In order to seize business opportunities with both hands, you need to have enough in-house knowledge. Stimulating continuous knowledge development is one of the most important strategic points of attention for CEOs and CIOs at the moment, says Patrick Kieviet of HR Consultants UK. “Make it work. And do it now. ”
Successful employees lead to successful organizations, Kieviet believes. “You cannot set up your company for change and innovation without seriously looking at what knowledge people need now and in the future. It's about a different way of dealing with knowledge development and setting priorities.
These are strategic choices that you have to make at a high level. In many conversations about knowledge development the focus is on the content and the associated incidental training. There is seldom attention for the desired learning culture and strategy. While you really make a difference for the future. ”
Knowledge development embedded in daily work
Kieviet is convinced that organizations need a learning culture to respond to changes and to be innovative.
“Just to keep up and not to lag behind the competition. Neglecting knowledge development is a real assassin. It will indirectly hurt your organization more and more. Customer satisfaction is slowly declining, work is becoming less and less efficient and employees feel that they are standing still in their development.
Those things are often difficult to measure, but they can undermine your business success a little more every day.
Knowledge development must be embedded in people's daily work. It is not a separate process that people do in addition to their work, but an integral part of their work. You also have to give employees the freedom to develop themselves more widely than just in their current field of work.
There is a great risk of short-term thinking: if you focus now on, for example, ‘agile' and you only offer knowledge in that area, people will develop too unilaterally. We receive questions from companies whether we want to ‘close' all courses that fall outside their immediate area of attention at that time.
That is not a ‘learning mindset'. It limits people's future capacity for change and innovation. ”
Responding to new things
Of course it is good to know what you want right now, but you also need to prepare for what you don't know yet. “Encourage people to develop broadly,” says Kieviet, “because you don't know yet what your organization will need in the future. Focus your learning process and culture on change. Nobody knows now where the disruption of your business will come from.
Therefore, be happy if people want to develop more broadly. The corporate culture of a learning organization is really different from that of many organizations now. In a learning organization it is accepted that people are involved in their development as part of their work.
That is an essential part of their job. In this way they develop a learning mindset. Organizations that do this are competitive now and in the future and can switch and change quickly. They can respond to new things that we do not know yet. ”
Kieviet is convinced that the importance of continuous knowledge development is increasing. “The need to create a learning organization is becoming more and more imperative. In politics, too, ‘lifelong learning' is increasingly on the agenda. We all feel that we have to go that way. We live and work longer and people almost certainly do not do the same work their entire working life.
Most of the companies in our recent benchmark study indicated that organizations that do not invest in knowledge will have no future in three years. I think they are right about that: if you don't learning mindset and makes room to experiment, you will be outstripped by competitors who do. And that is at the expense of your operating result. ”
Creating a learning organization is not easy, but the basis for it is present in every organization, Kieviet thinks. “People always want to learn. We all do that from the moment we are born. Moreover, the younger generation of employees views working and having a job differently: they often find self-development more important than the level of their salary. They see a project or an assignment as an opportunity to learn new things that help them further in their personal development. ”
In practice in 2018, however, most organizations are not geared towards learning. “Almost all companies are focused on production and performance in the relatively short term. Making time for continuous knowledge development is then a major change. ”
In order to initiate this change successfully, it is necessary that the idea of a learning culture is really supported by the highest management. Kieviet: “If you are concerned with the medium and long term of your company, then knowledge development is an essential part of it.
You cannot leave the strategy for knowledge development to operational managers, because they have little or no focus on the medium term.
There must be a vision of what kind of organization you want to be and how knowledge development fits into it. You then develop a strategy on how to translate that knowledge development into the workplace. How do you involve everyone in the change? You cannot issue a vision by decree.
Change does not happen automatically. You must not only provide employees with the knowledge that they can use to develop, but also keep a finger on the pulse at all times. That is a process of development and adjustment.
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