4 steps from blame to learning

May 18th

A strong learning culture is increasingly important to all organisations. If something changes, (think iPad) or something goes wrong (think BP), adapting is what helps organisations survive.

So how do you turn mistakes or ideas into real organisational learning?

  1. Understand your current culture: Leaders may think they are encouraging learning, but get a group of individuals in a room, from different levels, and ask them how it really is. Good questions might be: “What do you do if you have a good idea?”, “What stops you reporting things that go wrong?” “What usually happens when you suggest something to your manager?”
  2. Communicate with your people: Demonstrate you have listened by sharing findings on current culture with all your employees. Listen to reactions. Agree, as a leadership team, what an ideal learning culture would look like, and share this with the organisation. Keep the dialogue open with surveys, work groups, and encouraging all managers to ask more questions.
  3. Remove the blame: In a recent survey for an engineering company, many employees confessed they did not report unsafe situations since they did not want to get the blame. State clearly the need for honest reporting, encourage openness by trying something different (confidential reporting boxes worked here) and spend less time on assigning blame and more on developing learning.
  4. Praise, praise, praise: Good ideas often stay in people’s heads because they believe they may not be welcomed. Say “Thank you” publicly to ideas from employees, share widely and celebrate learning.

This article is filed under: organisational culture

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