Create An Environment Of Growth

March 13, 2013 — 55 Comments
Create An Environment Of Growth | Joseph Lalonde

One of the saddest things is a person who no longer pursues learning once they’ve graduated. Learning is put on the back burner and it’s all about enjoyment from here on out.

The statistics are shocking and sickening.

Rainbow of Books.

Image by John Remy

After Graduation Learning Statistics

Here are some statistics regarding learning and reading after graduation:

  • 42% never pick up a book after college graduation
  • 80% of US families did not purchase a book in the last year
  • Your chance of income decreases drastically when you stop your continuing education

I know you’re not a statistic when it comes to learning. You’re eager to gain more knowledge and implement what you’re learning.

While you’re doing what you can to advance your skills and abilities, your team may not have the same learning mindset.

As a great leader, this is something you can encourage. You can create an environment that encourages growth.

Create A Library

An easy way to encourage learning within your organization is to create a library on the premises. It can be as fancy and swank as you like or it could be simple and plain.

To get started, all you need is a simple bookcase and books. And there’s a never ending source of books out there.

Go to the local Goodwill or thrift store and pick up used books. Most of these stores have their used books for under a dollar. Imagine the library you can build at this cost!

There’s also great used book stores online. Sites like Better World Books (helping to promote literacy through your purchases), Half.com, Thrift Books, or even Amazon.

Once you’ve begun to accumulate books for the library, begin stocking the bookshelves with books and let you team know that they’re there for their use. Encourage them to take the books home or read them on their lunch breaks.

Don’t be afraid to ask your team what books they’d like to see in the library. This is a great way to carry books that they’ll want to read.

The library doesn’t have to be all physical books. There’s the possibility of stocking it with audiobooks, video courses, and conference audio.

With all of the great books, you might even see people putting together book clubs. The amount of growth potential is unlimited.

Create Incentives For College Courses

Many of your employees would love to continue their education. One problem. They lack the funds to do so.

This is where you can step in and be the hero. You can help them continue learning.

Bring up the idea of your organization pitching in to help cover the cost of college tuition. Your company will reap the benefits anyways so why not help them out?

If your company cannot pay for the college classes, find another incentive. Slight pay increases for those that complete 3 courses. An extra day of vacation to those that have completed a full semester. An office party when an employee graduates.

Can’t you see this encouraging your team members to complete some college courses? I do and I know it works.

Create Opportunities To Attend Conferences, Seminars, And Training Courses

One thing I’ve found that really helps me grow and learn is attending conferences. You’re able to rub shoulders with others in your industry and interest areas. There’s also the opportunity to meet presenters and organizers with whom you can form great relationships.

Conferences, seminars, and training courses are often an overlooked area of growth but offer so much. You can also offer subscriptions to websites like Lynda.com (click to get a 7 day free trial) which offers training in business and other courses.

The investment is normally fairly small. Anywhere from $50 all the way up to a couple of thousand dollars. It all depends on what you’re looking for.

And you can offer this to your team.

Pick up the tab and travel expenses for your team to go to a conference. Offer to split the bill. Let them have time off to attend the seminar. Make some kind of effort to encourage attendance and you’ll see people step up to the plate and engage in learning experiences.

The Ball Is In Your Court

Now it’s up to you. Will you implement these ideas and encourage your team to grow? It’s simple and easy to do.

You’ll begin to see your team grow and become more knowledgeable about their areas of expertise. Remember, a more educated team is a better team.

Encourage them to grow!

Question: How does your organization create an environment of growth? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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  • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

    In our department, we actually put a personal development target in everyone’s goals for this year.  My company also pays for educational opportunities for employees who want to gain more knowledge.  I used this benefit to get my Professional Engineering License and to get my MBA.

    What books would you recommend we use to start a library in our department?

  • http://www.mattmcwilliams.com/ Matt McWilliams

    The “company library” has always been something I pushed for as a leader. We did it at two companies and the results were amazing. It’s how I became a fan of Andy Andrews and Michael Gerber. Seeing what others were reading was a big factor in deciding what I read.

    I always wrote a note on the inside of the book telling the person what it meant to me. One person even took to continuing that practice and before long we had 3+ notes in some of the books. That is cool.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Matt, I really like your idea on writing a note in the book and what it meant to you. This adds a special air to the book and creates something no other library will have. These small notes can also lead to new conversations with coworkers and you can learn more about them.

  • http://sparkvoice.wordpress.com/ DS

    One of the ways we cultivate this, is through a digital library with Books 24X7.  I’ve read several, or listened to several through our agreement.  Before our department can purchase a physical book, we have to check our online catalog first.  Office space can be at a premium, so this has it’s advantages.

    • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

      We have Books 24×7 here also, but I don’t think many people take advantage of it.

      • http://sparkvoice.wordpress.com/ DS

        I think you’re probably right in that regard at most places. I really do love it and use it all the time. Our company could better utilize it and we could definitely promote it better – it has tremendous potential as a resource.

      • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

        Jon, do you have any information on how Books 24×7 works?

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      I’ve never heard of Books 24X7. How does this program work?

      • http://sparkvoice.wordpress.com/ DS

        Ii’m not exactly sure how it works. John Stople might be able to give some info. I believe it’s a subscription where employees can access over 24000 books digitally – some print, some audio.

        • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

           Okay, thanks DS. Asking Jon about it now!

          • http://sparkvoice.wordpress.com/ DS

            I was meaning on how a business subscribes to it.  As a user you get so many chapters that you can print during a specific time period, but you can read it digitally all you want.  I’m not aware of an audio book limit, but they have them as well.

  • http://tcavey.blogspot.com/ TCAvey

    I love to read and learn. I can’t believe those stats- it’s mind blowing that so many don’t read!
    Too much TV!

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      The stats are crazy but I figure they’re true. There was a time when I spent too much time in front of a TV and not enough time in a good book.

      • http://tcavey.blogspot.com/ TCAvey

        I think most of us are guilty of that from time to time.

        • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

          True, true. I was just listening to the guys at Internet Business Mastery and heard one of them had fallen back into the trap of too much entertainment. His reasoning for why was interesting (getting away from the focus of their motivation).

          • http://tcavey.blogspot.com/ TCAvey

             Hmmmm…not sure how to interpret that?

            The entertainment industry does a great job at distracting us from important things.

            • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

              Sorry about that TC. I think it was too early and I didn’t finish my thought before finishing up the comment.

              I was wondering if many of us are guilty of too much entertainment time because we get outside of our main purpose in life, like the host of IBM. And when we’re outside of that purpose, we’re just looking for a release.

              • http://tcavey.blogspot.com/ TCAvey

                That makes more sense and I agree. I think after a long day many just want to get lost in something that doesn’t matter and TV is a great outlet.

              • http://tcavey.blogspot.com/ TCAvey

                I was just thinking, if we allowed ourselves to read more fiction (not trash, but something not so heavy as devotionals or Nonfic) then maybe we wouldn’t watch so much TV. What do you think?

    • http://sparkvoice.wordpress.com/ DS

      The sad thing too is that you can listen – if you don’t want to read it yourself.

      • http://tcavey.blogspot.com/ TCAvey

         I hadn’t thought of that.

        • http://www.nathanmagnuson.com/ Nathan Magnuson

          Check out Audible.com. It’s one of my favorites and super affordable. Great for redeeming time spent in the car or gym.

  • David

    Those are great ideas. Most of my jobs have been with small private companies, well under 100 employees, and unfortunately, as a result, they haven’t had the resources to offer those types of incentives to their employees (or possibly, have chosen not to provide those incentives). I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt though, because I don’t know.

    Though I like the more personal feeling of working for a smaller company versus the “just a number” feeling I’ve heard about at larger corporations, one of the trade-offs is that the types of ideas mentioned in your post are often not available.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      That’s disappointing to hear David. I think small, private companies could still do something like this, even if it’s offering only a handful of titles or sending employees to smaller training seminars.

      Have you asked any of your employers if they’d be willing to offer something like this? You might be the catalyst to getting the program into place.

      • http://sparkvoice.wordpress.com/ DS

        Here’s a completely different way too – Open Courseware:
        MIT – http://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm
        TUFTS – http://ocw.tufts.edu/
        Notre Dame – http://ocw.nd.edu/
        Yale – http://oyc.yale.edu/
        Utah State – http://ocw.usu.edu/

        • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

          Whoa, thanks for putting together such a great list DS. I’ve known about MIT’s open courseware but not the others. Will be something to keep in my sights!

  • http://www.mondayisgood.com/ Tom Dixon

    Often a person needs to read a book more than another degree or credential. There is some great free stuff on iTunes University also.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Thanks for mentioning iTunes University. I forgot about them. They’re a great resource and contain many great classes.

  • http://twitter.com/LeadingEveryday Juan Cruz Jr

    The company I work provides tuition reimbursement. Also there is a library of free online courses, from softskills to technical. I recently ran into Coursera which is run by a consortium of universities such as Stanford, Berkley, and other big name schools which offer free online courses. 

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Juan, I bet you appreciated the tuition reimbursement! It certainly helps to encrouage employees to further their education.

      Coursera is a great resource as well. I’ve looked at a few of their courses and it looks pretty impressive. You mentioned there is a library of free online courses, which library is this?

  • http://kimanziconstable.com/ kimanzi constable

    Brendan Burchard says “An expert is a student first.” None of us know it all, we have to continue learning! 

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      That’s so true Kimanzi. How are you being a student first?

  • http://www.ryanridgway.com/ Ryan Ridgway

    Wow, the fact that 42% of graduates never pick up a book again grosses me out! I would go as far as to say that the problem is dual-fold though. Part of the problem is undoubtedly their fault. The other part of the problem is the education system itself. One of my favorite talks from Seth Godin (go to YouTube and type in Seth Godin Ted Talks) is where he speaks about how our current educational system was initially built as a side engine to further propel the industrial revolution. A lot of alumni are programmed into thinking that reading is a treacherous activity because that’s what it was during school. They read for the grade and the piece of paper, not the education ;) 

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      That’s a great point Ryan. I can see how that plays into the problem of failing to read after graduation. Another interesting statistic I’d like to see is of those 58% that have picked up a book after graduation, how many books do they read a year or through the rest of their lifetime.

  • http://www.danerickson.net/ Dan Erickson

    Yikes!  Those stats about books and reading after college are scary.  I’m with you, Joe.  Lifelong and continual learning is absolute gold.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      I know, it’s a sad fact that most people don’t learn after graduation.

  • http://www.liveitforward.com/ Kent Julian

    The decision to learn creates momentum, but the habits of learning (i.e. reading, listening to audio programs, journaling, leading your life from quiet, etc.) creates forward movement.

    Great post, as always, Joe!

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Thanks Kent. I’m glad you decided to be a continual learner! I’m thankful to say that I’ve learned much from your teachings!

  • http://www.nathanmagnuson.com/ Nathan Magnuson

    Those are really sad statistics, Joe. I remember reading from Dan Miller that people will spend more $ on coffee and soft drinks that a post-college education. I vowed that would never happen to me. One of the events I attend each year is Chick-fil-A Leadercast. I’ve also had a subscription with Audible.com for 2 audiobooks a month.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Nathan, congratulations on making the choice to be a lifelong learner! The Chick-Fil-A Leadercast has looked amazing to me the last couple of years but I haven’t been able to attend it or a satellite location. Wish they’d sell recordings of the conference! What have you enjoyed most about the Leadercast?

      • http://www.nathanmagnuson.com/ Nathan Magnuson

        The speaker lineup is great but I think the potential for networking is also great.

        • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

          I’m with you Nathan. A lot of times you can walk away with more from the connections you’ve made than the actual content (regardless of how good the event was). Any tips on better networking?

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