My learning journey continues…
One of the most exciting things about working as an independent learning practitioner, trainer and consultant is choosing when, and who, you want to work with. Sometimes it’s lovely to design and work on your own and serve your clients with solutions that meet their business needs. In our super-fast connected world, social media means that you’re never really that very far away from a professional colleague – or two, especially when working on your own isn’t motivating enough for you anymore.
Remaining independent and working for yourself can be exciting and lonely in equal amounts.
Now it seems, it’s becoming more and more popular for independent practitioners to work collaboratively. Whether it’s working together on a client project or speaking at conferences on the stage with a colleague, learning to work as part of a team again after spending time on your own, can be challenging.
- How do you retain your hard-fought independence when you now face working within someone else’s business brand? And do you even want to?
- How do you feel about having to discuss everything with others before making a decision, when you could do this on your own before?
- What if you get too used to working as a team player and it makes it hard for you to work independently again?
These are great questions and certainly ones to be considered when you work as an independent practitioner. Since I started working on my own in 2002, there have been many times when I am asked to be part of a short-term project-led team, and I love the challenge. Even more so when the team members come from many different disciplines and cultural backgrounds and countries.
Well for three reasons.
- Firstly, it is great to re-use the very management and leadership skills that I train others in and remind myself of the days when I was a real manager of people (in my last substantive role before becoming an independent). The text book tells you how to manage people, however, really managing people is such a fluid and changeable skill that it needs to be practised regularly to keep it fresh and current and in order to understand its complexities.
- Secondly, it is so easy to become insular when you work independently. We would all like to think that we retain a certain level of objectivity, however, it can become harder and harder the longer that we work as an independent. Seeing things from a different perspective and acknowledging feedback from others without feeling like we want to defend our position is very often what we ask learners to do in a training session. Working in a team again can revitalise this skill in us once more.
- Thirdly, being held accountable for your actions (as part of a short-term team working arrangement as opposed to being part of a mastermind group which approaches it a little differently) re-teaches us the very skills that we trainers pride ourselves in. Skills such as listening, communicating, project managing, time managing and negotiating.
Working as part of a team again after time on your own can be challenging, but so rewarding. I am really looking forward to my next new adventure working with two of my trans-national project team members PLUS a virtual team of twenty trainers, coaches and facilitators on a new and exciting project funded by the European Commission.
Fingers crossed that we all come out of this enriched by the experience.
Until next time ~ happy learning!
Professional Trainer, Learning Specialist Designer & Voice-Over