I had the privilege of teaching and leading a group of twelve boys in 4th and 5th grade in the first semester of the school year. They go to a private Christian school and they have the option to select a club as an elective class held twice a month for 40 minutes. They can choose from a variety of clubs – Fitness, Robotics, Technology, Crafts, Profit, Drama, and Chorus. The boys and girls pick the club that interests them and they participate for a whole semester. It is a wonderful way to provide them with an alternate way to learn and apply what they are learning. The group leaders are parents or teachers that volunteer their time to share their passion and expertise.
The Profit Club gives me the opportunity to teach business skills to these young students. Each semester, we start with the basics. They transform their desks into a conference table and the classroom becomes a conference room. The ruler becomes a talking stick and they must have the ruler to speak and avoid two people talking at once. They learn to have an agenda or they do not have a meeting. Brainstorming becomes their favorite agenda item. Presenting their ideas back to the decision maker (school Principal) is a welcomed task. They know the objectives of the club before they select which one to join and we go over them at each meeting. The objective of the profit club is to:
Learn about Pricing
Pick a product or service
Help others – “Be a Prophet” – donate to missions
Of course, they learned a whole lot more and I think I learned as much as them or possibly more. This past semester consisted of 6 total 40 minute meetings and them running a school store that sold healthy snacks. They were open for 27 days for 20 minutes before school. They invested 5.4 hours of time and made a profit.
Professional development of others is something I really enjoy. As a leader, I always encourage and help my team to continually learn and grow in their education and experiences. Some companies today may be challenged with lack of budgeted training dollars for professional development. Even if challenged, there are ways you can invest in people. Some ideas that may work for you:
Lunch and Learn – Take an hour a week and meet in person with your team. Have everyone to bring their lunch and have those remote to dial in to a conference line. Use this time to discuss a chapter a week in a book that you are reading together. Or have someone to teach others about something they have learned at a conference or through a recent training session. When someone does have the privilege to attend outside training, make it an expectation that they do a teach-back to the group upon return. It will help them apply what they have learned as well as provide new information to the team.
Identify gaps in skills – Work with your team to identify skill gaps so you will have target development plans for the year. Meet with each team member once a month in a one-on-one session. Help keep them on track to accomplish their yearly goals for professional development. If you need help in identify the gap in skills, consider trying a proven assessment offered through my company.
Toastmasters International – A world leader in communication and leadership development. For $36 every six months, members can improve their speaking and leadership skills. Start by checking out a local meeting in your area as a guest. You can also start your own club at your company. Membership in Toastmasters is one of the greatest investments you can make in yourself.
Have you ever done something just because it was the right thing to do for your employees and then years later read about it in a book and have one of those “aha” moments? Well, I did. During my management career in the call center industry, the senior leadership group would get together and have an annual cookout for the employees. We were always very cautious of costs and sticking to our budget. We would price out having it catered and needless to say, we always ended up doing it ourselves. A trip to the local wholesale club store to fill our flatbed carts with food, drinks, condiments, paper products, etc. was the norm. Putting it all together and setting up a schedule where we each pull our shift of grilling, serving (fixing plates), and cleaning up. Exhausted before we even got started. It was all hands on deck and the management team did all the work in the midst of the hot humid SC summer. We always got great feedback from the employees of how nice it was but most importantly that it was very meaningful to them that we served them. For us to do all the work is what they really appreciated. So, my “aha” moment was in a book titled “Conflict Unraveled – Fixing Problems at Work and in Families” by Andra Medea. The author (page 76) talks about the power of food…..”No Catering……Having everyone out of their authority role eating together like kids in a family….Great for employee morale”! Aha, been there done that and now I really get it! It was the right thing to do but now I really understand why. Take the time to serve your employees.
Being an avid learner, I must agree with the author on this great article. Especially, the comment, “I’ve yet to meet someone who couldn’t teach me something”. We learn so much from others when we are open minded and put forth the effort to listen and learn.
Also, point number 5 (Learning is good; Doing is better) hit home with me. In my teaching experiences over the years, I have learned that hands-on experience or application of what is being taught is essential to the learning process. I can tell you “how” to do something but the moment you actually “try it” or experience it yourself is when the true learning experience happens. Doing should not take the place of learning but should be a vital part of the learning process. It is in the hands-on experience time that so often you see those light bulb moments….the very thing that keeps us Trainers coming back for more!
A lot of great lessons learned shared by five exceptional Women Entrepreneurs. Some really good advice for both women and men. Strategy and communication are a big part of the advice, however, the one common theme I noticed that each entrepreneur shared was at least one comment each around around the topic of People. In summary:
Believe in people.
Bring out the best in your team.
Hire the best and take care of them.
Surround yourself with people who challenge your thinking.
Hire the right people partners – invdividuals you like and respect.
This article really hit home with me because I love solving problems and the first step is to ask lots of questions. First and foremost, you have to be willing to ask the questions. But to get the right solution you have to ask the right questions. The technique used here can help guide you when a project gets stuck by identifying where the obstacle falls……into one of the three categories – Heart, Head, or Hands.