The key to choosing the right program comes down to knowing what the employer and employee hope to accomplish and how the information learned can be applied back in the workplace, says David Springate, associate dean for executive education at the University of Texas at Dallas School of Management.
“If you come at it the right way, executive education can be a tremendous investment that can really change or jumpstart an employee’s career and bring bottom-line results to the company,” he says. “Employees who embrace the opportunity will find better ways to perform and bring those skills and knowledge back to the office.”
Smart Business spoke with Dr. Springate about executive education and how to go about choosing an executive education.
How do employees benefit from executive education?
Executive education programs provide employees with skills and education. A short program can help employees pick up new skills that they can use in their jobs. This can range from learning a technical skill such as programming to more high-level skills like financial analysis.
There are also more extensive programs, such as 2-year education programs, where employees earn a new degree, rather than a specific skill. Either option can lead to career advancement. Ultimately, employers benefit by helping employees find better ways to perform.
How does executive education benefit employers?
One of the best benefits of executive education is the opportunity for employees to work in teams. Many companies send an entire team of individuals to work together in a classroom setting, in order to tackle issues they’re facing in their jobs, bringing direct results back to the workplace. The trend is toward customization, so employers can actively help shape the courses and customize the curriculum to meet their individual business needs.
Ultimately, companies are looking for a return on their investment. Improving profitability is a big focus in executive education, and programs help employees learn new ways of thinking and new ways of doing things at work. Employees are able to learn from other participants who may have experience dealing with similar issues or problems and can provide a different perspective or solution.
How can employers support their employees’ executive education efforts?
The easiest way for an employer to support employees is to encouragethem to enroll in executive education programs. Supporting their efforts financially is one way, but there are other things employers can do.
One easy thing is simply to provide information. Most companies can allow colleges to link to their programs or provide program details directly on the company’s Web site. It’s also helpful to allow the schools to have an audience with the human resources department to better understand the company’s needs and how the school might be able to help meet those needs through executive education programs.
How can employees make the most of their executive education experience?
The people who get the most out of their executive education experience whether it’s a degree program or a shorter course are the ones who can think more broadly about how they can apply the information and knowledge that they’ve learned. Employees should look internally at themselves and at their work situation and figure out how they can make the best use of this opportunity.
Being engaged and having the right attitude are probably the best things employees can do to maximize their executive education experience.
How does one go about choosing an executive education course or curriculum?
Employees and employers alike should know what they need and what they hope to get out of a program. It’s also important to research what’s available and understand how the different options will help them learn or accomplish what they need.
Program information is readily available on the Internet, and schools are more than happy to talk over the specifics of a program or to answer any questions employees or employers might have.
Employers looking for measures of validity should ask whether a school’s programs are accredited and how they rank by various ranking bodies.
DAVID SPRINGATE is associate dean for executive education at the University of Texas at Dallas School of Management. Reach him at 972-883-2647 or firstname.lastname@example.org.