There's an old joke with an exchange between a CFO and a CEO that goes like this... The CFO asks, “What happens if we invest in our employees and they leave us?” The CEO replies, “What happens if we don’t invest and they stay?”
The point is that you can’t advance and mature the organization without cultivating the growth of individual employees. This is a great time to think about how 2015 could be the year of continuous learning for your employees.
There is no one size-fits-all approach to continuous learning that works for all organizations, departments, or individuals. But there are some broad categories you can consider when putting together your 2015 learning plan.
Learning to Learn
Few American adults have the luxury of learning something new just because they want to or find it interesting. Once we are out of school, we tend to focus on keeping up with exactly what we need to know to do our jobs well. This can cause people to forget how to learn brand new things and even make learning new skills a source of anxiety, rather than excitement. Organizations can encourage people to remember how to learn by offering or supporting classes in things like music, cooking, sports, or other activities that are not directly work related. They can also offer courses on learning styles and techniques to help individuals determine exactly which tactics work best for them. These approaches work to create engaged employees and benefit the employer when the new learning skills are later applied to business specific activities.
Training in skills related to the specific functions of a job is perhaps the most common type of learning that companies offer. It is essential to continuous improvement. When executed well, this training can increase efficiency, reduce errors and encourage the adoption of best practices. To make it interesting, be sure to offer training that both reinforces and advances the skills of each individual and gives them the opportunity to learn something new that will enhance their contribution to the team.
Cross-functional training has several benefits. First, it falls in the “learn to learn” category as it pushes people beyond their comfort zone into something they haven’t necessarily tried before. Next, it provides the organization with reinforcements for key roles in the case of turnover or organizational change. Finally, it opens up the opportunity for individuals to discover a different potential career path within the company, rather than forcing them to seek new opportunities elsewhere.
Leadership skills are important for employees even if they aren’t on a management path. Every individual can display leadership qualities, regardless of whether have direct reports. Offering leadership training signals a certain degree of trust in the ability of each person to have a positive impact on the organization and also reinforces management’s dedication to their growth as individuals.
Once you’ve outlined the types of skills that will be part of your continuous learning approach, you can determine if instructor-led training, on-the-job training or learning by teaching is the right approach for each skill and role. That’s what is so exciting about setting off on the path to educate, grow, and inspire your team; there are as many ways of defining and achieving success as there are organizations and individuals. The details are far less important than the commitment and dedication to a team that learns and grows together.
What better way to make 2015 the year of continuous learning for your organization than by getting started yourself? Sign up for our free upcoming webinar!
January 27 at 1p EST
In this webinar, you'll learn how to:
- Create (and sustain) a culture of continuous improvement
- Encourage, inspire, and facilitate improvement
- Make sure your voice is heard
Last year, our Dr. Greg Jacobson and Mark Graban gave a webinar entitled, “Leadership Behaviors that Create a Culture of Continuous Improvement” and it was our most popular webinar of the year. They covered 25 behaviors, but that just scratches the surface.
In this new webinar, Greg and Mark will share some additional behaviors, illustrated by real stories from our work with KaiNexus customers.