One of the key attributes that distinguish CEOs from the average person is that they’ve developed the habit of being a lifelong learner. Because most people have a negative association with traditional education, it creates challenges for them to commit themselves to learning new things. So, when you say it’s important to be a lifelong learner all they can imagine is being cooped up in a classroom and taking tests for the rest of their lives.
As a CEO, you can create a culture of lifelong learners. Learning happens all the time whether we realize it or not. When someone is interested in playing golf, they take the time to learn how to hold a club properly. When an individual is interested in switching careers, they learn all about what’s necessary to make it happen.
Some medical professionals, like PAs, may have switched from being business owners to going through countless PANCE practice questions just so they could sit with patients and care for them instead. As a CEO, you have a unique opportunity to help people realize their potential. Here are some ways that you can empower your staff to be lifelong learners in ways that might ignite new passions in them.
Money talks. Let’s face it, people often work for companies because of the benefits they provide. Offering financial incentives to employees who undergo additional training, get new certifications, or further their college education, can help motivate and empower some of your staff. Additionally, having tiers of salary that they can step through if they advance their training in a particular field can also be appealing. So, whether you pay for the training and certifications or you increase their salary once they finish, offering financial incentives can help.
Reading books can feel arduous. Many people remember back to their school days when they read George Orwell when they would’ve preferred something from R.L. Stine. Assigned reading is the best way to get no one on board with your ideas. However, creating healthy competition for people who read a variety of content can help motivate employees toward being lifelong learners. While some of your staff may prefer to pick up a good novel, others might enjoy a biography or a historical book. Pit your teams against each other in a pursuit to see what kind of reading they might do if they got rewarded as a team for it.
Part of the problem with trying to create lifelong learners is when are they supposed to do it? People have lives outside of work that include families, chores, errands, and everyday activities. They often can’t find the time to pursue something they are interested in learning about. Why not give them work time to do it? If someone wants to learn how to cook, you could give them a day to go learn how to make pastries with a local chef. If someone wants to garden, send them to a local nursery to see how the professionals make their gardens grow.
Mentoring is a sneaky way to help people learn. It’s simply an opportunity to invite someone into a relationship where one person shares their knowledge and skills with the hopes that the other will be able to do the same. Want to incubate more leaders? Pair interested staff with upper management in your company. Give them a chance to have their ideas and voices heard so that not only can they grow, but your company can benefit as well.
One of the worst parts of creating lifelong learners is in trying to tell them the best topics to learn. Forcing the same topics on everyone is a surefire way to get staff to reject the notion of learning for life. Instead, let your staff pick and choose topics to learn about that they are interested in. Your procurement staff might be interested in learning more about marketing, and your administrative staff may be interested in discovering what it looks like to be a graphic designer. Creating a culture of lifelong learners means that the sky\’s the limit, and all learning is good learning. Once they realize that learning is fun and can happen in many ways.