Skill Levels and Assessments

Skill Levels and Assessments

Skill Levels and Assessments

As with everything we do in the “Learning” business we are constantly adjusting our Learning Paths and Skills levels to reflect the scores we have been seeing from our Job Function Assessments. We are going to change the “Names” of each of the levels. We have used Basic, Intermediate, Advanced and Expert. Those are terms that we felt everyone would understand. We are going to change those terms now to use those most common in education. Now we are going to call the Assessments Levels Developing, Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced.

Let me explain what they mean:

  • Developing
    • This is the phase of an employee’s employment where they are learning the job, they are being trained, either by mentor or their boss, in how to do the job. This is in keeping with Don Shillings approach to employee development – “Grow Your Own.” This is an apprenticeship approach. Here is when they are shown how to do the job and then helped to do the job. This is before the employee is given the full control on their job. There is direct supervision of the employee in this phase.
  • Basic
    • This is the phase that the employee is in when they know how to do the job. Now they are learning how to take advantage of that knowledge and put into action their particular skills and competencies to make their job more effective. This is when the supervision tapers off and is no longer on a tsk by task or day by day basis.
  • Intermediate
    • Is the phase where the employee knows how to do the job better than most other people. They have a level of competency that requires less direct supervision. We must always remember that every individual starts their work experience with their job as an excited person. They are starting a new job and they are excited. Then depending on how the leaders treat them they will either grow into a self-reliant achiever or disillusioned and demotivated employee. It is really more dependent on the type of leader than the type of employee.
  • Advanced
    • This is the final phase of the learning path. A self-reliant employee who is ready and able to take on additional tasks and job functions. This is the final stage of this step on the career path of the employee.

We are also changing the threshold scores for each of these levels. We started with quartiles (25% blocks). That each individual taking our assessments would be coming to us with similar skill levels based on the standard score rating of quartiles. Twenty five percent blocks. We have found, based on the result of the assessments and our discussions with the employers that this does not apply in our Industry, nor for our employees. It is rather a triangle where we have a lot at the bottom of the triangle and a much smaller group at the top. We are moving to the following skill levels.

Developing                        0% –   50%

Beginning                        50% –   75%

Intermediate                   76% –   90%

Advanced                        91% – 100%

This is a significant change, but much more accurate relative to the skills of the employees by job function. It is important that we share this with you, our audience and clients. Thanks for your interest in our programs and we will continue to strive to improve and adapt our programs as the facts dictate.

The Time is Now

Skill and Knowledge Levels

Skill and Knowledge Levels

We have been using assessments in all of our training and learning products for over thirty-five years. The primary purpose of our assessments was to help us to adapt and adjust our teaching in order that our students learn. We first had a “Pretest” to measure what the students know when they start our class. Then we had a “Final Assessment” to determine what the difference was in knowledge before and after. This allows us to change how we teach.

We also used these assessments to challenge our approach to teaching. If the same question was received with the same wrong answer, obviously how we were teaching it was the issue not the learning potential of the student.

Let’s turn to our Job Function Assessments at Learning Without Scars (LWS). By now I hope you have looked at our job function comprehensive skill assessments. We believe we have broken new ground with these assessments for the Industries we serve. There are no other common job function assessments out there. With that position of leadership, we have been cautious on how we have approached this. We have had over 3,500 of our class assessments completed in the past two years. This has allowed us to established a hierarchy based on actual employee skills and their results on the assessments.

Upon completion of a specific Job Function Skills Assessment the student will receive their score (0-100). This score will rank their skills based on the results we have seen from the thousands of assessments taken. We have established these skill categories based on our experiences with our class assessments and the skill levels of the people taking these classes. For Learning Without Scars these skill categories are Basic (0-30), Intermediate (31-50), Advanced (51-70) and Expert (71-100). This category level will identify the specific class progressions to allow them to improve their skill level. These category levels have allowed us to design individualized class structures for the student to follow to improve their individual skill level. More on this next week.

We want each individual to be able to achieve their potential. Potential is a wonderful word. It is one that I was introduced to by an Elder in our Church when I was a little boy. He spent a lot of time mentoring a young boy. He passed several messages to me to consider.

  • Always assume the other person is twice as smart as you are and work twice as hard to prove that they are not.
  • Be Happy in your Work or Work and be Happy. You have no choice you have to Work.

If someone tells you that you have a lot of potential and you are sixteen years old that is a very good thing. If someone tells you that you have a lot of potential and you are sixty-six what have you been doing for the last fifty years.

The time is now.

For more information on our assessments and classes, please visit our website at

How to Use Assessments

How to Use Assessments

Yesterday we addressed the Foundation of Learning. Today I want to talk about how we envisioned businesses using our Job Function Skills Assessment. Let’s quickly review what we say on the Landing Page for Assessments.

We point out four areas in which to use our Skill Assessments

  1. Recruiting: The assessments can be used in recruiting employees. In conjunction with background checks and interviews, the assessment gives you much more information on the applicants before they are hired. Hiring the “right” someone is extremely difficult to do. The assessment provides the Company hiring the individual an objective view of the skills of the prospective employee.


  1. Performance Reviews: The assessments should also be used in the annual performance review with each employee. Other than the reviews I give myself I have never received a formal performance review as an employee. I believe that performance reviews are a terrific opportunity to discuss with the employee what is necessary for the employee to do to become better at what they do and open up more opportunities for them in the Company.


  1. Wages and Salaries: The assessments can even be used as an objective foundation related to the establishment of the wages and salaries paid to the employees. We have had several thousand people take our assessments since the beginning of 2017 and we have a high degree of confidence that our skill levels are in line with the actual performance of the employees. This provides a foundation for the proper wage and salary scales and progressions through the scales to be objectively managed.


  1. Employee Development: The assessments have been developed to be used to create individualized employee development programs for each employee in the parts and service business teams. A career path for each employee in the Parts, Service, Selling or Marketing groups allows talented people to be motivated to achieve their potential. With the Skill Levels from the assessments and the Learning Paths tied to them this becomes a real possibility within these teams of people.


Attracting, Hiring, Developing and Retaining talented, motivated employees is the MOST critical of all aspects of your business. With the right people you will prevail. Without them you will FAIL.


The choice is yours.


The time is now.

Millennials and the Work Place

Millennials and the Work Place

The other day I was having a conversation with a friend and colleague about communicating with the audience for our Learning Without Scars business. An associate of ours has stated “Ron, everyone knows you. But they don’t know you.” He wants me to make a series of film clips with short stories about my career. How I started teaching, how I got into this industry, my early involvement with Computers and Dealer Business Systems, etc. That is not normally something that I like to do.

So, I asked my friend if this was something that would be a good idea and his answer surprised me. He said “for people over the age of forty-five probably, but it doesn’t do anything for millennials.”

He told me a story about a millennial that they employed who asked him what his future held. That stopped him cold, as it would most of you. We don’t typically think about or have structured programs for career path. We all kind of just wing it. Millennials are smarter than that and much less patient than my generation was at the same age. I applaud them for that. They want to know if they are going to be given opportunities. A chance to learn and develop. No, I don’t mean the corner office without any skills. That is the exception not the rule.

I wanted to continue with the theme of the past three or four blogs on the changes in learning and the path going forward.

We just put up our Job Function Assessments in Spanish and today the French language will be up as well. That means that we will have thirty-two job function assessments available, excluding the technicians. We also have ninety-four classes. Let’s talk about how we put this together.

Once an assessment has been taken for the employee’s specific job, they get a score. That score will put them into a Skills Category; Basic, Core, Advanced or Expert. In the next phase of our website development, hopefully it will be completed this summer, we will be providing navigation help in the form of short surveys. Most websites I have seen contain a lot of very beneficial and useful information. However, most of us have to find our own way to get to what we are looking for from the site. We want to do it differently.

First, when you arrive on the site there will be a short film clip welcoming you and asking you what it is that you are interested in viewing on this visit.

  • Is it an assessment?
  • Is it a class?
  • Have you already taken an assessment and you want to advance?

Your answer will bring another film clip to further assist you.

Second will be another question. Which department are you interested in seeing?

  • Parts
  • Service
  • Selling and Marketing

With the answer to that question we can take you to the next step.

If you selected an assessment the web site will deliver the assessments available for that department. You pick your job function and you will receive a description of the assessment and given the option of enrolling.

If you selected a class there will be another film clip and we will have another question. What learning category is of interest? Customer Service, Finance, Operations, Selling or Leadership. The website will then deliver the classes for that department for that learning category. Your choice will take you to a description of the class and give you the option of enrolling.

If you have taken an assessment, we already know the department, now we will ask you which job function assessment you took. With your answers we can place you in a skills and knowledge category level for that job function; basic core, advanced or expert. The website will then deliver the classes available for that skill and knowledge category that will allow the employee to improved their skills. They can pick from the classes recommended, get the description and if they so choose, they can enroll.

All enrollments are e-commerce ready and they will have their class or assessment put into a shopping cart. They can either continue shopping or pay by credit card and go forward.

I am explaining all of this because the millennials will be given an “active learning” opportunity.

  • They will know what their particular skills and knowledge level is for their job.
  • They will know what classes they need to take to improve their scores.

In other words, they will be control of their own destiny.

That is what my friend told me that they wanted. I think everyone wants to have some control over their lives and their job opportunities and are rarely given that.

What do you think? Please let me know with a comment. Thanks.

The Time is Now.

Skills Assessments – An Update

Skills Assessments – An Update

You might have noticed we have refreshed our Learning Without Scars web site. This the first phase of the changes we have planned. The goal of this phase was simplification. At the bottom of the landing page there are two symbols; One is a question mark and the other is a graphic of a computer terminal. The question mark denotes our assessments.

Due to the wonderful response we have had from many of you, we have expanded our assessment offerings. We now cover most of the job functions in the construction industry.

In the Parts Business we cover:

  1. Counter and Telephone Sales
  2. Parts Office
  3. Parts Warehouse
  4. Inventory Management
  5. Purchasing and Expediting

In the Service Business we cover:

  1. Foremen
  2. Inspectors
  3. Lead Hands
  4. Service Office
  5. Technical Communicator

In Sales and Marketing, we cover:

  1. Product Support Selling
  2. Product Support Sales Back Office
  3. Parts and Service Marketing

In Leadership we cover:

  1. Parts Management
  2. Service Management
  3. Product Support Sales Management

And for Technicians we cover:

  1. Construction Industry Technician
  2. Rental Industry Technician

You will also notice there are two columns on the right-hand side, one for Spanish and the other for French. We have eight assessments available for both languages. Go ahead and “Click” on the Question Mark on the bottom of the page, or the Assessment tab on the banner, and explore what we have to offer you on assessments.

Oh, and by the way, you can register and pay and get started online now. You don’t even need to talk to anyone. Of course, if you do, we are here waiting.

The Time is Now.

Multiple Languages: English, French, and Spanish.

Multiple Languages: English, French, and Spanish.

I am quite excited to be able to address the subject of multiple languages for our learning Without Scars programs. We have started the process.

Last year we ran a French language prototype in Canada. It went well. As a result of that we have established a time line and are working with a profession translator to get all our classes translated. We are starting with the Parts Business. We are in process to have all of the Subject Specific classes translated in 2020. That is 80 classes. We will then build out the remainder of the programs.

From the French prototype we have established a Spanish prototype and are working through the process in the same manner in which we did the work in French.

We have also recognized the value of our Skills Assessments and have all of the Skills Assessments done for English, French and Spanish. This approach is allowing us to redesign the leaning programs to the individual employee needs. (We will touch on that in the summer when we are completely revamping our web site to make it more user friendly)

These are exciting times for us and I am sure many of you know of my work in Europe and South America and Africa over the years. French and Spanish will open up those geographic areas to all of our learning programs.

So we continue to push the ball up the hill and expand the offerings.

The Time is Now.

The CSA – Comprehensive Skills Assessment

The CSA – Comprehensive Skills Assessment

Our Comprehensive Skills Assessments (CSA) are job specific and specialized subject matter evaluations of the skills and knowledge of the individuals on the job today.

Comprehensive Skills Assessments (CSA) from Learning Without Scars offer a structured tool to evaluate the specific knowledge of each employee in the dealership. Following the introduction of our learning programs and the use of a class ending “Assessment” many dealerships have noticed the benefit to a clear understanding of the job-related skills and knowledge of each employee. As a result, dealers asked us to produce a product that will help them determine the specific training needs for each employee. The Comprehensive Skills Assessments (CSA) is that program.

The CSA can serve a variety of needs within a dealership.

  • These assessments can be used, in conjunction with background checks and interviews, to screen applicants before they are hired.
  • They can also be used in the annual performance review with each employee.
  • They can even be used as a foundation piece of information related to the wages and salaries paid to the employees.
  • Finally, and this is the genesis of the creation of the Comprehensive Skills Assessment, the assessment has been developed to be used to create a specific employee development program for each employee in the parts and service business teams.

These skills assessments are only available through our online learning platform. The following film will give you a deeper understanding of the many benefits of our CSA programs.

The Time is Now.


Who Are You?

Who are you?

 One of the networks I follow poses questions often. The most recent question was “What’s the #1 thing you have learned this year?

 The problem I have with the question is that I am continually learning. I am a very curious man and not a big fan of the status quo. However, over my seventy plus years, I have learned a few things that I would like to highlight. 

I would like to think that I am continually learning. I am a very curious man and not a big fan of the status quo. I have learned a few things that I would like to highlight. 

First, from a book by Edith Hall called “Aristotle’s Way,” is a reminder. This is not something that is new for me, but it is an important one. Aristotle suggested that we have a personal responsibility to ourselves to be happy. I have had as a foundation stone in my life, the philosophy “Before you can be of any value to anyone else you have to be of value to yourself.” The two ideas are tied together, aren’t they?

More recently I obtained a book by Simon Sinek called “The Infinite Game.” This picks up the theme from “Finite and Infinite Games” a book written by James P. Carse. This is also reinforcing strong beliefs that I have had for most of my life. Life is not about winning and losing. We must be focused more on our lifetimes than individual events. I grew up swimming competitively and had a tough time. I didn’t lose many races and had national records for age groups consistently. That was the result, the pathway was another thing altogether. I would be sick before I left my home to go to a swimming meet, I would be sick changing into my bathing suit, and if there was anything left, I would be sick before going out to the start of the race. Not much fun. As you might imagine, this always bothered me. What was the matter with me? Did I need to win that much or was I afraid to lose. You see I didn’t lose very often so I never really got an answer that was clear. What finally penetrated my mind was that those two outcomes – needing to win or fear of losing – are the same. You see, if you take one of your attributes to its full extent you reach the direct opposite. So, when taken to the extreme, needing to win and fear of losing are the same thing. That brought me peace. What was more important and remains another foundation stone for my life is that you are not competing with the other swimmers in the race. You are competing with yourself. That is a much more serious competitor. You are trying to improve your own individual performance constantly. I believe this is a critical element in life. You are never finished. You can continually get better. To some degree it means never being satisfied with your situation or performance.

For the close today I will move to my life as a teacher. I come from a long line of teachers. I love to teach. I love to see the lights go on in people’s eyes when they “get it.”  That truly turns my crank: it excites me, and it motivates me.

There have been many books written about self-improvement. I will reference you here to one called “Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning.” 

 There are far too many truly amazing points in this book to pick out only one. Let me do it this way. In our own “progression of learning” (my view of learning) we need to be “testing” ourselves frequently. It has been proven scientifically that assessments, both formative and summative, when taken during the learning process significantly improve the retention of the knowledge. By retaining knowledge, we will be able to apply our knowledge to the challenges we face in our lives.

Learning is a lifelong activity. It is a truly rewarding activity as well. Genetics determines our brain power. Learning is what is required if you are to reach your personal potential.

Think about these points. They are important and I believe that they will help you as a person.


So, What Are We Doing?

So, what are we doing?

When we looked at our mission in the internet-based learning business we had to face a series of questions:

 To whom will we be providing our learning products?
 How will we be able to reach the student base?
 How will we measure our ability to provide learning to the student base?
 What will be the learning objectives for each of our programs?
 How important will our learning business become to the employers?

These questions, and many more, caused us some serious reflection time.

We had come from a classroom setting with Quest, Learning Centers. We offered traditional training in two, and three day, programs. We were focused on the management and supervision at equipment dealerships. We had started providing this training in the early 1990’s when most of the OEM’s (Original Equipment Manufacturers) stopped providing their dealers with their own management training classes. They stopped providing this training due to costs. We decided we enter this market and satisfy what was still an important need; training managers and supervisors in parts and service to improve their performance for them personally and for their dealerships.

We created a lot of content. Each of our classes covered 15 hours in the classroom and we provided a “text” book each of which were approximately 250 pages. We had nine such text books and offered nine different classes. In the more than twenty years that we did the classroom training we covered North America, Europe, Asia, South America, Russia and the Middle East. We had several thousand people taking classes.

Then dealer needs for training evolved.  There were different vehicles that management wanted to try to reduce the costs of training. Along came the webinar. As a teacher I wasn’t very excited about teaching online via a power point with me talking to a group of people who were looking at my screen and hearing my voice. I had no idea if they were “getting it” or perhaps they were doing other things at the same time. However, one of the things it did do is that if forced us to develop products that had a shorter duration. We developed webinars that were designed for 45 to 60 minutes in length.

At last we arrive at the place where we were confronting what the future of learning was going to look like. I wasn’t that interested in travelling all over the world to teach in classrooms and webinars didn’t strike as a good vehicle from which to teach people.
• We chose the internet as the delivery system.
• We chose slide shows, audio tracks and film clips as the vehicle.
• We chose pre-tests, final assessments, and opinion surveys as measurement.
• We chose “badges” as our “certification measurement tool.”

The goal was to keep the cost down and employee learning time investment at the lowest level possible. Then, based on customer input, we determined that the learning programs should be job function related not management and supervision related.

We have plans to be offering 117 two-hour Learning On Demand (LOD) classes, then there are 25 job function programs we call Planning Specific Program (PSP) classes. Each of these programs covers four two-hour classes, and we also have leadership classes we call Planned Learning Programs (PLP). Each of these programs covers ten two-hour classes. We will introduce our Virtual Classroom (VCR) programs in 2019. These classes are for fast track employees and consist of five classes requiring ten hours of learning.

We are redesigning the LOD’s to break the two-hour class into three sections, each section will be about 30 minutes ending with an essay question. We are introducing this in 2019 with our third-year programs, The Final Staging, within the PLP’s then we will redo each of the programs for the Building Blocks and finally The Framework.

We have also changed our reporting to the clients. Each month we send out a progress report to each dealer showing each student and four or five steps or progress. Program Progress, Pretest Results, Final Assessments, Surveys, and Certificates. This allows the students and their employer to track the progress of the individual learning path. We are sincerely interested in providing each student with an employee development program.

We are finalizing our badge structure which we will introduce to you in a later blog.

The Time is Now.