A few winters ago I travelled to Colorado for my very first ski vacation. My goal was to have fun, learn a little about a new sport and return with my body relatively none the worse for the experience.
Skiing has a somewhat higher than average bodily risk/return ratio. So it seemed like a good idea for me to spend the time, effort and expense of getting some one-on-one ski instruction. This instruction paid off as I got a better understanding of the rules, mechanics, techniques and thought processes of skiing. Equally important, because I took the time to get some training, I had fun negotiating the easy slopes. You can bet that I won’t hesitate to take more lessons to improve my skills in the future.
There is a correlation between my own learning experience and the need to be open to new learning opportunities in business. When looking at the lists of ‘Best Companies to Work For’ there seems to be common traits among them. This includes transparency, corporate culture, and good hiring practices that help define their success. But more importantly, one of the key facts that struck me about the winning firms was this: a broad corporate commitment to continued training and development of their internal employees.
I’m not surprised at the relationship between that commitment to training, learning and personal development and continued business success. That and other factors add up to a big improvement in profitability. Being among the best places to work helps to hire good talent, improves productivity, boosts marketing, and makes clients happier. According to a Quantum Workplace study, 87 percent of companies that received such an honor reported an increase in sales; 86 percent reported an increase in market share; and, among publicly traded companies, 90 percent reported higher stock prices.
With that in mind, true business leaders look for ways to motivate their employees. Many offer opportunities to them that enable them to develop their skills and talents or learn new skills. In today’s constantly changing business environment, offering learning opportunities is not being altruistic; it is taking care of business.
But business goals do not shift accountability for constantly learning from the employee to the business. The personal interests and passions that individuals have often drive their desire to continually learn more. And those self-guided learning experiences can often have a positive impact on the business. No, not every learning experience will translate into a relatable business skill — my learning to ski certainly did not — but others have, and will do so in the future.
So, a constant curiosity to acquire and then apply knowledge is good for employees and good for business. As Dale Carnegie once said, “Knowledge isn’t power until it is applied.” And that is what drives results.
So, what have you learned lately?