In response to one of my articles, someone asked me, “Since when did training become part of a company’s success strategy?” Or, something like that. I think it was when companies started giving employees the freedom to control their professional destinies. At least that was when it became necessary. Before then, employees were told every move and how hard to work to keep their jobs. If you depend on people to do their jobs without a whip or club of losing their jobs–if you don’t need to motivate them to do what you need them to do, or don’t care if your employees contribute extra and unique ideas to the success of the company, I guess you don’t need training to be part of that equation.
Once people know their jobs, it is critical to maintain that level of proficiency, hopefully without whip or club, through continuous learning. I never gave the that training label much thought, and a definition here is really unnecessary. It’s perfectly stated, at least the way I see it. There are no steps because we are doing it continuously. We don’t take steps. Every article I write on training belongs under the Continuous Learning category. Why? Because if we hold a job–any job really, or we are involved with training in any way, learning to do our jobs better, maintaining our competitive edge, we need continuous learning. It’s not just about reading the latest journals. Even reading our emails that have nothing directly to do with our jobs contribute to our continuous learning.
If you believe that you have to sign up for additional training courses, refresher courses, enrichment courses, education courses to be completing your “continuous learning” requirement, I think you would be mistaken. In times of plenty it was so easy to use that avenue to check it off the training list. The trainers said you had to have it, and that was one way to take care of the requirement, and, of course, there were and still are, plenty of peddlers who will sell it to you online, too. Was it so easy that way that we have become complacent in seeking out other kinds of sources? There are other sources for learning everywhere you look–that is, if you’re looking for them.
Actually, it’s even easier than you think. We even have some free sources we can turn to as well, and some as useful, depending on how we use them. What if your company can’t afford to buy the commercial products or services? That’s a reality in today’s market. We trainers certainly want the business as much as anyone, but there are ways we can recommend that are free that can help in tough times. Anything that helps us stay current, consider other options, reflect on best practices or failed practices is worth learning. While paid “extra” training is nice, it’s sometimes just not practical or affordable to everyone in business. An employee who shows initiative in seeking out expertise, knowledge, etc., that will help him or her do a better job can only look good to his superiors. Continuous learning opportunities abound right in front of you, and those are the ones most overlooked.
Everything related to what you do for a living is reflected everyday in the media. An article talking about the current economic trends so common today mentions your particular type of business, or related business. That’s information you can add to your knowledge of what it is you do. It’s important to know how to relate what you do to the world around you. In talking about training and development, and education in general, we have to talk about the world of work. Educators need to know what companies want so they can prepare students to enter the world of work. That’s your world. Some great scholarly knowledge or research might just be waiting for you to add to your professional knowledge repertoire.
Not only does the news and information media provide learning, but so do the social and professional networks. They are filled with perspectives, best practices and good ideas we can use. Twitter can be a wealth of knowledge if you check out the links. Granted, sometimes these links are filled with “selling points,” but even what someone else is selling and how they are selling it can be important. Get in the social and professional mix by throwing in your expertise and opinions, ask questions, and build professional relationships with others in similar positions in similar companies. You never know what expertise will be yours for free. It’s bound to make your job more enjoyable. Problem solve, exchange ideas. The networking, useful in so many ways, is a bonus.
If you have read many of my articles here, or others on my website, you’ll notice I am always looking for connections. And, with my diverse background my connections may seem far afield, and yet, I am amazed at how so much connects. Now, I’m not trying to be the smartest kid in the class, or the one with the most knowledge on everything; I’m always looking for ways to do my job better. Continuously learning and noting new information (at least being aware of it) is essential to demonstrating you are on top of your game. This includes making connections with material you come across in related areas. I’m sure you’ll agree that not knowing so and so at Company X was doing this truly innovative practice and his company was getting tons of notice is not a way to impress your boss. Knowing similar approaches that might work for your product or service, or the mere fact you have explored these other avenues makes you look good.
I’m always interested in what you have to say. Never know when you will spark an idea for a new blog–one you’ll appreciate. Don’t agree with my point of view? give us you. I’m all about communication and networking. I’ll probably ask to connect with you on LinkedIn. For more articles that reach as far as business applications communication and performance skills, please check out my website. Also, check out my site if you need training developed or a program presented? Let’s chat. I mean what I say when I say my place or yours; have passport, will travel. All you have to do is pay travel and expenses. For reasonable market prices, you get guy who’s passionate about communicating, who looks at motivating people to love what they do and to love training. I love a good challenge. I’m the guy who said “you could train people to read minds“–almost. I also said I’ll “make your mission impossible an affair to remember.” I’ll work with your trainers, staff, executives at any level to get the job done. Oh, and did I say I’m a believer in continuous learning?
For more resources about training, see the Training library.
For a look at the human side of training from my Cave Man perspective, please check out my book, The Cave Man Guide to Training and Development. Happy training.