Monday, April 1, 2013

Hop and change

Ah, Spring!

The sun has passed the equator, heading north, and the arrival of robins, crocus, matzoh and Cadbury eggs heralds the season of metaphoric and symbolic renewal.

More tangibly, one of the advantages of the return of light and warmth is getting outside to play.  The benefits of outdoor play are manifest.  It helps develop creativity, problem-solving ability and social skills that carry from childhood into adult work-life interactions in ways that indoor activities do not.

Take the game of hopscotch, for example.  It is an early childhood game of which I'm sure most of you are familiar.  According to research, there's a tremendous connection between this simple game and physical and cognitive development:
" your child refines her physical coordination, she is also building essential neural pathways in the brain. It's those exact same pathways which will one day become the conduits for left/right brain thinking tasks such as creativity, reasoning, and self-regulation."
In other words, it's not play, it's training.  And it carries on to the professional level.

And as Spring represents the return of growth cycle, hopefully your thoughts are turning to your employee playtime training.  Ongoing training is essential to growth, even for the smallest of businesses.  If your organization is going to grow, you have to grow everyone involved with it.  And that takes training.

It is not always an easy or intuitive undertaking.  According to Young Entreprenuer:
"Owners and managers tend to have broad expertise rather than the specialized skills needed for training and development activities. They may also not be suited for training .... as they themselves do not have the skills or experience pertinent to particular job positions....[yet] small businesses who employ sufficient training for its workers reap such benefits as:
  • Increased productivity.
  • Reduced employee turnover.
  • Increased efficiency, resulting in financial gains.
  • Decreased need for supervision."
How do you institute a productive training program?  Some tips:
  • Clearly define the skills or expertise you need to develop.  It should correspond directly to specific business goals.
  • Decide in advance who needs training, and in which areas.  The more targeted the training is to individual needs, the more effective it will be.
  • Source experts within your organization or professional circles who can teach or mentor.  Hold frequent "lunch and learn" sessions.
  • Engage employees in developing a professional development plan for themselves. Make it a job requirement, but sponsor their participation in professional organizations and local business associations. 

Businesses of any size can institute an effective training program.  It doesn't have to be elaborate or expensive to be effective.  And, as with most things, organizations that design a formal training process are more successful than those that don't.

So, if you are going to "just do it," do it with a plan.  Unstructured play may be great for kids; it does not provide a great ROI in training a professional. 

No comments: