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How Do We Become a Learning Organization?

August 14, 2012

Dear On the Sidelines:

Developing a culture of success—one built on continuous learning and stronger customer relations—is admirable and necessary in today's pressurized business climate. It certainly is an initiative HR is equipped to lead.

Start by making the business case to your management team that your HR group has what it takes to drive this culture change forward. Present your initiative in a way senior leaders will readily understand, using language and facts that resonate with business impact.

For instance, consider the following example of how to make your business case:

"Our turnover rate of 20 percent is twice the level of the industry average. At a replacement cost of $150,000 per employee, we are spending $15 million more than our competition to maintain our workforce levels at optimum capacity. We need to focus on engaging and retaining our valued employees through continuous learning and a 'customer-first' focus. What could we do with an additional $15 million that would delight our customers? The HR team recommends (insert solid ideas here).' " Get the picture?

Lay out the concrete objectives human resources wants to achieve. Start with bottom-line issues, build in the supporting detail and conclude with the expected business results.

Be prepared to succinctly explain the actions HR will take to make this culture change a reality. Ask senior leaders to support HR's efforts, partnering with them to define and outline their specific role(s) in the culture change program. Build a timeline and define the anticipated outcomes.

Present your case in this context and you will gain the confidence of top management to spearhead needed and beneficial changes.

SOURCE: Sandi Edwards, senior vice president, AMA Enterprise, New York

LEARN MORE: Learning Needs to Be Simple Enough to Make It Stick

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.