Employee Development and Corporate Social Responsibility

April 22, 2011 by · View Comments 

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At the heart of learning is having experiences (doing something) and learning from it.  I suspect very few people reading this will not have heard of Kolb’s learning cycle.  Despite its age still an incredibly useful way to think about learning.

Much of the work done in leadership development is about creating useful experiences that which we can consequently learn from.  This ranges from our very workplace focussed Crucible Projects to the love it or loath it raft building challenges.

Recent discussions both face-to-face and via linked-in has got me thinking about these experiences and what they could and should look like.  One interesting area is how can what employees do as a result of an organisation’s corporate social responsibility be used to help them learn to be better managers, leaders and employees.

CSR  is the tool by which organisations give back to society.  I am no CSR expert but I know that a good well-managed programme has internal as well as external benefits.  It increases employee engagement especially amongst Gen X and Gen Y.

I believe that these potential benefits are not being fully utilised.  As Kolb shows to really learn we need to reflect, draw conclusions and plan the next steps as well as doing something.  For all the great work being done, how many activities are properly de-briefed and translated into individual and corporate lessons?  This doesn’t need to be dry and it doesn’t need to be long but to steal a military phrase a quick well-run after-action review could massively increase the impact.

The same goes for all the great corporate sporting events –   like the wonderful Caledonian Challenge or the incredibly successful Activity Mix – a quick review and workplace translation could do make the difference between short-term impact and long-term culture shifts.

I believe there are even larger benefits to be realised by fully integrating CSR, physical activities and People Development (have a look at Clif Bar for a company I believe does it well) in the short term quick reflection sessions are a low cost high impact intervention.

About Rob Priestley

Rob Priestley has written 13 articles on this blog.

Senior Consultant

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