What Have You Learned This Week?

A close friend of mine was asking me on Friday what I had learned this week.  To be honest I found the question out of the blue and out of context from what we had been talking about.  Even with the knowledge that she is a fellow learning professional that is focused on employee development didn’t make it sound anymore relevant.

As I stammered trying to understand what the heck she was asking, I started recalling everything I had done wrong and what I would do differently the next time if presented with a similar circumstance.  She replied that reviewing our failures is a part of the process, but she wanted me to focus on things I had learned to apply, to which I replied, Huh?

For 20+ years I’ve been promoting learning to others in my role as a trainer, designer, performance consultant and even as a CLO.  Heck, I have created and nurtured several learning organizations and learning environments and preach the gospel of everyone should be a continual learner.  So when asked what I learned this week I took it for granted it must have been something.

My friend suggested I keep a journal of what I learned and how I learned it.  Nothing fancy, in fact I am just using a pad of paper.  By the end of the day I had written down 10 thoughts, insights and things that occurred to me as possibly useful to someone.  I then found myself sending off two emails before the end of the day that took some of this new knowledge and put it to work for a couple of clients.  By the end of the day I was actually surprised by what I learned, and the variety of ways I was picking up the information.

This week I am planning to keep this journal up; if only to send my friend one whopper of a list this Friday!  It would seem I am a constant learner, but I was very out of touch with what I had been learning.  I also realized that sharing things I had learned was probably more important because it was knowledge I was applying.

So if you are game to trying this exercise, plan yourself a weekly task to share something you learned that your fellow readers could benefit from learning.  Post a comment each week about something you learned, and remember to tell us how we can apply it in our lives.  If it is a blog, pod spot, or website, include the link so we can all get the information first hand.  And if you try something out from a comment in this blog, tell us how it worked for you.

Attention All Managers!

The following six phrases have never ever been uttered to my knowledge to a boss, because although they may be things an employee would want to say, I would expect any of them would lead to an immediate termination.  And yet, I am willing to bet we can all identify with wanting to say at least one of them to a past or present manager.  I count myself unlucky because I worked for a gentleman once that all of these would have applied.

 As you read each of these, stop and ask yourself what would make an employee want to say this to their manager?  Why would it be good for all managers to evaluate their own behaviors to prevent any of their employees wanting to say these words out loud?

  • “Never give me work in the morning.  Always wait until 4:00pm and then bring it to me.  The challenge of a deadline is so refreshing!”


  • “If you give me more than one job to do, please don’t share with me which one is your number one priority.  I am psychic!”


  • “Do your best to keep me late.  I just adore this office and really have nowhere to go or anything else to do.  I have no life at all beyond work!”


  • “If a job I do pleases you, keep it a big secret.  If word gets out, it could mean a promotion!”


  • “If you have special instructions for a job, please don’t write them down.  In fact, save them until the job is almost complete.  There is no use confusing me with useful information!”


  • “Wait until my yearly review and THEN tell me what my goals SHOULD have been.  Give me a mediocre performance rating with just a cost of living increase.  I’m not here for the money anyway!”

So, how many did you count with a smile on your face, and the visual of a manager in your mind?  Each of these situations captures a moment when as managers we forget about how our delegation can impact other people and their workloads.  They remind us that recognition goes a long way if communicated, and setting performance expectations is a life long responsibility of any manager.

I didn’t invent these moments, as I got them from a newsletter I subscribe to that has a humor section.  But rather than leave it as just a time to laugh, I wanted to prompt some discussion on how close to home they hit for you.  And, if you as a reader would be a fair target for one of your employees to say these to you, take this opportunity to reverse course.

The Passion and the Paycheck

I recently read an overview of a book called “The Passion and the Paycheck” by Serena Williamson.  This author seems to have struck a nerve when she talks about people working at jobs that only provide compensation and little more.  She also pushes back on the excuse list that people throw up when they would prefer to complain about circumstances rather than take the time to assess what needs to change.  In a nutshell, she is my hero!

I run across people every day of the week earning a paycheck, wait a minute, I should rephrase that a bit because everyone I talk to in a week is getting a paycheck, only a few are earning their paycheck.  So what is the difference?

Showing up for work everyday, looking busy, attending a lot of meetings, and unable to respond to email or voice messages does not earn a star in my book as a productive person.  Especially in today’s economy!  In fact I rarely shed a tear when these folks find themselves unemployed because at least now they are earning their current paycheck.

I am impressed by the people that know what their company is all about.  They understand the mission, and values that their employer has, and work daily to help that company achieve success.  They have goals with deadlines, and they are focused on getting things done.  They are passionate about earning their paycheck.

A friend of mine was a consultant for 5 years, and then returned to running a learning organization full time.  He said “the money was too good to pass up!”  And yet, he told me recently that at the end of each week before he leaves, he tallies up in a journal what went well that week, what could have gone better, and what he accomplished.  He takes the list and writes down what he was paid next to it.  This he told me was his way of making sure that the work he did was equal to the amount he got paid.  Some weeks the company didn’t get their money’s worth, but he strives the following week to give them a bonus.

Tell me folks, do you earn your paycheck?  If not, is it because you are not passionate about the job?  Do everyone a favor, and become passionate about your work, make a difference, and earn your paycheck every single day!

Develop Employees During the Slow Time

If you are working in a company that has decided not to lay off massive amounts of their employees, but rather keep the company together during these slow economic times, I urge you to start training employees now, to be ready for when things pick up.

Now is a perfect time to get compliance training completed for your fiscal year, or boost product knowledge and sales skills.  Technology is advancing rapidly, but when was the last time you challenged people to improve their skills in your different operating systems?  If customer traffic is slowing, then this is a great time to train customer service skills and renew your service standards.  And my personal favorite is the building of interpersonal communication skills, and the development of supervisors, managers and leaders. 

Yet very little training of any kind is going on right now.  When employees are not engaged with work because of a slowing in production, it is the perfect time to engage them in personal development.  If you have decided to keep these valuable assets, then take this opportunity to build skills in them.

When things pick up, these same employees will not have the time to spend in training.  Yet, imagine a workforce that has spent time in development before returning to increased production levels.  Think of what a better trained employee base could do for profits?

When a client of mine recently wanted to postpone training until next year because the company was slowing down I asked if they were planning to lay off employees.  The answer was no.  I said; well then why not use this time to build their skills for when it gets busy since you feel they are so valuable to your operations?  It was an amazing turnaround!  They even admitted that they were using the economy as an excuse not to train, when in fact it should be an excuse to train.

So how about your company?  Are you using this time to build skills, or to let them go stale?  Reply with a comment, and let’s see what’s happening in your corner of the world!