My main job is to write training courses. Like many training professionals, I can write a pretty course relatively quickly and easily. Recently, I was writing a personal effectiveness workshop for a client. At the end of the day, the session plan was done. No slides, workbooks or other supporting material, but the ‘core’ of the programme was there. It was good in that it: Contained good, useful information and theories Flowed well Was planned at a good pace Followed Accelerated Learning principles Had a good balance of trainer input and group work Made links to previous training to reinforce key points Had a specific call to action at the end But I wasn’t happy with it. I thought it was boring. True, I had included lots of activities but they were all quite similar. So I put myself in the position of a delegate. Would I find these activities useful? – Yes. Would I find them interesting? Would they stick in my mind? – No. So, I researched and found more interesting and ‘active’ exercises to replace some of the content to make it more impactful. Good. Now my delegates would enjoy the course as well as finding it useful. But I still wasn’t happy….
… the rest of the time it takes patience, persistence and hard work! Running a workshop recently with a number of managers, the discussion turned to embedding change. These managers had received training in implementing change, and have spent the last 12 months trying to get their supervisors to ‘step up’ and start managing rather than just doing. They have had mixed success. Some supervisors have made a real effort and seen success. Some tried but (for various reasons) haven’t seen the same results. Some gave the whole thing lip service and used the fact that nothing changed as proof that the ‘new ways’ were destined to fail. Now, there are questions about how these supervisors were encouraged and held responsible, but that’s another debate. Exploring the reasons for the differing rates of success, it became clear that there were four main factors: Belief – some Supervisors bought into the ‘new ways’ and wanted to make the change. Others wanted to stay in their comfort zone. Hard work – the supervisors who had success worked hard. They also asked for help and were willing to reflect on how they were doing so that they could adjust things if necessary. Persistence…
This summer we decided to redecorate our lounge. We had a reasonable budget and thought it would be plenty to repaint, get a new carpet, new curtains, and replace the old-fashioned fireplace. Of course the first task was deciding exactly what we were going to do. This took longer than expected as although my husband and I agreed on the big things, we tended to disagree on the details. In the end we reached a compromise and set about pricing up and planning our new look living room. Of course things didn’t go to our initial plan. The first major change was to realise that we didn’t need a fire at all. Why spend hundreds of pounds on something that we never use? So instead of replacing our old fire with a new one we decided to have it removed. This saved us money but delayed the project as now we had to find someone who could remove a gas fire, brick up the hole and plaster over it.
On a rare night out recently, I was complimented on my figure (nice) and I shared that I had actually lost around a stone recently. I’ve been Zumba-ing twice a week and using the app ‘MyFitnessPal’ which basically sets you a calorie target and then measures your progress on a daily and weekly basis. I have been more or less hitting my targets and so have lost weight at the rate of 1lb per week. However, my friends were worried that I was starving myself (I’m not). “That’s not enough calories!” they exclaimed, “You need 2000 a day to be healthy”.
Last weekend, I attended a rather enjoyable wine-tasting course with Wine Unearthed. Sadly, although I learned a few things, I don’t think I can write it off as ‘personal development’! Along with much peering, sniffing, swirling and tasting, our tutor provided lots of useful insights into what makes a quality wine, which wines offer good value, and how to recognise them (whether or not they are actually to our taste).
One of the most important things in the history of mankind is fire. It keeps us warm, keeps us safe, helps us to cook, and gives us light. In the modern world, one of the most important tools we have is the ability to learn. Our world is changing at an ever-increasing pace and those who are unable to learn, or indeed to apply learning, will be left behind. Understandably when we consider training, much of the focus is on the event itself: whether that is a traditional workshop, a qualification, and e-learning module, a webinar or an old-fashioned book. But no matter how good these things are, they will not bring about lasting change by themselves. For learning is like a fire: you need the raw material to burn, you need the spark to ignite it, and you need the fuel and conditions to keep it burning. Without any of these three things the fire will simply fail to ignite or go out very quickly. The same is true of learning…
I’ve been enjoying the Aldi ads recently….they don’t say you SHOULDN’T buy the leading brand, just point out that there’s is just as good (more or less). But, many of us are seduced by big brand names, they feel more secure and more trusted, even though the product itself may differ only very slightly from much cheaper versions. Recently, I did some work for a manufacturer who (in the same factory, using the same machinery and same people) produced a number of variations of the same product…but all for different brands. Their ingredients cost the same, the quality procedure is the same, and yet some products are sold for 50% more than others…due to the package they put it in. Did you know that the same is true of some training providers?
Last week I indulged in a bit of internet clothes shopping (it’s just TOOOOO traumatic having the kids in tow, or trying to fit in around work). I only ordered a few items, but once ordered and informed of the expected delivery date, I went upstairs to my wardrobe determined to find the same number of items to throw out or give to charity. You see, I only have a standard ‘double’ wardrobe and frankly, it’s full. The only way I can get my new clothes in is to take some of my old ones out. It’s a habit I got into about 3 years ago, and it’s served me well. Not only do I NOT end up accumulating lots of similar items, but I have to think about what I actually NEED by taking stock of what I already have. It’s good practice for new managers too. When they get promoted, they often just take on lots of new tasks without throwing anything out, duplicating tasks or just taking stuff on ‘because they like it, feel they should etc…’. Of course, new managers who do this quickly get overwhelmed and the dream of promotion quickly turns into a nightmare…
I’ve just watched the Malaysian Grand Prix, which was interesting for all the wrong reasons. The winner, 3-times world champion Sebastien Vettel, took victory after disobeying a direct order from his team to stay behind team-mate (and eventual runner-up) Mark Webber. He apologised after the race, saying he had made ‘a mistake’, but given that he had AMPLE laps in which to drop back behind his team mate (and didn’t) I’m not sure that in his heart, he wouldn’t do exactly the same thing again. He is a racing driver. It’s in his DNA to do everything he can to win, and he’s very good at it.
Last week I helped to run a seminar on Employee Engagement. It was a really positive event with a good mix of delegates, all at different points on the road to Employee Engagement. Of course, everyone wanted to know how to engage employees, what the 10-steps to success were, or which metrics were best to use. Of course, we couldn’t nail that down in the 3 short hours we had! Employee engagement is one of those quite difficult to define concepts: you know it when you see it/experience it. It’s like having that wonderful natural looking yet carefully planned garden that you want to spend the whole of the summer in. It’s difficult to define what makes it so inviting. Yes, the plants and flowers are nice, the layout of the lawn, the position of the patio, but there’s so much MORE.