The Downhill Run to Christmas

November is a funny time for me at work.  Not funny as in ha ha – but funny is in ‘strange limbo time’.

To say that 2013 was an utterly hectic, busy and ever-changing year is an understatement.  This year, in this contract alone, I have experienced more emotional ups-and-downs, uncertainty, tension and anxieties than all my other jobs put together.  I liken it to being in a continual stressful situation where curve balls are thrown at you at different times of the day, you’re constantly in ‘reaction’ mode and on edge.

My dentist tells me that I have ground my molars smooth.

It’s because I was involved in learning design for a contract for a major transformation program that has had so many changes that many times we didn’t know whether we were coming or going.  Decisions were made one day, only to be changed the next.

On top of the transformation program, there were continual cost reduction programs, restructures and flexi-desking arrangements. The amount of change in such a short space of time had stunned people.  On a few occasions I walked into situations that involved people yelling at each other, tearful women consoling each other in the toilets and groups huddled together talking in hushed tones.

People were frustrated and simply, tired.

So in this environment, even though it didn’t pertain to me directly, the emotional mood has been the hardest I have had to deal with.  Despite trying to be objective and focus at the task at hand, I can’t help but feel for others.

Even though I developed various learning programs for this contract, the environment in which I developed them was not conducive to collaboration, sharing or teamwork.  It was strained, individualistic and reactionary but this is what I expected it to be at times of great change.  It takes time for things to settle and for people to accept the new way but it will happen.

Out of all this, despite the turmoil, when things settled, we continued with what we had to do as we still had project deliverables. People have shown themselves to be resilient and get on with the job.

Recently our timelines for development of learning material was delayed until early 2013 so I have more time on my hands which is a blessing for me.  At one stage, I was working after hours and on weekends to get through the amount of work and I’m happy that I don’t have to do that anymore!

I have used this extra time now to focus on my own professional development and have finished reading the following books:

(a) Clive Shepherd: The New Learning Architect (brilliant, must read book for any L&D professional)

(b) Euan Semple: Organisations Don’t Tweet, People Do – A Manager’s Guide to the Social Web (must read – more to do with blogging than tweeting)

(c) The Evernote Bible – The Guide to Everything Evernote, Including Tips, Uses and Evernote Essentials (quick and easy read)

(d) Eihblin Macintosh: The Content Curation Handbook (handy tips and techniques on how to find and curate content)

Completed Courses & Attended Conferences:

Undertaking the following MOOC (my second to date):

(a) How to Reason and Argue by Duke University on Coursera

I am also halfway through Howard Rheingold’s Net Smart and finding this book dense with research, theory and facts. As I downloaded it on the Kindle, I think some of the formatting is affected so the pleasure of reading is somewhat marred however, it is a book which I have to read in sections as there is so much information to digest.

I also downloaded Jeanne Meister’s “The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop and Keep Tomorrow’s Employees’ but I think this is going to be my Christmas break reading.

Personally, the Christmas break cannot come around quick enough.  In the meantime, I am using the quieter time at work to design learning solutions that I can start to develop when I get back from the break refreshed and relaxed.  I am looking forward to the break where I can just reflect on my learning from 2012 and lay a plan for 2013.  Do I stay in this contract or do I seek another one?

Despite the ups and downs of this job, I can say that it has truly tested me this year – but in a positive way.  I wanted a challenge – I certainly got it.  It’s given me an opportunity to be creative, take charge and just get on with what I had to do without direction or micro-management but gee, am I looking forward to the break!

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About Activate Learning Solutions

Helen Blunden is the founder of Activate Learning Solutions and Third Place. She has over 20 years of experience within learning and development across private, public and not-for-profit organisations. With a specialty in performance consulting and networked learning, Helen believes that workplace learning is integral to business success. She has a passion for enabling people to learn beyond the classroom and believes in the power of networks and communities to drive collaboration and meaning within the organisation. From facilitator-led instruction, online and blended, Helen deploys social and informal learning such as enterprise social networking, collaboration tools and emerging technologies that have been proven successful and embedded workplace change.
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