With such a strong focus on performance these days, it is easy to forget that sometimes it is the journey, and not the destination, that has the greatest impact. Time-poor individuals often look for a quick fix in order to be able to move to the next task on their list, and the quest to avoid individually attributable failures in the organizational context has fostered a certain level of mediocrity.
At Sweetspot we often talk of Insight Management to improve campaign outcomes and long-term performance. And whilst a performance-driven orientation can most certainly have a positive impact in both the short and long-run, the benefits of a learning orientation should not be overlooked.
Learning oriented individuals focus on and actively seek new knowledge and skills, and continually aim to broaden and deepen their current expertise and understanding. Not only do they focus on the task at hand, as a performance-oriented individual would, they also attempt to continually learn from each experience or insight that arises, and experiment to consider all outcomes. Furthermore, learning-oriented individuals seek feedback in order to make use of the knowledge of others and reflect on what they have seen and learnt.
The benefits of this focus on learning cannot be underestimated. Not only do these individuals constantly increase their knowledge of areas they are not strongly experienced in, but their ability to seek feedback, reflect and hence identify where they require further development increases their self-awareness which can in turn improve their decision-making capacity. This is the result of feeling secure in learning, making mistakes and the lack of a need to avoid uncertainty and accountability. This constant quest for information goes hand in hand with collaborative learning, as individuals continually request the input of more knowledgeable colleagues to keep on learning.
A learning orientation does not always lead to continual improvement in performance, however. In the case where the individual takes on too much and loses focus on either the present task or learning, or where they do not thoroughly experiment, their learning can fall short. In addition, where feedback is not given and reflection is not undertaken in a structured and timely fashion, continual learning will be interrupted.
Is your organization able to maintain a learning orientation? What are your greatest barriers to maintaining this focus on learning?
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