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Culture + Engagement: Brian Adam and James Swanson

PSPs Can Do These 6 Things to Develop Their Employees

These steps will help you and your staff cultivate new skills and attitudes that bring about self-improvement.




BEING A LEADER in the printing industry is intense. Every day, we’re putting out fires, chasing deadlines, and running a million miles a minute. We’re often just too busy to carve out time for personal development. However, focusing on personal development is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves and our teams. It improves retention – a recent Gallup poll found 94 percent of employees would stay at a company that invested in their development – increases employee engagement, and, if done right, makes us all better at what we do.

This is our simple six-step process to help you focus on you and/or your team’s personal growth and development.

Step 1:
Pick One (and Only One) Thing to Focus On

Focus is key. While we’d all love to be better public speakers, improve our writing abilities, manage time more effectively, learn a foreign language, and develop stronger leadership skills, we will fail if we try to tackle everything at the same time. Get focused and make a commitment to getting better at one and one thing only. You could accentuate a strength or work on improving a weakness. What it is doesn’t matter. You’re getting better and working on improving, and that’s a great first step.

Step 2:
Set a Quarterly Goal

Annual goals never worked for us. Most of our New Year’s resolutions failed. Why? The timeframe is too long. That’s why we like 90-day goals. Set a quarterly target or objective for yourself. This way, if you drop the ball and slip, you’re only off a quarter and don’t lose an entire year. When setting your quarterly goal, be specific, write it down, and share it with someone (your manager, significant other, or a friend). These steps will increase your accountability.


Step 3:
Block Off Time in Your Calendar

If you’re like us, if it’s not in your calendar, it’s not getting done. Set a recurring weekly calendar appointment labeled “Personal Development Time” to ensure you get a weekly reminder, like you would for a meeting. Start with something small, like 30 minutes a week.

Step 4:
Spend Time Online

There’s so much great material available online: Ted Talks, YouTube Videos, business articles, and even training programs. Maybe you don’t need to sign up for costly in-person training. The best part is many of these resources are free.

Step 5:
Get Creative and Learn From Others

We all have friends and co-workers who excel at different skills. Don’t overlook these resources in supporting your personal development. At Olympus, we offer mentorships, lunch and learns, and book clubs. Courtney Barvels, engineering manager and Women in Wide Format Award winner, recently launched our Personal Development Club. This group meets monthly and uses internal resources to share best practices and tips with the rest of our team.

Step 6:
Keep a Journal

Writing in a journal every day or every week helps you gain self-awareness. It’s a great way to identify areas or topics you may want to focus on. It’s also a great place to set your quarterly goal and to track your progress. The act of writing it down is proven to increase accountability.

We all want to be better versions of ourselves, learn new skills, and improve upon existing ones. Taking the time to define a personal growth and development plan for you or your team is a great first step, and we’re confident it will pay dividends for years to come.




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