TAG Consulting

Organizations Learn Too

January 5, 2016

This is the third in a series on the four characteristics of trustworthy organizational cultures that our research revealed:

  1. Dependability
  2. Communication
  3. Learning
  4. Integrity

Put together, these characteristics lead unfailingly to employee engagement!

Today, Learning!

learn circle

There has been lots of talk about “learning organizations” for years now, but precious little clarity.  We’ve found that a learning organization sets up systems, processes and structures that insure best practices and, as a result, create engaged employees.

We’ve discovered that systems must be in place for four specific behaviors.

First is appropriate risk. Engaged employees tell us that they feel that they are given permission to take chances in their work. Mistakes made in good faith are not punished or made a part of partisan office politics – they are treated as a learning experience. Many of the engaged employees in our research cited examples of a boss or mentor who came alongside them in a time of failure, acknowledged the failure, but also offered perspective and a second chance. This built confidence and resulted in a fertile ground for innovation.

Second is problem-solving. Some people enjoy setting goals and accomplishing them. Others enjoy solving problems. Most of us excel in one or the other. Problem-solvers are not generally glamour-getters. As a matter of fact, they are often written off as naysayers or overly cautious. In fact, this is just the problem-solving brain at work anticipating challenges and kicking into gear.

Leaders who are crafting winning cultures look for this trait and make sure that every layer of management is seasoned with problem-solvers who can anticipate the challenges that a compelling vision will face.

Next is initiative. Our survey told us that the most engaged employees feel as if they have a lot of room to “play” in their work. Their new ideas – even the off the wall ones – are accepted and they are given freedom to chase them down even if the immediate payoff is not always evident.

Organizations that encourage initiative don’t often voice “Stay in your lane!”.

Most often, you will hear in such organizations “Find or invent a new lane!”.

Finally, learning organizations put a premium on personal development. “I get a sense that they care about me as a person, not just a role or function” say the engaged employees we have gotten to know.

One of the easiest ways to communicate this care is by providing time and resources for team members to grow and learn in areas related not only to their work but also to their passions.

This may be paying for community college classes, offering in house retreats or seminars, or even paying for employees to take a day and explore a personal passion. Work is work but when employees are free to pursue personal passions that lead to individual development both the employee and the organization profit!

What about your organization?

Are you best described as a learning organization?

Do you have systems in place that encourage risk, problem-solving, initiative, and personal development?

What steps can you begin to take early in this year to put those systems into place?