Personal development – Learning for others

A librarian posed a question to me that I heard many times in my career.” Are leadership or other training programs of any value?” She has seen many managers attend training programs and return completely unchanged. She wondered if the programs were a complete waste of time and money.

The success of training programs is determined by the manager and their supervisor. The manager must attend the training session with an objective in mind. There should be something in the content that they feel will help them become a better manager/leader. Their supervisor should hold them accountable and ensure that they return from the training session with the answers to two questions;

  1. What did you learn?
  2. How will you use this information to be a better performer?

It is optimal for the manager to have these questions in mind before attending the training, to prompt them to search for critical information, techniques and relationships. It is important for them to be open to how they will benefit, how it will change their current behavior and how it will influence their present goals and performance objectives. There may also be aspects of the training they can use to target specific individuals/teams.

If managers return from a training program and nothing has happened in their behavior and vocabulary, we can deduce that the program was not used it to its maximum benefit. Additionally, some managers feel that information is power and are therefore reluctant to share. However, managers should incorporate the techniques and vocabulary from the training into their everyday speech. They should share with their peers and direct reports, subject matter from the training. They should show how their peers, direct reports and supervisors can benefit from the information obtained.

Training should be seen as crucial for the individual and everyone within their sphere of influence. Acquiring knowledge, experiences and resources should be for the benefit and distribution to self and others. The same holds true when acquiring other information, such as reading a book. When you are reading you are not reading for just one. You are reading to develop yourself and learning for others.

A manager relocated seven times during his career in the pharmaceutical industry. There were a number of occasions when he wondered why he had to move so often, when others achieved similar milestones without as many moves. It dawned on him one day that when he moved, it increased his exposure, experience and expertise in many areas. This additional information allowed him to be of greater value to his people. He realized that growth was not just about him and this increased his eagerness to gain information for the benefit of others.

There are several other strategies managers can use to ensure that a transformation occurred when they attend training programs. They are as follows:

  1. Multiple uses of the training programs

Managers can be shown the value of the training beyond their immediate job; it increases the likelihood of them utilizing the training and gaining practice in the principles and techniques. For example, a training program around situational leadership contains principles that can be used at work, home, community meetings, places of worship and associations they belong to. If they use the information in these multiple sessions it increases the value and return on investment, regarding time, energy and money spent.

  1. Share with others

When managers make it a practice to have meetings to discuss the information learned that multiply the value of the training. Many individuals sit down with their teams to review the information learned and to discuss how it will be used to improve individual and team performance. The successful implementation and transfer of this data may actually have the people look forward to them learning new things, because they will benefit from the new knowledge.

  1. Ask about the program

If someone returns from training and do not share information, ask questions. They may be flattered or encouraged that others are interested enough in the training to want to know more. People may inadvertently hold their manager accountable by asking questions about the value of the program, the changes in the organization because of the program and how the information can be used to make them better employees?

  1. Use the information to improve yourself

Recognize that information learned by their manager can make them a better performer. If they have ambition to rise within the organization, what they learn can help them improve as well. Even if they do not have plans for advancement, it is imperative that they learn as much as possible in their current role. The more they know the more valuable they are to self and the organization. Bear in mind that the current appointment environment is fluid. It is impossible to stand still without being passed by or passed over. Expectations are higher everyday and the more skilled they are, the more likely they are to regain employment in the event of a job loss.

discretionary-effort-model

The second question that came out of my discussion with the librarian was, “Why should people change, if there boss is not changing?” There are many individuals feel they will do just enough to keep their job and maintain sufficient raises and increase in performance rankings. People feel better when they are functioning at their best. When they are fulfilled and engaged, they are working on all cylinders and the work can be fun.

There is a factor known as discretionary effort. Aubrey Daniels International says “Discretionary effort is the level of effort people could give if they wanted to, but above and beyond the minimum required.” An increase in discretionary effort could be brought on by positive reinforcement and feeling as if they are a part of the team. However, if the manager is not providing positive reinforcement, it is still imperative for the individual to engage in self defense activities. These actions involve a making themselves more valuable to the organization, which in turns increases their value to potential employers. As they take control of their careers, implementing their strategy for advancement could help them tremendously in the long run.

In summary, when managers realize that there development contributes to the development of others, this multiplying effect gives additional power to their job. Additionally, you should always grow, because it is good for you. You should make yourself better, because being better positively influences everyone around you, regardless of your manager’s perspective on the training they attend.

Copyright © 2017 Orlando Ceaser

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