Develop the Ultimate Strategic Itinerary
You plan your vacation...plan your future too with credit union strategic planning! Read more in this On The Mark Strategies article.Read More
Hey guess what? Stuff — a very precise word, as you know — has indeed changed. This is without question breaking news, no doubt worthy of chyron placement. Leaders know this. Teams know this. No one's learning anything new here.
Well, within and among, and perhaps woven throughout — it's really quite difficult to tell which preposition to use here — that stuff and those changes are myriad...gaps.
Today, however, we'll just focus on one area.
You know, baby steps and all.
So let's look at how leaders can help our teams learn and grow.
I mean this in a couple different ways. First, I mean this in perhaps the most literal sense.
They're working from home. In pajama pants. With slippers.
This is made possible, in part, by the plethora of curbside options at our disposal. Whether it's curbside delivery or curbside pickup, we've pretty much figured out how not to leave the house in most circumstances.
This extends to work, too. Those team meetings everyone suffered through from before? They're happening via video conferencing.
In other words, how they do the work is different. So the work environment — as in atmosphere, climate, cultural condition, etc. — has shifted. Now you need to do the work of cultivating a healthy, happy, high-performing culture in this context.
Understanding the environmental shift(s) is crucial because they'll affect how people are able to learn, and therefore, how they'll best learn.
[bctt tweet="Understanding work environments is crucial because they'll affect how people are *able* to learn, and therefore, how they'll *best* learn. #leadership #companyculture #management #wfh #learning" username="mattmonge"]
I'll not belabor this, but it's absolutely critical that you know why your business is in business.
Now, more than ever, organizations and teams need a rallying cry, and your purpose should be it.
It's also critical because it's your North Star. It guides your strategic decisions. If your strategic plans aren't guiding you in that direction, you're doing it wrong. If a particular strategy isn't pushing you closer to accomplishing your reason for being, you shouldn't be pursuing it. Period.
[bctt tweet="If a particular strategy isn't pushing you closer to accomplishing your reason for being, you shouldn't be pursuing it. #leadership #management #companyculture #purpose" username="mattmonge"]
If you're not sure about a particular strategy, either your strategy or your purpose isn't clear enough.
Once you know why you're doing what you're doing, but before you start randomly developing skill sets in your teams, you're going to need to solidify your organization's strategies and accompanying strategic objectives.
You see, without setting those and being crystal clear about them, you can't really know toward what end you're developing the individuals and teams within the organization.
On the other hand, having strategies both in place and clarified enables you not only to identify particular skill sets, but also to contextualize their application.
With strategies in place, leaders and teams know what needs to be done, right?
Well, that also helps us know not only what component processes and procedures are going to be required; but also what skills, behaviors, and abilities are necessary to accomplish those things.
That gives us a lot of the information we need to begin nailing down the specific performance objectives that will coincide with, support, and drive the broader organizational strategies.
Remember those gaps we mentioned above?
Leaders help teams learn by determining where the specific knowledge and performance gaps are on a regular basis.
(Pro tip: This will only really happen effectively when coaching happens consistently and effectively, but more on this later on.)
It's quite normal for there to be gaps between what folks currently know and what they may need to know in order to consistently demonstrate a high level of competency at a particular task related to the aforementioned strategies and objectives.
Leaders and teams have to understand what accountability means and looks like if you have any hope of learning and development going well.
I know that might not seem quite right, but let me explain.
If teams understand accountability to mean "that thing where my manager runs down the list of things I did wrong this past week," it's unlikely they're going to have much interest in being a part of that sort of weekly/monthly ritual.
However, as I've opined elsewhere, that's not really how the healthiest, highest-performing teams conceptualize accountability.
The best leaders and teams understand that accountability is a shared thing between two or more people.
[bctt tweet="The best leaders and teams understand accountability is a shared thing between two or more people. #leadership #management #companyculture #futureofwork" username="mattmonge"]
Once you've established what accountability is (and isn't) then you can feel good about setting leaders loose with expectations around coaching. (Because if those managers don't have accountability right in their minds, coaching can just be a power trip, largely a punitive thing, etc.)
Make both an expectation, make both a consistently positive thing, and make both an organizational way of life.
This is critical because if leaders aren't regularly working with and investing in their teams, it will be impossible for them to have any sort of understanding of where their folks actually are in regards to knowledge, performance, and so on.
It makes sense, right? How can you know how someone is performing without being around them? Talking with them? Observing them? Discussing their performance with them? Discussing your performance with them? (Yes, I said "your" — if this is puzzling, please peruse the previous paragraph.)
You want your teammates to own their learning and development.
That doesn't mean you don't provide tools, that doesn't mean you don't bring in outside help, and it doesn't mean you don't facilitate opportunities for them.
What it means is that you want to develop in them a sense of initiative.
This one got pretty important pretty quickly didn't it?
Individuals, teams, leaders, and organizations are now learning to embrace flexibility, and those who are adaptable are quickly finding that ability to be advantageous.
This applies to learning and development as well.
People learn differently; we've known this forever. We also know that there are so many different tools at our disposal now that can aid us in our quest to develop as people and professionals.
What we have to get significantly better at as leaders is our ability to adapt our respective organizations' mindsets toward learning and development to the modern era's ever-changing learning landscape.
We're well past "normal" at this point, aren't we?
Surreal used to be when my youngest kiddo would randomly bust out a Fortnite dance in public places. (Ah, the memories.)
Before, if someone walked into a store with a mask over their face, you'd either duck and cover or run and tackle the could-be concealed crook, right?
But now? Well, we're probably performing a quick mental calculus to determine whether the possible pilferer is (1) indeed an incognito outlaw or rather a covid-cautious citizen, (2) plus or minus six feet away, and (3) wearing an appropriate protective mask.
What I'm saying is that we don't really have any idea what constitutes "the norm" anymore.
The same is true at work, and the same is true with how people learn.
People are learning on-the-go. They're pulling out their phones so they can learn to do something themselves, they're checking Instagram videos for content that's relevant to them, and they're searching Twitter or Instagram for topics they want to learn about.
Heck, Mark (Arnold) and I were just on a live video session with someone yesterday on best practices related to content creation, social media, brand strategy, launching platforms, and so on. Their organization is wanting to learn, grow, explore. That's a place that gets it.
Think about this way. The universe has given you and your organization permission to reinvent things. People are actually expecting you to.
So go ahead. Think about learning differently.
First, list the specific changes, and think through what those changes COULD mean for YOU, YOUR TEAM, and YOUR ORGANIZATION.
Then, give me (Matt) a shout and let's talk those through,
AND THEN, leave us a comment below. So think those through, and then let's be leaders who help teams learn.