Creating a Learning Organization

If your team is not learning, they’re not growing…and as a consequence, your organization won’t grow. Sounds pretty simple and obvious. Yet how many organizations actually stunt their growth by not investing in learning and development? Worse still, how many organizations spend inordinate amounts of money and resources to attract talent, and then starve that same talent of opportunities for learning and growth? We spend so much time trying to extract the most from our key contributors, and then wonder why they eventually leave for greener pastures!

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating that you set up a corporate university (although it’s actually not a bad idea), nor have people spend their days in cloistered classrooms (virtual or otherwise). What I am saying is that you have to attend to one of the very basic needs that all of us humans have…to learn and grow. And you can’t leave this to chance. You have to manage it. You have to create a learning organization, where every day there are opportunities for learning and growth…for everyone.

Here are some tips to help you achieve a learning organization:

  1. Make your organization (not the classroom) your learning centre
  2. Help people understand what motivates them as learners, then work in concert with those motivators
  3. Place learning resources in the path of learners. Don’t take them off their daily path to learn, unless you really have to (classrooms are poor substitutes for “in the field” learning.)
  4. Support learners by helping them overcome the barriers to learning, e.g. coaches, mentors and support groups
  5. Lead by example by having some learning goals for yourself. I know, you’ve heard this before, but we all learn vicariously, and your staff will take your lead.
  6. Self awareness is the starting point for personal growth. Invest in activities that tell you more about your strengths and those of your staff. Then play to those strengths.
  7. Reward learning that is tied to organizational goals.

Following these tips will get you well on your way to establishing a culture where learning and growth are regarded as second nature, and where the term “learning organization” is not seen as a fad.