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What is working and what is hindering the learning process in your organization?

What is working and what is hindering the learning process in your organization?

For years I been listening the term “learning organization” used to describe a firm or other company. It is usually used as a compliment: being such an organization is a good thing. even if we use the term, we do not know what it means exactly.

Learning organizations and the people in them learn constantly from everything they do. They use their own experience and that of others to improve their performance. They learn from their successes and also from their failures. Continuous learning is systemically built into the organization’s DNA and infrastructure. The value of continuous learning is espoused, driven and modelled by the CEO and senior management. There is no doubt in every organization member’s mind that continuous learning is expected and will be rewarded.

In a true learning organization, communication is open and widespread, people at all levels are included in most communications and it’s assumed everyone “needs to know.”

Further, senior leaders demonstrate they are learning constantly by communicating what they are learning as they learn; people are rewarded for learning with recognition, growth jobs, promotions and even financial compensation, and people who don’t learn are managed out of the organization.

To be a learning organization provides a competitive advantage: learning organizations are superior competitors, they have brand equity their competitors cannot match, and they attract and retain the best talent.

With all these advantages, one would think that most organizations would strive to be learning organizations. And, in fact, many do.

But to become one is not so easy. Becoming and sustaining a true learning organization requires a lot of work and dedication, and it takes time, energy and resources. Many are thwarted in their attempts to become a learning organization by the press of daily work, inability to persevere, lack of support from the top or the unwillingness to fully commit to the idea.

Yet, despite all these obstacles, we can cite examples of organizations that have been true learning organizations for many years, if not decades. Their long-term success is testimony to the value of continuous learning.

Examples include:

Microsoft: It successfully made the massive shift in mindset from desktop to Internet when its marketplace changed.

Microsoft’s “The New Way of Working” program addresses several of these principles, creating more productive and efficient processes, while enhancing employee engagement. The program — launched at the company’s Dutch headquarters — ensures that employees can access every business application over the Web, from work or home, ranging from invoicing systems to logistics systems to sales information. They can integrate Facebook, Twitter and other social media services into Outlook.

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Microsoft claims that the technology has reduced the quantity of e-mails each employee has to deal with by 30%. Additional benefits include a happier workforce, improved staff retention rates, increased productivity, lowered building costs by 30% (equivalent to $644″,000 a year), a rise in sales in the Dutch offices by 51%, and an increase in the proportion of employees with a “mobile work style” from 70% to 77%.

Collaborative capacity must extend beyond the four walls of the organization to engage customers, suppliers and other relevant stakeholders — current and future employees, community members, shareholders and others.

With today’s technology, everyone can have instant online access to information about companies, products and services, as well as the opinions of others. They can collect information, compare features and prices, and sometimes select multiple providers and combine the best of each.

What’s common to all the successful companies is their foundation of solid basic principles and values, as well as their continuous learning to keep them thinking and acting ahead of their competition.

They constantly create markets, market approaches, products and greater customer value constantly, and they never squander the market advantage they have worked so hard to acquire by letting their competition think or act ahead of them or faster than they can.

As long as these companies remain true learning organizations, it’s safe to assume their future success.

Mistakes hindering the learning process:

1. Less communication with employees

Regular communication is positively correlated to employee engagement. In fact, employees whose managers regularly communicate with them are nearly three times more engaged than those with managers who don’t regularly communicate. Tripling your employees’ engagement levels can be as easy as popping by their office one or two times a week to shoot the breeze.

2. Sharing feedback in constructive way

Managers have the challenging job of managing employee performance. It’s a balancing act knowing how much positive feedback to include and when to focus on improvement. 73% of employees who believe their manager can name their strengths feels engaged and energized by their work. On the other hand, focusing feedback on an employee’s weaknesses can cause their performance to decline by 27%.

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The best way to work on giving employee feedback is to practice high frequency. The standard once-a-year review doesn’t provide enough feedback for your employees to understand their progress. The goal is to retain top talent, so frequent check-ins with high performing employees (once a week) is your goal. A once a week frequency might not work for larger corporations, so adjust as necessary or delegate feedback to your management team.

Keep in mind, this high-frequency feedback plan is what your employees are looking for. In fact, the highly engaged employees want to receive feedback once a week. When you work on giving feedback, be as specific in your examples as possible to show you have a keen eye on each individual’s work. “You’re doing great!” is vague and insincere. “I loved the way you handled that call with *Client Name* yesterday” is a specific example of something an employee might have struggled with, but pulled through and deserves recognition for.

3. Roles and Responsibility & Ownership not defined

Only about 50% of the workforce strongly feels they understand what is expected of them at work. That means the other half is more or less “winging” it.

Not only do these employees not know what is expected of them, but that means they have no clue how their work really contributes to the bigger goals of the organization, which will make it hard to retain them long term.

4. Not recognizing employee accomplishments

According to the 2015 Trends in Employee Recognition Report, 68% of surveyed companies feel employee recognition programs have an extremely positive effect on employee engagement. The same study showed 38% of respondents felt it positively impacts employee retention.

The power of praise is evident and it doesn’t necessarily have to come in the form of recognition program to make it happen. How to avoid this mistake: Create an environment of recognition by taking opportunities daily to recognize small successes.

Even recognizing personal achievements or struggles can provide meaning for employees and consequently, a more engaging work atmosphere. For example, if you know Sam is taking night classes at the local campus, let her know how impressed you are with her work and dedication to further her education.

Recognition comes in many forms. A lot of companies find great success in incentive programs. Incentive programs can range from costing $0 to $1″,000+ depending on how big or small your budget is for extra “rewards.” Think about a few of these options you could run with:

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· Bring your dog to work day

· Unlimited sick days

· Monetary rewards for perfect attendance

· Recognition for every year worked (cake, a conference stipend, a gift card)

· A week off at the end of the year to celebrate the upcoming new year

· Monetary incentives for those who “green commute” (walk, rollerblade, ride a bike, carpool, take the train or bus)

· Laundry service (especially for offices with a more strict dress code)

· Flexible work schedules (especially rewarding for those with families)

5. Failure to lead by example

It’s hard to be perfect all the time, but managers don’t just manage people, they lead them and that means they are expected to lead by example. 70% of employees who lack confidence in senior leadership are not fully engaged, making the values and characteristics managers display at work even more critical to influencing employee performance.

For example, when your team makes a mistake, that’s a reflection on your leadership. Resist the urge to place blame. Take responsibility for the situation and let your team know you’re working to improve on yourself. They will appreciate your humility and honesty. How are you implementing employee recognition in the workplace?

From the very beginning of the hiring process, all the way through the employee lifecycle, we ask candidates and team members to be vulnerable. We ask them for their information, we give them our honest opinions on how they’re performing and ways they can make improvements. Think about turning the table and putting yourself in the hot seat.

if I want to lead teams effectively, I need to know how I can serve them, what I can do better and how you can I be best for them. Allow employees (both existing and exiting) to fill out an annual survey on my performance as their leader.

These should be anonymous and used in a way to create constructive data for you to hear what our employees could use more or less of. Some of the results might sting a little, but that is a sign it’s working! Use what stings to build a solution. our employees will be happy to see their suggestions are being heard and taken seriously as a part of bettering their work environment.

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