Director Elemental CoSec
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Instilling a culture of continuous learning

18th Mar 2019
Director Elemental CoSec
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Imagine a world in which all learning stopped when you reached a certain point. There would be no more training courses, no more personal development programmes; just an endless conveyor belt of repetitive tasks stretching into an unchanging future.

But what about promotion, what about moving to new jobs, what about responding to customer demand or stepping up to the challenge of delivering new products and services I hear you ask? Well in the world with no learning, none of this would be possible. And that’s exactly the point, that sort of world can never happen because to go down that route would mean a fundamental rejection of mankind’s inner drive to question and to explore.

So why do we see change as a potential source of stress? Is it because in far too many instances change is imposed with little explanation and little preparation? Or is it because there is just too much of it with one development following so closely on the heels of the next that there is no time to understand, let alone embed new processes?

Could the solution be to instil a proactive culture of continuous learning? Why proactive? Because then you stop responding to the moment, stop forcing rushed and ill prepared change. In the place of just-in-time panic come smooth development programmes which not only create solutions but also ensure that your people are well briefed and have developed the skills which they need to optimise results. Delivered in this way continuous learning becomes a positive experience.

Early and proactive preparation

Let me illustrate this with a look towards the making tax digital initiative which will impact so many VAT registered businesses with effect from 1 April 2019. Originally proposed in the 2015 budget, the making tax digital initiative was formalised in the Finance Bill which followed the June 2017 election. Whilst it’s fair to say that some of the intervening period has been taken up in dialogue between HMRC and the providers of accountancy programs to ensure that they are compliant with the new system, there are plenty of actions which proactive businesses could have taken in the meantime to ensure that they were ready for the new system. These include:

  • undertaking a review of accounting practices with particular emphasis on VAT. This review could have considered whether existing systems were fit for purpose, whether new accountancy software should be purchased, or accounts reporting outsourced
  • providing appropriate training in order to develop understanding of the new requirements not just for accountancy staff but also for others who may be impacted, perhaps in the sales or purchase departments or those claiming expenses

In other words, early and proactive preparations could not only ensure that the business was ready for making tax digital, it could also ensure that processes had been critically reviewed and upgraded where necessary and that employees were fully briefed and ready for change. Changes in legislation and processes don’t suddenly arrive out of the blue. Moving to a culture which promotes proactive continuous learning and development can help businesses to ensure that they not only stay ahead of change but also that their employees are ready to embrace change whenever it arises.

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