Hire Me – I’m a Lifelong Learner!

August 6, 2018

Enhancing both personal growth and the hiring process

We know that lifelong learning increases personal growth, knowledge and skills. Have you considered using it as a hiring tool to identify potential team members with this aptitude?

A Wellness Habit

When challenged to think of a healthy habit, my minds goes to things like exercising, eating better and getting a pedicure now and then.  The task of learning had yet to make my list, nor did it enter my mind as a habit that I needed to develop.

Sure, I attend continuing education programs, watch webinars and read journals to stay current on the latest and greatest in the industry.  I also binge on Youtube videos when I have a home improvement project that needs tackling. I learn things here and there, but do I make it a priority on my list of healthy habits?

Why is Lifelong Learning important?

The act of learning has the obvious benefit of acquiring a new skill.  We become more experienced and more valuable in our careers.

Moving beyond the obvious, learning a new skill also improves memory, intelligence and language skills. Individuals with an active mind and a growth mindset have the ability to learn, unlearn and relearn skills.  Someone with a growth mindset believes that skill development and talent are derivatives of personal will and effort.  That is who I want on my team!

A focus on learning and a growth mindset starts with the hiring process

Screening candidates for these lifelong learning skills starts with your job advertisement.  You want to attract those that want to continue learning and growing in their careers. If you offer incentives or financial support towards educational achievements, mention these in your ad!  Candidates that want to grow and achieve certificates will be attracted to your hospital.

Get creative with your interview techniques. It’s not about just asking questions. I remember attending my daughter’s back to school orientation for 2nd grade.  There was a piece of cardstock and a pair of scissors at each seat. In the center of the table was a sample paper shape.  Parents were asked to duplicate the same shape by only looking at the sample (no touching!) and with only one cut in the cardstock. I worked at that thing almost all of orientation until I got it.

What was this designed to show? Growth-mindset! If you asked an interviewee to do something similar, would they give up right away or work diligently until it was completed?  Maybe they would get creative with a solution.  Maybe they would break the rules or not follow your instructions at all. Any outcome would provide valuable observations to help you in your selection process.

Make learning a team priority

New team members are immersed in learning upon hire, mostly during the orientation and on-boarding processes. Once the team member is proficient in all skills required for the position, have a plan to continue fostering that learning.

Performance reviews can be used to design goals that focus on learning and growth.  Don’t stop at just the skills required of the position.  Design your reviews to follow a goal-setting pattern, not a typical annual or semi-annual timeline.

For example, one goal might be around the concern for a high number of obese pets seen at the hospital. A team member may decide to develop a weight loss program, estimating that it will take 6 months before being implemented. Establish progress goals every two months with the supervisor offering support and serving as an accountability partner.

Ready, Set, Learn!

The habit of lifelong learning is not something that just happens. Yes, we might ‘do’ things to increase knowledge, but are we really focused on learning and growing?

Learning doesn’t just have to be in the office setting either.  Have you ever wanted to take an art class, learn to cook authentic cuisine, or speak a different language?  Having new and growing interests outside the practice walls has the same positive impacts and is a piece of the well-being puzzle.

If you live and breathe what you do as a career, and don’t take time to discover new things, burnout might be just around the corner for you.  Battle the burn-out beast and GO LEARN! It’s good for individuals and for the team as a whole.

Here’s to lifelong learning!

Jamie Davis, CVPM