The Learning Organization
Personal and Professional Development of Employees in the Learning Organization
If it is better work performance that we want, and if we wish to instill ambition in our employees, before trying to counsel them on the ways and benefits of “career” advancement, we must first do a lot of groundwork ourselves with a view to transforming the workplace into a “learning organization”. We must define our goals and objectives; analyze our resources, our people, and the work environment; list down the gaps in all three areas, and try to diagnose the causes of those gaps, which represent our organizational problems. It is only after correct diagnosis that we can attempt a cure.
A step in the right direction would be to make the goal-and-objective setting, the analysis, and the definition of problems and their causes, an all-out organizational effort, involving people at all levels. The format, style and sequence for such team effort also require careful planning, bearing in mind past experiences and the personality of the organization as a whole, which has been shaped by different factors.
We can take note of a few proven principles to guide us in our master-plan:
- Generic models and systems written by others should be used only as guidelines.
- Each organization has its own personality and unique needs.
- Managers must view themselves as mentors and coaches, and act accordingly.
- The concept of “work” must be changed from an obligatory activity for which remuneration is given to that of an opportunity offering a “professional challenge” and a “learning experience”.
- Supervisors and employees should be encouraged to instigate and take responsibility for their own learning (professional training and self-development).
- Company training and development activities should not be limited to the actual performance of a task or duty, but leading towards the business, professional and self-development of all employees.
- There must be formal and informal networks of communications (one-on-one when needed, and group meetings.
- Group communications meetings, at regularly scheduled intervals, must include relevant and interesting “lessons”, facilitated by an expert Manager or Supervisor.
- Employees should be encouraged to attend formal educational and professional courses offered by the outside world.
- Trainees and Management Trainees must be incorporated into the organization – not only do they offer a fresh point of view, but serve as an excellent example to employees and help create the concept of work as a learning experience.
- Cross-training and “job” rotation are an excellent professional development tactics that lead towards improved understanding and improved communications among departments (for the bold, a further step can be implemented under guidance: “King for the Day” cross-training, such as letting a line worker play Supervisor for one day).
- Supervisors and employees must be encouraged to compete with their own selves rather than against each other.
- Supervisors and employees should receive ongoing informal feedback, in addition to formal feedback as laid down by company policy.
- Acknowledgments and rewards should preferably be directed towards groups and teams rather than individuals – individual contributions and accomplishments can be rewarded in a more personal manner, such as a thank-you note, increased responsibility, a promotion or financial reward.
- The basis for such an organization is Management Commitment and its columns are made up of understanding, acceptance, participation, and input by all its members.
Article By: Claire Belilos