By Kristopher B. Jones, serial entrepreneur and investor. Kris is the founder of award-winning SEO company LSEO.com.
Professional-growth workshops and continuing education in the workplace are some of the most important innovations that business leaders can make in their companies. Leadership training helps individual employees achieve their professional goals, while regular growth and development workshops can guide entire businesses in determining their direction.
Yet, I've noticed that workshops and continuing education are among the tasks that CEOs and entrepreneurs most often brush off until later. I argue that this kind of professional training needs a place in startups, and indeed businesses of all sizes, due to its ability to increase employee happiness and productivity.
Workplace Education Solves Real Problems
Before I talk about how to implement leadership and growth seminars in the workplace, I want to discuss why they are helpful in the first place. One major misconception about in-office training sessions is that they waste employee time that would be better spent completing actual work.
I assert that the opposite is true. Workshops can end up saving time because they are investments in the confidence, abilities, and productivity of staff. Leadership training and further education workshops keep the lines of communication open, help employees identify professional goals and key performance indicators, and allow supervisors to check up on how people are doing.
Workshops force us to stop regularly to ask employees whether they need help with anything. Maybe a few employees are struggling with their presenting skills. Companies can then design leadership workshops around public speaking.
Continuing professional education in the workplace can aid CEOs and team leads in identifying and resolving employee hang-ups or areas of weakness. Employees who are educated in powering through those weaknesses will ultimately become more efficient and productive. Not to mention, more growth opportunities can reduce a company's turnover rate.
Implementing Workplace Education and Workshops
Now that you know the value of leadership workshops for employees, it's time to talk about implementing all of this. At my company, we have done this on multiple fronts. Our leadership coach has been working with us for a year now on personal and professional development through modules and classes. Employees meet with him regularly to discuss the goals they set at previous meetings and how they are progressing.
We take time from our busy days to meet with our leadership coach and complete any assignments he gives us. As mentioned above, the work time we lose is an investment in our own futures. That's exactly why entrepreneurs and CEOs can't afford to brush off in-office workshops as a waste.
Our director of operations has implemented another idea in the area of continuing professional education that has really taken off. Where we had been having bi-weekly pizza Fridays that consisted simply of ordering pizza for everyone, he came in and upgraded those Fridays to become "lunch and learn" days.
Pizza Fridays still consist of enjoying some company-provided pizza, but those lunchtimes now involve employees presenting their particular skill sets to the rest of the company (of course, given the nature of these times, our company events have gone remote). One Friday, we might learn about link building. Two weeks later, maybe we hear from someone on the SEO team about creating a task checklist for client accounts.
Activities such as this are simple, effective, and easy to implement. We are getting educated in the responsibilities of other departments while simultaneously enjoying the fun factor of spending some (virtual) time with one another over lunch.
Do It for the Culture
If for no other reason, CEOs should institute continuing education and leadership workshops at their companies for the culture they can help create. There are probably times in many companies' histories when employees don't feel recognized or fulfilled, and the entire organization suffers from a distinct lack of direction, atmosphere, and culture.
Implementing growth opportunities in the form of leadership seminars and workshops can go a long way toward building up your workplace culture and encouraging employees to stay. People who feel they can work for you while simultaneously building their personal and professional acumen will ideally tell others about how positive your environment is.
That is the kind of press that encourages the best talent to want to join you, grow the company, and ultimately contribute to everybody's success.