Raise your hand if you’re busy all day at work.
We thought so. A disclaimer before you keep reading: you won’t hear any complaints about long to-do lists from us. Lots to do equals lots to be grateful for. It means you’re engaged (and probably energized) all day long. You’re an important part of something; and by EOBD, you probably have a sense of job satisfaction and security. All good things.
The tricky part of having a long list? Creating & maintaining a sense of balance. When there’s not enough hours in the day, training is usually the first task we postpone. And then we reschedule it again. Before we know it, we’ve reached the end of another business quarter without reading that new leadership book, finishing that e-Course, or learning a new skill. It’s not because we don’t believe in learning- it’s because we are (gasp!) busy. We’re doing tasks that keep the lights on every day; and then we’re running out the door- much later than intended- to get dinner, family time, and exercise in.
Off the Backburner
So how can training compete with more pressing items like the boss’s weekly status report, managing your team, all sorts of deadlines, regular meals & hygiene? If you’re a self-care or self-help junkie (you might be if you’re reading this), chances are you’re already familiar with the benefits of venturing outside your comfort zone and being a newbie at something. All of us are life-long learners. It’s your productivity-loving, money-making left brain that needs convincing. Next time you’re tempted to brush off training, try big-picture thinking. Training helps you boost your individual and organizational skillset as a whole, which helps you collaborate & innovate. Innovation often leads to greater efficiency… so you can check tasks of your list faster… and tackle more. Think of it in terms of productivity, and sell that logic to your boss when you have your eye on a class or seminar.
Here’s some ideas to help you fit it in:
- Look inside your organization for productive training opportunities that take place outside the classroom. You’d be surprised at the collective knowledge base you have right under your own roof. Use mentoring software to catalogue employee expertise & tap into it by pairing people up who can teach each other new skills – just by being themselves. Put IT wizards in a room with creative folks who want to brush up on their technical skills, give them a data-related project, and let the learning begin — while getting important work done. Improve employee engagement & performance with mentoring apps like Mentor Resources, Mentor Cliq, and MentorLoop which help you uncover the hidden demand for mentoring and underutilized knowledge & experience in your organization.
- Ask vendors for training. Most vendors are happy to provide training on the products & services they offer. Ask for training materials and on-demand access to webinars & seminars. If on-demand is not an option, make sure you’re on their mailing list – so that you’re getting invites to live webinars & regular product updates. Consider asking important vendors to give on-site presentations at quarterly sales meetings.
- It doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Practically every month, there’s a new conference or convention that you (and your employees) would love to attend, strategically located in a sunny vacation hot-spot. A whole week outside the office – in a place you’re longing to visit- and you’ll be hobnobbing with industry experts as you pick up new skills. Learning experiences like this are memorable team-builders, and in many ways, feel like a reward. If it’s not in the budget, or travel conflicts with business needs, don’t get discouraged. There’s plenty of training to be had at an affordable price, from the comfort of your chair or sofa. Check out web-based platforms such as Lynda.com, udemy.com, alison.com, treehouse.com and others for thousands of courses at all levels.
- Develop incentives. When all else fails, offer an incentive to motivate employees. Make training & certification part of each employee’s professional development plan; incorporate it into their goals, and give them an incentive when they successfully complete a certain amount of coursework.