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I don’t mean the traditional definition of a learning organization whereby you send people on industry or role specific courses or that you hire only individuals with significant post secondary degrees.
My definition of a learning organization is nothing more than a business that encourages people to learn from each other and to openly share this knowledge throughout the course of their employment with your company.
When was the last time you shared an article of interest with your employees? When was the last time you shared a simple example of good or great customer service you received? It is said that we learn best from stories and less from theory, so it’s in our best interest to make sure we share these real life examples.
Similarly, do you encourage your staff to share their knowledge with each other within your company or is it a case of he who has the knowledge has the power? Just think for a moment, how much more effective and efficient your company could be when knowledge is shared willingly and openly?
I’m really not sure who said it, but one of my favourite quotes is:
“Every time you sit with an employee, should be a teaching moment!”
This is an incredibly powerful statement and yet how many of us actually do this? I’ve found that the most enduring moments to put this into practice have been when an error or mistake has been made. Yet far too many times it becomes a wasted opportunity, because we end up focused on trying to correct the behaviour of the person that committed the error and not on learning what part of the process or system that failed in the first place. It’s just easier to assume the employee is at fault.
What if, once the crisis has been resolved, we then go on to engage the individual by sharing our knowledge on why it needs to be done a certain way i.e. for regulatory or legal requirements, or where possible help them to make suggestions to correct the deficient process? Because if you think about it for a second, chances are they don’t know why it’s needs to be done a particular way, since they either didn’t create the process or no one has ever told them.
Once you’ve shared your knowledge and helped them understand, they become far more valuable to the organization because you have helped them to grow their knowledge about your business or industry. Of course all of this requires ongoing effort so alternatively, you could just walk away and tell them not to let it happen again and miss the opportunity to be a learning organization!
Those truly dedicated staff will embrace these moments. And guess who benefits? Everyone! The employee benefits by feeling that their actions can make a difference to the company. The company benefits by having everyone focused on the same goals or objectives. And finally you benefit by having engaged employees willing to follow you or watch your back because you’ve taken the time to be human and shared your ideas, thoughts or knowledge and helped them become better and more confident.
So, are you a learning organization? I’d love to hear your thoughts! If you liked this please Tweet it, Like it or forward to a friend
Copyright © Greg Weatherdon 2012
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