Action Learning Sets – Revisited

Each UK Lockdown during these COVID times I decided to set myself a project so that I could look back in years to come with memories of having used the time productively.

In Lockdown 1 last March it was to finish book number 2 The Evergreen Executive and I also became a big Netflix fan. In Lockdown 2 , November 2020, the project was to revamp my home yoga/zen room and cook more nutritious healthy meals from scratch. Now as we approach the end of Lockdown 3 the project has been Action Learning with some fellow professional coaches which has proved to be both insightful and fun.

The term Action Learning crossed my path for the first time while I was working for Hewlett Packard in the 80’s and 90’s where as part of our leadership development and process improvement training we worked together to share best practices and support each other solve work related problems as a group. The way we have been using Action Learnings Sets in 2021 though has been with a slightly different twist, we have been using the methodology to keep refining our skills as professional executive coaches by investing in our own development. There is a danger, when the day job involves helping numerous people achieve their goals, increase self awareness, move though personal change, embed new habits or in this era find new roles quickly, us coaches don’t make enough time for our own personal growth. I am pleased to report that UK Lockdown 3 has proved to be very productive from this standpoint as all 3 of us in our mini Action Learning Set are nearing the end of 8 weeks of online learning in a variety of topics. What has made it fun and enjoyable has largely been down to our weekly Zoom meetings where we have taken ourselves through the action learning cycle above, challenged each other, shared successes and difficulties on route and most important of all held ourselves accountable to each other and the programme of learning. There were times when I didnt want to use my non working time to watch online video tutorials, read books or do assignments however knowing we had a weekly Action Learning Group meeting where we all had to report into each other on actvities and progress did work from a motivation perspective. In addition it was useful to discuss the difficulties we sometimes had as well as this made it easier at times not to be too hard on ourselves as well.

The concept of the action learning cycle can be powerful used individually as a reflective exercise by itself but its much more fun if you work with others to learn from different experiences and about alternative actions taken even given the same content shared by all. Next time you embark on a piece of learning consider setting up your own Action Learning Set with a few people undergoing the same journey it might add another powerful dimension to your experience.

Reflection and Refine

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So it has been a while since the last blog post and for a few reasons.

As many people do at the turn of the year I use it as a chance to take stock and review how the last year went and what the plans for the new year are. This year I decided to extend this period of reflection a bit longer so that I could take advantage of a planned trip to Northern Goa in India that I had had scheduled for a while. For me to take two whole weeks out of my schedule is unusual as I normally have a lot of shorter breaks throughout the year.

There was a specific reason for this trip and if you are interested in learning more take a listen to the podcast episode at Itunes link to podcast  

So against my default programming I didn’t set any new year resolutions with the intention of using the space and downtime while away to decide what the focus of 2019 was going to be both professionally and personally.  I think the trip to India was quite a landmark event as it had been a personal goal for nearly 5 years and the fact that it was actually going to happen was meaningful in itself. My normal  reaction is “so what next” and I know I made the mistake once before in 2006 after completing the Ironman in that I immediately entered another one which in the end I had to pull out of due to injury – the real truth is it wasn’t meant to be I was just meant to do one event like that and originally that had been my intention I just got carried away with post race euphoria and the rest of my team mates rushing to fill in entry forms for the next event.

The two weeks away were soon over and still no obvious new goals were emerging just a few subtle tweaks to what I am already doing and the slow realisation that maybe that was all I needed to do just a bit of refining and refocusing. I fundamentally have the right things in place so there isn’t a need for major changes. There isn’t a obvious new big scary goal or shift I want to make at this time and that is ok what I have is a few areas of focus professionally and personally for the rest of the year , things that I am already doing but just take them to the next level starting with a slight tweak to the podcast in renaming it The Career Tree to expand the exploration of industries/jobs/ways of working to show what choices we all do have in the world of work. So watch this space as we refine what we do as we approach our twentieth year in business as Kudos. Now that is scary where has all that time has gone?

 

What Is The Next Baby Step To Take?

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Whether it’s a goal you have set yourself, a challenge the team has in front of them, a problem you need to solve, or you are trying to help someone else move forwards the ability to move forwards towards the desired state is something that is required. The less time we spend paralysed or procrastinating the better when it comes to continually achieving high performance both professionally and personally.

Another habit we can develop is to identify how far we are away from our desired result and use a timeline technique to ascertain how big the gap is. Let’s imagine your ideal outcome or the place where you would feel happy with a situation is 10/10. Ask the question where are you now? on the scale from 1-10  with 10 being the perfect result or outcome you are working towards e.g. if you scored yourself 5 then you are halfway along to being in the place you want to be or accomplishing the goal you have set yourself.

Then ask yourself the question – what have I done to get myself this far e.g. off level 0. What do I need to do more of to move myself up the scale? Normally we have made some progress, rarely are you starting for level zero.

The next baby step to take is to imagine where the next level up would be i.e. if you are currently rating yourself as a 5 on the scale what action would you need to take to get yourself to a 6. By taking this approach we are trying to break down a big challenge or goal into baby steps of action or bite sized chunks (chunking is a commonly used NLP – Neuro Linguistic Programming methodology)

When you have identified what you need to do to take you to the next level upwards and more towards your destination then ask yourself whether you need anyone’s expertise or assistance to get there? Whether it’s simply being disciplined to set aside time to work on the action, whether there is any element of fear of failure or loosing face standing in your way. What is stopping you take that next action step and what do you need to remove that barrier.

This process then needs to be circled around again to achieve the next level up on the scale. Simply having this diagrammatically drawn in your daily notebook could help remind you of what action you need to take to take small baby step action steps to reach your ultimate destination.

What action could you take today or within a week to move you up one or two levels?

 

Sandra works as a professional coach for both businesses and private clients. For more information look at www.sandrawebbercoaching.com or read through her book Own It available from Amazon  http://amzn.to/2m3l8Vl

The Customer Journey Good and Bad

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This wasn’t the planned blog subject matter but it has been such an experience that I felt compelled to capture the learnings.

How can some organisations get it so right while others get it so wrong?

Looking after customers or clients , whatever your terminology, with care, effective communication and the personal touch throughout the entire journey is vitally important. I have had two experiences in the matter of weeks which were as contrasting as black and white.

The first experience started well or so I thought with me signing up for a service that appeared to be offering a timely and cost effective solution to my problem (the old saying if it seems too good to be true it probably is now comes to mind). The first problems started to occur when I discovered the timelines of the service provision were very different in actual terms than the one that was originally offered. In hindsight this should have been a warning sign however I proceeded and agreed to a delayed appointment time. The first appointment was conducted but a solution wasn’t fully available at that point so a second visit was required. This is when the problem started as on numerous occasions the second appointment was cancelled, rearranged, not communicated which resulted in time off and loss of earnings by me (the customer) After an official complaint which wasn’t followed up correctly I eventually cancelled the contract and was back where I started 2 months ago.

The second experience couldn’t have been more different with clear expectations, loads of communication, appointments that were kept, problems resolved and a solution in place within an acceptable timescale.

In the theory of customer care training which we deliver as an organisation there is always a chance of “recovery” – taking some action to recover the situation and leave the customer less dissatisfied. To date the first organisation has not taken this route, even after an official complaint and a withdrawal of the contract no one has got in touch to either apologise or offer compensation for inconvenience caused.

If you are responsible for delivering products or services at least learn where the problems are within the system of processes otherwise customers talk and share their experiences good and bad. It’s ok if customers are happy and recommending your services however if they are in the other camp they could be putting potential future customers off and they will look elsewhere. Customer cancellations should always be followed up to find out if “things could have been done differently” and if so extra training or process changes might be required so that the same doesn’t happen again.

 

 

Sandra works as a coach and trainer for both businesses and private clients. More information regarding coaching can be found at www.sandrawebbercoaching.com. She has also published a book Own It – regain control and live life on your terms available from Amazon http://amzn.to/2m3l8Vl