May 4, 2020

Now they are listening – now make them understand…

In a moment of reflection recently, I had a realisation, that moment when you look in the mirror and take accountability for the situation you are in. I felt that I wasn’t being heard, and in my moment of reflection I asked myself the big question, why did I think that was? It was eye opening to realise that I had resigned myself to not being heard. My next question was, what do I need to do to be heard and have the impact of my learning solutions to be recognised. Knowing the difference I make to my learners is not enough. I need to show the impact by using a language my stakeholders can understand. Business is commercial and has to make profit. My language of neuroscience, skills, motivation and engagement can fall on deaf ears in the hard reality of the commercial world. Indeed, I have been referred to as the happy lady, the one who sprinkles magic dust. And perhaps I had been content to let that magic dust settle, instead of helping our business understand that learning leads to performance and to really show the impact of the magic dust on the numbers.

The current COVID crisis dealt business a blow meaning we had to move quickly, flip our thinking, go into survival mode to ride the storm and focus. This thinking meant that everyone was listening to everything which could have an impact on performance. The speed at which we were able to focus, effectively collaborate and really listen had a dramatic uplift in areas of trading which was unexpected and by taking away many blockers, we could work together on making the important stuff happen. Now, L&D has to show, in commercial language how that happened and the role they played.

What I do know is that if you want to succeed in a bigger arena, influence those who make the big decisions you have to speak their language and play by their rules to be heard, understood and respected. To be fully engaged in the conversation I need to be understood by talking in the language that will make them listen. What had frightened me was that I didn’t speak that same language, so I needed help to translate the talk of engaging learners, making them want to develop and learn and giving them resources to make their work easier and I had to turn it into performance figures. Let’s see what my translator makes of my magic dust and once performance is truly understood where it can take us next?

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