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. It’s mind-boggling, to say the least.
So there’s no question that everyone needs to be involved in the process of continuing education. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, and if you and your organization 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 as your competitors.
If you’re a leader or a manger, that means you’ve got to keep on training your employees. And if you’re an individual contributor, you’ve got to recognize that school is not out and it never will be.
To win in this dog-eat-dog world, I suggest the following.
1. 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. Perhaps the most common excuse is “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 organization, you know there will never be a good time for training. It will either be a bad time or a really bad time. If you’re enlightened, you’ll offer training no matter what time it is, just because it’s necessary.
2. Cut out your “when-we-get-through-this-change” excuse.
Many organizations will say, “We’ll put a hold on training until we get through all these changes.”
People will go through organizational 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. And other people 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.
And as much as I hate to say it, most organizations let their people stumble through the change. Most organizations just focus on the “forms” of change, all the restructuring and reorganizing that will supposedly save them from their competitors. Only a few organizations are enlightened enough to also have “forums” for change, where people can learn how to manage and assimilate the change. It’s those enlightened organizations that have the greatest morale and the greatest productivity.
3. Cut out your “what-if-they-leave” excuse.
Some leaders challenge my 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.”
My response usually stops them cold. I respond by asking,
“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.
4. Take responsibility for your own education.
I see it all the time in my business. 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 on their own nickel and their own time.
By contrast, I see the losers, the has-beens, and the second-raters finding reasons not to educate themselves. They’ll say, “I’ve heard all that before … or …I don’t need that stuff… or …I went to one of those motivational seminars one time and it didn’t last.”
Of course, their colleagues are laughing under their breath. They’re thinking, “If those negative folks only knew how much they needed some ‘motivational seminars,’ they’d be shocked. Everyone seems to know it except them.”
Other losers will say, “Hey, that’s my company’s responsibility, to send me to training and pay for everything.” Maybe so. But try saying that in your next job interview when you’re asked about the training you’ve received recently. You won’t get very far if you respond, “Well, I haven’t had any training because they wouldn’t pay for it.” Your lack of personal responsibility will doom any chances you might have had for that new job.
Final thought: 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?