Monday, September 30, 2013

Awards and Unsung Heroes

Awards and Unsung Heroes

Rachel Burnham writes: All the publicity and discussion around the People Management Award Ceremony last week, has had me pondering who my L&D role models have been over my career.  My list of unsung heroes is quite a mix: an L&D consultant, two particular colleagues, the MD for a consultancy I used to be an associate with, a learner who always asked the most difficult questions and my Dad, who is a retired Church minister. 

Let me share with you some of the things I have learnt from them.

I began to do some training quite early on in my career when I worked for a small housing charity.   The first training session I delivered with my colleague was particularly challenging and I wouldn’t say it was a great success – but what turned it from a near-disaster into a very important part of my development was that we worked with an external consultant to review what  had happened and how we could learn from it – and that was so powerful!  I still draw upon the learning from that review day: working with a co-trainer; managing your energy levels when delivering; to more particular challenges such as how to work with line managers when training their team.  So, my first unsung hero is nominated for her facilitation skills – particularly careful listening and questioning skills to help us to learn from this real experience.

Other key people in my development have been colleagues.  From one I learnt how to become more relaxed in my delivery style and to balance my desire for structure with a more fun approach.   From another colleague, who is always trying out new IT possibilities, I am continually challenged to move out of the familiar and have a go.  From her I have learnt that I don’t have to be an IT whizz to make use of new technology to enable and enhance learning.

Over the years, I have worked as an associate L&D consultant with various organisations and consultancies.   The MD of one of these organisations, was the most polite person I have ever met to everyone he met.   In contrast I realised that I could seem quite rude and abrupt with people I met casually and I have set out to adopt more of his approach – though I am not sure that I will ever quite achieve his level of consistent & genuine charm!  

My next nomination for unsung hero in L&D, was someone who had a bit of a reputation for being a ‘difficult delegate’ in one of the organisations I worked in.   He often came up with really challenging questions in sessions and sometimes trainers felt quite put on the spot by him.   However, I had one of those ‘light bulb’ moments that we all look forward to and realised that he had absolutely no intent to be ‘difficult’, he genuinely wanted to know and had a particularly enquiring mind.  Once I realised that, I changed my approach to difficult questions from all learners, not just him.   I realised that he and other learners putting posers could actually help me to deliver a session that was much more lively and relevant to that particular group of learners.   Questions can often helping you to tailor the session.

My final nomination in this blog, is my father, who is a church minister, now retired.  In the course of my childhood, he was probably the person who I heard most often speak in public, when he delivered the weekly sermon from the pulpit of our church.   (By the way, if he ever mentioned one of us children in these talks, he was required to pay us at, I think, 50 pence a mention – we were tough negotiators!  Of course, this now means that that I owe him for this blog and with the rate of inflation as it is, this amount should be considerably increased!)  My father is a brilliant preacher, because he speaks with passion – not the fire and brimstone kind, but with conviction.   And that is what I aim to bring to any delivery that I do too.  Sometimes, L&D professionals (and ministers) present with so little heart in it, with so little sense of their own belief in what they are delivering that the impact of their material is undermined.  So, I have learnt to let my passions and enthusiasms shine through when delivering.  

So, those are some of my key role models in becoming the L&D professional that I am.    If you would like to share your inspirations and role models, please do add these to the comments section for this blog.   I look forward to hearing from you.

Rachel Burnham

25 September 2013

Burnham L & D Consultancy specialises in the development of L&D professionals, blended learning and evaluation

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