Building a learning organisation that attracts and retains talent

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A successful learning organisation is built on the belief that people really matter

Attracting and keeping talented employees is becoming essential as the war for talent hots up and the cost of replacing talent rises (now considered 1,5x annual salary). A culture of learning helps us develop our talent, learn from mistakes and create a great place people want to work. In a learning organisation leaders take responsibility for developing talent. However, while many understand its importance few organisations successfully deliver coaching and training at a level that truly develops their people.

A learning organisation encourages employees to share the learnings without having to repeat the lesson.A learning organisation encourages employees to share the learnings without having to repeat the lesson.

Though leaders recognise the need to develop talent (at every level) studies have repeatedly shown that as leaders move up the organisation, their ability to develop others can actually decrease. Though the responsibility to coach and develop their direct reports remains other elements win over development in their busy schedules.  This exposes a glaring gap between what everyone agrees is important and the actual behaviour in a key leadership competency: the ability to build and retain talent.

Factors that hinder your ability to craft a learning organisation:

  • Time. Urgent tasks have a way of consuming our scarcest resource – time. Unless leaders are disciplined regular daily crises will interfere with  long-term people development activities.
  • A focus on the short term “practical”. More visible or practical skills (finance, strategy, sales product knowledge, etc.) can often be prioritised over soft skills. Building talent is often a less obvious and visible priority as it has a long-term payoff.
  • A lack of dual development. We need to distinguish between individual coaching and organisational coaching. In individual (one-on-one) coaching we focus on the development of the individual – their goals, skills etc.  In organisational coaching we focus on our organisation’s culture, the work environment, and the development that is missing.

Tips to create a culture of talent development:

  • Learn from the front. Identify and share your own need to learn and develop. Plan ways to keep your learning going, and share how you do it.
  • Value the learning process. Go beyond the basics.  Celebrate the outcome and what you learned along the way. This is particularly important when things don’t work out as planned. This encourages sharing the learning without having to repeat the lessons.
  • Craft a processes. Create a step-by-step process to help managers coach and develop their people. This coaching can include areas to improve, embedding skills (understanding what worked and why), organisational development (culture, wellness, strategy) and career paths. Demonstrating caring in the process helps increase engagement.  
  • Keep your values front of mind. Every employee should be able to link their daily behaviours and responsibilities to the values in the organisation. We all need to understand why what we do is important.
  • Learn from the real world. A learning organisation sees problems as opportunities. How do you learn from failure? Employees should be encouraged to seek out challenges and undertake stretch assignments without feeling that mistakes will jeopardise their careers.Tips to create a culture of talent development Infographic
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Richard Riche

Engagement and communication specialist at One Clear Message
Richard specialises in helping you build real human communication skills.TED style speaking and presentation skills, Emotional Intelligence skills, Employee Engagement/Experience, building high performance teams and a great place you want to work. One Clear Message offers training, consulting and coaching.
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