We are often looking for ways to increase and encourage organisational success. Research like the one Sadaat & Sadaat (2016) did in which they found organisational learning plays a key role in achieving organisational success helps gives us some guidance. Let’s explore this finding below by looking at how learning does help drive organisational success, by comparing learning and training, and looking at how we could implement a culture of continuous Learning. This is intended to help you reflect on whether your organisation is doing enough to encourage and facilitate employee learning.
How Learning drives Organisational Success
A challenge many organisations may find, and maybe don’t realise they are facing, is complacency. An organisation with a complacent workforce often finds that said workforce will only do what is in their job description, offering very little in terms of creativity, leadership, or general productivity for the organisation.
Any organisation that wants to offer a competitive edge and that wants to remain relevant in today’s dynamic and constantly changing environment needs to adopt a culture of continuous learning. This means more than just training. It means fostering a culture of individuals who want to learn and better themselves. Goel at Forbes, (2021) describes this employee as inquisitive and engaged. A complacent workforce is the opposite of this.
For an organisation, learning drives success because it encourages employees to be more engaged and offers a more creative, dynamic workforces. For employees themselves, Westfall, (2019) found that 55% of employees agree that career growth is more important than compensation, however 47% of these employees are dissatisfied by the learning and development initiatives their workplace offers. This suggests that employees want to learn, are driven to learn, but lack their opportunities and as such feel complacent.
It is clear that the learning and development opportunities provide employees with a sense of growth and focus for their career. Whilst also allowing them the opportunity to discover new skills that they can put into practice in their day-to-day work tasks improving not only their performance but also the organisation’s performance.
Learning vs Training
We need to understand that learning and training are not the same thing. Training is the process whereby people are taught certain skills, generally to a specific standard. These skills are generally testable and assist in achieving certain goals be it technical skills or soft skills.
Whereas, Cacioppo & Freburg (2021) defined learning as a relatively permanent change in behaviour due to experience. That is a change of behaviour caused not by a disorder or injury, but specifically due to experience. It is an ability most are born with, and it allows you to adapt and change as you grow. It is important to note that learning is a process. When faced with a challenge, the goal is not necessarily to master it. Rather it is trial and error, and ultimately growth.
One of the key differences between training and learning is individuals generally set out to learn something while training is something that is done to a person. Learning is what an individual does; training is something they receive.
How to implement the Culture of Continuous Learning
The process of learning can be impacted by many different factors, both intrinsic and extrinsic. When new thinking and behaviours are adopted, the factors that influence learning are altered. These alterations are called learning interventions. Connect Thinking (2012) looks at the different drivers for Learning within an organisation:
- “Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning”- William Arthur Ward.
- Curiosity is a phenomenon that has driven learning since the beginning of time. It is our need to understand and explore that which we don’t understand. This innate need is one of the primary and most basic drivers to learn continuously.
- An organisation that encourages curiosity will often find their employees feel more satisfied with their work. This can be done in a multitude of ways, allowing their employees access to resources which help their questions get answered or presenting opportunities for their employees to discuss various thoughts and ideas. The process of understanding something previously unknown is a small victory and collecting more of these help employees feel successful.
- “Internal motivation is that aspirational, higher version of ourselves that drives our decisions” -Adam Griffin
- It is sometimes believe that motivation can be influenced by external forces such as a promotion or a bonus, however motivation is actually intrinsic. It is a complex internal process that drives you to want to do and be better.
- As a company, we want to recognise the motivation of others. We want to validate our employees efforts, help them set goals and achieve them.
- “The bad news is that time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” -Michael Altshuler.
- Time is an extrinsic driver of learning. When in an organisational environment, time is a commodity. There are a set number of hours in the workday, and the aim is to use those hours as productively as possible. Some may not see time spent learning as an important factor, however taking the time to learn and expand your knowledge is a vital skill and employees need to be encouraged to set time aside for it like other work tasks.
- As an organisation, we should advocate for the process of learning. We should encourage it as a value and organise specific time to be dedicated to the development of individuals.
- “We are what we repeatedly do; excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” -Aristotle.
- This is neither an intrinsic nor extrinsic driver, but rather a learning intervention. The process of learning differs greatly from person to person. We cannot assume we know what an individual has absorbed. Instead, we can help an individual understand the process of learning. It should not be about passing a test, but rather recognising within yourself how well you understand and have absorbed content.
- As an organisation we can assist by providing formal learning interventions in place. At Genex Insights we offer bespoke training. We can run surveys to recognise the blocks an organisation may have in place and help put interventions in place to help remove these blockers. Learning is a process. We can help along the way.
After looking at learning as a driver of organisational success, we have found that learning is not a once of action, but rather a deliberately designed process. It should be encouraged by organisations and implemented as a culture. This will help not only the organisation, but also the individual employees will feel more engaged overall.
Cacioppo, J. T., & Freburg, L, A. (2012). The Adaptive Mind. Discovering Psychology: The Science of Mind. International edition. Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
Connect Thinking (n.d.) Five Drivers to Organisational Learning. Our Changing Practice, workplace learning. Five Drivers to Organisational Learning (connectthinking.com.au).
Goel, A. (2021). How To Foster A Culture Of Continuous Learning? Forbes Business Developmental Council. Council Post.
Sadaat, V., & Sadaat, Z. (2016). Organizational Learning as a Key Role of Organizational Success. 3rd International Conference on New Challenges in Management and Organization: Organization and Leadership, 2 May 2016, Dubai, UAE. ScienceDirect.
Westfall, C. (2019). New Survey: Nearly Half of Workers Unsatisfied with Learning And Development Programs. Forbes.