Building Community Through Better Relationships

Give Me Learning or Give Me Death

An often quoted, old saying in professional circles goes, “It’s OK to have 20 years experience, but you don’t want one year’s experience 20 times.” People fawn over the wisdom of this quote, but do they really appreciate the depth of this statement? What really happens in those 20 years of the same experience?

Well, the first mistake is that our loyal and dedicated 20-year employee believes that he is getting more proficient. However, each year of polishing up the same skills with an additional year of “experience” moves the employee further behind. With increasing speed, technology and management innovations evolve. New skills are required. Without them, he just gets older.

In a very realistic scenario, this experienced employee eventually gets promoted because of their dedication and loyalty. Then, he has the authority to spread and endorse his antiquated skill set. Even if the organization continues to produce in this environment, their competition is implementing smarter practices and newer developments. Newer is not necessarily better, but more effective is definitely better. How many times does the team really need training on Microsoft Excel 97?

So, now the organization suffers. The old employee contributes no updated skills. What the employee disguises as passing on experience is really retelling antiquated myths. And the organization absorbs it. Tragically, the employee and those that learn from him do not simply fade into the sunset. The old employee has mummified in plain sight of the entire organization and the marketplace. And, his 20 years of the same experience settles on the organization like a curse.

Active and intentional learning is the only way that modern enterprises thrive. That learning must start at the individual contributor level. The classic question is, “what if you train your people and they leave?” The intelligent response is “what if you don’t train them and they stay?”! To be clear, learned employees can be valuable at any point in their career. Additionally, employees who lived through the organization’s progress, plus helped facilitate its growth through continued learning make a uniquely valuable contribution! On the other hand, the longstanding employee who holds firmly to his old ways falls victim to errors in judgment as demonstrated in this audio clip.
One Piece at a Time

By Glenn W Hunter


June 25, 2013 - Posted by | Better Business, Better Person | , , , , , , , ,

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