Employees form the lifeblood of a competitive organisation in the digital environment. But more than good salaries and other perks, what can decision-makers do to ensure their people are taken care of, especially when it comes to development? Ruth Wotela, People Wellness Executive at SilverBridge, explains the importance of creating a learning organisation.
“This is a company that values the continuous learning and development of its people. It acknowledges that every person in the business can be a source of useful ideas. To this end, people must therefore have access to any information that might be useful to them.”
It also means that learning should flow either up or down to managers as well as employees. New ideas are encouraged and rewarded, and mistakes should be viewed as a learning opportunity. It comes down to giving people an opportunity to think and question how the business can do things differently, instead of only keeping the status quo in place.
“The idea is to teach and encourage people to review their current work habits and change the behaviour that limit their thinking. A learning organisation revolves around embracing a growth mindset,” she says.
Increasingly, companies are moving from routine and re-active learning to an approach that embraces continuous learning, experimentation, and feedback.
“Any knowledge-based organisation relies on its people to create, obtain, and apply knowledge in developing products and consulting with clients. Those companies that are the most successful at this see the creation of a culture that is conducive to and facilitates learning through individuals.”
Other aspects include giving people exposure and opportunities to work across the organisation, teamwork, knowledge sharing sessions, openness to suggestions, providing financial support as well as time for people to attend to learning and development initiatives, mentorships, and internships programmes.
“All these point to encouraging individuals to have a growth mindset and own their development. For managers, it is about providing support and guidance throughout the process. Learning requires openness to giving and receiving feedback. This provides valuable input into the what, why, and how learning and development takes place.”
So, beyond having regular one-on-one sessions where this can be discussed, a company can also structure its quarterly reviews to enable employees to give feedback to each other and their manager; for managers to give feedback to their employees, and for everyone to give the company feedback on company initiatives and objectives.
“Often, people get busy with their daily routine and neglect making time for training and development. Yes, it does require effort and for managers to lead by example. Allowing for learning and development to take place through a variety of ways (on-the-job training, online trainings, classroom trainings, attending conferences or seminars, one-on-one mentoring sessions, and so on) is critically important.”
People are integral in enabling a business to deliver and develop products and solutions to customers, building substantiable relationships with them, and helping it achieve its overall objectives.
“Companies operate in an environment that is consistently changing and requires new skills, competencies, and capabilities. This challenges people to continuously adapt, upskill, and innovate. It also means an organisation must constantly evaluate people’s skills, competencies, and capabilities to ensure its ability to meet current and future business requirements.”
Part of this evaluation entails defining how far along the business is in the process and where it wants to be from a strategic perspective. It should outline operational plans that enable the company to organise people and processes in the best way possible to support the strategy; ensuring the right skills, competencies, and capabilities are developed, and creating a culture that supports the strategy.
“Overall, learning should be continuous and relevant. This will help position the individuals (and company) strategically. As roles are set to change, being agile and multi-skilled are elements that must be promoted. If employees are up to date with the skills required for their job functions, the organisation will be at a significant competitive advantage.”