October 20, 2013

Learning in Reverse

Posted in Managers Matter, Professional Development, Professionalism tagged , at 1:54 am by Sue Hine

Orange-Man-Problem-Solving-Team-Mask-1024x819[1]A respected colleague from a long time ago declared the one trait that is unique to humans is adaptability.  Well, circus animals and science show us we do not have this ability on our own.  And the whole theory of evolution is based on adapting to the changes in the environment.

These days organisational adaptations are more likely to go by the adage There are no problems, only solutions (attributed to John Lennon, but might have originated from Descartes).  In business-speak we don’t talk any more of obstacles in analysing problems: we use words like ‘opportunities’ and ‘challenges’.

No-one can down-play the demands and challenges of the role of managing volunteers.  There are constant stressors of time management, keeping the programme on track, maintaining volunteer loyalty and enthusiasm, and your relationships with them, dealing with the paper work, and, and…. (Fill in your own list of tensions.)

Many of us learn from experience, which can be bruising and sometimes downright harmful.  But what if we went out seeking answers to the challenges we face.  (See – I’m not using the word ‘problem’ any more.)  What if we join with our peers to form a group so we can talk over matters of the moment, and yes, find solutions that would work for us, or for my own particular circumstances.

You can call it peer mentoring, a support group, the MV collective – but the object of sharing information and ideas will be the same.  It’s a way of learning a new strategy or ideas to research and to act on.  It’s a way to find “a trouble shared is a trouble halved”.  It’s a way to learn about refining skills and behaviours.  Most of all it is a way of learning without being taught.  And even if you prefer one:one supervision or mentoring the process is the same: working through the issues to find your own solutions.

Being professional comes with a responsibility to go on learning, developing knowledge and skills.  Supervision or mentoring is one way to do this, in groups or as an individual.

There’s another benefit: you will discover ‘me time’.  Having time away from the workplace to reflect on what is happening is not just a brief respite from responding to demands of the job.  People who listen with empathy can be refreshing and energising.   Reflection is also part of the professional learning process which leads to action.

There is more!  Joining with others in your network or community is a means to learn about different organisations, and to open up opportunities for cooperation and collaboration.  A collegial community could be just what you need when the going gets tough and a place to report on success and achievements.

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1 Comment »

  1. Alison said,

    Well done Sue, you captured what our peer support group is for me. I always come away both inspired and challenged as we all share our ideas and offer possible solutions. It amazes me how we come from such diverse organisations but share such common issues when working with volunteers who are integrated into our organisations. Our group is definately a safe place to put ideas or concerns and know that they will be heard with understanding and empathy as well as the possibility of new ways of doing things. Thanks to you we have the right framework for getting the most out of our time together as you showed us good facilitation!

    Like


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