Personal experience of becoming a learning organisation
One of the case studies to be presented at the forthcoming CIPD HRD 2012 conference and exhibition on Learning and Organisational Development (April 25 & 26, London) is titled: ‘Becoming a Learning Organisation’. The study is a joint presentation by Andy Holmes of Ernst & Young and Andy Doyle of ITV, see:
Their presentation looks to cover the following topics:
- creating an environment where learning is embedded in the organisational culture
- the business benefits of focusing on learning
- developing a proactive approach to learning where employees take ownership of their own development
My colleagues and I at Careergro have spent the last couple of years working fulltime thinking about, researching and talking to a diverse range of people including HR professionals, business leaders and employees about the challenges they face and the issues there are trying to address in improving learning and development for themselves and their organisations. As a result, we have built the online career development tool Careergro (www.careergro.com) and as is the want of technology companies who like to swallow their own medicine, we have been using Careergro internally to manage and track our own development, as individuals, as a team and as an organisation. Now in the lead up to HRD 2012, it is perhaps as good a time as any to reflect on our experience with particular reference to the topics above.
To my mind, the key driver to creating a learning organisation is intrinsic motivation. In our organisation, nobody is told what to learn, the requirement on each employee is to come up with a learning and development plan that meets the needs of their role and to be able to advocate and justify why their development plan is the right one to meet the needs of the organisation and increase the value they bring. Each employee is still required to meet the performance goals defined for them as part of our strategic objectives. However, we believe our individual employees are best placed to identify how they need to develop themselves to meet those goals.
The online career development tool Careergro has three main sections:
- Assess: career coaching assessments designed to grow awareness both of ourselves and our fit with our current and/or future role, but also of the world of work around us which can be used to help identify areas for learning and development. These include considering how we can better align our role with our values, identifying the skill strengths that we can work to master and considering the trends and changes happening around us in our team, organisation and industry. There are also more advanced assessments which include for example looking at our limiting beliefs.This awareness is I believe key to creating an environment where learning is embedded in the organisational culture. To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, if we don’t know what we don’t know, we are not going to be very motivated to learn. Likewise, being told what we don’t know by our line manager and promised extrinsic rewards for learning has proven time and time again to be ineffective when competing for time against achieving other performance related goals. The only true way to ensure the learning takes place is for it to be intrinsically motivated.
- Develop: an online development plan supported by automated email reminders where we can define our learning and development objectives and the actions that we will take to achieve them. This development plan is shared with our manager to get their feedback, approval and support.Providing our employees with the tools to allow them create a development plan for themselves that they can then collaborate on with their manager and colleagues is the most effective way to develop a proactive approach to learning where employees take ownership of their own development.
- Share: an online enterprise activity feed where we can share achievements, completion of development actions and other development related updates, give thanks, ask questions and receive recognition from our managers and peers – essentially an ongoing social career development conversation with our managers and colleagues. This is also the place where we capture private feedback from our line managers as part of more formal face to face development reviews.It is our experience that the key to creating a learning and development organisational culture is getting insight into how our peers are developing and the intrinsic motivation that comes from sharing our own learning and development progress.
The key outcomes for me of this new career development journey to date which are driving the business benefits are:
- my awareness of what brings me satisfaction in my career has grown significantly, even in the tough times I now know why I am doing what I are doing and why it is the best thing for me, this makes going the extra mile very easy
- I now look at our learning and development as driving our performance rather than as a distraction from it. Learning and development have now become central to everything we do
- actively managing my career has brought a great sense of control over our destiny which greatly helps with managing stress
- the trust that transparency into our learning and development activities has fostered is greatly enhancing our team and organisational performance and engagement
I am very much looking forward to seeing how my experience compares to the case study to be presented at HRD2012. I would also love to hear what drives learning and development in your organisation.