Tag Archives: Training

The corporate library-how (and why) we set one up

Offering a corporate library to employees is a great way to encourage learning and give people low-cost opportunities for growth and development. We have been kicking around the idea of establishing one for a while (especially after my article about how to develop an employee reading program), and in October the right things came together to make it happen.

National Book Month

At Pinnacle, we do a monthly social awareness campaign to give employees some food for thought. October is National Book Month, so I was trying to see if we could get a book for every employee. That was going to be tough to do on our timeline, so instead we decided to pull a few books together and start the Pinnacle Library.

How It’s Set Up

We have a very basic set up since our office is relatively small. Clara, our property whiz, agreed to give me a hand, so she catalogs new books and puts them on the shelf. She also maintains the checkout list in SharePoint, so anyone can see what is checked in or out at any given time. It’s not perfect, but I think it’s a great start! (If anyone else wants more details, templates, etc., leave a comment or email me and I’d be happy to share).

Zappos.com’s Model

Zappos offers a large stash of books for employees to borrow or keep. They are large enough to afford the purchase of hundreds of books per year, but they tie it into their core values for people to be constantly learning and growing, so people know that it’s expected of them to grab a book and start developing their knowledge. It’s a great way to be, and I hope one day we are large enough to offer free copies as well. You can also do book reviews in newsletters and other company communications to help generate some interest.

Our Books

The books to start were all donated (and most by me) :-) so it’s a random mix, but as we add to our corporate library I have a short wishlist of books that will be more targeted toward our software engineering focus and some of the other programs we have going on. To name a few:

  1. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  2. Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh
  3. Perform Like a Rock Star by Orna Drawas
  4. Be Bodacious: Put Life in Your Leadership by Steven Wood
  5. The 1% Solution for Life and Work by Tom Connelan

Even Easier

If you don’t have the time or resources to have your own in-house corporate library, definitely take advantage of your local one instead. If you have an admin or staff member who you can send to the library once a week, they can take the library cards for your people and check out books for them. That opens up access to a larger body of resources and saves you the time and effort of administrating a corporate library on your own.

If you didn’t check out the post on why you need an employee reading program, I encourage you to do so. It has a fantastic framework for proving the necessity of such a program to your leadership.

Does anyone else use a corporate library? How has it been going for you?

The case for developing leaders at all levels

Today I’m going to make the case for leadership development at all levels, not just at the top of the organization. Think about it, do you want those employees positioned closest to your customers to have that training? I would. Yes, it’s a question of cost for many companies, but if your customer-facing people aren’t doing the right thing, then cost won’t matter when you lose the customers!

That was just a taste of what you’ll find in the video below. Subscribers may need to click through to view.

(Fair warning, the video sometimes is skippy and doesn’t seem to align with the audio track, but the info’s still thought-provoking!)

Uncovering manager development opportunities

manager trainingManagers need development like any other employee, but sometimes it is difficult to find out just what they want or need to learn. Click the link for part two in the series on how to develop managers.

Recently I’ve realized that one of the biggest needs we have as an organization is manager training. We have supervisors who have forgotten what it’s like to be human, new managers with little or no experience in the role, and ones who keep screwing up even the most basic of leadership tenets.

In other words, we need it bad.

But when I brought up the idea of offering a survey to the managers to help figure out the development holes that need to be filled, I quickly realized the fallacy of that wide open approach.

  • Some managers would say they didn’t need any training
  • Some managers would say they needed training in irrelevant/impractical areas
  • Some managers would immediately become defensive

So just saying “What do you want to do better?” isn’t an option. But there’s a better way to do ask the question and still get a solid response.

The question I usually ask when I am looking for stealth development opportunities is this: “What is your biggest frustration as a manager?”

That opens the door to all kinds of answers, and I’ve never met a single manager who didn’t have a heartfelt response (or a dozen!) to that question. Those answers will help guide the process from there. For instance:

  • My biggest frustration is dealing with apathetic employees. This opens the door to providing some training on leadership skills and ways to motivate and inspire their people.
  • My biggest frustration is hiring poor performers. This is an opportunity to work with them on interviewing techniques to select the best people.
  • My biggest frustration is [insert problem here].

You get the picture. Instead of having to start from scratch, let them tell you what they need in terms of development and training. Then give it to them.

How do you identify manager training needs? More importantly, how do the managers respond?

Safe at home (work safety programs)

I am a firm believer in work safety, but not in the traditional, dry, boring sense. Let’s make things interesting. I want someone to feel just as safe in the workplace as they are at home. But to get people to pay attention to the safety rules and processes, you’re going to need something more than a pamphlet to hand out to everyone. Check out the video below for more.

Subscribers may need to click through to view.

Are you stuck on how to make something “fun” at work? Leave a note in the comments and I’ll give you an example or two.

HR Knowledge-Senior HR Competencies Series

It surprised me where HR knowledge fell on the list of core competencies for senior HR leaders, because you’d think that it would be higher. Having a core knowledge of HR isn’t the most important thing once you get to the senior ranks, I suppose. Let’s dig in.

Email subscribers click through to see the video.

Missed a video in this series or not sure what it’s about? Click here to learn more.

Own Your Own Growth

own your own growthI saw this image in the footer of someone’s email the other day, and I thought it was pretty interesting. The phrase “own your own growth” immediately turned my head, because I believe we are all in control of our own knowledge growth and development. It’s a part of being passionate about what you do. Here are some other things that occurred to me right off the bat.

First, it’s obviously an encouragement to take charge of your own growth and development. Don’t expect someone else to walk up to you and hand you something to learn right at the exact moment that you need it. Start building your knowledge early and anticipate future stresses on your limits (and plan accordingly). My advice? Push your own boundaries before someone else does it for you.

Secondly, the ring across the top talks about some of the various opportunities for growth that are available to us. Some are obvious, but costly (education). Some are cheaper, but it’s sometimes difficult to get high quality information (webinars). However, at some point most of us have been through some, if not all, of the list.

  • Formal education
  • Training
  • Certifications
  • Seminars
  • Webinars
  • Coaching

And finally, something about the tree took me a minute to figure out. There was something profound in there, but I wasn’t sure what I was seeing. Then it dawned on me. The tree growing from the ground reaches up and out and is visible to everyone around us. They know when we have the knowledge or skills to do something, because they can physically see us accomplishing the task.

However, the growth and development underground is something different. That signifies to me that we have a lot of knowledge just below the surface. People have the skills we need, but some of them just can’t be seen at first glance. However, this pool of talent is always there for us to individually pull from if we are in need, because we realize it’s there. The key for a lot of organizations is finding out what is below the surface when it’s not readily visible.

Anyway, that’s just a few of the thoughts I had from this simple image. What do you see? Are there other tools for growth not listed in the bullet point list above?

Teaching your supervisors the basics of management

training for supervisorsI ran across this site recently and had to laugh. It is a common theme that I’ll get a call because I’m the “computer guy” in the family. With Teach Parents Tech you have the option of sending video links directly to those who need assistance. That allows you to indirectly teach your parents/grandparents/in laws/whoever how to do computer tasks from simple (changing your computer’s clock) to advanced (changing your email address).

Why can’t we do that?

Then I started thinking about other applications. What if you could do the same for your supervisors? What if there was a neat way like this to teach them the basic principles of good management? Would you use the tool?

For instance, a new supervisor runs into a situation (giving feedback on poor performance, motivating employees in a slump, giving a presentation to senior management, etc.). They don’t have someone available to ask for help, so they pop onto the web and find the video that corresponds with that particular situation.

No, it’s not a perfect substitute for an in-person chat with someone who already knows how to do the task, but it’s better than going into the situation blind-folded. Just a little bit of preparation could go a long way in most instances.

A few situations I think would be neat to cover:

  • How to give accurate, honest feedback
  • Why documentation is essential
  • The wide world of terminations
  • Harassment, discrimination, and lawsuits, o my!
  • Safety and security in the workplace
  • How to train someone
  • Coaching and mentoring your staff
  • Building and managing teams
  • Developing and pursuing a vision
  • And tons more!

What do you think? Are there other scenarios that you think supervisors run into on a daily basis that they could use some training on?