The Future of Unlocking Potential

RightTrack Learning

This blog post has been produced for the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce as part of the 2019 Growth Through People campaign.

Growth Through People is the Chamber’s annual campaign aiming to help local firms boost productivity and grow through improved leadership and people management skills. In 2019 this involves 15 free events, workshops and training sessions taking place between 25th February and 26th March, along with thought leadership videos and blog content such as this.

Thanks to our Sponsors – the University of Birmingham, Aston University, Curium Solutions and CIPD - all events are free to attend. Interested readers can find out more here.

The yearly training plan for many organisations is devised simply by looking back at past performances, via one to one reviews, and establishing development needed to close the gap on weak areas assessed from the previous six-monthly period. Brilliant, at least there is a focus on training. However, this method of establishing development plans is based on what has been, not necessarily to sustain the organisations future.

Once a strategic future has been sketched out, even in the broadest terms, leaders will benefit from holding internal Future Focus Labs or Clinics to explore with teams what the new strategy will mean in practice. It is beneficial to include a range of roles, talent and levels, including non-managerial staff in these future looking Labs. Once the way ahead is clear, then part of this exploratory work is to establish what development will be required and to establish how future potential will be unlocked.

Be clear about the talent and skills you require to support your business going forward. Be clear about what potential your organisation already has within and what you might need to bring in. We often ignore what is right under our nose. Build development programmes that enable and encourage the change the organisation seeks. Link practical projects with classroom-based learning to support the transfer of learning into new ways of working. Experiment by giving new projects and challenges to different people within the business, be aware of whether the same old people are being tried and tested time and time again.

For a company to truly unlock the full potential of its entire workforce, we must also check everyone is welcome on the bus. Leaders play a vital part in ensuring the environment is inclusive. If this isn’t something you have thought about, then start by asking a few searching questions:

  • How diverse are we as an organisation?
  • Do we understand the culture of some of our minority groups within the workplace?
  • Are people from minority groups being given the same opportunities as other groups, or does stereotyping take over?
  • What awareness is there of our unconscious biases, particularly in recruitment and performance management?
  • Are leaders paying attention to their micro-inequities i.e. are individuals within the organisation being either singled out (as favourites, victims or gofers), overlooked, ignored, or otherwise discounted based on unchangeable characteristic? Sometimes, this can be quite subtle, but it doesn’t go unnoticed if you are on the receiving end of it

If we don’t feel like we are a fully paid up crew member, then we are unlikely to shine, or be entirely on board with any change. In my thirty years of experience in the learning and development sector, I have rarely come across an employee who hadn’t wanted to do the best job possible. People want to succeed at what they do, they want to be challenged and have their full potential realised. By being more mindful as leaders we can provide that realisation for our workforce and in doing so achieve our company’s ambitions too.

Kasmin Cooney OBE
Managing director 
RightTrack Learning