Friday, 27 April 2018

'Fish where the fish are...' using engaging language to gain buy-in

I'm a big fan of David D'Souza of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development - his blog is always insightful. I'm also passionate about the use of relevant terminology and language when gaining buy-in for change. David's latest posting is right on the money....

FISH WHERE THE FISH ARE #CIPDLD18

Synopsis
I don’t care for your technical language. It has no interest to me. I care for your technical expertise that can help good things happen. I don’t pay you for an invitation to tour your world. I pay you to step into mine.
What do I see
A few weeks ago I spoke to someone who couldn’t get their senior team to back their wellbeing strategy. The senior team were, apparently, just not enlightened enough to recognise the importance of wellbeing. The senior team were, instead, too busy being worried about their teams being pushed to the brink and the danger of burnout and turnover.
I know…
As far as I was concerned the senior team knew what was going on and wanted a solution to a mutually identified problem. They just didn’t care for a conversation about an HR initiative or the dressing that they were being offered. A clear invitation to work with them on wellbeing was there – if they didn’t want to call it ‘wellbeing’ then quite understandably that was their right. It was also the least important thing going on.
They pay for help in their space. They get to choose the language. If you want to call it wellbeing behind the scenes then that’s your choice.
In L&D I’ve seen similar inclinations in the past
“The senior team want to mentor people on X”
Desirable response: Yay, how can we support that?
Actual response: Are you sure they don’t mean coach? We better explain the difference or the organisation is surely doomed
“The senior team want an away day”
Desirable response: I’m glad they want to invest time in their development, we can find a way to support that
Actual response: Didn’t they read our learning strategy where we talk about 70:20:10. Fools. I mock them from on high.
Any invitation to the party should be welcomed. If you want to work in partnership with people in an organisation – and not be somehow special and apart – then contact on their terms matters. If someone you want to get to know asks you to a party the correct response isn’t to say ‘In my expert opinion you are really talking about a get together’. It’s to ask ‘Sure, what can I bring?’
I’m writing this after seeing some exchanges from our Learning Development show yesterday where people were (healthily) challenging the language used within L&D. Making things accessible matters. Making a difference matters. The language probably only matters to practitioners, not beneficiaries. I’m not saying it is never useful, I am saying it should never get in the way.
Fish where the fish are. Don’t sit by the side of the lake shouting at the fish that they just don’t appreciate how much better it is where you have chosen to sit.
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