Lifelong learning

February 2018

How to implement learnings in the organization

Even organizations who prioritize education and make a point of assuring that employees keep their skills and competences up to date sometimes struggle with the implementation. That is why some companies have an explicit strategy for how they implement new knowledge.

Bringing new knowledge into action for the benefit of the organization is just as important as acquiring it in the first place. If new knowledge is not need-to-know and is not put into action immediately, it withers over time. Some companies have a general rule to always attend courses and education in pairs. That way you always have a buddy from the company to discuss learnings with. Others have a practice of always making a presentation of learnings and how it can be relevant and put to work in the company, because communicating your learnings is effective in terms of really getting it.


Learn from the ones who just need to get it

But what else do your colleagues in the industry do to make sure the business benefits from their learnings? We had a conversation with Tina Günther, Market Ethics Director at AstraZeneca. When working with Marketing Compliance, not implementing the learnings is simply not an option, which is why we think her experiences and personal approach is interesting.

Tina Günther, Market Ethics Director at AstraZeneca

“There is no way I cannot implement my learnings. In my role, I have to make sure everyone in the organization get the bits and pieces of information that is relevant for them – no less and no more. It is like that for all of us. Me and my marketing compliance counterparts in other companies have to stay super sharp and on top of our area of expertise,” Tina explains.

“We all want to get it right, but at the same time we’re challenged with time constraints and other priorities in the business. I have a structured approach that works for me and in my organization. Even before I attend a course, I sharpen my focus to make sure I spend my time wisely.”


What to do prior to attending a course

Show up well prepared. It may sound banal, but the fact is that we tend to get so caught up in everyday work life that course activities only come to mind when the calendar alert tells us tomorrow is the day. So, how does Tina prepare?

“When I attend for instance the advanced course for Communication and advertising to healthcare professionals we are always prompted to submit specific topics that are particularly challenging for us. I’ve implemented this as a general practice before attending any course – to write down what my required take away should be. Which questions I need answered. This way I am super focused already when I get there and I know that what is debated during the course is highly relevant for me.”


During the course

Getting most out of your course attendance is directly related to how much of yourself you invest. One advice seems to be that the more openly you share and ask questions the greater the take-aways. For that to happen, a high level of integrity and trust is required:

“It’s important to create a safe space. When I attend a course at Atrium, the organizers start by reminding everyone that the course is a confidential room for knowledge sharing, there is no right or wrong, the purpose is to ask and become wiser - the more questions asked, the better the discussion will be. I know that whatever we share will be handled respectfully in a learning mindset by the other course attendants. My experience is that the more we share and the more specific the cases we discuss are, the greater the learning. We always have lively conversations and heated debates. For me that is extremely valuable because in my daily job function, I’m all by myself.”


Implementing knowledge back home

Lots of new input, then what? We have all experienced leaving a course highly inspired and wanting to make changes, but then daily life strikes and unanswered mails grab all of our attention. But if the information is need-to-know and not implementing is not an option then what do you do?

“I know that I have to address different people in the organization differently. I adjust my communication to their particular information needs. I also have to respect that my focus and area of expertise – Marketing Compliance - is not the only thing on their agenda.

What has proven to work for me is to always consider a range of options and implement my take-aways accordingly:

  • Ad hoc implementing: When something is directly relevant for one of my colleagues or in relation to a particular project in the organization, I handle that on a 1-1 basis.
  • My own training material: I train new employees, conduct “deep dives” for particular job roles as full day sessions, and do other selected theme based training sessions e.g. as morning theme calls from time to time when something of particular relevance comes up. Updating my training material and considering if additional sessions are required and which type is always on my to-do list right after having attended a course.
  • General information mails: I send out heads-up notifications on a FYI-level – in this mail I also reassure that the ones directly affected by this will be contacted individually.
  • “One-stop-shop” on our intranet: From time to time I provide information as “go-to materials” once the consequences of new rules are clear.

In addition, I make sure the senior leadership team is always well informed. Whenever external changes affect our ways of working they need to know immediately. Especially when the Danish rules and regulations differ from the other Nordic countries it is difficult for a leadership team based outside Denmark to understand the details and consequences,” Tina explains.


Networking helps you stay on top

Networking with colleagues in the industry is also a priority. As an active member of Atrium’s Marketing Compliance network Tina gets to discuss important issues and the network has a voice when course content is further planned.

“The network is an important forum for me to discuss topics, current rules and interpretations. We also have the opportunity to provide input to existing courses to make sure they are always relevant and in alignment with our needs. That way I feel that I go full circle in terms of attending courses, implementing new learnings and addressing new issues that come up,” Tina wraps up.