Paul Hodgkinson from SAHA, the Salvation Army Housing Association, says creating a new learning strategy – perhaps in an organisation that you’re new to – needn’t be scary. Interviewed recently by Learning Now TV, he shared some tips that will help. The interview, with Michelle Parry Slater is due to be broadcast on learningnow.tv on 31 October 2019. Here are Paul’s tips and hints to help you face the fear and get strategy sorted:
Shout about what you’re doing: Let people know who you are as quickly as possible. Find the decision makers in your organisation. Get together with people informally over coffee, pop into their office, catch them in the corridor!
Have an elevator pitch: Be clear on what it is you’re doing. Being able to describe something in a simple sentence or two is really useful. There’s nothing worse than getting into a lift and rambling on, and that person walking out and just going, what was that about?
Be confident in what you are doing, and keep repeating it often and too many different people. Then I think you pick up the language of the business, which is really important.
Get to know your business: Every office has got a different vibe, so try and get under the skin of that quite quickly.
Be approachable: Encourage people to come up to your desk or to approach you when you’re wandering around – you don’t want to be a scary figure just looking at this strategy thing. Be brave, and market yourself as someone that can help solve people’s problems.
Work out loud and share what you’re doing online. I think that starts to chip away at any ‘untouchability’ and makes it more personal.
Make friends with data: It goes without saying that you’ll want to align your vision to business needs and learner needs, and data – from engagement, performance and focus groups – can help you do that.
Get feedback from the people that you’re impacting – so when you have your strategy, stick it under the noses of the people that matter, such as front line staff in service areas as well as people in head office. Is it resonating with them? If not, then you still have some work to do. Use the people around you, if not then you become that department that sits just off to the side of the business. We’ve got to be a part of the business.
Don’t wait for perfection: Keep agile. It became very clear very quickly that our manager population, particularly our people managers, needed support NOW. Instead of waiting for six or 12 months time for some lovely polished program, we gave them a whole bunch of content online, such as videos and job aids.
Collaboration is vital: You can’t do everything on your own. For example, invite vendors in to run lunch and learns. Being part of the Charity Learning Consortium, finding out how others are approaching similar challenges, has also been invaluable. I’m also a huge fan of action learning sets: get a group of managers around the table and to talk about real people management challenges. You can focus on a particular case study, using anonymised data.
About Paul Hodgkinson
Paul Hodgkinson is a trainer, facilitator and business coach with experience of working in multiple industries, globally and with key stakeholders to drive learning, performance and engagement initiatives.
SAHA (Salvation Army Housing Association) is a leading provider of residential centres, foyers, supported accommodation, and move-on housing for single and homeless people in the UK.
Case study: Transforming volunteer management training at Cats Protection