Working Cohesively in a Distributed Team

Bee Hepburn is the Education and Content Manager at cloud-based accounting platform provider, Xero. Her team provide education and content to Xero’s external customers. Bee and I initially explored how her team created their learning strategy. However, we soon realised that there was a bigger story to be told – one that relates to an experience that will be familiar to many learning professionals listening to this episode.

Bee’s team of 90 people are spread across six regions around the globe. If you work in a distributed or decentralised learning team you will understand some of the difficulties that this presents in thinking and working as one team. These are exacerbated if your structure is federated, where you have multiple learning teams in an organisation with different reporting lines. This was the case when Bee stepped into her role two years ago.

After discussing the challenges that existed, Bee describes how a new sense of purpose has been created across the team and what they have done in order to work cohesively and effectively. Whether you are a leader or a member of a distributed learning team, listen out for lots of practical approaches and tools for improving how your team collaborates.

Episode Highlights

– pros and cons of different structures for the learning function in an organisation
– demonstrating the viability of a single reporting line for learning professionals to business stakeholders
– overcoming silos and building cohesion in a distributed team
– drawing a line in the sand and building trust
– how the team created and implemented their learning strategy
– the Strategy On A Page (SOAP) format (you’ll find a sample template in the show notes)
– catchphrases as enablers of how you work e.g. ‘think locally, act globally,’ ‘quality over quantity’
– collaboration tools and approaches that the team uses

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Learning Uncut guests come from all sorts of organisations. They’re learning professionals or business leaders rolling up their sleeves and giving things a go. Vendors are welcome to speak about a specific solution implemented in a client organisation, preferably along with someone from that organisation.

Each episode is a 30-40 minute a case study about a specific solution, project or initiative. It must be something that has been implemented in an organisation and had a demonstrable impact. Your approach may have included innovative approaches, or a more traditional approach done very well. In addition to discussing what went well you must be willing to discuss challenges and issues faced, plus share tips with listeners.

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