This is part two of our interview series with a highly experienced practitioner of organisational change, Will Blott. Will spent close to a decade at Google, in various roles spanning talent attraction and development, latterly as Head of Team & Organisational Development APAC as the Australian team grew from 100 to 1400 employees.
Will highlights three trends he sees as remaining pivotal as Corporate L&D leaders continue to adjust their plans in response to Covid-19.
In these uncertain times, every business is likely to be re-evaluating expenditure.
Although learning remains a key driver of engagement for employees, it is often seen as a discretionary expense that many businesses consider cutting. This is often because the results of L&D initiatives may be difficult to gauge. Nowadays there is more demand to see quantifiable results and ROI from every dollar invested, but since Learning is often one of the hardest areas to correlate investment and business impact, at times like these it’s an investment that some find harder to justify.
Luckily, the ongoing digitization of information, and leverageable insights within business mean it is becoming easier to ‘achieve more with less’ and connect investment to bottom line impact.
Solutions, such as Elenta, shine a spotlight on the various contributing factors within the learning process including program design, facilitator capability and impact, learner insights, and action learning whilst allowing better insight into the waterfall stages that influence learning transfer and behaviour change and ultimately allow more data based evaluations.
Additionally, these same programs use scalable, ongoing feedback loops from key stakeholders to reinforce desirable behaviours and spotlight accountability which can differentiate them from many ‘black box learning programs’ where investment is more difficult to quantify.
Obviously there has been a transition in recent weeks to remote working given the current COVID-19 pandemic.
For some organisations, it is not a considerable change to pivot to more of a self-directed and virtual learning approaches. But for others, the shift is much more significant. As it remains unclear how long this new way of working will persist for – or if it even leads to a permanent shift in working and thus learning, so everyone needs to think about how to transform all learning plans into challenging experiences that can be run virtually not merely pressing pause until the pandemic is over.
For many years there has been a huge diversity of approaches to foster learning but the uptake of technology platforms has allowed us to better connect learners, scale learning, foster communities, customise workshops and provide feedback.
But whatever the approach, whether it be traditional or technological, the goal remains the same: how well do your learning initiatives truly spark curiosity, insight and motivation to act so that the learner is empowered to experiment intentionally, not reactively, in any given situation?
To paraphrase a maxim that is often attributed to Charles Darwin, “It is not the most intellectual nor the strongest of the species that survives; but that most able to adapt and best change to the changing environment in which it finds itself”.
Given the heightened uncertainty and societal anxiety regarding the current pandemic, positively addressing risks and building resilience around physical, emotional, and mental health is naturally especially important.
There are numerous studies highlighting the correlation between organisational cultures with high empathy and high employee engagement, resilience and retention and so naturally it’s a no brainer for organisations at such times to, if in doubt, over – not under – communicate the support available to everyone and refer back to the core values and vision where clarity is more likely to be found.
Emotional intelligence and resilience, popularised by psychologist Daniel Goleman and others, has been a common cornerstone underpinning learning since the 1990s. Highlighted by the refrain – “People often forget what you say but rarely how you leave them feeling” – our ongoing ability to observe and manage our emotions, anticipate and respond to those around us to be our best selves remains critical to our effectiveness.
Our improved understanding of organisational neuroscience has developed our ability to understand and deal with adaptive challenges, embrace change and remain connected – even while socially distancing. And the most resilient organisations will be those that continue to foster adaptive leadership, to support and encourage lifelong learning among it’s teams, to show that they care first and foremost and encourage all to look for opportunities even adminst the uncertainty
In what seems like a presently tumultuous and uncertain world, the predictability of our thoughts, actions, and behaviours as shown by past reflections and achievements of great minds throughout history should give us all hope to continue to grow and embrace lifelong learning, to seek out possibilities with a growth mindset and be adaptive so that we’re able to not just survive but thrive, no matter the circumstances that lie ahead.
Will Blott is the founder of IfHowNow, a specialist people and culture partner that supports organisations’ success by helping them grow high performing people, cultures and teams.
With experience at some of the world’s most recognised brands and Australia’s fastest growing companies, IfHowNow knows how to spark people, possibility & performance.