One of the most frequent pieces of advice given to learning & development professionals who seek to make their mark on the organization is that they should lay the ground for building a learning culture.
As long as the employees are people, they will be learning something almost every day; it’s what they naturally do. Giving them the right tools to do so in an organized fashion will ultimately result into spectacular innovations and a very successful organization.
In today’s dynamic and very challenging business world only the organizations that are able to adapt as they grow will thrive.
Tips for developing a learning culture
Companies that fail to nurture good learning cultures experience high turnover rates among top talent and end up falling behind their competitors and disappointing their customers.
Here are a few helpful tips on how to avoid that.
Employee empowerment and engagement are key
Milennials already make-up for the majority of the workforce. They need to feel like they have choices and are trusted by their employer. This necessity is so great that they are more than willing to look for other opportunities if they don’t feel valued or don’t believe in the organization’s values.
While giving them a sense of worth and accomplishment falls primarily in the hands of the managers, it’s up to the learning and development people to give them full access to resources that will help achieve their full potential.
Drawing-up learning paths and periodically rewarding and recognizing their progress is great but it’s important to allow them to go through the learning material as they see fit and acknowledge that it’s all right to skip those modules they find contain information that is already familiar.
Of course this kind of approach to learning requires taking it online and this brings us to the second item on the building a learning culture ‘to-do list’.
Building a shared learning and development library
This is not just a good LMS platform loaded with great e-learning modules. Having varied and valuable content created by instructional designers is only the first step. Since the goal is a lot greater than gathering individual knowledge the database needs to be taken a few steps further.
Employees should be able to actively participate in building the content. This means they should be given the opportunity to share videos, blog posts, links, articles, books, workshops, webinars, conferences, events, and everything else they find of value.
Encouraging them to be a part of organizational learning by sharing is key in ensuring a healthy learning culture.
This can even be turned into an important KPI with measurable goals but it has to be formulated in a way that it doesn’t sound like a chore. People should share because they want to and feel it is useful not because it’s a must.
Furthermore, having employees bring assets to organizational learning validates informal resources as valuable.
Informal learning should be seen as a valuable contribution to formal employee development
Nobody questions the quality of material created by L&D professionals and instructional designers with the advice of subject matter experts. This ought to be the base of corporate learning.
However, ruling out the validity of informal means of education would be wrong. It has been proved that articles on Wikipedia, for example, are as accurate as the ones in Encyclopedia Britannica.
Asking employees to share what they find interesting and important will lead to all sorts of materials and that’s great, as learning styles and preferences are very different. Some will enjoy attending conferences, webinars or networking events while others will dwell more into books, magazines or online forums.
All designed learning paths should leave some room for these informal learning instances. They are actually the best way to see what a person’s interests are and encourage continuous learning. As mentioned before, people learn all the time, it is part of their nature. Giving them a purpose to do so boosts the process.
Recruiting from the inside shows faith in the people and the programs
The whole point of building a learning culture within the organization is to be able to develop and retain the best talent. Having a good and transparent talent management program will ensure each employee knows where they are and what hey can aim for.
Hiring internally before advertising externally will show people that the company has faith in its own L&D strategy. There’s no better professional reward than moving up.
Even when this can’t be achieved right away, having a clear timeline and being kept in the loop about what the expectations are and how they can be met will keep the employee engaged and motivated. It is people with those exact attributes that ultimately make organizations successful.
Over to you
What other methods of building a learning culture do you use in your organization? Do share them in the comments section below!
Author: Raluca C
Raluca Cristescu is a Faculty of Letters graduate with over ten years of experience in corporate training, focused mainly on soft skills for customer service and direct sales.