The Big Picture of Business- Professional Education Necessary for Company Success

Professional education is an important ingredient in corporate development. Today’s workforce will need three times the amount of training that it now gets if the organization intends to stay in business, remain competitive and tackle the future successfully.

Training is rarely allowed to be extensive. It is usually technical or sales/marketing in nature. Employees and executives are rarely mentored on the people skills necessary to have a winning team. Thus, they fail to establish a company vision and miss their business mark.

Outside of ‘think tanks’ for company executive committees, full-scope education does not occur. This is primarily because niche trainers recommend what they have to sell, rather than what the company needs. Niche trainers impart their own perspectives out of context to the whole of the organization.

Team building must be part of the corporate Vision first, not as a series of exercises delegated to trainers. I conduct Executive Think Tanks for corporate management. The success of this enables trainers with the ‘rank and file employees’ to be optimally successful. Organizations of all sizes must have the Think Tank…which delineates future operations, including education and training.

Training is unfairly blamed and scapegoated for pieces of the organizational mosaic that Strategic Planning and cohesive corporate Vision should have addressed early-on. Trainers cannot reconstruct organizational structure, nor can other niche consultants.

7 Steps of Professional Development:

1. Teaching-Training. Conveying information, insights and intelligence from various sources. Categorized by subject, grade level and methods of delivery. Expert teachers (fountains of learning material) are the building block in the educational process, and the student must be an active participant (rather than a non-involved or combative roadblock).
2. Studying. One cannot learn just by listening to a teacher. Review of material, taking notes, seeking supplementary materials and questing to learn additionally must occur.
3. Learning. The teacher instructs, informs and attempts to enlighten. The student accepts, interprets and catalogs the material taught. Periodically, the material is reviewed.
4. Information. As one amasses years of learning, one builds a repository of information, augmented by experiences of putting this learning into practice.
5. Analysis. One sorts through all that has been learned, matched with applicabilities to daily life. One determines what additional learning is necessary and desired. From this point forward, education is an ongoing process beyond that of formal schooling. If committed, the person turns the quest for knowledge into a life priority.
6. Knowledge. A Body of Knowledge is derived from years of living, learning, working, caring, sharing, failing and succeeding. This step is detailed in my monograph, “The Learning Tree”: (1) Life. (2) Living Well. (3) Working Well. (4) Education. (5) Philosophy. (6) Self Fulfillment. (7) Purpose and Commitment.
7. Wisdom. This requires many years of commitment to learning, compounded by the continuous development of knowledge. Few people attempt to get this far in the educational process. Those who do so have encompassed profound wisdom. This step is detailed in my monograph, “7 Layers of Wisdom”: (1) Glimmer of An Idea. (2) Learning Curve. (3) Applications for Lessons Learned. (4) Trial and Error, Success and Failure. (5) Teaching, Mentoring. (6) Insights, Beliefs, Systems of Thought. (7) Profound Wisdom, Life Perspectives.

Categories of Professional Education:

There is a difference between how one is basically educated and the ingredients needed to succeed in the longterm. Many people never amass those ingredients because they stop learning or don’t see the need to go any further. Many people think they are ‘going further’ but otherwise spin their wheels.

There is a large disconnect between indoctrinating people to tools of the trade and the myriad of elements they will need to assimilate for their own futures. Neither teachers nor students have all the necessary ingredients. It is up to both to obtain skills, inspiration, mentoring, processes, accountability, creativity and other components from niche experts.

Therein lies the problem. Training vendors sell what they have to provide…not what the constituencies or workforces need. Emphasis must be placed upon properly diagnosing the organization as a whole and then prescribing treatments for the whole, as well as the parts.

Training should be conducted within a formal, planned program that addresses the majority of organizational aspects.

7 Biggest Misconceptions About Training:

  1. One Size Fits All. If it’s not customized, it’s not going to be effective.
  2. Trainers Are Business Experts. Generally, they are vendors who sell ‘off the shelf’ products that target small niches within the organization. Few are schooled in full-scope business culture and have not been previously engaged to advise organizations at the top.
  3. Human Resources Oversees Training. By their nature, HR departments are designed to uphold processes and systems. Training is about change, which contradicts the basic construction of HR. Not all HR people are versed in the subtle nuances of people skills and are, thus, not the best to supervise training. It really should not be under the thumb of HR.
  4. Trainers Write the Training Plans. All major departmental plans should be written objectively and in concert with the Strategic Plan…by qualified advisors. Training companies often give free assessments in order to sell their programs. Free surveys do not constitute a cohesive plan. Let trainers do what they do best: training. Let experienced planners design the training plan, with input from trainers included. Don’t let the plan evolve from a training company’s sales pitch.
  5. Only Industry Experts Can Train in Our Company. What companies need most is objective business savvy and sophisticated overviews. Core industry ‘experts’ only know core industry issues from their own experiences. Quality training must focus on dynamics outside the core business, yet should have relativity to the organization.
  6. One Course Will Fix the Problem. Training is not a punishment for having done something ‘wrong.’ It’s a privilege…a major benefit of employment. It unlocks doors to greater success, growth and profitability…for those trained and for the sponsoring organization. In order to be competitive in the future, today’s workers will need three times the training that they are now getting.
  7. That It’s Supposed to Be Popular. The biggest mistake that meeting planners make is determining the effectiveness of training and training professionals via audience survey. Most conference evaluation forms are lightweight and ask for surface rankings…rather than for nuggets of knowledge learned. Speakers and training budgets are therefore judged upon whimsical comments of individual audience participants…which get harsher when the training is for topics they need, rather than things they would ‘prefer’ to hear. Voices of reality are always criticized by people who really are not qualified to assess them.

7 Levels of Training:

  1. Mandated.
  2. Basic Education.
  3. Informational.
  4. Technical, Niche Skills.
  5. Procedural.
  6. Optional.
  7. Insightful-Deep-Rich-Meaningful.

Levels of Mandated Training:

  1. Fix Those People.
  2. Stay Where You Are.
  3. This Is the Way It Is.
  4. Accept Our Pet Project.
  5. Things ‘They’ Are Making Us Do.
  6. What We Want to Teach You.
  7. You’ll Do It, and You’ll Like It.

Levels of Optional Training:

  1. Micro-Niche.
  2. Things to Perform Tasks.
  3. Process Administration.
  4. Procedural Adherence.
  5. Hobby-Fun-Entertainment.
  6. Skills Enrichment.
  7. Personal Development.

Levels of Training That Are Rare But Truly Needed:

  1. Pride in Workmanship.
  2. Learning, Growing, Mentoring.
  3. Fully Actualized Professionalism.
  4. Amassing People Skills.
  5. Pursuing Excellence.
  6. Adding Value to the Organization.
  7. Developing a Body of Work-Knowledge.

These pointers are suggested in the selection of training providers:

  • Ask a senior business advisor to help determine which consultants are needed, write the
    training program, evaluate credentials and recommend contracting options.
  • Understand what your company really needs and why.
  • Don’t pit one consultant against another, just to get free ideas.
  • Don’t base the training decisions on ‘apples to oranges’ comparisons.
  • Ask for case studies which were directly supervised by the person who will handle your training…not stock narratives from affiliate offices or a supervisor.
  • Find out their expertise in creating and customizing for clients…rather than off-the-shelf programs which they simply implement.
  • Determine their abilities to collaborate and interrelate with other consultants.

These pointers are suggested in budgeting for and pricing services:

  • Budget for training at the start of the fiscal year, averaging 10% of gross sales.
  • See training as an investment (short-term and long-term), not to be short-changed.
  • Every size of business needs training.
  • The company which makes the small investment on the front end (training) saves higher costs. Research shows that training investments foregone are multiplied six-fold in opportunity costs each year that action is put off. (This is another of my trademarked concepts, known as The High Cost of Doing Nothing.)

Questions to consider in evaluating training providers include:

  • Would you feel comfortable if they ran your company?
  • What is their longevity? Were they consultants 10-20 years ago? Consultants must have at least a 10-year track record to be at all viable as a judgment resource.
  • What is their maturity level? Could they appear before a board of directors?
  • How do they meet deadlines, initiate projects and offer ideas beyond the obvious?
  • If one level of consultant sells the business, will this same professional service your account? Big firms usually bring in junior associates after the sale is made. Demand that consultants of seniority staff the project.
  • How consistent are they with specific industries, types of projects and clients?
  • How good a generalist are they? Trainers with too narrow a niche will not ultimately serve your best interests.

Professional status is important. Prospective clients should inquire about the consultant’s:

  • Respect among current and recent clients.
  • Reputation among affected constituencies within the business community.
  • Activity in professional development and business education. If they do not pursue ongoing knowledge progression, they are obsolete and not valuable to clients.
  • Track record at mentoring other business professionals. Check to see that they give beyond the scope of billable hours.
  • Pro-bono community involvement. If they have done little or none, they are not worth hiring. Top professionals know the value of giving back to the community that supports them, becoming better consultants as a result.

The ideal training provider:

  • Clearly differentiates what he/she does…and will not presume to ‘do it all.’
  • Is a tenured full-time consultant, not a recently down-sized corporate employee or somebody seeking your work to ‘tide themselves over.’
  • Has actually run a business.
  • Has consulted companies of comparable size and complexity as yours.
  • Has current references and case histories.
  • Gives ‘value-added’ insight…in contrast to simply performing tasks.
  • Sees the scope of work as a professional achievement…rather than just billable hours.
  • Pursues client relationship building…as opposed to just rendering a contract service.

7 Biggest Benefits of Training:

  1. Measurements. Test scores, grades, class rankings, GPA, SAT, professional certifications, licensing examinations, juried awards. Whether in school or business, we are all measured. Knowledge helps to make and predict society’s measurements which are expected.
  2. Thinking-Reasoning Skills. What we learn is important. Further, what we do with lessons, how facts are interpreted, how we approach problems and the faculties of common sense are vital to economic, social and self-betterment success.
  3. Socialization-People Skills. Through trial-and-error, success-and-failure and the observation of other people’s strengths-and-weaknesses, we learn how to live and work with others. Mastering people skills makes for win-win propositions.
  4. Professional Development. Education does not stop after the highest degree completed…it merely begins. Training, professional enrichment, membership in associations and constructive business interaction are vital for career longevity and economic independence.
  5. Mentorship. Learning from others takes a higher plateau when under the wings of experts. Mentorship (which has seven levels) is a stairstep process of bettering all participants. Meaningful lessons, paying dues and developing relationships empower those who make the effort “go the distance.” Learning from different, ususual and informed sources is the art of mentorship.
  6. Earning Power. Education (formal schooling, professional development and enhanced-relationship study) has a direct relationship to financial rewards. It begins with school but bears fruit in the willingness to learn, change and grow professionally.
  7. Future Life. A truly successful person commits to mentoring others, giving back, mastering change and never failing to learn. Education is more than confirming one’s held beliefs. It plants knowledge roots, which sprout in ideas, applicabilities and lifelong insights.

I recommend that team building training be conducted as part of a company Strategic Plan, with top management participating. Companies must plan…predicting (rather than reacting to) strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Professional development must be offered to every employee, including mentoring for top executives and up-and-coming young people. Education should show decision makers all phases of the organization and what it takes to succeed and grow, personally and as a team.

Topics recommended to be taught:

  • Marketplace factors outside your company, how they can hurt or help your business.
  • Generational work ethics and why young people need executive mentoring to ‘go the distance’ in their careers, offering value to the company and profession.
  • Understanding the value of conducting independent company assessments, other than the ‘bean counter’ approach.
  • Workplace literacy. Much of the work force does not have basic skills, nor reasoning abilities. They embrace technology, rather than ideas and concepts.
  • Understand and celebrate diversity. This is a blessing, not a mandate.
  • Accept and embrace change. Research shows change is 90% beneficial. So why do people fight what is best for them?
  • What business the company is really in…why…where they are headed…with what resources-knowledge-skills…on what timeline…who plays a part in growth…and how (the process known as Visioning).

About the Author

Hank MoorePower Stars to Light the Business Flame, by Hank Moore, encompasses a full-scope business perspective, invaluable for the corporate and small business markets. It is a compendium book, containing quotes and extrapolations into business culture, arranged in 76 business categories.

Hank’s latest book functions as a ‘PDR of business,’ a view of Big Picture strategies, methodologies and recommendations. This is a creative way of re-treading old knowledge to enable executives to master change rather than feel as they’re victims of it.

Power Stars to Light the Business Flame is now out in all three e-book formats: iTunes, Kindle, and Nook.

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