Let me start by saying how very proud I am. I’m proud of our bold experts who so enthusiastically adopted our new coaching programme. The target was to enhance experts’ understanding of the changes in Fingrid’s operating environment and stakeholder expectations, and to improve their ability to be messengers for the company.
A lot of companies have recognised the importance of influential communication and good interaction. This is actually one of today’s megatrends. Interaction skills will be high on the list of required job skills in the future. I recently read that the ability to communicate is the most important indicator of success in police work. Many problem situations can actually be solved by talking.
Our group of 30 experts set out to challenge themselves in a coaching programme – the impact of which we couldn’t be sure about. Expectations were high and that also inspired the name – Loikka. The programme began with an introduction to the company’s operating environment. How is the world changing and why do we have to change with it? The energy industry is going through a major transformation. Change can’t be ignored, and the only way to influence the direction of it is to be part of the process. Interaction and communication methods are ways to influence change.
Loikka went straight to the heart of the matter. It inspired the question: How well do you know yourself? Are you ready to encounter different types of people? And above all, are you truly present in different interaction situations? In the words of one of our Loikka participants, are you listening to the voices or do you only hear noise? True presence and listening to other people increases trust, which subsequently leads to a lot of good things.
The starting point for Loikka was to develop self-awareness and to take responsibility for personal development and personal actions. This theme continues all the way to influencing society. It was great to hear the stories of development after the programme ended.
We heard about one expert whose assignment involved developing the electricity market’s so-called 15-minute balancing project. Attitudes toward the project were critical, but our expert began by really listening to the feedback and finding out why people resisted it. Loikka encouraged a second participant to influence how children’s education was organised in their home municipality. A third overcame a fear of performing and took to the stage in front of a large crowd. A fourth person changed their approach to dealing with negative feedback from a stakeholder.
People became more willing to step out of their comfort zone. How about this story? Our IT expert was given the task of explaining new IT projects and changes in the software palette at an internal event. He began by telling a story about penguins. The story described how their iceberg was melting and Fred the penguin was trying to get the penguin community to look for a new glacier. This is a classic story about the stages of change management. In order to make an even stronger impression, our IT expert asked people to close their eyes and relax for a moment. When we opened our eyes, our expert was standing there in a penguin costume. Fred had arrived to tell us about the changes.
The Loikka participants learned the importance of interaction and the fact that each one of us can make an impact and achieve progress. A sense of understanding developed. Then they learned the meaning of being present, and how important it is to take other people into consideration and communicate in a way that listeners understand. The heart began beating. Finally, they were given tools to support communication: How to tell a story and make contact with an audience, and how to be themselves and get involved. The first steps were taken. That is the recipe for influential communication.