com.

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