08 July

Designing and Building a Learning Organization

The First-Time Manager: HR

Adapted from The First-Time Manager: HR by Paul Falcone.

Training and development is at an interesting inflection point as a corporate tool to develop and grow internal talent. On the one hand, we know that millennials and Zoomers want career and professional development as a top priority; it drives their decisions to join and remain with an employer. Further, according to ChiefLearningOfficer.com, organizations spend more than $366 billion annually on leadership development worldwide. So it’s definitely a big business. Yet 75 percent of companies say their leadership programs are not very effective, and only 11 percent report having a strong succession plan to fill critical leadership roles. In addition, more than two-thirds of workers report that the worst part of their lives is their immediate boss. It’s clear that traditional leadership development programs aren’t working. So, what gives? What’s broken, and how do we fix it? And even more important, how do we reach the gold standard of becoming a “continuous learning organization” that envelops a sense of agility and change management into its culture?

Research shows that an organization’s revenues and overall profitability are positively correlated to the amount of training it provides its workers. No matter what problems you come across, there is likely some training or development element that will help you move the needle forward in terms of workers’ KSAIVs—knowledge, skills, abilities, interests, and values—to address whatever shortcomings are in play.

The First-Time Manger: HR

The Impact of Training on Culture

According to LinkedIn’s 2022 Workplace Learning Report, “opportunities to learn and grow” are the most highly rated culture drivers worldwide. Ongoing training enriches and enhances your organizational culture. Because labor scarcity will be a dominant factor in twenty-first-century business, companies need to build muscle around talent development and “growing their own” rather than simply relying on external talent to fill job openings or build leadership strength. The ability to pivot on a dime, adopt new technologies, adapt to swiftly changing market conditions, and build technical and soft skills within their ranks will help organizations stand apart from their competition.

Employee development is a key differentiator. One way to compete effectively is to model yourself as an organization that prioritizes talent development. This enhances your ability to attract great employees by demonstrating a core commitment to advancement and can help you avoid competing for talent based on compensation alone. Career and professional development remain a top priority for Gen Y and Gen Z, so develop strong training curricula and publicize them broadly, both to external candidates and internal staffers. Build your program around Virgin CEO Richard Branson’s philosophy: “Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”

Emphasize the lifelong learning revolution in your employee handbooks and posters. Factor in a tuition reimbursement budget if you don’t already have one and encourage employees to use those resources for their own professional development. Celebrate individual and team successes and achievements, and try to incorporate some of the following “game changers” that influence organizational culture:

  • Create buddy programs to partner top performers with new hires to ensure their success.
  • Hold regular staff meetings to ensure everyone is kept in the loop and on the same page regarding goals.
  • Place people into rotational leadership roles where they can teach others what they know best.
  • Offer lunch-and-learn workshops to keep employees and managers on the cutting edge of new ideas and technology.
  • Schedule quarterly one-on-one meetings with staff and managers to discuss goal progression.
  • Build career tracks and encourage cross-training and additional pay for multiple areas of expertise.

When you make learning and achievement a core part of your company values and celebrate accomplishments openly, you’ll likely find the costs are relatively low and the return on investment is stellar. Making training and learning a key part of your shared values and an organizational foundation holds tremendous opportunities for employers large and small.

As a first-time HR manager, the opportunities ahead to become creators of talent rather than simply consumers of talent will bode well for your organizational culture, the agility, and flexibility of your teams to respond to disruption, and your ability to capitalize on talent as the key lever of organizational success.

The First-Time Manager: HR is the must-have resource for HR managers who want to lessen the learning curve, succeed in their role, and set themselves up for future growth.

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