I’m going to pretend I’ve invited you all over for coffee. I’ll briefly introduce myself and then direct you to my bio. Okay, that’s done. Welcome and thanks for stopping by. I know you’re incredibly busy and to remark that you wear a bazillion different hats doesn’t begin to describe your hectic life. So in this blog, I’ll do my best to synthesize, clarify, and otherwise keep the information free of fluff and other bits of information that you just don’t need.
Here’s what you’ll find in the blog: ways that you can enhance the skills, knowledge, and abilities of your workforce so that they can help grow your business and themselves. I’ll write about the ways you can help your people maximize their potential. When people believe that they can grow, that their stations in life are not stagnant, they’re more likely to push harder, to test their limits without fearing failure, because they’re going to fail from time to time. Mistakes happen-it’s how we learn. Consider this: mistakes can offer us invaluable rewards but only if we decide to view them as lessons to be learned instead of a source of shame. Think of these well worn, practically clichéd business examples: one of my favorite blunders is the one made in the labs of 3M. Researcher Spencer Silver developed a temporary adhesive that in its earlier form, could not be marketed. Later, a colleague, Art Fry (truly my hero), realized that the same substance could be used to tame the slippery paper bookmarks he used in his hymnal to mark certain songs. Of course his newfangled bookmark became the precursor to Post-ItsÂ®. So a guy sitting in church did something to make a whole bunch of people´s lives easier.
The point is this: a mistake turned into a real prize in so many different ways. That´s something to remember when we´re trying to help people grow and develop. It´s not about ten steps forward and ten more the next time. It´s also more than simply accepting those experiences that pull you back and keep you from reaching a goal. It´s about knowing how to grapple with that obstacle-knowing how to move through it, around it, or whatever you have to do to overcome it.
Sure, there are innumerable "teachable" moments throughout the workday-you notice an employee who´s putting way too much time into a task, so you demonstrate a short cut. Or you´ve recognized that some people are naturally born meeting facilitators while others count the minutes until they can return to their desks. Maybe you need to implement an in-house program that encourages one group to mentor the other. Okay, so perhaps now you´re saying, "Leslie, so glad you´re blogging here, but honestly, I don´t have a whole lot of time to set up a program and let me tell you something more about my limited budget . . . " I understand. I hear you. But if you´re expecting immediate results then that´s a problem. Employee development is an investment in your people and in your company and, like most investments, the dividends can come slowly.
On the other hand, certain programs, in big companies and small, have a history of resulting in temporary benefits. In other words, the results are not lasting. And, yes, that can feel like a big waste of money. That´s why it´s critical that any program you implement is one that delivers benefits long after the initial learning period. Ben Dattner, principal of Dattner Consulting and an adjunct professor of industrial and organizational psychology at New York University, says that team building, for instance, has traditionally incorporated activities that were fun and enjoyable. But the benefits of such activities disappeared within a few days. That is a waste of time and money, but it doesn´t mean you abandon team-building activities. It just means you do it differently. For instance, you stay on-site instead of escaping to a retreat-like setting and put people to work on something that really matters. Dattner says, "Today´s team building is much more likely to involve things such as action learning, where a team works on a real business challenge, responsibility charting, where team members consider, clarify and change roles and responsibilities." He also suggests a strategy called "process mapping," which asks employees to "examine all aspects of a particular process and redesign that process to achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness." But guess what: this isn´t always fun and it may not be what people expect, but as Dattner adds, "It can lead to meaningful and enduring improvements." So I guess it´s true: developing your employees is always good business.
Thanks for reading this post-the blog´s maiden voyage-and please let me know what you want to learn. As you know, hearing from your customers is one of the best ways to improve your product.