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Updated: Mar 19, 2021

A core competency of most successful companies is an excellent, comprehensive learning program. We prefer the term “learning” program as “training” connotates only entry-level while every person in a business enterprise can learn or enhance their skills every day. Many senior-level team members advance to their positions without adequate learning about all business parameters, particularly if they have come from a “silo” organizational structure.

“We prefer the term “learning” program as “training” connotates only entry-level while every person in a business enterprise can learn or enhance their skills every day.”

In these COVID days, many companies are making the mistake of eliminating or minimizing their learning programs due to cost reduction. This is extremely short-sighted and misses the key point that excellent, skilled people are the most important facet of truly successful companies. In our opinion, while there are many topics for a successful learning program some of the most important learning programs are:

Core Learning Programs

Business Finance

Our experience has been that team members, no matter what their current business function, are more motivated and dedicated when they understand what the important financial parameters are that drive profitability and how their function impacts those drivers. The goal should be to make all team members complete, well-rounded businesspeople.

Company Organization and Organizational Behavior

It is important for all team members to understand how their company is formally organized and the functional role and background of all team members. It is probably more important to understand the culture and how the informal organizational structure really works to accomplish key tasks. There are doers and practical ways to get things done in an expedient way in every organization.

Listening Skills

It is very important for all team members to have strong listening skills. Diversity of opinion should be encouraged in all organizations; this will lead to better understanding of the issues at hand as well as accelerating the best solutions or actions. Listening is an important part of problem-solving skills and most companies need more problem solvers on their team.

Communication Skills

Good ideas and solutions many times are not implemented because they are not properly communicated to the right people and in the right style within the organization. Learning programs are needed for the different preferred communication forms i.e. face-to-face, verbal, written, e-mail and text.

Successful Learning Programs Require:

  • Commitment to invest in learning from senior management through the entire business cycle.

  • Involvement of top management in the content and teaching methods of learning programs.

  • High quality team members to be teachers on the learning team. Not all people, independent of knowledge, are good teachers. Teaching skills and a passion for teaching are key attributes of most successful learning program team members.

  • Assessment tests to identify each team member’s strengths and weaknesses. This is important to be able to properly unlock the full potential of each team member.

  • Interactive tools to assist with knowledge retention and testing to measure retention. Learning is a process and must utilize different learning tools and different measurements of results.

  • Utilization of outside resources for specific topics. Most companies do not have sufficient internal resources for expertise in all required areas. A good example is learning how to be a great public speaker: Toastmaster and other professionally developed programs are generally better than internal methods.

  • Development of both group and individual programs. Group programs are cost-effective and can be very effective in developing team commitment. Individual programs are necessary to develop skills for people destined for specific roles in the organization.

In summary, consistent and continual learning programs are the best way to develop the full potential of a company’s most important asset – its’ people.

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