To our American readers: did you vote the other night? I got to thinking about how it´s a campaign worker´s job to "get out the vote," encouraging people to stop what they´re doing, march themselves to a polling place and do what some folks around the world would never dream of doing. That´s a campaign worker´s job. But what about regular people who have the privilege of voicing their opinion by drawing a line or pressing a screen or use whatever voting technology was at hand? Is it our job to get out the vote? I´m not sure, so I started wondering, of course, about whether or not it´s our job as a colleague in a business to encourage each other to do what we can to make a difference in our workplace.
In many cases, we tend to leave each other alone when it comes to politics. Well, maybe; let´s put it this way though: if we have a right to do something, a privilege really, should we always, without exception, carry it through? Sometimes in a work environment we take in what´s before us, we check the time and then decide how much of something we´re going to get done. It´s pretty contained and we´re usually not thinking about rights and privileges at work. But what if we were to substitute those campaign workers with ourselves as colleagues and sort of campaign for each other, encouraging one another to take advantage of certain advantages whether it´s tuition reimbursement, the opportunity to launch a women´s roundtable, a "lunch "n learn" program where employees could bring in guest speakers during the lunch hour, etc.
As employers it´s our responsibility to create environments in which learning can occur. Remember, developing an employee extends way beyond what may happen in a workshop or during a focus group during which an organizational behavioral consultant comes in to ask people what they want in an office environment. Learning can occur anywhere, anytime, but in order for that to happen people need to feel as if it´s in their best interests to learn that way.
Instead of keeping the burden to yourself, however, for motivating your people to learn, learn, learn, ask your staff to do what candidates ask of their campaigners: foster some interest, encourage each other to learn in unconventional ways, create and nurture a culture in which informal learning can take place. Let people know that the more they get involved in learning-from themselves, each other, you and customers-the more likely they and your company will grow. Nothing brings on stagnation faster than obstacles to learning.
Incidentally, when people are learning they tend to be more engaged in what they´re doing and also keenly interested in stretching themselves which can take your company farther, too.