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Teamwork skills - fostering continuous learning

As a manager you must foster continuous learning environment.You do not want your team to stagnate and your team members should want to stay current with their knowledge and skills.You can't expect your company to be on the cutting edge unless your team's knowledge is also up to date.

Your team at work can be compared to a professional athlete's team.An NFL team spends the entire week preparing for a three hour game.They spend the majority of their time preparing for work.Your team spends the majority of their time working and a comparatively small amount of time training or learning.

Many companies realize they need to continue education for their employees, but they fail to act accordingly.When cuts are needed education is often the first to go, because in the short term results will not suffer, but in the long term the company will suffer from not having the right education.
Make sure your organization has a defined learning agenda.This agenda will greatly depend on the business you are in.However, you should be able to do some research to know what direction your particular career field is going.The company should have long term goals set too.Match the career field with the company's goals and you should know the areas of education that your organization will need.Many of the fortune 500 companies have already done this for you.
If your organization is not open to new information, then your learning environment needs some improvement.Learning is always going to bring with new information, methods and technologies.As your employees learn this information, they need to be encouraged to share with their fellow employees.Sending an employee to a class to learn new techniques doesn't add nearly the value as sending an employee and then having him disseminate the information when he returns.
A learning organization will avoid repeated mistakes.Not only will you learn from your mistakes, but you need to record the lesson and pass it to your peers and other sites in the company that can use the information.
Do you have an employee or two that if you lost them, the organization would lose critical skills and knowledge?If so, you need to review how you are keeping critical information in the company.Too often a more tenured employee knows a lot and the new employees allow them to handle all the situations that require that knowledge.
When the senior employee moves to a new location or retires the knowledge is lost.Make sure knowledge becomes common property in your organization.Hold classes or require the new employees to work beside the more experienced employees until they all have the same knowledge.Sure, this could be more expensive, but how expensive is it when you can't solve a problem because nobody has the correct knowledge?
Lastly, a true learning organization will look to incorporate new knowledge when it is learned.You must take advantage of new learning and adapt your team's behavior accordingly.Information is supposed to be used.Learning does not benefit the team unless it is utilized.
Now, you as a manager must decide how your organization and team will incorporate continuous learning.Many companies encourage their teams to continue their education by paying for classes that are job related.However, many of these teams fail to support their employees by working with their school schedule or making time allowances.You will need to make it clear to your team that you support continuous education by taking action.
In summary, continuous education is key to an organization who wants to stay competitive.As the manager you must foster this environment by showing that you incorporate lessons learned and that you support those who put in the effort to continue their education.

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