Is learning a secondary thing to your management or employees? Is your leadership team a pay lip service when it comes to training? Don’t worry, you are not alone. Many training managers face this challenge. But, when you look at successful companies that are progressing with a competitive edge, one thing stands out, that is – ‘nurturing learning cultures top-to-bottom’.
A learning culture is a collection of values, practices, and processes that an organization follows, concerning learning. It also includes how that knowledge and competence is applied to work.
Here are the principles to develop an excellent learning culture in your organization.
1. Standardize the Informal Learning Process
Learning at workplaces takes place through formal and informal processes. Experts say this proportion is 1:3. Formal training contributes for 25% of the expertise your employees use in their jobs and the other 75% comes from informal learning. However, you should not give less priority to formal training. If training and learning are not an official thing in your organization, employees won’t take the training seriously. So, using both modes to improve workplace performance is one approach. Formalizing the informal learning is another approach.
Now, many corporate organizations are trying to standardize the informal learning procedures to improve workplace performance. We need to see learning as a continuous process rather than a singular and disconnected event. For instance, a successful company like Google is encouraging employees to pursue their own interests so that its employees can feel valued and nurtured as human beings, with a free will. You can also try to formalize the informal learning by coaching, providing digital training/eLearning, performance support resources & tools, and share valuable information in bite-sized chunks and microlearning modules. These make learning accessible to your employees all the time and they can use them whenever they want.
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2. Get Management Buy-in
Multinational companies, who are rapidly progressing, have robust learning cultures at their workplaces. In these organizations, right from CEO, the board of directors, C-suite executives to employees, are committed to workplace learning. Critical thinking and willingness to learn becomes their priority, rather than how much knowledge and expertise they have. This attitude helped them to scale up the business and climb new heights.
Measuring the Return on Investment (ROI) for employee training is the key to getting management buy-in. Showing the performance gaps and how they can be plugged-in through training is also a wise way to convince your top management for developing a learning and training culture in your organization.
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3. Give Recognition & Rewards to Learning
You have to appreciate the employees who learn new skills and enhance the knowledge in their related field. This helps others to follow the example and get motivated to learn. Giving promotions/internal job postings and allowing your skilled employees to take up bigger roles also helps to inculcate a learning culture in your organization.
To show that you value learning, rewarding employees for their accomplishments would be appropriate. Linking learning to the appraisal process and performance management will increase the interest for learning in your employees. Giving incentives and awards also brings healthy competition among employees to learn.
4. Take Feedback & Welcome Questions
To develop a learning culture, your training shouldn’t be one-way-traffic. Just conducting regular training sessions is not enough. Sometimes these resources can be outdated and not relevant for present work day situations. That’s why you have to take the feedback of your employees on the training programs you conduct. Taking feedback helps you to avoid training on known things and aiming your training at the right audience. This also helps to spend your training budget more wisely. You can use polls, surveys, feedback forms to get the feedback from your employees on learning and training activities to improve and make them more engaging in future.
Collecting the data from employee surveys on quality of training programs and how the learning applied on job will also help your employees understand that you value learning.
When you want to develop a learning culture in your organization, you shouldn’t follow a hierarchical order, but should be open for tough questions. This helps in free flow of communication and ideas sharing.
5. Encourage Risk Taking & Tolerate Failures
Learning is not a one time performance, but the path of mastery. So it’s better to encourage risk taking as long as it’s in acceptable terms and supports learning and growth. In the course of learning, you may get winning situations and ‘Oops’ moments.
You can tolerate failure as long as it’s NOT a repeating pattern. In fact, failing is the stepping stone for learning in many cases.
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6. Show How Learning Impacted Business
Your metrics and dashboards should quantify the impact of learning and training activities to keep alive the learning culture in your organization. Where metrics can demonstrate a clear relationship between learning and business outcomes, learning culture thrives there.
Calculating the Return on Investment (ROI) for your training activities helps to know the impact of learning on your business. Measuring the learning intervention with a controlled group against a group that doesn’t experience intervention would be ideal to understand the impact. If learning interventions yield positive results, extending it across the company is beneficial for business.
Hope the given tips help you to transform the way your employees learn and develop a learning culture that brings success and reap long term benefits to your organization.
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