How well does your team know the industry?

Reading industry trade publications is a critical aspect for on-the-job learning and career advancement, not to mention helping guide any business in a healthy direction. And yet we seldom hold our immediate subordinates accountable to this task, instead letting their passion alone motivate them and allowing the wheat to slowly separate itself from the chaff.

While I am a staunch proponent of self-directed learning and team empowerment, there is a danger to a threadbare laissez-faire management style in this regard.

First is that you have no quantitative measurement for whether the trades are being read or not; you only have an employee’s word to go on. Second is that you cannot accurately assess whether the information expressed in a given publication is just being read or actually absorbed, barring a one-on-one discussion to recap what was stated.

In today’s disruptive landscape, every manager and every aspiring manager needs to stay abreast of trends and industry happenings. Above all, though, you need passionate team members in order to realize any semblance of organizational success.

I’ve always deemed reading the trades and correctly digesting the ideas therein as a top-level barometer for how enthusiastic an individual is for the job. But with the pervasiveness of digital communications, the old school method of evaluating employees on this task through in-person conversation has fallen by the wayside. Nowadays, if it isn’t written into the job description with a specific system of rewards and repercussions, auxiliary duties like browsing a hotelier publication every other day won’t get done.

This can have drastic consequences for internal team development and succession planning, as it will prevent you from cultivating those young stars who will ultimately become the next generation’s business leaders. Moreover, any form of bite-sized learning like this can work tangentially to boost morale and talent retention.

So, if everyone expects a technology-based platform for both trade publication delivery and accountability, then that’s exactly what you should give them.

Sure, you can email articles around manually or post them to an electronic bulletin board, and then do an informal, qualitative assessment during a weekly meeting or morning huddle, but this will eventually add up to be a severe time drain over the long run. Instead, mobile apps are the solution as they can be powered to automatically push material to an employee’s device and monitor readership or even prompt a user to answer a quiz upon completion.

And it’s this last function that gets me most excited, as it can go far beyond the simple, binary metric of whether a given article is read or not. By testing your team on what they have just learned, it reinforces the teaching to ensure that the underlying concepts are more thoroughly understood. Smarter teams inevitably lead to more motivated, more productive or more visionary teams, and that’s what software like this enables.

Importantly, such platforms are no longer only hypothetical either. Indeed, I dabbled with adapting my five books on hospitality management into a digital format for this express purpose. While I would hardly classify myself as a technology developer, there are several others in the field far more adept at delivering a solution for you.

It’s a small part of your whole work culture, but nonetheless a critical one for effectively nurturing top talent.

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Getty Images