Leading a Learning Function in a Pandemic (LCC 01 – E 01)

Leading a Learning Function in a Pandemic
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Learning Culture Conversations (LCC) – Session 1 – Episode 1

We were proud to host five learning leaders in early August for the first Curious Lion Learning Culture Conversation. In this highlight from the round table discussion, the learning leaders discuss approaches to leading a learning function during a pandemic.

Transcript to Follow Along

Alec Miller

The thing that I came up with wasn’t necessarily surprising, and I’m willing to bet other people have dealt with it too. So whatever. It’s the fact that do treat teaching people in person is so much easier. Because I teach software, I can go behind them and look at their computers and issue Alec, I can look exactly at it. Oh, it was this. Now, I was telling PJ it’s a lot of swapping, screen sharing. And I’ve gotten to minimise that as much as possible by forcing my clients to almost hundred percent. If I’m not sharing a slide, I put the client, they are in control and they’re sharing their screen, so that I can literally see if something goes wrong. So that’s probably not too surprising. But that’s been one of my biggest challenges. Um, and not to steal PJ’s thunder, but what she brought up I thought was really interesting. So PJ, do you want to say I might have a broader discussion on that? So

Phylicia Jones

yeah, I was just checking in on idea of your team. So you all know that just delivering not only in person is like energy but delivery over zoom takes even probably double or triple the amount of energy to connect over the zoom waves as I say. And I realised that we do like week long experiences sometimes where we break up over a series days we have onboarding happening this week, no monthly onboarding of learning week happy we have these learning sprints. It’s like a lot of energy. And so I’ve been what’s been surprising or just more of, be more cautious of is just checking in on the team’s like well being. And so sometimes after like a very long week of having doing our new hires, all the questions that runs our onboarding, I’ll have him going, do you need to take Monday off? Do you need to take a day half day just to read juvenile aid or just to renew the energy just like David, to all of our new hires So, you know, I almost like can’t underestimate this idea that people are probably more tired than they were before given that we have like more time to think about sleep. And then just like making sure they still want to bring that energy over and over again, once a month, I just, I just try to think about if the facilitator is not bringing energy, it does create a weird vibe over zoom. So I just like I’ve been checking in probably over checking in on my team during this time, because they are the ones holding space for these conversations in the training. So

Alec Miller

to just add on to that, and I’d be interested to see what other people are doing. What my company has been doing, which I really do a good job with a lot of things. They provided us some different tools to kind of help with that. So we have a weekly so HR D abet Not a lot of people even do this. But you check in this thing called standout ever Every Friday you say what you’ve kind of done what you liked and what you hated. And you let your manager know like, hey, am I gonna need you for anything next week and all this stuff and I’m pretty honest in them are pretty transparent guy and I tell my boss like oh so drag this one client was awful or whatever. And he always responds he does take the time to read that if I take the time to read it, he responds. So that’s one tool they offered us they’ve also offered us like a free tele health like psychologists kind of thing which I think is really I should probably take advantage of I haven’t done it yet but like to talk to a therapist or something for like an hour a month I think we get for free. Seems pretty legit. You know, I personally haven’t gotten a lot of social interaction I’ve been trying to like just really stay out of going to places and be the good little person to try to help stop the spread. My wife works in the ER I’ll tell you guys it is over run. Okay. And because of that I love doing things like this. Honestly, that’s why you want this on your day off because I love talking to people and getting info and learning and stuff like this. So a company’s done some good things to not only manager wise, like PJ is checking on people, but also offered a couple tools and I wonder what you guys have. Is there anything like that for you? Because I love stealing ideas. I didn’t bring it back to my company to you know.

Dominic Greenfield

My company. My company is really interesting when it comes to that Alec for example. our workforce is a mix between full time staff members, part time people, PRN people. Unlike Eric and Steven, most of our workforces is 95% virtual, so they don’t get the opportunity to connect with you know, a direct supervisor or the you know, executive VP or whatever. So, We’ve had to rely upon a great deal of communication from our corporate partners down in Houston. But when it comes to the the the having those huddles what I’ll call huddles and things like that that’s typically been more of a one on one between the supervisor and employee facilitated conversation. What makes it challenging though, is because of the our part time folks, we do have the challenge of from a payroll standpoint. Particularly, you know, cash flow was very big concern early on in the pandemic. So, you know, we’re very conscientious of even the remotest conversation if it took longer than 15 minutes then I had to give on on time cards and, and things like that. I’d like to see something along those lines for you know, once we get out of this to have a little bit more coherent weekly, stand down meeting whatever you want to call it, huddle, tailgate, whatever, water cooler. But then the other thing that we do is we have generally in my sector we have what are called industry calls or or or client calls. And basically what that means is all our people that are servicing a given industry or servicing a given client usually have a monthly zoom meeting ringcentral meeting and we talk about you know, the best practices and and nuclear processes or or troubleshoot, benchmarking and things like that.

Alec Miller

If you don’t mind my asking during during any of those hurdles, are they bringing up the things that like PJ was concerned about the health and wellness? Or is it really just like, here’s best practices on the new way to sell? Or is it like my company has also facilitated these is what I really know about it. We’ve also provided a LinkedIn learning on how to work from home, they took all that and condensed it down into a one hour lunch and learn and taught that to people. All right, here are 15 things you can do to not go crazy and want to take you know,

Dominic Greenfield

yeah, no, we had a little over. We haven’t done that, unfortunately. And the big thing, the big reason why is the scope of the work that a majority of our people do, are is client facing responsibility responsibilities. So it’s it’s it’s whether it’s They are one of our clients is is the UC San Francisco and UC Davis hospital system. So we have, we have a service line where we’re working with with their staff on safe patient handling. So they’re going to be on site and and doing their doing their things then we’ll have some of our people will be working from home facilitating appointment scheduling, case management and behavioural counselling and things like that we’re most of that there already versed in remote work. It’s really the 5% of our company that works in our three corporate offices who would probably benefit the most out of all that but it really hasn’t been a An issue from a productivity standpoint for that small group of people.

Andrew Barry

Eric Stephen, what about you guys and says it sounds like you’re you had quite a big shift from being a very in person organisations to online. What did you talk about?

Stephen Rose

We ended up with Bo I’m gonna go back to the biggest surprise piece of this because the one of the biggest surprise of everyone’s actually had including myself was when you’re in the office, it’s more surface, get the job done, and you’re focused. What has been intentional now is individuals learning more about individuals. So the conversations are very, you have to think about your conversation with someone when you’re in a distance setting like we are today. So what we worked with the leadership team was is what are the communication practices because where you could just do a morning, pull up with your team, and take 15 minutes and 10 minutes and do a stand up and say this is our plan for the day and knock it out. How do we take that into the virtual so what we ended up doing was doing the same thing. But through zoom coffee breaks. We also got the leadership team to agree to do a weekly zoom meeting on Thursdays. And we just call it office hours. And they actually give the status of the company and where we are revenue wise and all the details pretty transparent. From where we are plus where we’re headed. answer any questions and concerns from the whole company, that’s only 30 minutes. So that’s been a huge win in regard to changing perspectives across the company. And then from a benefit standpoint, a lot of the benefits you guys are talking about we already had in regard to the mental health work perks, we call it, and we’ve noticed that a number of folks are taking advantage of those whether it’s Oh, I’ve got time to think about my investments for retirement. So I’ll do my mortgage. Stanley work are all called the legal services for the work park or even telemedicine instead of going to the hospital or to a regular doctor appointment.

Stephen Rose

Yeah, so from my perspective, I’ll give you kind of two contrasting these. So from a, from a company standpoint, and our company was, has actually been more or less fully remote, we had people who did come into the office, especially like, our business development team, for example, you know, would, would really often be in the office, the and they felt down a collaboration of those. So, business development, marketing, and then you know, some of our engineering teams and different folks would be in the office relatively regularly. But you know, I’d say probably 60 plus percent of our company was remote. And so we actually have like, as part of our onboarding process, one of our very passionate we call our folks nerds. So one of our very passionate nerds about remote culturally gives a talk to everybody that comes in about you know what, it’s like. To work remotely, and we’ve had a really active, slack kind of culture, I think working with a lot of engineers, they’re very comfortable in that environment, right, and very comfortable typing and, you know, interacting in that way. And so, you know, that’s kind of become, you know, it’s not only a work hub, but it’s also kind of a social hub. And you know, people use it in that way. So, you know, from that standpoint, it was there was not, there weren’t a tonne of shifts that had to be made. It was, I think, probably for those of us who were in the Atlanta area was the biggest shift for us. But for most folks, you know, they didn’t didn’t necessarily feel it day to day to day, I’ll contrast that like with, uh, with our, you know, the training business, like part of the business that I run, you know, that we that was exclusively in person. And so, you know, now, I guess, you know, the good thing is that we were used to that, you know, we’re used to, we’re used to the remote culture, from company culture. So we’ve been able to kind of relatively quickly like transition to run Running, you know, classes virtually. But, you know, a lot of the things that you guys have mentioned, you and PJ both mentioned a couple of things that are kind of key losses in this kind of environment. I think one is the you mentioned the energy thing, and I was thinking about, it’s like, you don’t, you don’t get the energy back, right. It’s like you’re giving I think when you’re in a group, a lot of times you’re giving energy, but you’re also so getting energy back sort of from the audience and just from being in the same physical space as other people. And when you’re on zoom, you know, it’s, there’s something that’s just not quite the same there, you know, even if people are really engaged, which is hit and miss, you know, quite honestly, if you’re in a training class, what you know, a lot of times you’re like staring, you’re just staring at names and little black boxes and things are not even present. And so, yeah, just like not getting that energy back. And as you mentioned, like that ability to, you know, circulate into, just have those kind of informal interactions and also informal check ins to be able to kind of gauge where people are all of those things, you know, have definitely been challenges. We’re trying to figure out you know how to still deliver with quality in virtual

Leading a Learning Function in a Pandemic
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