In many companies I've worked with, in recent years, I've seen too much focus on systems that measure, rate, and micro-assess employees. And yet, employee engagement scores aren't improving any (and are getting worse in many cases).

Many companies are recognizing that the old ways aren't working and are quickly moving from measurement-mania to goals of growth--growth and development of employees, that is. This means more and more companies will focus much more effort on developing support networks to help employees learn and grow.

You can do your part as a leader to help foster a safe, thoughtful learning environment by doing the following. (All of these have worked like a charm for me; pick a few that speak most to you):

  • Have patience and empathy for the learning process (and tolerance for mistakes).
  • Have a "not yet" mindset versus a "you failed" mindset.
  • Put emphasis on assets, not deficits.
  • Enable ownership of ideas (don't do too much for them).
  • Use data to go from "I think" to "I know." But don't let "I know" get in the way of "I think."
  • Talk openly about the importance of learning. Role-model the priority you give to learning.
  • Encourage "the sky's the limit" thinking, not limited thinking.
  • Commend (not condemn) the person who brings conflicting information.
  • Don't rewrite history, remember it. Then use realizations to move forward.
  • Change "we've tried that before, sorry" to "let's try that again, smartly."
  • Show a genuine interest in each individual's unique learning journey.