School’s In for Summer
This sometimes-slow season is a perfect time to look at training and development opportunities.
This year, my company took a big step toward living one of our dearest core values: training the marketers of the future. We developed a marketing boot camp, an online training program and customized on-site training. You would never expect training to be one of our capabilities, but most of us have been lucky enough to have been mentored by some greats. We’re paying that forward now.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t scroll through my emails without seeing some article telling me that to prepare for the future of my career, I have to be data-driven, strategic, digital and artificially intelligent. Perhaps I haven’t seen that last one, but I’m sure it’s only days away. Then, there are the soft skills we need to have like emotional intelligence and people management.
There is no denying that training and development are necessary, but expanding your knowledge base as well as that of your employees is also vital to the health of your organization. Training is one of those line items that we always put on our list to-do list, yet which never seems to make it to the top. The reasons are usually valid. It can be expensive. Employees who are attending training are not working. Alternatively, and worse, no one is asking for training.
Proper training cannot only address weaknesses, it can prepare employees for the future of your organization. Employees who are confident and competent are better able to stay on top of their industry and help you maintain (or improve) your market position. Employees feel challenged and appreciated when training opportunities are accessible to them. Productivity and quality of work improve, and turnover is reduced.
Google, “How do I…” and you get answers to almost every question, but purposeful learning environments are designed to immerse you in topics and build skills. As a lifelong learner, I have some favorite ways to learn.
• Virtual classrooms allow participants to view presentations and communicate with the trainer and fellow participants around the block or the world. This style of learning can be extremely budget friendly as travel is limited to the nearest computer.
• Self-paced learning is typically prerecorded to allow the participant to work sessions into their work and home schedules and is ideally suited for a lifelong learner. This type of training is very scalable, often providing you with the flexibility to train as many people as you want.
• Masterclasses are usually “one-off” and taught by an expert in the subject matter. Because the level of information is specific and well beyond the surface, they are best experienced by students with a genuine interest who ideally already understand some basics before they begin.
• Workshops are designed to be interactive and focused on a single topic over a short period of time. Hands-on work is a signature part of this type of training. Smaller groups allow trainers to deliver content through practical exercises and close interactions.
• Topic-programmed conferences and seminars can provide intensive exposure to a specific topic or field. Discussions and presentations are provided by multiple experts, thereby giving participants a breadth of information. They can be a great way to gain knowledge for those not interested in reading the latest business books.
• Books and podcasts are some of the best ways to learn new things at a personal pace. Whether it’s a marketing lesson or a juicy installment of Serial, I love a good podcast. As a youth, reading was never my “thing,” but now I make reading fiction, non-fiction, and business books part of every day. With summer in full swing, this is the perfect time to create a reading list for yourself. I guarantee you will reach Labor Day with a new (or improved) skill or two.
The benefit to all of these types of learning is a renewed energy and motivation. Too often, the daily grind can overshadow the excitement we often had when we started our jobs. Pursuing opportunities to learn and engage with like-minded professionals can lead to increased job satisfaction and productivity for both you and your employees.