Management Success Series Tip #9: Expect Learning

Managing people is a complex business.  There are personality differences, business pressures and customers to face on a daily basis.  Tip #6 discussed how good leaders need to show their human side.  As a leader of people, it’s important to tap into the human element of curiosity.

Plenty of literature exists supporting the notion that a learning organization is the best model for running a business.  These organizations continuously improve and get better at every aspect of their business.  It is an accurate description, as evaluating mistakes and promoting the need for constant improvement will enable businesses to become more competitive.

But what does this mean to us as managers?  It means we need to think about that second job of a manager, and think about our teams’ development.  By encouraging learning, you will send a message to your staff that making mistakes is acceptable, provided they learn from them. A learning organization enables people to seek and accept challenges.  A learning organization encourages people to want to improve themselves so that they can be part of something better.

Sure this sounds nice, but it’s not practical as you can’t just spend time developing people, you say.  Encouraging learning does require discipline.  You as a leader need to have the discipline to allow people to make mistakes without punishment.  Further, you need to be disciplined to assign tasks that grow and stretch your people to help them learn.  Your most experienced employee may be able to handle a given task flawlessly, but you need to have the discipline to give that assignment to someone else who can benefit from struggling through it.  And having discipline is investing in your people financially, even when the budget is tight.  For me, I account for €3,000 per employee during my budget planning cycle each year which will be used to send each person to a training seminar or to visit a customer so that they can gain some perspective and experience.

Further, by promoting learning you are creating a culture in your organization that drives success. I have found that by encouraging employees to learn and grow, they feel valued and want to do their best.  Over time, by expecting learning, you will create a culture that continuously pushes the limits of what your team can accomplish.  Further, when your people know that they will be given stretch assignments and challenging tasks, you keep them engaged and interested.

Learning results in the improvement of individuals, techniques and business systems.  Simply put, by creating an environment where you set high expectations for the growth of your people, you create a revolving wheel of high performance.

How do you promote learning in your business?

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