Organizational Learning: Learn and Laugh Your Way To a Better Organization

Organizational learning refers to the concept of a group, organization, or system acquiring information and experiences that are shared among group members. This is more than knowledge transfer, where learning and knowledge can be considered separate elements that are transferred. 

One of the things that separate successful organizations from others is their ability to learn and improve. Learning, by itself, isn’t easy, but learning new things quickly can be even harder. Learning often means exposing yourself to the information you don’t agree with or that might appear counter-intuitive at first. 

Interested in learning how to improve your skills, gain more knowledge, and help your organization succeed? This article is for you.

What is Organizational Learning?

Organizational learning is the process of creating, retaining, and transferring knowledge within an organization. An organization improves over time as it gains experience. From this experience, it can create knowledge. 

This knowledge is broad, covering any topic that could better an organization: increasing productivity, decreasing costs, improving product quality, etc. Over time, your company will improve through organizational learning. You will achieve the following three objectives:

  • Knowledge creation: Recognize new business insights
  • Retention of knowledge: Establish explicit knowledge to retain information
  • Knowledge transfer: Make sure everyone has access to the knowledge

Organizational learning is not merely a set of skills that we can teach employees to make them better at their jobs. Instead, it requires leadership skills and a style that support a culture of learning, which includes recognizing failure as an opportunity to learn.

What Are the Benefits of Organizational Learning?

1. Improves employee skills and competency

Organizational learning creates a knowledge base that improves employee skills and competency. It can increase their depth of knowledge, making them more efficient and effective. In the end, that efficiency and effectiveness lead to organizational success.

The skills and competencies that employees possess will increase their job satisfaction. Furthermore, it will enhance the cultural change in the organization, and they will be better equipped to face challenges in the future

2. Higher productivity levels

When organizations support employee learning and development, their productivity, job satisfaction, and unemployment rates are higher. As a result, employees who feel invested in the company are more likely to work hard and help out. To further understand the benefits of organizational learning, keep reading.

3. Creates high-performance teams

When an organization learns, it builds high-performance teams. It accomplishes this by setting common goals, creating a sense of purpose among team members, and enhancing their shared knowledge. Employees can contribute more to an organization when they gain expertise in their specialized fields through learning.

When individuals have the opportunity to learn and grow with their organization, then everyone feels as if they belong and are part of a team. This leads to greater job satisfaction and an overall feeling of being valued and appreciated for their efforts.

SEE: Explore the benefits and implementation of a performance improvement plan

4. Less money spent on training new staff

Organizational learning is important as it can help make decisions. It also decreases the amount of money spent on training new staff because they are trained on the job. 

Organizational learning does not mean one should stop training new staff. By this, I simply mean that if a company has a good grasp of its culture, it will achieve better results for everyone involved. 

This is also beneficial to new staff; they will feel more confident and honored to be a part of the team from day one. The training process will be less wasteful and streamlined, creating a sense of purpose for both parties.

With less money spent on training new staff, better employee retention increased sales, and an increase in revenue, it doesn’t take much to see how invested in the company your team will be when they know they are appreciated.

SEE: Here’s all you need to know about the cost of training employees

5. Keeps the organization fresh and up-to-date

Organizations are constantly competing within the industry, and need to stay up-to-date on the current ways to serve customers better. For this to happen, organizations must participate in organizational learning as a means of remaining competitive.

Organizational learning keeps an organization fresh. Besides, learning new ways to do things is what keeps the team on its toes and adapting to a changing world. If you don’t keep up, you risk being left behind, which is much harder to recover from than always being one step ahead.

Organizational learning is a continual improvement process. The organization’s ability to adapt to its environment is determined by its ability to convert data and information into knowledge and knowledge into action.

6. Develops meaningful goals and targets

Goal setting is important for learning and improvement. Organizational learning helps to clarify goals as well as develop meaningful goals. It helps both employees and organizations to focus on what is important. Investing resources in worthwhile efforts will help align values, mission, and direction.

It is more likely for organizations that are capable of learning from their experiences to achieve sustainable growth and superior performance. This is a key driver of long-term shareholder value. 

Organizational learning isn’t just about making more money. Also, it looks at things like better employee management and corporate citizenship that contribute to a company’s long-term value.

SEE: Explore the most satisfying career development goals

7. Reduces business risk and improves teamwork

Organizational learning reduces business risk. If the team is trained and educated, the organization will be prepared for almost all kinds of business risks. Furthermore, an educated team is a united and ready-to-take-action team. 

Through organizational learning, you get a strong and well-harmonized team, no matter how experienced or inexperienced they are. The true sign of a successful organization learns from its mistakes. 

In contrast, businesses that don’t learn from their mistakes, or lessons from the environment, will face extinction. Organizational learning is an essential tool for businesses that want to get ahead and ensure security in the long term.

SEE: Understand teamwork skills

How Can Managers Promote Organizational Learning? 

1. Create microlearning experiences

To learn something, employees must have frequent opportunities to do it. To be effective, these microlearning experiences should include substantial variation. For example, product training should incorporate relative differences in the products being discussed. These differences will help your employees get a better handle on what makes the products unique from one another. 

Managers must be willing to create and encourage shorter learning experiences, or microlearning experiences. They must work with internal experts to develop personalized-learning nuggets, that can help employees solve specific problems without having to spend hours googling for the solution.

SEE: Here’s a complete guide to microlearning

2. Strive for clear and concise communication

Organizational learning is the change that occurs through small, incremental changes over time. For learning to occur in an organization, managers must be mindful of several things. First, strive for clear and concise communication.

Clear and concise communication is important within organizations, especially when engaging in organizational learning. The knowledge base can be enriched by employees who work in a context where learning is rewarded, where information is shared freely, and where goals are clear.

To handle problems effectively, managers need to decrease authority, control, and frequency of contact with employees. They also need to allow them more flexibility, freedom, and independence to think creatively, independently, and collaboratively.

3. Foster a learning environment

Creating an atmosphere of clarity about the organization’s purpose, goals, and values can foster a learning environment for any manager. With clarity, people get a sense of direction in their work and become more creative and innovative across the organization. 

To foster a learning environment, ensure that your team members have a balance of autonomy and control. When it comes time to make a decision, let them be the one who ultimately decides but provide guidelines and structure they can rely on. 

Make sure that your team has both formal and informal learning opportunities built into their workweek. Research shows that this type of learning can be more effective than classroom-style training.

4. Increase knowledge availability and accessibility

The knowledge of your people is a valuable asset for your organization. It can also be the main source to continuously increase the performance of the organization. Managers can stimulate organizational learning by ensuring that employees have access to all relevant information they need. 

For that purpose, managers should build a strong enterprise knowledge management system and make sure employees use it to share their knowledge. If companies can increase knowledge availability and accessibility throughout the organization, they will be able to promote organizational learning. 

One way to do this is by ensuring the free and easy flow of information across geographic and departmental boundaries. Today’s technology allows it easier than ever before. Another tactic is to structure all relevant information in a logically organized way and also enable relevant searches.

5. Ensure continuous feedback loops are in place and shared with employees

Continuous feedback is one way to promote learning in an organization. Feedback should happen at all levels of the organization, as well as outside of the organization. It is essential to organizational learning to collect feedback from customers, colleagues, and supervisors to measure performance and identify areas for improvement.  

Feedback loops are what allow managers to measure results and judge whether or not an employee’s approach (and hopefully their outcomes) is working. A feedback loop should be set in place for management to see how it’s performing on a given project or task. 

And it needs to be maintained throughout the project, so if things start to go wrong, management can take corrective action. Managers can also create a culture that supports feedback by using emails, meetings, and employee reviews to keep communication channels open. 

SEE: Understand constructive criticism

Are There Any Drawbacks to Organizational Learning?

Yes, organizational learning has certain drawbacks. One of them is the difficulty of applying the lessons learned. It is not just a matter of giving speeches or presentations you made but implementing or practicing them in a real-world situation. 

Another drawback is that you might not be able to teach something to the entire organization at one time. This is because it might take a while before others can apply what they have learned and the entire organization will not have to have the same knowledge at the same time. 

Some fear change, and therefore, will never learn anything from their mistakes.

How will organizational learning remain relevant in the future?

Organizational learning is not just a trend, but an essential process that must continue to evolve as organizational structures and technologies change and grow. We have evolved from hierarchical structures to flatter structures, and this requires more effective ways of learning and sharing information. 

Technology has made information and knowledge accessible to everyone, and learning is now a continuous process. As the amount of data in the industry increases, organizational learning must be focused on cultivating a culture of continuous learning. 

So, in the future, we will see more investment in organizational learning, with a focus on continuous, lifelong learning.

FAQs

How does organizational learning help you achieve your goals?

Organizational learning is a framework that organizations can use to help them reach their goals. It helps them think about what they can do to be more effective so that they can achieve their goals. Organizational learning is not just a way of planning, it’s a way of working.  If you know where to go, you can measure how far you’ve come and get a better understanding of what still needs to be done.

Who are the individuals responsible for organizational learning?

In an ideal world, all members of the organization are responsible for learning and improvement. An organizational learning champion is typically a member of the senior leadership team or a member of the HR department. This individual will be responsible for developing and implementing learning processes and measures.

Final Thoughts

Learning is a never-ending process. Organizational learning is all about providing your team with the most realistic and valuable training possible. You analyze various scenarios and discuss what may have gone wrong and why, as well as how to avoid similar problems in the future. 

Starting new employees on the right foot helps them become more productive immediately, rather than having to learn things on their own time. For a company to be more productive, it must commit to improving its skills and knowledge to be able to meet current market demands.

Organizational learning shows how organizations seek to improve their overall performance by taking appropriate steps based on what they have learned from their experiences. I also encourage you to read more about organizational skills and how to put them to good use. 

Thanks for reading.