Most people are convinced that “growth” means reading books, attending (free) webinars, workshops, and e-courses on Udemy sale and/or Coursera. The past few months have exposed this mindset more than anything thing else. Not that anything’s wrong with that but I’m curious about the overall effectiveness. There’s been a huge uptick on the volume of learning and development opportunities for people hungry for knowledge. But if you were to study the sign-up rates compare it with the drop-out (or no-show) rates — it’s just mind-boggling!
Only 20% of the people show up. The others either forget about their appointments (most don’t even bother saving the schedule into their calendars!) or have better things to do. Some go the extra mile to use AI-based apps that attend meetings on one’s behalf to record and transcribe the whole damn meeting session! We had a genius doing that for one of our mastermind sessions. I had to kick him out as the masterminds are a tight knit-group of committed people who trust each other to share some of the most deepest and personal aspects of their lives! I can’t risk having these on paper. Come on!
Anyway, I must say organizers are making an outstanding effort but as I said before we need to evaluate the effectiveness of these initiatives. No? I mean, if 80% of my workforce has invested a significant chunk of their time learning new stuff wouldn’t I be curious to know how has all of that helped improve their overall performance at the workplace? It’s a valid question that nobody seems to be asking. Honestly, I’d rather have my people working or learning something that’s relevant to their lives and work than something random.
But how do we know what’s relevant and what’s not? It’s hard to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to the free learning opportunities. The alternative — log into a webinar anyway and stay on mute the whole freaking time! Where’s the learning? Where’s the interaction? Don’t you have anything better to do?
I believe personal and professional growth is measurable and while I can’t expect organizations — big or small — to take interest in validating learning effectiveness, learners should do it themselves. How? By simply asking two questions:
- What have I learned this past week from all the learning and development programs I’ve attended?
- Has any of it helped me increase my capacity? (As in helped me be faster, efficient, and more effective.)
If the answer to question number 2 is a “no,” we’ve got a problem that needs to be addressed immediately. Growth doesn’t happen automatically. You’ve got to work for it. Learning isn’t any different. It’s a prerequisite to growing as a personal and professional. Showing up in random Zoom meetings isn’t a great strategy for growth. The e-certificates that people put out after watching a series of mind-numbing videos aren’t that effective — they’ve just motivated 10 other people to waste time and put up 10 other e-certificates up in the clouds.
So, what are we supposed to do? Nothing at all? Absolutely not! Have a meaningful and specific growth plan that will push you and make you excel. If you’re learning something new or something out of your comfort zone figure out what your learning objective is and most importantly, how it connects back to your area of expertise. If that’s not part of the plan or your idea of “learning and development” is to be able to boast about your Amazon Cloud or AI certification you are missing the point.
Mere learning isn’t enough — you’ve got to have a purpose. As they say, “method to the madness.” You’ve got to have one because without it everything is ambiguous. And you can’t have that for your personal growth because if you want to grow, you’ve got to work. How’s that ever helpful? Are we assuming growth will happen by just showing up? Or have we taken the “showing up is 80% of the problem solved” too literally? That’s bad… because the remaining 20% — the implementation part — is what makes growth possible.
Be intentional. Be specific. Make it matter. For your own growth’s sake.