by Chris Reinhardt, feedlot specialist
The day we choose to quit learning new things is the day we should ride off into the sunset, either literally or figuratively. We should want to be, and we should want to employ, eager lifelong learners. People who are eager to learn new skills and concepts are a near guarantee that the organization will continue to grow and improve in all areas of the business and even in its appreciation of its own culture.
If we’ve been successful in attracting this type of person into our organization, we probably don’t need to stimulate their desire to learn new things; instead, the challenge is to continually strive to provide meaningful learning opportunities for those individuals.
There are two general types of training to consider: professional development (job duty-specific training), and personal development (which may or may not be skills and ideas which are directly or even indirectly applicable to the individual’s specific job duties.)
Most organizations are willing to provide, and some are proactive in providing, professional development opportunities. However, it is more difficult for many organizations to justify personal development as a company-funded benefit.
One way to think about professional development, especially for the individual who is an eager student of new information, is as a type of “insurance”. Health insurance (personal and family health benefits, not workers’ compensation) really doesn’t have a direct benefit to the organization. Instead, health insurance benefits are a form of compensation not directly tied to salary and bonuses.
For the individual who is constantly seeking opportunities to improve, company sponsored opportunities for personal development can be a form of indirect compensation. But on another level, if the nature of the personal development training can be of benefit both at the personal level and the professional context as well, there is a chance for the company to benefit from the training two-fold: the individual feels cared for on a personal level by the organization; but the organization also in turn receives a more skilled person, whose skills can be perpetually improved over time through various training opportunities.
The end goal should be to keep valuable individuals engaged in their job and satisfied with their role in the organization. Personal and professional development may be very simple, inexpensive, and effective ways to both improve the value of the individual to the organization, and to increase the satisfaction of the individual within their role in the organization.