By Patrick Regnault
There is a demand and a necessity to upskill your employees – it helps retain them and offers them a path forward in their career and in the industry. The benefits are many and well understood. Unless the employer is short-sighted, employers and managers should encourage and organise training programs for their employees. But what of the employers themselves? Do they take the time to upskill? That is harder to find out.
Leading by example
We know that to “do as I say, not as I do” does not work. It does not work as a parent, as a teacher, as a politician and certainly not as an employer. Of course, to upskill effectively we need to identify where we need to improve. This requires insight and the humility to ask and listen to others’ feedback. Showing our vulnerability and correcting what is a potential lack of skill is true strength. It encourages open and frank discussion that benefits all by sharing within our human connection and bypassing hierarchy. For many employers or managers that may seem like a dangerous route to take, as for a very long time it was common wisdom that hierarchy had to be seen as all-knowing and always right. It was incorrect then and is still incorrect now. The world has changed and the new generation are much less likely to accept this old-fashioned way of thinking.
When employers develop new skills or improve on existing ones, they need to share them with their employees. This will show that regardless of your position you are always in need of improvement; that it is okay to admit that you do not have enough knowledge and that once you have accepted this you have the power to change it. In a nutshell, a lack of skill is temporary if one is open to change.
This leading by example helps your employees to accept and want to improve themselves thus improving your workforce and your business.
Where to go?
Organisations such as AIH, AILA, LDI (AILDM) and so many other horticultural professional bodies have regular professional development workshops and conferences that are worth attending in person or via webinars. Yearly garden shows such as our own Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, the Singapore Garden Festival, Cologne’s spoga+gafa, The Chelsea Flower Show, or AIPH approved horticultural international expos can generate ideas that will be useful to the growth of your business. Good and sound talks can be found for free on YouTube on a range of subjects from plant nutrition, taxonomy, botany, and integrated pest management to name a few.
We can take the opportunity to spare two hours a month, or a trimester, to organise a pre-registered webinar or YouTube viewing on a subject relevant to an upcoming work, and share our thoughts over food and drinks. Not a costly effort, yet rewarding for all. It also means that the employer takes the time to be present and learn with their team, removing the hierarchical stereotype, and replacing it with a more collegial learning environment. This time can be used to observe and notice how each individual learns and retains information. It will inform on the best way improve communication with the person at other times, and to tailor learning to consolidate their strengths and improve their weaknesses.
Learning from others
Employers have their own set of challenges which can be helped by learning about staff management, business and finance, and dealing with contractors and clients. Sharing with others in the same position helps to revise the way we operate. We may learn as much by listening to a person’s how not to do things a certain way. It should not however turn into a whinge-fest as this will only serve to consolidate a negative thought spiral.
Short courses in communication or business management may be the way to go as these are easy to find, although of varying qualities.
Employers overlook their need to upskill and sometimes to re-skill. Time pressure is often used as an excuse to not partake in what is a crucial part of business and personal development. Upskilling is not time wasting – it brings an uplifting energy, with benefits going far beyond the individual.
Patrick Regnault FAIH RH0062
Main image: Support younger industry members by nominating them for exchange programs or as support teams at conferences (Image: Karen Smith)