Amartya Amitav

7:43 PM, 13th Jun 2018

Is Your Organization Learning-oriented?

Recently, I completed my summer internship at Think Talent Services Private Limited (TTS). The two-months experience was full of nuggets of enlightenment. My best takeaway from these nuggets is how an organization's culture should be. Lately, there have been many articles written on culture. Most of those articles talk about why culture is significant, and why a new hire should fit the organization's culture, etc. Managers and leaders are aware of this buzzword. But in practice most of them stop at drawing Rangoli, filling survey forms, and giving Samosas on festival days. A crucial part of the organizational culture is still an uncharted area. TTS pioneers in exploring this uncharted area. The exploration is not led by the executives but by the employees themselves. I will talk about one of many aspects of their culture; that is learning-orientation.

Researchers suggest both learning-orientation and market-orientation are linked to organizational performance in different contexts. Learning-orientation is essential for long-term sustainability. But when focused on learning and development of employees, organizations tend to give up on customers' need. It leads to a short-term loss. Small companies barely recover from these losses. So, balancing between developing employees and catering to the clients becomes a necessity. TTS has followed this sustainable path from its inception. During my brief tenure, I could figure out three clear steps to strike the balance as an employer.

1.      Let them be accountable

More than 90% of my colleagues were Millennials or post-Millennials. Therefore, one would expect there is an autocracy of the experienced executives. But on the contrary, almost all the projects were employee-driven. It doesn't matter if you have joined today. It doesn't matter if you are a GenZ. If you can handle pressure, conceive novel ideas, and confidently execute them, you are in. Age, gender, or academic background is unimportant. Owning up the responsibilities is what matters the most.

2.      Let them make mistakes

Many organizations cherish accountable talents but treat them harshly when it comes to making mistakes and their corresponding losses. But TTS culture was unique. At TTS, making mistakes is not taboo. During my initial year at XaHR, our professor explained about performance trap. During appraisal discussions, many managers often look at output instead of the effort, and hard work. In search of extraordinary performers, they lose out the high-potential talents. When you focus on developing talents and increasing accountability, you have to accept their failures and mistakes. The philosophy is every mistake and problem are a learning opportunity.

3.      Give feedback but be open to suggestions

To learn from the mistakes, timely, and sensible feedback remains the most critical factor. If the manager doesn't guide, the individual keeps on making the same mistake. It will result in recurrent losses, and in losing the clients' confidence. To maintain accountability of your employees throughout, just tell them, "if at any time you feel you need anything just come to me and ask." Not only giving feedback but obtaining suggestions from juniors is equally necessary. Only when the communication and feedback flow freely from every direction, a continuous 360-degree feedback mechanism, individual-learning and overall growth happen simultaneously.

Focusing on learning is essential for growth of your organization. Organizations fail when they either become autocratic, start punishing mistakes, fail to recognize hard work, or do not have a continuous and sensible feedback mechanism. There must be other reasons for an organization’s sustainable growth. There must be other elements to make learning-orientation an integral part of your organization's culture. But if you are a start-up having a long-term vision, you may want to add above three elements to your organization's strategy.


Connect with me on Linkedin, Tapchief, Twitter or Facebook for insightful discussion.

References

Farrell, M., Oczkowski, E. and Kharabsheh, R. (2008). Market orientation, learning orientation and organisational performance in international joint ventures. Asia Pacific Journal of Marketing and Logistics, 20(3), pp.289-308.

Ford, J. (2016, December 06). How to Increase Employee Accountability. Retrieved June 13, 2018, from https://quickbooks.intuit.com/r/employees/how-to-increase-employee-accountability/

Tredgold, G. (2016, November 21). The No. 1 Mistake Managers Make When Holding Their Staff Accountable. Retrieved June 13, 2018, from https://www.inc.com/gordon-tredgold/the-1-mistake-managers-when-holding-their-staff-accountable.html    
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