You Cannot Learn Too Much
by Howard Freedman
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Howard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Winston Churchill wrote, "I am always ready to learn, although I do not always like to be taught."
As his words suggest, learning is self-directed and an integral part of our everyday experiences. A high school education and a college degree provide a foundation upon which individuals must add their own efforts. Doctors, lawyers, accountants — and, yes, everyone else — must stay abreast of change and the latest techniques to remain on top of their professions. Today's technology, information management, and employee empowerment provide the greatest assortment of tools to develop the knowledge worker of today. Now is the time to ensure that all employees are on a continuous learning track to meet and exceed your expectations.
Regardless of your professions, there is always a training ground where daily challenges and opportunities to learn, grow, and network with others become part of our everyday routines. Management philosophies are also changing as more employers are empowering their employees to learn rather than dictating or spoon-feeding the solutions. Employees willing to learn and share information with their peers and supervisors are the resources that keep a department invigorated and focused on continuous improvement.
Finding the best employees starts with the hiring process. Candidates with the right competencies and the willingness to learn and grow may prove to be better investments than employees who are too specialized and who live by accomplishments rather than a willingness to move out of their comfort zones. Pre-employment testing is encouraged to evaluate certain skills, attitudes, and competencies while payroll tests for those with experience should measure payroll and reasoning knowledge. Those without payroll experience should demonstrate strong mathematical and reasoning skills and respond to case studies for effective problem-solving.
The Ultimate Authority Figure
College taught me how to research and document information, yet the job provides the experience and opportunities to translate management theory into the greatest lessons of real-world people and information management. I joined professional organizations locally and nationally, reviewed and distributed timely information to my staff, networked with other professionals, and attended training to ensure that my employers were in compliance with the law.
I was the expert, but I didn't want to be the only one. The hard questions were always referred to me because most of my staff did not want to be responsible if their answers were wrong. While this was gratifying and ego boosting, it did little to help employees become more knowledgeable and self-sufficient. The proverb, "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime," made me realize the department would never grow if only one person controlled the information. Allowing employees within the team to present a new concept, teach, problem solves or research information will boost their self-esteem and increase the respect that they receive from their peers. Empowering employees to learn should always be a positive experience with little criticism and a lot of mentoring. The sky is the limit when employees feel good about themselves.
Periodic testing of an employee's knowledge is also an excellent way to ensure that they remain current on internal procedures, legislative changes, and best practices. Passing these tests and taking advantages of internal and external seminars should be in every employee's goals and objectives. It also ensures consistent customer service and information management.
Both employers and employees should never be afraid to ask questions that question the answers if you are uncomfortable with the response or the experience of the person giving it. Look at problems as a way to grow and share the results with others within and outside of your organization.
The bottom line is that formal training, on-the-job experience, and a desire to share new information with fellow professionals should not be an option, but the reality of your profession. Be sure that you and your staffs are in a constant state of improvement. A state in which a combination for creativity, intelligence and drive are what it takes to be on top of your game or profession.
Most of all never are afraid of letting go to let others learn and grow while you explore new opportunities. That is the way the world is growing by learning, growing and always questioning-How can it be done better?