The term ‘role models’ is used widely in leadership and management, with the main focus on being a good role model for your people. However, there is no doubt that there are individuals within your organisation that others look up to, who aren’t on the leadership team.
We all know someone – that one person (or maybe more) who is great with people, that builds good relationships, that does well in their role and that their colleagues aspire to be like. This could be someone at any level; someone who has been with the company for a long time, or who is brand new. The list of possibilities is endless.
Role models have a natural influence over people – others like to follow in their footsteps and share their successes. If you’re looking to improve learning culture or want others to acknowledge the benefits of learning within your organisation, these are the people who can really help you. They are the ones who have much more influence than they’re given credit for – even if they don’t realise it.
HOW TO SPOT YOUR ROLE MODELS
There are some key attributes that good role models have, which you need to keep an eye out for. These could include:
They are talked about
You’ll hear these people talked about often. They are the ones people might refer to when they are using examples of work, the ones that positive stories are often told about, and the ones that you hear mentioned in management meetings (in a good light).
They are confident
Be careful not to mistake arrogance for confidence here, but a role model is often confident in the workplace. This could be demonstrated whilst talking to colleagues, sharing information or pitching ideas. Each person will display confidence in different ways, so remain open to different styles.
They are respectful
Your role models will be respectful of others. You won’t often (if ever) hear them speaking out of turn, or in a bad light about their colleagues or managers. They will likely have opinions, and won’t be afraid to speak their mind, but it will be productive and constructive.
They will be knowledgeable and well rounded
We’re not just looking for people who ‘teach’ others – we’re looking for people who keep challenging themselves and are passionate about learning more to extend their knowledge. They will be excited about stretching themselves and trying new things.
They accept accountability
Everybody makes mistakes sometimes, and your role models will hold their hands up when it happens to them. They are the ones who will accept accountability when something has gone wrong, and they will apologise sincerely and learn from their mistakes.
HOW TO GET THEM ON BOARD WITH L&D
Hopefully, this should be a relatively easy task. If your role models are keen to extend their knowledge and already have a passion for learning, it shouldn’t be too difficult to help them understand the benefit of their position and take part in some of your activities.
However, if this is not the case, start by offering them development opportunities – give them a chance to see the benefits of L&D first-hand and experience your learning solutions. From here, get them to feed back to you on their success or where your solutions could be improved.
By showing them that they are listened to and have an impact on learning, they’ll be more inclined to talk about it, share their experience and encourage others to get involved.
HOW TO CAPITALISE ON THEIR SKILLS
There are many ways that L&D can capitalise on the skills of key role models within an organisation. By creating opportunities for them to showcase learning, and their successes in it, you’re creating possibilities for culture improvement and growth. Their colleagues will naturally follow their lead, or, at the very least, begin considering the impact it could have on them.
Here are some of the ways you can capitalise on their natural skills. Not all will be suitable for everyone (after all, every person is so different), but it’s a good idea to choose your focus based on the individual.
Video case studies
Video’s getting big, and case studies and testimonials have always been a great way to get people excited about a product. Try to get your role models to record videos about the fantastic experiences they’ve had.
If they’re not afraid of a bit of limelight, why not make them the ‘poster person’ for elements of your learning? You’d be amazed of the impact personal posters can have.
Leading focus groups
If you want to get your people talking, ask your role model to lead a focus group. They’re likely to get real feedback from their colleagues, and people will be enthused to talk to them. You’ll get some useful information that otherwise may not have been available to you.
Tell their story
Telling peoples stories is always a great way to help engage others – it will show them similarities, opportunities to grow and how they can get the same success. If you have a company magazine, blog or newsletter, get your role model to tell their story in it, and share it far and wide.
I hope that some of these ideas give you food for thought on how to utilise the natural skills of your people to increase the success of L&D. In the meantime, if you’d like to delve further into how to engage your learners, download our whitepaper now.
Stephanie Morgan FLPI, Director of Learning Solutions, Bray Leino Learning
Sharing ideas and observations to help improve performance.