I read an interesting article this morning in the Harvard Business Review. It is a few years old now – but I think its just as true today as it was when it was published. The premise is that while leaders strongly advocate personal development and learning, they do not really allow any time for their employees to actually do any.
In a results driven environment, the long-term gains of credible personal learning are overshadowed by the short-term needs of constant delivery.
To paraphrase; We want you to read books, article, and whitepapers,we want you to take courses and gain qualifications, we want you to keep up with the latest trends and we want you to build your business networks – but we don’t want you to do it on our time. We do, however, expect to leverage any knowledge and contacts you gain through doing it.
Learning and personal development has turned into a results driven enterprise – everyone cares about your knowledge, but very few care about the journey to get there.
I think it is a shame, true incremental learning is one of the strongest tools that can be used in transformational change – giving people the time to try, to experiment and to develop is a far surer way of landing change than any day long intensive workshop that most attendees forget the content of as soon as they are on the way home.
At the end of the day – I take the stance that I am responsible for my own development and so I will find the time to do it despite the time constraints that I have. But I really think that a lot of leaders are missing a trick; the simple provision of ring fenced development time is such an unusual commodity these days that most employees will not soon forget a employer that is prepared to provide it.