Author: Fabiola Eyholzer
Companies must constantly evolve to meet new challenges and opportunities. Learning and development is a key part to that equation – not only on a personal but also an enterprise level. You must provide the time and space for people to inspect and adapt in order to create a learning culture that is supported by work practices and daily routines.
Companies must constantly evolve to meet new challenges and opportunities. And it becomes even more important, when you consider today’s need for creativity and speed. We can no longer have the luxury of long life cycles – neither for our products/services nor our knowledge. Instead we are required to innovate and grow on the fly. Continuous learning and relentless improvement are key elements to that equation.
Unfortunately, we are often so busy and preoccupied with our daily tasks that we fail to set aside time to acquire specific knowledge or to even think about what abilities we would like to develop. On top of that, we don’t get enough advice and input from the people around us. That limits us our development potential.
That is when we rely on Performance Management to set the cornerstone for feedback and development. And current practices do indeed provide us with review sessions – albeit infrequent. They give employees and managers an official time and place for comments and coaching that (should) translate into actions. But that is usually where it stops and the outcomes are limited. Even though they highly depend on the ability to reflect and act upon it.
Reviews are intended to cover two parts: 1) evaluate results and 2) identify opportunities for learning and development. Most organizations excel at the former part – i.e. calculating performance ratings right down to the last digit. Yet they are lacking when it comes to the latter one – i.e. their capacity to boost individual and organizational development and growth.
You might argue, that your review sheets include a development plan. But chances are that it only covers mandatory annual training courses. Thus learning sessions that are more one-time episode rather than a continuous venture. In an agile world, this is certainly too little, too late and certainly not enough to endorse your effort for persistent improvement.
Creating a winning Learning Culture is a long-term commitment
After all, an agile enterprise cannot stand still. It has to be a progressing enterprise, where learning, innovation, knowledge sharing and collaborative decision making is routine and deeply embedded in the corporate DNA.
Therefore, learning initiatives cannot just be about sporadic trainings nor can they be treated as the “flavor of the month”. We must create a learning culture and that is a long-term commitment.
Furthermore, we cannot only focus on knowledge itself but also look at the processes behind it. We also have to look at how knowledge is created, acquired, refined, stored, transferred, shared and re-used. One element of that is to provide the time and space where people can inspect and adapt, so that learning and growing is supported by work practices and daily routines.
Agile approaches have learning and development deeply embedded into their workflow. They measure, assess, reflect, redefine and innovate. Agile employees draw inspiration from inspiring work, successful collaboration and instant feedback. And they are not afraid to address issues proactively and to move forward – not only on an individual level, but as a team and organizations.
Organizational Development takes courage to tackle the system
They do not shy away to challenge the system. And as W. Edwards Deming said:
“The system that people work in and the interaction with people may account for 90 or 95 percent of performance.”
Or in other words: Almost all issues with work are due to the system, not the workers.
That means in order to grow as organization, you need to assess and improve your system. Something most companies completely overlook. (Unless of course, if you count the recurring restructuring and transformation projects as continuous organizational learning and development).
From an HR perspective we must focus on creating an inspiring and engaging work environment with great conditions, so that people are enthusiastic about what they do and enhance their experience and if they grow on a personal and professional level so we will grow on an enterprise level too. It is up to us to create a stimulating learning culture that ignites personal and corporate development.
This article is part of the series “How Lean | Agile Enterprises Push the Reset Button on Performance Management”
This post was contributed by Fabiola Eyholzer, CEO of Just Leading Solutions, LLC. More information about Fabiola, Agile HR and the services of Just Leading Solutions can be found at www.justleadingsolutions.com.