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Keeping ahead of the game with accelerated learning for your team

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Learning and development is a significant component of employee improvement in your organisation. Keeping your top talent engaged, involved and developing, is a great way to, well, keep them.

A common objective for HR is to accelerate the learning of their teams. In a knowledge-driven economy, continuously developing new competencies is essential to keeping your organisation ahead of the game. But in reality, there rarely seems to be enough money. Or time.

Here are some handy tips on how to fast-track your team’s learning.

In the loop

Based on analysis by renowned scholars, real-life learning takes place in a loop. Your employees need to be able to develop an idea, run an experiment, assess the change, and reflect on what – if anything – has been gained. Learning comes to a standstill when we don’t close this loop quickly enough. To reduce the time necessary to that all-important “a-ha!” moment, endeavour to make feedback timely and systematic.

Think like an architect

Architects and town planners think about how space can help improve traffic flows. In a similar vein, the ideal feedback system channels useful information straight to those most able to act on it. Like good signage, it should be clear and tangible. By contrast, data that is too nebulous or delayed is less actionable – because staff cannot connect the dots to their work.

Take a broad view

Most organisations lack real-time data on how well they are doing at so-called moments of truth with their employees. Identifying these upstream drivers can accelerate your team’s learning and improve downstream financial results.

Gather feedback on the system rather than individuals

Companies can easily miss important insights when they assess individual employees in isolation, rather than looking at how the system is operating holistically. This involves adjusting to a process view and rethinking your assumptions about what is causing the problem. With today’s shape-shifting organisations, you may find the crucial lesson is having an understanding of the roles of others, agreeing on a hands-off approach, harmonising methods, and clarifying specifications.

Adapt your system over time

As a wise person once said, adding data is like lowering the water level in a river – it reveals the rocks. Rather than attempting to tackle all of the issues at once, it makes sense to chip away at them gradually. It can take a while for employees to trust the data, diagnose underlying issues and deal with them. Don’t forget, they still have to perform day-to-day operations.

Parts of this article were first published on the strategy+business website.

Sketch courtesy of Tammay Vora

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