Notes from “Unleashing your true potential – Self-reflection & growth” @LJMU-  workshop Led by Dr Teeroumanee Nadan

By Dr Teeroumanee Nadan, ARLT SIG

This blog was originally posted on 29th Feb 2024 on Dr Teeroumanee Nadan’s blog

28th Feb 2024 was not just any regular workshop that I usually lead, but it was the first in-person event of ARLT SIG, which came to fruition after months of discussions with LJMU’s Diversity and Inclusion Team, in collaboration with their Ethnically Diverse Staff Network.

So last year I happened to have that crazy idea of setting a challenge for the first ARLT SIG in-person event, and that was, to go all in – to mobilise a whole university and create the spark for a bigger impact.

Every time I talked about the in-person event to Dr Olatunde Durowoju, ARLT SIG Vice Chair and also staff of LJMU, I kept growing the challenge and was coming up with ideas of who should get involved and why. Let’s say that between us both, the very first such workshop dedicated solely to ethnically diverse staff at LJMU was delivered.

The strategy was to include the Diversity and Inclusion Team and the Ethnically Diverse Staff Network so they could use the workshop for the Race Equality Charter evidence as well – although it was I who initially had the idea of the workshop and also designed and delivered it free of cost, it was a way for LJMU to get involved and also to support the delivery of the workshop by providing the venue and associated expenses.

On 28th Feb, participants, who were ethnically diverse staff of LJMU, met around the theme of “Unleashing your true potential – Self-reflection & growth” – in line with ARLT SIG’s theme for the year – people-centric strategies for change.

The workshop was targeted to:

  • Ethnically Diverse Staff from LJMU or North-West Universities
  • Staff who are seeking to get through the next level of promotion and recognition
  • Staff who are thinking about what is next in their career path
  • Staff who are seeking self-development
  • Staff at junior or mid-level

I summarise briefly in this blog the topics I covered. I had designed the workshop in 3 stages:

👉Pre-event activity (online)

👉Workshop (in-person)

👉Post-event activity – follow-up (online)

I appreciate the participants who showed up on the day, particularly for the fact that this was a completely FREE full-package workshop.

Pre-event activity

This was an exercise I set for the participants to reflect on themselves. From my experience, reflection is not something that most staff within HE do, and even if some do reflect, they may not necessarily know how to do it. I often find people boasting about themselves in their reflections and fail to reflect on what they need to work on.

I had particularly set the reflection to be person-centric, as most workshops/trainings delivered in HE are institution-centric, and my approach was very well appreciated by the participants as evidenced here.

Great workshops! I have learnt that my time is valuable and being busy isn’t as important as what I am busy doing. I feel like more sessions on this topic is helpful, having more space to focus on US not on the institution.

My personal thoughts: I anticipated that this part would be difficult for staff who have never reflected, and indeed it was. Therefore I colour code the printout of their responses for them to work on. During the registration time, I covered their relevant colour-coded responses to give them a head start for the subsequent activities on the day.

In-person workshop

The initial plan was to deliver the workshop followed by a sit-down lunch. As usual, things did not go as planned, the 2nd room booking got cancelled.

Here is a list of topics I specifically tailored for that workshop:

  1. Focus
  2. Answer the WHYs
  3. Where change starts
  4. Decision making
  5. Time & movement
  6. Communication & visibility
  7. Final reflections & feedback

My personal thoughts: Answering the WHYs is something that most people struggle with, it is difficult to answer why you do something – most of the time we have been conditioned to think a certain way, act a certain way and make decisions in a certain way, which may not apply anymore to our current life situation. For people of colour this may be particularly accentuated, because of generational trauma or simply generational fear.

The staff attending the workshop were junior and/or mid-level, let’s say they were all very busy noting down every single thing I was saying – every single topic resonated with them. I am glad to have offered them new perspectives.

Although the workshop was scheduled to end at 2.30pm, I had found myself talking and covering materials even during the short lunch, we even cut down on the breaks and extended the session to 4pm for those who wanted to stay, I obviously over-delivered, and yes the participants did stay even though we had to change rooms. Sadly though, I will not be able to offer another full package workshop free of cost to LJMU again. Any HEI willing to have a repeat of my services will have to pay for my services.

If possible to have the workshop not just for one day, it would be good to have at least 2 to 3 days workshops

As usual small group sessions like this help to build connections and I was glad to observe that participants were coming up with suggestions for each other – who to meet, what department to email, etc. I hope they will maintain this connection beyond. And here is a picture of us on the day – it does not do the participants justice, it was taken after 4pm after I had wrapped up for the day.

At the back from left to right- Asama, Yeni, Johanna, Fredrick. In the front, me with Beatrice. The photo does not do the participants justice, it was taken at the very end after we had changed rooms, so a few were missing.

Online follow-up

I have offered 2 follow-up sessions of 2 hours each after 3 weeks. I look forward to following up with the participants on how they have applied what they learnt at work and/or in their personal lives as most of the content I covered is transferrable – that is once they start to strategise their growth, they will see growth in all areas of their lives, and that is why is it important for us to show up for ourselves in all areas of our lives. Check out this blog “How you do one thing is how you do everything“.

I also offered a FREE 6-month follow-up via email and a few participants have taken up this offer.

Moving forward

I thought I would highlight one particular feedback – yes it is a way of selling my own work – after all why not? – and also a way of recognising that anyone can still deliver a full package and high-quality workshop if one wants. As Chair of ARLT SIG, I am committed to creating impact and therefore offering my time and effort for ONE FREE workshop at interested institutions.

Priortising decision management, realising the academic environment is essential, setting clear goals. Teeroumanee is proficient, good listener and insightful I would highly recommend

I am now planning with Amin Neghavati, ARLT SIG External Engagement Officer, a similar workshop at the University of Bath; fingers crossed, that their POC network will buy into this event.

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