It’s been almost two weeks since I posted our last tip in our new video series for 2019 on creating an environment that fosters employee growth and development. Tip #2 was to support your employees’ career aspirations. But I’m back today with Tip #3: set an example by being a positive role model for continuous learning.
Set the example as a continuous learner
Don’t just tell your people that you believe in employee growth and development, show them. If you expect them to continue to develop and grow as employees, then be prepared to also walk the talk.
Demonstrate that you are a continuous learner by attending training programs – both shorter lunch-and-learn sessions, and longer full-day or extended programs. Display that you’re open to new learning by listening to what the subject matter experts on your team have to say. And ask intelligent questions about the information they are sharing to show that you value their expertise. If you’re not completely up to speed on the nuances of social media, ask your tech-savvy staff to reveal some of their favourite tips and tricks. Even better, have one of them do a short presentation at your next team meeting.
My point is that if you want your staff to buy into employee growth and development, then you need to set an example by doing the same. So be a positive role model.
I’ll be back next week (I promise) with the next strategy in this series. But in the meantime, I’d like to know what you think. What gets in the way of you investing in continuous learning? I’ll tell you what I hear most often – lack of time for supervisors and managers. Is that true for you as well? How do you get past it? Please share your experiences by commenting below.
Earlier this month, I promised that this year I would give you a series of frequent quick video blogs focusing specifically on ways to develop employees – explicit, pragmatic and actionable ideas to develop and grow your people not only into accomplished professionals, but also the future leaders in your organization. Today, I am excited to kick off this brand-new series with one specific suggestion that I hope you’ll find quick and easy to implement. And expect more of the same in the weeks and months to come.
Invest in training
So here is the first instalment in ways to develop employees: invest in training. Not much of a surprise, is it? The key word here is “invest”. An investment creates an expectation of a positive return on that investment, and thoughtful, good-quality training rarely disappoints. When you invest time and money into training and professional development for your people, it tells them that you value them, and it is this very aspect of the training investment that causes people to pay attention, absorb and put their learnings into action, all for the benefit of your organization.
Two common objections
Now I’ve heard many of the common objections to this strategy. Continue reading
Garbage in, garbage out is a phrase I learned in one of my first-year Computer Science classes, back in my university days. It was used to express the important concept that incorrect or poor quality input will always produce faulty output. I learned this phrase in the context of computers, but it’s a phrase that is just as easily applicable to the world of work. Except, in recent times, I think we might have forgotten it.
Whether it’s hiring employees, sourcing out raw materials, or investing in training, I see repeated examples of short-sighted managers focusing only on solving the immediate problem. Staff shortage? Let’s hire the first warm body that seems to have the required modicum of skills. Need to cut costs? Let’s find the cheapest material inputs. New software or processes? Let’s give our people the bare minimum of training and get them back to doing “real work” as soon as possible.
The problem with “Garbage in, garbage out”
The problem of course with all these approaches is what I said earlier – garbage in, garbage out. When you are desperate enough to hire the first applicant simply because he meets the required minimums, you’ll never get off the turnover treadmill. When your entire focus is on trying to find cheaper average inputs, your final product will always be of poor quality. When you shortchange your people on the training they need, you’ll find yourself having to waste time and money doing it again later. Continue reading
Over the holiday season, I mentioned to a young person in my life how our educational audio CDs on our site don’t sell as well as our digital downloadable products. “CDs are so 1998!” she scoffed. I had to laugh at her candour. There’s a lot of truth in what she said, but I still listen to CDs and I’m willing to bet that some of you do as well. Yeah, I know, I just dated myself, but I’m okay with that. Nevertheless, I pride myself in at least trying to stay hip and happenin’! So in the spirit of staying current in the 21st century, we decided here in my office to clear out our inventory of educational audio CDs.
Over 80% off the regular price
From now until February 15 (or until inventory runs out), we’re putting all the audio CDs on my site on sale! For an unheard of price of $13 each! These are normally priced at $67, so if you are still a CD listener, these are an incredible bargain. There are 22 different titles to choose from – giving effective feedback, having difficult conversations, juggling your workload, to name just three – and each one covers step-by-step, how-to specifics on just about every common workplace leadership dilemma you might face. Each CD comes with a downloadable note-taking outline that you can use to capture your key takeaways.
You can’t beat $13!
At this price, this is a very cost-effective way to build your leadership toolkit. The sale price applies to CDs only, not our digital download products, but if you live in Canada or the continental United States, shipping is still free. And if you live elsewhere, we’ll advise you of the very nominal shipping charge and get your approval before we ship.
Use code ITIS2018 at checkout
This never-before price is in effect only as long as inventories last or until February 15, whichever comes first. SO DON’T DELAY! Visit our Leadership Store and use code ITIS2018 at checkout.
As a leader, you recognize the value of investing in training for your employees. A skilled workforce leads to improved performance and productivity, which means that your staff can do their jobs more effectively on a day-to-day basis. When people understand their roles, they know how to achieve positive outcomes, and operate more productively. When you equip your employees with the skills they need to embrace new techniques and procedures, you also maintain your competitiveness. And when you invest in employee training, you positively impact employee morale and commitment, and eventually performance levels. All of which means that you want your investment in employee training to not only be useful in the short-term but also last in the long-term!
What makes employee training effective?
So what does it take to make employee training effective? What is it that ensures that your people are able to understand what is being taught AND influences them to take action? The answer, not surprisingly, can be found in the education profession. School teachers are well aware of the value of formative assessment tools to help students learn more effectively. Essentially, formative assessment strategies are a range of procedures used by school teachers to progressively modify teaching and learning activities when working with students. And these same tools can be just as powerful when it comes to employee training. Here are four strategies that teachers use with school children that can be just as effective for leaders to use in the workplace with employees. Continue reading
Last year, one of my regular columns in The Globe & Mail was titled Three reasons to ignore your company’s policy manual and in it, I made the case for being flexible in the application of company rules and policies. Which might lead one to think that I’m against policy and procedure manuals. But regular readers of the blog will know that I’m not; in fact, I happen to think that procedure manuals are definitely worth the effort, particularly when it comes to training employees, or dealing with crisis situations. The best way for me to explain this apparent contradiction is to use the metaphor of an old-fashioned combination lock. If you know the correct numbers and the right sequence for a specific combination lock, then you can be guaranteed that the lock will open. Sure, you may get a little confused, or your hands may shake while you’re spinning the dial, but if the numbers and sequence are accurate, and despite the fact that you may need several tries, the ultimate outcome is that the lock will open.
Think about your procedure manual as the established record of the required numbers and sequence in a combination lock. When needed, employees can gain access to this information, and even if they are inexperienced or unnerved, they can still deal with the situation; they can still open the lock to get the outcome they desire. Continue reading
As a leader, you know that employee training is important. And for most people, training translates to “teaching” – a structured or unstructured process to convey information from an expert who knows to those who don’t. But as someone who has worked for years to help people develop and hone their leadership skills, I can tell you that the best training is not “teaching”, it’s “learning”; in fact, it’s “learning by watching” and “learning by doing”. I know this sounds like I’m splitting hairs, so let me explain. Actually, instead of trying to tell you, why don’t I show you? … Rather, why don’t I let this very illustrative video do it for me …
Watching, and learning by doing, means that people learn how to think. They understand the logic; they comprehend not only the how and the what of their actions, but also the why. And when employees grasp the why, they are better able to deal with things that are outside the norm; if you understand the reasoning, you then GET the implications of taking atypical actions. Continue reading
Do you remember when Global Positioning System (GPS) devices were not as ubiquitous as they are today? I do. I remember having no choice but to use paper maps; studying one before I went somewhere important, turning it sideways and upside down while standing at a street corner in order to orient myself in the right direction, and looking for other landmarks around me to pinpoint my location (once I realized that I was hopelessly lost).
Yes, I admit it, I love GPS devices! After all, what could be easier? A pleasant voice telling me to turn left, drive for 6 miles, turn right, make a U-turn and then arrive at my destination. And if I happen to miss a turn, the just-as-pleasant reprimand — “recalculating”. Continue reading
If your training expenses are significant, it’s not unusual to have senior leaders in your organization question whether the money spent is worth it. And it’s not a bad question. After all, just like every other cost you incur, you should be able to show that the dollars you spend on training your people has a positive return on investment. But that’s the challenge … it can often be a struggle to evaluate the effectiveness of training. After all, not every learned skill can be measured quantitatively. Things such as customer satisfaction ratings or the average time to complete a client’s file can be calculated, but it’s much harder to compute improvement in communication or leadership! In the latest issue of CGA Magazine, I take you back to a model (that was first developed over 50 years ago) that you can use to demonstrate that training your staff is effective and has impact.
Take a look and then come one back to the blog and tell us how you’ve been able to demonstrate the value of your training initiatives to the senior folks in your organization. Let’s share what works (and doesn’t work)!
About sixty minutes into a recent ten-hour trans-Atlantic flight, our plane encountered an unexpected mechanical problem and the pilot announced that we were going to make an emergency landing at a nearby airport. He went to some length to reassure us that it was not a crisis situation, but more a prudent precautionary measure given that the majority of our journey was over water. We landed safely, the problem was fixed, and within another three hours we were on our way. End of story. What caught my attention though was what happened earlier in the plane, immediately after the captain’s announcement. While passengers remained calm and composed, almost three-quarters of my fellow travelers leaned forward, pulled out the emergency procedures card from the seat pocket in front of them, and proceeded to carefully read the instructions. It was interesting to me that merely an hour ago during the safety demonstration, the flight attendants had asked them to do exactly that, and almost nobody had complied. But now, because of a potential crisis, everyone was concentrating closely on this very same information.
It got me thinking about the procedures manuals and check-lists that exist in the various departments in so many organizations. Many managers and supervisors I work with advocate eliminating these documents. They’re outdated most of the time, no one ever looks at them, it takes effort to keep them current – these are just some of the reasons I hear from those who would do away with them. But the real worth in such documents comes during times of crisis. It’s when things start to go wrong that people seek out the manuals and check-lists. It’s when the unexpected happens that people turn to the security of what has been documented in writing. All of which suggests that perhaps there IS value in job handbooks and process guides, even if it takes work to keep them current and even if they get outdated the moment they are completed. What do you think? Waste of time, or worthwhile effort?