Adventures in professional development October 2012


In-person team meeting, Oct 16-17

My team works virtually.  We’re scattered all over Ontario and so when we can meet in person, we take the opportunity.

This year, our in person team meeting was held in Toronto and we assembled from our respective offices: Timmins, Sudbury, Scarborough, and Chatham, to meet with the three of our colleagues that lived and worked in Toronto.

The focus of the meeting was professional development, but there were a couple of specific things that we had to accomplish: review our accomplishments to date, and plan our activities for the remainder of the year.

My team is diverse with respect to skills and relative areas of expertise.  I contribute to subject matter expertise in my business line, technical, facilitation, instructional design, and other communications skills.  Others bring subject matter expertise in other business lines, project management, instructional design, presentation, and specific business communication skills.  Some have great budget management skills and a holistic knowledge of our business that I lack.

We all come together to support one another and get things done.  As the result of our accomplishments/planning session, I once more find myself entering uncharted territory and helping to put together professional learning agreement (PLA) templates for various positions my business line.  This will be interesting work.

In the professional development category, we were reintroduced to a tool called the Passport to Service Excellence (PSE), which is supposed to help us chart our career path.  Talent management is something still fairly new and very much in development at my employer.

We have several tools and platforms to help us do this.  One is, of course, the PLA, where outside our departmental mandate and goals, we list activities that we would like to engage in and what positions we’d like to move into, job shadowing or acting roles we might like to adopt.

There is a Renewal Gateway site onto which we can post our resumes and where managers from various departments are supposed to look for individuals to suit their needs.  There are also formal and informal assessment processes for various jobs occurring all the time.  There is the PSE, and I’ll be helping out with another project geared to assist employees in planning their professional development activities in the coming weeks.

It seems to me that there’s a little too much duplication in these tools.  So if I were to take a course, I would have to update my own resume, the one posted on the Gateway, then open up my PLA and list it there, go to the PSE and make the appropriate alterations there, and soon possibly also update the new tool that’s being proposed.

That’s a lot of work.  It’s almost enough to make one reconsider taking part in any professional development activity.

What would be better is to work into one of the tools the ability to export information into other forms.  So that if I complete a course, I then go into one tool, for sake of argument, the PSE, update it, and then have the tool communicate with and update the other tools (PLA, resumes, etc.)  It makes sense to me, but when I made the suggestion, it seemed something beyond what could be provided.

This kind of thing happens a lot at my employer.

The Business Expertise Forum, Oct 29-31

Along with the SMART Board training that I delivered with my colleague Monica in September, I was to deliver a workshop at the BE Forum.  It soon turned out to be three workshops offered to a portion of the attendees in rotation with two other presentations.

Monica ended up having to deliver other training and couldn’t help me, so I said for convenience’s sake that I’d deliver the workshops solo.

I thought I’d have time in October to develop the presentation, handout, and complete the work necessary to have a translated version of the handout ready in time.  Unfortunately, other priorities emerged.  My job as training coordinator is not a boring one, to be sure.

Then two days before I was off on leave to attend a writing conference, one of my team mates volunteered to co-facilitate.  At that point, I didn’t really have the presentation hammered out, but I gratefully accepted the offer and shared what I could put together in a day.

Another issue was that the training room that I was assigned and that I wanted to get in early to set up was in use the day previous.

So making the best of the chaos, I travelled down with my colleague and attended the first part of the Forum.  There were a pile of work friends from various departments and locations that I got to see again.

Our regional head delivered a welcome address and expressed interest in attending the SMART Board workshop.  <gulp!>  Fortunately, her schedule was too full to allow it, but I had a momentary wiggins 🙂

One of my training team colleagues did a presentation on creating a quality monitoring program.  She’d been called in at the last minute when the original presenter was unable to attend.

Finally, at the end of the day, I got into the training room, hooked up my computer, and tested the SMART Board out.  Joy.  Everything was working.  Linda and I started to go through the workshop and had to finish off our mini-run through the next morning, as the training rooms were being locked down for the night.

Ultimately, all went well, and I ended up having a great time.  I went out with all of my work friends and caught a couple of great presentations, on training in a multi-generational environment and on managing transitions (another course that I will be delivering at some point in the future).

Now I’m in recovery 🙂

On taking breaks and lunches

One of the other things that came out of my team’s in-person meeting was that we all need to take care of ourselves.  A former member of the team, who’d left it prior to my coming on-board in May, had passed away in the summer at the young age of 51.

So we were all encouraged to take our lunches and breaks, and to take care of ourselves.

I have to confess that I haven’t taken more than a handful of legitimate lunches or breaks since starting with the team.  I tend to take on too much.  I know this about myself, but when I have something that I’m interested in, I can’t help myself.

Unfortunately, the things I’m interested in are not the kinds of things anyone else shares a passion for.  So I end up being a niche specialist because no one else has the time or aptitude to take up the torch.

I’ll have to let you know how my quest for personal time and balance at work goes.

The Learning Mutt has a couple of weeks at home before she’s on the road again, and hopefully for the last time this year …  I can dream, and whuffle in my sleep 😉

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