CEOs, with a quest for learning, constantly learn, share and put their learnings to use. Making learnings an important part of their pursuit, they act as enablers in business growth, unleashing potential of employees, and dealing ably with challenges and crises.
Learning Temperament-A Crucial Need
A learning temperament is important, and assume criticality during crises like the pandemic. Three essential reasons are:
Building a workforce with right skills and knowledge, to stay relevant in this knowledge economy and Industry 4.0 scenarios, is of critical importance. This also helps in building professional profile, career and fulfilling aspirations of employees. Now, the modes of learning are changing fast. The workforce need to be comfortable and upskilled with Distant, Web-based, and Collaborative learning as well.
Retaining and Winning Trust of Clients
Clients and consumers, most of their time, are online. Lately, Covid-19 crisis has amply demonstrated the power and utility of shared online platforms. Regular connect with customers and their handholding are imperative for business. By prioritizing investment in learning and tech-capabilities, and enhancing behavior competencies, it is possible for CEOs to provide a superior customer experience, and retain and win trust of their clients.
Values and ethos organizations espouse matter. This matters all the more during turbulent times like the one we are in. A positive consumer perception about organizations which accord value to best practices, corporate governance and ethics enhances brand equity.
Yet, seized as they are with daunting targets of sales, budgets, quarterly earnings, deadlines and meetings, CEOs often get distracted from seeing long-term patterns, as learnings. Emerging slowly, these patterns leave key messages asking for change in work processes and approaches.
But the perceived set boundaries of their ‘position’ and attendant “ego”, often come in the way of spotting such trends and patterns. Further, for many other CEOs, despite their efforts, the path to build a learning edifice in their organizations appear daunting as the mechanisms put in place are either half-hearted, half-baked or lack in vision.
How learning could be embraced and spearheaded? Here are seven.
#1.Integrating learning with HR
Agile performance management system with meaningful conversations, inputs and feedback from employees needs to be an integral part of performance assessment. Institutionalizing on-the-job learning, job rotation and job enrichment, CEOs and HR Heads can identify the domains where learning could bring value to business.
#2.Promoting cutting edge learning
E-learning/ Blended training, using technology plus face-time, is cost effective and convenient for learners. Use of the transformational tools of data analytics, predictive modelling, chat bots and apps are showcasing how efficiency and bottom-line can significantly improve. Ranging from analysis of vast data for customer expectation trends, decision making, market intelligence, risk management, regulatory compliance reporting and fraud prevention, leveraging the new tech-learnings can yield great dividends.
#3.Introducing learning-friendly programs
Employees want to upskill themselves and aspire to scale ladders in their career. CEOs can introduce exciting programs for their employees whereby the latter can earn credentials in skills, and specialize and differentiate themselves at work. Introduction of Badges may be another novel way. A suitable institutionalized mechanism of acknowledgement, reward and incentive go a long way in boosting motivations for learning.
#4.Roping in guides and mentors
As part of overall employee development plan, CEOs can engage guides and mentors. The young workforce, in particular, need emotional and intellectual support at various stages of their career. Executives, with right credentials and expertise, and also motivational speakers, can be identified and roped in, to contribute here.
Appreciating, respecting and celebrating diversity distinguish great workplaces from others. Leveraging on this diversity and promoting a culture of sharing, collaboration and camaraderie, CEOs can make their workplaces a lot more fun and engaging. Participative culture brings along the best of shared learning and a sense of fraternity, inclusiveness and wellbeing.
CEOs can positively differentiate themselves by constantly tuning in to suggestions and feedback, and creating a conducive atmosphere where even raising difficult and bitter questions is seen non-intimidating and normal. Indeed, as incubators, they can nurture a climate where ideas are free-flowing, encouraged and respected.
#7.Learnings from Crises, with humility
Starting from coping with fractured supply chains, crippled business, loss of revenue to handling topsy-turvy routines, emotional well-being of employees, CEOs are learning vital lessons the hard way. They are now adapting to hybrid schedules, delegating more, and realizing the value of attributes like empathy and collaborations. They are also reinventing themselves by creating new networks, leveraging virtual world, discovering new arms of businesses, and experimenting with new ideas. The lessons of crises, being precious, need to be accepted with humility, put to use and cherished.
CEO as a Learning Ambassador
It is not enough that CEOs have a learning appetite. It is equally, rather more, important that they create a learning climate, by being a learning ambassador. By promoting learnability, as an important quality, at all levels. Great CEOs know that not only leadership and learnings are indispensable to each other, attribute of learnability in employees need to be diffused.
CEOs, with an open mind and humility to learn and adapt, not only navigate challenges well, but also help the organization grow and prosper. They follow a simple motto: Show, of learning, must go on! Lifelong. Come what may.