Moving From Concept to Execution: Implementing Developmental Growth Opportunities at Work

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is daria-nepriakhina-zocdwpuirua-unsplash.jpg
Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

This week I’ve been reflecting upon how we learn. Though there are learning styles, which are important to know, I’ve been reflecting more upon the process of learning. How we take in new information, process it, reflect upon it, adapt it, and formalize it into the other processes and systems we currently use.

Why might this be important to consider, understand, and become familiar with?

Good question. It is important to consider and understand, because this understanding can help leaders create bridges for people. The familiarity of which can create a bridge for your team and move you from concept into execution. Let’s take a look how.

Learning

It’s important for everyone to have access to developmental opportunities. To learn and to grow. Important. Knowing this, how do you suppose you create these opportunities? While larger organizations typically have a model for training staff, it does not always follow that everyone in the organization has the same access to developmental opportunities. Hm.

What to do, then, when your business or organization does not offer training, or those training programs are limited in some way, or designated for only mid-level and executive employees?

Create them from within

As a leader, you can create opportunities for your team to develop and grow. How? Find out what each person’s strengths and weaknesses are, always starting with yourself first, and then find ways to engage them with new concepts and tools to stretch them, and help them grow.

For instance, we created an opportunity in our second year as a team to develop strategic thinking skills, which included several training days. The culmination of which was deploying a system for organizing our daily work and balancing strategy. The need was there, and we moved it forward, and so can you.

Here are some considerations on how to get started.
  • Define the need – here are some questions to assist your thinking.
    • Where is the gap?
    • What training is needed to fill the gap?
    • Who will facilitate the training?
    • When will you implement the training?
    • How will you evaluate the training’s effectiveness?
    • What is the return on investment of the training?
  • Create a training plan with internal or external training professionals – here are some questions to consider.
    • What is the training goal?
    • How will you know when you’ve met your goal?
    • What does post-training traction look like?
    • What metrics will you use to measure traction?
  • Implement – communicate about the training, create buy-in with staff, and implement.
  • Evaluate – make sure you have traction.
  • Repeat – we created a system of training once a quarter. Worked well.
Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

Adjustment

With any learning process, there is a period of time that people need to adjust to their new workflow reality. How can you assist staff in making these necessary adjustments?

Here are a few ideas.

  • Create a post-training system to ensure that you have traction – the system should at the very least include:
    • Post-training follow up – what did you and the team learn, and how will you move the new concepts and tools forward.
    • Periodic staff check-in’s – I’ve always used one-with-ones to ensure that staff have the support they need, and are adjusting well to their new workflow reality.
    • Measure your movement – create a way to measure your post-training progress. This might be quantitative metrics, such as increases in revenue, or it may be qualitative, such as increased workflow effectiveness.
  • Continue to follow-up – to really gain traction, the new concepts and tools must be incorporated into everyone’s daily work, including yours. There really is no other way. If this does not happen, the new concepts and tools you are implementing will lack traction.
  • Create consistency – once you have movement, start talking with the leadership team about the next training. Be consistent, and offer training opportunities at a regular drumbeat, so staff can count on, and expect them.
  • Monitor progress – continue to check in with staff on their progress. Monitor traction. You may find that after three months, the team needs a refresher on a topic you’ve already covered. That’s okay. What really matters is that you’ve created access for your team to develop and grow; and that you will remain committed to doing so, refreshers and all.
Photo by Andrew Dunstan on Unsplash

Integrate

Once the team has adjusted to their new reality, which includes new concepts and tools, you will need to devise individual development plans. These plans will ensure that each staff integrates the new concepts and tools into their current workflow in a way that suits their learning style, which will increase retention, mastery, and traction.

Where to start?

As was aforementioned, I’ve used one-with-one’s often in my professional career. I find that they work well to create plans tailored to the individual. These plans can also be used to track progress and as a coaching tool.

The most important thing about integration, is that all staff actively integrate the new concepts and tools into their daily workflow. You are building healthy habits in this regard. Really. People like habits, and once you have created that habituation within yourself, a must, you can deploy that to the team.

Here are a few examples.
  • Whiteboards – some people are very visual, and literally need to see the work drawn or sketched out. I’m like that. If you have staff that are visual, do whiteboard work with them, so they can see the new concepts and tools inside of their current workflow. Important.
  • Post-its – funny. I always say it matters less how you organize yourself, than it does that you develop a system that works for you. And, if post-its work for you, like they do me, use them. Again, what matters is that the staff member can feel a level of comfort with the new concepts and tools, inside of a system they’ve already developed.
  • Calendars – a good way to organize by setting reminders for new tasks. For instance, after we completed a strategic thinking training day last year, I had every staff member add one hour per week of strategic thinking to their calendars.
  • Project Management Systems – we’ve been using a project management system for over a year now. Works for some on the team, and not as much for others. Yet, having a systematized way to move larger projects forward is important. I’ve found this addition helpful, and a contributor to the team’s overall traction.
Photo by Andrew Dunstan on Unsplash

Reflect

We all need time to process new information, time to reflect. I advocate for giving your staff the same consideration you give yourself, especially when incorporating new concepts and tools into their daily work. You need it as a leader, and so do they. We all do.

How do you incorporate reflection time into the day?

If you use reflection often as a daily strategy this will be simpler. If you do not, there may be a stretch here for you, however, I believe it is a worthwhile endeavor. We are all inundated with constant stimuli, and the need to take a break from that stimuli to really get clear on our work is necessary and needed.

Here are a few strategies you can try.
  • Build that time in for yourself first – the only way to create traction with anything, is to create it for yourself first. Once you have a system down, you can coach and guide people into it. If you are not familiar with reflection time, add 30-minute reflection times into your daily calendar. Try it a couple times a week, with a goal to have it worked into your calendar daily.
  • Coach the team on taking the same time – once you’ve practiced taking reflection time for yourself, you can advise the team on doing the same thing. Have them build it in similarly. A day or two a week to start, with the goal of having daily reflection time.
  • Create reflection time after meetings and one-with-one’s – another strategy that we employ is taking time to reflect upon decisions. As you practice this strategy, you will come to see, as we have, that many decisions do not need to be made quickly. You have time. Take it, and use it wisely to reflect and engage with yourself and your team on the best course of action.
Photo by Andrew Dunstan on Unsplash

Formalize

Once you have strategies in place to incorporate new learning, integration, adjustment, and reflection time into everyone’s workflow, you can start to make plans to formalize these new processes and systems. Simply meaning that to build these healthy work habits, and to have them stick, they must be practiced daily; and they need to be documented.

As we’ve discussed, people all learn differently, so create a few different ways to engage with the team, which will ensure you maintain traction on the aforementioned learning strategies. The main way we move projects of this size forward is to input them into our project management software, which has worked pretty well.

Again, what you use to formalize and document a new system or process, of which learning and development are two, matters less than you taking the time to create a learning and development plan for yourself, each team member, and the overall team.

I think you will find that the payoff in terms of work efficiency, overall team moral, and team cohesion will increase as you continue to create opportunities for people to learn new things, and to develop themselves at work. And, once that is accomplished, you and your team will be ready to move from concept to execution, and into the traction zone.

Be well, and lead well.

#businesstraining, #creative-process, #creativity, #developinghighqualityrelationships, #developingourselves, #developingprocessesandsystems, #developingresilience, #developingteams, #development, #developmentandgrowth, #experientiallearning, #individual-learning, #individualtraning, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #leadershipessentials, #leadershipinaction, #leadershipmindset, #leadershippractice, #leadershipprinciples, #learning, #learning-and-engagement, #professionaldevelopment, #team, #teambuilding, #teamdevelopment, #teamtraining, #training

Developmental Growth and Transformation: A Distinction

The Transformation Video Series #1

#creatingchange, #development, #developmentalgrowth, #growing, #growth, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #leadershipinaction, #leadershipmindset, #leadershipprinciples, #personaldevelopment, #professionaldevelopment, #teamdevelopment, #transformation, #transformationalgrowth

Leadership in Practice Series Part 3 – Community and Continuing Education and COVID-19: A Brief Exploration

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is swapnil-dwivedi-w46trf64qnc-unsplash.jpg
Photo by SwapnIl Dwivedi on Unsplash

Have you ever heard of community and continuing education, or noncredit education? Yes, no? Either way, that’s okay. Most people know very little about the breadth, accessibility, and availability of community and continuing education.

Before taking my current position, as the Director of Extended Learning at Linn-Benton Community College, I knew very little about community and continuing education. Sure, I’d heard of community classes, yet they were not something I had access to growing up.

Learning, then, that community and continuing education, of which corporate training, professional development, and small business development are also a part, are far more accessible and available than I knew, and many people know was enlightening. And, right now, access to these classes is needed more than ever.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is cyrus-gomez-x4hjxzooixu-unsplash.jpg
Photo by cyrus gomez on Unsplash

Community and Continuing Education

Why?

Now more than ever people need a place to connect with other people. Humans are social beings. Regardless of whether you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert, people need to be with other people. And, right now, that’s hard. Really hard.

Community and continuing education provides such a space. Yep, even right now. Though, for sure, COVID-19 has presented unprecedented challenges for educators all across the country, some organizations have found ways to continue to serve. How?

Creating new ways to deliver education that is typically considered and associated with an in-person experience. Prior to COVID-19 becoming a local reality, the Extended Learning Department at Linn-Benton Community College had only a handful of remote classes and training. Starting this fall?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is my-life-through-a-lens-bq31l0jqaju-unsplash-1.jpg
Photo by “My Life Through A Lens” on Unsplash

What?

The Department will have over 120 Community Education classes, 4 cohorts (all full with a winter term waitlist) of Professional Development training, at least one Driver Education class, and over 10 Small Business Development Center classes and workshops. And, yep, they are all remote. Phew. Unprecedented change. Why does it matter?

Though taking a class or a training during a massive pandemic may seem like the wrong time, it is exactly the right time. There has never been a more “right” time to be connected with other human beings. Never been a more right time to continue to learn, to grow, to move ourselves and everyone around us forward. It is just so. The right time.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is kyle-glenn-f8ssjfhd1k-unsplash-2.jpg
Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

How?

Easy. You sign up for a class or training you want to take, and take it. Simple. Now, we’ve experienced lots of technological challenges in delivering these new remote classes. A wonderful learning experience. And, like anything, there is really only one way to learn something, and that is to do it. Simple.

“Fill your life with experiences. Not things. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show.” -Anonymous

Awaken the Greatness Within

If you are unsure where to look, take a look at the local community college, University, or Parks and Recreation department where you live. Will they have remote classes? Don’t know. However, many have been offering remote classes, and I think more will follow. And, if you don’t have access? Well, you can always reach out to Extended Learning at Linn-Benton Community College. Yep.

It is most important to know that there are classes and training happening right now. Whether it is in the community you live in, or in another community miles away. Because these classes and training are remote, the miles matter less, than knowing that they are available and accessible.

For more information on how to access Linn-Benton Community College Extended Learning classes and training you can email Jeff Flesch at fleschj@linnbenton.edu.

#accesstoeduction, #communityandcontinuingeducation, #communityeducation, #communityeduction, #continuingeducation, #covid-19, #creativity, #development, #education, #experience, #experiential, #growth, #leadership, #leadershipinaction, #leadershipinpractrice, #noncrediteduction, #professionaldevelopment, #smallbusinessdevelopment