We are living in a time of information explosion and global competition. More information has been generated and disseminated in the last two years than in the previous two thousand years, and more people than ever are eager and ready to take what you have; this fact can be overwhelming.
So there's no question that everyone needs to be involved in the process of continuous education. It's a dog-eat-dog world out there, and if you and your organisation are going to get your share of the bones, perks, profits, market share, job security, and everything else you want, you'd better be as up-to-date and informed as your competitors.
Being a leader or a manager means that you have to consistently train your employees. If you’re an individual contributor, you have to recognise that school is not out and it never will be.
Here are some winning principles to adopt in this dog-eat-dog world:
- Cut out your 'this-is-a-bad-time' excuse
There are a lot of companies and a lot of managers who find all kinds of excuses for not training their people. The most common excuse is probably, "We've got too much on our plate. We're too busy for that. This isn't a good time for training."
If you're an enlightened organisation, you know there will never be a good time for training. It will either be a bad time or a really bad time. An efficient organisation will offer training no matter what time it is, just because it's necessary.
- Cut out your 'when-we-get-through-this-change' excuse
Many organisations will say, "We'll put a hold on training until we get through all these changes".
People will go through organisational changes one way or another. Some people will fight it, resist, argue, and stumble around, wasting your time and resources, before they get on board, if they ever do. Others will embrace the change as a pathway to bigger and better things in the future. It all depends on the training they received or didn't receive.
The ugly truth is most organisations let their people stumble through the change. Most organisations just focus on the 'forms' of change, all the restructuring and reorganising that will supposedly save them from their competitors. Only a few organisations have ‘forums’ for change, where people can learn how to manage and assimilate the change. It's these organisations that have the greatest morale and the greatest productivity.
- Cut out your 'what-if-they-leave' excuse
Some leaders challenge the insistence on continuing education by saying, "What’s the point? If I train my people, they might leave. They might go out and get a different job".
But what if you don't train your employees and they stay?
In other words, the only thing worse than training employees and have them leave is not training them and have them stay.
- Take responsibility for your own education
The best people always show up for the seminars. They want to keep on getting better, and to do that, they know they've got to keep on learning. So they'll attend every seminar their company offers, and if the company doesn't offer what they want and need, they'll go to seminars at their own cost and on their own time.
By contrast, there are the second-raters out there who are constantly finding reasons not to educate themselves. They'll say, "I've heard all that before", "I don't need that stuff" or "I went to one of those motivational seminars one time and it didn't last".
Their colleagues are laughing under their breath. Negative folks need 'motivational seminars' more than anyone else, but everyone seems to know it except them.
The losers will try and push the blame onto their company, "It’s their responsibility to send me to training and pay for everything. Unfortunately, I haven’t had any training because they wouldn't pay for it". It isn't completely incorrect but try saying that in your next job interview when you're asked about the recent training you've received, you won’t get very far. Your lack of personal responsibility will doom any chances you might have had for that new job.
If you're not in the process of learning more and getting better, and your competition is in that process, guess who has the upper hand when the two of you meet?