It’s all about the learning!
Your investment in effective learning is your key leverage point in increasing your organization’s results. Imagine the results your organization could achieve if your people’s capabilities were at their highest potential and aligned with your organizational strategies. Also consider that perhaps the reason you aren’t achieving your aspired results is because of gaps in your people’s capabilities. After all, if your people had the capabilities to achieve your organization’s aspirations, wouldn’t you have achieved them already?
Why Effective Learning is an Important Investment
Your people’s capabilities are the primary factor determining the results your organization will achieve. Business success or failure depends entirely on your people’s abilities to operate and build your business and to overcome the challenges and obstacles inherent in their work environments.
Technology and processes may contribute to your results, but technology and processes are only as good as their application. Furthermore, technology and processes quickly reach their limits, especially in changing environments. Proper application of technology and processes and adaptation to change depends entirely on your people’s capabilities.
Your people are your business. To succeed, you must expect their optimal performance, individually and collectively, to produce bottom-line results. The most effective way to maximize your organization’s growth and results is to help your people maximize their own growth and results. Maximizing capabilities, growth, and results is what learning is all about.
What is Effective Organizational Learning?
While it may not be obvious what constitutes good learning, we all know what bad learning looks like. We have all been in boring training classes, sat through e-learnings loaded with boring text, or used documentation that was impossible to follow. We also know from experience that achieving any results, let alone achieving results on an organizational level, requires your performers to do more than merely understand and retain knowledge. Yet, we tend to settle for learning that we know is ineffective, perhaps because we do not know the alternatives.
So what does it take for people to become optimal performers? This question is far more challenging than most people realize given that human capabilities are highly complex and involve cognitive aspects that range from knowledge and skills to intense intrapersonal struggles. Research and professional experience in the learning profession can now take us further than ever before in answering this question. Professionals and researchers have evolved the field into a much more comprehensive approach to organization learning. Learning specialists devote their careers to the art and science of developing and facilitating organizational capabilities.
Discovering what we need to learn is part of the learning process.
What Does a Learning Need Look Like?
How do you know if you need a learning solution in your organization? The most obvious learning needs will be challenges or obstacles your organization is struggling with or stuck on. Here are some examples:
- Safety and compliance issues, such as high accident or incident rates
- Difficulty achieving sales, service, quality, or productivity targets
- Consistently missed deadlines and budgets
- Stagnant decision-making or problem-solving
- Deficiencies in product or technical knowledge
- Loss of skilled workers due to retirement or turnover
- Entry-level employees coming in without needed skills
- Competition and market changes or declines
- Change in technologies, directions, or processes
- Diminishing resources and increased workload
- Ineffective communication and leadership
- Personality conflicts and struggles with diversity
- Organizational silos, politics, and lack of coordination among teams
- Low morale or resistance to change
- Inadequate bench strength – no succession for senior and leadership roles
All of these issues arise because of deficiency in the capabilities to deal adequately with challenges in the work environment. Effective learning solutions can alleviate these issues and bring performance back in line with expectations.
Learning needs don’t always come from bad news. Organizational success and optimism can also indicate the need for learning solutions. For example, your organization may need to increase your staff’s capabilities in order to:
- Achieve your vision and aspired results
- Capitalize on new technologies, processes, or market opportunities
- Align staff with the company’s strategy or competitive advantage
- Build a strong corporate culture
- Expand, globalize, or diversify
- Onboard new employees
- Sustain growth
- Capture the benefits of a merger or acquisition
- Build sustainable bench strength
- Capture the legacy of experienced staff
A Higher Standard
You can manage your organization’s capabilities through the right approaches to organizational learning, and higher capabilities lead to higher organizational performance. An investment in more engaging and user-friendly learning will certainly have a strong learning and performance impact. Settling for less-than-optimal learning programs wastes valuable resources and opportunities. So don’t settle.
Based on decades of research and experience, the learning profession has created engaging, learner-centered approaches that enable a far higher standard in learning. Is such a standard really worth it? To answer this question, ask yourself how much you really need your people to have the capabilities. We all know how helpful it is to be able to depend on people who have the capabilities to properly do what you need done. We also know how dreadful it is to depend on someone who does not have the capabilities. If you are serious about needing the capabilities, then you need to take learning seriously.