With three new team members all learning about how to do HR the Russell HR way, our office is very definitely a learning friendly environment. Although our trainees are very much included in the daily goings-on, accompanying me on visits, taking part in meetings, researching and writing up advice, they also spend a lot of time studying on their own and creating presentations for next month’s lunch time learning session. We often have discussions about the best way to solve issues that clients bring to us. Learning is actively encouraged in our office but in many workplaces, it is not the same.
In The Warlock, Michael Scott said “The day you stop learning is the day you die” (or at least your brain and mind start to atrophy, even if it’s not clinically dead.). I couldn’t agree more. There are so many benefits of creating a learning friendly environment at work. Especially for the new starters in your organisation, if learning the ropes is a friendly and interesting activity, they are more likely to get involved and stay with you. Not only that but if they are enjoying what they learn they will do their best when putting it into practice, resulting in fewer mistakes and a better work productivity.
There are a number of ways that you can help to create this kind of environment. Firstly think about your induction programme. This should be informative, useful and engaging. The “how to get through the first few days” induction pack I put together for my team was once described as a “brain dump” by our business coach (what a cheek). It may have been an eclectic mix of information but it was thought through, relevant and organised.
Show that you are dedicated to getting the best out of your employees by helping them improve their skills and grow professionally. The programme should cover different learning styles to keep all employees interested. You’re probably aware that there are different approaches to learning and communication. Some people will like to listen to someone talking for a while, others will learn visually by taking note of images and others will like to have a go, putting things in to practice straight away. It can also be a good team building exercise to help employees to get to know each other and work together. If you listen to your team talking and observe the way they do things you’ll probably get clues as to their preferred style.
Tell employees about the business. Keep them informed of changes and happenings so they can learn more about the business and how they can help to make things work. Here we often talk about what is happening this week and up and coming changes to the business. Be a mentor to your employees; tell them about your experiences of when things have worked and when they haven’t. Everyone loves to hear a good story!
Invest in your employees. There are so many courses, programmes and events that your employees can attend to increase their knowledge and experience. In doing so they will feel more confident and in turn, perform better in the work place.
We all know that learning isn’t just about “going on a course”. Our new team members go out and spend time with different clients. It helps to build the relationships and they can start to understand the type of work carried out by the organisation and to develop a feel for the issues. They love the opportunity and our clients like show casing their business too.
Ask your employees for feedback. Find out what works well, what they didn’t enjoy and what they think is missing. You can learn from their experience and help improve it as much as they will learn from your experience as a mentor.
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