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Jon Kennard


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WOLCE day two



The first session on day two was 'The Future of Learning Forum', another panel debate, this one featuring (deep breath) David Morris, head of learning at HSBC, Rachel Sparrow, R&D consultant at EDF energy, Paul Fairhurst, principal consultant at the  Institute for Employment Studies, Debbie Carter, director of research at Training Journal and Francis Marshall managing director of Cegos UK.   

This talk really came at L&D from a number of different angles, and the debate really benefitted from featuring a journalist and a charity exec as well as members of the private sector. The idea of L&D becoming more closely integrated with OA was once more posited by a few of the panellists and David Morris, once of McDonalds L&D division, ran us through the importance that the burger giant placed on its learning and training department. Swiftly forgetting his use of the horrid phrase 'hamburger university', Morris then went on to detail the rule of thirds that Maccy D's subscribe to: The workforce spend 1/3 of time learning, 1/3 of time working, 1/3 of time engaging.
EDF Energy's Rachel Sparrow then made a crucial distinction which saw several people scribble frantically onto their notepads: "Social media and social learning are two very different things". She gave an example of how Yammer is used in her organisation, suggesting that the key to the successful implementation of social learning is perhaps not to promote it, so that employees can discover it for themselves. When it is enforced, she reasoned, employees might rebel. What was inferred was that there is still an anti-authority undercurrent in many businesses whereby employees might not respond so well to being told what to do.
So my question is this: letting employees discover and use a social network for learning by themselves is all well and good, but is this not the antithesis of trusting your employees with your brand? One of the axioms of social media is the importance of dialogue, so how can you promote an unrestricted outward-facing two-way dialogue with employees at every level trusting them to be brand advocates of your business within the public space, yet simultaneously imply that there is an unspoken anti-authoritarian barrier between the low/mid-level workforce and senior management that requires a non-didactic and organic discovery technique, as evinced by the 'success' of the non-promotion of Yammer?
But then, it was only a suggestion.
Paul Fairhurst of the Institute for Employment Studies offered the agreeably Yoda-like 'We need to reprogramme and relearn what we have unlearnt', while Debbie Carter from Training Journal summed it up neatly by saying that social learning is 'just part of the mix'.
On to the morning seminar of day two, 'Ensuring L&D remains a priority through proving the business case', with speakers Simon Harper, training and development manager at Forth Ports Group and Sean Mills, client director for the Centre for High Performance Development.
'How do we prove the business case for assessing leadership performance?' was the first big question of the day, and one that was answered in bold simple soundbites by Sean Mills: "be clear about the outcome in mind, use relevant data, indicators and realistic outcomes". A simple benchmarking exercise it seemed, was the way forward.
When Simon Harper took over, the talk took a mild nosedive into business jargon territory, and it became difficult to pull out that many useful soundbites that could be used in a) this round-up piece and b) the live tweeting I was doing from the TrainingZone account at the time. However, they did come up with a great list of leadership behaviours that Forth Port use as KPIs for benchmarking: concept formation, info search, proactivity, building confidence, influence, presentation, empathy, developing people, teamwork, conceptual flexibility, continuous improvement. Useful for any leadership development manager.
The afternoon seminar we chose was 'Ensuring behavioural change of learners in the workplace', with Omar Ismail, people development director for Radisson Edwardian Hotels and Laura Overton, managing director of Towards Maturity, who presented it with more of a workshop feel, flipcharts et al.
First question: what are the challenges that you are facing at the coalface of your business? The first two to get a lot of head-nodding were 'integration' and 'time management', quickly followed by 'lack of willingness to change' before an interesting question was raised: 'how do you know that you've changed behaviour?' After a few more were added to the board Omar Ismail took over, presenting a first-hand case study of how he had implemented a programme to ensure the titular problem was overcome for the Radisson hotel chain.
Questions that helped provide a thorough sense check were:
How do you ensure learning is transferred to the workplace? Have you ensured the right L&D needs are identified at the outset? What support is needed before and after the learning activity? Do you understand the crucial role of line managers in achieving behavioural change? (This point he could not stress enough; the role of line managers playing a crucial part in post and pre-training feedback) Have you ensured you are monitoring the appropriate KPIs?
The two days were rounded off nicely with TZ sister site's very own Dan Martin delivering the final address to seminar theatre 1, 'Building relationships through online communities'. You can view the slides from that presentation here.
All in all, a good couple of days, for TrainingZone and WOLCE. Roll on 2011.

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Jon Kennard

Freelance writer

Read more from Jon Kennard

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