For the last month, I’ve been working at Adopt and Embrace as an Adoption Consultant helping businesses with their modern workplace digital transformation projects.
You can read about this in my recent blog post Adopting and Embracing My New Role.
Directly working with business clients who include stakeholders in the Information Technology, Business, Change Management and Communications departments has been wonderful. I get to see how people are getting on board with the massive change happening in their workplace when it comes to how work is being conducted.
Although some people have asked me if I am worried that it is not directly within my field of corporate Learning and Development, I see my new role as being everything to do with learning and development but at the place of work, within work and using work systems.
The culmination of my years of working, blogging and experimenting with social and virtual tools, enterprise social networks, peer-to-peer collaborative learning (social learning), personal knowledge management, community building and managing as well as building employee skills and capabilities around future skills that support their professional and reputational growth and mindset – have all come to roost into this role.
It’s a role that plays between the white spaces of everything that I love – learning, communications, workplace performance, new ways of working, people – and yes, even the tools.
Reflecting on my last month of work, the key things that stand out for me was a wonderful opportunity spent with a colleague for a few days on a client site where I job shadowed her as she facilitated and coached on-site employees on Skype for Business.
To some people, using Skype for Business may be simple and even I thought the same. In my head, I asked the question, “how hard is it really to learn and understand it?”
However, watching her facilitate and support people in their own work environment and actively providing context around how they can use it within their own daily processes was enlightening. As we walked the floors of the building, chatting to the members who had gone through the previous training and confirming their understanding, watching them how they applied their learning at work, sought feedback and tested their own knowledge, it struck me that sometimes Learning and Development can overcomplicate or make things complex when they really don’t need to.
The simple act of walking the floor brought out more conversations between people who shared their own tips and how they were using it and now it’s a matter of thinking about how to keep these conversations, feedback, tips and techniques being shared so that people are actively learning on the job – in the job and through the job.
This is what social learning is about.
So my first lesson after four weeks of work is – keep it simple. Don’t give them a complex solution when they haven’t even mastered the basics.
People want simple, fast and if there’s a conversation with colleagues and with some performance support that is easily accessible – that’s preferred.
My second lesson has been coming to terms with the sheer amount of information I need to learn to get back on the Microsoft focus. If you’ve been following my blog for the many years I’ve been writing it, you’ll recall that a few years back, I decided to transfer everything into the Apple ecosphere.
At the time, people were still Apple fans and I never bought into the Apple fandom (truth be told, I still don’t). However, at the time, I also didn’t like the new Windows experience. It was too clunky for my liking and didn’t have the full functionality that you could do with Apple, however, since then, it’s a whole different story. Using my Surface Pro, exploring Windows 10 as well as delving (pardon the pun) into all the Microsoft applications, tools, programs – there is basically a corresponding function in Windows and Microsoft that you can do in Apple and their associated products. The line is blurred now.
So my second lesson is never to listen to people who tell you what THEY think you should use.
Take the time to explore what is out there that supports how you work and what you want your technology to do for you – but don’t blindly accept what others say about what you should be using just because it works for them.
I’ve seen enough now to understand that the majority of people (me included) have little idea about the full functionality and power of the software programs that they’re using at work every day.
Let’s say, we are clueless without realising just how clueless we are sometimes.
Many are just scratching the surface of the programs they use and have built themselves habits and routines that are hard to break. By all means, listen to what they have to say but do your own research….or listen to the people who know their stuff.
Which brings me to people who know their stuff.
Oh, how I love these people who actively share their knowledge, experience and experiments and who exude an intense passion and interest in their topic and delightfully share it to the world. People who don’t have underlying agendas but simply want to share what they’re learning to others in the spirit of collegiality, connection and conversations.
I’m lucky to be working with such people who are experts in their own right around Microsoft products and who show and share their work publicly and openly across multiple social media platforms and video channels. In this role, I have drawn upon the knowledge and experience of all my colleagues (to the point of asking an insane amount of questions to them in person, notifications, Skype, Yammer, Teams, Twitter, you name it – every social media platform is a channel for me to annoy them with a question).
However, there are times when I realise that I don’t know what I don’t know and freak out that I may have missed something.
I’m the type of person who likes to delve (there’s that word again) but sometimes, I go down a rabbit warren trying to learn everything at once and I get overwhelmed. The pressure to be like my colleagues who can rattle off applications, technology, programs, bots, tools in Microsoft and Windows is high; the ability to be able to find links, guides, posts, articles, across a multitude of platforms inside the company – and outside the company – instantly and share it to answer a problem that is shared in our company social network is intense.
I’ve had to rethink my own personal learning approach because I cannot get to the level where they are at quickly but I need some tactics to be able to learn the basics. I’m not talking about the behaviours of working such as the social networking; curation; personal knowledge mastery; communicating in ESN’s; working out loud; basics around communication in a modern workplace environment where we are all social and remote workers (luckily, I’ve picked these up already over the years and what is challenging is that we need to be able to guide employees in organisations to do these too AS WELL as learn the tools but one step at a time) however, it’s the basics around the use of the actual tool.
Navigating my way around Windows 10; setting up my tablet and PC to have all the icons I need to start work immediately; learning how to use MS Teams in the context of work; protocols around how to communicate via threaded discussions across ESNs; little tips and strategies that help me save time and allow me to immediately jump into my work instead of spending time trying to find the functions or worse, Googling how to do basic things.
You must check out her website and see how it’s a TREASURE TROVE of curated links that help you become better, faster and more productive with these products.
Every day, I’ve been going through EACH of her blog posts (leaving out SharePoint for now though but I’ll come back to that) and then with my Surface Pro, testing out her strategies.
The idea of writing a blog post for every day of the year on a topic or subject that you love is a GENIUS idea and one where you can see how someone is not only using it as an opportunity to learn the tools for herself but she shares it openly with others. I owe a lot of my own learning of Microsoft systems to Tracy’s blog.
Why? She focuses on short blog posts focused on building performance through tips that help you get the most out of the systems at work.
Similarly, I’ve started creating a Microsoft Twitter List and begun to follow some people who share about Microsoft but one thing I’m realising is that THERE IS TOO MUCH INFORMATION TO THE POINT OF OVERWHELM.
The immense amount of Microsoft training, resources, videos, communities, sites, partners, conferences, social media sites is mind-boggling. I’ve curated some links but I keep thinking back to a blog post I wrote some time ago that people are now overwhelmed with so much information that maybe, just maybe, the issue is not to provide them with curation skills that focus on the bookmarking or storing of information – instead focus on effective “search” and “filtering” and “sensing” skills only.
My third lesson is to not beat myself over the head if and when I feel overwhelmed with what I need to learn and to just take things one step at a time. I cannot compare myself to my colleagues nor expect that my speed to Microsoft competency will happen within weeks. It’s likely to be an ongoing process and a continual, never ending one at that. All I could do it to do what I can but in the process share what I learn with them too.
Have you been in a situation like this for a new job? Share your experiences.