I’ve been writing the Social Organization column here for a year and a half. I’ve tried to make a distinction between the characteristics of the organizations that are successfully adapting to our new, social world and those that have remained mired in their mechanical approach to organizations and leadership. I’ve talked about being patient, teaching silos to learn, making mistakes, being inclusive, and more. So in case the obvious has escaped you, let me make an important point here:
Social organizations are hard work.
This is not the easy route. I said in my very first post on this blog that social organizations need to be more human. As such, you might think that it’s easier and more natural. Not so. We’ve learned for decades to run our organizations like machines, so making the switch to an organization that actually cares about learning, that focuses on better collaboration, or has a strong commitment to speaking more truth is not natural (even though human beings want those things quite naturally). So I suppose it is no surprise to suggest that in order to get better human organizations, you’re going to need better humans.
That is why social organizations care about personal development. Nearly all organizations give lip service to personal development. No one is against it. But that doesn’t mean they do it well. The typical response is to ask your employees during their annual review to identify ways in which they want to develop (i.e., take courses) and then you’ll see if you have any training budget for them.
We need to go deeper than that. We need to give people more time, and we need to make it about MORE than developing skills and competencies from leadership development manuals. It needs to be personal. It needs to enable people to handle more complexity. It needs to help individuals in your organizations actually start to see their blind spots. If we want human organizations, we’re going to need to up our game when it comes to developing the humans we have in our organizations.