We're always curious to hear how our members and contributors tackle the challenges that the ever-changing world of L&D throws at them. We've got a wealth of experience and knowledge across the site, and what better way to showcase the diversity of our community than to get them to walk us through an average day?
Want to tell us about your way of working? Email us at [email protected], or let us know in the comments below.
Frances Ferguson is a Training Design Manager at Glasstap Ltd and big fan of all thing L&D. She's recently done a survey on the subject of icebreakers and energisers and was kind enough to share the results with us on TrainingZone.
So, Frances, talk us through your day...
07:00 – Working from home means no big commute for me, but I do have 3 kids, who all need to head off to school, so the day starts at 7am and, if I am lucky, my younger daughter, who is one of life’s early birds, will make me a cup of green tea to start the day.
08:30 – With peace descending on the house and a tidy kitchen following the breakfast rush, it is time to settle down to some work. I start by checking to see if any emails have come in overnight from our members (some are based overseas, whilst others were just working late the night before) wanting advice on workshops that they need to plan, or how they can tweak a particular exercise to meet the specific needs of a group of participants.
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09:15 – Time to crack on with designing some new training material. Recently I have been working on a project to revamp our quick wins exercises (Icebreakers, Energisers and Learning Reviews) as a result of some research we carried out amongst fellow training professionals and how they use them. The project has involved updating existing material as well as designing some completely new exercises; we’re up to 185 and counting so far!
11:30 – I have recently taken up running, so I take an early lunchbreak to go out for a 40 minute run in peace and quiet. The more I do it, the more I am finding that it’s a great way to mull over how I can tackle any exercises that I am stuck on. We have a bit of a tradition of having our best ideas away from the desk in this company. Rod, my boss, came up with the idea for Trainers’ Library whilst riding a horse. He and Craig launched it an incredible 6 weeks later!
12:30 – I admit that when it comes to lunch I am very much an ‘eat at your desk’ kind of person; normally for speed I raid the fridge for whatever is in there.
13:00 – I will check my messages/emails again to see if any members need my advice. As a company we always aim to get back to the person with an answer that day. Sometimes there is enough information in the email to be able to answer it straight away, other times I find it easier to pick up the phone to really understand their training challenge so I can give them the best advice possible about the exercises that will achieve the best results.
15:00 – Rod and I normally speak on the Skype at least twice a day, though it is very rare for them to be scheduled. I suppose it’s the remote working equivalent of turning round to speak to the colleague sitting next to you.
Great training needs to be experiential, to totally absorb the participants
I love chatting to Rod about ideas for training exercises. We both have the same ‘values’ when it comes to what great training looks like; it needs to be experiential, to totally absorb the participants, but it also needs to have a real link to the changes they will make when they get back to work. However, we have different strengths when it comes to our preferred design style; Rod is very much a creative thinker, while I tend to err towards the more logical ways of thinking. So when we bounce ideas around we have the chance to get the best of both worlds
16:30 – Time to go and get my son from homework club and hear how his day has gone. This normally marks the end of my working day, unless I am on a roll with a piece of work, in which case I will crack on for a while longer.
18:00 – Part of the advantages of working from home is the flexibility it brings, but the downside is that it can be hard to switch off. So, I have learned to walk away from my study and into the kitchen to whip up a storm for tea. I am definitely not Masterchef standard, but I do enjoy putting together a tasty home cooked meal for the 4 of us to enjoy at the end of a busy day.
Now, tell us...
What would you say are your main passions or things you champion within learning and development?
Ah that one is easy! I genuinely think people learn best when they are engaged and enjoying the experience. But that is only part of the story. For me it is all about what people do as a result of what they learnt during the training. The analogy I often use is that if a 40 a day smoker decided to quit today, that doesn’t yet make them a non-smoker. They need to stick at it until it becomes second nature.
People learn best when they are engaged and enjoying the experience.
It’s all about making the link between what someone has learnt as a result of a training exercise and then asking them, “What will you be doing differently back at work now you know/understand that?” For me the role of the line manager is key in making that happen.
What part of your job do you enjoy the most?
Definitely speaking to our members! I love it when they phone you up in a bit of a panic because someone has asked them to do something and they are not quite sure how to handle it. My job is to make them feel like everything is under control and they will rise to the challenge and deliver something pretty special. As an ex-freelancer myself, I am extra happy when the member asking for help is a freelancer and I know that it will help them secure an unexpected but very welcome piece of new business.
What keeps you up at night?
Fortunately not too much, but maybe it’s because I’m a single Mum with 3 kids, as well as working full time and having a house in urgent need of decorating! Joking aside, my colleagues are a great bunch of people to work with and I know that if I can’t work out the best solution to a problem, then they are just a phone call away.
One tip you’d pass on to your peers?
Find the people who have similar values but a very different skill set to yours. Not only will they help you by sharing a different perspective, but there is also a good chance that they will really enjoy doing the jobs you don’t like doing and vice versa.
About Frances Ferguson
I work with busy L&D professionals who understand the power of great training to effectively develop and grow the skills of the people in the organisation(s) they work in. They know that standing at the front of the room, armed only with a large deck of slides and a couple of sheets of flipchart paper, is never going to deliver the results that makes their contribution count.
My mission is to help busy trainers (whether part of a training team, or working as an independent freelancer) have access to training materials that are engaging, memorable, enjoyable and, above all, effective in changing behaviours back in the workplace.
So if the idea of delivering training like that makes your heart sing, but you don’t always have the time and resources to make it happen, then I am the perfect person to speak to because I can make it happen.