Whatever career you pursue, whatever your speciality, role, or discipline, whatever industry you work in, whatever degrees or certificates you hold, it’s an undeniable truth that you never, ever stop learning.
However there can come a point where you’ve attended so many training courses, gained a fistful of certificates, perhaps even acquired a string of letters after your name and suddenly, the thought of another series of structured workshops leaves you cold. So then what do you do?
If you’re a leader responsible for training, what can your organisation do to help experienced employees continue to boost supply chain knowledge without enrolling them on more offsite training courses?
Find New Ways to Gain Supply Chain Knowledge
You can be at the very top of your game, but the scope to boost your supply chain knowledge further is still extensive. But maybe the last few courses seem to have taught you nothing you don’t already know, although they might have approached the learning in a number of different ways. When you reach this point in your career education, it’s probably time to focus on different learning methodologies and steer clear of the classroom, at least for a while.
Peer-to-Peer Learning and Mentoring
Learning from your peers, especially those with more experience than you in specific disciplines, can be a very effective way to boost your supply chain knowledge. That’s why a mentoring program is something to seriously consider if you’ve had enough of the classroom.
Similarly if you’re a leader, setting up a peer-to-peer education program within your company can add lots of value for your staff, whether they choose to be mentored or to actually serve as mentors to their colleagues or reports.
Mentoring programs offer benefits to the mentors, the mentored, and to your entire organisation. However, as this article is intended primarily for the employee who wants to boost supply chain knowledge, let’s focus on the benefits for the person being mentored.
Benefits to the Mentored: For the employee who receives the attention of a mentor, the benefits include:
- Support and encouragement for the employee to step out from her established comfort zone
- A mentor can be an important contact in the mentored employee’s network
- A mentor can also provide the mentored employee with access to other new network contacts
- More than simply educating, a mentor can help a protégé to think in new ways
- For employees in very senior roles, a mentor can help to reduce feelings of isolation
- Mentoring can help employees to learn skills in areas of supply chain that they’re not familiar with
- The communication element of a mentoring relationship can help employees to improve softer skills
Choosing Mentors Outside of Your Organisation
For senior employees, it can sometimes be difficult to find suitable mentors. In this case it can be a good idea to look outside of one’s own company. Of course you can’t approach your competitors. Instead you will need to look around to try and find someone in your industry who doesn’t work for a competing enterprise.
One way to make sure you find the right mentor is to join a mentor group. These typically comprise a group of people in similar roles and positions, within similar but non-competing organisations, who come together on a periodic basis to share ideas, concepts, best practices, and experiences.
Try a Really Different Type of Supply Chain Education
If you can’t find a mentoring group for your sector or in your general location, a great alternative is to enroll at an industry school, such as the Supply Chain Leaders Academy mentioned in the Logistics Bureau’s 2015 Australian Supply Chain Report. At The Academy, you’ll find the style of education is much more like a peer-to-peer learning group than the courses you’ve become used to attending.
This type of supply chain school takes an entirely pragmatic approach to boosting supply chain knowledge for delegates. In actual fact, classroom activity is only a small part of the curriculum, which also includes one-to-one coaching, mentoring, webinars, and self-paced online study.
Whatever you do though, if you feel you’re not getting value from conventional supply chain training vehicles, don’t feel you must stop seeking new knowledge. Just take a break from the certification programs and academic courses and try employing a new learning approach. You might even find the change will reawaken your hunger for learning new skills.