One of the things you might hear at a college graduation party is “well, at least there is no more homework!”
When I hear that I don’t have the heart to tell them that the past 16 years of homework they’ve done in school are nothing compared to that which they’ll probably need to do out in the real world. Let me explain.
I’ve written before about the critical skills one needs to learn in school. In addition to the critical thinking skills I wrote about in that post I’d add the ability to do homework to that list. After all, what is homework but independent research and preparation for what is about to happen in the next class? In my mind even when the homework is review it’s making sure that the concepts the teacher was trying to instill have taken hold. The very act of having the discipline to work outside of the class setting without a teacher looking over your shoulder is a great skill as well.
Fast forward to business. I expect that when I walk into a meeting everyone in the room (assuming they know that I’m coming) have already checked me out thoroughly. They’ve read some of the screed, they’ve checked my website, maybe they sampled my Twitter feed and they most certainly checked my LinkedIn profile. If they haven’t, they haven’t done their homework. I used to tell my team that if they walk into a meeting and don’t know the agenda, the questions that might be asked, the others around the table, and what they want to have accomplished as they leave the meeting they have not done their homework. As an ex-teacher, not doing one’s homework puts you on my bad side.
There is nothing more annoying than having a salesperson begin a meeting asking what they can do for me or my organization. Even worse is when they ask a lot of questions that could have been answered with 10 minutes of searches. Everyone’s time is valuable and offering solutions and value based on having done your homework decreases the time needed for things to get done. Doing one’s homework no matter on which side of the table one sits is a basic and critical business skill. Is it one you’re using?