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Article No.: 1912, December 1, 2019

Article Title: Learning Agile Employees Understand the Benefits of Change

Author: Linda Gravett, Ph.D., SHRM-SCP, CEQC

If you’re a team leader at any level, you’ve probably observed that some of your team Dr. Linda Gravett photomembers aren’t excited about change.  Of course not.  The only humans I’ve seen get excited about change are babies with wet diapers.  Yet, in order for our organizations to be innovative and competitive, employees must thrive during times of change.  The ones who do are employees with learning agility, and as a leader part of your role is to enhance learning agility in individuals across the organization.

Asking the right questions at the right time – and listening intently to the answers – is an excellent way to foster learning agility.  I encourage you to set the expectation that your leaders will continuously ask what I call quality dialogue questions (QDQs), so that you build a culture that promotes healthy debate and inquiry.  The employee can initiate his/her own QDQs, as well.

Here are some examples of those QDQs:

  1. I’ve always wondered why we….
  2. I don’t think we spend enough time….
  3. I think we should focus on…. 
  4. Our success lies in…. 
  5. We are missing a business opportunity with…. 
  6. Everyone knows that ____________ but is afraid to say it. 
  7. I’d like to see more______________ around here. 
  8. Our customers would be happier if we….
  9. I would like to be able to….. 
  10. Our meetings would be more effective if…. 
  11. I’ve noticed that….

When employees surface concerns or problems by filling in the blanks in these questions, as a leader you allow creativity and new learning by allowing time to study problems deeply.

Another method for fostering learning agility is through what I call directed assignments.  These are opportunities for employees to learn from doing and observing others within and outside your company.  The directed assignments can be tied directly to your core competencies required for organizational success.  This means that employees win and your organization wins. 

As an example, I developed this set of directed assignments for a client company:

Objective Setting and Results Orientation to Achieve Strategic Plan
a. Benchmark and Analyze Strategic Planning Methods of 3-5 Global Organizations, Present Results to Colleagues.
b. Facilitate the Strategic Planning Session of Another Devision within the Organization.
c. Identify the Proocesses and Activities that Provide Competitors with a Competitive Advantage, Present Results to Colleagues.
Communication Skills
a. Develop a Communications Plan to Advise Employees of Change in Product, Procedures, or Processes.
b. Facilitate Employee Meetings to Solicit Process Improvement Ideas.
c. Develop and Deliver a Training Session on the Organization's Core Values.
d. Write a Column in the In-House Newsletter of an Industry Newsletter.
e. Develop and Deliver Industry Presentations.
f. Shadow Someone in the Customer Services and Public Relations Department for a Week.
Reading List:
a. Influence Without Authority by A. Cohen and D. Bradford
b. Using Your Emotional Intelligence to Develop Others by S. Caldwell and L. Gravett
Leading Through Change
a. Develop and Implement a Communications Plan to Advise Employees of a Change in Product, Procedures, or Processes.
b. Assess Incoming Customer Surveys to Ascertain Why People Buy from i) Our Organization and ii) From Competitors--Decide What Changes the Company Must Make to Stay Ahead.
c. Facilitate Round Tables with Each Business Unit and Help Identify their Competitive Differentiators to Build and Enhance.
d. Create a Symbol or Rallying Cry for Needed Change.
e. Manage an Ad Hoc Team in a Rapidly Expanding Unit.
Reading List:
a. Wall Street Journal
b. Harvard Business Review
c. Riding the Waves of Change by Gareth Morgan

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