Author Topic: Creating a culture of learning  (Read 964 times)


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Creating a culture of learning
« on: April 19, 2017, 11:50:02 PM »
Creating a culture of learning

Whether you know it or not, you already have a culture of learning in your organization. If you employ humans, learning is happening every day in your work place, because we're biologically wired to learn. We can't stop ourselves from it. The real question is whether you're empowering a positive culture of learning that enhances the success of your organization or one that breeds conformity and stagnation. I could go on and on about the perils of the latter, how organizations with poor learning cultures experience turnover of their top talent, struggle to keep their customers, and ultimately fall behind their competitors on a number of fronts.

They may seem profitable on a paper for a bit but ultimately the costs of the human factor catch up, and they fail in the end. The organizations that not only succeed, but flourish and thrive empower positive cultures of learning. Let me share with you a few ways you can do this. The first step is to honor the ever-present nature of learning. Learning is happening every day in your organization. People learn on their own through experience and exploration.

They learn by watching others, discovering the behaviors that are rewarded and ignored. People help each other learn through those small moments of advising, guiding, and coaching. Learning is not an event to be scheduled, nor something that's owned by one department, but L and D should be the group driving the conversation and creating the culture and environment where learning is celebrated and supported. It's important to value learning as a path to mastery. The process of learning involves curiosity, exploration, taking risks, and most importantly making mistakes.

No one ever really develops mastery without those ever-important stumbles. This means that you need to create a culture where it's safe to take risks and make mistakes, in every department, not just your learning events. This also means that people celebrate the aha moments just as much as they do the results or successes. A key to creating this culture is to ensure that your managers know how to coach effectively. Coaching is a powerful tool in the learning process, because it helps employees build their competence and confidence.

Managers need to know how to apply the right blend of skills coaching and clarity coaching. I'm also a big fan of appreciative inquiry, because it helps employees know how to harness their peak performances to make them daily occurrences. Another key is to value growth and improvement in your performance system. If you only assess how people perform then you're missing an opportunity to empower a positive learning culture. Most performance rating systems are based on outcomes, not effort, but several studies have shown that when people are measured on growth and improvement, they step up and improve.

We all know top performers who never grow or improve. They've managed to find a nice job that's matched to their current skills, and while they may do good work they're not reaching for their fullest potential. I recommend that you also assess every employee's growth, which you can measure through effort put into learning, measurable improvement in a skill, and passion for growing. This should comprise a quarter to a third of your overall assessment, and means that in addition to top performers getting rewards, your top learners get rewards, too.

A positive learning culture recognizes and rewards all growth and improvement, but the only way to support growth and improvement is to make learning easily accessible, and this is critical. On-demand learning empowers employees to seek and find their own answers when they need them most. Neuroscientists state that this type of learning is retained far longer than just being told what to do, and it also aligns with best practices in adult learning theory. That's honestly why I'm such a fan of this product that you're using right now.

When I'm stuck I need the answer quickly. It doesn't help me much to sign up for a class that will happen three weeks from now and sit through a four hour session to get the answer I need this minute. What's easier than watching a short video that I have access to 24/7 on any device? All kinds of valuable learning can be made accessible to employees, and you'll find that technology must be a vital part of your learning strategy. And remember, not every type of learning works for every person or situation.

That's why you need to use blended learning to maximize your options. For example, in-person learning can contextualize learning for your organization, and provides opportunities for hands-on application as well as collaboration. Online instruction like this course are perfect for self-paced learning, or as the pre-learning for an in-person event. Listen, you're sitting on a goldmine that's just waiting to be harnessed. Your employees possess the potential to drive your organization to new heights.

If you create a positive culture of learning, you will naturally reap the many benefits learning provides, and set your organization up for success.