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Accelerated graduate learning and CSR

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) plays a key part of one of our modular graduate development programmes. Not only do the graduates get the opportunity to add value back into the community but the experience also provides important learning opportunities.

In fact CSR provides the ultimate experiential learning and forms a key part of our overall approach to graduate development. For this particular client the approach is used to emphasise key behaviours relating to strategic thinking, problem solving, project management and decision making.

Each year we work with our client to partner with a different community organisation. Yesterday I observed the graduates completing a variety of projects for a local community centre and was struck by the strong teamwork and commitment to achieving results that the experience instilled. For some organisations CSR is used to help with team building and you could say that this in itself is enough. For me though, I think the real value comes from extracting the learning from the experience and translating it into genuine behavioural change.

In this module, the CSR project is the meat in the sandwich between a day of planning and a day of facilitated review. This ensures that the rich learning is extracted and applied at an individual and team level.

In the "real world"

Last week I had the opportunity to head out to the “real world” with a client. I am in the process of designing a programme which combines both technical and behavioural learning and it was really important for me to gain awareness of the environment delegates work in and people they will be working with. The day was fantastic and at one point I was stood in mud, in wellies, hard hat and high-vis jacket!!

I think it is really important when designing any training to go and find out what actually happens for someone at work. Even though it was only one day I was able to pick-up some knowledge that will help me tailor the design and facilitation of the program.

For anyone heading out to the “real world”, remember your questioning and listening skills. I found people responded best to simple down-to-earth questions, rather than the pre-written convoluted ones that make the other person feel like they are just part of a survey.



What makes talent stand out?

I recently went to a CIPD conference and was really interested to hear some views on what determines someone with ‘talent’ or ‘high potential’ within organisations. There are many takes on this but the one that most interested me was that it came down to three things:
- self awareness (knowing yourself)
- understanding others (good interpersonal skills)
- the ability to set challenging goals and remain focused on them.

What struck me was how straightforward it seems. The first two points are the essence of emotional intelligence. The third point reflects the importance of direction, personal vision, and focus of efforts.

I was able to use this in an action planning session the next day with delegates from a large publishing company. It really helped stress the importance of the session within the context of their own development.


More task design

We are all about experiential learning - giving people real experiences to learn from rather than just the theory. And we need a huge range of experiences to draw upon so we can make these fit the specific needs of the client organisation and the people coming on programmes.

Necessity is often the mother of invention, and quite rightly too, as every situation is different and we also pride ourselves on designing bespoke programmes.

But we have to work hard at being creative and sometimes the process needs some priming, so we’re going to have a 2-day event with our associate facilitators to come up with new tasks that we can bring to bear on the sorts of issues our clients are facing.

Another very positive spin-from this is that it will build our own team. We work hard on our team. Like many in the market we rely on a lot of freelancers, but unlike many, we invest heavily in building a genuine team from these freelancers - consistency is very important. So, whereas our everyday work often means we work alone and meet infrequently, this workshop will help to keep us all engaged with each other and moving forward together.

A new graduate induction event

We’ve just run the first new graduate induction programme for PwC and are really pleased to say it gone well. These are big groups with 60+ participants each time and a further 30+ people form the business involved. Because we have created a dynamic project based “business simulation” format, it is no small feat to get this to run smoothly. It requires a lot of commitment form the client too, as they have to get stakeholders engaged and ensure they get to the right place at the right time on the day.