Employees want to work for a learning organization—an organization that has inculcated a lifestyle of learning from mistakes and also sees mistakes as opportunities to gain knowledge and learn new things.
Companies can strive to be innovative through bold experimentation and fostering and investing in development and activities that build their employees. The value of making your organization a learning organization goes beyond employees to directors and shareholders.
Shareholders can expect higher-quality products or services (depending on what your organization offers) with more innovation, which can be made possible by the company’s freedom to try new things and its continuous focus on building the capabilities of the people who work there.
Being a learning organization or trying to take learning to a whole new level requires different mindset around success and failure, as well as taking note of the tangible value of consistent investments made in people over the long term.
Reaching that level isn’t something that can be achieved just by Learning and Development (L&D) leaders. Most times, it requires leadership alignment and sponsorship at the highest levels of the organization. Here are four ways to bring learning effectiveness to a new level and build a structure for a learning organization to be introduced.
1. Work with the business to ensure learning.
Working in the industrial sector as a business owner or as the HR manager in a big firm, you should work with the business to make sure learning directly supports the organization’s strategy and objectives.
Sometimes we are faced with limited resources for a good learning process. One of the best ways to help leaders feel good about its value is to make sure that learning is an important tool to push your business strategies. This can be done through frequent assessment and thorough review that is directly focused on the needs of your business.
To ensure you are bringing learning effectiveness to a new level in your organization, you should ask yourself questions such as:
- What are the main capability gaps that, if not taken care of, will be an obstacle in achieving your plans?
- What are the skills needed to meet long-term aspirations and visions?
Directly aligning a learning program to a key business plan or initiative shows business value.
2. Provide learning for employees in innovative ways.
Endeavor to be innovative and unique in providing learning for your employees. They should show what they have learned. It should go beyond the common ways of measuring what they have learned by post-testing or hands-on assignments; they also should practice and demonstrate their learning by being innovative.
Move beyond traditional learning as you try to change the level of learning and think about how to bring learning to people in unique methods with high frequency and low costs. There are different types of strategies that fit into these categories, including:
- Implementing a daily learning process such as a one minute or two-minute “learning bite” video with a call to action
- Weekly e-mails from leaders with management best practices encouraging learners to try them out during the week
- Regular forums for employees to learn from each other
- Organizing business class or meeting and inviting top managers to speak and giving learners the chance to showcase what they have learned
These types of strategies will let people inculcate the habit of learning as a daily practice and a “must-do” activity, which requires minimal administrative support. For those who are not native English speakers, you can provide translation services such as The Word Point to give them a better understanding of what you are teaching.
3. Customize learning to fit the company’s culture.
You have to make sure that your learning process fits your company culture and operations to maximize the value and yield the best result. Off-the-shelf programs may not fit your company’s culture, but you often can tailor them for your organization to make them more relevant and help learners feel a sense of ownership.
4. Work with the business for rewards and incentives.
If you want to help managers improve and ensure that everybody is working effectively to learn and be innovative, rewards and recognition can help.
Also, look for ways to recognize that learning allows you to learn something new both from successes and failures. The key is to ensure that the organization is rewarding the birth of new capabilities through learning.
Taking effective learning to a new level and introducing a learning culture takes time, and it’s not something that can be achieved by just words. Hopefully, these four tips can help build a structure and plan for getting there.
Melissa Mauro is a self-improvement author who is always interested in new projects and is working to create her own writer brand.