Continual learning is not only a way to keep your mind sharp and effective, but it is also necessary when science unveils new findings that need to be incorporated into work. As such, many professions require continuing education in order to renew professional licenses. However, identifying lifelong learners and retaining these high-performing employees can be challenging for organizations. Harvard Business Review explains what organizations can do in two different articles.
ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
The first article (Zao-Sanders, 2021) offers hiring managers three key tips for recruiting lifelong-learning employees.
First, be flexible with what constitutes learning. Different people learn best with different methods. Some may watch documentaries, some may read books, and others may consult colleagues. Examples of interview questions include:
- How do you learn best? In your day-to-day life, how do you go about acquiring knowledge?
- How do you sift through the information we are bombarded with in this day and age? How do you select the topics in which you want to delve deeper?
- How do you make sense of the new information you learn? How do you apply it?
Second, ask interviewees to share something they recently learned and how they envision applying it in the role for which they are being considered.
Third, as an interviewer, be prepared to share the skills you are looking for in a candidate, including those that your organization values.
WHAT JOB CANDIDATES CAN DO
The author also offers job candidates tips for interviewing. First, show your interest in learning by asking about how the company supports learning. For example, do they allocate time for professional development? What resources do they make available to their employees?
Second, don’t wait to be asked about how you learn. Rather, offer that information at the appropriate point in the interview. And third, be prepared to answer interview questions such as those listed above.
LOOK IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD
Being able to pinpoint and keep top performing employees is crucial to long-term organizational success. A second article (Leong, 2021) explains that when filling job vacancies, internal hires tend to receive higher performance reviews than their external counterparts. However, hiring managers still tend to express difficulty in finding talent within the organization.
Luckily, technology can be leveraged to harvest information about employee performance. This process is called people analytics. It can include analyzing information gathered from various sources, including email communications or collaboration platforms like Slack.
The author provides an example of an HR department revamping its recruiting policies and procedures based on data that tracks and analyzes the performance of current salespeople. Another example refers to a dated bank software program that started having problems. A quick data scan identified the expert who developed it. Though this person had already retired, the bank was able to bring him back on a contract basis to fix the software.
Lifelong learning is necessary in order to strengthen skills and in turn, foster long-term organizational success. A couple of ways in which organizations can foster their long-term success is to identify and hire lifelong learners, and utilize technology to identify and keep high-performing employees.
Zao-Sanders, M. (2021). Identify – and hire – lifelong learners. Harvard Business Review.
Leong, K. (2021). A data-drive approach to identifying – and retaining – top employees. Harvard Business Review.