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The pandemic has transformed the way we learn. Being able to quickly adapt through a well-thought-out pivot has never been more important. Hear how Mary Glowacka, former Vice President of Leadership Development & Engagement at Bank of America, transformed a blended wellness program for managers into an online program for everyone. Explore how building a learning culture enables a rapid response to change. Find out why a human-centered approach is the key to effective learning.

Mary Glowacka pivoting during a pandemic

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Don’t have time to listen now? Here are some top tips from Mary:

  1. Don’t be afraid to pivot your approach: The art of the possible is greater than you think. Respond to change. Pivot your approach and learn from the results.
  2. Build a learning culture ready to adapt: Recognize that learning isn’t a finite process. Make continuous learning a strategic imperative so you’re ready to respond to change.
  3. Take a human-centered approach: Check in with your people. Understand their behaviors, preferences and pain points. Build solutions that work for them.
  4. Be an advocate for putting people first: Build bridges between your learners and leadership. Lobby for effective needs analysis. Be an advocate for great learning in your organization.

Top tips for successfully adapting to change

1. Don’t be afraid to pivot your approach

The global pandemic has seen people rapidly adopting new approaches. Mary kicked off an emotional wellness program for managers in March 2020. The program’s entry point was a series of face-to-face sessions. But after five days, she had to cancel these and rethink the approach.

By pivoting from face-to-face to digital, the program gained a much larger audience . Rather than managers sharing their learning, the program was open to everyone. It reached thousands of people and got great feedback.

2. Build a learning culture ready to adapt

We live in an age of accelerated change. What was essential learning two years ago may not be relevant today. So, how can you keep up?

For Mary, it’s key that you recognize that learning is not a finite process. It’s a lifelong commitment . If your people are going to have the skills required for success, learning needs to be a strategic imperative. It’s not just about providing development. It’s about building a culture that supports continuous learning.

3. Take a human-centered approach

Learners’ behaviors, preferences and pain points are constantly evolving. If you’re going to focus your efforts in the right places, you need to get their perspective.

Mary takes regular pulse checks. She understands that learning is only effective if it’s grounded in what people really need. By finding out what they want, and seeing what obstacles they face, she can build solutions that work.

Mary Glowacka quote

4. Be an advocate for putting people first

It doesn’t end with understanding your learners. Your organization needs to support this human-centered approach . So how can you bridge the gap between people and leadership?

Mary sees her role as that of an internal lobbyist. She provides ongoing advocacy for what good learning looks like in her organizations. That doesn’t mean throwing out old methods or disregarding expertise. Instead, it’s about understanding people’s needs and translating that into an effective blend of learning approaches.

A quick recap

When the global pandemic paused her emotional wellness program, Mary decided to take it in a different direction. And the results were even better than expected. She has four strategies for responding to change. Don’t be afraid to pivot your approach. Build a learning culture ready to respond to change. Take a human-centered approach to build solutions that work for your people. Be an advocate for great learning and build bridges between leadership and your learners.

Want to find out more? Check out the full podcast.

About Mary

With over 10 years’ experience in L&D, Mary has worked at Nespresso, Serco and Ernst & Young. She joined Bank of America in 2017. As Vice President of EMEA Leadership Development & Engagement, she’s responsible for transformation projects across the organization.

You can find out more and get connected with Mary on LinkedIn .

On Mary’s reading list

Find out which books are Mary’s learning and development must-reads.

Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business, Erin Meyer

Effective communication is vital in a global business. This book helps Mary navigate cultural differences and achieve mutual understanding.

Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World, General Stanley McChrystal

Want to create a learning environment based on trust? Mary recommends taking inspiration from the approaches used in the military.

Intelligent Disobedience: The Difference between Good and Great Leaders, Bob McGannon

Obeying all rules doesn’t generate new approaches. But breaking the rules randomly also doesn’t work. This book explores how intelligent disobedience is the difference between good and great leaders.

Looking for more reading tips? Check out our book blog .

Join the conversation!

We’d love to hear your thoughts on our podcast, so feel free to get in touch on Twitter @learningatlarge with any questions or queries. You can also email Simon, our podcast host, at simon@elucidat.com. As always, don’t forget to subscribe to Learning at Large in your favorite podcast app and leave us a 5-star rating if you enjoyed it. Thank you for joining us, and see you next time.

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