Page 5: Shared learning
Continuously improving everyone in the company...Successful organisations consider people to be their most valuable resource which needs to be continuously developed. Employees in such companies are able, consistent, co-operative, responsible and better equipped to solve problems. Structured systems of personnel development, such as Investors in People (IiP) have been shown to be of particular benefit in achieving continuous improvement. The more successful companies realise that training needs to be taken beyond that required for competency in a particular task. Employees must develop to match the company’s future needs - not the present ones, if the company is to flourish. This training plan must include all the senior managers.
One director said, ‘I feel that I need more training than anyone else! I want to encourage people to think, If the MD needs training - then so do I!’ Education and training will start on the first day with an induction meeting and the employees will help develop their own training. Multi-skilling is a fundamental part of today’s businesses and the employee should be encouraged to take on more skills and qualifications, suitably rewarding them as they become more qualified.
Key benefits are:
- individuals get increased job satisfaction from their new skills
- the entire organisation becomes increasingly receptive to change
- career and personal development plans increase loyalty.
One business driven by flexible teams...Teams are the building blocks of modern enterprises and it has been shown that people enjoy this way of working. Team structures enable them to show their new skills and learning. Furthermore, the bonds of closeness with their fellow employees increases the effectiveness of their efforts. Of particular importance is the ability of teams to solve problems, creating a more efficient enterprise focusing clearly on customers and their needs.
‘Managers are part of the team, working with the team members to achieve a high level of performance.’ When setting up teams, the right balance of skills and attitudes must be achieved. Team goals need to be agreed and specific targets given so that the team can assess its progress. Team skills must be learnt, not only by team leaders but by all in the team so that everyone can add value to the team. Companies will realise key benefits:
- people work better when they are part of a group
- teams can achieve more than a collection of individuals
- essential co-operation across the whole organisation is maintained.
Effective communication throughout the company...Most organisations work hard at communication but for many the results are disappointing - the messages don’t seem to get through or important points are lost or misinterpreted. Companies need to manage their communication channels, testing to ensure that the key points are getting home. It is vital that each employee has all the information required to help them do their jobs effectively.
Not only must communication cascade downwards from senior managers, but the crucial information and knowledge that exists in other levels must move upwards. This ensures wider understanding of how employees view the company and how this vital knowledge can be used to improve competitiveness. The most effective communication of all runs up, down and across the business in a mixture of formal and informal systems.
Employees report that they get the most from short face-to-face meetings where they are allowed to put questions. Some companies favour in-house newspapers, email, electronic display boards and videos. The key requirement is that the message is received and understood. ‘A range of communication methods is important. What does not work is sending around a booklet with no follow up.’ Key business benefits are:
- people have the information needed to set objectives and priorities
- the organisation reacts rapidly to threats and opportunities
- it reinforces trust and respect throughout the organisation.