You probably already know why learning culture is important. But you need to let the managers understand this too. A quick brush-up before we dig deeper: A thriving learning culture at your workplace is important, because it leads to constant growth for the individual employee, and this visualizes itself as positive growth at the company bottom line too.
However, developing a learning culture can be tricky, because, here, we are talking about a change management exercise, where new ways of doing things should be implemented. With the right mindset and great pointers for management, the process might be easier to implement than you think.
Creating a greater learning culture can give a boost to the business economy after a period with red numbers in the budgets by building a strong workforce with the right skills and a culture of knowledge sharing. At the same time, learning new skills and using them can rocket launch morale and motivation to new heights. And this is most needed in a time post-COVID-19 to create a greater sense of well-being.
What Is Learning Culture?
Learning culture means that you see learning as important and essential for your company. The learning culture can include both formal training, for example, physical and digital events/courses, but also informal learning from constructive feedback, and much more.
When your company grows a strong learning culture, it is known that it is valuable to adopt new knowledge, strengthen skills and get a boost to job performance - both for individuals and the company. The end goal of creating a better learning culture is, therefore, to boost job performance, attract and retain talent, create innovation, and to question how stuff is done, and whether it can be improved.
How to Kill your Company in 3 Steps with no Learning Culture
Maybe it can seem a bit ‘fluffy’ for some to invest in creating a strong learning culture. But without a learning culture, that creates innovation and keeps the company attractive for new talent, you will get stuck and can potentially kill your own business. Here are three typical mistakes that stop a growing learning culture.
1) “Training is just something we need to get over with”
If you just deliver employee training once or twice a year, and your focus is on delivering the training rather than the content of the training, it is very rare that employees get any good takeaways from the training and learn something constructive. Instead, you should create meaningful learning experiences for the employees.
At the same time, training must be an integral part of the workday, where you learn in a flow, for example, by adopting new knowledge and getting constructive feedback. The training activity should not only be separated from the work in the shape of external courses. Training must instead be interactive and involve challenges, that relate to the individual’s workday.
2) “Our company attracts and retains talent in other ways”
Yes, a good paycheck is important, and yes, employee benefits can also be wonderful for the individual. But top talent and the future workforce want learning and development. If you cannot offer it, maybe the competitor can?
And here, you lose the opportunity to grow with talented people, who might apply at your company if the situation was different. Make sure to make development opportunities visible and offer as many options as possible to learn - both with physical courses/events and digital learning content. Furthermore, it is important to acknowledge the employees' own learning efforts to gain new knowledge.
Your employees want to learn, and they want new skills and knowledge. Create a culture, where they have the opportunity to do so.
3) “Innovation? It will come eventually”
The world is in a thriving development, and competitors will easily overtake your market shares, if you are hung up on old-fashioned ways of doing the work, and do not want to learn about the new ways.
Companies with a strong learning culture share and seek out knowledge to a higher degree. They give and receive feedback, they interpret and understand better, and then they more often develop and launch new products and services.
Without a learning culture and without values that encourage exploration and experimentation, companies will have a hard time gathering, understanding, and using the information to innovate effectively. Meaningful training, the possibility of attracting talent, and innovation - these are the three factors that drive success in organizations today. And it all starts with growing a strong learning culture.
5 Tips for Managers to Create a Learning Culture
Employers like Google and American Express have already made learning an integral part of their company. And research shows that companies that effectively care for their workforce and their longing for learning will be 30 percent more likely to be market leaders in their industry.
Additionally, in a recent publication from BCG, it is stated that the winners of tomorrow will be those that can accelerate their rate of learning. This is especially related to the need for digital transformation with the global pandemic in hindsight.
And if you must dive into digital transformation, a thriving learning culture is a must to grow new skills, and new learning paths emerge too. Here are 5 tips for the Manager who wants to create a strong learning culture:
1. Reward Employees for Learning
It is not just about praising the employees who spend time on learning and development. It is also about creating a working environment that values critical thinking, and where authorities are challenged, and people speak their minds. Encourage the employees and remember to create time and space for them, so they can grow and learn something new.
2. Give Constructive Feedback
Do not be afraid to tell the employees if they are doing something wrong. It must only be shared in a constructive way, so they learn from their mistakes. It is often difficult to criticize other people, and that is why managers more often give positive than negative feedback. But this is problematic if you do not want to create a curiosity to learn because the best way to kickstart curiosity is to show a knowledge gap.
People often do not know where they lack knowledge and do not see their own limitations. That is why it is super important that a manager can guide them and give them feedback so that they can improve.
3. Practice what you Preach
The manager’s behavior has a huge impact on how the team behaves. Do not ask your employees to do something if you do not even do it yourself. If you want people to read more about this area, then read more about it yourself - and share your new knowledge with the team.
If you want them to challenge themselves, then you must challenge yourself. For example, by participating in a project where your skills can come into play in a new way. In this way, you will show your team that with a little bit of curiosity and discipline, you can get better - and this is inspiring for others.
4. Hire Curious People
It is easier to set a curious person on a path to learn than someone who is not - it simply goes against their nature. If you, on the other hand, hire people that are naturally curious and see the resemblance between their interests and the role they must fit in the company, you should not worry too much about their willingness to learn. Their motivation to learn will, by the way, not be the only thing that increases, but their general job performance too.
5. Create Positive Learning Experiences and Use the Right Technology
Make learning playful and create positive learning experiences for the individual. Give the employee the opportunity to take care of their own learning - and let them use the technology or device that suits them. Do they have a need to complete digital learning on the go? Then make sure the learning is available on their smartphone.
Make the learning accessible to all in an LMS (Learning Management System) or learning platform and share learning content that fits their role. If you make the right learning content accessible to them, they will not get swamped with an ocean of content on the internet from a simple Google search, where it is hard to see what works and what doesn’t.