Taking the wind from my sails … and using it in another way

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Have you ever been in a situation where you have thought “What happened there? This was not in my plan”. This has been a funny week… Not laugh out loud funny, but strange funny. Firstly a trip to Shanghai was postponed. This meant a frenetic 10 days of activity came to a sudden stop and life took on a slower pace. Time to go outside into the garden, hang out the washing, bring it in…… big mistake…a split second error in judgment and balance meant I spent a big portion of the morning at A&E, getting my painful, swollen knee examined.

No broken bones, but newly made plans now in tatters and a pair of crutches for support. “Never mind”, I consoled myself, I can write, make phone calls, plan and design for the coming weeks….. Ever the optimist and making the best out of a bad situation.

I am definitely not superstitious, but the third thing to happen was losing my voice…… Bringing me not into a silent world,  but one where I have become an observer: watching, listening and waiting for things to happen. Being immobile and without a voice is a temporary state for me and I look forward to my recovery. It has however, made me think of others for whom immobility or not being heard is a permanent state.

So I will consider and pray for those who are immobile: either physically or stuck in an unexpected rut, caught in a life they never expected to be in. I will ponder those who have no voice; either because no one is listening or they are unable to vocalise what their needs are.

As I have had time to think,I will be making a mental note to myself:

  • Don’t crave the busyness but savour the still quiet moments; this is where life happens and friends connect
  • Listen carefully to others but hear what they are not saying and cannot say
  • Help others, whenever you can, to move, from where they are, to where they should be
  • Use your gifts unsparingly and be as generous as you can be

So the wind was definitely taken from my sails this week, as the saying goes, but life’s lessons can always be used in other ways to enrich, not only your life, but others too.

Hey L&D, what are we? L&D doesn’t need a budget, it needs…

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From talking to many L&D professionals I hear so many stories of teams, budgets and classroom time being cut…..it’s sad but, hey L&D, what are we? Have you ever considered why L&D is under so much pressure to deliver with fewer resources? Now you can almost see the tumbleweed blowing through a once thriving department. Seriously, why are we taking this lying down?

I truly believe that we don’t need a budget … What we really need is a bit of gumption and the ability to put together a business case. Easy for you to say Krys….I can hear some of you say.

Your L&D job description will most likely contain words about responsibity for the identification and design, development and delivery of business-focused courses for your organisation. Regardless of whether you report into H&R, L&D, a functional department or even the MD; L&D must understand the business’ goals and be able to integrate them into a learning programme that supports their implementation. You’d also expect that the rest of the organisation would support you in that common goal. Makes sense doesn’t it?

No doubt you already have a passion for L&D, and you will have the skills required, but for you to succeed and to help the business to succeed you need the support of the business. You are most likely to gain support from the business if you have identified (or are addressing) a real need and understand the impact on the organisation. If you can do that,  then L&D should appear to be very good value for money! (You know this!) So, instead of arguing about your L&D budget, maybe you should be discussing the value of the impact of your L&D and how to make it even better. L&D, in that light, is not a cost but an agent for change.

The Secrets of LNA shared ….at Olympia #cipdldshow

screen-shot-2016-05-13-at-12-59-36Earlier this week we set off for London for the CIPD L&D show, to exhibit for the second time. This time seemed easier, I knew what it might be like. What I was blown away with was, the interest in my session on “The Secrets of LNA – evaluating business alignment”.

There were enough seats for 70 and standing room at least double that. As I spoke, eyes fixed on me, heads nodded and people identified with the content.

I began quoting from the CIPD L&D survey of 2015: “Of the organisations polled only 25% said that L&D are fully aligned to the organisation“. So this worries me – what is happening in the other 75%? Where does your organisation fall? In the 25% or the 75%? If you don’t know or if you are in the 75%, consider this. How would you like:

  • L&D to be the change agents for your organisation?
  • It to be easy to justify budgets for L&D interventions?
  • When there is a downturn, L&D is not cut, but people are invested in?

By analysing the needs of your organisation before delivering any learning or training, you may find the things above become a reality!

TNA? LNA? NA?

Is this all just semantics? Are they just all the same? So here is the thing, if I conduct a Training Needs Analysis, the solutions are always going to be training. It is a little like having only a hammer in your toolbox and so everything looks like a nail. Often organisations who conduct only TNA’s may be either very technical in the learning they deliver, or it could be that they do not know much about the organisation and how it operates.

So how does a TNA differ from an LNA you might ask? So an LNA will be broader in its outlook, the equivalent of having now a hammer and maybe a wrench and a screwdriver along with some allen keys in your toolbox.. The outcome will always be a learning solution whether it is a book to read, some coaching, a webinar or a full blown qualification. What I would love to happen and here is where over the last few years I have been trying to use my Jedi mind tricks (I do know I am not Yoda btw), is when you are conducting an LNA, you ask some questions:

  • Is there something happening behind the scenes that I need to know about?
  • Is there something missing?
  • Is something not happening?
  • Is there something besides learning that these people need (eg more resources, better processes, more support etc?)

Those are just a few to get you started. These are great questions to ask if you are trying to dig deeper and look beyond the traditional training or learning needs. For this to be successful though there are some things that you will need in your personal toolkit:

  • An air of curiosity
  • A willingness to find out more about the organisations and how it works
  • The ability to speak the language of the stakeholders and not just in L&D speak
  • Persistence and courage to challenge when people just tell you to “DO it” (the training that is)
  • An overview of what the culture is like and how the organisation is structured (this can be key in determining how easy it is to get people on board and change minds. For example a company with a hierarchical structure and a blame culture will resist change and pass the buck. Whereas a matrix structure and a culture of empowering, will welcome your curiosity and fresh eyes to see what might be going wrong.
  • Infiltrate the organisation so you have your finger on the pulse of what is happening, now, not 6 months ago

Sometimes we may not be able to foresee when we need to do an LNAplanned or un. Have a look at the picture below to see some of the instances when they can be planned and when not. Try as much as you can to plan in your LNA’s (always thinking about what might be going on under the surface). Once you start doing regular LNA’s and demonstrating the value your solutions bring, it will become easier and easier to get the resources you need to do a valuable LNA and any subsequent solutions.

Once you know you are going to do an LNA, you then need to choose some suitable methods. Below is a table of many different LNA methods. You could start by trying to sort them according to whether they are high/low cost and whether they are suitable for individuals or groups.LNA Methhods This is one way to see which methods are going to be most suitable for your situation. You will also need to consider some other criteria, to be able to decide which methods are most suitable:

  • Your budget
  • Resources, such as people and tools
  • Time
  • Commitment from stakeholders – without this, it does make it harder*
  • Size and culture of your organisation

*Read this blog about stakeholder management

So finally …. here are some of the secrets of LNA (I am sure you knew these already!)

  • Know the difference between an LNA, TNA and NA (remember the Jedi mind tricks!)
  • Choose the most suitable methods (use triangulation – 3 methods to get a broader picture)
  • Plan the LNA when you can
  • Always keep the end in mind so that you are aligned to your business

Thanks to everyone who came to the session and participated. We were truly overwhelmed by the numbers who were there and also the numbers of people who spoke to us saying “We are in that 75% and we need help!”

This topic certainly seems to have struck a chord with a lot of people and my concern is that if you are in that 75%, you get the help you need to achieve alignment with your organisation. If you need help, then please phone for a chat to see what we could do. Phone Krys on 07952 416530 or email info@howtoacceleratelearning.co.uk

Inspiration from the most unlikely places

I think it is important to be inspired as an L&D professional, otherwise how do you maintain your enthusiasm? How do you inspire others to change or to follow your lead? Just thinking about it, shouldn’t we all be inspired? So my thought today is about my own inspiration and where it has come from recently. The surprising thing is that for these two sources of inspiration that I will share I was never expecting to be inspired (maybe this is part of the process?)

The first story I will share is being asked to attend a course named “Leadership in Coaching”, via the church I attend. I have a coaching qualification, have coached for many years and consider myself competent and really did not expect to learn much or come away with anything new. After all church institutions always lag behind industry and the secular world don’t they?

Without going on too much, here it is! “Mining for Gold”.

Shared by Tom Comacho from Blue Ridge vineyard church. North Carolina.

Simple and succinct as every great model should be. It has radically altered my thinking about how we should develop people. Often people are described as “difficult”,”challenging”, ” creative” or “passionate” which are all behaviours, some of which we will never fathom!

So instead of looking for a way to fix this “difficult” behaviour, why not ” mine for the gold” within them? What are they passionate about? You will know this by the way their eyes light up when they talk about it and the way they become fluent and lose a sense of time! What are they good at? These are often things they find easy and takes little effort on their part. What has borne fruit or given them successes (no matter how small) in the past? When you find these sweet spot where these three things collide, that is the gold.

If these “difficult” people can begin to operate in this sweet spot, I believe not only will people grow in confidence and successes, but they will inspire others to do the same. Their lives will become enriched and they will have found their purpose…. Something that is severely lacking in today’s culture of  materialism. When you find your purpose and bless others with it, no matter how small that seems, others will be changed.
Some people may say that it is not dissimilar to “Strengths finders” by Gallup and you may be right. This model for me however is crystal clear and has given me a different outlook when talking to people, not just to look at their strengths (gifts?) but to look for that sweet nugget of gold I believe is in every one of us. To find out more about how they could operate in that sweet spot; to help them discover how to remove the barriers that may stop them.

So please indulge me just a moment, let’s imagine not just in corporate life, but in charities, care homes, job clubs, schools, everywhere, if we mined for the gold in everyone, what would our country look like? What would the world look like?

The second thing/person that has inspired me is a lady, who I will not name, as she is quite a private person. She is small (maybe not even five feet tall), slight( under 8 stone) and 80 years old. This lady has battled cancer, travelled to China, Outer Mongolia and Siberia as a missionary and even today, goes out onto the streets of Leeds to bless street girls in a not so nice area in Leeds. She is quiet, unassuming and humble but with the heart of a lion. She amazes me with her kindness and her love of others and many people will never get to meet her. Many people will walk by and not realise the gold within her. Many people will walk by and never realise how 10 minutes listening to her story, might change their outlook. Thanks to M….a for being an inspiration to me!

Are there people in your life that have inspired you? Maybe you have been unexpectedly inspired. If so, I would love to hear your story!

Walk this way…part 6… use accelerated learning principles

walk this wayThis is the sixth in this new series of blogs called “Walk this way”, where I am inviting you, the reader, to follow my view on what a good approach to learning would look like.

 

 

 

Here is an overview of the whole approach, showing clearly the 6 steps.

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This time we will look at the 6th step – “Learning interventions are underpinned by accelerated learning principles*“.

*5 secrets of accelerated learning

My business is called “How to Accelerate Learning” and so obviously I am an advocate of accelerated learning:

  • Because it delivers results
  • It incorporates the latest thinking about learning in the best way possible (for maximum retention)
  • It incorporate great objectives as part of the process
  • It is creative, engaging and fun!

Key statistics about what accelerated learning can deliver

  • 300% improvement in retention by learners (Eliot Masie)
  • 30% cut in trainer prep time (Debbie Meddins, Atos L&D Manager after AL workshop)

If you would like to know more about The Learning Loop® and this approach, then please contact me. Or better still, consider booking onto one of the open Learning Loop courses or come to one of our Showcase events.

This is the final blog in a series of six.

“Walk this way” – the whole blog series.

©Krystyna Gadd 2016

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