What Is A Learning Culture?
A learning culture is a set of values, beliefs, actions and processes that translate into an overall ability for an organization to learn, adapt and and develop its employees effectively.
A learning culture is distinct from a training culture in that:
- Learning is continuous rather than event-based
- Learning is focused around the needs of the learner, rather than the opinion of the instructor
- Learning is decentralized rather than centralized
- Learning and knowledge is shared rather than siloed
- Learning is about results, rather than delivery
Why Is A Culture Of Learning Important?
A learning culture results in better employee retention, helps attract highly motivated individuals and helps employees maximize productivity. As Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General electric put it:
“An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage”.
5 Ways To Create A Learning Culture
1.) Deliver learning constantly, everywhere
Rewind 10 years and learning was more or less restricted to seminars and workshops. Rewind even just a few years and learning was mostly paper-based.
These days, employees expect to be able to learn on desktop, tablet and mobile – whether they’re at their desk or mid-commute. By providing multiple formats and a range of resources, you’ll significantly boost learning adoption and maximize program success.
2.) Formalize informal learning
Even if you have employer-directed learning covered – perhaps with a traditional Learning Management System (LMS), informal learning should be a vital part of your overall learning strategy.
A good informal learning strategy has the following characteristics:
- Employees of all skill levels and seniorities have the capacity to ask questions, make observations and learn independently
- Employees feel motivated to learn and develop and do so naturally, without needing to be pushed
- Employees learn in any setting – whether remote, present or online.
The following are great examples of informal learning in the workplace:
- Workplace mentoring
- Learning via social media and sharing
- Memberships to professional groups
- Team-building activities
- Giving each employee a personal learning budget
3.) Facilitate sharing between employees
A learning culture really picks up steam when employees share knowledge with one another.
The sharing of learnings might be in the form of informal seminars “How To Use Google Analytics” given by team leaders, book recommendations shared on the company Slack channel or weekly “town-halls” about the week’s successes and failures.
4.) Celebrate failures
If we learn from our mistakes, why don’t we discuss them? Failures are too often played down, skirted around or otherwise dressed up as success. Only by being deeply honest about our failures can we learn from them – and share those learnings with the team.
WL Gore (the makers of Goretex) celebrate equally with champagne and beer when a product works or fails – “action is prized, ideas are encouraged, and making mistakes is viewed as part of the creative process”.
5.) Enable your leaders to lead
Whether you have a brilliant head of sales, an excellent product director or a prodigal marketing leader, your leaders will only share their knowledge with the team if you equip them with the knowledge and resources to do so.
You can achieve this by asking heads of departments to attend leadership courses, asking them to curate their favourite resources and ensuring they have the time and budget they need to share their knowledge with the team.