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Make Employee Development a Priority for Back-to-School Season


employee developmentFall is quickly approaching, which means it is back-to-school time for all of the students in your life. If you have children, you are probably very familiar with the fall rituals: buying new pencils and notebooks, picking up class schedules and reading lists, coordinating carpools and extracurricular activities.

Even though your days of being a full-time student are over, you can still take advantage of back-to-school season to renew your commitment to workplace learning and development. Take on a new challenge or adopt a positive habit, and keep pushing yourself to be a better leader at work.  


5 Ways to Put Employee Development in Your Planner

1. Don’t pay a dime.

You can gain knowledge without spending any money by taking advantage of EDSI’s free online resources. Sign up for our monthly e-newsletter and subscribe to our blog to receive helpful tips, resources and news to advance your career. Learning and development is just a click away!

2. Be a bookworm.

Use your lunch hour or evening downtime to get lost in a good book (that’s good for your career). Check out Suzanne Updegraff’s new book, “GPS for Success,” that outlines how successful leaders leverage professionalism, as well as our recommended leadership and management reading lists. 

3. Get back in the classroom.

Have you been meaning to take a class to improve your computer skills or a training course to improve your management style? There is no time like the present, so stop procrastinating and register for a class that supports your employee development. Local universities, junior colleges and community centers often offer night classes for professionals, and EDSI also has a wide array of training and development courses that are applicable to diverse workplaces.

4. Join a club.

If you need help staying motivated with your learning and development goals, join a professional club or association related to your interests. It is a good place to network and meet potential professional associates and mentors. The structure of regular meetings and events, as well as the positive peer pressure from other members, will keep you committed and focused.  

5. Set personal goals.

Determine what you want to accomplish this “school year” and set concrete goals with deadlines. Write them down, formulate a plan and tell others who will keep you accountable. The more you challenge yourself, the more you will learn!

How do you plan on making employee development a priority this fall?

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Turn Failure Into an Employee Development Opportunity

failure employee developmentSince childhood, we have been conditioned to try to avoid failure at all costs. No one wants to fail academically or socially in school, and certainly, no one wants to fail professionally. We see failure as something to be ashamed of, instead of seeing it as we should: as an opportunity to learn and grow.  

The truth is: we have all failed, and we will all fail again. What matters is how we fail. We should try new ideas, take occasional risks and push our limits. If we succeed the first time, wonderful; if we don’t, we should take the lessons we learned from our false starts and apply them to our future endeavors. Committing to employee development means that we must make an ongoing effort to expand our knowledge, skills and talents, and part of this process involves failing occasionally.

Chris Brogan, president of Human Business Works and a well-established business consultant and writer, embraces this idea, writing in his blog that we should “fail often, fail fast and learn”:

Many innovations have come through failure. Post-It notes came about because of glue that didn’t set right. Sam Walton was told he couldn’t make up his own sales at his Ben Franklin store so he quit and founded Wal-Mart. Henry Ford ran two automobile companies that failed before he got it right.

Edison said, “If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.”

Failure is a beautiful thing. It leads to more chances to try something new.

Employee Development Through Failure

If you tried something new and it didn’t work out, don’t beat yourself up about it. Learn from it.

1. Put aside your ego and be honest about failures.

Chris Brogan’s “fail fast” concept is that if you get your mistakes out of the way early in the process, it is much easier to get back on track and work toward success. If you realize an idea  is doomed to fail early on, don’t keep plugging away at it out of stubbornness or pride. Stop, reevaluate and adapt your original idea so it is better and stronger.

2.  Write down what you learned.

After a failed attempt, take the time to record your observations about what happened. What went right? What went wrong? What would you do differently next time? What did you learn from the experience? What are your next steps? If you worked with others on the project, do this employee development exercise individually and then share your thoughts as a group.

3. Accept and move on.

Failing is disappointing. Show yourself some empathy, acknowledge the disappointment and be confident that you won’t make the same mistake twice. Move on to the next project, using the knowledge you just gained.

How do you deal with failure? How do you use it for employee development?

Learn about EDSI's Powerful Choices course.

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7 Free Online Business Education Resources for Employee Development


online business educationEmployee development is an ongoing process, and as busy professionals, we must make time to invest in our continuing education. The good news is that investing in education doesn’t necessarily have to break the bank. There are a growing number of informative online business education resources that are free of charge.


1. Podcasts

The iTunes Store  offers more than 100,000 free audio or video series, podcasts, that you can download and play on your iPod, iPhone or computer. Visit the iTunes Store on your computer, click on Podcasts in the top navigation and browse or search by keyword. Subscribe to online business education podcasts that seem interesting on topics such as entrepreneurship, management, marketing, language learning and business news and listen to them on your daily commute or workout.


2. iTunes U

iTunes U is also accessible through the iTunes Store on your computer and has more than 350,000 free lectures, readings, videos and regular podcasts from universities and learning institutions around the world. Learn how to write a business plan from a Yale professor or get leadership tips from the Poynter Institute.


3. TechSoup Free Webinars

TechSoup, an online technology resource for nonprofits, offers free online seminars on topics including social media, fundraising and multimedia.


4. Small Business Training Network

The Small Business Association has a “virtual campus,” the Small Business Training Network, that posts free online business education courses, publications and technical help. Each course is self-paced and takes about 30 minutes, so it is ideal for a busy schedule.


5. TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) talks

TED is “a small nonprofit dedicated to Ideas Worth Spreading.” Its two annual conferences bring together some of the world’s most influential people, from Malcolm Gladwell to Melinda Gates, to give short and inspiring talks that are available free online to the public.


5. OpenCourseWare Consortium

The OpenCourseWare Consortium is a nonprofit organization made up of more than 250 universities and associated organizations that share top-notch courses and online business education resources at no cost. MIT Sloan School of Management  in particular has some fantastic course offerings.


6. The Personal MBA

The Personal MBA is a free program designed to be a DIY (do-it-yourself) MBA program. It is focused around a comprehensive reading list of the best business books  on topics including communication, decision-making, employee development, innovation and management training courses. 


7. W3Schools Online Tutorials

W3Schools is the best online resource for web development, from basic HTML to building a complete website, and it’s completely free. Visit the website to find answers to all your technology questions, and experiment with new skills with the “Try It Yourself” editor.


Got a taste for knowledge? Take your business education to the next level with Employee Development Systems, Inc.’s interactive courses .

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