It’s no secret that learning is important, but how do you know if your organization is one of the 10% who embody a culture of learning? Harvard Business Review defines true learning cultures as supporting “an open mindset, an independent quest for knowledge, and shared learning directed toward the mission and goals of the organization.” Here are 6 ways to build a learning culture on your team:
Reward a Hunger to Learn:
Celebrate curiosity on your team. Make learning an integral part of your team’s culture so that it stretches beyond traditional training and development programs. According to LinkedIn’s talent research, 50% of today’s most in-demand skills weren’t even on the list three years ago.
Promote and praise people who demonstrate an effort to learn and develop. Encourage your team to take a class, attend industry conferences and go to workshops that propel their profession. If your organization offers tuition reimbursement, make sure you’re familiar with the policy so you can advocate for the team to utilize it.
In addition, create a climate where people are unafraid to challenge the status quo. When someone on the team expresses a different opinion or plays devil’s advocate, advocate it! Encourage employees to think critically and speak up, even if it (respectfully) goes against the opinions of leadership and authority.
Make Learning a Priority:
According to Bersin by Deloitte, the average employee only has 24 minutes a week for formal learning. It can be hard for employees to find time to put learning in their schedule when they need to accomplish results and boost short term performance. But leaders can shed light on the importance of learning to achieve long-term successes. Consider integrating learning into employees’ goals. When someone on the team attends a development event, workshop or conference, encourage them to share their experience with the team in a written recap or meeting. Linkedin Learning also provides key tools for employees to take on new challenges and learn new skills. Consider assigning a lesson to each member of the team and present them to the group.
Lead by example:
What do you, as a manager, actually do yourself to stretch your knowledge? Leaders’ behaviors shape how their team thinks and acts. If you want your team to read more, then read! And share with them what you are currently reading to inspire their curiosity and growth. If you want your team to take on new challenges, get out of your comfort zone yourself. For example, volunteer in a space you’re unfamiliar with, or learn a new skill. Even if (and especially if) you aren’t naturally good at it. Your team will see your drive and follow suit.
Look for Curiosity in the Hiring Process:
It’s easier to capitalize on someone’s potential than change their nature. In the interview, ask candidates what podcasts they listen to or books they’ve read. Are they genuinely interested in new discoveries? At the end of the interview, pay attention to the questions they ask you- are they thoughtful and insightful or cliché and unimaginative? This can give you insight into if they are truly inquisitive or putting on a façade. And if they say they have no questions for you after the interview, it may be a red flag.
Promote Cross Training:
Cross training fosters camaraderie as employees learn from one another. Consider having your team conduct informal training sessions to teach each other about their role and develop new skills.
In addition, encourage employees to attend meetings in other departments to listen, learn and observe. Even if the meeting centers around information they’re unfamiliar with or skillsets they don’t have, it can be a great opportunity for employees to expand their knowledge and gain important insights.
Access Company Resources:
To make learning easily accessible, what resources can you utilize in your organization? Do you have a training and development team that already conducts formal training sessions? In some cases, your HR department may be a great resource to tap into.
Learning management systems can also give your learning culture a boost. These platforms deliver and track online training courses, and can help focus your development goals through data and analytics.