No Training Budget? Try Reading!
Whatever happened to the training budgets? Oh, I forgot—it’s the economy, stupid! But even in the current situation, don’t forget that employees still have the need for training. Training can be related to, and even enmeshed with, good morale, professional development and team building.
In fact, team learning is team building. No one disputes that the economy is still in shambles. Everyone understands the need for business to be lean and for employees to do more with less. All this is the “new normal.” Given all that, the question of what to do about training for professional development is still valid.
I suggest that there is an answer, even in the new normal. CEOs and COOs need to take the lead. The C-level executive should take the responsibility for actually providing the professional development for his or her staff. The C-level executive can bring the staff together and lead/facilitate professional development activities.
There is a cost, though not in dollars, but in time. For the employees, it’s time away from their productivity expectations, and for the executives, it’s time away from their duties. But look at the benefits derived. The C-level executives are actually and formally participating in the professional development of staff. The staff gets face time with their executives, and team learning is facilitated.
There is a tenant in educational psychology that suggests that people learn best from their peers. Really. This tenant says that people can learn from teachers, professors, consultants and other subject matter experts, but the magic in this tenant is that is says people learn best from their peers.
I am not suggesting that the C-level executive is a peer, but the commitment to act as a trainer/facilitator reduces the gap between the two and highly increases the probability that the training time will be valuable and the learning actually implemented. The C-level executive is directly participating in growing his or her employees in a professional development venue.
If the C-level executive is concerned that he or she does not have the training skills or curriculum development skills necessary to pull this off, there is another alternative. I suggest identifying a series of management and leadership books.
These books can be purchased by the organization in quantities and then provided to the group. The group members can then read them individually, and the executive can lead a discussion regarding the following questions:
What were the main tenants or premises of the book? What does this mean to me (the reader)?
How is this relevant to our company? How is this relevant to my job? How can the best elements found in the book be implemented in our company?
I suggest that this process be repeated on a monthly basis. One book a month and one or two meetings during the month to cover the subjects would certainly constitute professional development and team building, perhaps even change within the organization.
Taking a break from the process for perhaps August and December would still leave 10 books per year. Even this could be reduced to say five books a year. Either way, professional and other positive developments are occurring.