Learning at the forefront of leading

Why learning and listening is step one of a new leadership role.

Laura Naylor Head of Support

Learning at the forefront of leading

The challenge

At some point in everyone's career, you will meet the “gamechanger”. This is an individual that comes into a game already in progress ready to let everyone know that they’ve been doing things all wrong. They’re here to save the day, don’t worry about a thing. 

gamechanger

It shouldn't be assumed this comes from a bad place, most people want to make a contribution from the word go. One of the easiest ways for a newcomer to do this is to focus on perceived flaws that their experience could be the solution to. The problem is, of course, not that opinions created by previous experience aren’t always accurate and don’t always go down well. It can lead to a talking-without-listening approach which is where issues could lie. 

When the flow of information goes one way, you’re not in for a good time. 

You might get away with only steam-rolling the opportunity to learn something, if you’re unlucky though you’ll succeed in alienating team members who have been working hard and doing their best already. 

There’s a healthy possibility these suggestions are less novel than you imagine, perhaps deemed an ill-fit for established reasons, demanded resources that weren’t available, or were just surplus to requirement. So the questions should be asked, but assumptions should be avoided.

The plan

So, what do you do if you’re walking in to lead an established and successful team like I am? What are the things that you need to learn to be successful and to avoid the pitfall I described above?

Well, I can only tell you what I’m planning to focus on by engaging all of the expertise surrounding me. The proof will be in the pudding, so to speak.

To break it down though I can assign it to these seven topics. the basics, the people, the what, the why, the how, the when, and the who (not the band).

Now if only I knew a good Learning platform...

wink

The basics

Luckily, on my first day, I was already signed up to THRIVE’s own LXP. IT, security, office policies, and HR all front and centre through an automated assignment based on my start date. 

I can see who owns these documents too and can follow up with any questions or direct them to my colleagues. I’m compliant and ready to go by lunchtime.

essential learning

The people

The world is rich with philosophies for the best way to take care of your people. For managers, it’s worth getting in as early as possible to make sure important concepts about inclusion, diversity, empathy, and empowerment are informing the decisions they’ll begin making.

If you have a preferred company philosophy there’s nothing to stop you creating a pathway of inspirational and tone-setting resources, whether they be created by your team, ted talks, podcasts, articles or e-books.

While you may hire someone you feel strongly is a culture-fit or even shows traits you feel are a culture add you’ll need to remember the individual takes their cue from what you share. You may have seen hiring managers cry aloud in an interview that they love a give-and-take workplace only to discover later in practice that feedback was received like a root canal. 

Hold yourself accountable to your values whenever you can show them in what you champion and celebrate as well as how you speak to others. In THRIVE’s case there’s a comforting wall of new babies, puppies, DIY projects, get together planning, culture-centric resources, and social communication about everyone's goals and passions. 

homepage

Learning about your team and colleagues individually should be one-to-one where you can, but if your company has a speak-up culture you can see a reflection of them in their work with others. Engagement with colleagues and the content that teams share inform the calls I’ll make for projects with their name on in the coming months.

You could also have your new starters do something to share with the company. In a busy, multi-location workplace taking the time to welcome the newbie is harder than it once was. However, if you want new hires to feel connected as early as you can you can give them the platform to reach out. These are accomplished nicely via interview-style FAQs and welcome videos, unless they’re a little camera shy, then they might offer to do a blog instead.

rollsafe

The what

If you’re a client of THRIVE I would hope you know my first port of call for familiarising myself with what the software does and how to use it. We have a standing and readily updated LXP known as THRIVE Tribe for all our clients. This exists to keep you up to date with training and update resources on your LXP and content.

By training our own team with the same resources as we provide our client base, we can develop some assurance in our shared understanding. We're also avoiding duplicating efforts which never hurts. 

It's been refreshing to dodge a week of 3 hour at a time training videos, survived by dangerous levels of caffeine consumption to avoid the cognitive shut-off that a lack of engagement can cause. Using Pathways and the search bar the bite-sized learning is right there and my pace is flexible according to my needs.

Lxp admin guide

The why

The why of a software can usually be found in the minds of its engineering, infrastructure, design, and support teams. Historically I’ve found this is the knowledge that can be the least accessible to the uninitiated. If you go company to company, product to product, it can vary massively. A support team needs at least a cursory understanding because it tells us where to look if things go haywire.

Working in collaboration with the technical teams we can build our matching resources, if needed, with more approachable language for those outside of the technical departments. This lets us take all that expertise and breathe client experience into it for context which is often key for support, design, implementation, sales, and many other teams.

Since my team are the standing subject matter experts on how to work with the LXP to troubleshoot I’m putting my faith in them. As they instruct me on their processes I’m taking all the resources they’ve already made and creating new ones as needed via videos, how-to-articles, and manuals for which we are communally responsible. All of this is then ready to share and expand with the experiences of each new hire. 

Fresh eyes do give us the natural opportunity to assess if we like what we have and to pivot if we need to together.

support & technical

The how

Procedures and policies are the marmite of the workplace. They function like train tracks for getting where you need to go, but as with railway tracks if there’s too much load, too much speed or a flaw in the rails then things will go awry.

tracks

If you want to ask stakeholders if a cross-team procedure might be altered then it’s easier to make informed decisions if you understand the demands from it on all sides. Right now we’re looking at perfecting the post-implementation hand-off so our clients feel confident they’re reaching out to the right people when they need an answer. The accessible, colleague built and comprehensively documented process in place from our CSM and implementation teams is a godsend.

If you want your sales team to know what happens when a client joins or requests their data, it’s right there for them. If your development lead wants to take a peek at what we teach the team to do if we need to raise a bug, it’s a few clicks away. 

Since we allow new revisions of content, I can upload developments to the LXP anytime, just making a version, date, and author note in the document for change management visibility.

The when 

A lot of departments are goal-oriented as, typically, is a company itself.  Sometimes we miss a step when we don’t provide visibility into what we’re trying to achieve as a whole. 

If your company has a goal to make in-roads to a certain kind of industry, if you want your client satisfaction ratings to be a certain level, if you want to establish yourself with a certain field of expertise then ideally this should be common knowledge.

By being transparent with where we’re heading and why we open ourselves up to suggestions by empowered employees.

My team knows, as my foot came through the door, that my goals right now focus on the growth of the team without overstretching them. Hiring is a part of the goal so we’re working on how to get that new hire comfortable quickly with training, procedures, and FAQs tailored. They also know I want to take their individualised expertise and encourage takeup across the team, allowing them guilt-free annual leave, progression in the form of mentorship opportunities, and skill development.

As a company using broadcasts, campaigns, marketing, blogs, infographics, and many others you can keep all employees at all seniority levels engaged towards the milestones on the horizon.

The who

So who are the players in the space that the company specialises in?  

It can be important to keep competitor focus somewhat separate to avoid ending up with a lot of derivative features and processes. We aren’t looking to be second-best in everything but the best in our own vision.

jealous

With identity in mind, it can be good for managers and employees to understand where the company excels. For example, with THRIVE LXP’s focus on learning in a consumable format, when a client challenges the size limitations in the LXP I’ve seen my colleagues outline the design philosophy. As a company, we excel in championing learning strategies where learning is plentiful, community-driven, and condensed for accessibility. 

If we understand the why behind what we do, and even the counter positions in our competitors' offering, we come into these dialogues with clients or in decision making better armed for success.

Trust your team

I’ve been lucky to join a company so focused on growth and to be surrounded by experts who’ve been here from day one or brought in exactly for their proven capabilities. By keeping intentions, pitfalls, and the tools available at the forefront of everything I’m more than hopeful we’ll achieve further amazing things together in the coming months.

I also fully trust that my amazing team will keep me honest if I stop listening and start reaching for that cape.

no capes

Want to see for yourself how THRIVE LXP can onboard your new leaders so they hit the ground running? Get a free personalised demo of THRIVE LXP and export how new starters can get up to speed quickly whilst maintaining the quality and consistency of training.

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