It’s been almost two weeks since we ran our last Festival of Learning webinar, and we are missing them (and everyone who came along) already. What started out as a simple way for our team to share their knowledge and celebrate the power of learning quickly evolved into a community of likeminded people, all eager to learn, but also to share their own experiences and insight.

Knowing which topics to focus on during an event like this is always tricky, there are so many things we could talk about, and in a different world we may have chosen very different themes to focus on. However, with things the way they are, it seemed only natural to choose topics that would help people deal with the challenges they are facing in the here and now.

On a highly practical level, everyone is using Microsoft Teams or some other video conferencing software right now. Many of us have been thrust into this virtual world of communication with little preparation or training, and while most of us are muddling through, there are people who want to do more than muddle, and we hope our intro to Using Microsoft Teams for Communication and Collaboration helped make this part of ‘the new normal’ feel a little less overwhelming.

Coaching skills, however, was all about finding ways to help others cope better with the scenario we’re all in. If you’re a manager or leader sometimes you need to know what questions to ask to help bring the best out of your people. We’ve found that developing some basic coaching skills and having a simple model to follow is a great starting point to have these conversations and help empower your employees to find and use their own strengths.

What do you do if it’s you, yourself, that needs some help finding a solution to a tricky problem? That’s what we focused on in our third webinar on Creative Problem Solving, and the key is to decide what kind of problem you’re trying to solve. Once you know this, you can then explore the options available to solve it. However, it’s not just the problem itself you need to understand, but also how your own personality influences your personal problem-solving style, and this is where completing a psychometric profile, such as Lumia Spark can be hugely beneficial and insightful.

Our session on Mental Toughness and Mental Health were definitely the most popular sessions, and to us that reinforces what we’re hearing: people are struggling. However, the popularity of the session also signals to us that people are still hopeful, they want practical advice on how to deal with the current challenges and move forward, because they know this will not last forever.

Despite all that has happened, people are still eager to learn. They want to know how they can bounce back from adversity and build the skills that will keep them progressing. Understanding the four Cs of Mental Toughness (Control, Commitment, Confidence, and Challenge), and the elements of the PERMA Model (Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and Achievement) is a great step towards building mental toughness and resilience, and these are definitely skills we all need right now.

What We Learned

For us, running these webinars was all about helping people find ways to cope during this bizarre time, and the feedback we received has shown just how important these kinds of events are right now.

One of the attendees from our Mental Toughness sessions said, ‘I found the whole subject fascinating which has been heightened by the pandemic. Finding coping mechanisms at this time is very important especially when you are trying to support others.’

Another commented on our coaching skills session to say, ‘It was great to be offered these free sessions to demonstrate what is available. I found it very useful and will be adopting the technique at work.’

We also had some brilliant ideas about how we can improve our events in the future, and we cannot wait to put that feedback into practice. The incredible response and engagement we had from the sessions has reinforced our belief that there is more we can do to help people during this time, and it’s thanks to all of the people who attended that we’re planning to launch a monthly webinar on resilience and wellbeing related topics.

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