The myth of stand alone roles

You know, sometimes, just sometimes I love Twitter. In his post yesterday, Mervyn talked about how Twitter goes on about it’s daily routine regardless of what is happening with you in yours. And because of that, it offers so much freedom and release from normality. But this isn’t a post about normality and what benefit I get from Twitter. This is about knowing your limitations. In a recent post by Alison Chisnell, she talked about whether or not you know what you’re doing, and how it’s ok to just sometimes amble on by.

And then for the last 15-20 mins have been embroiled in a Twitter conversation about the use of external suppliers to support training needs. The conversation ran from one man bands claiming they can train on all, to how budgets are used ‘smartly’ to me being pedantic about it being called behavioural skills not soft skills.

It’s prompted something clear for me that is a myth about those of in stand alone roles. There can be an expectation from the business that you are in role because you are an expert. And as an expert, you are equally expected to be able and capable of doing everything expected of your role. That’s an important point to be very mindful of. Let me repeat it because it is worth it – you are equally expected to be able and capable of doing everything expected of your role.

This doesn’t mean you have to actually do it. Read that again – this doesn’t mean you have to actually do it. Right, now I’ve patronised you enough, let’s carry on.

Let’s take stock, first, of my first re-read sentence. Are you able and capable of doing everything expected of your role? Honestly, are you? I know full well where my experience and expertise lies in my L&D role. I know what I can deliver confidently, and what I will avoid. BUT, even those topics I avoid, I will still know enough that I can talk confidently about them or even develop some material for. Partly because I’m that shit hot, mostly because I don’t allow myself to be that complacent.

Another part to this though is recognising if you have the capability of doing it all. Therein lies the root of what separates the good from the best. I would claim I am the best, because I’m just stupidly confident. But I’m not. I’m good. Before I can lay claim to being amongst the best, I still have a lot to learn. I have to learn more about e-learning, blended learning and developing those products. This does not mean in anyway I don’t know what those things are, or how they are used, or how they should be part of a programme. It means I personally need to develop my skills in them. Because I’m simply honest about it. I’m not shouting about things I’m not doing, I’m shouting about the things I am doing.

And then there’s the second statement. You don’t have to actually do it. It was one thing I learned early in my one man career. Enlist the help where it’s available. It has to be proportionate and it has to be with clear guidance defining roles, but there’s nothing wrong with it. This isn’t about seeking support from team members though, that’s something else. This is about seeking help from the business. Because the business wants you to succeed, and the business enjoys getting glory. Managers above a certain level are fully aware that if they can be involved in internal activities it will only do their name good. So be mindful of the help that is available.

If you’re fortunate you may be able to grow from a one (wo)man army to a team. But that often takes things like economic boom, business confidence, writing business cases, getting drunk with the CEO and blackmail.

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Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

3 thoughts on “The myth of stand alone roles”

  1. Great blog!

    I agree about ‘expert v doing’. Expert means being informed of what’s happening in your role/industry/sector often with in-depth expertise in certain areas. For example, I would class myself as an expert in developing competency frameworks but not mobile learning, although I keep track of what’s happening and would know where to go to get in depth expertise if needed.

    As leaders there is also a responsibility to develop and support expertise in others and this can be uncomfortable at first but is essential for developing future talent in the organisation. Therefore I believe ‘enlisting help from others’ is must to deliver great results for the business and individual.

  2. Excellent blog post, and am equally pleased that I somehow was involved in its inception! Who knew twitter could be so useful!?

    Just one thing to add, as I agree with all comments above. I see my role of an internal L&Der to diagnose (what’s the issue, what needs to be done, what’s that gap), research (what method, who is best to assist), prescribe (based on my research) and then maintain or improve. By maintain, I mean maintain that level of performance/skill to perform the task: and support the group/individual to do so.
    I am definitely not an expert in all areas of L&D and would never claim to be however I do work and aim to ensure that the managers I work with and partner are confident in my ability to understand (quickly!) what they might need, perhaps even before they have thought it… and then find a suitable solution: that’s my area of expertise and what I am paid for.

    If we use external resources, then that’s OK – I am sure the staff would be far happier and more confident I did this than try to blag my way through delivering something anyway. Likewise, the external provider sourced I will invariably learn from too, so on a personal level its a learning experience – and for me, that’s how I can become better in my role.

  3. Thanks on your marvelous posting! I seriously enjoyed reading it, you are a great author.I will
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