An important value in a learning organization is collaboration and communication cross departmental and hierarchical boundaries. Self directed teams are the basic building blocks of the structure. These teams are made up of employees with different skills who share or rotate jobs to produce an entire product or service. Traditional management tasks are pushed down to lower levels of the organization, with teams often taking responsibility for training, safety, scheduling and decisions about work methods , pay and reward systems, and coordination with other teams. Although team leadership is critical in learning organization that the traditional boss is practically eliminated. People, on the team are given the skills information tools, motivation and authority to make decisions central to the team’s performance and to respond creatively and flexibly to new challenges or opportunities that arise .
Empowerment means unleashing the power and creativity of employees by giving them the freedom, resources, information, and skills to make decisions and perform effectively. Traditional management tries to limit employees, while empowerment expands their behavior. Empowerment may be reflected in self direction work teams quality circles, job enrichment and employee participation groups as well as through decision making authority training, and information so that people can perform jobs without close supervision.
In learning organization people are a manager’s primary source of strength not cost to be minimized. Companies that adopt this perspective believe in treating employees well by providing competitive wages and good working conditions, as well as by investing time and money in training programs and opportunities for personal and professional development. In addition, they often provide sense of employee ownership by sharing gains in productivity and profits.
A learning organization is flooded with information. To identify needs and solve problems, people have to be aware of what’s going on. They must understand the whole organization as well as their part in it. Formal data about budgets, profits and departmental expenses are available to everyone. If you really want to respect individuals says Solectron Corp’s Winston Chen you’ve got to let them know how they’re doing and let them know soon enough so they can do something about it. Managers know that providing too much formation is better than providing too little. In addition, managers encourage people throughout the organization to share information. For example, at Viant Inc., which helps companies build and maintain Web based businesses, people are rewarded for their willingness to absorb and share knowledge. Rather than encouraging consultants to hoard specialized knowledge, CEO Bob Gett says, we value you more for how much information you’ve given to the guy next door.
Managing the Technology Driven Workplace:
The shift to the learning organization goes and in hand with the current transition to a technology driven workplace. The physical world that Frederick Taylor and other proponents of scientific, management measured determines less and of what is valued in organizations and society. Our lives and organizations have been engulfed by information technology; Ideas, information, and relationship are becoming more important than production machinery, physical products, and structured jobs. Many employees perform much of their work on computers and may work in virtual teams, connected electronically to colleagues around the world. Even in factories that produce physical goods, machines have taken over much of the routine and uniform work, freeing workers to use more of their minds and abilities. Managers and employees in today’s companies focus on opportunities rather than efficiencies which require that they be flexible creative and unconstrained by rigid rules and structured tasks.
Source: The New Era of Management