Creating a Learning Organization
Creating a learning organization requires a deep rethinking of the leader's role. Small business owners must see themselves as learning leaders, responsible for helping their employees develop the capacity to carry out their mission.
The most effective organizations are ones that are capable of assessing their progress and making adjustments to meet their goals.
They are called learning organizations and with a little effort your business can start learning - and start earning - your way to success.
Learning organizations place a high value on creating an environment where new ideas can be nurtured and developed into processes that achieve real results. Instead of relying on one person (e.g. the business owner) to come up with new ideas, learning organizations use a team approach to propel the company onward and upward.
That may seem complicated, but it's not. In fact, there are a few simple things that can be immediately implemented to begin transitioning your company to a learning organization.
Communicate A Shared Vision
You know where your business is headed, but does anyone else? Learning organizations are masters at communicating a shared vision to everyone who has a stake in the organization's success.
Begin by communicating your vision to key leaders and do everything you can to help them feel personally invested in reaching your goals. From there, continue to expand the circle outward until everyone in the company knows where you are headed and is willing to do whatever it takes to get there.
Brief & Debrief
Before you launch a major project or initiative, make an effort to brief your employees about what you are doing and why you are doing it, as well as the desired outcome. The more people that understand the process, the more ideas you will have about how to make the project a success. Once the project is completed, sit down with your employees again to talk about what worked and what didn't. As a team, you will learn a lot about the mistakes you need avoid the next time around.
Learning is a never-ending process for individuals and companies. The most successful businesses emphasize the need to continually better their employees through training and education. As a business owner, this means you need to be proactive in scheduling training seminars for your entire staff and sending key leaders (or even entire departments) to conferences designed to help them do their jobs more effectively.
You should also think about instituting an education reimbursement policy as a benefit for your employees. Although many businesses only reimburse employees for coursework related to the business, some offer education reimbursement for coursework in any discipline as a way to enhance their employees' interest in learning.
Your business will run most effectively when your employees understand exactly where they fit in the overall scheme of the company. Often, employees know their own jobs but don't have any idea how their job relates to what is happening in other departments.
In learning organizations, employers provide employees with cross-training in other areas of the business - not to prepare the employees to transfer to other departments, but to give them a global perspective of the company's functions and processes.
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