In a previous post on Construction Citizen titled Strategic Realities, Pat Kiley wrote:
"In light of these conditions, the prudent path for senior executives is to:
- Maintain a focus on costs
- Stay close to your talent
- Invest in Business Development and Marketing
- Be a Learning Organization"
Professor Eve Mitleton-Kelly of the London School of Economics describes a learning organization as “one that is able to change its behavior and mind-sets as a result of experience.” At our recent quarterly division meeting, we talked about the importance of our organization cultivating and supporting such an environment.
Formal training and education play an important role in the development of a workforce, but learning occurs every day in informal, social settings. A savvy organization will leverage informal learning to meet the extraordinary challenges facing us in this present economy. We learn best when we are actively engaged in our work and we are more open to new information when it is directly linked to performing our jobs.
A learning organization encourages folks to direct and manage their own learning and development, mistakes are used as opportunities to make improvements in practices or procedures, and information is widely shared within the organization. In addition, customers play an important role in a learning organization. Many companies solicit feedback from their customers, but seldom act upon the information they gather. In a learning organization, time is taken at the end of each project to reflect on successes and challenges and this information is shared. If the company has a performance review process, it should include and focus on developing and learning.
Jack Welch, former Chairman and CEO of General Electric once said, “The best companies know, without a doubt, where the real productivity comes from. It comes from challenged, empowered, excited, rewarded teams of people. It comes from engaging every single mind in the organization, making everyone part of the action, and allowing everyone to have a voice in the success of the enterprise.”
By placing value on the learning process, companies empower their employees to become better at their jobs, thereby making the organization better.