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The Importance of a Reading-Focused Culture are the qualities that prepare an employee to adapt to changing markets and business models and become a valuable asset in a company’s future. So how you can nurture the right type of learning and increase the overall knowledge base of your staff on a consistent, fundamental level? The answer is simple: Turn your company into a team of readers. Expand the Scope of Available Knowledge As valuable as traditional learning methods are, they can only go so far. When it comes to bringing in top speakers, developing training sessions, and engaging employees in classroom learning, companies are limited by budget and time restrictions. With these limits in place, many organizations only train their workforce on what they consider to be the most important or pressing topics. Unfortunately, employees in these situationsmiss out on learning about“lower priority”subjectsthat arestill essential for well-rounded employee development. So how can organizations efficiently fill in these gaps?They can build a culture that encourages employees to turn to written works as trusted knowledge sources. Through written resources, thousands of subjects becomeavailable and easily accessible to your employees. But with thousands of books published every year, how can employees efficiently find the right book? And, once identified, is it a challenge to find time for reading? Consider the fact that getAbstract provides access to a library of more than 10,000 business book summaries that can be read in under 10 minutes. Imagine the effort it would take to make10,000 different classroom learning sessions, presentations,and speeches available to your employees. Now estimate the resources involved incontinually scheduling formal learning solutions that coverevery emerging topic and give your organization access to the latest trends and ideas. It’s really only feasible through a library of written resources. Reading broadens the scope of available knowledge, giving your employees anunrivaled opportunity for holistic professional development. Create Individualized Learning Solutions Each individual within a company has unique learning needs. These varied needs can be difficult to address in a single presentation or classroom session, which is why so many learning models fail to create widespread change. By encouraging an employee to read for professional development, you allow himto choose information that’s pertinent to his position, that falls in an area of concern or that addresses a skill relevant to his desired career path. Giving employees freedom to gravitate toward topics that are most useful can also provide valuable insight for the company as a whole, as the power and gas company E.ON discovered. After supplying their employees with access to getAbstract summaries, E.ON found that its team memberstended to read about certain topics more than others. The popular subjects included personal development, time management, negotiation, working in teams, stress management and work-life balance. Monitoring these reading trends gave E.ON valuable insight intotheir employees’ concerns and areas of interest. Forwardthinking companies can draw from these types of discoveries and deepen employee knowledge in areas that matter most by selecting formal trainings that are on target and most relevant. Spur Innovation In the long run, a reading-focused culture empowers your company to embrace change. According to author Andy Stefanovich, when you “look at more stuff and think about it harder” (something reading gives any professional the opportunity to do), you’re able to create new ideas and drive innovation. Leading quick-service restaurant chain Chick-fil-a understands the importance of this principle and encourages its employees to constantly “reinvent the system.” Of course, continual reinvention also requires continual education, which can be instituted quickly and efficiently through reading materials. Chick-fil-a gives its employees and franchise owners access to easy-to-digest summaries, supplying them with the information they need to fuelthe company’s desired environment of reinvention and innovation. Foster Meaningful Connections and Collaborations If you think promoting reading within your company will cut back onthe kinds of connections that spring from group training situations, think again. Many leading organizationsprovide assigned and optional readings that act as jumping off points to encouragemeaningful employee connections and to keep conversations going long after training sessions have ended. At North Highland, a consulting firm based in Atlanta, leaders use business book summaries to continually educate consultants who work remotely from various client sites. Without this learning resource, it would be challenging to keep consultants in the field fully up to speed and aware of the latest developments. Thanks to written resources thattraveling professionalscan read at their convenience, North Highland creates more cohesion and ensures that itsconsultantsremaintapped into the same valuable information no matter where in the world they may be. When it comes to fostering conversations about new knowledge, MasterCard uses reading solutions as a part of what they call“getAbstract Chat sessions.”In this innovative program, managers askemployees to read a selected getAbstract book summary and reflect on its core concepts. Those employees then hear from company executives, who provide their take on the themes in the summary, waysin which they relate to the organization andhow those themes have affected their professional journeys. During these discussions, employees often start to viewexecutives as teachers and mentors who have valuable and relatable knowledge to impart. The reading materials facilitate these exchanges and give employees at all levels a shared piece of knowledge over which to connect. Make Knowledge “Stick” Providing formal education and training for an employee is a futile exercise if the information goes in one ear and out the other. There are countless reasons why good information fails to stick with an employee during a traditional training session. One person may not pay attention because he’s preoccupied with a pressing business concern or personal matter. Another employeemight not connect with thestyle of the presenter or the format of the information. So what’s the best way to remedy this common problem? Reinforce the presented information by encouraging employees to leadership excellence essentials presented by HR.com | 04.2014 24


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