Why are you sharing that with me? A LinkedIn story.

Nothing frustrates me more on that glorious social media hub, than when people share articles / blogs without a comment as to why they shared it.

It’s because I am genuinely interested in why you want to share it with me. I want to know why you decided to make that article part of your online presence. I want to know why you want me to read it. It could be a genuine plug for something you wrote, or maybe it’s something you feel passionate about. Either way, tell me your opinion so that I can engage with your point of view. Even if it’s something as simple as “love this article, really speaks to my point of view on this topic” – magical, something people can engage with.

Now I know it is very popular to use tools like Buffer and Hootsuite to manage your social media presence –  I think they are great. Sometimes you want to share lots of articles in one day then nothing, it’s good to have a tool that moderates the distribution of your content so you don’t become a crazy LinkedIn spammer. However I can tell when you have just put in a whole bunch of articles just “for the shares” because you haven’t got any commentary. Commentary takes time and energy, you need to digest the information and form an opinion. Can’t do that if you are all like “I need to fill my buffer feed!”.

I think that approach works on Twitter because the life span on Twitter is about 18 minutes – so broadcast to your hearts content. LinkedIn posts have about a 24 hour life span so you have a great opportunity to connect with others and make genuine connections. Why are you wasting this opportunity. When people say to me that they don’t know what to post or they are afraid of what a potential employer might say my response is the same – use common sense. If you don’t have common sense then don’t use social media.

Your relationship with social media will change over time. You will find the forums that add the most benefit to you and figure out how often you should engage, the important part is that you do try. Put your ideas into the world, get involved and give it go. Do everyone a favour and add something new into the mix!

More on social media: http://www.weidert.com/whole_brain_marketing_blog/bid/206554/are-you-maximizing-the-shelf-life-of-your-social-media 

Image credit: Flikr | Nan Palmero

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The Rise of the Learning Ecosystem!

Last week I participated in an awesome Tweet Chat facilitated by @ozlearn, where I got the opportunity to introduce myself to new ideas (and new people) regarding Learning Ecosystems.

What’s a Learning Ecosystem?

Well that’s something that the chat couldn’t really agree on….

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I can’t help but think that a Learning Ecosystem really sums up the discussion at the moment regarding the future of L&D. The move to the facilitating the learning community and not the ownership!

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It appears to be a mix of everything! Creating an environment and system of sharing and collaboration, giving “power to the people” to create their own learning experience.

Is this a new idea?

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Pretty much everything would come to a standstill if we didn’t have a Learning Ecosystem. At its core it’s about sharing knowledge, transferring skills and developing others, formally and informally – that’s not business specific that’s origin of civilisation specific! So the question is not whether it exists, it’s how do we improve it and grow it it’s something amazing within the workplace.

What does it all mean?

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I almost started this sentence with “time to start thinking”. No, what I need is a plan. I am making a plan about how we bring this to life (with a particular interest in retail). I had started this activity a few weeks ago using this gem of an article by Jane Hart as a starting point to map activities. What’s steps are you taking – write a blog and share it with the community !! I’d love to read it, after all sharing is all part of the Learning Ecosystem.

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Special thanks to those mentioned in the post for contributing to my learning journey and to all the awesome participants of the Tweet Chat!

Learning about learning from DIY projects

When was the last time you truly pushed yourself to learn something new, that didn’t have anything to do with your day job? Mine was yesterday when after much consideration and frustration I decided to build a fly screen for my kitchen. I went through a number of steps to actually get to the end product, including watching videos online, asking the guy at Bunnings to explain it me, deciding how to purchase a hacksaw and then getting home and “contextualising” all the information.

The task was hard at first and it was SLOW GOING as I haphazardly measured the window frame (measure, cut, swear, measure, cut, swear…) but after I while I got into a rhythm and kaboom like magic I had a fly wire. Once I had completed my DIY task of the year, I had the overwhelming urge to celebrate and show off my achievements so y’know I posted to Facebook and gloated to one of my best mates over pizza – glorious.

Why am I telling you this story?

Sometimes we forget what it feels like to learn something new. This is especially true if we are the subject matter expert or facilitate that content all the time. We forget the frustration when trying to apply the learning and the excitement when we master the skill. I think celebration is really important. That’s why in a learning program that I am designing now the “graduation” and “success demonstration” is one of the most important parts – we need to reinforce the good feels to keep that spirit of life long learning alive and bring people on the journey.

So next time you are coaching people to learn something new, remember the small things – remember to celebrate the awesome!

Quick thoughts on the TAE

This week I have been completing my TAE (Certificate IV in Training and Assessment). The mix of students includes mostly technical specialists who will be involved with training others in the workplace. I have had some considerable conflicts with the content and that was to be expected because I have experience and have been exposed to some really great thinkers in the workplace learning space. However most people in that room will not get that experience and as a result will go on to think of themselves as trainers, not facilitators who tell people what they should know, not facilitators for understanding.

One personal opinion of the trainer was that she doesn’t like online learning. Okay I can understand that – and there were nods around the room from people who felt the same. The problem with online learning is that term itself is so broad and online learning has been done poorly in many circumstances! I like online learning in the right circumstance. I have had some awesome MOOC, video tutorial, discussion board and social media platform learning experiences. But that wasn’t explored in this course, it’s outside the scope but we have 1000’s of people completing the qualification each year who don’t understand that online learning is a critical part of the new world of work and ignoring it, saying you don’t believe it works without seeing what good looks like is a massive gap in the skills of our workplace learning facilitators.

The TAE is the baseline qualification for people wanting to be “qualified” in designing and delivering competency based training in Australia because it links to understanding how our Vocational Education and Training system works. So it does have it’s place. But I question whether it really prepares people to truly support an engaging and dynamic learning experience at work, maybe the qualification isn’t about that, but shouldn’t it be part of it?

SME’s turned expert facilitators

Subject Matter Experts (SME’s) do not always make the greatest facilitators, at least at first. Often they make the mistake of assuming the learners know what they are talking about, or they might have little confidence and knowhow when it comes to public speaking let alone facilitating! Today I attended a training course where I watched people who were not career facilitators, trainers or L&D folk give some pretty nifty presentations on the fly.

We were tasked to facilitate a short presentation on a random topic and were given with very limited time to prepare. I watched people with varying degrees of confidence present topic and connect with us as participants in different ways. Everyone has their own unique style of facilitating and great facilitators vary their style depending on the situation; however this activity allowed us to see what ‘felt natural’ to each person. I can summarise what I saw into the following:

  • The energy champion – they work the room, use the space, hand gestures are plenty and they are animated in their delivery.
  • The structured consultant – they are very logical, have a clear sequence and don’t like to divert from the plan.
  • The group therapist – great at reflecting back what participants are saying, reading between the lines and capturing the message.
  • The presenter – delivers the content but finds it difficult to know how to engage the participants.

So obviously my observations aren’t based on science, but it does raise the question about how we get our SME’s ready to facilitate. I see this as a five step process.

  1. Understanding your style
  2. Understanding other styles
  3. Capitalising on your strengths
  4. Learning how to shake it up
  5. Mastering participant connection

The activity we did today was so valuable to my learning. I fall into the first category – it’s my natural style to be animated when it comes to delivering training to a group. But today helped me to really evaluate other styles in a really short space of time. Even though I am across personality and behavioural styles , sessions like this give quick feedback and proactive reminder about style and the ability to flex in and out and think on your feet.

So next time you are preparing your SME for success have a think about the ways you can help them master their personal style, maintain authenticity and connect with the participants all at the same time.

Looking back and forward 2014/2015

In 2015 I’m going to investigate more about….

  1. Communication design principles. Colour, layout, design, writing style, advertising and connection through visual media – I have to know more! I think there is a real gap in the skill set of HR practitioners in this space. Knowing how to craft communications with excellence beyond a boring poster format and policy speak, I think is the most important skill I will continue to learn this year.
  2. Performance Review Cycle Success – that old chestnut. Generally the feel is that people hate completing them, managers hate running them, the administration is a headache and most models don’t scale well.. there has to be a better way.
  3. Photography. This connects with number 1, but I am going to become really good at taking my own photos to communicate my message and the message of projects I am working on.
  4. Mastering Personal Knowledge Management. I think I have a handle on these principles but I want to get really clear on what this means and looks like in practice, then see where I can take it at work and play.
  5. How to find where top performers come from and what (if any) similarities there are between them. I want to go beyond just identifying top recruitment strategies and training and development pipelines. I want to look at top performers and see what they are made off and what similarities there are between them. Maybe it will be a simple finding, maybe not. Either way I am excited for what knowing this information can bring .

In 2014 I learned…

  1. If you haven’t clearly articulated your Vision, Mission and Values the going will get tough. This applies to work and play, if you can’t articulate what you are about, getting stuff done right will be a challenge. I watched the VMV being crafted for multiple businesses this year as well as the articulation of my own. You can’t make the decisions you need to and it’s difficult to make a bold and courageous move without knowing what they are either.
  2. The power of Vision, Mission, Values and “Getting It”. This year I heard the statement “getting it” become part of how we describe performance. People getting it, not getting it for example “they are technically excellent but they just don’t get it”. Getting it is about someone’s ability to really hook into and feel the vision, mission and values of a business and design their ideas and the way they work to fit into that model. Those that Get It are your future leaders, the ones that you will inspire and will continue to inspire you.
  3. Being resilient ensures growth and success. Keeping your cool in tough situations, managing set backs, being told you can’t or that you are not good enough are constants in every part of your life. If you are able to keep going in the face of danger, uncertainty and “haters” it will make you a force to be reckoned with.
  4. The job you do and the boss you work for will be equally as important. My experiences and the stories of others have highlighted this fact this year. Some people can tough out the agony of a great position and a terrible manager or vice versa – but I think fundamentally you will leave or become vey unhappy… sooner or later
  5. Intellectual and creative pursuits will make you better at your job. This year I went on my first overseas holiday and had a raft of other experiences that changed my priorities and energised me to think differently. I read more widely, watched movies not found at your local cinema, played with design principles and made a bigger effort to explore the world around me. Indeed this (I think) has made me better at my job and better in life in general.

Happy New Year!

Success is heartbreaking stuff

The pursuit of your dream will be heart breaking. Now I am not saying that the journey isn’t worth it, or that you should stop taking chances but you need to get that it’s going to be the best and the worst experience. Yes that’s it folks, success is what happens when you push through and you don’t let heart break get the better of you. If you want to be great at something you need to brace yourself to be shut down and booed off stage. Your resolve has to be so strong because there are going to be moments that you feel as if your dream is kicking you in the face. Actually your dream is kicking you in the face. If it was easy to live your dreams everyone would be doing it. Living your dream is for those who are prepared to work for it. success 24548

Now you might read that and think.. ahhh well that looks errr terrifying. But lets take a step back and remember that long lasting success is not overnight, it’s a series of actions each day that create something wonderful. As you progress you become more invested and you begin to take bigger and bigger risks. Sometimes you will jump from one big risk to another and other times it will be slow going.

Success is like fighting gravity. You will always have someone trying to hold you back telling you what you can’t do, that it’s too dangerous or it won’t work. But you don’t have to listen to those people, you can acknowledge that they exist and then go about doing your own thing. The pursuit of your dream will be swiggle, it will twist and turn, change and evolve as you do. In the pursuit of my own dreams I have cried, I’ve questioned what I am doing and I’ve sat alone with the fear that things might not get better. But I have also had amazing win’s in the face of what sometimes felt impossible, found new passions and been exposed to more opportunities than I could have imagined. I have learned about myself and found that the potential is limitless but you have to hold on to the vision and not just your current reality. Because that is what it means to be in pursuit of a dream.

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Your dreams are too wonderful to go to waste. Your dreams and your unwavering commitment is what will change the course of time. It won’t be easy but yes, it will be worth it!

In the words of kid president…

“…this is life people, you’ve got air coming through your nose, you’ve got a heart beat! That means it’s time to do something!”