Investing in Your Personal ROI Without Being Self-Centered

As a leader, you should fill your own learning gaps first.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a “what’s in it for me” attitude. As long as, I’d argue, that attitude doesn’t end there—in pure selfishness.

When it comes to looking for training for your own personal development, you’ll get more out of the knowledge and self-empowerment you gain through training if you align your personal development goals with the goals of your team and your organization.

So invest in your education, and thereby increase your personal ROI. And, if you lead or manage others, invest in their education, and help to increase their personal ROI, too. While investing, though, just follow through on your responsibility to be a part of something bigger. Ensure that organizational and team goals are being advanced at the same time that you are advancing personal goals.

Often, the upfront investment in individual training (personal ROI) results in employee satisfaction and a willingness to stay on board with the organization. And satisfied and better trained employees contribute to an increase in corporate ROI.

First, Know the Business Needs

ROI = (Gain from Investment – Cost of Investment) / (Cost of Investment)

Measuring the ROI of a learning program can be tricky, as quantifying of qualify knowledge gained by an employee and how that gain hits the bottom line is not always transparent. First, you need to be clear on the organization’s success metrics you’re trying to measure.

However you decide to measure learning, you must first identify business needs, goals and desired learning outcomes. Then make sure those needs, goals and outcomes can be supported by the learning objectives of the program you choose to undertake for yourself and your team—whether you are employing online training, seminar-based teaching or a blended learning approach.

Aligning personal learning goals with business goals will help you to tap into learners’ internal motivations to increase personal performance, thereby increasing organizational performance while contributing to employee satisfaction at the same time.

Be the Self-Aware Leader Who Leads by Example

The self-aware leader has a clear understanding of the impact of her behavior on those around her. Most employees are well aware of their leaders’ areas for development anyway. If leaders are communicative and open about the areas where they need to develop their own skills and openly share progress toward that skill development, then leadership-team member communication barriers will shatter and everyone can focus on progress rather than conflict. Leaders who are open about their vulnerabilities contribute to an organizational culture of learning and performance improvement.

So as a leader, seek to fill your own learning gaps with appropriate training first. If you have an LMS, set the example by taking the same courses that your team has assigned, and be open about your own learning. And then get transparent and vocal with your team and co-workers about how the application of that training is going for you and the progress you’re making. You’ll find that people will become more amenable to joining in on the effort and seeking self-improvement—and therefore, organizational improvement—through training.

Listen Carefully

Why are one-third of employees thinking about getting a new job at least every two weeks, if not more often (according to research from TINYpulse)? Part of the answer lies in the national “Millennial Mindset Study” of 1,200 employed millennials. Survey respondents (all employed) say the biggest shocker about the “real world” is lack of training at work.

We want to grow in our careers and gain new work experiences. This doesn’t just mean promotions and salary increases. It also means having opportunities and learning skills. It means finding new challenges and increasing personal growth while still helping team members and the organization.

When employees tell you specifically how you can help them increase productivity and job satisfaction, listen to and support their ideas. You may find that you’ll gain the goodwill and loyalty of your employees, all while helping to support the organization.

Understand Costs and Payoffs

ROI = (Gain from Investment – Cost of Investment) / (Cost of Investment)

To maximize the gain from investment, go back full circle to the idea of needing to know business needs and goals from the get-go. Identify personal training needs. Find appropriate training solutions. And be very clear on how personal training needs and organizational goals can both be gained through direct alignment of training and goals.

To minimize cost of investment, identify the least expensive yet most effective learning program—be it online, seminar/workshop, blended, coach-based, mentor-based, or something else.

Online training can be cost-effective, highly scalable to thousands of employees, easily localized, and accessible anytime, anywhere, and on the device of choice. So online training programs are a must-consider option. However, you may ultimately choose to send an employee to a public seminar if there is no need to train more than one person in the organization on the subject. The cost-of-training decision is unique to each organization and each individual. Just keep in mind that the idea is to maximize ROI—personal ROI for each individual in the organization, as well as corporate ROI.

Gauri Reyes is principal learning strategist and CEO at Triple Point Advisors and founder of the YOUth LEAD program. This article originally appeared on the Mindflash knowledge sharing and training blog.

(Image via Jirsak/Shutterstock.com)