Understand how learning engages employees and uncovers organizational and employee potential.
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- Once you've assessed where your organization is on the Greiner Curve, it's time to use that information to shape your learning strategy and solutions. This is a critical aspect of being a strategic partner to the business. What I have discovered is that the learning needs shift with each phase. All kinds of key skills, like communication, collaboration, productivity, and innovation, all look different at the various phases. For example, someone who's phenomenal at innovation in phase two, may completely stumble in phase five, because the process and scope of innovation changes.
What constitutes good management and leadership shifts with the phases as well. Someone who's an outstanding leader in phase three may or may not be able to lead effectively in phase four. That's why I recommend that you map your learning strategy to the Greiner Curve. You really do need to develop and deliver different kinds of programs over time. And the mistake that a lot of organizations make is to develop "the" management training, or "the" workshop on communication, as if one size fits all forever.
You could implement these programs, and they may initially be successful, but they will ultimately hold back your organization, because they'll remain static while your organization shifts and changes. In order to have a robust learning strategy, I want you to map to your current and upcoming phases, so that you can stay ahead of the curve, so to speak, delivering what is needed at just the right time. You should also identify different programs for employees or individual contributors, managers, and leaders.
If your organization is in phase one or two, you'll have just a few offerings, but which are infinitely valuable in helping your talent succeed at the challenges and opportunities that arise. As your org grows into phases three and four, you should develop new and more programs to serve the needs of the business. In other words, shelve what was working great, and redirect those resources to meeting the organization's new challenges and opportunities. The timing all depends on how fast your organization is growing through the phases.
I've seen phases range from months to decades. Fast-growth companies need to pivot quickly and often. This is what it means to be a strategic partner to your organization, and it's absolutely vital to be effective in this role. Learning professionals often don't have a seat at the executive table, but you should. If you're not initially given access to the executive table, you can quickly earn it, by helping the organization succeed in its current phase of growth, and more importantly, start preparing for the next one.
From my experience, when leaders see that I can accurately predict what's coming, they realize that the learning and development department, or function, is more than just training. It's a vital and competitive advantage that they want to tap into. Here's an example. We all know that it's expensive and time consuming to identify, recruit, and retain the talent that will help your organization thrive. But if you apply the Greiner Curve, we can see that employees are inevitably drawn to certain phases of organizational growth.
Some love the startup phase, and others thrive in the alliance phase. Gone are the days when employees stayed with an organization until retirement. Now, employees seek their fit, and they stay with an organization through a couple of phases. If you know this, you can actually predict when you're likely to see some attrition. For example, employees who love phases one and two often find the transition to phases three and four uncomfortable, as they feel that things are getting too big or bureaucratic.
And while it may be disconcerting to see them leave, you can pivot to grabbing great talent from other, bigger organizations, who have the skills to help your organization be successful. In addition, your learning strategy should identify high potentials, and start preparing them for your organization's next crisis point and phase early on, so that they're ready to step into the new roles and responsibilities. This will help you avoid having to hire too many folks from the outside, which can dilute your culture, and demotivate employees who hunger for career opportunities.
Having the long view of the future success of your organization, and how you prepare your talent to deliver, is how you serve as a strategic partner to the business.
- Discovering the importance of L&D
- Identifying your L&D role or function
- Engaging employees with succession planning
- Uncovering organizational and employee potential
- Achieving a competitive advantage
- Delivering critical results
- Building a culture of learning
- Understanding the brain's natural system for learning
- Implementing on demand, embedded, flipped, and blended learning
- Choosing the right format to achieve results
- Adapting to an organization's maturity level
- Empowering practice and accountability
- Measuring the impact using the five levels of evaluation