- Learning agility is the passion, motivation and action taken to learn what you don't know
- Employees with high learning agility are fearless, open to new ideas, self-driven and outcome-focused
- Organizations can increase learning agility by welcoming failure, rethinking rewards and providing access to right resources
While we were dealing with technology-led disruptions, political instability, and changing operating models; the pandemic added another layer of uncertainty. Why is it that some businesses and people have found it difficult, whereas others have flourished even in these times? Is there something they know and others don't?
The answer is not what they know, but they are willing to find out what they need to know. This is called Learning Agility. It is the passion, motivation, and action taken to learn. People who display high learning agility are more likely to try new solutions and find answers to challenges faced by them.
Therefore, employees who display high learning agility become more valuable for organizational success.
Learning agility is the passion, motivation and action taken to learn what you don't know
How to identify employees with high learning agility?
As organizations and people managers, this is an important question. Employees with high learning agility display these four characteristics:
- Fearless: They are not afraid of challenges; instead, they thrive on them. They are the first ones to volunteer for a challenging assignment, a difficult client, or a project in an unfamiliar area.
- Open to new ideas: They are willing to listen to new ideas and try them out. They are not afraid of trying new solutions and occasionally failing in the process. They see failure as a step towards achieving their goal.
- Self-driven: They don't need any external motivation to learn new skills or try different approaches to achieve their goals. They invest in learning regularly and continue to upskill themselves. Despite the pressure of timelines, they find the time to learn.
- Outcome-focused: They never take their eyes off the goal and always focus on what would help them achieve their outcome and go after it.
Employees with high learning agility are fearless, open to new ideas, self-driven and outcome-focused
How to increase your learning agility?
With more and more organizations giving importance to learning agility, a question that comes to mind is that how do I measure my learning agility and how do I increase it?
There are questionnaires available that help you measure your learning agility. You could take one of those assessments to get started. However, a simple reflection on whether you display the four characteristics described above will help you get a good measure of your learning agility.
Whether you take an assessment or do a self-reflection, there will always be a scope to increase your learning agility. Therefore, the focus should be more on increasing your agility than measuring it accurately.
The steps to increase your agility are:
- Identify what to learn: This is the starting point and this will keep changing with each assignment, challenge, and objective you want to achieve.
- Take the first step to learn: Understand what method will help you learn. Will you learn through a course, or by shadow learning, or through a mentor?
- Keep up with the learning: Go the distance and don't quit midway. Learning does not happen overnight but does not take too long either.
- Apply what you have learned: Keep your eyes on the outcome and apply as you learn.
What should organizations do to increase learning agility?
- Check for high learning agility while hiring: Asking questions on how candidates solved complex challenges or how they processed their feedback can help you get insights into their learning agility.
- Welcome failure: Build a culture that is more accepting of failure. Employees with high learning agility will occasionally fail. Organizations will need to coach their leaders of being more tolerant. Most employees with high learning agility will take failure as an interim step and continue to find ways till they succeed.
- Reward success but focus on the process: Organizations will need to rethink their rewards philosophy. While they continue to reward innovation, achievements, new solutions, the focus has to be on what the employees did to achieve that. While the metrics can be a deciding factor, the narrative has to focus on how employees showed learning agility.
- Provide access to resources: A learning department that understands the value of learning agility can make a huge difference. They can begin by partnering with the business to understand the learning needs. Collaborations with top content providers and an assessment of internal mentors from whom employees can learn will make their contribution more strategic than operational.
Organizations can increase learning agility by welcoming failure, rethinking rewards and providing access to right resources
Employees who show high learning agility are more likely to achieve results. With openness to try new ideas and solutions, they are likely to inject new thinking within the organization. They are also more likely to encourage their teams to think fresh, try new solutions, and take on more challenging roles and assignments.
As an organization, you can not achieve learning agility by aggressive hiring or through a brilliant campaign. It is something to be developed with care and preserved with sincerity and intent.
Have you seen organizations cultivating a culture of high learning agility? Share you experience by writing to me at firstname.lastname@example.org