Being Wrong, Fast Drawing, Culture Fit, Recruitment & Mindset #cherishcurates

#cherishcurates – where I summarise the top 5 bits of content I came across this week that have added to my thinking on all things people, performance and how we work.

This week the top 5 (in no particular order are) are:

  • What makes a good leader – Gary Vaynerchuck
  • Fast drawing for everyone – Google
  • Culture Fit – Thrive Global
  • How To Answer Six Tricky Interview Questions – Liz Ryan

  • The nature of mindsets – Ash Buchanan

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What Makes a Good Leader – Gary Vaynerchuk

This week Gary Vaynerchuk dropped episode 206 of the Daily Vee. If you don’t know him or this series google it – he’s not for everyone and my guess is that you will love him or hate him. I’m the first. In the later part of the video he drops this statement:

…when you have the full bravado and leadership and you’re a leader the number one thing to feel comfortable with is saying you’re wrong, changing the course, having that humility to go along with that ego… 

When I heard this I was like YARRRSSSS but then I was like… why I am I reacting to this like it’s a new fact, like it’s some kind of wisdom that’s been bottled in a jar away from human ears. I look back on myself, leaders I have worked with and maybe the reason for the response is that we don’t see this behaviour enough. The humility to say “that didn’t work” and the courage to try again – in public.

Fast Drawing for Everyone – Google

Ahhh this is so cool! Google are amid developing a product that helps you create simple graphics on your phone, tablet or desktop. I see this as particularly useful to the L&D all-rounder who might not be an illustrator or designer at heart, but in spirit and needs to get their hands on some clean graphics for presentations, digital environments, activities – you name it! From the blog:

Drawing on your phone or computer can be slow and difficult—so we created AutoDraw, a new web-based tool that pairs machine learning with drawings created by talented artists to help you draw.

Culture Fit – Thrive Global

This article was really interesting, it challenged the reader to think about what it means to say “hmm I just don’t think they are a culture fit” .. really what the heck does that mean? The ‘hard data’ of their article draws from a survey by Cubiks… Regardless of the accuracy of the data the question remains..

…..when you say ‘culture fit’ what do you mean?

In recruitment, I use it to describe that holistic assessment of the candidate. They might have the right experience, qualifications – they might even be able to predictably perform in the short term. But will they get results the way that we want to achieve them, that aligns to our values and defined behaviours; what will they add to our culture that compliments and positively challenges what we do. If I can’t see that link then it’s a red flag. One quote of the article really stood out for me:

“I don’t optimize for fit with our existing culture, because over time that will lead to uniformity and irrelevancy. Instead, I try to envision a future where this person’s unique point of view has shifted how we work and what we value. I hire for an individual’s potential cultural contribution.”

The article mentions breaking down ‘culture fit’ into cultural contribution: what will this person bring to the team that will challenge us and help us; and values fit: does this person share our goals and aspirations.

It’s a good article – get’s you thinking about the impact of the language you use and culture fit within your business.

How To Answer Six Tricky Interview Questions – Liz Ryan

I first came across Liz Ryan about 5 years ago. Something I love about her articles is her no BS approach to advice. Recruitment I feel these days can be a soulless business. There are some improvements, but I think in general for job seekers it is a tough game to play and that’s before people even get to the interview.

Ryan talks about the interview questions we all ask and gives coaching tips on how to answer, noting that some of the questions are just down right bad form from recruiters. Here are the questions that got me thinking..

What’s your greatest weakness? To be honest I gave this question up a while ago, I usually ask things like “what are some areas you’d like to grow in”. I’m not overly interested in what people think they are terrible at. More interested in how they see the process of life long learning.

Why do you want this job? Guilty sometimes I find myself saying, only my version is this “you could work anywhere tell me your story”. I need to think this one over a bit more.

The nature of mindsets – Ash Buchanan

This post is long and detailed. Best consumed if you have a 30 minute window and are feeling like some brain food. It unpacks the importance of mindsets, mindset states and provides further reading on the topic. From the 8 principles that underlie mindsets, here are my top 3:

  • Mindsets are unique to everyone
  • Mindsets are imperfect models of reality
  • Mindsets are self-protective

I think about some of the coaching conversations I have had quite recently. In those moments you are trying to alter or persuade these mindsets to rewire and this article provides some great language for coaches to support their managers or clients through the process of a mindset change for improved performance.

This is a good one to reflect on. Worth the time if you have it, which I know you do. I’ll leave you with this.

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.” — Mahatma Gandhi

Image Credit : Wait, but why  (one of the greatest blogs on the internet!!)

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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!

Creativity, stories and surprises – why I dig HR!

People ask me why I like working in HR. They seem to think my days are spent listening to complaints and disciplining people – which is actually a very small part of my role (maybe I’m the exception not the rule?). So I thought for a bit of Monday happiness I’d share my favourite parts of working in HR.

#1. Creating weird names for things.
I reflect fondly on the many times my HR counterparts and I sat around brainstorming the name of the next performance appraisal, what theme the next quarter should have or how we could inject the fun into policies. It’s like unleashing your inner Advertising Guru, only you are not a guru you just hope that some random catchy genius will find you.

#2. I get inspired by cool people
Some humans are just god-damn amazeballs. Some of my highlights include: watching people complete qualifications for the first time; seeing coaching in action; getting to know team members with big ambitions; and witty rhetoric with employees who really live the vision, mission and values. I tip my hat to all of you.

#3. I’m continually surprised 
Whether it be people sharing their funny anecdotes with me, or making epic work faux-pas, the laughs never stop when you are in the know when it comes to people’s lives – such a privilege.

#4. I am get great pleasure and amusement out of HR stereotypes
I adore the way HR is portrayed in mainstream media, it’s glorious! The first time I saw Archer and was introduced to the character of Pam I laughed myself silly. I enjoy a good joke about HR and most of all I enjoy smashing the stereotype.

Happy Monday!

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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!