“As leaders, we should think of ourselves as teachers and try to create companies in which teaching is seen as a valued way to contribute to the success of the whole.” Ed Catmull
Here is the secret: Real leaders are teachers! If you are not teaching your staff, you are missing a huge leadership opportunity and limiting the overall potential for your business.
I started doing noon hour training sessions in the mid-90’s. I think the first few sessions I did were on goal setting (based on Les Hewitt’s The Power of Focus) and they were pretty rough (a special shout out to all those who attended and never walked out!) However, the more sessions I ran, the better I got. I then encouraged others to do the same thing and we ended up with all kinds of employee led training sessions.
I think my favorite was a group of training sessions called Tech-Nitro Week. This was a week of lunch and learns conducted by employees who had attended a conference the previous week. They picked one of the conference topics and presented what they learned to their peers over a lunch hour. This was extremely well received and created a buzz of excitement within the business.
The benefits to your business for building this learning culture are huge and include things like:
- Increased employee engagement
- Increased level of competence within your organization
- A culture of sharing and teamwork
- Increased competitive advantage in the marketplace
- A culture of continuous improvement
The best way to build this culture is to model the desired behavior by setting up training sessions with your staff. These can be as simple as lunch and learns or they can be longer, more involved training. The important thing is for you to model this by organizing and running the training.
Start with topics like;
- Vision, mission and values – what are they and why are they important
- Goals – how to align and set goals that drive you and the business forward
- Simple technical topics that you are an expert on and are relevant to your business
- Business financial basics – explain the basics of business finance so your staff increases their financial acumen
Once you have modeled the way, begin to encourage your employees to share their knowledge with their peers. They can do:
- Lunch and learns on any area of expertise that would benefit their peers
- Training on software packages that are used in your business
- Industry specific certification prep classes
- Your own version of a Tech-Nitro week
Finally, help cement this teaching culture by doing things like;
- Building the teaching requirement into role descriptions or job requirements
- Creating development opportunities like the Tour of Duty that include aspects of teaching
- Creating incentives for employees to put on training sessions (monetary, peer recognition, monthly trophy, etc.)
Implement the leader’s secret by developing your staff. Kick off some training sessions today and give your leadership and your organization a huge boost. Model the way and build a culture of teaching in your business.
“The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.” Zig Ziglar
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Watch for the upcoming release of my two new books: 12 Steps to Business Transformation and The Thinking Business System