Building a “learning organization” can be the key to responding to market challenges—and growth.
Remaining competitive in your industry and market requires agility in the face of unforeseen opportunities or challenges. Among the best ways to do that is to make a strong, sustained commitment to cultivating a learning organization—a workforce that’s better informed, more capable of acting on opportunities, and better positioned to pursue individual and organization-wide growth. So how can you institutionalize—and benefit from—putting proactive education in play? The keys include:
- Understanding the basic guidelines. While you should frame training initiatives around larger business goals or strategies, it’s equally important to articulate to employees what’s in it for them. In terms of cost, investing in a learning organization represents a financial commitment, but technology has enabled such diverse learning opportunities that your company has access to extensive free and low-cost resources.
- Creating a learning culture and collaboration. Actively seek a workforce that’s motivated to learn, beginning with recruitment. Once you have people who exhibit enthusiasm for learning, be creative in looking for ways to reward high-performing learners. In addition, ensure that all employees understand the company’s approach to learning and the way its professional development system works—especially how it supports their professional development and overall growth.
- Finding leaders through learning. Learning initiatives can help your company identify future leaders—those who embrace continual learning by design and demonstrate a capacity for taking risks and learning from both success and failure. Strategies for their professional development should reflect not only current learning needs, but also needs that are likely to emerge as the organization grows.
While there’s no uniform definition of a learning organization, there are some common characteristics that you can adapt to your company’s business requirements and performance objectives. Above all, the executive team must actively encourage all employees to strengthen and share their knowledge and to seek opportunities to learn, coach, and mentor.
Read the third in our series of Connections to Growth: Leadership guides, Leveraging the Learning Organization, to discover how learning can spur your businesses’ growth.