Training Skills Series: Performance assessment Jul 17, 2014, 8:13 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

Guest post by Ken Burnett, VP/ Director of Training and Business Development, Bank of American Fork

This series is written from experience and is part of Bank of American Fork’s training program. The program embraces the philosophy that training is a skill-based job, and managers need to learn specific skills to be successful.

As a training professional I am often told, “This associate needs training to support that initiative or new system or performance problem.”  Some expect that I will run back to my computer and write a fabulous training course that makes everyone feel great.  Unfortunately feeling great is not the same as improved performance.  To improve performance and not just do training, first start with assessment.

It is important to note that using the following to look at problems in performance differently will be a huge benefit to your organization, even if the performance assessment is not fully implemented each time.

Here’s how.

Once you have determined a new or existing task or tasks, determine the output of the task, and what quality measure is used to measure that output.  Unfortunately, some use arbitrary measures, so be certain that the metric has data behind it that can be verified.  For example, you may ask your employees to complete a stock trade and they report back with 100-percent accuracy.  The first question you should ask is, “How do you know that the trade is accurate?”  Use this question as a starting point to verify the metric.  In addition, you won’t have performance data to compare current performance for a new task, but you should have specific performance goals to use as a measurement. 

If performance is not meeting expectations, get both qualitative and quantitative data to determine the cause.  Training may be part of the answer, but you need to determine what the skill gap is before you begin to develop training.  The following chart lists types of performance issues, diagnostic tools and the appropriate remedy.

Performance Issue Responsibility for
resolution
Diagnostic Tool Appropriate Intervention
Motivation Business Function (e.g., sales operations etc.) Ask the employee to list their priorities.  If the item you think is an issue, and it isn’t mentioned, then the employee or the organization doesn’t think it is important .  The performance requirement must be supported by senior management and woven through the associate’s reward and recognition system.  Spot awards and public recognition can also be motivators. 
Aptitude Human Resources, Training Determine what about the employee’s situation is unique, and then address that issue. If the employee is not able to perform the task, they may need additional training.  If all the other factors work out, they may be on the wrong seat of the bus, or need a new bus. 
Skills and knowledge Training A test or observation to determine if the employee can perform the task.  It is also important to develop the perfect working environment to make sure it is a skill issue. Match the learning intervention (e.g., classroom self-paced, job aids) to the need.  During training, train the learner to refer to materials instead of having them try to memorize materials. 
Environment Business Function (e.g., sales operations etc.) Does the associate have the resources, technology and references necessary to perform the task? These usually take the longest to fix, because they can be big ticket items.  You may need to triage a short-term solution. 
Coaching and Feedback Business Function (e.g., sales operations etc.), Human Resources and Training How often does the employee receive specific actionable feedback from their manager regarding the performance of the task? Provide specific coaching and mentoring training.  Set specific expectations for the frequency of coaching and feedback.
Measures and Metrics Business Function (e.g., sales operations etc.) Does the employee know whether or not they completed the task correctly?  Is the feedback clear and specific? The measurement should be attainable, meaningful and visible to the associate.  Meeting or not meeting expected performance should have consequences. 

 

A couple of points before you think this process is too hard.  For a big project, you may do all the items on the chart.  For a smaller-scale project, you may only need to place a couple of phone calls or talk to a few employees to move forward.  If the conversations raise concerns, then you need to look at the whole picture of performance.  Remember, if any of the performance issues exist, you won’t get the performance you are looking for and the training won’t stick. 

Think of this as building a performance bridge to cover a skill gap.  The last step in performance assessment is making sure the bridge you are building fits into the road, or overall workflow.  If you built a solid bridge and attach it to a sandy mountainside, it will sink.  The questions you asked about the performance issue to fill the gap need to be asked of the overall workflow as well.  If the associate loves the task you are introducing, but hates the rest of their job, you still have performance issues that need to be resolved. 

The tremendous benefit to the organization is that after providing the performance assessment service a couple of times, you will be relied on by management for more than training.  You will be on your way to becoming a performance consultant—a critical person in any organization.    

Ken also wrote a series for manager skills. What other business skills do you want to know more about? Tell us in the comments!

Ken Burnett is vice president/director of training and business development for Bank of American Fork. He is responsible for training more than 300 employees on a variety of topics, including coaching and feedback for dozens of senior managers within the organization.

Inspired to reach higher, try harder and work smarter Jul 10, 2014, 10:09 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

Bank of American Fork was recently recognized as Best of State’s® 2014 Best Community Bank.

“The Best of State Awards were created to recognize outstanding individuals, organizations and businesses in Utah. By recognizing excellence in our community and sharing examples of success and triumph in so many worthy endeavors, we hope all will be inspired to reach a little higher, to try a little harder, and to work a little smarter for our dreams and goals,” (www.bestofstate.org).

Bank of American Forks is proud to be recognized as one of Utah’s outstanding businesses and this award does inspire us to reach higher, try harder and work smarter. We’re constantly working hard to figure out how to offer you safe financial services with exceptional care in an ever-changing economy and feedback is invaluable. We love to hear feedback from our customers and our communities. Being awarded Best of State is feedback that helps us remain committed to our purpose: strengthening individuals and communities.

We’re proud of our roots in offering loans to sheep ranchers in American Fork, Utah in 1913—the founders of Bank of American Fork reached higher, though, innovating and growing for the next 100 years. Not very many businesses survive for more than 100 years. Bank of American Fork did because its leaders were reaching higher, trying harder and are constantly working smarter. We’ll keep doing that, constantly evaluating and making sure we’re offering the products and services our communities need.

To see the full list of 2014 Best of State winners, visit www.bestofstate.org. To find out more about what we’re offering to your community, visit www.bankaf.com.

New St. George branch! Jul 09, 2014, 8:10 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

Bank of American Fork’s locally-owned, locally-invested model a perfect fit for vibrant and growing St. George

On August 18 Bank of American Fork will open the doors to its new St. George branch at 335 East St. George Blvd. Bank of American Fork has operated a mortgage-loan office in St. George since last year. The bank’s commitment to small-town service has been a natural fit in the St. George community, and now Bank of American Fork will be able to offer the technology, products and services of a big bank to the consumers and business owners of the St. George area.

“Bank of American Fork is excited to offer community banking services to the people living in and businesses building up the St. George area,” said Richard Beard, president and CEO of Bank of American Fork. “We have a strong customer base in Washington County. We are excited to offer our customers, the community and business owners the big-city banking we’ve been building for more than 100 years. Our strong, locally-owned community bank will be valuable by providing personalized services to this vibrant area of Utah.”

The bank already has a mortgage-loan officer, Chris Palmer, and some additional associates in the mortgage-loan office that will work at the new branch. In addition, the bank has hired Bradley Stucki as branch manager, John Allen as a business development officer and Mike Draper as operations manager. Stucki and Allen bring years of Washington County experience to the new branch.

“I’m looking forward to being a part of the Bank of American Fork branch in St. George,” Stucki said. “I love Washington County and I’m pleased that we’ll be able to provide the services this community needs so we can be a vital part of the economy here.”

It’s rare for a business to last 100 years, and Bank of American Fork is still locally-owned and invested in the local economy. Its community-banking model has survived and thrived in the 14 communities it serves.

The new branch will open for business on August 18, and a grand opening will be held later in the month. You can reach the new office at 435-319-6900. For other questions, please feel free to call 800-815-BANK or visit us at www.bankaf.com .

Meet the Saratoga Springs branch associates Jun 30, 2014, 5:23 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

Do you know where your nearest Bank of American Fork location is? Do you know that we have branches throughout Salt Lake, Utah and Davis counties? Have you heard that we opened a mortgage office in St. George? Do you know how to find us online?

We’re working on making sure you know where we are, because we heard that some of you don’t know about our branch in Saratoga Springs, or our branches in Salt Lake County, and some of you didn’t realize we were even outside of American Fork. We want to make sure you know where we are, so you can get the services you need, when you need them.

Here’s a little bit about our great team over in Saratoga Springs:

Megna Brown, Loan Secretary

Loves about her job: “I love living close by where I work and interacting with all the same wonderful people from the community. I love recognizing the smiling faces from the local stores and kids’ sporting events.”

Favorite Saratoga Springs spots: “Kneaders and Smith’s.”

Leah Hickenlooper, Vault Teller and New Accounts Representative

Why she’s a banker: “I love working with numbers and helping customers and I love the people I get to work with every day.”

Favorite Saratoga Springs spot: “I love the Kneaders just across the street from the bank.”

Angie Allen, Branch Operations Manager and Customer Service Chair

Loves about her job: “I enjoy getting to know customers and helping them with their financial needs. I am also proud to work with such a great team in our Saratoga Springs office.”

Favorite Saratoga Springs spot: “I have seen our rural community grow from just a few stop signs, cows and a swimming pool to our full city of Saratoga Springs. When I want good Mexican food I enjoy eating at Café el Lago right here in Saratoga Springs.”

Faith West, Teller and New Accounts Representative

Why she’s a banker: “I LOVE getting to know each of our customers. I love customer service, so talking to the people that come inside our branch is my comfort zone.”

Favorite Saratoga Springs spot: “Kneaders and Café el Lago are my two top favorites.”

Dustin Phillips, Vice President and Branch Manager

Loves about his job: “The feeling of knowing I’ve helped a business owner start up, expand or succeed, especially when they may have been turned down somewhere else first.”

Why he’s a banker: “It’s not glamorous, but I started as a teller while I was in college and decided not to leave.”

Favorite Saratoga Springs spot: “Café el Lago.”

Rochelle Mitchell, Teller

Loves about her job: “I am the newest convert to Bank of American Fork. I love my job! I really enjoy being able to interact with customers.”

Favorite Saratoga Springs spot: “For shopping, I enjoy Maurice’s. My husband and I go to Café el Lago for dinner, but I love Won Won Wok.”

Lindsey Kilpack, New Accounts Representative

Loves about her job: “I love meeting new customers and building relationships with them as I see them come back into the branch.”

Why she’s a banker: “My mother always said to find a job with a bank so I’d have good benefits and holidays off. I followed her advice and it turned out I love accounting and working with numbers!”

Favorite Saratoga Springs spot: “My favorite park is Neptune Park—there are so many fun things for kids to do. I also love watching Saratoga Springs develop because it’s exciting to see what will pop up next.”

Local lending for local businesses Jun 26, 2014, 8:00 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

Have you seen this one-minute-and-30-second video featuring local Donna Johnson of Johnson’s Medical? Donna works with loan officer Dustin Phillips at Bank of American Fork’s Saratoga Springs branch to get the financing she needs to grow and keep her business running so they can provide medical supplies to local hospitals and doctors.
YouTube Preview Image

Bank of American Fork offers different types of loans to suit the needs of different types of businesses. Whether you need a line of credit that will allow you to purchase and build up inventory to satisfy your customers’ needs and then make payments when cash comes in during another part of your cycle, a long-term commercial mortgage so you can buy your office space or a loan to purchase equipment so you can offer your customers what they need, our loan officers may be able to help your business get into the right type of loan.

“I love the feeling of knowing I’ve helped a local business owner start up, expand or succeed,” Dustin said. “It’s especially rewarding when I know they’ve been turned down for a loan elsewhere, but they find us and realize we can help.”

Dustin at the Saratoga Springs branch and other officers at our 14 locations are ready to help you find the loan you need. Then, approval comes from a local loan committee made up from bankers who live and work in the same community you do, so they have a vested interest in seeing it thrive.

“The loan committee doesn’t say ‘Person XYZ.’ They say ‘Donna Johnson at Johnson’s Medical and she always pays her loans off early, so yes, we can take a little chance on her,” Donna said. “You don’t get that at a big bank.”

Contact a business banker today, visit a branch or call 800-815-BANK.

 

Category: Business, Loans | No Comments

Things to consider while buying commercial real estate May 29, 2014, 8:10 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

Guest post by Jarrod Hunt, Senior Vice President of Industrial Services, Coldwell Banker Commercial Intermountain

Unlike residential real estate, particularly the homes we raise our families in, buying commercial real estate should not be an emotional decision, but rather a means to execute a business strategy.  There are several things to consider when evaluating whether you should buy or lease space for your business.  I will focus on the assumption that the evaluation is based on your own company occupying the space rather than buying it as an investment to be leased to another party.  Investing in commercial real estate with the intention of leasing it to another party is a different decision-making process.

ADVANTAGES OF OWNING:

Appreciation- Generally speaking, well-located and constructed commercial buildings gain value over a period of time.  It is common to assume that well-located and constructed properties will appreciate at similar rates to the Consumer Price Index.  This helps keep your monetary value consistent over long periods of time in terms of buying power.

Equity Increase- As a mortgage is paid down, the owners’ equity, in turn, increases.  Be careful to understand that a considerable portion of each monthly payment goes towards interest in the early years of the loan.  This equity increase grows faster the longer you pay on the loan.  Ask your lender to provide a full amortization schedule so you can see how that works.

Control- Many business owners need specialized improvements within buildings for their unique operations.  If this is the case, buying may be a good fit. Often the high cost of those specialized improvements may be included in your mortgage loan so they can be paid off over a longer period of time.  Additionally, you may not want a landlord telling what you can or can’t do within the space.

Tax Advantages- In certain cases, the depreciation of certain aspects of the property along with the direct write-off of mortgage interest can benefit an owner in ways paying rent doesn’t.  True, rental payments can be deducted as a business expense, but perhaps not to the same level as the depreciation and interest.  Consult your tax advisor for a more detailed analysis of your situation.

The real tax advantage comes at the time when you sell the asset.  Any profits made on sale of a property held for a period of time are taxed as capital gains, which is generally at a lower marginal rate than ordinary income.  There are also opportunities to defer the tax obligations on capital gains by using the proceeds to buy another “like-kind” property in a tax-deferred, Section 1031 exchange.  This strategy keeps money working for you that otherwise would have been paid in taxes until the time you ultimately exit the real-estate market, which may be upon death and transfer to your heirs.  Again, consult a competent tax advisor on your individual situation and how this can help with retirement or estate planning.

ADVANTAGES OF LEASING:

Location- Leasing may be the only option when location is important and the preferred location is limited to leasing, such as a shopping center or premier office/business park.  It is often much more cost effective to occupy space as a tenant in a project that took considerable capital to establish. The project landlord can spread out that large capital outlay more efficiently than a single smaller-property owner.  There are also significant cost savings when constructing a single larger building than many smaller buildings with an equal aggregate square footage, which translates into lower lease rates.

Flexibility & Mobility- Leasing can provide significant flexibility if a business is new, growing or uncertain about its future.  Lease commitments can be measured in terms of months, where mortgages are much longer and a significant commitment often involves personal guarantees from the borrowers.  Leasing also allows a business to keep its space needs in line with its growth or customer needs.  If your business is stable and can be predicted for several years down the road, then this advantage is less valuable.

Financing & Leverage- This is a big one!  Leasing requires a modest deposit, usually 1-3 months of rent based on your credit scores, business profitability and balance sheet.  Many new businesses simply can’t qualify for a mortgage loan, so leasing is their only option.  Also, a growing business may not want to tie up needed capital in real estate if those funds can be used to expand the business or replace more expensive capital being borrowed at a higher interest rate than a mortgage allows for.

SUMMARY

To summarize, the decision to buy commercial real estate should be analyzed from a variety of perspectives.  There are many good reasons to own real estate and many good reasons not to own. Engaging a competent commercial real-estate agent, lender and tax advisor will help you compile the information needed for this decision and help you keep your emotion in check. 

Jarrod Hunt brings many years of business management and financial analysis experience to Coldwell Banker Commercial Intermountain. His 16 years as a real estate advisor coupled with a broad spectrum of experience managing his own company, he has a proven track record of providing solutions for a myriad of real estate and business challenges. His expertise includes market demand and feasibility analysis, investment structure and analysis, and organized property disposition.

Jarrod provides analysis and strategy for lease and sale negotiations, cash flow and investment analysis, organized and accelerated disposition for excess properties, and valuation/feasibility consulting.

Coupled with the technical expertise of how to structure the deal, Jarrod also adds a personal touch to the equation. With demonstrated ability to fully understand the end goal of the client and resolve off sheet issues involved with the transaction, Jarrod is truly the next generation of real estate advisors.

The right SBA loan program for you May 08, 2014, 8:10 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

Guest post by Richard Gray

There are many different types of Small Business Administration loans to help businesses get financing. On one hand, the many different programs make it possible for different types of companies to get what they need. On the other hand, the many different programs can make it tough to know which one is the right fit for your business.

The SBA is a government-sponsored organization that has been around for 60 years with the mission of helping Americans start, build and grow businesses. If you qualify as a small business (you can find the definition for your particular industry type at www.sba.gov),

Of course, it’s important to find a lender with enough experience to help you navigate the best option for financing for your business, but here are some basics to help you start wrapping your head around the SBA programs that may be available to you.

The 7(a) Loan Program is the SBA’s primary and most flexible loan program. This program allows commercial banks to make the loan, but guarantees partial repayment in the case of default. This guarantee makes banks more likely to loan money to seemingly high-risk small businesses like those that

• Have less cash for the down payment than banks normally require.

• Have a short operating history.

• Require a longer-term loan than banks normally provide.

• Need financing for very specialized equipment or unusual financing needs.

The 7(a) program is designed for start-ups and small business that want to grow and is delivered through commercial lending institutions. Within the 7(a) program, there are actually different types of loans that cater to specific needs. Of course, each of these has different characteristics and qualifications, but the following might be a good start.

If you need a loan under $350,000, the Small Loan Advantage program is similar to the regular 7(a) program, but covers smaller loan amounts and has a streamlined application process.  

If you need a revolving line of credit or term loan of $350,000 or less, you might want to ask your lender about the SBAExpress. The specific benefits to borrowers this program includes are faster turnaround, streamlined process and easy-to-use line of credit.

If your small business is owned and controlled by one or more of the following groups: veteran, active-duty military in TAP, reservist or National Guard member or a spouse of any of these groups, or a widowed spouse of a service member or veteran who died during service, or a service-connected disability, you may be eligible for the SBA Veteran’s Advantage program, which doesn’t have a guaranty fee.

If you want to increase or start your international business, there are a few different types of Export Loan Programs that may allow your financial institution to make a safe loan while helping you to compete in the international marketplace, even as a small business. There are different types of export loan programs designed for businesses that need a fast turnaround, businesses that need to increase international business without disrupting domestic business or businesses that need longer-term financing.

If you’re in a rural area, look for an SBA lender that can offer rural business loans. The Small/Rural Lender Advantage initiative is designed to accommodate the unique loan processing needs of small, rural-based lenders.

The 7(a) program is very flexible and can accommodate a wide range of needs and businesses. However, because of this, there are times where a lender may use it as a default, when there could be a specialty program that would be a better match. Below are some specialty SBA-guaranteed programs for financing you can ask your lender about.

There are specialty lenders that can offer financing through the SBA’s Microloan Program. This program provides small (up to $35,000) short-term loans for working capital or the purchase of inventory, supplies, furniture, fixtures, machinery and/or equipment. It is designed for small businesses and not-for-profit child-care centers needing small-scale financing and technical assistance for start-up or expansion, and is delivered through specially designated nonprofit organizations with experience in lending and technical assistance.

The CDC/504 Loan Program provides long-term, fixed-rate financing to acquire fixed assets, like real estate. It is designed for small businesses requiring “brick and mortar” financing or equipment financing on equipment that has a useful life of ten years or more, and is delivered by Certified Development Companies—private, non-profit corporations set up to contribute to the economic development of their communities.

The Disaster Assistance Loan Program provides low-interest loans to individuals, businesses and organizations to repair or replace real estate, personal property, machinery and equipment, inventory and business assets that have been damaged or destroyed in a disaster. This program is accessed directly from SBA.

If you think one of these specialty programs might be what you need, visit www.sba.gov to find out more and to find a lender.

Richard Gray is senior vice president of commercial lending and SBA lending at Bank of American Fork, Utah’s community bank leader, an Equal Housing Lender and Member FDIC. Richard also manages the bank’s Murray branch, and he has assisted local small businesses in obtaining SBA funding for more than 25 years. He served on the board of directors for nonprofit Kostopolus Dream Foundation and was the chairman for nonprofit Utah Microenterprise Loan Fund, Salt Lake City.

Save big building your dream home May 01, 2014, 8:10 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

One lender, one loan package, one dream home

Building a home means spending a lot of time paying attention to the details, from blueprints to paint and everything in between. Luckily, choosing the loans that will finance your new home isn’t as complicated.

Simplify your financing with a construction loan and mortgage loan from Bank of American Fork. Save big with no origination fee on your mortgage loan if you do your construction loan and long-term financing with us*. In addition to saving money, we’ll save you the headaches that can come with financing your dream home. You can count on the experienced lenders at Bank of American Fork to offer fast approval, low, fixed interest rates, multiple free draws and exceptional service.

Contact us today at 1-800-815-BANK.

* The mortgage must follow a construction loan originated on or before December 31, 2014. Only valid in Utah, Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Tooele, and Wasatch counties. Subject to credit approval.

Spring cleaning your business Apr 24, 2014, 8:10 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

With springtime underway, you might be spending some extra time sweeping out your garage, getting rid of clothes you never wear and giving your car a good scrub, but have you thought of how you’re going to spring clean your business this year?

If your trucks, machinery, furniture, fixtures or other equipment are looking worse for wear, or just not running like they used to, maybe it’s time to consider replacement. Bank of American Fork can help you purchase new equipment to grow your business. Let us customize a low-rate equipment loan that will rejuvenate your business by maximizing efficiency, boosting productivity or increasing cash flow. Clean up your shop with a loan to purchase new equipment or to refinance existing equipment loans.

Maybe this is the year you’re ready to lose your lease. Achieve the dream of ownership with an SBA loan. The right commercial mortgage loan can make a great difference for you and your business. Bank of American Fork’s long-term commercial mortgage loans can help you purchase an existing building for your business to start a foundation for equity and assets instead of lining someone else’s pocket. Our experienced loan officers will explain all terms clearly and suggest creative options to help you purchase a building space for your own work needs or as a rental property.

Are you feeling cramped in a space that was a better fit your business before recent growth? Or are you anticipating growth and wondering where everything is going to fit? If you need a bigger or customized space for your growing business, apply for a construction loan. At Bank of American Fork we’ll work closely with your contractor to ensure that all funds are disbursed promptly—typically within 24 hours†—with flexible, no-fee‡, local draws.

This spring, don’t forget about how you’re going to spring clean your business. Whether you decide to build, purchase your building or clean up outdated equipment, when you apply for a loan with Bank of American Fork, you’ll have a fast turnaround. Our local loan committee meets twice weekly so you can get an answer fast and get back to what’s important: running a profitable business.

Learn more or start the loan process by contacting a business banker or calling 800-815-BANK (2265) today.

Subject to credit approval.

† 24-hour turnaround on draws in most cases. Exceptions may apply. See loan officer for details.

‡ Does not include inspection fees.

Category: Business, Loans | No Comments

Essential Considerations for Executive Education Apr 17, 2014, 8:10 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

Guest post by Richard H. Tyson, President, CEObuilder 

Virtually everyone agrees that ongoing education is essential in the pursuit of career success. That said, there are a number of questions confronting today’s managers and executives regarding their own education:

• How much education does a successful executive need today?

• Should all business executives pursue an MBA?

• Is an advanced degree worth the time and money that will need to be expended?

• Should they seek education through traditional or non-traditional methods?

• What are the most effective processes for assuring continuous learning?

The answer to each of these questions is, “it depends” on where you are in your career path, whether you are satisfied with that path, and where you want that path to lead. Three keys to making sound decisions regarding your own education are:

1. Your Purpose

2. Relevance

3. Commitment

YOUR PURPOSE: The key here is to begin with the end in mind. Acclaimed business author, Clayton Christensen, asks the poignant question, “How will you measure your life?” When you have discovered the answer to this, educating yourself to that end will become your mission. This is a critical element in answering questions regarding education for every manager, executive, or aspiring executive. Why? Because education should be relevant to your personal purpose in life—and correspondingly—in your career.

RELEVANCE: Relevance simply means that you have assessed what it will take to develop the skills and attributes to achieve your purpose.  To truly achieve relevance, one must generally take some time to study others who have successfully navigated the path to success for that purpose. While this is the beginning of the education process, the goal here is to identify how these role models educated themselves—and to consider how to use those insights in developing your own education plan. As you consider the path taken by others, be sure to continually ask yourself, “How do their paths—and the steps within them—correlate with my purpose? Does it truly pass the test of relevance for me?”  As important as role models are, this is about you—and no one else!

COMMITMENT: When your life and career purposes are clear and your education plan meets the standard of relevance, the issue of commitment must be addressed. Commitment is a function of cost versus benefit.  Having met the standard of relevance, the benefits of your education plan should be clear. However, this doesn’t mean that you are committed to that plan. True commitment will come when you have counted the costs, in terms of dollars, time and effort. An MBA today, for example, will often cost upwards of $70,000, will require 2-3 years of study (either in a full-time or evening/weekend course format), and will demand significant, intense study and preparation. It will cut substantially into your time for other pursuits, including family, recreation, and community. The benefits may seem clear and very relevant to your purpose, but are you fully prepared to pay the cost to enjoy those benefits? If not, you are not committed!

One of the important costs to be considered in executive education is waste.  This is closely related to both the concepts of relevance and commitment. If the education plan you decide upon does not closely correlate with what you need to learn to be successful in fulfilling your purpose, it has waste in it. It is a defective plan because it includes too many elements that don’t fit your needs. Too often, curriculum-based platforms (including MBA programs) include courses that have no direct value in relation to one’s purpose. Because the challenge of such programs is to provide a broad-based array of courses to meet the needs of the masses, some waste is inevitably a natural effect. There may be 30 courses to be taken and passed over a two-year period, of which only a third are really relevant to your personal purpose.

This speaks to the importance of educational effectiveness, but it is also important to understand that education should also be efficient. It is increasingly important for executives and managers to be able to “learn in the moment of need.” In the course of our daily work lives, we regularly find our understanding of a given issue or subject is inadequate. We don’t have the time to “go back to school.” Indeed, we often even have too little time to read a book or research the subject.  With the advent of the internet, we increasingly expect our answers to come almost in “real-time” through Google or Wikipedia. Our attitudes have shifted significantly; anything slower than “right now” seems inefficient.

This sense of inefficiency bites us in other ways as well. If coursework requires travel to a campus or other venue, this may prove to be less efficient than doing online studies. However, the loss of face-to-face discussion with others may make such a time investment well worth it. Other time issues that must be considered as potential waste are the necessity for writing papers, taking quizzes and exams, and other normal processes used in traditional educational environments. These may be very appropriate, or you may find them to be “necessary evils” that waste your time.

As you consider your personal educational plan, don’t fail to seriously count the costs to determine if the benefits of your plan are worth it. Making an absolutely firm commitment to your plan is essential to your success in fulfilling your purpose.

In summary, whether you are a CEO, a seasoned executive, or a manager aspiring to move into the executive suite, your personal education plan should be a function of your purpose, relevance, and commitment. With that in mind, let’s examine a bit more thoroughly the educational options available to you:

• Traditional curriculum-based educational programs, typically oriented toward degrees such as MBAs, etc.

• Personal study—reading, books on tape, e-books, etc.

• Mentors and coaches

• Business forums and meetings

• Online training including webinars, social media, chat, blogs, vlogs

• Experiential learning through internships, sabbaticals, or projects

The following table helps to delineate the strengths and weaknesses of these options—and will help you in assessing their relevance to your purpose and understanding the costs and benefits of each:

Executive Education Options Strengths/Benefits Weaknesses/Costs
Traditional curriculum-based educational programs
  • High breadth of subject material
  • Exposes student to a network of faculty & other students
  • Forces some level of accountability
  • Degree is a certification or “seal of approval” often used by business community as a standard for hiring and advancement
  • Depending upon degree-granting institution, can be a strong marketing tool in one’s career

 

 

  • Significant waste from being over-broad to accommodate all learners and the perceived needs of the community
  • Does not easily accommodate the specific needs of individual learners
  • Tuition costs are significant
  • Time costs are significant
  • Because learning is curriculum-base, it is rarely responsive to the standard of “learning in the moment of need”
Personal Study
  • Allows for targeted, specific learning—therefore generally has little waste from over-breadth
  • Accommodates the need for depth of study
  • Flexible in terms of time & external expectations
  • Works well in conjunction with Mentors & Coaches
  • Financial costs are generally minimal

 

  • Typically has little external accountability for learning
  • Does not allow for questioning and dialogue with trainers, mentors, or peers
  • May not accommodate the optimum learning style of the learner
  • Does not naturally allow for networking with others
  • Has no degree or certification attesting to the learner’s completion of study

 

Mentors & Coaches
  • Excellent source of 1-1 training, facilitation, and feedback
  • Provides a strong source of accountability for learning
  • Strong source of “learning in the moment of need” (assuming accessibility is good)
  • Allows for questioning & dialogue
  • Accommodates the need for relevance through  depth of study
  • Works well in conjunction with Personal Study
  • Generally adapts well  to the learning style of the learner
  • Is generally the most effective learning option, if the right mentor or coach is utilized

 

  • Requires the accommodation  of 2 schedules
  • Is highly labor-intensive, involving the physical presence of both the learner and the mentor
  • Requires the commitment of both the learner and the mentor
  • Financial costs may be significant
  • Is limited in its scope by the expertise of the mentor or coach; i.e, learning is focused, not broad
  • Has no degree or certification attesting to the learner’s completion of study
Business Forums &Meetings
  • Allows for targeted, specific learning—therefore generally has little waste from over-breadth
  • Provides a discussion format that allows for questioning and dialogue with peers
  • Exposes student to a network of faculty & other students
  • Provides the benefit of a sounding board, a quasi-board of directors for participants

 

 

  • Requires a commitment to show up, to be on time, and to participate
  • Is highly labor-intensive, involving the physical presence of both trainers and learners
  • Financial costs may be significant
  • Is limited in its scope by the expertise of the trainer; i.e, learning is focused, not broad
  • Generally has no degree or certification attesting to the learner’s completion of study
Online Training
  • Excellent source of “learning in the moment of need”
  • Can be source of questioning and dialogue with peers
  • Can lead to strong networking around relevant topics
  • Can lead to strong mentoring and/or coaching relationships
  • Financial costs are generally minimal
  • Is generally the most efficient  learning option, if the right online source material is accessed
 

  • Requires a commitment to log on, to be on time, and to participate
  • Is limited in its scope by the expertise of the trainer; i.e, learning is focused, not broad
  • Typically has little external accountability for learning
  • Often does not allow for questioning and dialogue with trainers, mentors, or peers
  • May not accommodate the optimum learning style of the learner
  • Generally has no degree or certification attesting to the learner’s completion of study
Experiential Learning
  • Allows for targeted, specific learning—therefore generally has little waste from over-breadth
  • Excellent source of in-depth learning
  • Provides a discussion format that allows for questioning and dialogue with peers
  • Exposes student to a network of faculty & other students
  • May have a certification attesting to the learner’s completion of study
  • Is generally a highly effective learning option, if the right program is utilized

 

  • Requires a commitment to show up, to be on time, and to participate
  • Is highly labor-intensive, involving the physical presence of both trainers and learners
  • Financial costs may be significant
  • Is limited in its scope by the expertise of the trainer and the experience involved; i.e, learning is focused, not broad

 

 

Richard Tyson is the founder, principal owner and president of CEObuilder, which provides forums for consulting and coaching to executives in small businesses. For 21 years, CEObuilder has successfully brought about an outstanding financial return for CEO and executive clients through providing leading-edge content in the areas of strategizing, team-building, problem-solving and managing for results, as well as the use of proprietary learning and coaching.

 
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