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Maintaining standards across a global human network
Being a member of a team can provide us with incredibly rewarding opportunities for personal and professional growth, but it is not always easy. Differences in personality types, motivations and personal standards, along with a myriad of other hard to pinpoint factors, can all contribute to making the act of contributing to a team effort just that little bit harder than it should be.
Over time, members of a group who are consistently carrying out duties or tasks with which they become very familiar, can find themselves falling victim to a kind of creeping complacency that whilst unintentional, can undermine the efforts of not just themselves, but of the group or network as a whole.
For members of an adaptive human network that is spread all over the world, one of the core challenges is how we can achieve and maintain exceptionally high standards of both professional and personal conduct in order to provide our clients and end users with the best possible service. This is no easy feat – particularly because of the ‘remote-control’ nature of the global adaptive network model and because many of the members of the network have likely never met each other. The independence of the members of the network is a crucial strength that underpins its adaptability and responsiveness, yet it can also create a disconnect that can allow the members to drift off into a state of low motivation and carelessness.
Global Continual Professional Development
Continual Professional Development (CPD) and ongoing training is an essential part of any rewarding work. With the advances in online learning, webinar technology and increased access to learning resources that we all have available to us, implementing a system of developmental training is now relatively easy – even on a global scale.
Of course, people respond to people. One of the most common criticisms of online learning is the lack of human interaction between the learner and the teacher. This is a very valid concern as the student / teacher relationship has been seen throughout history to be a fundamental part of the learning journey that extends well beyond the simple concept of knowledge transfer from one person to another. However, remote learning does not have to be done at the expense of a highly valuable instructional relationship.
Several years ago, with the Victvs Global Network, we implemented a recruitment and training process that incorporates standardised, assessed learning delivered through online courses and resources, with instructor-led, one on one learning consolidation and then on-task practical training wherever possible. This system has proven to be an extremely efficient and effective way of delivering high-impact training to a large number of people across multiple borders, time zones, languages and cultures.
Maintaining a commitment to learning
As people, our enthusiasm for doing something well is often highest right at the start. As a result, initial training, guidance and encouragement should not be left to fall away and for the member of the network to become detached from the clear sense of purpose that provided them with the drive to complete their initial training to become a member. We must find a way to maintain the energy, uphold our standards and continually re-engage the people in a network with the core values and beliefs that are behind the work that they are doing. Without this solid base of reference to act as the foundation to the networks activities, it is likely to show signs of weakness through the actions of its members.
The key is the members of the network themselves. Poorly motivated people perform badly, whilst well motivated, well trained members of a group who vividly feel their connection to all the other members, perform their duties with a sense of real purpose. A clear understanding of the philosophy and ethos behind the group’s work is critical. If the members of a network cannot answer the question of why they are doing whatever they have been asked to do, then they have no clear reference point from which to make the kinds of quick decisions and judgements that they will be required to do in the course of their work, that facilitate success when done well and that bring things crashing to a halt when done poorly.
In 1835, Thomas Carlyle (Scottish author and social commentator) asked his friend John Stuart Mill to read a draft of his new book ‘History of the French Revolution’. The book had taken over a year to write with Carlyle working relentlessly to get it finished. One night, Mill came to Carlyle and explained to him that his maid (who could not read) had mistakenly burned the book on Mill’s fire. In this instance (and assuming that this is the true version of events…), the maid was required to carry out her duties and presumably needed to light the fire. Instead of recognising that the book was important and valuable based on a decision framework informed by a clear understanding of the purpose, aim and philosophy behind the work of her employer and his friend, she had no real sense of the purpose of the document and thusly could not make an informed decision about whether to burn it or not. (Of course, she should not have burned the book…)
Training, re-training, ongoing development and strong communications are critical to the successful development and maintenance of a set of standards throughout both local and global human networks. At Victvs, we are in continual communication with all of the members of all of our networks. Our team leaders and managers know and understand every one of our members in the same way that they would if they worked in the same office. We look after our people both in and out of work and the members of our network communicate directly between themselves – providing mutual support to each other that strengthens the bonds between us. Over time, we have developed quality management training and monitoring methods that allow us to provide our members with additional knowledge whilst refreshing their sense of connection to our network. Of course, we rely on modern technology to assist us in this – but not at the expense of our focus on our people.
Maintaining individual and group standards throughout a global network is not impossible. It is challenging and it can come up short, but with the right practical steps and a positive attitude, adaptive human networks and the people who make them, have almost limitless potential.
If you have any ideas about this topic or any of our work at Victvs, then I would love to hear them.
Keep up the good work everyone!
 Some have suggested that perhaps Mill burned Carlyle’s manuscript out of jealousy…