A 2014 pledge

Hello. How are you? I’ve been thinking and plotting and ruminating and using big words.

I had a good chat with Broc Edwards today, and it got me thinking. Here’s a guy who gets up at 0430 (yes, that time exists) most days so that he can start his day early and get things accomplished. He goes to the gym, he’s with his kids and he’ll take time to Skype with people several thousand miles away from him. All before he goes to work a full day. His best opportunity to connect with someone professionally is via the interwebs. If he wants to get a group of people together and hold an unconference, it’s going to be a big effort. Not because it can’t happen, but because there’s all these professionals who live hours away from each other in different directions.

It made me reflect on the ease of which things happen in the community in the UK. Two months ago, we started talking about doing the next L&D Connect unconference, and within a week it’ll have happened and past. I can arrange a lunch or coffee meet up with relative ease any day of the week. I send text messages to friends and not worry about data charges or calling other mobile networks because of the availability of inclusive minutes. This is all good and easy and helps me to connect.

This morning I attended a breakfast meeting courtesy of the Strategic HR Network. It was a good meeting where we spoke about Trust at work. How very fresh a topic to hear about and to talk with other professionals about. We spoke about the gap between what leaders say and what they do. We spoke about the difference between intent and actions. We spoke about perception and reality. We spoke about vulnerability and the courage to act.

And this has all got me thinking.

What does 2014 hold?

Or rather, what do I want it to hold?

Well, I want to create meaning. I try to do that anyway, but I want to really focus on it. So here’s some things I’m going to play around with and see what happens:

– I’m going to have more fun with creating content to share online. I loved producing my Prezi about Business Minded L&D, and will do more of this.

– I’m going to create more YouTube videos. I love the challenge of engaging people I can’t see and can’t feed off.

– I’m going to submit more papers to talk at conferences and the likes. I have things to say and I am missing opportunities to be heard.

– (this also means I’m open to being approached for talking at conferences)

– I’m going to share more about positive psychology and wellbeing. These topics are important to me, and I enjoy helping people understand them.

This is all professional stuff yo. I have personal things I’ll be focusing on too. Like:

– I’m going to help my family be happy as much as I can. Without them, I’m nothing.

– I’m going to play tennis. You’d think that someone who talks about it enough that I should really be playing it too.

– I’m going to laugh with and support my friends.

– I’m going to be more smart about my savings and managing my finances.

That’s me. This was good. Let’s do it again.


What the potential?

It’s an odd one isn’t it. You’ll be reading this most likely on your commute to work, at your desk, or whilst doing something humdrum. You’ll give it a thought, and let it pass. You’ll get on and do what you’re paid to do, and come back tomorrow to do the same. There will be meetings, there will be lunch, there will be interesting people to connect with, and it’ll all pass without a second thought. It’s life.

Was there a reason you started working in the profession you are in? I’m kind of asking the question Jerry Maguire found himself asking before he got sacked from his sports representative job. His ah ha moment lead to a life changing set of events. Most of us won’t have that though. Even now, you’re just reading thinking, “yeah, I remember that in the movie”.

I’m asking you, dear reader, what’s your reason for being at work? Is it to pay the bills? Is it to buy a new house? Is it to move country? Is it to provide for your family? Is it to have job security? All of those are very valid you know. And if you’re sure it’s one of them, then carry on and do the job you’re paid to do.

But what if your purpose is something else? What if your purpose is to help others? It’s to develop others? It’s to carve your own life? It’s to write your own destiny? It’s to right the problems in society? Are you supposed to pack up your nice well paid job and fulfil your life’s dream? (Please don’t take that as a call to action if you’re not in the position to do so)

But certainly, you’re now thinking, “well what is my purpose I wonder?” And you’ll probably stop at that question. Unless you can talk to someone. Pose that question to someone you trust? A friend? Your partner? A trusted colleague? Maybe even a coach or mentor? That conversation, well it could lead somewhere that’s for sure.

We’re all finding our way in this world. We all have pressures, insecurities, ambitions, and more that drive us to do the work we do. Some of us will be lucky enough to be able to determine that path on our terms. I want you to do that. I want you to believe you can live a fulfilled life. I want you to be the best you can be.

Or you can just think, “Hmm, that was interesting” and carry on doing what you’re paid to do.

>Business 101

>In a range of interactions today I was made aware of the importance of a little something called business acumen. The bread and butter of any successful organisation is to understand what business acumen is all about. I still don’t know if I get it. Not really. I get enough to understand a range of factors associated with it. You know, things like ROI, portfolio of clients, customer identification strategies, marketing, PR, R&D, finance, cash flow, profit and loss, revenue streams, new business pipeline. You do know, don’t you?

And that’s where things start to get interesting. How many of us actually understand all of that jargon I’ve just thrown out there? More importantly, how many of the fresh talent coming into the workforce understand any of those things? We have high expectations for graduates in particular but anyone starting their career in a company. But what are we doing to help them understand everything that’s expected of them? And I don’t mean the work they’re doing, but the important things of running a business.

So how do you do these things? Well a study by the CIPD showed that most learning and development in the workplace happens via information passed on and coaching done by the manager. In the first instance then, you have to know your stuff. You will always be the first port of call for a new recruit. You’re the one with the answers. You’re the one who can explain the meaning of life. The buck starts with you. It doesn’t end there though.

You then need to have in place a process or programme that helps your new recruit gain business insights. Huh? For example, arrange weekly/monthly sesisons where you discuss what’s been happening in the business and why any of that matters. When everyone was being asked to cut back on their spending, were you able to articulate why? When the recession meant redundancies had to be made, were you able to help the team see the business case for this? When Bob took sick leave every Monday consistently for 2 months were you able to discuss the impact of this and give appropriate feedback?

There also needs to be in place a session of sorts delivered by a senior business leader explaining what these things mean to give the business overview. In that session you need to also explain the jargon you use on a daily basis. What’s a TSV? What does cash flow mean? What is a revenue stream? How do we find new business? What does ROI actually mean? And R&D?

Then you’re looking to ensure you keep this activity up. Improve the quality of the conversations so deeper and more significant learning and development takes place. Send them on conferences where they can talk to other people about these things. Send them on an external course to interact with other industry people. Arrange discussions with other business units to help them understand how the business as a whole works.

And when you have all that in place, after about 2 years, they’ll be ready to move on and get promoted. 2 years I hear you scream? Absolutely. If you want your new recruit to be a high flyer, and if you’re serious about their career development you’ll invest 2 years of your own time and efforts to get that person up to scratch. And 2 years is a good target to aim for.

So, are you ready to teach Business 101?

>Presentation training

>I today completed a set of presentation skills training with a group of people at my workplace. I think presentation skills training is my most favourite training that I deliver. It covers a broad spectrum of topics. Much like leadership and management training. But I think for me, this is the best topic. In terms of soft skills, presentation skills training crosses so many necessary skills: assertiveness, facilitation, rapport building, active listening, effective questioning, information delivery, engagement, credibility building, making a personal impact, confidence building, and those are just the ones that come to mind.

What I like best is how conscious I have to be of everything happening in the room at that moment. It’s taken me a long time to understand what that means. It means initially that I have to create an environment that is safe and open for my delegates to say what they need to. They then have to feel that they have something to learn from my session. This is all a power trip for me. I have complete control of that learning environment. Conversely that means I have to ensure the delegates leave learning something of value. Now there’s my true challenge. I believe I’m a great trainer. It’s a strong belief residing in my gut. You know, where the core of a person lies. Anyway, I digress.

More importantly though this means that I have to build a picture of the needs of the delegates and really hone in on those. Now there’s the part I love. By the end of the training in most occasions I’ll have sussed out what the person needs. But that journey to find that out, that’s what I love. Why? Because I love understanding people. And watching a person do presentations tells you so much about their character.

I have seen some God awful presentations delivered well. And some really difficult topics delivered effortlessly. And that’s no mean feat. Imagine having to tell a group of people that your department is receiving negative feedback from other departments and you have to collectively work to change this perception. That’s bloody hard. But when my old manager did this, he didn’t beat us up about it. We felt we had a mission, a purpose, something to prove.

So what’s my point here? Presentations are key in helping you to make decisions about a person. The training I do helps to ensure the message is delivered genuinely. That looks different for each person and that’s how it should be. Next time you see a presentation, give the person feedback. Let them know what impact they made, how they handled questions/challenges, how they built rapport with the group, if the content was appropriate. It has such an impact on the presenter. And you will also learn to have those development conversations so much better.