We live in an age in which every single bit of information is at your fingertips – all you have to do is grab your smartphone and google anything you want to know, and in a split second, hundreds of search results pop up on the screen.
Different technologies allow people to automate and perform different tasks in no time.
But, all this still can’t beat the power of an educated employee devoted to acquiring new knowledge and developing new skills.
And if we bear in mind that employees are every company’s greatest asset, it’s only logical to encourage and motivate them to work on themselves and grow both personally and professionally. This is one of the best investments that you can make.
Sometimes people need just a little nudge to get them to start working towards fulfilling their potential.
Enter learning-focused leadership.
Complacency Can Hinder Growth
It’s very common for teams who have been successful for some time to start resting on the laurels and failing to notice that they need new challenges in order to stay ahead of the curve.
That’s when complacency sets in, and it is dangerous because it makes people feel as if they know everything about their job.
Learning-focused leaders are aware of this, and they assign diverse and challenging tasks and riskier projects in order to ensure learning through work, which is one of the most effective methods of acquiring knowledge.
This tactic enables people to learn new things and practically apply them in an engaging manner which results in greater learning efficacy.
Risk-taking and experimenting can be practiced in different ways, such as giving special assignments to team members or encouraging them to participate in meetings they don’t usually attend. Even some minor changes and disruptions of their routine can prevent complacency and stimulate learning.
Start With Yourself
In order to promote the culture of lifelong learning and development, leaders need to embrace this approach too.
Seeking out new challenges and recognizing the value of learning new things is essential for achieving success, and this applies to both employees and leaders.
Learning-focused leaders are also capable of identifying what behaviors and actions bring results.
As leaders are supposed to be change agents and role models, it’s important for them not only to profess and promote certain beliefs and behaviors but also to live, practice, and champion them.
Another important thing for LFLs is to talk to their employees and ask them a lot of questions about their skills, talents, and motivations as this is the first step towards creating individual professional development plans based on their preferences and strong points.
Finally, it’s crucial to accept that failure is a normal part of the learning process and that certain efforts to learn new skills won’t be successful. In that case, LFLs need to openly talk to their employees and discuss their challenges during the process without blaming them.
These insights can later be analyzed and used for future reference.
How to Facilitate Employee Lifelong Learning?
According to researchers, the half-life of learned skills has shrunk to only five years, which means that employees need to constantly update their skill sets in order to be able to perform their job and keep it.
Moreover, some predictions claim that millions of jobs could disappear within just five years, but this shouldn’t be perceived as a threat because the latest technologies in the workplace could create 58 million new jobs.
So, lifelong learning driven by learning-focused leadership is the right way of embracing this new reality and preparing for it. Such an approach can reduce the impact of tectonic changes ahead as well as career uncertainty.
Here’s what employers can do to facilitate this process:
- Offer formal training within the company. This is beneficial to both employees and the company itself because these training programs can be directly related to the direction in which the company is going. In other words, its employees can have the opportunity to learn new job- and culture-related skills and make themselves indispensable. So, it’s crucial to work on both hard and soft skills.
- Send employees to conferences. This is a more expensive option because there usually are travel and accommodation expenses apart from conference fees. That’s why it’s important to opt only for the conferences which will definitely provide value. This can be concluded based on the speakers and the agenda.
- Apply employees to online courses. While webinars, which are also a useful device for learning new skills, are usually one-time events, online courses are somewhat similar to college-level courses. Besides allowing employees to learn new skills, these courses are time-saving because they can be attended at one’s free time without having to take days off.
Learning-focused leadership is one of the best ways to handle the new marketplace demands and make the workforce flexible and capable of adjusting to all the fast-paced business trends. As a result, the company will thrive too.