Sunday, 18 January 2015

What Matters - Day 50

Day 50 (19th January 2015)
50 - is a denomination found either as a coin or note in every currency around the world
Illustration - Trinidad & Tobago 50 Dollar polymer note 1st issued in December 2014
The American slang "50 Bucks" meaning $50 supposedly originates from the early
days when settlers traded or bartered with native Americans for animal skins
Today's post arrived just before Christmas and is from Rachel Burnham. Rachel is a respected Learning and Development (L&D) specialist, who is passionate about the impact learning and development can have on people from all walks of life. She runs Burnham L&D based in Manchester. She writes an excellent L&D focused blog - L & D Matters and is active on social media (you can follow her on Twitter via @BurnhamLandD). She hates heights but loves her family, jazz and gardening (as well as seeing people grow).


I love the way the seasons slowly unfurl and gradually, at times almost imperceptibly, change from one to another.  Lots of things mark those changes: the plants that stand out in the garden each having their brief moment of glory; the quality of the light; the religious festivals; the food that is in season – in our house you can always tell the time of year by the type of vegetable soup made on a Saturday – currently French onion & spicy parsnip are regular favourites, but we’ll soon move on to roast swede, vegetables with dumplings, then it will be leek & potato, asparagus, pea, carrot & orange, then the abundance of the allotment harvest, cucumber, carrot & courgette, yet more courgettes, butternut squash, celery and back to parsnips.

UK seasonal fruit and vegetables
Years are perhaps harder to distinguish one from another – looking back brief moments, one off events, stand out rather than each year being clear and distinct.  There are of course, exceptions, the year my son was born stands out sharply and memorably.  He was born at 28 weeks, a tiny thing of 1lb 13 oz less than a bag of flour, about 3 months prematurely and he spent those months in the hospital.  He was so connected up to various pieces of equipment that changing his nappy was at first more akin to wiring a stereo system.

That was a year of both joy and darker emotions.  When he was finally released from hospital we were told not to mix with anybody who came into contact with children for fear of infection and spent a very lonely first 6 months.   He’s now 19, taller than me.
This year has been another memorable year. Not perhaps as immediately momentous, but a stand-out year nonetheless. A year of doing differently. After many years in various roles that have involved training and L&D, I think I had got a little stale.  My view of the world and of my work had got a bit sepia and faded. I had lost my sense of smell.  I had lost my path, well mislaid it.

But the zest is back, the colours are fresh & vibrant again and the sounds are full on. I think what changed for me this year was that I got connected and not just with social media, though that certainly played a part.   
I got connected again to learning new things, to experimenting in my work, to meeting new people, to discussing ideas, to writing about what I was interested in.  I got enthused with the possibilities of L&D again & infuriated with slide-led talks masquerading as learning all over again! 

It wasn’t all work - I spent time visiting art galleries again, went back to the theatre after a very long gap, spent an amazing week at the Manchester Jazz Festival, gardened, made new friends – all the things that matter to me. Evaluated, took stock.  I started drawing again and found ways to use this in my work.  I took on new challenges, did some different things and turned a few things, old familiars, down.

It wasn’t all excitement and fun, there have been moments of:
‘I’ve no idea what I’m supposed to be doing’ confusion;
a few waking up at 3.25 in the morning panics ‘Oh, my goodness, I don’t have enough work booked in my diary after the next few weeks’  - usually followed a few weeks later with waking up at 5.25 am panics ‘Oh, my goodness, I have too much work booked in – how am I ever going to get it all done?’
and some days of real of pain & sadness.
Life Has Its Ups and Downs, by Canadian artist Ruth Palmer

But the main thing is that I’ve reconnected with why I do what I do.
People matter, we spend such a lot of our lives at work, that how that time is spent matters,
and so how people are managed matters.  
Of course people management is important, not because it’s what we do, but because of its impact.

I have been thinking about those people cared for in their own home, whose carers don’t get allocated sufficient time between calls for travel, so that they are always running late, under pressure and have little time to talk.  

I have been thinking about workers in garment factories and factories making gadgets who are poorly paid & working long, long hours and the ‘ethical’ policies of the companies that they supply for.
Garment factory, Bangladesh
I have been thinking about environmental disasters caused by too much concern for targets & the bottom line and too little for health & safety passed onto contractors.  

Crab crawling through an oil spill
I have been thinking about customers badly advised on any number of financial products by staff perhaps focused on earning their bonus rather than what is the right for them. 

I have been thinking about individuals suffering from stress caused by the way their performance is managed at work and a bullying management style. 

People searching for jobs, not hearing back from countless job applications.  

An economy faltering, in part, due to low productivity, a lack of investment in people and people management.

What we do matters.

I don’t know how I forgot this, because it is why I came into HR in the first place.  But I had. And now I’ve reconnected.

A path rediscovered - On the Road Again
performed by Gugun Blues Shelter at Mostly Jazz, Jakarta, 2012  

Rachel Burnham


1 comment:

  1. Feast and Famine are familiar places in the self employed person's rhythm pattern Rachel. I don't know if I'll ever get used to it but we can but try. Just had another client that wasted a whole lot of my time for which I am unable to charge them - they seem oblivious to life outside a wage packet.