Cornerstone’s internal company talent management system is called, appropriately, "Dog Food." We call it that because we want employees to "eat their own dog food" when it comes to actually using the same technology that we offer to clients.
Of course, using our own products is a no-brainer, but extending this beyond talent management technology and into how we work with our internal employees is just one of the ways we innovate our product and increase engagement and alignment. This is the idea behind Cornerstone Development Days.
Learning Has Never Been More Important
We talk a lot in the market about how clients should better engage and empower their employees for bottom-line business impact. We talk about the need for constant feedback, faster career progression, sensible work-life balance, and meaningful connection to work.
Another critical focus should be continuous learning. I would argue that learning has never been more important than in today’s hyper-connected, always-on, always-changing workplace. Trends in engagement surveys from such organizations as Glassdoor or Great Places to Work all have this in common: employees want development! Attention to personal and professional growth at work is an increasingly competitive attribute for any organization in the war on talent.
How Do You Foster a Culture of Learning?
To build and nurture a meaningful culture of learning at Cornerstone, we have implemented "Development Days" for our employees. Every month, in every Cornerstone office around the world, we invest in one another by learning from one another.
On Development Day, we take time out from our harried, future-of-work workdays to make time to learn something new – from each other. Every class is led by a Cornerstone employee who has a special skill, expertise or interest to share. Who doesn’t love a subject matter expert?
We know that learning comes in all shapes, sizes and flavors, so Development Day accommodates a wide range of preferences. At Cornerstone Development Day, learning can be functional or just plain fun. A smattering of recent examples of employee-led classes:
- Functional Learning: Agile Project Management
- Functional Learning: Understanding Quality Assurance
- Functional Learning: A Social Media Love Story – How to Build an Engaged, Long-Lasting Social Community
- Leadership Development: Leadership lessons from different CSOD executives
- Leadership Development: How to Make Work-Life Balance Work
- Personal Development: Clearing Out Your Mental Clutter
- Personal Development: Get the Most Out of Your Day; Critical "Life Hacks"
- Personal Development: Wine Tasting 101 (presented by our resident Master of Wine)
Additionally, we usually bring in someone from the outside, like Keith Ferrazzi and Paige Craig, to deliver unique perspectives to keep things interesting and our boundaries expanding.
"Building a learning culture can be achieved in many ways," says Jeff Miller, Cornerstone’s Learning and Development manager and the driving force behind these events. "Development Days constitute one critical arm in our larger strategy to educate employees in learning both as producers and consumers of learning material."
Why Do We Do It?
Development Days are important for several reasons:
- They leverage internal talent and build an environment of learning with an "inside-out" methodology – training and learning come from within the organization.
- They meet both existing and emergent needs and, because they are recorded, they continually build a curriculum to drive future learning.
- They provide opportunities for individuals to develop presentation skills; from ideation to delivery through reflection.
- They create inter-departmental and cross-functional understanding.
- They provide internal networking opportunities.
- They foster a creative, interactive environment that is fun. And fun is a good thing.
- And the most important aspect; Employees are asking for it!
Cornerstone spends a lot of the time talking in HR and HR technology circles about the "future of work" and the need for our clients to engage, align, and develop employees. It’s not just lip service: we started Cornerstone Development Days with the idea that continuous employee learning has never been more important. We should always be learning and developing and there’s no better place to start than right at home.
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