When things just work – #AltruisticHR

Some time last year I started thinking about my role in the world. There’s a lot of people who are out there doing good. And they’re doing it because they have good ideas, and those ideas find merit, traction, and a way to become more than an idea, they become a reality. So I was thinking about what can I do for the world? Well, I want to do a lot, and there are several things I should be mindful of in developing an idea. So the idea of Altruistic L&D was first born. Through the #connectinghr community I’ve built a lot of good connections and friendships and threw the idea open to them.

The idea was to use the knowledge and experience we have to help primarily the third sector where organisations may not have resources or capabilities to cater for their L&D needs, do some discrete work with them to enable them to do more, and let them carry on. Commercial gain was not part of the package, and it was only about doing good work, because we can. Also, importantly doing work like this was not to take away from consultants/suppliers who can and do deliver work to some of these organisations. Just to provide something they’d like to have, but can’t make happen. The great thing about a like-minded group of people is that there’s no pressure to get things right. If it sounds like it might work, then it might work, but you won’t know until you start talking about it. We talked and helped develop some thinking about what the next steps might be.

The next #connectinghr unconference came along and we mooted the idea there, and it really gained a lot more attention which was very encouraging, so shortly after, I put a group together on the connectinghr.org site, as a place to have these discussions. As there were more than just L&Ders interested, we changed the title to Altruistic HR, with exactly the same values and ideas in mind. And then we waited.

Sarah Durbs sent out a message about some work she wanted help with for her company, Breakthrough Breast Cancer. Natasha Stallard and I threw our hats in the ring and accepted. It was a clear brief that focused on wanting to develop the facilitation skills of people from Breakthrough. From initial conversations, there was a large interest in doing this type of day’s training. Tasha and I came up with a plan of action, sorted dates with Sarah and today was the day we got to actually deliver on this piece of work.

It was a brilliant day. Natasha and I made a great team to deliver the session, and we checked against each other every step of the way. She brought a great sense of energy to the day, which I sometimes don’t allow myself to express so freely. Her notes were a godsend and made sure we both were on track and kept things to plan. The plan was key to the success of the day as we were able to revise and adapt things as appropriate. And we were open with the group about our role in the day, and how this was an abnormal piece of work by us as we both have day jobs. The group we had were a very receptive group, and this always makes the job of an L&Der that much easier as it becomes delightful to actually do the work, and it was a sheer pleasure to be part of this day. The delegates (12 of them in all), all expressed their key take home messages from the day, and they were so clear about how they could try things differently, inspired to do more, be flexible in their approach to meetings and presentations, and even created a charter for what facilitation looks like for them.

I think there were quite a few contributing factors which made for a successful day. The network and community we’ve developed through #connectinghr enables a great place to seed ideas, gain useful feedback and provide the support to make things happen. The volunteering of Tasha and I to Sarah’s request worked very well and we both made good efforts to ensure we weren’t leaving things to chance. We helped deliver a session where the skills and knowlede gained will only help conversations be better and potentially create a shift in the way the organisation thinks about what it wants to achieve throuh good facilitation. A lot of people not even part of the day were very encouraging in their tweets and even some light debate on the truism of altruism was had.

So there you have it. There are a lot of people, and companies who do this kind of thing, and this is the first time we’ve done this through Altruistic HR. It was a joy to be part of, to work with Tasha, and with Sarah, and to have been able to give something to the group from Breakthrough.