HELP YOUR TEAM LEARN MORE & BECOME BETTER
So you want your company to rapidly grow and become better? Well, water it, nurture it. It’s that simple.
Yet, so many companies fail to see value in investing time and resources. They don’t see, that like plants, communities of humans also need nourishment.
Because of this disconnect, many companies experience terrible performance across the board. People start leaving the organization left and right.
Just the way a farmer needs to tend to and nurture the land for it to grow and flourish, leaders equally need to build the capacity and develop the people in the organization.
The following are 3 expert interviews that dive into 3 areas that I feel contributes to the “Provide Capacity Building and Development” pillar of my culture and community building introduction. Hopefully, these experts can inspire some action around helping your team learn more and become better. Expect results like deeply rooted growth, a culture of learning, stronger community bonds, decreased turnover in community, and exponential returns on investment.
How to Build Overall Skills
This is Mattan Griffel, Co-Founder, and CEO of One Month.
Jeffrey Shiau: Why do you do what you do?
Mattan Griffel: I started One Month in order to help people start businesses; first-time entrepreneurs and people who have an idea for something they want to build, get the skills and tools they need to actually be successful, and grow businesses without making mistakes and running into the same problems that most people go through.
JS: Why does continued learning belong in communities and organizations?
MG: We have a model that comes from the industrial revolution; the idea that when you specialize in something for a period of time that it’s the most effective — it’s a very factory based model.
The education system is a result of that; we teach people from Kindergarten through 12th grade, and it’s just accepted that that’s part of everybody’s operating, although a lot of people drop out along the way, and that’s a problem in and of itself. Then, past 12th grade, some people go out to college, they specialize in areas, but then at a certain point here, your education ends, you go to the workforce and work, you do something. And unless you go back and get your masters or PhD somewhere, once your education is done, you assume the real world begins.
But most people don’t apply what they actually studied in college to their job. You ask a room full of people, “How many of you are actually doing what you studied in school?”, less than 10% of people raise their hand, because even if you’re doing marketing for example, and you’re doing marketing at a company, you’re using skills that you learn on the job, you’re using skills that schools are not teaching, because they are supposedly trade skills. You’re learning on the job, but a lot of companies don’t do effective training, so you end up learning by trial and error. I would say 90–95% of cases, you just learn by doing.
And there’s this rule, an informal rule that exists out there, people will get promoted on their level of competency, you get promoted up to the point where you can no longer do that job effectively, and that’s where you stay. But we don’t really think about the idea that you should constantly be learning. I find that a lot of people don’t come at it from that perspective. You’re in a job, you’re in a position, and suddenly you run into this problem, and some people will go out and effectively create education systems for themselves. They’ll go out, read books on management, the newest technologies, or they’ll put together curriculums for themselves, things like that. Long story short, we’re in a world where what we need people to do changes fasters than ever before, because of the internet, the increased pace of technology coming out, making what was relevant five years ago, irrelevant. If we don’t create an education system that can deal with that, people are going to be fucked, people five years from now aren’t going to be able to do their job anymore. People who can figure it out themselves are good, but what about everyone else out there, again, 95% of people who don’t have access to that type of education, or who don’t have enough money to go back to school. They start to see themselves a totally irrelevant, even in the role they’re doing. That’s where continued learning comes in.
In the future, learning isn’t just something that happens for 12 years, and until you graduate and go into the real world, it’s something that’s constantly happening. Every month, you’re learning a new skill and you’re deciding for yourself, what you want to focus on, what you want to get better at. You guide your career path in a self-directed way, as opposed to being guided in what you’re forced to experience.
JS: How can organizations effectively integrate learning now?
MG: This is interesting. Most big companies have run into this problem before. Big companies are essentially tiny governments. They have to deal with things like employee health care, employee finances, 401Ks, and most of the bigger companies have some sort of learning and development team, or least some person responsible for learning and development, and training and development. It has a different name depending on what company you go to. You have to start dealing with employee secession timing and promotion planning. You have people coming in at the entry level, and a lot of times they’re just not equipped through their degree and their education to actually do the job they need to do. So the onboarding period is very important.
How quickly can you get someone to be proficient at their job. And then once they’re there, how quickly can you get someone to move to the next level, get them promoted, or help them decide what their career path is.
This stuff around development is always in human resources, because companies realize it’s more cost effective to train people internally than to hire people externally, because they already understand the culture of the organization. You don’t have to pay them as much if you bring them up from the bottom. They have higher loyalty to the company, because you’re the one that’s actually invested in them. Companies that do training and development internally have a way higher satisfaction rate on things like ‘Best Places to Work’; every ‘Best Place to Work’ out there has some really awesome training program. Google does, essentially like a Google University. Rackspace has Rackspace University. It’s also a really good way to make sure your employees are well-versed in the latest technology that is becoming relevant in your industry, so your company doesn’t slowly die because it doesn’t have an advantage or it doesn’t have the latest tools.
Fortune 500 companies do this, but they’re not really effective a lot of times, because they’re not education companies. They’re not really able to quickly roll out the latest in training. A lot of their training is based on an old school approach, where they bring people in house, and they do workshops in person. That stuff doesn’t really scale like remote courses. You can bring in 1 person and put them in a classroom with 20 employees, but because you’re limited in the amount of people, most companies only put their senior managers through this stuff. And then there’s a whole process to get the senior managers to teach the stuff to their direct reports, who then teach it to their direct reports. It’s a really ineffective system currently, and it’s very expensive, but it’s worth it.
But for a lot of smaller companies, this is usually something they won’t do until they are at 100 or 200 employees. There’s really nothing out there for smaller companies, and people don’t really have experience putting together a program like this, besides for the Lynda.com’s of the world or online resources. People in learning and development basically have to choose from a portfolio of different education options. Big companies will make resources like Lynda.com available for their employees, like a perk for those who are more self learners and can choose their own courses they want to take, and they’re also doing the in person workshops, and also doing all sorts of other things.
So back to how organizations can think about this: there are people on the cutting edge on learning and development at bigger companies that have started to think about stuff like, how to get a return on your educational investment, in terms of, what are the benefits for the organization, does it help you keep your employees longer, which then reduces hiring costs. Does it make them more porductive, how do you measure the increase in productivity and efficiency. How do you measure the increase in happiness and improvements in employee engagement? How do you measure the effect on your ability to hire the best people, because they actually feel like their going to be able to further their career in the company. But we’re such an early stage in this process, that most people are just guessing.
JS: What future methods and ideas do you foresee helping communities learn even better?
MG: What I think is going to happen, people are going to use what’s available online right now, to construct personalized educational curriculum, which we don’t see very much of. So there’s like, on both ends of the spectrum, there’s creating really custom workshops, or hiring coaches or consultants to come in and create something for the community organization, or just giving them access to Lynda.com or Treehouse, Youtube, or whatever to do it themselves. Instead I think it’s going to be, let’s create something more relevant for the needs of our business, but not by creating it ourselves, by using what’s currently available online. I don’t think the tools are out there right now to make it easy to do. Like, maybe if a community needs something like leadership training, that will consist of a course or video series on Coursera, a course on Lynda, a series of exercises on another site, people aren’t really thinking about it that way. And the other thing is actually better feedback or measurement of the effectiveness of the stuff. There are surveys right now on how happy are you, are you able to apply this stuff to your job or what you’re doing, but no one’s really doing that.
How to Increase Overall Team Capacity
This is Katie Gage. Coach and workshop facilitator for people who want to work in entrepreneurial careers, career transition, emotional intelligence. Develops content on the future of work — how to engage employees better, create influential workplaces.
Jeffrey Shiau: Why Do You Do What You Do?
Katie Gage: I am 100% of people developer. I love to bring and convene resources together around helping others succeed. I think that people have the power and the ability to do amazing things with the right support systems and the right resources in place, and I like to be that person pulls those strings and brings them together.
JS: Why Does Team Capacity matter for Communities and Organizations?
KG: Communities and organizations need to accomplish things. They need to have a purpose, they need to take action, they need to do, they need to be relevant. Teams are responsible for team capacity. It is sort of like a broad idea, but essentially for teams to be effective and grow their effectiveness over time, they need to work together; it’s really important having effective teams that can work together and get things done. That’s sort of the crux of all organizations and communities.
JS: How can organizations effectively build team capacity?
KG: First of all, communication. This is one that I can’t stress enough. I’ve worked with a lot of startups, a lot of organizations, managers, and teams, and communication is absolutely key, being open about what the goals are, what the objectives are, making sure everyone is aware of that and clear on the priorities. Moving towards the same thing is so, so critical.
The second one is feedback. A lot of people like to avoid feedback. They don’t like to have that hard conversation. People don’t want to step on each other’s toes and hurt people’s feelings. Feedback isn’t about that. It’s about positive or constructive feedback. It’s so incredibly important in building team capacity. So having effective communication means having an open feedback loop, where people can say, “Hey, this is great, this was exactly what we were going for,” or “Hey, maybe we can try something different, because this didn’t work out so well.” And keeping the communication alive and dynamic, instead of stagnant and siloed, I think is really the foundation of building the best and greatest capacity in an effective team.
JS: What future methods and ideas do you foresee helping communities build more team capacity?
KG: Emotional intelligence. People are finally starting to wake up and see that emotional intelligence is just as, if not more, important than intellect or skillset. The ability to interact or react with the world and have better interpersonal relationships and have empathy in the workplace is so incredibly important. Organizations that understand the importance of that can actively teach and train their employees, and then those methods are going to have far greater success.
For example, I am building a collective of industry experts to work together on projects. We are trying to push clients and organizations to think about not just filling full-time roles, but bringing in outside experts to solve specific challenges within the organization. Organizations need entrepreneurship externally and intrapreneurship. When I talk about emotional intelligence, feedback and communication, those things are really important, but also organizations creating a culture where people are free to be creative, free to fail, free to try things, free to have autonomy, and removing some of the silos and the control that exist within a lot of private structures. That’s one of the things we’re working on.
There’s also the piece of trust. You need to trust your training, teaching and communicating enough to where you can then trust your employees to do things on their own, and be creative and intrapreneurial. I also think it’s important to look at different structures of work. When I talk about the future of work and what tools are in place, I’m talking about examples like not always having a full time person in place for a role. For example, if we need a project, or we need something accomplished, let’s bring in someone who can give us part of their time, but is an expert in this and has done it before, maximize our resource, yield, and gain from that by hiring freelancers. I think that’s where a lot of the work is going. You see a lot of organizations that are popping up that are making it easier for organizations to do just that. I think all of these things kind of intertwined with each other. There is a need to bring in more entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship into organizations, and doing that is going to involve changing some of the structures. A lot of that comes from like having open communication, building trust, building emotional intelligence into what we do.
How to Develop Better Overall Human Beings
This is Konda Mason. Co-Founder, CEO of Impact Hub Oakland
Jeffrey Shiau: Why do you do what you do?
Konda Mason: My role at Impact Hub Oakland is a culmination of a lot of things that are dear to me and that I have found to be important in the time and place that we are right now. I am deeply connected to all life, other species, our own species, our planet, the Earth. I am deeply passionate about living in a place that is mutually healthy and that everyone has the ability to thrive. I’m deeply concerned about where humanity is right now, and that we are not showing who we really are. We’re not creating the world that we really want to be in.
I am a student and a teacher of all of us becoming more aware, mindful, and learning from each other, really understanding and resourcing each other so that we can actually create the world that we really want to create. Because I believe that there’s no one on this planet wants to see this planet filled with garbage. I don’t think anybody on this planet wants to see the disastrous things that we have created. There’s something missing. There’s information missing. There’s connection missing. And I think one of the biggest things missing is the fact that we are deeply aware that we are all interconnected and that interconnection extends to all life. Everything I do is directed in the way of my own awareness, my own living on this planet in the way that I really want and that I really would like to see all of us live.
I’m not at all perfect at it; I drive a car, I do all kinds of things that impact the planet. And yet, what I do is my best to be aware. My role in this lifetime is not much of what I do, it’s more of who I am. And my role is to first, have self-awareness, and help others become aware and wake up. I’m part of the wake-up committee. My work involves waking people up.
JS: Why does whole human development matter?
KM: We have been living on the planet with very isolated, partial parts of our self, being sad. And we live in a world filled with separation. We separate everything. We separate ourselves from ourselves. We separate ourselves from each other. We separate this part and that part. The knee bone does not connect to the thigh bone. There are specialists in everything we do. We’ve compartmentalized our world. When compartmentalizing one’s world, what happens is you become an expert in one little piece of it, and not see the rest of it. If we don’t see ourselves as an ecosystem, then we can’t really do our best to become the ‘We’ space that we need to be. We are so entrenched in ‘Me,’ instead of ‘We’.
Until we lift our heads up, and see that we are deeply connected, and that the whole is at risk here, in need of healing, the only pathway there is starting with ourselves, and seeing ourselves as whole. Looking at the big picture as a system. We’re only as strong as our weakest link. As we see ourselves connected, we are able to design changes in transformation that actually make sense, that are actually effectual. Otherwise, we can easily, and unintentionally, work on only one aspect of some part of ourselves or our sector, or whatever it is that we do, and better that place, but it harms somewhere else if we’re not looking at the whole. A holistic view is absolutely essential. It’s the view of connection, because that is who we are; we are connected. Otherwise, it’s so much easier to harm ourselves and others on the planet and everything that we touch if we don’t see ourselves as whole.
JS: How can organizations currently develop better humans?
KM: Some research has been done recently out of UC Berkeley that has verified something that we already instinctively know. It has been scientifically verified, which makes people feel better. And that is about well-being; what makes people really well, no matter who you are, no matter where you come from, no matter what your socioeconomic status is. What makes you well? And there’s 4 things that they’ve found out that makes you well. One, is that once you find your life’s purpose, do you feel your living into your purpose or many purposes. Do you connect to your purpose? That makes you well. Second thing is when we connect to others. Again, back to connection. We are a species that connects to each other. And once you connect to others, like the work we’re doing in the co-working community, isolation versus connection, once we connect to each other that makes us humanly well. Third, when we also connect to something that is greater than ourselves, primarily around awe, around nature. It can be the flower blooming outside out of dirt, and when I walk outside that makes me feel awe, that makes us well, connecting to that awe. And the fourth thing is when we’ve been generous; that also makes us well. A lot of times, people think we’re being generous for someone else, but we’re really doing it for ourselves, because it makes me feel good, even if it’s just a smile from the person at the cash register, and you’re just saying, ‘Hey, how are you doing?” I feel good doing that.
Those are the 4 things that makes us well: purpose, connection to others, a sense of awe of something greater than ourselves, and generosity or compassion. Those 4 things make us well. The idea for me, is if we can uplift those things in our organizations, where we can easily talk deeply about purpose, engage with each other beyond our jobs, and with who we really are, being sure as an employer that you are connecting with your employees at that level. For example, I start every meeting with 3–5 minutes of meditation and check-ins. That’s as important as asking, “Did you pay the bills yesterday,” because that’s that human connection, and I care about both. We can highlight peoples’ purpose, we can highlight a connection, real people connection to each other, we can highlight something that we did that collides between us, for example, now that it’s Spring, talk about something that you encountered walking to work, those types of connections. And then, being generous. Generosity and compassion. Treat each other as individuals that we deeply care about, where we show compassion and generosity, like encouraging each other to go take a walk when it’s beautiful outside.
Those types of real people connections, if we can bring those to our organizations, to ourselves, to the people we work with, the people we spend 8–12 hours a day with, then we’re talking about a different kind of community we’re developing within our own little ecosystem. And it makes a huge difference. I would take those 4 pillars of well-being, and bring them into your institution with authenticity and real care. I think it will turn things around, making things much more human.
JS: What future methods and ideas do you foresee helpings communities create better humans?
KM: I don’t know if there’s anything that is new, I think we just recycle things. I think that the future for methods and ideas, to make better humans, it depends on how you envision time. If the future actually exists as one cycle, for example, you start at one point, you go around and you end up exactly where you started. I think since the beginning of time, where we are now, and where we are going, this is the same continuum. There are basic principles, they don’t change with time, they don’t change with place. There are just axioms that exist. And that again, to me, the only thing that comes up for me is that we really get to a place where the ‘We’ is more important, or as important, as the ‘Me’. That’s revolutionary. Because our systems, our institutions, everything, everything, is designed around maximizing ‘Me.’ Only if there were a methodology or magic wand that could kick us out of that trance, and break the spell, and really see the vastness of connections that we are.
We’re 13 billions years old, we’re connected to the stuff of stars, the big bang, we’re all hugely connected. And if we could somehow live into that, breath into that, there’s nothing more to be said or to be done. There’s nothing more, because in my opinion, that’s it. That’s it. Understanding that. Living it. Breathing it. And celebrating that. That is the best ultimate goal. How do we get there? We get there by asking questions like this. We get there by continually having conversation. We do that by showing up in our own lives, looking at abundance.
People see abundance as materials, it’s not. Abundance is about abundance of spirit and it can hold the truth. Abundance is me being able to look at the dark side of things, the shadow, and the brightness and the light. That’s what abundance is. If we can get to that place of true abundance of spirit, I think that would be freaking awesome. The ultimate goal for this time as we walk the planet. I don’t know how we get there in the future, but I know we can get there in the present. We can do that bit by bit, allowing our hearts to soften, and allowing ourselves to open, and allowing ourselves to feel what we really feel. Because I believe in our deepest of hearts, that we are basically good beings. That’s who we really are; we can tap into that, and get rid of all the layers, and not be afraid to talk about it. I’m a businesswoman. I’m not supposed to talk about love, I’m not supposed to talk about interconnection, I’m not supposed to talk about how we’re from star dust 13 billion years ago. But I can’t not talk about it. I can’t stop myself from talking about it. And I think there are so many people that just need permission to go there, and let go of all the restraints that make us conform to all the madness. I really believe that if we let ourselves go, we’ll just be afraid of falling in love with each other.