At our November Download conference we asked the roughly 60 learning & development professionals who joined us about their challenges at work, their plans for the coming year, and their feelings on the job.
Despite the grey fall weather in November, the slow economic recovery in Michigan, and the looming deadline to avoid the fiscal cliff (because no article these days is complete without a reference to the US politico-economic situation), learning & development professionals turn out to be a pretty cheerful group.
When asked about their feelings over the last month at work, twice as many people in the learning business responded “Energized!” as “Overwhelmed!” A relatively small handful replied “Frustrated” and only one admitted to being “Bored.”
Now, this was an energized group to begin with. The event itself was upbeat, required a lot of physical movement, offered good food, and encouraged a lot of conversation. We laughed, talked, met new people, saw old friends and basically had all the elements of a good party, minus the rock band.
Our question specifically asked about the previous month, though, so the feel-good atmosphere of the Download event shouldn’t play too much in the results. That got us to thinking about 3 characteristics of energized people at work:
- They bring their own personal energy. Life is what you make of it. Your temperament, personal habits and how you cope with stress all contribute to your personal energy at work and throughout your life. Perhaps learning professionals happen to be a particularly well-rested, well-hydrated, fit, mildly caffeinated bunch. Or perhaps people like that self-select to come to our events. Either way, I’m sure glad to be surrounded by people with that kind of positive personal energy.
- They work for organizations with enlightened cultures. It’s probably not a big leap of logic to find energized people thriving at organizations with positive work cultures. Here at TorranceLearning, we’re raving fans of the Small Giants Community. The Small Giants Community is full of “companies who define success by not only their bottom line, but by their contributions to their community, dedication to great customer service and the creation and preservation of workplace cultures of excellence,” and we happen to think that’s pretty energizing. At least it’s working for us.
- They are doing work that excites them. The most joyful times in life are when we’re doing things that make us happy. For example, this week we were doing some learning design work with a client. We’re coming up with a completely new solution – we’re breaking new ground. It’s a super fit for the client’s situation and I don’t think anyone else is doing it this way yet. I can’t wait to share the resulting model with the world. And I am completely energized.
Of course, the group of people we asked is nothing at all like a random sample. Our Download conference attracts a mixture of corporate and higher-ed folks focused on on-the-job training for adults. It may be that their organizations value learning and professional development enough to allow them to carve out 4 ½ hours on a Friday afternoon for a fun, informal and fast-paced learning exchange. And I’m glad they did.
Megan Torrance is founder and CEO of TorranceLearning, which designs and develops custom technology-based learning solutions, and a Trustee at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum.
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