Building an organization with a foundation of employee involvement and personal commitment, a motivating management team, and most importantly a commitment to the process of learning, drives performance. In the Harvard business review article, Teaching People How to Learn, former Harvard Business professor, Chris Argyris, believes that companies fail because they have created cultures that inhibit individual’s ability to learn. Through his teaching, Chris demonstrated that in order for leaders to continually grow, they must be committed to learning from failures. Additionally, leadership means creating the conditions that enable people to produce valid knowledge and to do so in ways that encourage personal responsibility.
Organizations have the power through its leadership and management to mimic this key element in improving performance through its commitment to offering both opportunity and rewards for engaging in the learning process. However, teaching people how to learn is “the most pressing task” for managers, given the perpetual expansion of skills and knowledge that are products of the information economy. This is highly important, because in today’s world everyone wants to be noticed and recognized for their work – employees are motivated to achieve in order to remain relevant. As such, employees are in search of new ways to learn, improve their skills and invest in themselves.
Leaders and managers must continually re-evaluate their employee’s needs for training, resources and supervision. Conducting regular focus groups is a great way to gain insight and feedback on the critical wants of employees. Understanding that employees have different expectations and levels of confidence about what they are capable of doing is a critical skill for leaders and mangers of today. It is leadership and management’s responsibility to understand what these expectations are and to respond accordingly.
Companies that excel and engage their employees are committed to being an organization that is continually creating a culture of shared and continuous learning.