The year 2022 is already underway and goals have been set for individuals, teams, and entire organizations. What are the quantitative and qualitative targets for this year that need to be met? What does it take for different people to achieve these goals? Setting quantified goals can be easy, but it can be challenging to concretize the skills and support needed to achieve them.
In this blog, I look at the role of the manager in leading learning and competence development. As a manager, you can use this blog to get some ideas and thoughts involved in developing next year’s competencies and learning new things on your team. Skilled people create the foundation for good performance, where learning something new plays a key role. It is worth innovating and trying new ways to develop skills together because there is no one ready-made and right model!
At the heart of organizations’ human resources strategies is holistic competence management
How do you manage the knowledge capital of an organization that the skills of different people together form? Rapid technological development is challenging us all to learn, almost regardless of industry, and other trends such as globalization are also affecting the availability of a skilled workforce. For many companies, competence has become a competitive factor that must be managed systematically.
Workplace learning is a multifaceted phenomenon in which work and learning something new is seamlessly intertwined. By modeling and identifying learning at work, we are already getting closer to how competence development should be led in organizations in general. Competence development in organizations should therefore be seen as a holistic plan that includes many different activities, considering the context and nature of the work – not just as separate activities. The organizational culture is the enabler of growth and development, and it plays a key role in determining how new learning and competence development are encouraged and given resources.
Competence development using team learning perspectives – manager support is key
In many teams, different skills are needed to solve a variety of challenges. How to dismantle work goals and learn something new to make concrete at the team level? Learning new, developing competence, and improving performance affects the company’s result when skilled people can perform their tasks competently and efficiently – without forgetting creativity and innovation. Most likely, these individuals are also committed and motivated to do their jobs, perhaps even beyond their goals.
On the side of specific goals, it is good to make the goals of competence development that are in line with the company’s strategy. One of the tasks of each manager is to form a vision of how the goals of the team are connected to the goals of the organization and, on the other hand, what competencies are needed in the team and how competencies and competence development are divided within the team? Concretizing this will also help determine how and what new learning should be possible for the team. The manager has a key role to play in coaching his team to achieve his goals by ensuring adequate resources for learning new things. This requires the concretization of competence development in terms of the information to be learned as well as the money, time and other resources spent on it.
It is also the manager’s job to create good interactions with his or her team members and that these interactions support all the skills development and learning new that is needed to achieve goals. Is there an atmosphere in your team where trust brings new ideas and business opportunities, mistakes are seen as a possibility to learn new things, and respects and helps others encourage people to do their best? While a manager cannot do everything alone, the development of the atmosphere, support, and encouragement are largely based on the manager and his or her own actions. The role of the manager in utilizing the existing knowledge of the entire team, in the rapid application of the necessary new knowledge, and in the potential impact of these on the well-being of the entire team is central. Are these perspectives of sustainable learning already part of your team? How did you, as a manager, plan to support and coach your team in achieving your goals?
Developing individual competence and learning new things in a sustainable way
At the individual level, how skillfully the manager challenges to grow and develop matters. Here, the manager can really ignite the motivation to learn something new, encourage individuals to develop themselves according to the skills and interests needed at work, and ensure that learning new takes place in a sustainable way at every job.
From the perspective of sustainable learning, the manager should be aware of how learning can be genuinely supported in everyday life and have a discussion with the person themselves. How can existing knowledge help to rapid application of new knowledge? Already existing knowledge can be valuable e.g. in solving wider problems. In today’s working life, knowledge is rapidly renewed, so the rapid application of new knowledge is essential for success in the task and thus also for good performance. The rapid application of new knowledge does not always happen instantly or by itself, but the necessary resources and support must be set aside for this. The work community can also think together about how to learn new things and develop skills (eg coaching, mentoring, problem-solving, reflection, information sharing, feedback, various webinars, training, project work, and assignments). How existing knowledge and the rapid application of new knowledge are supported can also be a significant factor in an individual’s well-being and have either a positive or negative impact on an individual’s well-being. Remembering these factors – and emphasizing them in everyday life – is important when looking for continued effectiveness. Efficiency is equally high-quality and good learning, based on which competence develops and thus the chances of success improve at the individual, team, and organizational levels. The development of competence is most likely to affect performance and thus better results.
Learning new is intertwined with everyday work
Learning new is already and will be even more at the heart of companies in terms of technological development and the development of global markets. Many things require us to be constantly learning in today’s world of work. In this competition, the best performers are those organizations that genuinely realize the opportunities for workplace learning, considering the sustainable aspects of learning and the central role of the manager as a coach for their own team and individuals. Linking the development of competencies at the organizational, team and individual levels is also important to concretize. The question is, have you already made plans for competence development and learning new this year – engaging your team and individuals in the discussion?
Lemmetty, S., & Collin, K. (2020). Throwaway knowledge, useful skills or a source for wellbeing? : Outlining sustainability of workplace learning situations. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 39(5-6), 478-494.
Lyons, P. & Bandura, R. P. (2020). Manager-as-coach: stimulating engagement via learning orientation. European journal of training and development, 45(8/9), 691-705.