This time last year I was in our Boston and then New York offices for two of our global development programmes. Between the first and second weeks, it felt like I was running just ahead of a wave as the impact of COVID started to hit and the second programme was cancelled. Within a week all our London training was online including our Trainee Training Camp which went from in-person to remote overnight.
Fast forward a year and I just had the pleasure of chairing an event for the City of London Law Society’s Training Committee, at which firms shared how they had responded to training needs during the pandemic and how they are planning to navigate the return to offices. There were three themes that stood out for me:
New Appreciation for Training: The pandemic has been a catalyst for dramatic change in the way we all deliver training. It has also been a time where the contribution of learning and development teams has never been more evident. They have demonstrated their value: in terms of developing people at pace to respond to the new working environment and also helping to foster a strong sense of community by providing opportunities to meet around a common purpose.
Attendance has never been higher, nor the pool of potential speakers wider, with everyone keen to have their voices heard and hear each other.
New Mindset: Our IT training colleagues excelled in ensuring a smooth transition to the various new tools and in the virtual training room I’ve seen initial hesitancy turn to pride as presenters have become increasingly confident navigating the functionality of Zoom and other platforms. The sense of achievement and reminder of their own adaptability has already led to a shift in attitude with a greater openness to learning new things and being outside their comfort zones. I’m confident this will continue as we get ready for this next transition.
New Topics: This growth mindset is evident in the way new training topics have quickly been embraced. Before the pandemic I launched our ‘Robot Proofing for Lawyers’ skills programme. It was a significant departure from previous programmes and I was unsure how it would be received. It turned out that sessions on growth mindset, effective collaboration, inclusive communication, navigating change, and harnessing doubt for better decision-making were just what was needed and such sessions have earned their place in our regular curriculum.
The last 12 months have been the busiest, but also the most satisfying, of my time in Learning and Development. Only eight months into my new role, I found opportunities to meet and work with colleagues in other offices immediately multiplied, because - with the use of Zoom - my physical location was no longer a factor.
The best part though has been the way my team has responded. Early in the pandemic I remember giving thanks daily that I was able to rely on them the way I have. They have been tested repeatedly, both personally and professionally, and they have responded with a professionalism, empathy and agility, which has made this a year on which, for that at least, I will look back fondly.