Industry News

Organizational Design and Communities of Practice Help in Developing Employee Engagement and Training Programs

March 27, 2012

Training programs and performance improvement initiatives are very company-specific concepts, meaning there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Training magazine explains that employers can best determine their ideal learning approaches and educational structures by understanding their organizational designs (OD) and communities of practice (CoPs), or by carefully putting these concepts into place.

A CoP is "an informal gathering of individuals who are bound together by common interests and shared expertise for a joint enterprise or venture," says the source. Much like social learning portals, these communities are available to all employees and allow them to build goals, share interests and increase knowledge.

These groups can be as informal as a few people from different departments who meet weekly for lunch to discuss performance, protocol and procedural improvement possibilities. In these CoPs, "discussions, questions, emails, telephone calls, directories, repositories, etc." can all be used to craft employee training and performance goals.

"The best CoPs that yield the highest levels of employee performance are usually those that cater their discussions and interactions to the organization's goals," the publication reports.

CoPs are particularly useful as pieces of overall organization design, a corporate concept that is "the process of redefining an organization's structure and roles in order to perform at a higher rate," the source explains. If OD is created to include everyone throughout the company's culture, workers at all levels will feel like they have a stake in the business, and therefore, employee engagement could improve. Increased engagement often leads to happier and more productive workers.

According to Harvard Business Review bloggers Anthony J. Bradley and Mark P. McDonald, managers and executives within a company must see the connection between organizational design and management authority, control and accountability. For example, some organizations function best when employees gain more responsibility, as this produces a culture of teamwork and collaboration which could in turn foster employee engagement. This corporate shift can be difficult on managers, however.

"Relinquishing control to create space for collaboration challenges managers who rely on their authority, experience, and positional power to achieve results," the blog explains.

For businesses looking to implement social media techniques, especially in employee training and development endeavors, collaboration is a must. Essentially, the social learning portal is a collaborative and innovative program that allows workers to take over a degree of control regarding what, when and how they learn.

The best organizational design for management involved in social media and social learning techniques is "manager as a guide," says the HBR blog. This leads to an open dialogue, a community-driven purpose and a focus on a performance.

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