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A leader’s role in driving organizational learning

What is the single-most important quality that you look for when you hire new talent?

Most organizations focus on learning ability and agility of the prospective talent. Everyone wants an employee who can scale up and start delivering to the business requirements quickly.

But how many leaders actually spend time in fostering a learning culture internally in their organizations? Entrepreneurs specifically have a big role to play in such situations.

This is because they work in a very dynamic environment which is rapidly changing and the employees are at the core of driving this change. The kind of innovation and technological disruption that takes place is crucial for them to make their jump from one growth phase to another.

That is what makes a learning culture of great importance. If it is not built into the organization, chances are that employees will not be able to reach their own individual potentials or push their boundaries.

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So here are some basic steps that you can take as a leader, to create a learning culture –

Build your learning strategy into your overall business plan – This means that you need to have clearly defined budgets, initiatives and accountabilities for all learning related elements, when you define your annual business goals. A fixed budget should be clearly identified in the business plan to ensure that the right kind and amount of investment is being made.

Ensure that you know the kind of learning approach will work – Depending on the kind of employee demographics, share your insights with the L&D team on what is the approach best suited for them. For example, if you have many millennial employees in your organization, a blended learning framework including classroom, experiential, gamification and social media or mobile learning will work best.

Ensure that your managers and business heads are focusing on the same – While you can focus on it wholeheartedly, in order to make it an essential part of your organizational culture, you need your managers and business heads to be an integral part and drive it too. So make sure they are sharing the same message.

Ensure that you are actively participating in this process – Learning is the future investment for any organization and an entrepreneur should be actively involved in it. Your vision should translate into a learning roadmap for your team. E.g. You envision that you will venture into a new domain/technology after few months/weeks. In such a situation you need to actively plan learning roadmap around the same.

Setup review milestones – There should be a proper process of reviewing performance using milestones so that the effectiveness of the learning strategy can be tracked. This also helps in making sure that if any changes need to be made, those can be done in immediately.

There is a lot of effort that goes into creating the learning culture. The amount of effort needed to sustain it as much too.

So, as a leader what you can proactively do is –

Keep communicating what new skills you need the employees to have, in line with the business plans.

Ensure that the learning strategy is being revisited and revised as per market and organizational needs

Be cognizant of what competitors are doing to up-skill or re-skill their workforce

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