Which elements are needed for organizational learning to take place? To start, companies need to have systems in place that incorporate technology and the dissemination of information. These systems should be able to monitor behavior and performance as well as give rewards and feedback based on the observations. And, finally, the learning system should be mobile so that it can empower employees to get information or assistance whenever they need it. These technologies and systems should be set up in such a way that they can facilitate change.
When done correctly, organizational learning can create a long-lasting system of positive change that can create increases in productivity for years. Unfortunately, employee performance can still falter if organizational learning is created with a flat structure. Organizational learning should improve employees’ ability to manage the organization, the environment and make better time-sensitive decisions. Learning management experts state that organizational learning occurs at four levels: individual, group, organizational and inter-organizational.
At the individual level, managers should challenge their employees to experiment with their newfound knowledge, gaining more interest in their work while showcasing their competencies. They can start by cross-training employees to stimulate ideas on improving processes or re-engineering a task.
At the group level, self-managed or cross-functional teams should share knowledge and gain synergy. By nurturing the capabilities of a group, they will become more open to developing new methods and will excel at synthesizing information to the best needs of their team and the organization as a whole.
At the organizational level, the right structure and culture facilitate learning. There are two types that are seen most often in today’s organizations: mechanistic and organic. It is important to understand the difference between these two because mechanistic structures can promote incomplete learning. This results in an incomplete grasp of concepts for employees and an inability to apply the necessary problem-solving tactics when needed. Conversely, organic structures promote explorative learning and allow employees to fully support the mission of their teams.
Finally, a culture based on a shared vision can direct learning once team members have adapted to this environment. For example, adaptive cultures value innovation and support risk-taking. Adaptive cultures also manage inter-organizational linkages effectively. However, it is important to watch out for imitative, coercive and normative processes that can degrade inter-organizational learning.
There are many other aspects of the learning and development of future leaders, but in order to reap the biggest benefits, they must be fully immersed in a training program. Most can learn and flourish by being immersed in a role, but to ensure success, a well-developed learning program will help them learn aspects to the business that go further than hands-on learning.