>Hi all, it’s been a long while since I last blogged. Mostly to do with lack of time. Time off here, looking after kids there, getting courses delivered. You know, life. I am tweeting a lot though – A LOT!
>As an L&Der I love learning about different tools and techniques to help groups achieve their goals and objectives. The world of L&D and OD (Organisational Development) cross over immensely and the lines are often blurred where one stops and the other starts. In my experience though the two don’t need to be that disparate. OD is about implementing a new way of doing something, or identifying new processes, or facilitating a group in a discussion. L&D is about improving skills across the workforce. I’ll discuss this in a later blog. For today though I’m focusing on a particular planning tool which really helps focus a groups efforts.
>I’m revising a course I’m due to deliver next week called ‘Making a Personal Impact’. It’s aimed at juniors in the workforce to give them more understanding about how to make a better impression and impact so that they get noticed and become able to move up the corporate ladder. As part of the course I’m doing a piece on what it means to be pro-active and as I was searching the interwebs, I was directed to Stephen Covey’s website http://www.stephencovey.com. He’s the author of the best selling book ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’. The book was first published in 1989, has sold over 20 million copies, and has been named the “#1 Most Influential Business Book of the Twentieth Century” according to his website.
>I was able today to help a colleague with an area of work he was struggling with – time management. It’s an oft quoted area of difficulty that junior staff just don’t know how to handle. I was also able to help a colleague think about how to set realistic objectives for team members. What came out from both of these conversations is the importance of getting the basics right. And when I say the basics I really do mean the basics.
>In one of my earlier posts I mentioned something about a crack L&D team. From a meeting today I have been inspired to talk more about this ninja trained team of L&D professionals.
So first thing is to be clear about what is an L&D professional. In my experience it’s someone who has been exposed to a wide range of training topics and can deliver training on those topics. This takes time. It’s not enough for an L&Der to be a time management trainer. A trainer is someone who does exactly that – trains. An I.T. trainer is pretty restricted to I.T. training. They will be knowledgeable about their specific topic and be mostly restricted to that. But in essence, they are not developing a behaviour, they are developing a technical skillset. Because of that, they will be restricted to being a trainer; unless they of course venture to the L&D side of things. Oh and don’t let the title confuse you. An I.T. consultant isn’t an L&Der. They’re just a fancy trainer.
The other thing to be wary of is to be fooled into thinking that a good trainer can make a good L&Der. No sirree. It is very possible to have someone train well but not make a good L&Der. They can present the information well, answer questions thrown at them, even make it amusing and relevant to your work. But that’s not what L&D is about.
L&D is about a culture of learning and development that is facilitated by the L&Der. That sounds good but what needs to happen? Well you have to have someone who has experience of the learning and development cycle and knows how to make it a reality. That is someone who knows how to carry out a learning needs analysis, how to design an intervention, able to deliver the intervention and finally understand what evaluation is needed to measure the success of the intervention.
In order for that to be a success the L&Der has to have an infectious personality. The last thing you need is someone who believes in L&D but has the personality of a dead toad. I’ve known people like this and for all the money in the world they will never be like Jonathan Ross. So this L&Der must be someone who is able to do the following things well:
1) develop your business acumen – quickly. L&D can only be effective if you truly understand what are the important factors in business success? What is the company strategy? What do the different departments do? What processes are already in place that support L&D? Who are the key supporters of L&D? Who are the ones who just need to be introduced to L&D to be your supporters? Who are the cynics that you need to build rapport with? What are the objectives of the business? How can what you deliver help the business?
2) build rapport with a wide range of people. This is important in so many ways. You’re only going to have a successful L&D function if the business knows who you are, what you’re trying to achieve, and give you the support to do this. As an L&Der it’s vital to be able to deliver an intervention that is received well by the people you’re working with.
3) be knowledgeable about a range of L&D interventions. The beauty of being an L&Der is that you’re not limited to delivering training courses. You have at your diposal other interventions such as workshops, meetings, focus groups, PR & marketing, lunch and learns, and the list can go on. A good L&Der will know how to use a different intervention in order to meet different needs.
4) be a good facilitator. This key skill of an L&Der was taught to me by my first boss. Facilitation skills can help with everything from project management to meeting management to delivering a programme. It’s highly important to be able to understand the subtle nuances of being an effective facilitator and to be able to adapt this skillset for any daily interaction.
5) always seek current trends. As good as an L&Der may be, they have to seek out what’s hot in the world. This is not only true for skills as an L&Der but also to keep aware of what’s happening in the business world, economy and industry. All these things influence what you do as an L&Der and how successful you are likely to be.
Broadly speaking then these are the key things any L&Der should be able to do. I think I rank fairly well across those 5 points. I’ve still got a lot to learn to be better, and that’s something I’m always conscious of.
>Hi all. So as those of you who either follow me on Twitter or know me personally will know, I (I mean my wife but you know) recently had a baby girl. She’s doing very well and is a wonderful addition to the family. I now have a complete family and this makes me very happy. It also makes me reflect on what’s been happening in my life, what’s currently happening and what is due to happen. Kinda like getting a visit from the 3 ghosts in ‘A Christmas Carol’ but not. Anyway I digress.
Where have I got to? Well in the last 5 years a lot has happened. I got married to Mrs P. We had our twin boys A&K. I have a job, which, for the moment, is secure and not going anywhere. The job also helps keep my family in a secure place for at least the next few years. And now we have our baby girl. And all this by the age of 31 (soon to be 32 I might add).
Whats happening right now? Well a lot of stuff. I have good friends in Jim, Joe and Jerry. This makes me particularly glad because at one point I was at a point where the friendships could have gone dry. This didn’t happen. Mostly because I was given some stern words. And for that I’m grateful.
There’s adjusting with the new family. Any change – no matter how good – means adapting. And this means that people have to accept change and adapt. That’s tough and even though people will be well meaning, it’s change all the same. The silver lining here is that people will have to talk more to understand more. For me, that’s positive.
And then there’s my family. This time at home has been really important for me with my twins. I only really have time with them either when I have time off or at the weekend. But I’ve been able to do a lot with them in this time off and that’s been invaluable. My wife went through a relatively good labour and although the pregnancy wasn’t all pleasant, the joy of the new baby has seen those ghosts laid to rest. I’m thankful to the Lord that I have my family.
And where’s this all headed? Well I have to consider the following things. First, am I being a good husband? That means a lot for the wellbeing of my family. I think I’m doing a good job for the most part. Next, am I being a good parent? This is key in ensuring I remain a positive and happy influence in my children’s lives. Third, am I being a good friend? This is important for my own sense of self and keeping good company. Fourth, am I being a good worker? If I am producing and delivering good work then work will continue to be a place where I can be positive and engaged. Fifth, am I being a good citizen? A community is only as good as the people living there. This will be a continued challenge that I will strive for. And last, am I being a good family member?
What I actually reflect on though is did I lay these plans out in advance 10 years ago? Even 5 years ago? Well, no if I’m honest. I had an idea in mind but no plan. And to be honest (a lot of that in this post) the next 5 years are heading the same way. I have an idea of what I’d like to achieve and for now that’ll do me.
But how does that fit in with achievement? Aren’t you supposed to plan and set SMART goals? Well of course you are. But to recognise what you want to achieve you have to take a look at what you have achieved. That’s what helps you plan for the future. Knowing what has happened so you can have a clear idea for what’s yet to come.