You’ve probably heard the story about the employees who were riding bicycles with square tires. While they were working incredibly hard to go bump-bump-bump down the way, someone ran alongside them and said: “Hey, I have round wheels. Can you stop a moment and try them?” The employees kept pedaling and answered, “No, we’re too busy pedaling.”
Lots of times this anecdote is told simply to illustrate a lack of openness to innovation. I think it is also valuable to consider it from an employee learning perspective.
The employees pedaling bicycles with square wheels can be of any age—young people coming out of college or longtime staff members. They have a certain set of skills and are willing to work hard to put those skills to work. But they don’t have the technical skills to help them do the next job that will be needed to move their company along—they have no skills in riding with round tires. They also lack the soft skills needed to respond well to the changing world around them—to be open to different tires or to lead their team to change tires.
This points to the difference between training and development. Training simply teaches skills team members need right now to do their current jobs. Training would teach the bicycle riders “how to pedal hard with square tires.” In contrast, an overall staff development effort would also to prepare employees to move into new jobs and excel at them. It would teach “how to pedal a bike with round tires” and also “how to identify when adopting a new business tool is a worthwhile move” and “how to lead your team through change.”
In credit union terms, developing your team members means not just teaching them the how-to details of credit union compliance or lending. It also means teaching such soft skills as change management, strategic planning and good governance. While training is focused on helping people succeed today, a program to develop your talent is designed to help them succeed tomorrow—a great thing to think about in November, which is National Career Development Month!
The best staff development initiatives include both technical skills training (such as that offered at CUES’ business lending schools) and leadership learning (such as the content covered at CEO Institute and on CUES Learning Portal). (Also read this past column, which talks about the importance of both technical and leadership training.)
In this time of rapid change, all members of the workforce, from the front lines to the C-suite, need to continually expand or augment their skills. As you plan to be a learning organization in 2020, consider how membership in CUES can help.