According to a Forbes article*, there are five keys to building a successful learning organization.
1. Remember that corporate learning is “informal” and HR doesn’t own it
2. Promote and reward expertise
3. Unleash the power of experts
4. Demonstrate the value of formal training
5. Allow people to make mistakes
This is a great list and directly applies to culture. It’s “how we do things around here”. It’s reflected in what people say and how they act on a daily basis. The cultures that display these five elements have an advantage when it comes to organizational change.
Remember that corporate learning is “informal” and HR doesn’t own it. This “informal” aspect of learning is an attitude that “I can learn something new every day.” These cultures use teachable moments. It’s as simple as asking a question real time or watching someone else doing the task right before you do it. That attitude translates to an appetite for change.
Promote and reward expertise – For projects, using Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) pays dividends. These experts are approachable and knowledgeable. Recognizing SMEs publicly, presenting them as role models and leaders demonstrates that having and sharing knowledge is valued.
Unleash the power of experts – It takes a village to drive successful change. Giving SMEs the support and resources they need to motivate teams, share their expertise, and develop others builds momentum and prepares people for an upcoming change.
Demonstrate the value of formal training – Most projects include formal training to prepare impacted employees for a change in their job responsibilities. To best prepare for a change, it’s critical that the management team places formal training as a high priority. Attendance should be required and tracked. After employees start working in new ways, sharing employee stories of how that training prepared users for the changes reinforces the value of training and communicates that implementation has happened.
Allow people to make mistakes – Anyone who has experienced a “go live” on new processes and/or technology knows there is no such thing as a “perfect go live”. It’s important to build the expectation that employees won’t know everything forward and backward day one. Recognize the learning curve inherent in the change and the likelihood that mistakes will happen as employees transition from old ways to new.
Creating a learning organization culture takes leadership commitment, a strategy, plan, and resources. In return, the organization and employees experience many benefits, one of them is being better prepared for change.
*www.forbes.com 5 Keys to Building a Learning Organization by Josh Bersin 1/18/2012