Elevating Your Game:  Why Training Isn’t Just for Field Employees

Continuous Learning

By Karen Cates.

Every business benefits from the continuous learning of its leaders.

Going back to school doesn’t have to mean a full-time commitment and a six-figure price tag.  But the very nature of our fast-moving economic and labor environment means we can never sit back, kick up our feet, and say, “OK, now I know everything I need to know.”  Whether you take online courses, read books, or have regular meetings with people who do the same job as you, continuous learning is a personal mission. It’s a business necessity. It’s a way of life.

Before you go shopping for educational opportunities, you might ask yourself a few questions:

  1. Where am I going in my career? Where do I want to go?  Are you satisfied to stay in your current position; do you like the hours and the nature of the work?  Do you want to ready yourself for promotion?  Are you a part of a succession plan and want to get ready for new responsibilities? Regardless of your answers to the above, there are training and educational programs that will help you stay at the top of your game. As you begin shopping for options, remember, some programs are just too short or superficial to make a difference.  Others may require more commitment than you are willing to make at this time.
  2. What do you hope to achieve by enrolling in an educational program? After over two decades teaching in and running executive education programs, I’ve heard every reason for being in the classroom.  Some folks genuinely want to learn the topics being presented.  Others are networking, seeking to meet new people who are at or above their professional level who might be future contacts or net them future opportunities. Still others frankly tell me they are just there to get the certificate, to be able to say they were there. The best educational offerings offer you all these things:  new skills or knowledge, new contacts, and a respected certificate or badge of completion.
  3. What level of commitment are you willing to make to achieve your educational goals? One- or two-day seminars don’t require a lot of preparation or planning to build specific skills.  Certificate programs can help you maintain status in the market and within your organization.  Checking in during breaks should allow you to focus on programming and address skill gaps efficiently.

But gaining deeper insights into the workings of business will require a larger investment. At the Kellogg School of Management, we offer three-day to three-week programs designed to address specific and general needs of our executive participants.  The National Roofing Contractors Association’s Future Executives Institute (FEI) targets roofing business skills and challenges directly and requires a three-year commitment which includes the ability to attend two to four days of classes, once in the Spring and once in the Fall of each of those years.  For these longer programs, not only do participants need to make the commitment, but their employers (and sometimes their employees) need to commit, too.

If you are seeking to elevate your game, why not investigate the possibilities?  Do you want to learn specific skills or build your roster of certificates? Consider researching those seminars to help you get started.  If you are seeking more generally to expand your business knowledge, it’s never too early to research your options.  Offerings will be fewer and further between for in-depth programs, and you may need to make the business case to others in your organization concerning the financial and time resources required.

Continuous learning isn’t just good for business.  It’s good for you.  As the saying goes, “When is the last time you did something for the first time?” Maybe that time is now.

Karen is an Academic Director and Adjunct Professor of Executive Education at the Kellogg School of Management.  She has been an instructor in NRCA’s Future Executives Institute since its inception in 2002; she teaches the human resources management track. Applications for the next FEI class in the Fall of 2020 will be accepted beginning in March 2020.  For questions about the FEI program, please contact Tom Shanahan, NRCA’s vice president of enterprise risk management and executive education, at tshanahan@nrca.net or (800) 323-9545, ext. 7538; or Janice Davis, director of NRCA University, at jdavis@nrca.net or (800) 323-9545, Ext. 7505.Elevating Your Game:  Why Training Isn’t Just for Field Employees

Learn more about her and the books here.

Photo credit: Pixabay.



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