For the last 9 years Greenbank have been working with a great group of nutritional scientists from across Europe who are part of the wonderful network group ENLP.
Together, we have developed a transformative annual development programme – ENLP Advanced – aimed at supporting senior leaders in academia, industry and not-for-profit associations. The programme is highly sought after, with each year nominations always exceeding the number of places on offer.
So, you can imagine how tough it was for everyone when the April 2020 programme had to be postponed because of Covid-19 – especially as this year’s cohort of 19 leaders had already completed their pre-work including a Nutritional Leadership 360o survey. Although everybody has been guaranteed a place on the 2021 programme, we were all concerned about the loss of a wonderful development opportunity at a time, when effective leadership is more important than ever.
Call for some quick and creative thinking by the Board of ENLP and us which helped us to turn this bad situation around and come up with a blended learning approach which actually gives participants both better opportunities for development and immediate tools and tactics to support them over the coming months.
The shift to a blended learning approach
The approach we developed has 3 key elements:
- Virtual Workshops based on the Insights Discovery Psychometric tool
- Virtual 1:1 360o feedback coaching
- Finally – the face-to-face workshop in 2021!
We developed a virtual workshop to introduce everyone to the wonderful Insights Discovery psychometric which we use as a major theme in the programme – helping leaders gain both greater self-awareness and also developing strategies to work more effectively with a wide range of other people.
The virtual workshop consisted of 2 x I hour workshops with a break in between them to allow everyone to read their individual Insights reports and do some initial personal planning:
One of our concerns was that our face-to-face workshops are so interactive and personalised we felt we might find it hard to replicate this, so we looked hard at the options! The platform we used allowed us to simulate the planned face-to-face training with lots of opportunities to get involved via a range of creative ideas which included:
- Question & Answer sessions
- Discussions in pairs to share ideas
- Small breakout discussions and exercises to produce virtual ‘Flipcharts’ which we then brought back into the ‘main room’
- Co-coaching between participants
We were able to adapt every exercise we would normally use face-to-face into the new format and in fact achieved even more interaction than we would normally do as it was easier for everyone to get involved rather than just two or three people being the ones who are ready to speak out and contribute in a large classroom setting.
Virtual 1:1 360o feedback coaching
This was a chance for everyone to have 2 x 1-hour individual coaching sessions with Greenbank to help everyone understand how to navigate their 360o reports, make sense of the feedback and start to think about how to translate the feedback into practical development actions. A luxury simply not possible within the original 3-day face-to face-programme!
And finally – the face-to-face workshop in 2021!
There can now be some cost and time savings when we all finally come together next Spring. Our client can decide whether to reduce the face-to-face element – meaning less delivery and hotel costs and less time away from work – or we can introduce more content, which this 1-1 work has identified as possible needs.
In addition, we have already realised some additional benefits we have gained from the new approach and which we are considering building into all our blended programmes going forward:
- The group has already started to gel – so we hope to speed up the time it takes for them to become effective and certainly less daunting for those who find the first morning of a course a bit unnerving. As tutors we have also established a strong relationship via the 1:1 coaching which will help us all when working together.
- Having had the opportunity to work with the group already – and worked with them on their 360o reports – we have learned a lot about their personal leadership challenges and individual development goals. As a result, we are now planning to review the agenda and include a couple of new themes that emerged to make the programme even more relevant.
Final thoughts from this experience
Switching to this more blended approach did take time and effort – mostly coming up to speed with the virtual workshop platform. With almost all our participants working from home where internet was not always great, we did have to deal with a couple of technology glitches but nothing that could not be overcome.
However, the benefits far outweighed any difficulties. As you can see from the participant comments, the virtual workshops were fun to deliver for us as well the participants – something that came as a bit of a surprise having not tried this approach before.
Everyone came away with something that will help them to develop and become both more effective and successful – and which they can implement over the coming months. So, next year that will be our new starting point for even more learning and moving to the next level. We can’t wait to meet up together next Spring!
To support our clients during this time, we are now creating a series of fun interactive monthly no-charge workshops, starting in May with ‘Building Trust’.
We are also moving all our leadership and sales development programmes onto the new platform and are creating a ‘showcase’ training room which allows L&D managers to witness first-hand how the training might work for them. As Benjamin Franklin famously said, ‘Out of adversity comes opportunity’!
If you would like to take part in our monthly free workshops or have a zero-pressure visit to our showcase virtual training room, then please just contact us. We don’t pretend to have the magic answer to the current situation, but we are enjoying sharing ideas and meeting new people!
Ian & Judith HirstGet in touch