Five steps to developing a learning culture at work

A learning culture in the workplace is now more important than ever. Why? Technology and jobs are changing at such a rapid pace, effective learning is essential for business success.

Combined with the fact that we are undergoing a major shift in the workforce demographic – Millennials are the largest workplace group and have a strong thirst for learning opportunities – it’s easy to see why a learning culture in business is so important.

The fact is organisations where critical thinking, curiosity and an open mindset exist are more likely to succeed over an extended period of time. Unfortunately, true learning cultures where individuals are encouraged to improve knowledge beyond their role are still far from being the norm.

A continuous learning culture is much more than a formal training and development programme. So how do you develop a learning culture in your business? There’s no quick answer. Developing a learning culture takes time, effort and a change in behaviour. Here’s how.

1) Teach your people about growth mindset

In order to facilitate a culture of learning, you need to explain to your employees why learning is so important and create opportunities for people to participate. Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck has given decades to researching the concept of growth mindset, which is essentially the understanding that abilities and intelligence can be developed.

The concept is applied in education and business to encourage a culture of learning. When people believe they can get smarter they are prepared to put in the extra effort and achieve more. Studies show that it is possible to change a person’s mindset from fixed (limiting) to growth. To create a growth mindset in business, Dweck recommends:

  • Presenting skills as learnable
  • Valuing learning and perseverance (not just ready-made talent)
  • Providing feedback that promotes learning and future success
  • Providing resources for learning

2) Lead by example

When it comes to creating a learning culture, a critical driver is how you behave as leader. If you want to nurture your employees’ curiosity and hunger for learning, you need to practise what you preach. To inspire your people to challenge themselves and learn new skills, you will need to demonstrate how.

3) Coach managers

One of the most important factors that is indicative of a strong workplace culture is a business’s attitude to learning and development. A coaching programme is one way to improve learning culture and change the way managers support a team. But in many cases, busy line managers need to be coached in how to coach! Teaching managers how to give constructive feedback is also key.

The WeThrive 4C Model of employee engagement includes a leadership development solution to empower managers. How does it work? Our clever algorithm analyses all the scores from the WeListen employee survey results to identify the top priorities and key opportunities for staff, revealing the actions that managers should focus on.

4) Let employees set learning goals

Employees who set their own learning goals tend to achieve more. It essentially means individuals are not passively absorbing the goals being set for their learning, but are actively involved in them. This way is much more empowering. When employees can identify what is important to them in terms of their learning, they are more likely to take control, and become more autonomous and independent.

Sharing learning goals within teams also makes people aware of what each team member wants to learn. This promotes peer-to-peer training and enables managers to provide necessary resources and appropriate support.

5) Encourage peer-to-peer learning

So, what is peer-to-peer learning and why is it important for a learning culture? Peer teaching is all about people on the same level teaching each other what they know.

It is an effective method of knowledge transfer and as employees understand the issues faced on a daily basis far better than any external trainer or manager might, the level of insight is incredibly enriching to the learning experience.

In addition, teaching others is the best way to learn more, as the process reinforces knowledge and gleans insights from learners. People are also generally more comfortable in peer learning situations as opposed to learning from trainers or those in authority.

Ultimately, peer-to-peer learning encourages an active and cooperative learning environment. It promotes accountability and ownership of learning, and improves communication skills. Reciprocal learning is at the heart of a learning culture.

Read more about why a learning culture is important in our previous blog post here.

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