Leaders provide a key link to learning

Leaders play a significant role in assisting their people to learn. Whether it is to help raise self awareness of a learning need, provide ongoing coaching or to proivde an opportunity for their people to apply what has recently been learnt, as I documented in my post on sales training, the leaders role can not be under estimated.

A systems mapping analysis I worked on last year looked at some of the barriers that prevented capability development initiatives from being more successful of which people leaders were identified as a key barrier. Therefore a key goal of the ensuing capability strategy is to provide leaders with some context as to what role they play in peoples development.

The challenging part of this task is that this sort of leadership activity is currently seen as something you may complete a couple of times a year. Typically when completing an individuals development plan or maybe in a conversation regarding the attendance of a training program. Building capability for many people leaders is seen as an outsourced function to be performed by training courses and leaders role in relation to a persons capability is simply to solve any problems that come up in between those times.

‘LearnFest – People Leader Insights’ was developed as a way of engaging leaders to further develop the focus areas of the Personal Banking capability strategy we had previously created. The idea was to have a hybrid learning event. LearnFest was partly based on a world cafe style of idea generation to gain some more insights to better help people leaders execute themselves. Partly it was designed to provide some action learning experiments for the leaders to then implement with their teams. The event content was to be light and highly interactive. To achieve this we provided the heavier theoretical content via an engaging interactive portal available pre and post the event. The content on the portal was then largely delivered through short narrated slide shows.

One of the major challenges I have been trying to overcome in my organisation is the adoption of social learning tools to enhance more colloborative learning. As a enabling strategy for LearnFest, I introduced a ‘paper tweet’ functionality, whereby participants would tweet, comments, questions and key takeaway from each of the experiences they attended. These paper tweets were then logged on a live Yammer feed, which would allow participants in the room to get a feel of which of the other experiences they should consider attending. It also provided a continual feedback mechanism for analysis later and allowed other people to attend the event virtually.

Key insights gained from our LearnFest event included:

  • Keep large content dumps out of face to face events – The experience needs to provide enough insight to allow for in the moment experimentation, which can then be applied back in the workplace.
  • Integration of live events and virtual events through the use of social media tools such as Yammer is a great way to begin to build a social learning culture.
  • Be deliberate about what you want to achieve within each experience, by providing very specific action learning experiments for the participants to take back and try with their team.
  • Focus on less experiences, moving from the 5 experiences at LearnFest, to 3 – 4 experiences in the future.
  • Provide a structured check in, 30-60 days post the event, as a great way to enhance the collaboration and embedding of activities that were learnt in the event and enhance a social learning culture if targeted via collaboration tools.

For more information view the event set up slides and look at the following 3 minute video summary of the event.