Your Employees Need To Start Owning Their Self-Development

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Not to sound preachy but … isn’t it time we stop finding excuses for those who just don’t want to invest in their own careers?

I think it’s thanks (maybe it’s no thanks) to my background that I’m a strong believer of the motto, “The buck stops with me”. My parents were pretty hands-off when it came to my upbringing and so, whenever I had a problem, I had to solve it myself. This form of child-rearing definitely had its fair share of pros and cons. For one, I wished they insisted on enrichment classes. Maybe if I had ballet lessons, I wouldn’t have this stocky, chunky, endomorph figure I spend 10 hours a week trying to keep things from going south.

Anyway, the good thing about childhood instilled independence? You learn not to depend on anyone else for your survival and success.

Being in the learning business today is tough. It’s like … learning companies are the new media companies. Not only are we trying to cajole and encourage people to pick up new knowledge, but we are also fighting for a share of people’s attention with the likes of Netflix and Instagram. Learning has moved from the classroom to our mobile devices and, besides textbooks, it can be consumed as videos and podcasts.

Which brings me to my biggest bugbear: If learning is so accessible and you can choose to learn however you want, why are so many of us lacking the motivation to learn? If you were truly thirsty for new knowledge, you would suck it up no matter the form it came in. Yes, I’m also a huge fan of “Suck It Up and Move On Already”.

I spent 10 years in publishing and moving into tech was not easy. My career trajectory depended on acquiring some knowledge of the SAAS business-model and happenings in the world of digital transformation. It took a combination of serious reading, obsessive research, and on-the-job learning to familiarize myself with the vocabulary of the industry and know what the hell is going on.

So my point to learning leaders is: If your employee is a car that’s out of fuel, there’s only so much and so far you can push them to move ahead before you get tired. And it’s a totally inefficient way to drive development. That car needs fuel. It needs fuel so that when you turn on the ignition, it moves forward and does what it’s supposed to do – add value to the company.

That fuel is Ownership.

For more on our take on Ownership and the role it plays in Learning, please tune into SmartUp’s podcast series, “Humanizing Learning”.