A theme for LearnConnectDo 2019

On 14th March this year it’s the first LearnConnectDo event of 2019 as these events run into their 4th year now!  Wow.

“These are always thought-provoking and useful sessions!”

CH, previous delegate.

Huge thanks to everyone who has attended, facilitated and helped us along the way – including PKF Cooper Parry who kindly sponsor us by letting us use their amazing workspace for every event.  read more

Learn > Connect > Do : Wellbeing and the Thinking Environment

A week ago on 9th March was the latest Learn > Connect > Do : an event held quarterly in Leicester which is for people professionals who care about making work better through doing great people stuff.  These are also people who care about giving back while they learn and I’m delighted that we raised a fantastic £130 for Twenty:Twenty through ticket sales.  This will enable a young person to get support with transport costs to get to their local centre to learn, or to go for a day out to celebrate their learning successes!  And even more than that, with the professional backgrounds we have there are so many other ways delegates can get involved and support these young people into jobs they might never have considered an option before.

Each time we meet we have a topic to discuss and learn about, and a facilitation approach for people to experience so that, if they think it could be useful to them or their organisation, they can go away and explore more for themselves.  This time we talked about Wellbeing – what are we doing about it at work? – facilitated using Nancy Kline’s Thinking Environment approach.  The event was sensational!  One delegate said she didn’t know what to expect of it “but that it over-delivered by far!”.  Makes it all worthwhile 🙂

Having chatted, got to know each other and captured the questions all the delegates brought, I started things off with an intro to the Thinking Environment and how we’d use it as a group.  It’s a very different way of behaving together and so it needs careful set up to agree with the group how it’s going to work and why.  I highlighted how the Thinking Environment really connects to what we know, and are continuing to learn, about how our brains respond to threats, and also it has a strong connection to the theory of Human Givens which is about the conditions needed to help people thrive.

Andrew Harris then shared 8 (plus a bonus 9th!) top tips about how not to be effective with wellbeing.  You can read more about these in a great blog Garry Turner wrote after the event.  It gave a great, concise injection of information and advice to feed the later conversation.

Janice Keyes then took the reigns to help the group choose the top question they wanted to focus on – the choice was broad with aspects like influencing top leaders, showing ROI, engaging managers and employees, developing managers to have conversations about wellbeing, communicating what’s happening and what’s working, developing a strategy…..From all those options the group chose this question: “If wellbeing means something different to each individual, how can an organisation develop a strategy with the flexibility to meet those needs?”   Great question!

We then got into the Thinking Environment group activity.  The evolution of everyone’s thinking was fantastic – there was great diversity and appreciation of each other for new ideas that were introduced.  And laughs, especially when Rhodri highlighted the (unfortunately too often) sad truth that we only need the term “work-life balance” to demonstrate the fact that when we come into work at 9am we die, and only come back alive when we finish for the day.  Like David D’Souza’s Reverse Superman Effect.

Something that struck me was that the same goals we have of empowering people to take responsibility in work, to have clarity of the end game and everyone’s roles in that, and to help people more often choose what they do and when they do it are the same for the topic of wellbeing.  Therefore if you have a great, empowering, coaching-centred and human organisational culture, wellbeing is naturally part of that and doesn’t even need a separate strategy.  Wellbeing is the vehicle, not the destination” as Mark Gilroy so beautifully said.  The addition an organisation might bring is around education about physical and mental health, nutrition, sleep and exercise….  For continued pondering…..

The discussion was so rich and diverse I didn’t feel I could do it justice on my own (these photos show a snapshot of the brilliant thinking that was going on) and so I asked the delegates to send me their thoughts on it.  Here’s what they’ve had to say…..

 

Jo Lee wrote a whole post about it.

 

“I read Nancy Kline’s book “Time to Think” a while ago and I’ve heard it talked about a lot but I hadn’t experienced the thinking environment in action.  The thinking environment that Helen created last week gave me the space to think, to go with whatever came to mind, to let my thoughts evolve, without feeling I had to compete.  I felt very calm.  My takeaway was how powerful something so simple could be – just being able to speak and listen without interruption.  Who’d have thought of that?

My individual takeaway about wellbeing was less about the organisations and strategies that the question we talked about posed.  More about personal responsibility.  How we all have a responsibility to recognise and say how we are feeling – like a wellbeing contract with ourselves.  How what we mean by wellbeing can change, for us as individuals, as a society and how we live our lives.  I am also mindful how important people managers are in the whole wellbeing agenda but how they may not feel equipped or mandated by an organisation to promote wellbeing or respond in an individual way to the people they work with.”

Karen Foyster

 

“The Thinking environment process is powerful, moving, insightful and challenging.  Powerful and moving in terms of the depth of listening and understanding that one draws from the process.  Insightful as one hears and learns on a completely different plane/level.  Challenging as, I at least, am used to competing to be heard (in relative terms), so the serenity and calmness of the process is genuinely mind-blowing.   This is a process that I have already promoted to some colleagues internally and I will practice it in my own time also.

The Fit for Work presentation from Andrew was excellent, very insightful and engaging.  I learned a lot about the aims and process of this organisation, but I also took away the consistency of challenge, like so many other people interventions, that exist around introducing effective wellbeing into organisations i.e. leadership buy in, effective line management training etc

All in all genuinely my best CPD experience of my career to date.”

Garry Turner

 

“The session was a perfect fusion of process (thinking environment) and content (wellbeing) with each being integral and complementary to the other. To have the opportunity to talk and listen in such an uninterrupted, focused and purposeful way was illuminating and made for one of those ‘moment in time’ sessions we all hope for as facilitators. What was most striking for me was the synergy between the process and the content – our own wellbeing (many of us reported feeling calmer and clearer) was being enhanced as were discussing the topic. I am already thinking of how I can use this approach for teams in crisis and for leaders who are under significant pressure”

Kirsten Holder

 

“So many gems. I appreciated hearing from others about how to promote wellbeing as a strategic consideration for any organisation. Helen’s facilitation of Nancy Kline’s Thinking Environment was positioned expertly, and a timely refresher of a highly valuable facilitation tool, one which enriched the quality of the conversations throughout the session. All this, topped off by the knowledge that a portion of the cost is being donated to a worthwhile local charity. It’s easy to cover a lot of content in a short amount of time…but to also have time built in for reflection, networking and practical takeaways, that’s something special. Time well spent.”

Mark Gilroy

 

So thank you to all the delegates for their energy and wonderful thinking on the day.  Thank you to Janice and Andrew for facilitating the session with me.  Thank you to Mark for taking fab photos.  And thank you to Bianca for supporting me with the very important and hidden administration to make the event happen.

If you’re interested in joining a future event, the next one’s 8th of June 3-6pm at The Observatory in Leicester.  If you’d like to go on the mailing list, email me.  Or keep an eye on the website, or on Twitter (#LearnConnectDo) or on my LinkedIn.

It would be great to welcome you to this growing community!

 

How well do you influence others?

At the start of May I attended a course in Team Coaching, taking coaching from one-to-one to a team brings a whole different set of challenges and opportunities to improve organisational performance…

One of the topics we had some debate around was that of power in work. Power so often has negative connotations. In the same way the word conflict does. If I’d used that word instead of “debate”, what image would have come to mind about our conversation?  How would you have felt about it?  And what about “power”?  What do you think and feel when you hear that word?

Despite our emotional responses to these words, both conflict and power are essential in the workplace. Healthy conflict based on strong trust and with an intent to improve the organisation – not to have a personal dig at someone (see Patrick Lencioni’s work). And influencing through power, again with the intent to improve things for the collective – rather than for personal gain.

And no matter what influencing style you use, you will influence people in your life right now. You will have power over somebody, somewhere. That’s how things change.  This theory of the 5 Forms of Power might help you start to recognise your preferred approach and what you might benefit from doing more of.

 

Having been at the CIPD Learning & Development Show a couple of weeks ago there were lots of conversations about influencing the business agenda, about getting L&D the attention it needs from senior leaders. Chatting to Peter Cheese, he told me that he believes a shift has begun with organisations realising that their success relies on people. And I also hear more people professionals talking about knowing their business to be able to provide solutions that deliver the strategy.  This is all good.

However I’ve also had lots of conversations at the show and since, with colleagues continuing to struggle to get the people stuff taken seriously.

Leaders who say they believe in this people stuff but don’t follow through with commitments to make decisions at board meetings. Or who keep the people stuff until the end of the agenda so that it’s squeezed into the remaining minutes or left off completely. Or who say they want to do things but then don’t support their teams with conversations about it, or who don’t support them to re-prioritise so they can invest their time in it.

Leaders and unions who are so caught up in their own priorities, and protection of their position, that they aren’t open to others’ ideas or insights in case it shows up their knowledge gap or shows them something they don’t want to see. Putting their proverbial fingers in their ears and la la la’ing.

Fingers in earsa

Businesses so focused on task and deliver, deliver, deliver that they’re afraid to stop to look at another way in case everything comes crashing down in the meantime, therefore impacting on shareholder / owner value and their own career prospects.

Because often this behaviour we see isn’t through malicious intent. It’s often just because it’s the way things have been done for ages, or because there’s a lack of understanding and therefore a fear of being found out, or a fear of business failure and fingers being pointed and careers ended.

 

So what’s the solution? Well, that’s what Learn > Connect > Do is about on the 16th June. It’s a relaxed, interactive, conversation-based event to work together and figure out challenges we all face.  For June, the focus is how to influence effectively and, starting with this event, all profits go to an East Midlands charity.  The first to be chosen is LOROS who are a fantastic Leicester-based end of life hospice – so not only do you get great personal development and meet great people, you’re also doing good for others at the same time!

So what’s bothering you in work?  What’s not happening that’s feeling hard work?  What needs to change but isn’t?  Do you feel like you’re talking to yourself?  Do the people you need on side not ‘get it’?  Bring your challenges with you in June and we can collaborate together so you’ll leave with a way forward that works for you in your context.

To start your thinking, here’s a blog post from the L&D Show and a session where we heard from ATS Euromaster and Rackspace about how they’ve influenced leaders to embrace the modern learning agenda.

And here’s what we did at Learn > Connect > Do in December and March.

Book your place before they all go (only 20 people can join us!)

And we look forward to seeing you there!

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Founded by Helen Amery (owner of Wild Fig Solutions Ltd), the Purpose of Learn > Connect > Do is to bring together people professionals who care about work being better. And we do that by focussing on a different topic each quarter, facilitated with a different tool or approach each time. Aiming for maximum learning – both about the topic and about the approach. Plus getting to meet other professionals who care about the same things as you. And giving to charity too!

#learnconnectdo

Next month….. Learn > Connect > Do is back!

LCD 2 Dec 15When we last met in December our focus was on line manager development – a topic which I massively care about because I continue to see people in leadership roles with little or no development, who then continue to be promoted (still with no development), and who therefore get to senior roles lacking the confidence or skill that the world expects them to have for the level they’re at. Imposter syndrome is ever-present and become incredibly unhelpful.

All of this makes for ineffective workplaces because it’s leaders who make the difference between an individual’s, and therefore a team’s, success or failure.

So in December, with chocs and fizz added in for good measure, I used a Design Thinking approach (thanks to We Are Unstuck for this) to facilitate the session which generated some great and fun discussion and debate – and incredibly both teams came out with similar outputs – we need to get the human back into work and leadership.

You can read more about what happened here.

With feedback like – ‘feeling inspired’, ‘want to get back to work and put this into practice’ and ‘we’ve achieved so much in so little time’ – we just had to do it again!

LCD Dec 15

And so ‘again’ is happening in March! (10th, 3-6pm at the Observatory Beefeater, Meridian, Leicester)

After some great debates amongst the team, we’ve decided on the topic of “Aligning HR/L&D to the Business”.

This topic came out of the last session as an area of value and it is also something which feels fundamental to anything we do from here and which, by making progress on this topic, future sessions can hang their hats on it.

Our debates in the Learn > Connect > Do team also led us to decide on an Unconference approach to the event. This means there’ll be no set agenda for the day – apart from arrive (with a question), grab a drink, chat and then we’ll get going.

So that question you’re going to bring…..what is it you specifically want to get clear in your head about alignment? What makes you feel as though you’re not aligned? What’s getting in the way? What does alignment actually mean?

Whatever that question is for you, as you arrive we’ll capture it, along with all the others, then from all of these we’ll identify the top 2 or 3 areas of focus. After some quick deliberation in the facilitator team we’ll agree the best way for the session to run, and we’ll start the conversation.

All enabled by some energy-boosting Easter chocs!

Interested?  You can book your place here.

Now, I wonder how we can make chocolate part of the theme when it comes to the June event……

Look forward to seeing you in March!

#LearnConnectDo

#CIPDLDShow 2015 is nearly here!

Can you believe the 13th and 14th May are just around the corner when people who are interested in stuff to do with learning, developing, training, facilitating, coaching…. will be heading to the Olympia in London for another amazing two day Learning and Development event hosted by the CIPD, this year sponsored by the Open University.

I’m excited!  These events are always a great chance to hear what’s going on in the world of L&D, what’s going on in other organisations, as well as a chance to continue to learn about your personal professional career development.  This all happens……

> in the exhibition hall where there are free 30 minute taster sessions through the day

> in the seminars and workshops where case studies and experiences are shared in more detail

> and in the coffee areas and round the stands where you meet fascinating people with fascinating stories to tell.

I’m humbled and honoured to be invited by the CIPD to be part of the Blog Squad again this year – this is a bunch of us who love to write and share people stuff on Social Media, and who care about better work and working lives.  We’re responsible for tweeting and blogging from the event so that more people can benefit from what’s going on, and so that when you have two things at once that you want to go to, there’s a good chance someone else will be sharing stuff from the one you can’t make.

Of course we’re not exclusive in this social sharing stuff and last year there were more people than ever tweeting from the sessions. A great way to get the conversation bigger and broader.  More brains = better thinking = better results!

I’m especially looking forward to attending a load of stuff about leadership development with a sprinkling of neuroscience.  Employees continue to tell us we’re not developing our leaders well enough (about half don’t think they have a great boss).  And great leadership is difficult because it often goes against many of our natural engrained and learned tendencies, behaviours and habits.  Which is where neuroscience, and getting to the root of the challenge, is the place I love to play.  So I’m looking forward to hearing and sharing some of the latest thinking in how we help people to be great leaders more of the time.

If you can make it, what are you waiting for?  Register for free here.

I’m also running a free fringe event called Learn > Connect > Do for sole practitioners because it’s easy to go to these conferences, fill your head with stuff, and then not be sure what to do with it all when you get back to work.  A challenge made even harder when you might be the only one where you work who does this people stuff.  So this is a chance to share what you’ve learnt with others who have similar challenges so that you can grow your network and transfer your learning better to

make a bigger difference read more