Archive for January, 2016

Interview Questions that Determine Learning Agility

Friday, January 29th, 2016

Asking the right questions during an interview can result in making a smart hiring decision. Here are five questions I like for this purpose:

1) Would you prefer to learn by reading instructions, watching someone else perform a task, or by doing it on your own by trial-and-error?

2) Do you think it’s important to always have an answer for customers’ questions? Why or why not?

3) Is this true or not true of you: I like logical, analytical approaches to solving problems. Describe an experience that fits your problem solving style.

4) Share an example of a time when you had to collaborate with a coworker to succeed at completing a project. Specifically, how did you work together to do a good job?

5) How do you use failure as a learning opportunity?

Learning Cultures are High Impact

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

In a study published by Bersin & Associates, titled High-Impact Learning Culture: The 40 Best Practices for Creating an Empowered Enterprise, organizations with strong learning cultures are found to be:

– 46% more likely to be strong innovators in their markets
– 34% more likely to get to market before their competitors
– 33% more likely to report higher customer satisfaction rates
– 39% more likely to report success in implementing customer suggestions
– 58% more likely to be successful at developing the skills needed for meeting future customer demand

For our upcoming book on learning agility, Sheri Caldwell and I have done some research of our own. We surveyed organizations of all types across the U.S. We asked, of the four types of learning agility (mental; people; change; and results), what is most critical in your organization today and why? We heard many stories similar to the following.

The CEO of a mid-sized publisher shared with us that he had recently hired a financial executive who was new to their industry and its unique business model. Although he brought a strong mental agility to his position which was very helpful in the financial planning aspects of the role, he was not strong initially in his ability to adapt to different types of people and their skill sets. He couldn’t win his team over to follow his vision of how the financial structure of the publisher should be reorganized because he would dictate and direct rather than invite discussion. Once the financial executive developed listening skills, learned to articulate his reasoning in a way that nonfinancial executives could relate to, and was more flexible in his expectations about organizational structure, he grew a top notch financial team that is leading the company’s change efforts in a dynamic industry. We’ve observed case after case in which employees will buy into a person as leader before they buy into the vision.

An Inconvenient Truth: Company Knowledge is Leaving without Being Replaced

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

According to my research over the last five years, interviewing 500+ people in each of today’s five workplace generations, employees between the ages of 18 and 24 stay with their companies an average of 18 months. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the average tenure of employees in 1983 as 3.5 years. That’s quite a change! Baby Boomers, born between 1946 – 1964, began retiring in large numbers in 2010 and there are far fewer Gen X’ers to fill their vacated positions. Statistics like these lead me to believe that organizations have no choice but to step up efforts to recruit, select and retain the people who will help them survive and thrive over the next few decades. Finding people who can learn quickly and stay mentally agile, regardless of age, in order to help their companies stay responsive to the marketplace is critical. Not at some future date. Today.

Why Should Organizations Care About Learning Agility?!

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

No matter how conceptually intriguing a topic my be, 21st century organizations have limited time and resources that have to be targeted on areas which will bring a return on investment. Here are some specific reasons I believe learning agility is a critical success factor for organizations today:
1) The world is becoming smaller, more interconnected and intelligent, resulting in the need for companies to have employees who can manage change, so the company survives and thrives.
2) Employees with learning agility can ensure business agility through their development of improved processes and systems.
3) Learning agile employees know how to transfer knowledge throughout the organization….knowledge that’s invaluable for future success.
4) New knowledge is everywhere around us, and it can, if managed well, generate excitement and employee engagement, as well as bottom line success.