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Article No.: 15-7, July 1, 2015

Article Title: Fostering a Learning Agile Workplace

Author: Linda Gravett, Ph.D., SPHR, CEQC

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As a leader in your organization, your philosophy on innovation and creativity is a major driver of the company’s ability to develop and foster learning agility across employees.  Consider these questions:
1)    How do you provide feedback to employees?
2)    Is feedback always constructive (concrete, specific and actionable)?
3)    Do you allow for mistakes and for people to learn from those mistakes?
4)    Are there immediate feedback loops to enhance learning from education and experience?
These are all important questions to ask in order to establish your approach towards fostering a workplace that ensures learning agility.
To a large extent, employees can be self-empowered innovators, if we allow them the latitude to be curious, to question the efficacy of organizational “sacred cows”, and to pursue (within reason) dreams of glory.  Not every employee will want or need this type of workplace environment.  Some may be content to focus solely on their job using techniques or tools that don’t change on a constant basis.  Your organization may have a place for this type of employee; however, I encourage you to limit the number of people with this mindset and encourage employees’ quest for “building a better mousetrap”.  This, in turn, will foster learning agility.
Employees have to take some ownership of fostering an environment that promotes learning agility, as well.  Self-awareness of their development needs is critical, along with a willingness to pursue opportunities to learn.  Are you testing candidates for these attributes?
Asking the right questions at the right time – and listening intently to the answers – is an excellent way to foster learning agility.  I call these quality dialogue questions…..those which invite collaboration and ongoing discussion.  Here are a few examples that I often use:
Fill in the blank –
1)    I’ve always wondered why we _______________.
2)    I think we should focus on __________________.
3)    Everyone knows that _____________ but I’m afraid to talk about it.
When employees surface concerns or problems, allow creativity and new learning by allowing time to study problems deeply, when feasible.  If you do, you’re on your way to a culture of learning agility. 



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