May 26, 2023 Vas Nair

Embrace A Learning Culture

To remain relevant, agile and on top of your game requires continuous learning. This applies to  individuals, as well as teams and organizations. It has become critical today to create an effective learning culture, regardless of the size of your team. Why? Simply because our world (both personal and professional) is challenged and interrupted by ongoing change. When we’re in our work mode, our goals and the job that we do face demands like never before. This can range from a new competitor, changes to government regulation, shortage of talent, new technology, financial pressures…and the list goes on. To remain on top of this requires sharpening your toolkit or possibly getting a new one.

A positive learning culture is one whereby all employees are committed to a growth and development mindset. People want to collaborate, find ways to do even better and benefit from the collective success.

Learning needs to be central to your strategy!

A highly skilled workforce drives success. At the heart of this is getting the right people, with the right skills. To support them, the organization is responsible for establishing an environment that nurtures and encourages learning. Now, this doesn’t need to be super-complex; however, several things must play together to make it work.

It starts at the top

Leaders will set an important tone when they frequently share knowledge, learn from missteps and champion learning and development opportunities. They can achieve this by making  learning accessible and at the same time, making it a priority. If you haven’t established the learning priorities, start by pinpointing core capabilities for your team’s success. These could be business acumen, project management, coaching, safety, sales engagement, communication, etc. Align this list of capabilities with the goals of the organization to make sure that you’re focusing on the right skills.

Empower your employees

Every team member needs to ‘own’ their learning and development. Establish a Development Plan for each employee, which can take the form of a simple one-pager. Ask them to list the skills they want to improve and how they plan to achieve them. Managers should give feedback throughout the year about how employees are faring in their Development Goals.  Encourage your employees to put learning into practice immediately. Again, get them to come up with ideas for implementation so that they take full ownership.

Managers must be good coaches

Hold managers accountable to guide and give ongoing feedback – not just about performance but also the development of skills. With the right coaching, your employees will know how to excel, as well as better understand what not to do. It’s an important part of helping them become more involved in their current job and to help shape their future. Investing in foundational coaching training is an investment in your managers, as well as their team members and you’re enhancing your learning culture by doing this.

Recognise and reward learning

Create opportunities such as short-term management opportunities or stretch assignments for individuals who excel at their jobs and their development. You could add to this by establishing career pathways that require the extension of a particular area of expertise. When such requirements are broadly advertised, your employees will connect the value of learning and growth with career advancement. Another way to recognize learning is by including achievements in your newsletters and other communications.

Communicate what matters

Finally, tell your teams about what’s been successful. For example, share insights from a project that surpassed expectations due to the work of a particular team. In that message, specifically call out something new and what was learned from that experience. At the same time, it’s critically important to encourage people to learn from their mistakes. Instead of a punitive culture, you want to engage your employees positively by encouraging debriefs and conversations about how to overcome future setbacks. By doing this, you’re again sharing the importance of learning.

When you create an environment that fosters learning, it sends a positive message to your employees, because they see it as an investment in their career. A strong leadership presence and ongoing communication opens the door to higher engagement and knowledge sharing.  Explore simple and practical ways to put learning into action every day. Make learning assignments inclusive, so that the benefits of the experience can travel across teams.

As people are your most important asset, building a more skilled, adaptable and productive team will establish a solid foundation for your organization; which in turn can become a strong talent magnet.

Giraffe HR App - Creators Vas Nair and Sobha Nair

Hi there!

We’re Vas and Sobha Nair, two sisters that have lived and breathed all aspects of human resources for over 50 years between us. Giraffe was born from our global experience coaching leaders and business owners navigate the same tricky workplace issues and discussions that you face. We know the best practices and proven processes that help turn workplace conflict on its head – and we want to share all of this and more with you in Giraffe.

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