Recently as I was driving to work (often times, I do my best thinking when I’m driving to work), I passed a city park. I quickly glanced over and saw steam rising and thought to myself, “I didn’t know that there was a small lake at the park.” My second thought was, “I have been driving by this park for over two years. Why have I never turned into here and explored?” The parks in my community are very nice and appear to be well kept. Yes, we pay taxes in the county where I live for the upkeep so one should really take the opportunity to enjoy them. This sent me down another road in my thinking process and that was, “This is like some of the organizations that the Alber Enterprise Center works with. When we sit down to have the initial conversation, our strategy is to listen. We listen to what the employer’s needs are. We ask questions to learn about what keeps them up at night. And there are many times what we hear is, “This is the way we have always done it.”
Many organizations have not ventured away from the typical “one and done training”. You know, the kind of training where you go offsite, spend anywhere from 4 – 8 hours in the training and when you get back to your office, the well-put together notebook of training materials goes up on a bookshelf, right along with the other trainings that you have attended. Does this sound familiar? I am smiling because I, too, had a bookshelf full of well-put together, carefully thought out workshops. Then, once I got back to the office, it was “business as usual” and anything that I had hoped to implement went right up there on the shelf with the other notebooks. And then…all was forgotten.
What does this have to do with my drive in this morning and seeing the park? Well, I would challenge organizations to veer off the path, think differently, look at the overall picture and wonder, “What could we do differently that would make a greater impact?”
A good place to start and one that I strongly recommend is asking your staff what training or professional development they would find exciting, energizing, and meaningful? You would be surprised how much thought they have given to that very question and will, most likely, provide you with a lot of good information, such as developing their skills as an emerging leader or maybe it is one-on-one coaching. Another possibility might be to identify their strengths and areas where they will excel or it could be a process to become “lean” and the ability to put a process in place to improve efficiencies.
Take off the blinders and look at your organization’s professional development with fresh eyes. Be willing to veer off that well-traveled path and explore. You never know what you might see or discover along the way.
P.S. – On my way home today, I veered off the main road and drove through the park I mentioned at the beginning of this blog. I learned a couple of things. First, there is NO small lake – it was an open field with early morning fog. (Lesson here – don’t assume). Second, the road took me back to a beautiful bird sanctuary and a scenic area for rest and reflection. My next adventure will be to go explore those. Robert Frost certainly said it best:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by; And that has made all the difference.
What difference might it make for you and your organization?