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1. Curate a dynamic body of knowledge. What kind of insights and practical wisdom would your team find beneficial? Curate a collection of written knowledge assets that reflect a range of employee skill levels, departmental responsibilities, company priorities, and industry trends. 2. Raise awareness and visibility. Once you’ve established a library of resources, promote it throughout your entirecompany. Recommend knowledge assets based on their relevance to different target audiences. Ensure that access is as hassle-free as possible. 3. Find evangelists. Create visibility around the employees who are the most active readers and sharers. Encourage others to follow their insights and recommendations. 4. Encourage reading through acknowledgment and incentives.When an employee reads, shares, and comments on a knowledge asset, reward her. Engage her in a public conversation about the reading in a way that’s both meaningful and appreciative. 5. Incorporate a reading in your next meeting or activity. Start sending out relevant articles, book summaries, or reports in advance of upcoming meetings. By incorporating a stimulating discussion in the meeting structure, you’ll help integrate reading into the organizational culture. Use a book’s summary to prepare for the next task. The written word is one of the most powerful vehicles for disseminating knowledge, sharing best practices, and building crucial skills. By integrating reading into your organization’s core values, you will not only expand your team’s ability to think critically and creatively, but you’ll make your entire organization more responsive, robust, and successful. LE Michel Koopman is CEO of getAbstract Inc.Drawing from his experience as an award-winning business strategist and executive, Michel Koopman is a respected thought leader, speaker and writer who is an expert on topics including sales techniques, leadership strategies, business growth and micro-learning. Michel has been quoted in Fast Company, Forbes and the Miami Herald and his writing has appeared in top national and international publications, including the Washington Post, Business Insider, Strategy magazine and Contributor for LinkedIn. The Importance of a Reading-Focused Culture read materials that are related to the subject matter. MillerCoors achieves this by providing executive business summaries for use as pre-class and post-class material. The company distributes related readings that help employees prepare and build their knowledge base before they even sit down for a session of classroom learning. Taking this step creates informed and engaged participants who not only have an easier time absorbing information, but who can contribute ideas and feedback on a deeper level. MillerCoors also uses summaries after a classroom session to encourage employees toapply the key lessons, to continue thinking about the subject, to obtain knowledge from different experts, and to engage in discussions withcolleagues. Reading used in tandem withtraditional learning techniques creates a powerful package of informationthat employees are more likely to retain and implement –which builds aknowledgeable, agile workforce. Invest in Human Capital and Leadership Skills A reading-focused culture is one that values curiosity and creativity and that truly nourishes human capital. When employees are passionate about reading, they continually encounter knowledge that challenges their current mindset. Their worldviews are always evolving, whichenhances the possibilities for growth and development in your company as a whole. Readers also have a better grasp of the external forces (industrial, economic, and political) that shape the direction of a company. They’re able to leverage this knowledge into informed day-today decision-making and effective long-term strategic planning. Building a group of employees that is well-read, inquisitive, and informed puts your company at a competitive advantage that few other initiatives can match. If a company-wide love of reading still sounds too lofty to be a business goal, consider the fact that businesses with high-quality leaders are 13 times more likely to outperform their competitors in bottom-line metrics. This type of leader is only cultivated through ongoing education, an expansion of knowledge and exposure to experiences and insights outside of the person’s day-to-day realm. Ongoing education should be a business priority because it creates future leaders who can bring new ideas and management practices to the organization, creating businesses that are capable of competing both now and in the future. GE promotes the idea that “great companies — and great leaders — never stop evolving.” Because of this belief, the company has committed to spending $1 billion annually on training and development, with a portion of this dedicated to creating leaders who read regularly. getAbstract worked with GE to provideits entire global team with on-demand access to relevant learning material; since then, GE employees have read more than 1 million book summaries. The love of reading has become institutionalized throughout the company and it serves as common ground for leaders and employees. Together, they’re able to draw on an evolving body of knowledge as a source of inspiration and innovative thinking. First Steps for Creating a Culture of Readers It’s clear that there are widespread benefits to having a reading culture in place at your company, but how do you start building this type of environment? Here are some steps to get you started: Michel Koopman Blog Building a Stronger Bridge for Americas Talent Gaps 25 leadership excellence essentials presented by HR.com | 04.2014


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