The world changes rapidly, and your organization is likely feeling this pressure as well. These days, both consumers and employees are more educated than ever before. As a result, employees are more likely to value training and education. They also want to know that their work is meaningful and that their work will have a positive impact on the world.
If this sounds like you, then you know that your organization must constantly adapt to stay ahead of the competition. But how do you do that? One way is by creating a culture of learning, meaning fostering a workplace where employees prefer and are encouraged to learn and grow over time. It’s also a workplace where employees are rewarded for their growth and development.
A culture of learning is more than just a catchy phrase. It’s a way of thinking about your organization and its employees. It can start with small, visible steps that can have a big impact on the way your employees work and the way your organization functions.
This chapter will explain what a culture of learning is, how to create one, and how to recognize when your organization is on the right path.
What Is A Culture of Learning?
First, it’s important to understand what a culture of learning isn’t. It’s not mandated learning, where a manager dictates what an employee needs to learn and makes you feel bad if you don’t have the knowledge. It’s not an accelerated training schedule, where you only have a few hours to learn a new skill. And it’s not a “you can’t touch that” attitude, where learning is discouraged and employees who attempt to advance are often punished for it.
How to Create a Culture of Learning?
Culture is defined as “the way people are”. Culture is made up of values and beliefs. If you want to create a culture of learning in your organization, you have to start by creating a culture that supports learning. You have to put into place policies, practices, and programs that support learning and growth. Then you have to keep that culture intact, so that it continues to support learning as your organization changes and evolves.
Here are some ways you can create a culture that supports learning.
- Create a culture of knowing: This starts with your leaders. If your leaders don’t know and understand learning, then they won’t be able to create a culture that supports it. Leaders who create cultures of learning and development inspire others to do the same. They get excited about learning and want to share those learnings with their employees.
- Offer learning opportunities: These can be formal training, mentoring, or a more general education program. Find ways to make learning available to employees, so that they don’t feel like they have to “inherit” the knowledge and skills of their predecessors. In addition to training, you can also offer different kinds of mentoring programs.
- Encourage and support learning: Don’t just tell employees to “do your research” or “read up”. Make those learning activities part of your organization’s culture. Make learning a priority so that employees know that you care about their growth and development.
- Remove barriers: You don’t have to do everything. Some things you just can’t teach. But you can remove barriers to learning, so that employees don’t feel that they have to be “resilient” or “able to learn on the fly”. Removing barriers helps people progress at their own pace, while still receiving important information.
Assessing your current culture of learning
Culture is a tough thing to measure. Leaders can’t just ask employees “how much do you like culture?” Employees can’t just rate your culture “learning” on a scale of 1-10. And it’s not easy to create a culture of learning when you don’t know where your culture currently stands.
Fortunately, there are a few ways to assess your current culture of learning. Here are three questions that will help you determine if your culture is creating a culture of learning.
- Do employees feel empowered to learn? It’s easy to tell when employees don’t feel empowered to learn. They tend to sheepishly admit that they don’t know something and “need more training”. Or they don’t want to do the work. It’s a red flag if employees are afraid to ask questions or challenge the status quo.
- Do employees have flexibility and choice? Employees who feel empowered to learn also have flexibility and choice. They have the freedom to choose how they want to learn. You should make it easy for them to find the information that interests them. You should also make it easy for them to pick up where they left off, if they need to take a short break to take care of a personal issue.
Do employees know what their role is? A big part of being empowered to learn is understanding what your role is. If you have unclear or changing roles, it can be challenging to know if you’re fulfilling them. This can create feelings of uncertainty and frustration.
- If you’re able to answer “yes” to these questions, then your organization is probably on the right track. You can use these questions as a starting point to assess the culture of learning in your workplace. And as you continue to work to create a culture of learning, you can also look for opportunities to strengthen these areas.
A culture of learning isn’t just about learning skills and knowledge. It’s also about teaching and developing new skills, so that employees become more effective at their jobs.
Learning doesn’t just happen inside the classroom. Learning happens when you’re working, when you’re on the job, and when you’re doing something else.
Learning happens when you’re doing your job, when you’re doing something else, and when you’re not working. This is because learning happens when you have time to think about what you’re doing and why.
After reading this, you may be wondering if a culture of learning is for you. If so, you’re probably ready for a culture of learning. Here are a few suggestions on how to create a culture of learning, and how to recognize when your organization is on the right path.
- Create a culture of knowing: Start by creating a culture of knowing. Your leaders need to be able to explain and defend the decisions they make. They also need to be able to explain and defend the decisions that your employees make. If you have leaders who don’t know and understand the business, then you may have a problem.
- Offer learning opportunities: Make learning available to employees, so that they don’t feel like they have to “inherit” the knowledge and skills of their predecessors.
- Encourage and support learning: Don’t just tell employees to “do your research” or “read up”. Make those learning activities part of your organization’s culture so that employees know that you care about their growth and development.
- Remove barriers: You don’t have to do everything. Some things you just can’t teach. But you can remove barriers to learning, so that employees don’t feel that they have to be “resilient” or “able to learn on the fly”.
- Assess your current culture of learning: Assess your current culture of learning by answering these three questions.