Ongoing Training and Development are Essential for Everyone

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By John Lonsdorf, President, R&J Public Relations

Training – the acquisition of new skills and knowledge relevant to the job – is a vital aspect of any employment arrangement.  Makes sense, right?  You want your people to have the technical skill and knowledge necessary to efficiently and effectively do their job.

Employees need, and want training.  But what they really crave goes deeper than that.  Today’s employees look to their employer for personal and career development, going much deeper than mere training, reaching areas that leverage and improve the individual’s wider education and capabilities, enabling them to better identify and seize opportunities that will yield long-term rewards for them in their careers and in their daily lives.

At R&J, we believe in providing both training and development for our employees.  We provide a number of opportunities to our employees, and we encourage them to seek out outside opportunities that will deliver sound, actionable development strategies and tactics.  As the leader of my firm, I view this as an essential aspect of my job.

But what kind of a leader would I be if I didn’t personally practice what I preach?  Training and development should be a lifelong endeavor, and it is especially important not to neglect professional development as we progress in years and in our careers.

Robert Kaplan, Associate Dean at the Harvard Business School points out that “The greatest danger leaders can face is isolation and an inability to keep learning.”  Having managed my firm for the past 27 years, I’ve become acutely aware of how difficult it can be to continually move forward and to achieve the kind of personal and professional development that is needed to stay ahead in business today.

That’s why I am such a big fan of PRSA’s Counselor Academy.  Counselors Academy is a peer network of highly experienced leaders in the public relations industry from all over North America, from executives of multinational corporations to independent practitioners.  Its purpose is “to enable collaborative peer relationships in which meaningful business counsel, operational best practices and industry trends can be shared and gained.”

My business partner, Scott Marioni, and I will be attending the PRSA Counselors Academy Spring Conference in Austin, Texas in June.  Topics for sessions and workshops will range from social media and mobile applications to crisis communication to agency management and transformation, to name but a few.

But the most important and valuable thing that Counselors Academy delivers is the opportunity to interact with a good number of very smart people who face many of the same challenges that we encounter in our business.  And the relationships that are formed through Counselors Academy can be accessed long after the conference ends.  It’s great to know that solid advice borne of similar experiences is just a phone call or email away.

Most leaders say they want to continue learning, yet they isolate themselves from the learning process and opportunities for personal and professional growth and development.  As a business owner, it can be tough to carve out the time to attend any multi-day conference or event.  Nonetheless, it is important to work hard to identify and access those opportunities when they present themselves.  For all of those reasons, I look forward to the personal and professional dividends and rewards that will result from my participation in Counselors Academy Spring Conference.

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