I bet you can think back pretty easily and find someone in your past who appeared to be going through the motions in their job. Maybe a teacher for example who appeared to be on auto-pilot for an entire year, droning on and on without much enthusiasm for the subject matter. Looking back, it’s as if that person should have gave way to someone else who would have put more energy and enthusiasm into the job.
What I believe really is happening with such people is that they’ve lost the enthusiasm to innovate and make the subject matter they are teaching interesting – both for the students in their classes and more importantly for themselves. I feel for these people because they have rich backgrounds, know their subjects very well and at one time were probably held in high regard. The problem sometimes is stagnation; doing the same thing over and over without variety, an infusion of creativity and the result is a bland message without any passion for the subject matter.
Now you and I would do well to remember those folks from our past who got into those ruts. We can and should learn not make the same errors and become like them. Today is a good example in my own life of trying something different. I am hopeful of great success in what I’m starting today.
You see, I facilitate employment-related workshops for people in receipt of social assistance. Come the 19th of January, I’ll have 12 people hand-picked by my colleagues and pre-interviewed by myself who I will be helping to land job interviews and hopefully if all goes to plan, employment offers. I’ve been doing this workshop every couple of months since early 2011. Now that is not all that long ago in the grand scheme of things, and every client present as a unique person with their own set of employment barriers. But I find great personal satisfaction in shaking things up a little, as it keeps things fresh for me, and hopefully improves the experience for participants.
This time around, I will have in my class a former participant who ended up gaining employment, then lost her job and returned to school. Now with school complete, she is again job searching, and both she and her Employment Placement Consultant think it would improve her chances of success in finding a job to go through the class a second time with me. What she’d get out of an intense job searching program a second time is the disciplined environment, the focus on job searching intensely for 10 consecutive days, and the support of an Employment Counsellor throughout.
So what is new and innovative? Where’s the creative part? Ah, well what I’ve proposed to do is allow this participant a chance to actually do some co-facilitation. The course she took back in school is some advocacy on behalf of others, and so it seems like a good fit to take someone who has gone through the course before and has chosen a career which might involve some leadership and group facilitation, and build-in the opportunity for her to lead a session under guidance and supervision.
What we’ll be doing later on this morning is meeting to go over the range of topics to be covered and find out which she might be able to take on a lead facilitation role. This not only gives her the chance to lead, but it puts a new skill on her resume in the future and equally importantly, 2015 experience on her resume. But personally, it also stretches me a tad more. You see now I’m involved in mentoring someone, preparing them to take charge, sitting back a bit when it would be natural for me to jump up and facilitate. I’ll have to help her prepare herself for this added role, yet remember too that she is job searching herself and not get her too much into the facilitation so that she has time to look for work herself. It’s finding the balance.
And on top of all this, I have to be prepared to take over and lead as I’ve always done, for what if she should get called out for an interview or get hired and not be there to lead a session we had agreed she would? Yes, being prepared for such an eventuality is critically important.
It’s a delicate balance in another respect too. One has to be cognizant of confidentiality concerns. Whereas I want to know the ins and outs of all the participants and their personal barriers, I can’t divulge this to her being a client herself. Is that important? It sure makes the learning more personal and beneficial if I can tailor the experience to someone or tread cautiously when discussing areas which might otherwise trigger strong reactions.
This is just a small example of thinking creatively and adding some innovation. Hopefully by implementing this idea, I provide greater buy-in from the client herself, give her new skills and experience to add to her resume, and still convey to the class participants the information originally intended. And of course, I personally develop a little in a new way which is good for me.
So my suggestion is to look for new ways to be creative and innovative in the work you do. Be aware of the pitfall of falling into what is easy and tried and true. Sometimes what’s easy isn’t always what we should do.