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.