You Can Learn Anything

I found this blog post, The Future Employee Must Posses the Skill and Will to Learn, an important statement on the duality between employer and employee when it comes to training, skill, and career development.

Learning a new skill is
just plain hard work!
The bottom line is that employees need to take more responsibility for learning the skills they need to perform their existing job and to prepare them for future jobs. Employers quite simply cannot provide everything that is necessary.

Employees need to understand that skills development is ultimately up to them. Of course, great employers provide more and better development opportunities than average companies, but employees should not count on it.

And why should they? These days, you can learn just about any skill you want using free resources and some hard work. Think of a skill and do a search for how to learn that skill on YouTube and see what you find. I learned how to play Sweet Virginia by the Rolling Stones on my guitar by watching a YouTube a weekend.

There are fewer and fewer excuses for not learning a new skill.

But even though I don't think a company can provide it all (though Rackspace is giving it a whirl), a company can do quite a lot to cultivate a culture of continuous learning.

Here are a few ideas:
  • Work everyday to convince people that they can learn new skills and those skills will be recognized, valued, and put to work. 
  • Actively seek employees who do learn new skills and put those people to visible work on new projects.
  • Provide access to resources - access to YouTube, blogs, and yes...even social networks (guess what, employees who use social networks on their personal lives are more productive at work than those who don't use them much).
  • Make tuition reimbursement programs more flexible. Meaning, not just for degree programs. In fact, the money budgeted for tuition reimbursement programs should be allocated also for conferences, seminars, workshops, etc.....ANYTHING!!! Allow employees to decided what is important to them.
  • Be creative about how to develop people. Think Authors@Google.


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