*Blog originally written for Maricopa Corporate College on April 11, 2017
There are many ways a leader can increase learning within his or her organization with a mix of formal and informal actions. Here is a quick list of 7 important things you, as a leader, can do to increase learning within your organization:
1. Intentionally develop and manage a strategic continuous learning plan
Remember what Zig Ziglar said, "The only thing worse than training employees and losing them is not training them and keeping them.” Every organization, and every department within an organization, must have a strategic learning plan. This plan is the way your organization focuses its resources, influences culture to encourage learning, provides learning support tools, and formally and informally invests in the exchange of knowledge and skills.
2. Link learning with strategic organizational initiatives and operations
Effective training translates organizational strategies into actionable behaviors. This is intentionally connecting organizational learning to an organization's operational growth strategies. After all, it has been touted that "no one needs training...they need the outcomes of training." So an effective leader must link the outcomes of learning with the organization's strategic goals and operations. When this is done well, one can quickly see a strong return on investment through factors such as speed of adoption, ultimate utilization of new skills, and proficiency of performance.
3. Develop a coalition of learning advocate
Your coalition of learning advocates will assist with the planning, managing and implementing of your strategic learning plan. Your coalition will have a huge impact on the success of your training plan, as they are active and visible champions of organizational learning. Your coalition can consist of managers, training department, human resource department, external training providers (like Maricopa Corporate College) and executive sponsors.
4. Remember that major changes, and even many minor ones, equal a need for training in the organization
Often, training and development are one of the last things considered when a change in an organization occurs. However, it is one of the most vital aspects that needs to be considered during a change in work, workplace or workers. To learn more about what that means, check out my previous blog about What Triggers an Employee Training Need.
5. Emphasize learning
Whenever possible, emphasize learning through your communications. Success, growth, change, and persistence, all are contingent upon learning. So, at every opportunity emphasize the importance of learning, the need for learning, and the connection learning has with personal and business success. A clear communication plan that highlights your learning initiative promotes a clear "here is the why" and "what's in it for me" for the learner. As a result of your training communication plan, you will see significant increases in participation and completion rates within your learning initiatives.
6. Be a learning example
In short, supervisors, managers and leaders are extremely influential. Employers look to leaders for communication, to be the liaison, to be the advocate, and to be the coach (Prosci, 2016). It is evident this important role is also the individual (or group of individuals) who has the greatest impact on individual learning.
7. Build in enough time, attention, money, administrative and support services, and other resources to ensure successful learning
Well, like most things in life, it comes down to time and money. According to the Association of Talent Development (ATD 2016 State of the Industry), on average, organizations spend around $1,252 per employee on direct learning expenditures. In 2015, in the average organization, 28% of direct learning expenditure went to outsourced or external activities. Another 11 percent was directed toward tuition reimbursement. Slightly more than 60% went to internal expenditures, such as in-house development, delivery, and administration expenses and salaries. Additionally, the statistics reveal that learners receive, on average, 33.5 formal learning hours per employee across organizations. All this to say, it is important to build in enough time, attention, money, and support for successful learning.
Even though this is just a "quick list" of things you can do to increase learning within your organization, the actual implementation of some of these takes time and consideration. But, no stress, that's why we're here. Maricopa Corporate College assists organizations of all sizes in reaching their training and development goals. So, you are not going at it alone. Enjoy the learning journey, and make an incredible impact on your organization.