Oct 19 2009

Reflections on Training

Published by at 9:55 am
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I think it’s always good to sit back and reflect on Lessons Learned after going through a training, especially training focused on soft-skills. Last week I took 4 different courses on “Leading the IHS Way” and while nothing was particularly mind-blowing, there were a lot of little things that added up to some profound processes, new ways of thinking, or even some things I learned about myself.

Personal Strategies for Navigating Change
This was a very interesting class because it was a mix of managers and individual contributors all sharing their own personal ways they cope with change. Probably the biggest take away from this course was the recognition of the four different types of ways people deal with change, how I personally deal with most change, and how I can help others navigate change when I’m either in the driver’s seat, co-pilot, or just early adopter of change (aka a “Navigator). Most of the time I’m the Navigator but often times I don’t take the time to properly assist Victims, Critics, and Bystanders on their way to accepting and embracing change. Recognizing that sometimes I need to put on the breaks and slowly help people catch up to my mindset is important or else I’ll sometimes I’m sure just make things worse.

It was also nice to be able to recognize how I’ve been personally dealing with the recent changes in my role. I’ve been bouncing around between the Victim, Critic, and Bystander a lot recently. There’s a lot of fear, doubt, doubt in others, doubt in the objective, and may other things which has been making me bounce around, stress me out to the point of complete and total physical shut down (my recent neck troubles), and it’s just not healthy. I NATURALLY want to be on board with change. I NATURALLY want to be an influential member driving change. When I’m not, it’s uncomfortable and I want to be in that zone. I think the most important thing is that when I’m being a Victim, Critic, or even a Bystander, I need to focus on the positive and trying to channel all my energy into positive action. It will make me the most happy and before I know it all my critical questions will be answered, I won’t feel like a victim because I’m delivering positive results, and in the end things will work out.

I’m so positive all the time that when I’m not positive, it’s hard to come out of that shell. It’s not something I’m used to doing. So this book has really helped me personally deal with change when I am in that mode. It has also helped me lead others even more effectively.

Behavioral Interviewing
This was a great course without a lot of spin. Simply put it REALLY for the first time brought to home for me some of the concrete ways on how to conduct a behavioral interview. I think before I was a decent interviewer, but I focused too much on hypothetical questions. I quickly saw the power in how to ask behavioral questions properly and what to gain out of it. I also liked the quick reference guide on avoiding illegal and unethical questions. Overall, great book that I’ll dust the cobwebs off of next time I have to interview someone.

Feedback for Accountability
I was most excited about this course because I had hoped it would be the answer to all my problems. Unfortunately I think I over inflated it a bit too much so I was expecting… more or something, but I think in the end this course combined with the two others on change and leadership really turned into a total package of tools I can use to properly lead change in a more concrete way. See the thing is that I understand good leadership philosophy. I also understand good leading change processes as taught by John Kotter, but even Kotter is a bit too high level sometimes so you get lost in philosophy and not action. This and the other two courses focused on real concrete things you can do.

This course in particular focused on how to REALLY drive candid conversations and make agreements that were open, honest, and binding for which you could if necessary follow up on for proper re-commitment, confrontation, coaching, or if necessarily take other steps to follow through on the accountability of that agreement. It also gave me further opportunity to really focus on how to control my own emotions in a conflict by focusing on the other person’s emotions. I know I’m an emotional person and I feel the other person’s emotions as well, but I don’t always do a good job of validating those emotions. Sometimes I’ll even get upset because someone’s expressing their feelings “like I don’t know that or something”. I need to be more reflective and not immediately jump to tell them that I know and here’s the solution.

Overall I think that the biggest take away from this course was how to not bruise and not bail. I want to really stay in the “candor mindset”, middle zone where I can be upfront and honest, but not be blunt about it. I think that many times I use my natural charismatic leadership style as a crutch. 80% of the time I’m really successful in my ability to motivate and lead people, but it’s the 20% of the time I don’t have a framework on how to deal with. I get frustrated and either bruise my way to get my point across (if I think I can “win”), or I bail and then send someone a gigantic email later that day or the next. In the end, I honestly do want a collaborative “win win” solution to the agreement, but it’s my passion that gets the best of me and either I bottle things up or explode (or both). This course really taught me a structured way on how to stay objective and come to an objective, win-win agreement without getting overly emotional on either side.

The Principles and Qualities of Genuine Leadership
As previously stated, I recognize and try to embody the principles and qualities of genuine leadership. To be honest with you, I initially thought this course was going to be the biggest waste of time but attended initially for the “fun” of it. I was dead wrong. This course was fantastic because again, it gave a good framework on how to “respond” to a challenge using leadership principles so in a way your ACTIONS show the principles and qualities of leadership.

I thought the exercise with the “Response Cards” was so good that I took them because I thought that they WERE The big take away from the training. It’s great to take a scenario you are dealing with and just use the cards as brainstorming on how you’re going to effectively lead your change, help people navigate change, create a change vision, or even how to properly form agreements with large groups of people. I think it’s great to line up the individual actions with steps in John Kotter’s framework on leading change.

Overall what is so powerful about the cards especially was they took something as big as the problems I’m facing in leading some kind of common whatever we want to call it, and it allowed me and others to objectively come up with a strategy for leading that change.

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