• Tuesday, July 23, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Building organisational resilience: The critical role of continuous learning & development

Building organisational resilience: The critical role of continuous learning & development

The business world is a battlefield, and only the adaptable survive. Just like a tree that bends in the wind, companies that cling to outdated practices are brittle and destined to snap. Building organisational resilience isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity.

This principle applies equally to organisational efficiency, whether in a small unit or a complex entity employing thousands. The essence of organisational resilience lies in maintaining a readiness for change, requiring both processes and personnel to be adaptable and proactive.

Regardless of the organisational structure, resilience hinges on planning to maintain readiness. While machines can enhance service and production lines, it is humans who guide and adapt these machines to evolving needs. Hence, it is crucial for personnel to upskill and adapt at the pace necessary to keep up with technological advancements and market disruptions.

Organisational resilience involves preparing for challenges and ensuring that skills and personnel are updated to mitigate the impact of new workplace challenges, allowing the organisation to thrive amidst adversity. This readiness to adapt and emerge stronger from downturns goes beyond mere risk management to foster a culture of adaptability and empowerment through continuous learning and development (L&D).

Let’s face it, companies that view training as a checkbox exercise are dinosaurs waiting for an asteroid. Continuous learning and development (CL&D) is not a one-time fix; it is a continuous dance between employees and the organisation. Companies that prioritise CLD create a vibrant ecosystem where employees thrive and the organisation flourishes.

Resilience report cards

Examples of resilience in action can be seen in companies like Amazon, Lego, and WD-40. Amazon, confronted with retail disruptions, has thrived by embracing e-commerce early, investing in cloud computing, and continuously experimenting with new ventures. Lego, which was nearly bankrupt in the early 2000s, refocused on its core product and innovation, building a strong online presence. WD-40 responded to environmental concerns by reformulating its product, demonstrating adaptability to consumer preferences.

Conversely, companies like Blockbuster, Kodak, and Toys “R” Us failed to adapt to market changes. Blockbuster’s rigid business model could not compete with streaming services, leading to its demise. Kodak missed the digital revolution by clinging to its film business. Toys “R” Us struggled against online shopping and discount competition, leading to bankruptcy.

Resilience in the public sector

In the public sector, resilience translates to improved service delivery, enhanced public trust, employee engagement, and financial sustainability. Agencies with strong risk management practices experience fewer service disruptions. Public trust correlates with effective crisis response. Engaged employees and a stable workforce contribute to better service delivery. Proactive risk management leads to optimised resource allocation and financial sustainability.

Building resilience through learning and development

A resilient organisation invests in learning and development to equip employees with the skills, knowledge, and mindsets necessary to adapt to change and overcome challenges. Effective L&D strategies are tailored to specific organisational needs and emphasise:

Building adaptable skills:

○ Transferable Skills: L&D programmes should focus on critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, and collaboration, empowering employees to adapt to new situations.

○ Digital Literacy and Emerging Technologies: Training employees to leverage technology efficiently prepares them for disruptive situations.

Fostering a Growth Mindset:

○ Learning Agility: Promoting a growth mindset encourages continuous learning and experimentation.

○ Change Management Training: Preparing employees for change minimises resistance and facilitates smooth transitions.

Strengthening leadership capabilities:

○ Resilient Leadership Development: Training leaders to make sound decisions under pressure and communicate effectively during crises is crucial.

○ Succession Planning: Ensuring a pipeline of future leaders prepares the organisation for unforeseen circumstances.

Building a Culture of Learning:

○ Encouraging Knowledge Sharing: Collaborative learning platforms and mentorship programmes foster continuous learning and collective resilience.

○ Creating a Safe Space for Experimentation: Encouraging calculated risks and learning from failures enables organisations to adapt effectively.

Continuous Learning and Development (CL&D)

The cornerstone of organisational resilience is continuous learning and development. Investing in CL&D goes beyond budgetary responsibilities, embedding it as a core strategy rather than an afterthought. Effective CL&D ensures that organisations are equipped to face disruptive market demands, maintaining a culture of adaptability and proactive improvement.

Key components of CL&D include:

Adaptability and future-proofing: Incorporating training on industry trends and emerging technologies ensures preparedness for future disruptions.

Developing agility: Continuous learning enables employees to unlearn outdated practices and adopt new ones in real-time.

Embracing change: Normalising continuous learning fosters a mindset that views change as an opportunity for growth.

Upskilling and reskilling: Providing ongoing opportunities for skill development ensures a relevant workforce.

Problem-solving and innovation: Promoting critical thinking empowers employees to find creative solutions to challenges.

Fostering Experimentation: Encouraging a culture of experimentation and learning from failures builds resilience.

Collaborative learning networks: Utilising online platforms and mentorship programmes facilitates knowledge sharing.

Learning from failures: Encouraging open discussion and analysis of failures helps organisations adapt processes for future success.

Continuous learning and development is a proactive approach to building resilience. By investing in ongoing employee development, organisations create a workforce that is not only prepared for change but actively seeks it as a catalyst for growth. This adaptability and problem-solving agility are hallmarks of a truly resilient organisation.

The verdict is clear: stagnation equals death. By embracing a culture of continuous learning, organisations unlock a treasure trove of potential. It is time to ditch the outdated model and invest in building a workforce that thrives on change, not cowers from it. In a world of constant disruption, resilience fueled by CLD is the only recipe for long-term success.

Precious Imuwahen Ajoonu is a Learning and Development expert with over 15 years experience, training professionals in multinationals across 30 countries. She is currently the pioneer Director General of the John Odigie-Oyegun Public Service Academy in Edo State, Nigeria.