Productive Leaders

Ph.D., CSP, CDR, US Navy Ret.,
CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame

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Leading Your Team’s Training

What do you do to continuously learn, stay current in your field, and improve your job skills? If you are like most managers and leaders, you read articles, books, and blogs on your subject area. You attend conferences and workshops about leadership, marketing, and sales, and your industry. You network with peers, and spend time learning from others.

What do your people do? Do they rely on you and your organization to provide them with the training they need to do their jobs? Do you know what they need to improve? Do you know what they want to learn to be better?

Here is a crazy idea that actually works.

Implement a “train-yourself” training day.

We proposed this to a forward-thinking company that is committed to employee development.

Instead of telling your employees where they need to improve, give them the responsibility and freedom to decide what they need to do to deliver even better results.

In this model, every employee gets one full day, every 6 months, to get training to teach themselves a new skill or expand their learning. There is a budget allowance, let’s say, $300 every 6 months, and the employee gets to decide how to use it on bettering themselves.

Employees get excited about improving human capital, their resumes, and their own ability to contribute more. For this to work, employees need maximum freedom, but a consistent payout – so if the budget for everyone is $300, then that is $300 across the board. Employees get to research where they want to go and what they want to learn about on their training day.

What do employees do when they have the freedom to choose their own training?  As it turns out, a lot.  Often they look to local SCORE (formerly known as the Service Corps of Retired Executives), Small Business Development Centers, community colleges, or online resources. The only caveat to this freedom is that they have to come back to the organization and report to their teams (usually 2-5 minutes) on what they learned.

Managers appreciate that their employees identify areas they want to improve. I’ve gotten reports back on employees who attended traditional training classes on:

  • Website design
  • Excel/Access programs
  • Publisher
  • How to create and deliver a better online experience
  • Customer Service

Some employees surprised their managers by attending programs on:

  • Managing Teams
  • Leading Your Boss
  • Time Management
  • Mentorship
  • Productivity at Work
  • Communication
  • Working with Millennials
  • Working with Seniors
  • Change Management
  • Diversity
  • Cyber security

Still others opted to use the time to binge watch YouTube videos that showed them how to:

  • Develop an app for the organization
  • Effectively budget management
  • Use Evernote
  • Produce podcasts
  • Deal with conflict
  • Improve productivity

Some employees opted to pay for a professional business coaching session. Some asked to attend conferences. Others subscribed to a series of webinars or e-learning options such as Highbrow.  Here are 24 other great online learning options:

The ideas are endless.

Not only do employees get to choose what they want to explore, but they are also excited about improving their abilities with training that matters to them. They are also taking responsibility to continue to learn new skills and stay current in their fields. And they are EXCITED by the prospect of a day devoted to their own improvement. Let’s face it – when was the last time you got excited about a mandatory training session?

If we are not getting better, we are getting worse, or staying the same. As a manager, this exercise gives you insight into your people and helps you help them continue to develop and grow on a professional basis.

Online learning from Learning Management Systems (LMS) offer multiple choices for business leaders. Which one is right for you? For a 2021 comparison, check out:

Give people control and see where they go!

1 Comment

  1. Joel Block

    This is a great concept. And I am sure the best managers help employees to figure out their best strengths and where to focus their energies so they get the most out of this opportunity. I hope you will provide a follow up article as companies begin to report the results of this idea. Thanks, Mary. JGB


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