The business landscape is constantly changing, and new technology is accelerating the pace of developments. These changing dynamics have redefined the ‘ability to learn’ as an essential skill, whatever your role in the organisation.
‘Learn something new today’ should not be just a lesson for when you are in school or university – it should be a life lesson; personally, and professionally, in or out of the workplace.
Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO, summed it up well when he said Amazon thinks like a Day 1 business – why because it will never fall into the trap of complacency. In a recent Sunday Times Article, Jeff Bezos claimed that if Amazon lost the desperation it had when he founded it, there would be an “excruciating, painful decline” followed by the “death” of the online retailer.
The billionaire laid bare the extent of his paranoia in Amazon’s annual letter to shareholders. Bezos, called Amazon a “Day 1 company, adding Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.”
Business owners, leaders and employees must all keep learning because of one simple word, ‘relevance’.
The relevance of the product or service the business provides. Its relevance as a provider of choice for customers. Its relevance when pitched against the competition. Its relevance as an employer of choice for their people. And to take it to a personal level, by asking the question; how relevant am I as a Leader, how relevant am I as a team member?
To show up every day being the best version of yourself is a journey of ongoing improvement – marginal gains which you achieve every day.
Asking the questions; What have I learnt new today? Or more specifically, what have I learnt new today which is going to help me to be even better tomorrow?
To help make sure your business doesn’t stagnate and meet the death Jeff Bezos fears, here are 5 ways you and your people can implement learning at work;
1. Observe what others do
In the workplace, we tend to operate in silos. A silo could be you on your own as sole business owner, or you and your immediate team or you and your department.
Look up and beyond those silos and learn what others are doing, their value and the difference they make. This could be as simple as attending a local networking event, a cursory google search of competitors or a conversation by the vending machine with a member of staff.
The sole purpose is simple to gain & share insights of what others are doing, how they do it & why they do it.
2. Step into the shoes of your customers
Step into your customer’s shoes and be on the receiving end of the customer experience you and your people give to your customers.
Depending on what type of business you’re in, a great exercise is to complete a mystery shopping exercise and playback the findings to your team or managers. I have no doubt you’ll share some interesting things you have learnt.
3. Capture a daily new fact
When you arrive fresh faced at a new company, or in the early days of starting your own business, you take onboard a lot of new facts and learn lots of new things. But after this induction period, the daily grind takes over and you focus on doing the job in hand.
Get back the inquisitive nature you had in the early days and set yourself a daily challenge to find one new work-related fact you don’t know.
4. Areas for improvement
Everything you do can be improved. Are you just going through the motions without actually thinking about how you do your job?
Challenge yourself to identify areas of improvement. If the opportunity arises, introduce a work-based assignment based on making improvements to the business.
Most businesses run projects in parallel to delivering business as usual. And usually, it is the employees who are at the helm of running these projects. Not only will this open up project management skills but also detailed insight into what the project and the organisation is trying to deliver.
5. Get social
Do you actually know the individuals who work in your business, your department, your team? I don’t just mean knowing their name, their family set-up and how they like their tea. I mean, what makes them tick, why they do what they do and what are they striving to achieve?
Most people spend between 30 – 50 hours per week with their work colleagues. Learn more about your co-workers personally; what’s their back story – build emotional connections. You may be surprised you have common interests beyond work.
One of the keys to unlocking a learning and motivational environment is to clearly understand your people’s WHY, their personal goals, and how being successful at work can be one of the vehicles and enablers in helping them realise their goals.
The moment we create the bridge in their mind – the link between their personal goals, business goals and what they do daily during work – self-motivation kicks in. This is the defining moment a person changes from someone with a job to someone with a purpose.
About the author
This guide has been exclusively written for ByteStart by Royston Guest, a global authority on growing businesses and unlocking people potential. He is CEO of Pti-Worldwide, author of #1 best-selling business growth book, Built to Grow and founder of livingyourfuture™. Connect with him on LinkedIn or check out his weekly blog.
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