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Giving unwanted advice

Advising someone can be a challenging task. How do you know if you have the knowledge and all the background information to give the best suggestions? How do you ask the difficult questions? These are everyday quandaries for Sara Eriksson, who works as a Learning Advisor. She gives advice to customers on how to use learning to drive change in their organisations.

When I started working at Aleido five years ago, my main focus was on writing learning content for our customers. I didn’t realise it then, but I started advising right from the start. Because that’s what we do as consultants. We help our customers, and we often have specific expertise we share with them. It is the reason why they turn to us in the first place.


In my first projects, I struggled finding the balance in how much to challenge the customers with what I thought was the best solution to support learning. It felt important to me to respect their insight into their own organisation and the subject. But still, I wanted to provide value through my experience and knowledge. Then I heard from a colleague that he received the following feedback from a customer:

“You always ask such difficult questions. That’s a typical Aleido moment.”

It made me think that maybe we should dare to challenge even more. This customer seemed a bit frustrated, but most of all thankful for those tough questions he had to answer. He realised that they added a lot of value.

“It is when we are a bit uncomfortable – when we ask those difficult questions – that we really help.”

Sara Eriksson, Learning Advisor at Aleido

Asking the difficult questions

I learned a lot from that colleague, and the feedback the customer gave. It is when we are a bit uncomfortable – when we ask those difficult questions – that we really help.

In my current role, I use this to build up the courage to give advice, both when asked for and especially in situations where it is not explicitly requested. Here are two common scenarios of that:

Scenario 1

Sometimes, the customer has an idea of an area to cover in a course. But when we analyse the learning need and talk to the target audience, we can find that the real issue is within a different area. Maybe we need to focus on leadership training instead of process training to reach the desired change. In those cases, it is up to us to highlight this and explain why we see a better effect of a different learning initiative.

Scenario 2

What the customer asks for, is not always what is best to deliver. For example, if a customer requests a one-day online webinar, we need to evaluate if that is the best method for the participants to learn the objectives. It may lead to a few difficult questions from us about what it is they want to achieve and what possibilities there are to support other types of learning situations. In the end, we may find that a different setup would be more efficient, say, for example, a few short digital modules, followed by a 1-hour online workshop.

So, I keep challenging myself to challenge our customers to help them in the best possible way. With both wanted and unwanted advice.


Name: Sara Eriksson
Title: Learning Advisor
Education: MSc in Learning & Leadership (Chalmers University of Technology), Teacher’s degree for Upper Secondary School, BSc in Industrial Design (Chalmers University of Technology)
Worked at Aleido since: 2018

About Aleido Voices

A series of articles for everyone wondering what it’s like to work at Aleido. With Aleido Voices our employees get to highlight certain exciting aspects of their jobs.

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