If you want some fantastic advice on how to learn to gain a competitive edge in business (or life in general) then listen to Jack Nicholson.
In the movie The Departed, Jack Nicholson’s character Frank Costello (I’ve never loved a bad guy so much) opens with an important line about getting ahead.
Well, okay, I’ll admit he wasn’t talking about learning when he said it. But he should have been! Because it conveys the point I’ve spent most of my career making to organisations. A point that will enable learners to get ahead faster, more easily, cost effectively and enjoyably.
Frank Costello says the great line, “…no one gives it to ya…you have to take it.”
And when it comes to learning, that attitude will serve you, your business and your customers very well.
If your organisation is ‘giving it to ya’ then it’s probably compliance or functional based learning i.e. it’s the bare minimum you need to do your job. That doesn’t get you ahead, and it’s not likely to be designed to make your life easier or more productive. It just puts you in the game. But it also puts the same upper limits on each of you.
Given an upper limit
When learning is given to you, everyone is given the same, so you’re no different to your peers and probably those in competing organisations. This type of learning doesn’t usually enable you to earn too many exciting intrinsic rewards from your work. (Take a mental note of how engaged and thrilled most of your colleagues are right now – many of these people have probably learned to wait to be given training, as that’s the way it’s always been done). What you’re given in the way of learning, sets your limits and rewards (and exposes you to certain hidden threats too).
And even if they ‘give’ you something beyond this, the same applies. If you’re all given the same, it becomes the norm, and becomes average. It also decreases the chances that you’ll take time to discover what’s beyond those edges (other, better, more suitable or more effective ways to add more value).
Chances are too that your competition are also teaching their employees to wait to be given what they need to become ‘capable enough’ and average. I wonder what this costs organisations over the years in lost productivity, lost sales and other opportunity costs?
Take what’s beyond the edges
But if you want to earn yourself rewards beyond the usual, and create more value that matters to others – those in your team, your colleagues, your customers – then you need to ‘take it’.
You need to get on your feet and learn and discover beyond the edges. There are numerous ways out there (I say ‘out there’ – you can do this practically wherever you are) to learn better, more productive, easier or more enjoyable ways to do your job and add value to others. You can proactively find these, learn them and bring them back to your team to share them.
Are you part of a high performance learning team?
So, if you’re honest, does your organisation teach its employees to wait to be trained in order to succeed in business?
Or does it help it’s employees to learn and maximise learning within their teams?
What learning culture are you developing?
Do your people know how to self-direct their learning (alone, socially and informally) in the most effective way possible?
Do they know how to make it stick where required? And do they know how to make what they learn accessible and findable at the point of need, where required?
Are they clear on what type of learning requires what decisions and what treatment? Are the team in alignment around this? Have you had this conversation? Have you got the tools? And is it being supported?
What you can take now
If you’re an employee, decide what you’d like to be able to do to better serve your employer, team or customers. Then find what you need to learn to do that, and take it. Contact me if you’d like some help to do this fast, directly and effectively.
If you’re not sure what’s possible, then there’s your first learning assignment. Find it out. Take it.
If you’re a team leader or in L&D, create the conditions in your organisation to help your people get curious, discover, find and take what they need to gain a competitive edge. And create a platform and team mindset that has them sharing and connecting what they find and take.
If you need help, I can walk you through how to build such a high performance learning team. I can get you in to a strong position fast. But we’ll need a conversation to kick things off. And I can’t give that to you. You’ll have to take that too.